Here is the question I would most like to ask Prof. Crossan:
What was Jesus doing in Jerusalem at the end of his life? His symbolic
destruction of the Temple (I am fully persuaded by Prof. Crossan's
interpretation of the "cleansing" episode) seems to be a climactic event
of some kind--not the type of thing he might have done every time he
went to the Temple as part of a continuing mission, but a gesture
designed to make a certain point once and for all. Is its climactic
appearance an artifact of later tradition? Or is there evidence that
the historical Jesus was taking decisive action towards some end?
Prof. Crossan has argued persuasively that the apocalypse Jesus preached
was a sapiential one: one that takes place in the heart and mind of the
person who finds the Kingdom of God, not a supernatural or political
cataclysm in the material world. That is the view of Jesus I would
prefer to take; but the episode in the Temple hangs me wonder if Jesus
might not have been expecting something else.
My perplexity is increased by Jesus's sayings about the harvest, which
Prof. Crossan takes as authentic. The parable of the tares suggests the
possibility that Jesus expects some kind of culmination of his "Kingdom"
program, in which the wicked will be weeded out. The image of the
growing grain also suggests that Jesus expects an eventual culmination.
What evidence is there that Jesus is not talking about a divine harvest
at the end of time, as is conventionally thought?
It has been suggested somewhere that Jesus hoped to force God's hand by
going into battle with a patently inadequate army as Gideon had done
(And they said, "Look, Lord, here are two swords." And he said to them,
"It is enough." Lk 22:38), so that the Lord would fight for Israel as
He had in the past.
The Temple incident, in the light of the harvest parables, certainly
seems to support an interpretation that Jesus was trying somehow to
provoke either God or God's enemies into a cataclysmic battle in which
the Kingdom would be conclusively established as the world-order. I
don't find that interpretation appealing, or particularly consistent
with my understanding of the program Jesus put into effect in Galilee;
but I don't know how to account for these data otherwise.
Many thanks to Prof. Crossan--and to my fellow participants--for this
enlightening and enjoyable seminar.
Sojourning in New York City
>"I left you specific instructions:
> Don't do anything stupid!"
> --Overheard on the London Underground
Hey! Look at my band's web page at