RE: [Allison-Seminar] A local apocalypticist?
- Dear Bob--
i. I do think that Jesus prophesied the destruction of the temple; see Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 97-101.
ii. Grondin's throw away, >>he could hardly have used the 'I' locution<< in this connection, is the sort of comment that makes me wonder. Well, we wouldn't, if we foresaw a disaster, say that we were going to do it, would we? But we aren't messianic figures living inside an eschatological scenario; we don't make astounding claims for ourselves whereas messianic figures often do. Further, if there is any background in Jewish tradition for the rebuilding saying, it is certainly 2 Sam 7, where David's son builds the temple. Beyond that, don't eschatological texts sometimes slip back and forth between attributing something to God and something to God's human agent? I'm not going on record here as to what Jesus did in fact say; I'm just observing that we make assumptions all the time that make me uneasy.
iii. Dom could I'm sure argue that Jesus saw the destruction of the temple as above all a political event, without apocalyptic context. Jews knew about the destruction of the first temple as a political event, didn't they? and there was no universal cataclysm them, right? Actually, a lot of decent interpreters have thought that Jesus could have foreseen the destruction of the temple, but not as part of a traditional, end-time scenario. C. J. Cadoux, for one. (He's not read any more, so I like to mention him; maybe somebody else will read him; he's worth while.)
iv. But I myself do think that Jesus foresaw the destruction of the temple within an eschatological context; to this extent, Mark 13 has it right.
v. As to the question of local vs. universal apocalyptic, that's interesting, but I don't know off the top of my head how to respond; the tradition for the most part isn't interested in this sort of details. My inclination, howerver, is to suppose that Jesus was thinking about a world-wide series of events. The world just doesn't go on as usual in many of the old Jewish texts, and Papias has giant grapes. Don't know whether Jesus did, but he has (I think) the scattered tribes returning home; the resurrected dead becoming like angels in heaven; conditions changed so that the hungry are full; and he draws an analogy with Noah's flood in Q 17, which is suggestive. All this takes us back to the opening of this seminar, when Prof. Maccoby asked me about Jesus' eschatological vision. I should then have referred to what may be the best treatment of this issue--which is not my own work but that of J. Schlosser, >>Die Vollendung des Heils in der Sicht Jesu," in H.-J. Klauck, Weltgericht und Weltvollendung (QD 150; Herder, 1994), 54ff. His conclusion is that Jesus' expectations were a bit more otherworldly than thisworldly (for which he finds good Jewish precedent), and that the new world is really the counterpart of Gehenna, which is clearly a supernatural sort of place. I'd just add: to get from here to there will take some reordering of nature. It's of course already there in the OT: the lion will lie down with the lamb--an expectation even Philo shares. For Jesus, the kingdom means more than people being different; it means the whole world being different. And I think that the way to the future is through a tribulation that extends beyond the human sphere. Having said all that, I can't see that Jesus engaged in any serious reflection to the issue of how things outside of his immediate environment might change. Nothing to prove he couldn't have thought the stars would fall from heaven, but I don't trace that text back to him, so who knows? In any event, its probably transformation, not destruction and replacement.