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Re: [XTalk] The kingdom of God: Did Jesus get it wrong?

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  • Gordon Raynal
    Hi Loren, ... Thanks for the clarification here and sorry for the mischaraterization. (others, as you know, do tend to schmooze prophetic and apocalyptic
    Message 1 of 18 , Mar 3, 2003
      Hi Loren,
      >I have actually never equated prophetic with
      >apocalyptic, nor eschatological with apocalyptic (the
      >latter being a subset of the former). Clerical
      >prophets like John Hyrcanus I and sappiential prophets
      >coming from the ranks of the Pharisees (like Samaias)
      >or Essenes (like Judas) do not seem to have been
      >eschatologically driven. But most of the oracular
      >prophets and popular prophets were, and some even
      >apocalyptically so. It just so happens that Jesus fits
      >the description (so I believe) of "apocalyptic

      Thanks for the clarification here and sorry for the mischaraterization.
      (others, as you know, do tend to schmooze prophetic and apocalyptic
      together). The key here remains that we disagree about this last
      sentence... and the reason as we've long ago discussed... has to do with
      what we see as historical evidence versus storied imagination. To be sure
      Jesus is cast as a prophet in the stories and, of course, in the formal
      theology comes to be later affirmed as "Prophet, Priest and King." But as
      my historical evidentiary base is not as large as yours, the question comes
      up as to where Jesus' speech best fits in its modus operandi and
      interpretive schema, and I will continue to maintain that that base fits not
      only according to genre, but also in terms of content with voices from the
      wisdom heritage in Israel (Jonah... who though cast as a prophet as a
      character... is a wisdom work, Koheleth and such as the wisdom materials in
      Torah (Deut. 4:5-8) and from the Psalms such as Psalm 90. I've read and
      heard such as Saunder's take, Allison's take, Wright's take on what to do
      with Q/Th/Luke passage and about the "Our Father." No doubt the "kingdom is
      now" (to paraphrase) saying could be and was interpreted in apocalyptic
      frames and in gnostic frames. Nothing wrong with those later interpretative
      moves. Each has its own value. In the developing lines of kerygma and in
      later historical circumstances they are faithful reflections and extensions
      by various voices in the communities who anchored themselves around Jesus
      and friends. The clearest takes of apocalyptacism as being central for
      communities comes in the likes of the Thessalonian correspondence and
      Revelation, of course (both, in my view, from the Domitian era). But we'd
      need to get into a theological discussion of the works to assess how the
      reliance on apocalyptic resources from the past fit with other theological
      voices to get at the aims and intentions of each work and that's beyond the
      purpose of this group. So this takes us back to HJ... and yes, we'll just
      have to disagree because of how we assess what is historical... actually
      from Jesus and friends in the late 20's and what is midrash, imagination,
      creation, reflection in later times and in other places.

      >>Regarding Loren's contention that Jesus' parabolic
      >>speech is prophetic and decidely apocalyptic...
      >I am saying that Jesus' parabolic speech is
      >fundamentally prophetic, with shades of the
      >apocalyptic creeping in here and there

      My only comment here is that belief that God is going to do something
      dramatic and soon which will alter the course of history and restore
      Israel... is more than "a shade" apocalyptic. If Jesus believed this, then
      the historian can quite simply say he was wrong. That doesn't end
      discussion about what apocalyptic means, its value and what to do with being
      wrong. If HJ was this way and was wrong, I have no problem saying so. Like
      the host of folks before and after him... well, they just keep being
      wrong;)! I'm not going to lose any sleep over this, if I'm wrong. But...
      again... I don't see the historical evidentiary base regarding HJ that this
      is the case at all. More in a moment.
      >>...doesn't let the speech function in its own
      >>tradition and modus operandi.
      >>Parables simply are not prophetic utterances. To go
      >>the old sources...Proverbs isn't an apocalyptic or
      >>prophetic work. And Ecclesiastes has a
      >>different notion of God's rule, the present and the
      >>future from Daniel...fer instance. Wisdom speech,
      >>communication has it's own integrity.
      >My friend, you are simply assuming that parables must
      >follow exclusively in the Wisdom tradition of the OT

      No, this isn't my view. Regarding the literature... from Torah onwards in
      the many redactions we see the inclusion of the many voices in Israel's long
      history. For descriptive purposes (although there are combinations and
      permutations in the writings) one can delineate 5 major theological voices
      in TANAK... priestly, royal, prophetic, apocalyptic and wisdom. If folks
      want to get into TANAK in this regard we can go into that, but for brevity
      sake here... there are **real** arguments in Israel's past and the editors
      wisely let those voices be kept. On some matters there were fundamental
      disagreements... and about the future and God's work therein... there are
      just some whopping disagreements and to pick this one... Daniel and
      Ecclesiastes **obviously** disagree about that future. If one accepts such
      as the "coming Son of Man" speech and such as Mark 13 is from Jesus... then,
      yes... of course... Jesus was an apocalyptic thinker. Correct... and
      again... if that's the case... fine and he was wrong. But I don't think
      those sayings are from HJ. And as regards their later inclusion they are
      quite understandable as relates to dealing with the loss of the Temple and
      the later traumas from dealing with those friendly Romans Nero... before the
      War... all the way through those lovely figures of Vespasion, Titus and oh
      so friendly Domitian... and the likes of voices that were aroused as such in
      Josephus who came to the merry conclusion that God had passed his favor to
      the Romans. Great interpretative moves to face this and other issues as
      well. But back to this point... the wisdom voices in Israel's past have an
      integrity all their own. Regarding "God's presence/ rule/ action" there is
      quite clear affirmation in this regard. And yes... some kings, prophets and
      mama's are shown to say one or more things that reflect God's wisdom. But
      ***there are also, to use the outside terms... sages*** in this heritage who
      majored in this theo-ethical voice, paradigm and genre. I take it that that
      core of sayings so important in Q, in the Didache, in the production of the
      Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain... clearly behind Ep. James
      little wisdom summary in James 3... clearly behind Paul's preferred
      vocabulary about the ways of the Spirit in his little summaries... ***is
      rooted*** in the integrity of wisdom sage speech from Jesus and friends.
      This is not my attempt to box HJ at the outset and make him fit some
      pre-existing pattern. It comes from the assessment of what I believe is
      from Jesus and friends... and from the reality of what we see across the
      resources we have. Thing is... when it comes to getting to the core... from
      Mark to Paul to Thomas to James to the Didache all agree about this core.
      And these sayings **are not** prophetic utterances and the speech is
      **certainly not** apocalyptic. And the thing is, of course, neither is the
      action direction that Jesus asks of the two by twos. Hence... until we find
      some new resources... I think there's every reason to say that this is where
      Jesus as an individual contributor fits and this is the intellectual/
      theological heritage that he worked out of.

      >You are wrong. Consider:
      >1. OT prophets were certainly known for using
      >parables. II Sam 12:1-6 shows Nathan doing so with
      >David. Isa 5:1-6 presents a parable in the form of a
      >love-song, which provides a segue into the prophet's
      >diatribes against the aristocracy for alienating
      >peasants from the land (5:7-8). Ekez 17:1-10 is an
      >allegorical parable. So on.
      >2. Hosea 12:10 has God promising that "through the
      >prophets I will bring parables".
      >3. Moving into the NT, Mt 13:35 speaks of the
      >"fulfillment of what had been spoken through the
      >prophet", followed by a citation of Ps 78:2: "I will
      >open my mouth in a parable and proclaim what has been
      >hidden..." (In this case, the "prophet" is David.)
      >There is simply no justification for pigeon-holing the
      >parable genre into the wisdom tradition at the expense
      >of the prophetic.

      See the above... but one more note here. You and I tried to get a
      conversation going... and I checked a note I made... in November of 2001...
      about the base data that people start with to construct their ideas about
      HJ. Thanks for putting your short list back to Andrew. So... let's give
      this a whirl again, shall we. To all... for beginning descriptive
      purposes.... let folks put out there in simple straight forward terms the
      "Top Ten" things Jesus said and the ten that Jesus did/ happened to him. As
      I happened to jot down my list... I'll put them down again:
      1. Baptism... Mark 1:9
      2. Jesus to Galilee Mk. 1:14
      3. Capernaum meal as paradigm for table fellowship Mk. 2:15-17c
      4.Lake side Parabling Mk. 4:1-9, 21-32
      5.Nazareth rejection Mark 6:1-4
      6. Two by two Mission Q/Luke 10:3-9
      7. Last days in Galilee Mark 9:33-37, 50
      8. Parabling in Jerusalem Mark 12:1-9a, 12
      9. Crucifixion Mark 15:25
      10. Women witness death Mark 15:40-41

      1. Mark 4:9 Two Good Ears
      2.Th. 47 Mount Two Horses
      3. Q/Matthew 5:44 Sunrise/Rain Fall
      4. Mark 4:30-32 Mustard
      5. Q/Luke 12:6 Sparrows worth
      6. Q/Luke 6:27 Love of enemies
      7. Luke 11:5-7 Friend at MN
      8. Q/Luke 17:33 Save/Lose
      9. Q/Matthew 28-29 Consider the lilies
      10. Mark 9:50 Salt/peace

      (I did this from the notes... sorry if any verses are wrong).
      At any rate... maybe folks will actually just lay out what they see as core
      and key... and we might actually find in this group where there is any
      beginning agreement. We'll see. But for now... unless Dale Allison or
      anyone else has dug up something new... we're all working from the same
      resources... and... again... as long as there are just base disagreements
      about what is historically rooted and what comes from the wondrous
      imaginations of these early folks... then we're mostly going to disagree.
      I'd just like to see where *** any *** agreements might be found. So...
      let's try this again.
      >>Brandon Scott, for one, is just great on this...
      >>as are Crossan and Borg, of course.
      >As you know too well, I believe they are among the
      >worst parable interpreters

      I know... and no point in belaboring this... my suggestion nevertheless
      remains for folks to consider the integrity of the wisdom heritage past, in
      Jesus and earliest Christianity and afterwards. Whatever else folks want to
      add to that... and there's lots of valuable insights to be had... that
      heritage deserves careful consideration in its own right and in its own
      integrity. These writers work at that and therefore deserve consideration
      for that even if there are other disagreements. I have my own with each of
      them.... but this issue because it gets bowled over or so quickly ignored or
      transmuted into something else deserves its own careful study and these are
      guys who see that.

      . Will we never agree on
      >anything? :(

      Well... the new Dune mini-series is coming out mid-month and we'll probably
      agree on what we think of that;)!

      take care,
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