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The Rule that is "at hand"

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  • Brian McCarthy
    Ted, 1) Concerning Jesus. You write, But Jesus completely redefined what he meant by the term kingdom with respect to God. Given the constraints of
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 3, 2000
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      Ted,

      1) Concerning Jesus.

      You write, "But Jesus completely redefined what he meant by the term
      'kingdom' with respect to God."

      Given the 'constraints of occasional communication' under which Jesus
      worked, I don't think he could have used the term 'malkut', or whatever the
      Aramaic is, if it had been defined [italics!] as Empire--oppressive exercise
      of brute power--for the general run of Galileans, and been in need of being
      "completely redefined" to match Jesus' message.
      Instead, it must have had a wide enough semantic field, with Empire at one
      extreme and better things at the other--perhaps suggested to the people by
      the later idealized image of David--the further you get from him, the better
      he gets-- and by familiar scriptures such as Ps. 72.
      This way it was possible--though not always easy--for him to make it clear
      what it meant for him. And part of what it meant when he affirmed it as a
      present reality, under ongoing Roman hegemony, was that it did not include
      the politically effective exercise of divine power against the
      oppressor/exploiter! His Good News was a soberly realistic Good News, that
      may have disappointed many.

      [The JS, on p.40 of THE FIVE GOSPELS, introduces, "God's imperial rule" --as
      language "which Jesus probably used"--without any explanation or
      justification of the 'imperial'. Maybe it is justified elsewhere?]

      2) For apocalyptic in general, and Revelation in particular, the Empire end
      of the semantic field would have been ok, given that here God's (imaginary,
      compensatory) role is to exercise power to satisfy the hunger and thirst for
      vengeance of his persecuted people. That's one of the things about having
      God 'on your side'--if its the right God!--you can imagine really savage,
      sustained vengeance.

      3) But what about Mark? Where did he stand? Nearer to Revelation or nearer
      to Jesus? If you translate, 'Empire of God' that puts him and his
      readers/hearers nearer to Revelation.

      Brian McCarthy, Madison WI

      PS. This is going rather far afield, but when I see the difficulty people
      have in explaining why Jesus was executed by the Romans--Paula Fredriksen
      does better than most when she argues that they knew he was no danger but
      saw that the people were getting excited and felt they needed to be given a
      sharp warning--I think of the "bandits" who were crucified with him,
      according to the gospels (especially of Mk 15:7 with its intriguing definite
      articles--"the bandits...the insurrection." What insurrection?)

      And the hypothesis suggests itself: Perhaps they were not very bright
      hot-heads who had been among Jesus' 'occasional hearers' and who had heard
      what they wanted to hear, and had incriminated him under interrogation?
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