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Re: apocalyptic Jesus and the problem of evil

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  • RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Sukie Curtis writes:
    Message 1 of 13 , Apr 30, 2000
      Sukie Curtis writes:

      << If for instance, every Jesus scholar worth her/his salt came to agreement
      that
      Jesus WAS a preacher of apocalyptic wrath and destruction, I might really
      think twice about him. >>

      This is a terribly negative view of apocalyptic! If I understand it right,
      apocalyptic is based on a belief - surely a not unreasonable one, given the
      sufferings of the Jews under, for instance, Antiochus IV and the Romans, or,
      equally, the horrors of the past century, that the present age is so
      controlled by evil forces, understood by the Hebrews as rebel angels, that
      God has decided to bring it to an end and inaugurate a better age, the
      'Kingdom of God'. The righteous will be raised to new life in the new age.
      It is a pity that Biblical apocalyptic is so widely used (or abused) by
      those who do not read the text seriously, as it gets the whole genre a bad
      name. One of the Sierra Leonean rebel leaders - now fortunately dead - used
      to be a neighbour of mine; the man bore a large share of responsibility for
      the attack on Freetown in January of last year. Being the British member of a
      Sierra Leonean family, things like this have brought me up against the
      problem of evil in a rather direct way. If we're going to wrestle with the
      evils of the modern age - and there would be something terribly wrong if we
      did not - don't we need to take the answers the NT writers were working with
      pretty seriously? Personally, I'm pretty convinced that HJ was a preacher of
      apocalyptic hope for his oppressed people, and I'm comfortable with that.
      What I'm not comfortable with is the fact that oppression and atrocities are
      still going on.


      Regards,

      Robert Brenchley

      RSBrenchley@...
    • Sukie Curtis
      ... Robert, My statement was unnuanced, to say the least, as a quick example of how the fruits of HJ scholarship might actually provoke a shift in my
      Message 2 of 13 , Apr 30, 2000
        Robert Benchley wrote:

        > Sukie Curtis writes:
        >
        > << If for instance, every Jesus scholar worth her/his salt came
        > to agreement
        > that
        > Jesus WAS a preacher of apocalyptic wrath and destruction, I might really
        > think twice about him. >>
        >
        > This is a terribly negative view of apocalyptic! If I understand
        > it right,
        > apocalyptic is based on a belief - surely a not unreasonable one,
        > given the
        > sufferings of the Jews under, for instance, Antiochus IV and the
        > Romans, or,
        > equally, the horrors of the past century, that the present age is so
        > controlled by evil forces, understood by the Hebrews as rebel
        > angels, that
        > God has decided to bring it to an end and inaugurate a better age, the
        > 'Kingdom of God'. The righteous will be raised to new life in the new age.
        > It is a pity that Biblical apocalyptic is so widely used (or abused) by
        > those who do not read the text seriously, as it gets the whole
        > genre a bad
        > name.

        Robert,

        My statement was unnuanced, to say the least, as a quick example of how the
        "fruits" of HJ scholarship might actually provoke a shift in my response to
        the person of Jesus.

        I agree that apocalyptic hopes are an utterly understandable response to
        intense suffering and persecution, especially for a people who understand
        their God to be a just, compassionate God. And yet, almost without
        exception (a notable exception being the way some scholars, including
        Crossan, portray Jesus as having an eschatological but non-apocalyptic
        outlook), those hopes for the 'Kingdom of God' contain the dark shadows of
        violence. What's good for "us" results in torment and destruction for
        "them." Perhaps one could say that's just real life--that's the evil doers'
        reaping the fruits of their own evil. But when we imagine that violence as
        *God's* way of handling evil in the world, that only seems to increase the
        evil that we ourselves carry out, often in the name of God.

        Perhaps Jesus was not utterly consistent in his theology, but why should we
        take seriously his "Love your enemies" and "Be perfect/compassionate as your
        heavenly Father is perfect/compassionate" and at the same time think that
        Jesus imagined God wiping out the enemies of justice? Which would you claim
        to be closer to the heart of the HJ's life (in both words and deeds)?

        Sukie Curtis
        Cumberland Foreside, Maine
      • Jan Sammer
        From: Sukie Curtis ... we ... your ... claim ... Jesus idealistic theology is in my view applicable to the transformed world of the
        Message 3 of 13 , May 1, 2000
          From: Sukie Curtis <sbcurtis@...>

          > Perhaps Jesus was not utterly consistent in his theology, but why should
          we
          > take seriously his "Love your enemies" and "Be perfect/compassionate as
          your
          > heavenly Father is perfect/compassionate" and at the same time think that
          > Jesus imagined God wiping out the enemies of justice? Which would you
          claim
          > to be closer to the heart of the HJ's life (in both words and deeds)?


          Jesus' "idealistic" theology is in my view applicable to the transformed
          world of the Kingdom, which was understood as already making its presence
          felt in the present world. Those who would be part of the Kingdom must adopt
          its ethic, start behaving in a manner characteristic of the laws and
          relations applicable to that transformed world. Thus I don't see this
          theology as being at all inconsistent with an eschatological theology.

          Jan Sammer
          Interpres
          Prague-Czech Republic
          sammer@...
          www.interpres.cz
        • Sukie Curtis
          ... I agree that Jesus idealistic theology is not at all inconsistent with an eschatological theology ; my question is whether it is consistent with an
          Message 4 of 13 , May 1, 2000
            Jan Sammer wrote:
            >
            > Jesus' "idealistic" theology is in my view applicable to the transformed
            > world of the Kingdom, which was understood as already making its presence
            > felt in the present world. Those who would be part of the Kingdom
            > must adopt
            > its ethic, start behaving in a manner characteristic of the laws and
            > relations applicable to that transformed world. Thus I don't see this
            > theology as being at all inconsistent with an eschatological theology.

            I agree that "Jesus' 'idealistic' theology" is "not at all inconsistent with
            an eschatological theology"; my question is whether it is consistent with an
            *apocalyptic* theology, since most every apocalyptic theology seems to
            envision God's purpose as involving a time when God punishes/wipes
            out/destroys the wicked. It is that aspect of apocalyptic I was wondering
            about. Not the "idealistic" part.

            Sukie Curtis
            Cumberland Foreside, Maine

            >
            > Jan Sammer
            > Interpres
            > Prague-Czech Republic
            > sammer@...
            > www.interpres.cz
            >
            >
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          • RSBrenchley@aol.com
            Sukie Curtis writes: Perhaps Jesus was not utterly consistent in his theology, but why should we take seriously his Love your enemies and Be
            Message 5 of 13 , May 1, 2000
              Sukie Curtis writes:

              Perhaps Jesus was not utterly consistent in his theology, but why should we
              take seriously his "Love your enemies" and "Be perfect/compassionate as your
              heavenly Father is perfect/compassionate" and at the same time think that
              Jesus imagined God wiping out the enemies of justice? Which would you claim
              to be closer to the heart of the HJ's life (in both words and deeds)?

              This is where I need to be more familiar with the extratestamental material.
              Jesus claimed to be, or at the very least was claimed to be by the movement
              he started, the Messiah. In a pre-70 context, this claim had, if I am
              correct, pretty specific apocalyptic implications. I came across some
              material recently (available at
              http://members.aol.com/FLJOSEPHUS/starOfBethlehem.htm) linking the star which
              'stood' over Bethlehem with the one which 'stood' over Jerusalem immediately
              before the outbreak of war. Such a star seems to have had pretty plain
              implications to the Jews! If we look at Messianic documents (I'm using what I
              have to hand) then in 11Q Melchisedek we find: ...and Melchisedek will avenge
              the vengeance of the judgements of God... and he will drag [them from the
              hand of] Satan and from the hand of all the sp[irits of] his [lot]. And all
              the 'gods [of justice]' will come to his aid [to] attend to the de[struction]
              of Satan.'
              It's pretty vengeful stuff, but I wonder how good is to triumph without
              the destruction of evil? I'm a bit puzzled by 'gods of justice'; I wish I had
              the original (I'm using Vermes' translation); could it be 'Elohim of
              justice'? Possibly angels of justice? I wonder whether the angelic messiah
              figure could point to the origin of angel Christologies? In any case, I'm
              assuming that this was the sort of expectation that formed the background to
              Jesus' claim.
              The NT writers appear to have known all about apocalyptic expectations of
              the Messiah, and, post-70, they begin to distance themselves, moving towards
              the later paradigm shift which produced the familiar tendencies to
              spiritualise Jesus. Matthew 26:53, for instance: Do you think that I cannot
              appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of
              angels? This seems to reflect, and reject, the expectation of angelic armies
              assisting the Jews, which we find in the War Scroll, and in Josephus, who,
              listing the omens which led the Jews to anticipate victory, records that
              'before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour were
              seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities' (War, 6.5). I
              think this sort of stuff sets the tone for Jesus' time, however politically
              inexpedient it may have been subsequently. Jesus has to have been a man of
              his time, as if he wasn't, how could he have communicated with those around
              him?

              Regards,

              Robert Brenchley

              RSBrenchley@...
            • Robert M Schacht
              On Sun, 30 Apr 2000 21:27:25 -0400 Sukie Curtis ... response to ... understand ... of ... Sukie, I think we need to distinguish here
              Message 6 of 13 , May 1, 2000
                On Sun, 30 Apr 2000 21:27:25 -0400 "Sukie Curtis" <sbcurtis@...>
                writes:
                >
                > ...I agree that apocalyptic hopes are an utterly understandable
                response to
                > intense suffering and persecution, especially for a people who
                understand
                > their God to be a just, compassionate God. And yet, almost without
                > exception (a notable exception being the way some scholars, including
                > Crossan, portray Jesus as having an eschatological but non-apocalyptic
                > outlook), those hopes for the 'Kingdom of God' contain the dark shadows
                of
                > violence. What's good for "us" results in torment and destruction for
                > "them." ...

                Sukie,
                I think we need to distinguish here between a punitive apocalyptic, which
                embodies the violence of which you speak, and a restorative apocalyptic.
                That is, the basic note of apocalyptic is that in the end, God will put
                everything right. What is at issue is how She will do that. To borrow a
                phrase, He can either do that by comforting the afflicted, or by
                afflicting the comfortable (or, of course, some mix of the two). You have
                seen too much of the writings that emphasize the latter, whereas it can
                be argued that Jesus' apocalyptic leaned more to the former type. Just as
                an example, recall that when J the B sent his disciples to Jesus to ask
                whether he was the messiah, Jesus answered (Matthew 11:2-5//Luke 7:18-23)
                with quotes from Isaiah about the blind receiving their sight, the lame
                walking, the lepers cleansed, etc.
                In general, I commend to you E.P. Sanders' chapters on The Kingdom
                (Chapters 11-13) in his The Historical Figure of Jesus.

                Bob
                Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
                Northern Arizona University
                Flagstaff, AZ
              • Brooks, George X
                Robert Benchley writes: Perhaps Jesus was not utterly consistent in his theology, but why should we ... Benchley raises an interesting point. Of late I have
                Message 7 of 13 , May 2, 2000
                  Robert Benchley writes:

                  "Perhaps Jesus was not utterly consistent in his theology, but why
                  should we
                  > take seriously his "Love your enemies" and "Be perfect/compassionate as
                  > your
                  > heavenly Father is perfect/compassionate" and at the same time think that
                  > Jesus imagined God wiping out the enemies of justice? Which would you
                  > claim
                  > to be closer to the heart of the HJ's life (in both words and deeds)?"
                  >
                  Benchley raises an interesting point. Of late I have gravitated to an
                  "either / or"
                  scenario with the HJ's REAL personality. One, his preaching and
                  conversations
                  could have had the sound and gnostic quality of much of the Gospel of John
                  and the
                  Gospel of Thomas. Which would mean that he was more of the "Philo" stamp of
                  Judaism to me. And the part of his movement that was dominated by former
                  Zealots
                  and "Iscariot" families, preferred to emphasize his potential for military
                  victory over
                  Israel's oppressors.

                  Or, two, he could have been more in line with the Maccabean traditions, like
                  those described in Robert Wise's FINE book _The First Messiah_, where the
                  internal needs of a "commune" organization brought the "love one another"
                  out loud and clear.... but without any real diminishment of the military
                  goals
                  of liberating the Chosen People and Zion.

                  I would be interested in any input that would help me make up my mind
                  about which of the two options makes the most sense.

                  George Brooks
                  Tampa, FL
                • Sukie Curtis
                  ... I agree, and I suppose that is the kind of question I was trying to raise without doing so very clearly. When *others* claim Jesus was an apocalyptic
                  Message 8 of 13 , May 2, 2000
                    Bob Schacht wrote:
                    >
                    > Sukie,
                    > I think we need to distinguish here between a punitive apocalyptic, which
                    > embodies the violence of which you speak, and a restorative apocalyptic.
                    > That is, the basic note of apocalyptic is that in the end, God will put
                    > everything right. What is at issue is how She will do that. To borrow a
                    > phrase, He can either do that by comforting the afflicted, or by
                    > afflicting the comfortable (or, of course, some mix of the two).

                    I agree, and I suppose that is the kind of question I was trying to raise
                    without doing so very clearly. When *others* claim Jesus was an apocalyptic
                    prophet or say they're "comfortable" with that identification, what are they
                    meaning? Are they including that dark shadow of violence as part of the
                    solution to evil?

                    You have
                    > seen too much of the writings that emphasize the latter, whereas it can
                    > be argued that Jesus' apocalyptic leaned more to the former type.

                    Yes, Bob, but if I have "seen too much of the writings that emphasize the
                    latter," it is because they exist in plenty, even in the NT. Whether one
                    attributes such sentiments to the HJ or to the community or to an author's
                    hand makes all the difference.


                    Sukie Curtis


                    Just as
                    > an example, recall that when J the B sent his disciples to Jesus to ask
                    > whether he was the messiah, Jesus answered (Matthew 11:2-5//Luke 7:18-23)
                    > with quotes from Isaiah about the blind receiving their sight, the lame
                    > walking, the lepers cleansed, etc.
                    > In general, I commend to you E.P. Sanders' chapters on The Kingdom
                    > (Chapters 11-13) in his The Historical Figure of Jesus.
                    >
                    > Bob
                    > Robert M. Schacht, Ph.D.
                    > Northern Arizona University
                    > Flagstaff, AZ
                    >
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                  • Mahlon H. Smith
                    ... Sorry to be a nit-picker about terminology, but I fail to see how Q s catalogue of events that allegedly *have occurred* (Matt 11:2-5//Luke 7:18-23) can be
                    Message 9 of 13 , May 2, 2000
                      Sukie Curtis wrote:
                      > >
                      > > ...I agree that apocalyptic hopes are an utterly understandable
                      > response to
                      > > intense suffering and persecution, especially for a people who
                      > understand
                      > > their God to be a just, compassionate God. And yet, almost without
                      > > exception (a notable exception being the way some scholars, including
                      > > Crossan, portray Jesus as having an eschatological but non-apocalyptic
                      > > outlook), those hopes for the 'Kingdom of God' contain the dark shadows
                      > of
                      > > violence. What's good for "us" results in torment and destruction for
                      > > "them." ...

                      Bob Schacht replied:


                      > I think we need to distinguish here between a punitive apocalyptic, which
                      > embodies the violence of which you speak, and a restorative apocalyptic.
                      > That is, the basic note of apocalyptic is that in the end, God will put
                      > everything right. What is at issue is how She will do that. To borrow a
                      > phrase, He can either do that by comforting the afflicted, or by
                      > afflicting the comfortable (or, of course, some mix of the two). You have
                      > seen too much of the writings that emphasize the latter, whereas it can
                      > be argued that Jesus' apocalyptic leaned more to the former type. Just as
                      > an example, recall that when J the B sent his disciples to Jesus to ask
                      > whether he was the messiah, Jesus answered (Matthew 11:2-5//Luke 7:18-23)
                      > with quotes from Isaiah about the blind receiving their sight, the lame
                      > walking, the lepers cleansed, etc.

                      Sorry to be a nit-picker about terminology, but I fail to see how Q's
                      catalogue of events that allegedly *have occurred* (Matt 11:2-5//Luke
                      7:18-23) can be called "apocalyptic" unless that word is emptied of all
                      its denoted meaning. An apocalypse is by definition a "revelation" of
                      some divine secret that is not immediately apparent, usually in some
                      visionary (dream-like) description of future events. While the
                      restorative feature of blind/see, lame/walk, dead/raised are ultimately
                      traceable to graphic eschatological promises in prophetic books like
                      Isaiah, even these sources are not properly described as "apocalyptic"
                      but rather "utopian."
                      There are apocalyptic statements ascribed to Jesus in the synoptic
                      gospels -- e.g., "I saw Satan fall" (Lk 10:18) & "You will see the Son
                      of man seated at the right hand of Power, etc." (Mark 14:62) -- but I'm
                      afraid J's alleged instruction to JB's disciples to "Go and tell John
                      what you (pl.) hear and see" is not one of them. For by definition what
                      is publicly visible in the current order cannot be apocalyptic.

                      Forgive the pedantry, but let me just quote M. Rist's summary
                      description of apocalyptic in the Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible
                      (p. 161):

                      "Apocalypticism is hopelessly pessimistic concerning this present age of
                      human history, which is evil and corrupt, with no propspect whatever of
                      betterment or improvement. Since it is irredeemable, it must be brought
                      to a calamitous end by divine intervention. Along with this pessimism
                      there went the related conviction that there is nothing the righteous
                      can do to make this age a better time in which to live. Everything
                      awaits God's expected intervention. Thus mankind is relieved of
                      responsibility for the evils of this age."

                      Thus, the Apocalypse of John & the little apocalypse of Mark 13 are true
                      apocalypses. But most of J's sayings in the gospels are not, since they
                      do not share either this fatalistic view of the current age or the
                      helplessness of humans in general. This is especially true of the
                      stories of J's healings in which human's are told that they are
                      responsible for their own cures without any miraculous divine
                      intervention (e.g., "Your faith has made you well," "Rise, take up your
                      mat & walk"). And such an optimistic, this-worldly view is true of most
                      of J's descriptions of the KofG. Again, I quote Rist:

                      "The doctrine of the kingdom of God is quite different. According to it
                      God has not abdicated this earth to Satan; furthermore, this present
                      (and only) age is capable of improvement if men will only learn to do
                      God's will. Consequently, the kingdom-of-God concept is optimistic
                      insofar as this present age is concerned, and requires that men help to
                      improve it. The defeatism of apocalypticism may well account for the
                      almost complete absence of ethical and social teachings from the
                      apocalypses."

                      I think it is this last set of observations that tips the balance
                      against those who want to describe HJ (or even JB) as an apocalypticist.
                      For either they ignore the demonstrable characteristics of the Xn &
                      Jewish apocalypses properly so-called & thus apply the term
                      "apocalyptic" to material that has no demonstrable root in apocalyptic
                      cosmology OR they are forced to deny the historical authenticity of the
                      most distinctive features of the gospels' descriptions of Jesus.

                      So, while I agree with Bob that the concept of "restoration" is crucial
                      for interpreting HJ, I cannot describe this as "restorative
                      apocalyptic." For while HJ describes an idealized KofG, he does not ask
                      anyone to wait for God to act to establish it some time in the future.
                      Rather, he is confident that the KofG is accessible now & he invites
                      others to celebrate it with him - even those secular types whom true
                      apocalypticists would regard as creatures of this evil age & therefore
                      destined for ultimate destruction.

                      Shalom!

                      Mahlon
                    • Robert M Schacht
                      On Tue, 02 May 2000 10:14:28 -0400 Mahlon H. Smith ... all ... Mahlon, Of course you re right. I was basing my thoughts on a realized eschatology according
                      Message 10 of 13 , May 2, 2000
                        On Tue, 02 May 2000 10:14:28 -0400 "Mahlon H. Smith"
                        <mahlonh.smith@...> writes (responding to Bob):
                        >
                        >
                        > Sorry to be a nit-picker about terminology, but I fail to see how Q's
                        > catalogue of events that allegedly *have occurred* (Matt 11:2-5//Luke
                        > 7:18-23) can be called "apocalyptic" unless that word is emptied of
                        all
                        > its denoted meaning. ...

                        Mahlon,
                        Of course you're right. I was basing my thoughts on a "realized
                        eschatology"according to which the Kingdom was already breaking into the
                        world (in the view of those writers espousing a realized eschatology) by
                        the work of Jesus, ushering in the eschaton (or so it seemed to them.)
                        You know the usual references.

                        In an odd and somewhat limited way, they were right: we recognize that
                        Jesus ushered in a new era because we count our years, however
                        inaccurately, from his life.

                        Bob
                      • Ron Price
                        ... George, The latter makes the most sense for it helps to explain the historical fact of Jesus crucifixion. Ron Price Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK e-mail:
                        Message 11 of 13 , May 3, 2000
                          George Brooks wrote:

                          > Of late I have gravitated to an
                          >"either / or"
                          >scenario with the HJ's REAL personality .......
                          >
                          > One, his preaching and conversations
                          >could have had the sound and gnostic quality of much of the Gospel of John
                          >and the Gospel of Thomas .......
                          >
                          >Or, two, he could have been more in line with the Maccabean traditions ...
                          >
                          >I would be interested in any input that would help me make up my mind
                          >about which of the two options makes the most sense.

                          George,
                          The latter makes the most sense for it helps to explain the historical
                          fact of Jesus' crucifixion.

                          Ron Price

                          Weston-on-Trent, Derby, UK

                          e-mail: ron.price@...

                          Web site: http://homepage.virgin.net/ron.price/index.htm
                        • RSBrenchley@aol.com
                          There are several posts I want to respond to, but I am recovering after being attacked on the way home from work the other night, and am not up to coping with
                          Message 12 of 13 , May 4, 2000
                            There are several posts I want to respond to, but I am recovering after being
                            attacked on the way home from work the other night, and am not up to coping
                            with more than one right now. Please bear with me.

                            Robert M. Schacht writes:

                            << I think we need to distinguish here between a punitive apocalyptic, which
                            embodies the violence of which you speak, and a restorative apocalyptic.
                            That is, the basic note of apocalyptic is that in the end, God will put
                            everything right. What is at issue is how She will do that. To borrow a
                            phrase, He can either do that by comforting the afflicted, or by
                            afflicting the comfortable (or, of course, some mix of the two). >>

                            Do we have any examples of complete or reasonably so apocalypses which go
                            for the one at the expense of the other? It's easy to find examples which
                            encompass both; contrast for instance the vengefulness of Rev.19:17-20:3,
                            etc., etc. with the scene at the end of the book. Surely this combination of
                            blessings and curses is a familiar theme adapted from the prophets? I agree
                            that parts of it are not comfortable reading, and we can be very selective in
                            our readings; the old 2-year British Methodist lectionary consistently took
                            passages of prophetic blessing and left out the judgmental bits. I don't
                            think this is a very helpful approach though.
                            Obviously, there is a lot of fantasy at work in apocalyptic; nobody has
                            visited the last judgement, seen the lake of fire, etc., and come back to
                            tell the tale! I think there is an underlying theological point, though,
                            which is valid. How exactly to you deal with evil, whether we are talking
                            about the individual mass murderer, monstrous regimes like the Nazis, rebel
                            movements like UNITA and the RUF, or the even bigger evils like third world
                            debt or institutional racism which seem to derive from the very way things
                            are ordered in this world, without judgement and the destruction of the evil?
                            The question is, I think, how far will the judgement go, and only God herself
                            can answer that one.
                            I can illustrate the point from the current situation in Sierra Leone.
                            The Lome peace agreement was the result of a situation where both sides had
                            fought each other to a standstill. It granted a blanket amnesty for all
                            actions in the war up to that point. It has solved nothing; atrocities are
                            still going on, and the rebels appear to be going through the motions of
                            disarming with one hand, and preparing for renewed hostilities with the
                            other. To live with evil without judging it will never free anyone from its
                            influence.
                            The UN, quite rightly, say that there can be no amnesty for crimes
                            against humanity. I think many of us would probably agree that some crimes
                            are just too terrible to be left unpunished. So Foday Sankoh, the rebel
                            leader, is now a frightened man who dare not attend talks outside the
                            country, because he can be arrested anywhere outside the borders of Sierra
                            Leone. There are, essentially, three groups of rebels. there are the people
                            directly responsible for the war; they are few - I have heard fifty quoted -
                            and their names are well known. Then there are those who have been
                            responsible for atrocities. Again, they are relatively few, and their names
                            are known. I think most of us would agree that these two groups should pay
                            the penalty for their crimes. Then there are the vast majority of rebels,
                            many of them children who have been forced to commit atrocities, or used as
                            slaves; many of them people who have been forced to join the RUF. I have a
                            'direct line' to the victims via my wife's cousin, who is chair of the
                            amputees' association; they are generally regarded as innocent victims, and
                            when they come in and disarm, that is how they are treated.
                            Today, this is pretty much how we would expect God to act; there is a
                            sound theological basis to the reconciliation progress. In Jesus' day, you
                            slaughtered your enemies when you got the chance, and expected God to act
                            likewise. Much of the vision of judgement is culturally mediated, depending
                            on how the writer would expect people to act on a defeated foe; this is then
                            projected onto God. But I think the underlying point about the necessity of
                            judgement remains valid.

                            Regards,

                            Robert Brenchley

                            RSBrenchley@...
                          • Robert M Schacht
                            ... after being ... coping ... Gladly. I m sorry to hear of your trials, and hope that your recovery is swift and complete. ... which ... apocalyptic. ... put
                            Message 13 of 13 , May 4, 2000
                              On Thu, 4 May 2000 16:55:31 EDT RSBrenchley@... writes:
                              > There are several posts I want to respond to, but I am recovering
                              after being
                              > attacked on the way home from work the other night, and am not up to
                              coping
                              > with more than one right now. Please bear with me.

                              Gladly. I'm sorry to hear of your trials, and hope that your recovery is
                              swift and complete.

                              >
                              > Robert M. Schacht writes:
                              >
                              > << I think we need to distinguish here between a punitive apocalyptic,
                              which
                              > embodies the violence of which you speak, and a restorative
                              apocalyptic.
                              > That is, the basic note of apocalyptic is that in the end, God will
                              put
                              > everything right. What is at issue is how She will do that. To borrow
                              a
                              > phrase, He can either do that by comforting the afflicted, or by
                              > afflicting the comfortable (or, of course, some mix of the two). >>
                              >

                              To which you responded:

                              > Do we have any examples of complete or reasonably so apocalypses
                              which go
                              > for the one at the expense of the other? It's easy to find examples
                              which
                              > encompass both; contrast for instance the vengefulness of
                              Rev.19:17-20:3,
                              > etc., etc. with the scene at the end of the book. Surely this
                              combination of
                              > blessings and curses is a familiar theme adapted from the prophets?

                              Indeed there is ample precedent in the Torah for this, although probably
                              also in the Prophets. This is a good point. However, the classic
                              blessings and curses in the Torah do not appear in an apocalyptic
                              context. Can you give me a good example from the prophets of what you
                              have in mind?

                              But while we're speaking of OT precedents, don't forget also that the
                              major meaning of "salvation" in the OT was corporate: God would save
                              *Israel*. I think the soteriology here is critical. Only in the Prophets
                              of the Exile, when there was no Jewish state to save, did soteriology
                              begin to become personal.

                              >... I think there is an underlying theological point, though,
                              > which is valid. How exactly to you deal with evil, whether we are
                              talking
                              > about the individual mass murderer, monstrous regimes ..., or the even
                              bigger evils ...
                              > which seem to derive from the very way things
                              > are ordered in this world, without judgement and the destruction of
                              the evil?
                              > The question is, I think, how far will the judgement go, and only God
                              herself
                              > can answer that one.

                              You touch on the classic problem of Theodicy here. In a sense,
                              apocalyptic provides an answer, of sorts, to theodicy.

                              >
                              > ... In Jesus' day, you
                              > slaughtered your enemies when you got the chance, and expected God
                              > to act likewise. Much of the vision of judgement is culturally
                              mediated,
                              > depending on how the writer would expect people to act on a defeated
                              foe; this
                              > is then projected onto God. ...

                              This is common enough. But our task is to find out what *Jesus* thought
                              or did about such matters. Was Jesus counter-cultural, in this case, or a
                              man of the people? Jesus appears to reframe this debate in a number of
                              ways.
                              Passages like the Beelzebul controversy seem to suggest that Jesus
                              thought in terms of a struggle between the forces of good and evil, and
                              was understood in these terms by some.
                              To him, corporate salvation may have referred to the total "good". Acts
                              of individual salvation (e.g., healing) were skirmishes with a larger
                              frame of reference.

                              In any case, I think you have made an interesting connection between
                              apocalyptic and theodicy that merits further examination.

                              Bob
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