Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [XTalk] Re: apocalyptic Jesus and the problem of evil

Expand Messages
  • Jan Sammer
    From: Sukie Curtis ... we ... your ... claim ... Jesus idealistic theology is in my view applicable to the transformed world of the
    Message 1 of 13 , May 1, 2000
    • 0 Attachment
      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 2 of 13 , May 1, 2000
      • 0 Attachment
        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
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
        > Why buy CDs? Now you can swap for them. At Switchouse.com, you can
        > choose from over 300,000 titles of every kind of music. Top 20 hits,
        > R&B, hardcore, whatever. Get the music. Forget the money. Sound good?
        > http://click.egroups.com/1/3717/2/_/713/_/957179104/
        > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
        >
        > To subscribe to Xtalk, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-subscribe@egroups.com
        >
        > To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-unsubscribe@egroups.com
        >
        > To contact list managers, e-mail us at: crosstalk2-owners@egroups.com
        >
        >
        >
      • 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 3 of 13 , May 1, 2000
        • 0 Attachment
          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 4 of 13 , May 1, 2000
          • 0 Attachment
            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 5 of 13 , May 2, 2000
            • 0 Attachment
              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 6 of 13 , May 2, 2000
              • 0 Attachment
                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
                >
                > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                > Buy and sell used, rare and vintage gear at the Web's best
                > music gear auction. Register to enter the weekly gear giveaway!
                > http://click.egroups.com/1/3735/2/_/713/_/957245258/
                > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
                >
                > To subscribe to Xtalk, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-subscribe@egroups.com
                >
                > To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to: crosstalk2-unsubscribe@egroups.com
                >
                > To contact list managers, e-mail us at: crosstalk2-owners@egroups.com
                >
                >
                >
                >
              • 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 7 of 13 , May 2, 2000
                • 0 Attachment
                  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 8 of 13 , May 2, 2000
                  • 0 Attachment
                    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 9 of 13 , May 3, 2000
                    • 0 Attachment
                      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 10 of 13 , May 4, 2000
                      • 0 Attachment
                        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 11 of 13 , May 4, 2000
                        • 0 Attachment
                          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
                        Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.