Thursday, August 28, 2008

McKnight on 70AD and God's Consummated Kingdom

One of the most difficult passages in the Bible for me to understand is Mark 13 and it's parallels: Matthew 24:1-51 and Luke 21:5-36. Some interpreters see this passage as Jesus foretelling the destruction of the temple (70 A.D.) and the final judgment which would usher in God's final kingdom in the near future that is within one generation (Mark 13:30), while other see Jesus as only predicting the temple's destruction as imminent and not God's final judgment/kingdom and yet others see Jesus only talking about fall of the temple, saying nothing about God's final judgment/kingdom.

Albert Schweitzer is probably the best known promoter of seeing Jesus predicting the nearness of both the temple's destruction and God's final judgment/kingdom, thus when God's final kingdom did not come about, he was wrong.

Scot Mcknight has a similar view to Schweitzer but challenges the notion that Jesus was in error based on his understanding of biblical prophets and how prophecy normally works. He writes:

"In his vision of human history, Jesus saw no further than A.D. 70, and to this date he attached visions of the final salvation, the final judgment, and the consummation of the kingdom of God in all its glory. That history took another course does not at all mean that Jesus was in error; rather, like the Hebrew prophets before him, he saw the next event as the end event and predicted events accordingly. This perspective was typical of Jewish prophecy from of old; the next event was seen as the end event, but that next event resulted in a series of unfolding events. Prophecy carried with it an innate poetic ambiguity. It might be that Jesus made a distinction between the climatic events pertaining to the nation and to Jerusalem, on the one hand, and to the final events of history, on the other; that is, that Jesus distinguished the events of A.D. 70 from the final events (judgment, kingdom, etc.) This would be very difficult to prove and need not be proved, since Jesus' method was so typical of Jewish prophecy:the next event, an event that God had enabled a prophet to see, would take shape as the last event that would wrap up God's plan for history". - pg 12, A New Vision For Israel: The Teaching of Jesus in National Context

Very interesting stuff. I need to think about this more.

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