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Title: Jesus and Israel's traditions of judgement and restoration
Author: Bryan, S. M.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1999
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This thesis attempts to assess the degree to which Jesus' eschatology was realized by examining his use of sacred traditions regarding Israel's restoration. I have argued that Jesus' appropriation of traditional of national judgement led him to reconceive expectations about key constitutional features of the eschaton which he believed should already have been fulfilled. In contrast to many other studies which treat Jesus as a prophet of Jewish restoration, I have argued that Jesus did not adopt Jewish restorationism unchanged but employed sacred traditions to undermine common expectations of restoration and to assert that the nation was about to be judged. Jesus rejected the expectation that Israel's restoration would begin with a reiteration of the definitive events of Israel's original redemption and conquest of the Land, offering instead the "sign of Jonah", a figure consistently associated in Jewish tradition with the threat of unavoidable judgement. The prospect of national judgement appears also in Jesus' polemic against "this generation" which originated in the curse texts of Deut 28-32 as a moral and salvation-historical designation of the nation about to be judged. Jesus' vineyard parables and the parable of the great banquet are likewise shaped by an horizon of national judgement and call into question the meaning of Israel's election by using traditions which had been employed to speak about the shape of Israel in the restoration. These parables correspond to Jesus' association with "sinners" whose overt rejection of the covenant was thought by many to have excluded them from all possibility of joining in Israel's eschatological repentance. Against this view, Jesus asserted the absolute freedom of God to include even apostate individuals in the eschatological forgiveness of the apostate nation. Jesus' use of the tradition regarding Elijah's return indicates a rejection of the view that Elijah would regather the twelve tribes to the Land. Instead Jesus asserts that Israel's restoration had already taken place in the formation of a remnant called forth through the baptismal ministry of John the Baptist, a remnant which Jesus invited individuals to join. But Elijah's restoration prior to the end had to be understood in light of the Danielic tradition which indicated that God's people are to endure affliction just prior to the end. Jesus also drew on alternative traditions to assert that the time for Israel's eschatological purity and Temple had already come. Many first century Jews pursued an expanded program of purity in an attempt to express the holiness appropriate to Israel in the eschaton. In line with a minority stream of tradition, Jesus distanced himself from this program, asserting that failure to preserve bodily purity could not compromise holiness. Not the priest and Levite who preserve purity, but a Samaritan who shows neighbourly love acts in a way appropriate to the eschaton, a view which distanced Jesus from the anti-Samaritanism inherent to much Jewish expectation concerning Israel's reconquest of the Land. Jesus likewise made use of a minority tradition in condemning the Temple for failing to be what it should already have been, viz. the eschatological Temple, and predicting that he himself would become the agent for the construction of a non-material Temple - a Temple "not made with hands".
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available