Who’s/Whose Jesus?

Ed Snow is a Mormon humorist yearning to be taken seriously. It doesn’t help that his writings evidence a wide variety of inconsistent theological and historical views, found mostly in the pages of Sunstone, Dialogue, Irreantum, The Sugar Beet, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, and FARMS Review of Books, among others. He authored Of Curious Workmanship: Musings on Things Mormon published by Signature Books. Ed is a banking and finance lawyer in Atlanta.

Some of my Baptist friends say Mormons worship a different Jesus. If so, one is led to ask just how many are out there? If you go to Barnes & Noble you’ll find several brands of Jesus to choose from. Magician, philosopher, revolutionary, feminist, apocalyptic prophet, mythical figure who never existed, messiah, ancestor of the Merovingian kings, God incarnate. If there’s more than one Jesus, one important question is: What’s the plural for “Jesus”? I’ve always suspected problems arising from the correct possessive and plural forms of his name were the real secret reasons why Mormons would rather avoid the too frequent use of it. That particular LDS teaching itself would be an interesting BCC topic, but must be postponed till another day. I avoid any traditional LDS circumlocutions of that name, trusting I won’t offend anyone here.

If you start asking the question “whose Jesus are we talking about?” eventually you must ask the question “who’s this Jesus we’re talking about?” I will ask several questions about the figure of Jesus of Nazareth in a series of blogs. Did he exist? Sounds like a stupid question, but it’s one that keeps getting asked again and again. I’ll ask it and we’ll explore some documentary evidence. What did he do? What did he teach? Did he own the clothes he wore? (Regrettably, we won’t investigate this issue, although it is my favorite doctrinal dispute from The Name of the Rose.) Again, we’ll flip through the historical record, we’ll look at what some scholars have written and we’ll conduct our own mini search for the “historical Jesus.

For Mormons and other Christians these questions might seem beside the point since they are sure that they already know the answers, even though these answers vary. But the Jesus they usually describe is not an historical Jesus at all since what is generally meant by historical Jesus is a figure known as “Jesus” from the past who is reconstructed by critically examining documentary or other evidence. By comparison, a Jesus reconstructed from confessions of faith or personal or institutional revelation (even if historical data is used in the process) is a faith Jesus. An historical Jesus may sound like the real Jesus (yet another category), but he is really just an artificial construct, a product of the art and science of historians. In terms of portraiture, the historical Jesus is a hasty line drawing with a thin piece of charcoal done in profile, not the real Jesus who would be an oil portrait painted at leisure. Certainly, the purpose of the historical method is to approximate, as closely as possible, the real Jesus, but it can never really do this, contrary claims notwithstanding.

The further back you go in antiquity, the broader the gulf becomes between the real and historical of anything. Historians and students of history (including me) are not immune from criticism here either–some continue to confuse their historical Jesus with the real Jesus. Note to self: avoid the mere appearance of over-confidence. The real Jesus did things about which there is no historical record–he may have whistled, played pranks on friends, caught the measles, had a favorite joke, suffered from male pattern baldness. No doubt the real Jesus did something contrary to what is believed by the most rational scholars to be the undisputed historical evidence giving rise to any historical Jesus.

Here’s a simplistic example of what I’m talking about. Some 19th Century Mormons believed Jesus was polygamous, that is, their faith Jesus was married and had more than one wife. You might use an historical methodology (whether faulty or not is up for discussion) to reconstruct such an historical Jesus. But whether the real Jesus was married and had more than one wife is unknowable, even though my pioneer Latter-day Saint will argue that his/her polygamous historical Jesus strongly suggests that the real Jesus was polygamous, and that s/he has a testimony that his/her faith Jesus is the real Jesus.

Any thoughts? (Later we might even talk about the faith Joseph Smith, historical Joseph Smith and real Joseph Smith.) Next week’s loaded question–Did Jesus exist?

Comments

  1. Kevin Barney says:

    Hey, Ed, great to e-see you.

    You know, my very favorite scene in Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ was the one where Jesus is building something and being all super-charming and joking around with his mother. We have no way of knowing whether such a scene ever took place, but it is a creative imagining that I enjoyed.

  2. Ed, where does the Jesus of 3 Nephi fall?

    I mean, Mormons would say he was both an historical Jesus and a faith Jesus in those chapters, but also (owing to the nature of the BoM) a real Jesus.

  3. I’m rather sympathetic to the oft-quoted critique of historical Jesus scholarship that scholars “have looked down the long well of history and seen their own dimly reflected faces.” I think it’s hard to escape that problem. Growing up in Utah, I learned about a Jesus who wasn’t afraid to stand up for truth and condemn sin; in the Bay Area of California I note that I’m more likely to hear about a Jesus who is radically inclusive. (I do have to admit that the bumper sticker “Who Would Jesus Bomb?” makes me laugh.)

    Which isn’t at all to say that I think historical scholarship is without value. Actually, the question that interests me the most is–what is the relationship between the historical Jesus and the faith Jesus? In other words, to what extent does (and should) historical scholarship affect my faith? I’m very much still in the process of working that one out for myself.

  4. There’s been a great serious discussing the historical Jesus over at FaithPromotingRumor

  5. I think you are right about how we all see Jesus thru our own prisms. Almost always the faith Jesus. What was Jesus doing during those teenage years and early adulthood anyway? Was he communing regularly with heavenly visitors? Was he interested in the opposite sex at all?

    In my view the best way to see the faith Jesus is thru recent conference talks, church publication articles etc. That is just me a mainstream guy.

  6. Aaron Brown says:

    Ed,

    I don’t know if Christ was a polygamist, but as you attempt to construct your historical Jesus, I invite you to incorporate the following indisputable historical data regarding Jesus’ marital status and offspring:

    While a student at BYU, I was invited to speak in a Sacrament meeting for LDS inmates at a Utah prison. Afterwards, I toured the modest geneological center run by a few Mormon prisoners there. As I was looking at the lists of deceased persons’ names — for whom temple submissions had apparently been made — on the various computer screens, one of the inmates offered to show me something special. He started speaking in a hushed, solemn tone, so I knew what I was about to see was a “big deal.” The inmate showed me a screen with a list of anglicized Hebrew names. At the top was the Hebrew name for Jesus. Below were several other names I did not recognize. The inmate explained to me, in the holiest of tones, that these were the names of Jesus’ children. I replied, “Oh really? And how do you know this?” The inmate just stared at me intensely for a few moments, and said, “Trust me …. we KNOW.”

    So there you have it. Undeniable evidence that Jesus had kids (suggesting that he also must have been married). It said so right there on the computer screen, the inmate bore testimony of its truth, and I would never think of questioning the representations of pious Church members.

    :)

    Aaron B

  7. Aaron,

    You can pretty much take that to the bank.

    I almost fell out of my chair….

  8. Thanks for the comments so far. I want to respond to two in particular when I have more time later today: (i) the BoM Jesus–how does he fit into this real/faith/historical business and (ii) how does one reconcile an historical Jesus with his/her faith Jesus. For some people, these are not two different questions, but the same question.

  9. Aaron,
    Of course! We all know if it’s on a computer screen, it *must* be true! ;)

    Ed,
    Forgive me if this is a little off topic, but the idea of narrowing down an identity to a conceivable, consensus picture (whether real, faith-based, or historical, is somewhat impossible. Everyone’s perceptions are unique, flavored by their own life experiences. In and of ourselves, we all live in the midst of the dichotomy of who we are versus who want to be, with who we see ourselves as floating somewhere in between. It is the same for every other person, even every abstract concept, in our lives. People can come to a consensus in regard to accepted facts and attributes, but beyond that it never is exactly the same to each person, as there are infinite layers of nuance. So, I would purport that there, in fact, approximately 6 billion different Jesuses. (How’s that for a diffinitive plural?) Each one is unique to the belief structure and historical understanding of the person thinking of Him at the time.

    Even within any subset of those 6 billion, such as the “Methodist Christ,” the “Catholic Christ,” or the “Latter-day Saint Christ” (meaning consensus-agreed sets of facts about attributes and historical data) each individual has their own personal relationship with their own personal perception…and, in a way, that’s what really matters, y’know?

  10. each individual has their own personal relationship with their own personal perception…and, in a way, that’s what really matters, y’know?

    If you are interested only in asking about the direct object of Christian faith, then “right you are.” Faith is directed toward a person who is living now, the Risen Lord, and only secondarily to theological affirmations and ideas. He is accessible to all believers, and will be so despite that fact that most will never approach him through either theology or history.

    But this does not mean there is no point in Historical Jesus research. The Historical Jesus is not the essence or object of faith, but he is an integral part of theology, and theology cannot really speak to a modern society with credibility unless it comes to grips with these sorts of methodologies.

    To get to the point…well-done Historical Jesus research helps prevent the reduction of faith and of modern christology to ideological fads.

    –the Historical Jesus is very hard to domesticate, that is, to reconcile with a middle-class respectibility that consistently “looks the other way.” He spent too much time hanging out with low-lifes and opposing the deadening religious structures and authorities of his day.

    –the Historical Jesus affirms continuity with the Risen Lord. This helps to avoid monophysitism, making it clear that he was fully human, yet rose to something far more, which has something to say to all of us.

    –the Historical Jesus reminds us that there is specific content to Christian faith, and that it cannot be reduced to some vague, existential attitude. We get off our fannies, so to speak, in imitation of a role model.

    –the Historical Jesus gives color and content, or concretization to some extent, to the object of faith.

    –the Historical Jesus was not bourgeois, but neither was he much of a this-world revolutionary. He’s not nearly as strident and harsh as some OT prophets. What Historical Jesus research does to some liberation theologies is very interesting.

    In fact, the Historical Jesus, when well done, usually subverts just about everybody’s ideologies. Especially those of the person doing this sort of research.

    Which is a good thing.

    And thanks, Ben, for the notice.

  11. Ronan asked how the BoM Jesus fits into this real/faith/historical business. I have a couple of thoughts.

    1. First, there is the most painfully obvious reason why non-LDS students of the historical Jesus can’t use the BoM in their research–the BoM is considered by them to be too late of a production to have any relevance and is dependent on the NT. But let’s assume Joseph Smith had “borrowed” the 3rd Nephi Jesus account from a text Joseph had obtained from Solomon Spalding that Spalding had copied from an authentic, ancient, yet non-canonical, Greek gospel he had obtained from the Harvard library that has now been dated from internal textual evidence with certainty to circa 50 C.E. Could 3rd Nephi then be used in the search for the historical Jesus? The answer is still NO because the BoM account deals with a post-resurrection Jesus who is just not subject to historical scrutiny. The historical Jesus, by definition, is an earth-bound Jesus and excludes the pre-existent Jesus and post-resurrection Jesus, each of which is by definition purely a faith Jesus.

    2. What about believing Mormons? Can they use the BoM in their own “private” search for the historical Jesus in which they bend the rules to allow for a post-resurrection Jesus event to be used for pre-resurrection historical Jesus research? Assuming they are even interested in the search, here are some possible scenarios.

    (a) I guess you could find something in Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount that isn’t attested in Luke’s similar sayings (multiple attestation is one of the criteria used to demonstrate items belonging to the historical Jesus) but that IS attested in the BoM Sermon at the Temple. Perhaps you could then claim, voila!, multiple attestation and ergo historicity for this item vis-a-vis Jesus, but I doubt you could do so with much exuberance. Many, if not most, apologists readily admit that Matthew influenced at least Joseph Smith’s *translation* of the Sermon at the Temple, rendering this claim meaningless.

    (b) Pick something in 3rd Nephi that Jesus says that is not attested to in any NT gospel. Next week a new ancient gospel is found in which this exact statement is found. While most LDS would be excited about the apologetic benefits to be derived from this new text, could it be used by Mormons to demonstrate historicity for the 3rd Nephi saying? Not really, because for the believing Mormon, historicity of that saying is never really in doubt.

    3. My Conclusion: Mormons, on the whole, are not interested in searching for the historical Jesus. Apologists might be interested in the search as an adjunct to their search for the historical BoM. Mormons *should* be interested in searching for the historical Jesus if for no other reason than to be able to enter into dialogue with others about who Jesus was and is.

  12. Lynette asked, “to what extent does (and should) historical scholarship affect my faith? I’m very much still in the process of working that one out for myself.”

    I have worked out an historical Jesus and still find him a “useable” faith Jesus. Not everyone is able to do this. My faith Jesus is now derived mostly from my historical Jesus, ie, what he said and did, rather than the theological statements others made about Jesus (ie, their faith Jesus). I think to have my faith Jesus be based on another’s faith Jesus is to have a watered down faith, a copy of a copy. In Mormon lingo, I don’t want to live on borrowed light. That’s why I’m on the quest for the historical Jesus.

    While this is really a topic for a later blog, my own search so far has led me to a Jesus who proclaimed the kingdom of God, the rule of God in the present, God’s reign within each of us, yet spread out across the earth but invisible to us all. I hear his proclamation to live so that my actions might reveal this hidden kingdom, to live in the way the world would be if God ruled it openly this very minute. More on this later.

  13. Is anybody else humming Depeche Mode through this discussion?

    Great post. I look forward to the follow ups.

  14. Ann, I prefer Johnny Cash’s version.

  15. The greater question is who is this great Messiah and who truly represents him in this day and age? The house of Israel has often been deceived or deceitful. Think of Joseph who was sold into Egypt by his brothers and how they must have felt when they discovered the truth of who he became. Moses was challenged by Korah and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed him up. The Messiah came in the flesh as the Son of God and the Jews rejected him much like the way the sons of Jacob had initially rejected Joseph. Paul the once great Pharisee frighten the Jews with the truth of his great conversion to Jesus Christ.

    The truth might frighten the Judo-Christian and Muslim world, but to the opened minded, honest of heart, true believer and sincere seeker of the greater truth a straight and narrow path will be opened which leads into the greater light even eternal life. Beware my fellow believers of those who are quick to throw stones. Be not deceived by those whose ministries might be financially effected by these truths. Look to the Lord Jesus Christ who will give you milk and honey without money.

    Christ is the answer for surely he is the Son of God, the promised Messiah. He was born of the virgin Mary and suffered temptations of every kind while living in the flesh. He endured the crosses of this world and sinned not. He atoned for the sins of all mankind as he died upon the cross and on the third day he rose from the dead with healing in his soul for all those who will call upon his name in faith. He is the resurrection and the life, the truth and the light.

    The true gospel of Jesus Christ is the straight and narrow and only way to eternal life. The first principles and ordinances of the gospel are faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance of personal sins, baptism by immersion by the proper authority and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands as recorded in the Bible and Book of Mormon.

    I write in defense of all Christians everywhere from Adam even down until this very time. Woe be unto those who judge unjustly for they shall be judged by the Lord of Hosts. Have not many of the true prophets been judged and killed by the pious self appointed religious leaders of their day. How quick the general populous falls in line to throw stones at those whom their leaders point the finger of scorn. Even those who profess themselves as Christians have at times been guilty of the most murderous deeds. For to accept and profess Christ is not enough. Even the devils believe, and tremble as recorded James 2:19. To these false witnesses let us let God be their judge as recorded in Matthew 7:21-23. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity”.

    Come to the Lord with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and he will guide you by his Holy Spirit. Beware of the babbling of men for they often cry the loudest and judge the quickest. Their pointing fingers of scorn remind me of the Pharisees of old. Men with a mission to control the hearts, minds and purses of the everyday people. Many of the leading ministers of today practice the same art of trying to convince the people that their views of Christ and the Bible are the only true ones. They are the very ones who point the finger and judge others saying “he is of the devil”.

    The real question is; who do you listen to? God or man, the Holy Spirit or the voice of your minister, the Word of God or your priest’s interpretation. These are tough questions which all Christians must face. Those with opened minds and understanding hearts who have been born again and read the word of God by the power of the Holy Ghost will be lead into the greater light and know the truth of all things.

    Paul raised this issue to the Ephesians as recorded in chapter 4:11-14; “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;”

    The great apostle Peter gives us the keys to understanding the Bible in 2 Peter 2:20-21: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

    You must come to the Lord on your own with faith, hope, charity and trust in the living God who will guide you by the Holy Ghost to his true servants. Beware of the rhetoric of men who have their own secret agendas. They are usually self proclaimed Bible experts who claim their views are the only true gospel while denouncing others with differing views as teaching another or false gospel. They prey upon the weak and simple minded warning them not to listen to others, but to only follow the Bible.

    This is ironic because these men in the same breath are telling the people they have the only true interpretation. So in reality they are saying listen only to me for I know best. They are saying close your minds, hearts and doors to any others with any new or different thoughts. I beg to differ with this type of thinking. I think its demeaning to treat fellow human beings as if they lack the intelligence to understand what others are saying. This is the most subtle form of censorship and mind control. Did not the priests in the days of Christ strip their fellow Jews of this same freedom of choice.

    America was founded on freedom of religion and freedom of thought. It is this very principle which has opened our minds to new horizons and our country to many different cultures. We are one nation under God devoted to respecting the rights and privileges of others. Sometimes our self righteous attitudes to dictate and force others to believe the same way we do is a greater evil then the life style of the sinner. Did not the Savior tell the Pharisees that the harlots and publicans would enter into the kingdom of heaven before them. Who are you? The all wise authority or the humble, opened minded sinner. The reason the sinners were being saved is they stopped to listen and to do what this new comer, Jesus had to say. The well learned honorable religious leaders knew better then to give heed to these new revelations of Christ. It was easier for them to label him a devil and condemn him for blaspheme then to repent and be baptized in his name.

    Now truly think which group would you have been in back in those early days of Christ. A blind follower of the religious leaders, a knowledgeable religious leader or an opened minded earnest seeker of the truth. Those same groups exist today though their faces and names have changed. God will force no man into heaven, but he has promised to deliver us from evil by guiding us by the Holy Ghost.

    Again Peter gives us the true keys for gaining a knowledge of the truth. When the Savior ask Peter,”But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”(Matt 16:15-19)

    Revelation is the rock and Christ is the answer and you must gain that testimony from the Father in heaven and not from man. I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that Peter did receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven and in these last days he truly appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith and ordained him to that same office. The truth of this might cut you to the heart even as the truth about Joseph of old in Egypt cut the other sons of Israel to the heart. Now Joseph forgave them, but could they forgive themselves and acknowledge that Joseph was truly a prophet of the Lord God Jehovah.

    You know the answer, but can you be humble and man enough to do the same. Why kick against the pricks and fight against the living God; for he is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. Even the Savior chastened his disciples when they complained about a man casting out devils in his name. “But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.”(Mark 9:38-40)

    Judge not unjustly or you might find yourself in the same position as those who judged Peter and John in Acts chapters 4 and 5. Peter’s testimony of Christ was sharp, quick and powerful and they that heard it “were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men…. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.”(Acts 5:33-39)

    That same counsel should apply to Christendom in these last days when so many in the Counsel of Churches have been quick to defend the traditions of men and condemn the modern prophets such as Joseph Smith the American “Joseph” and Brigham Young the American “Moses”. I know these men were prophets of God and if you will open your hearts and minds to the true spirit of Christ and read the Book of Mormon under the influence of the Holy Ghost, rather then listen to the opinions of men, you too shall become a true friend to God and all men.

    So my fellow Christians, Jews, Israelites, Muslims and all ye ends of the earth think twice before you cast those stones. For if God is with us who can be against us. Remember what the Lord said,”by their fruits you shall know them.” Come with us and let us reason together, go the extra mile and turn the other cheek to prove your patients in the Lord. We may believe different things about the Christ, but that doesn’t give us the right to persecute one another. May we learn to love and understand one another as we await the day when we shall all see eye to eye in the Lord in Zion.

  16. Emma’s Son, what are you smoking?? Get your own blog if you’re posting pages of stuff.

    Never mind, I see you do have your own blog. I can’t speak for the people who run this so-called blog, but maybe you should keep treatises for your own so-called blog rather than someone else’s.

  17. This is slightly off topic, but not rude at all.

    As a child growing up in abject poverty and abuse in every dirt town of Nevada, I developed a type of spirituality based on Jesus as I perceived Him as I would attend whatever church was closest.

    I probably wandered into some born-again churches, I don’t know. I also wandered into Mormon churches. I am deeply grateful for those fundamentalist Christians for grounding me solidly in the New Testament. For teaching me about Christ and giving me someone to turn to when life was so tough.

    I agree that we all see Jesus a bit differently based on our own perception, even our own personality. I see Him as, unlike God, completely accepting of me as a package. I picture Him slumming.

    I don’t care if He was married or not.

    The other day a woman came through my checkout at Wal-Mart and we chatted and I asked her if she was from the area. She made some comment about where she was from and then said it didn’t matter because Jesus was her Savior, and made a vague negative reference to genealogy.

    I agreed that Jesus certainly reigns supreme in my life, then I added how wonderful it was for me to come to the area where I live and realize that, apart from my drunken, irresponsible parents, I had a noble heritage. I could have made the argument that my genealogy (arguably) work had demonstrated a direct blood lineage to Jesus’ relatives. I was too tired.

    I don’t even know what the point was of my sharing that story, except that I thought that lady was a little rude. Maybe she thought I was rude when I asked where she was from. It’s a southern Utah question.

  18. One other thing I want to make clear about my thoughts on this topic. I don’t value any historical Jesus over any faith Jesus. Nothing that I’m saying is intended to denigrate someone’s faith. I do believe that faith and reason should always be in dialogue, always willing to accept contributions from the other.

  19. Ed, thanks for your thoughts on historical scholarship and faith. I know that when I first encountered the possibility that some of the accounts in the gospels might be expressions of the early Christian community’s understanding of Christ, as opposed to events which actually happened in the life of Jesus, I did have to think a little about what that would mean for my own faith if it were true. (I’m no Bible scholar, so I won’t make any pretense of trying to evaluate the veracity of such arguments; I’m simply thinking about their potential theological implications.) I think my own faith in Christ fundamentally arises from my life experience, and at this point I don’t see that possibility as particularly troubling. Yet I see the historical Jesus as being quite relevant for my faith nonetheless in that my picture of Christ isn’t just a result of my own spiritual experience–it’s also profoundly shaped by what I know about him from scripture. Maybe one way of looking at it is that my understanding of the historical Jesus is the lens through which I make sense of my personal faith experience–and when the former is altered, it has real effects on the latter.

    Mogget, I really like your observation that historical Jesus research ends up subverting everyone’s ideologies.

  20. Thanks for the pingback FPR comment no. 20. I’m very influenced by Meier, among others. I will be going in that direction, although my discussion will be less scholarly than his or yours, more chatty, and eventually perhaps more personal than most. I plan on spending some time looking over your summaries of Meier as well.

    Without giving away the ending, I was startled with my initial realization that the historical evidence tended to point in the direction that Jesus may very well have believed in an imminent kingdom of God, an apocalyptic showdown to occur in his lifetime. I wondered, how could I square that with my faith Jesus? How could he have been, well, how does one say this … kind of wrong?

    But, as you note, this kingdom was not just future, but present as well. Jesus himself, according to the NT, said that not even the son of man knows the date of any such event (the identity of the son of man is a heavy suitcase to unpack, but it may be a self-reference)–why can’t we take him as his word? Was he (or the evangelist) joking around? Don’t think so. I concluded this didn’t matter. The proclamation of the present kingdom DID matter. More later.

Trackbacks

  1. […] N.B. It looks like a gentleman by the name of Ed Snow over at BCC is going to blog on historical Jesus. It also looks like he’s headed in the direction of a “John Meier Historical Jesus,” that is, an eschatological prophet whose proclamation of the kingdom of God has both realized and future eschatological content. […]

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