Bob Whitesel was telling me at lunch how revolutionary George Ladd's theology of the kingdom was at Fuller when he was there in seminary. It's an odd story to me, because to me I have always found both Albert Schweitzer's rendition of Jesus (the kingdom is entirely yet to come) and C. H. Dodd's rendition (the kingdom is entirely here already) as so strangely extreme in the light of the gospels. Ladd's idea of "inaugurated eschatology"--the kingdom has begun in the person of Jesus but is not fully here and will not be fully here until Christ's return--has always seemed commonsensically the best description both of the gospels and of Christian theology.
But Bob has helped me see that these ideas, which for me in seminary were simply different ideological positions, were originally ensconced in what was going on at the time of these scholars. Ladd, for example, gave theological justification to a burgeoning charismatic movement for whom it was important to see the spiritual gifts of the kingdom as present reality. John Wimber, for example, was about to start the Vineyard movement at the time.
No doubt the same could be said for Schweitzer and Dodd, especially Dodd. It's a reminder that historical Jesus research often has as much or more to do with those doing it as with the historical Jesus. I'm not at all saying such investigations are illegitimate. I'm just confirming what so many have said before: when we see Jesus as our model for today, we often see Jesus as a mirror of ourselves.