Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Was Jesus Apocalyptic? What do "most" scholars think?

I'm still trying to finish an article for a dictionary.  I recently found myself writing this statement, "The Gospel of Mark places this language[kingdom of God] in an apocalyptic context, which most again would argue likely goes back to the historical Jesus."

Do "most" really think that?  Who do we count?  Certainly most who consult this particular dictionary do.  I think any good, fair minded historical Jesus scholar does.  I find Crossan and Borg bad historical Jesus scholars on this score.  But "most"?  Certainly more books have come out for this position in the last few years than for the other side.  What do you think?  Do I need to reword?

P.S. Does this post qualify me as a biblioblogger? ;-)


Jason A. Staples said...

I think "most" is pretty safe at this point. It's really the Jesus seminar folks against just about everyone else on this, so it's a pretty strong majority.

Bob MacDonald said...

As a layman, apocalyptic might mean anything. Are we supposed to stop our bus before driving right through that word?

Ken Schenck said...

Broadly speaking, I take it to mean the sense that God was about to do something decisive in history, so much so as to say that one age was ending and another beginning.

Bob MacDonald said...

Thanks - I think I find its meaning more in the sense it bears of 'revealing' - a present action. Yet I do agree that Jesus 'in time' is pointing towards his own destruction and as Paul interprets, 'ours with him'. If one died then all died.

This for me fulfills the desire of the psalms that wickedness should 'come to an end'. In simple linear terms, wickedness did not find a universal terminus, but in terms of living through Christ, it did. In the same way the anointed poet was known already and the words of these poets together provide the words of dialogue between Father and Son as is noted in the letter to the Hebrews. Apocalypse thus turns time around because God is in its moment.

Robert said...

I'm well aware that there are people who argue that Jesus wasn't apocalyptic, but 'messiah' is surely an apocalyptic title, and Paul's had time to re-work apocalyptic ideas and produce his own version. That wasn't the work of a day.

While we don't have a Gospel pericope where Jesus is called 'messiah' which can plausibly go back to his lifetime, that doesn't mean that he wasn't called 'Messiah'; it merely suggests that the way in which the Gospels use the term doesn't go back to Jesus.

I can't see how the title could have attached itself to a dead man, so I have to assume that it was used in his lifetime, and that can only have been within some form of apocalyptic community.

Scott bailey said...

I once did a series on apocalypticism in Luke you might find interesting (ignore the first article on the link)


David L. Woolsey said...

With regards to Crossan and Borg, I think that their definition of "apocalyptic" might be more of the issue than their scholarship of the "historical Jesus."