Sunday, February 18, 2018

5. A Biblical Theology of Israel

5.1 One God, One People
  • "Four pillars" of deuteronomistic theology: henotheism, election, covenant, land
  • We have already talked about the henotheism of Israel and its progression. Exodus 20 seems to be patterned on a suzerainty treaty.
  • Deut. 32:8-9 speaks of God choosing Israel in the great nation matching (election). We've already talked about deuteronomistic theology and the blessings and curses of Deut. 28.
  • Psalm 82 pictures YHWH as king of the gods.
  • Israel initially was an amphictyony. Then it was a monarchy. Then the Law took a certain center stage and it was run by priests centered in the temple.
  • Israel was not greatly eschatological but had more of a cyclical view of history. The apocalypticists of the late 200s/early 100s BC introduced the linear components that would become characteristic of Christianity.
5.2 A Biblical Theology of the Law
  • The cultic parts of the Law were fulfilled in Christ.
  • The civil parts of the Law were heavily ensconced in the Ancient Near East.
  • "Christ's law" is the law of love, which includes most but not all of the Ten Commandments.
  • Sexual ethics seem to occupy an ambiguous zone in relation to Paul's broader view of the Law but are retained as part of NT ethics.
  • The early church debated what we might call "Jew-specific laws," laws that especially pertained to the ethnic boundary between Jews and Gentiles (circumcision, food laws, most purity laws, Sabbath observance). Paul considers these not binding on Gentile believers although other early Christian leaders seem to have disagreed.
5.3 Parting of the Ways?
  • Neither Paul nor any of the original disciples of Jesus saw faith in Jesus as a parting with the faith of Israel or its Scriptures. That is, the New Testament is not supercessionist.
  • None of the biblical authors ceased believing in one God. The way that Jesus related to the one God is debated. Those who hold to an early high Christology see Jesus as included in some way within the one God. Others see this inclusion taking place later in a Gentile context.
  • The election of Israel seems to be a central feature of much of the New Testament even though the gospel is universalized. Matthew sees the mission to the world emerging from Israel. Luke-Acts see us in a middle time, "times of the Gentiles," but with Jerusalem and its temple as the center of the mission. Paul says that Israel's election is "without repentance" (Rom. 11:29).
  • Three positions on Romans 11: a) replacement theory, b) the true ethnic Israel reading, and c) the final return reading. Perhaps the third one fits Romans 11:26 best. But we are left with 1) the fact that current Israel is not believing Israel--it is not yet the Israel of promise and 2) we must remain somewhat agnostic about God's current plan with regard to the events of the last century. We will know when it is all finished.
  • The Gospel of John seems to come the closest to the boundaries of Judaism: 1) it most equates Jesus with God the Father; 2) it most most distances Jesus from Judaism ("your law"); 3) it most has the feel of Christianity as a wholesale replacement for the Jewish festivals in addition to the temple; 4) it distances the worship of God from Jerusalem and makes it a matter of the Spirit.

Previous "chapters"
Chapter 1: What is Biblical Theology?
Chapter 2: Theology of God
Chapter 3: Creation and Consummation

4.1-3 Sin and the Fall
4.4 Sin in the Old Testament
4.5 Sin in the New Testament
4.6 Atonement in the Old Testament
4.7 Atonement in the New Testament

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