Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Coming of the Son of Man

One of the most thought provoking and enjoyable books I’m reading at the moment is Andrew Perriman’s The Coming of the Son of Man. I’m not sure what I think of his Wrighesk eschatology as yet, and I will perhaps return to review the book properly when I’m done.

His constant aim is to explode any notion of a systematic or universalised eschatology in Jesus’ eschatological language. Rather, he takes it to refer to the destruction of the second Temple, and the establishment of the new people of God – this being the coming of the Son of Man. Preterism, in other words.

Perriman appeals to ‘a conscious act of reimagination’ (78) as necessary to uncover the true scriptural teaching over against what he admits are our natural readings of the text.

For example, ask yourself what the disciples meant when they asked Jesus: ‘Lord, will those who are saved by few?’
You may well have defaulted into thinking this a general theological question about quotas for heaven. However, Perriman will insist: ‘it is question about Israel’ (89).

His case has much to commend it, yet I withhold judgment until I’m finished.

P.S., and to totally change the subject, after hearing a superb paper delivered by my friend last night at Tübingen, it appears that the italicised in the following sentence is a later gloss: ‘And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you.”’ (Mark 4:24)

Right, time to finish off my glass of Port, and hit the hay.


At 5/24/2006 1:45 AM, Anonymous James said...

Thanks for keeping up with my blogging project of this week, universalism. I'll have to read this book, as it seems to touch on some themes I'm working on. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention! Keep checking back as I continue to flesh out what I think of universalism.

At 5/24/2006 11:14 AM, Anonymous Al said...

I have long found the preterist position generally persuasive (although I am a convinced believer in a future general resurrection, so I am not a full preterist). It just seems to do far more justice to the texts when read on their own terms.

At 5/24/2006 4:30 PM, Anonymous One of Freedom said...

I can see the shift in NT thought from a real immediate second return to a "wait a minute, we might be here a while." But preterism just seems too much like a "wait a minute maybe it's as good as it's going to get". Plus it doesn't seem to do justice with the Laddian Kingdom tension that I am so enamoured with. How was the port BTW?

At 5/24/2006 5:28 PM, Anonymous Chris Petersen said...

I myself used to adopt this whole "apocalyptic language metaphorically refers to the destruction of the second temple" bit. I was of course, influenced by N.T. Wright on this score. But reading Dale C. Allison has convinced me otherwise. He makes a persuasive case that Jesus' audience would have taken the apocalyptic language as literal as opposed to metaphorical.

At 5/24/2006 10:58 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi James,
I'll be away for a few days, so I won't be able to follow the posts sadly - so be sure to post slowly!

Hi Alastair,
Yes, I would still want to affirm a future general resurrection too. I like the preterist position; I want it to be the correct handling of the relevant texts.

Hi Frank,
The Port was lovely, thanks!

Hi Chris, I'll have to dig that book up. I know Conrad Gempf is no fan of this eschatological trend either.

At 5/24/2006 11:45 PM, Anonymous Chris Petersen said...


It can be found in Allison's "End of the Ages Has Come" and "Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet."

At 5/25/2006 12:13 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Many thanks, Chris!

At 5/25/2006 12:37 PM, Anonymous tigger said...

Hi Chris,

I've not read this book but have interacted with Andrew Perriman on his OpenSourceTheology website (which is excellent!) and find myself sort of going along with him 80-90% but then not being sooooooooo sure of the final 10%!

One of my questions to him was, if his thesis is wholly true, then why don't we see the same themes explicity dealt with in Clement/Ignatius/Polycarp etc...

My impression is that, starting from the earliest post-apostolic times, we have the development of eschatology/apocalyptic as it will continue to be expressed throughout the patristic period -but which isn't typically covered in evangelical preaching ;-)

I'm very happy for the 'Jesus traditions' to have Israel/Temple in view (and I see the apocalyptic as being able to be understood as both literal and metaphorical: 'The Asian Tsunami was an earth-shaking event...') and so we see the outworking of this in the synoptics, as well as Hebrews/Revelation etc... - but, as one of your commentators said, we also need to allow for the evidence that the understanding of these traditions was also 'morphing' (around mid 60's+) to which the Johannine texts provide witness.

This is an area of huge interest for me. I'm pretty much with Wright et al on the nature/context of the 'Jesus teaching/traditions' (i.e. 2nd temple Judaism), and am happy to follow the Pauline 'outworking' of this within the wider empire ('No Jew or Gentile' etc...), but I'm still trying to trace the evolution of the classically Jewish/2nd temple ideas into the more 'universal' thinking found within the fathers.

What d'ya think?

At 5/28/2006 10:18 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Tigger,
Thanks for these thoughts. Like you, I find this whole subject fascinating. For me, I'm still not sure I can throw my lot in with Wright etc as yet, primarily because of certain exegetical reasons. The eschatological discourse in Mk, for example, seems to fit well the preterist case, but I'm not so sure, for example, about the Mat 25 Sheep/Goats.

At 5/29/2006 3:56 PM, Anonymous ConradGempf said...

Just keep reading the text of Scripture and you'll get to the right view despite the books you're reading, Chris. NTW and AP can't easily accomodate whole chunks of Matthew, Luke, 1 Thess etc.

At 5/29/2006 8:48 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Conrad, nice to hear from you. Yes, you may be right. I look forward to your own extended exegesis on these issues.

I find the exegestical principle they apply (locate within historical horizon, resist ahistorical universalisations) attractive, but when I go to the texts themeselves, I am less than convinced.

At 9/11/2006 4:24 AM, Anonymous J. Witmer said...

hi, just a passerby - in regard to the resurrection re: fulfilled eschatology - a must read - "the Body" by JAT Robinson.

This book makes all clear.

At 9/11/2006 4:25 AM, Anonymous J. Witmer said...

Hi, just a passerby - in regard to the resurrection re:fulfilled eschatology - a must read - JAT Robinson, "The Body". This book explains all.

At 3/09/2007 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

personally I believe that the Second Coming of Jesus will never take place. I hope that I am wrong because if it doesnt ever happen it means that every man and woman ever born has perished forever. People need a Saviour but I just dont see such a glorious Event ever happening.


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