Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Thought of the day

I’ve been busy today researching for an article for the forthcoming Encyclopedia of the Historical Jesus. My entry is on ‘The Tribes of Israel’ and it needs to be submitted rather quickly - not an easy task for someone who doesn’t look beyond the Apostle Paul all too often. Of course, if anyone could recommend any books, articles or important topics to me that I ought not skip on in relation to this article, please log your suggestions a.s.a.p! Actually, the subject of the tribes of Israel in connection with the historical Jesus is a fascinating one and the study process is giving me a good deal to think about.

For example, and this leads me to my thought of the day, in relation to Acts 26:6-8 Jacob Jervell writes:
‘The restoration of Israel is the same as the hope of resurrection’ (Luke and the People of God, p. 86)
This caused me to rub my chin thoughtfully! Is it really ‘the same’? If not the same, what relation does the prophetic hope for the restoration of the twelve tribes of Israel have to do with resurrection? This leads me to a wider set of questions that won’t settle down: Assuming at this point a reconstruction of the ‘historical Jesus’ that has more in common with Sanders/Wright etc than Crossan, was Jesus’ hope for the restoration of Israel (cf. the establishment of the Twelve disciples, and the tradition [Q?] represented in Matt 29:28/Luk 22:30) a simple failure? Is the Christianisation of this language in Jas 1:1 the only resolution to the tension possible? Why am I so damned attractive?

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18 Comments:

At 2/07/2007 10:57 PM, Anonymous Dan said...

I imagine that Jervell is relating resurrection to restoration through the lens of passages like Ez 37.

Wright argues that resurrection begins as a symbol for the restoration of Israel, and then develops into the notion of the literal resurrection of the dead so that those who lived faithfully before the restoration could participate in the restoration when it came about.

This then, in Wright's words, helps to explain why the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. The Sadducees were committed to maintaining the status quo, and opposed restoration movements. Thus, because resurrection was intimately linked to the restoration, the Sadducees denied the possibility of any resurrection.

Anyway, I imagine that you've already read all these things in Wright, but that was my first reaction to your questions.

As to the question of whether or not Jesus failed in his restoration movement, well, I think we need to think about how Jesus' resurrection -- alone in the midst of history -- causes us to rethink what restoration might mean (and then we need to ask whether or not Jesus actually anticipated this rethinking in his life and mission).

Grace and peace.

[Oh, and you may want to change Mt 29.28 to Mt 19.28.]

 
At 2/08/2007 3:45 AM, Anonymous Steven Carr said...

'The restoration of Israel'?

What about those of us who are happy being British, and who don't want to be an Israeli?

 
At 2/08/2007 7:37 AM, Anonymous Steven Carr said...

DAN
Wright argues that resurrection begins as a symbol for the restoration of Israel, and then develops into the notion of the literal resurrection of the dead so that those who lived faithfully before the restoration could participate in the restoration when it came about.

CARR
Did the people who took part in the violent Maccabean revolt 'live faithfully'?

Amongst other tactics, they killed Jews who were worshipping pagan gods.

Did God favour the revolt , which favour led to its success?

Or did he think that these people were not living faithfully?

Would the Sadducees have opposed the Macabbean revolt?

 
At 2/08/2007 7:42 AM, Anonymous Michael F. Bird said...

Chris,
I think the background is definitely Ezek 37-37 but quite possibly also Isaiah 26. It might be worth looking at Romans 11 as well. When Israel is restored it will be a miracle on par with resurrection (e.g. zao in Rom. 11).

 
At 2/08/2007 9:45 AM, Anonymous Steven Carr said...

I'm sure the restoration of Israel would be a great miracle, especially if the Israel that is restored is an Israel that never existed.

 
At 2/08/2007 11:27 PM, Anonymous J. B. Hood said...

I think i remember you saying you've tracked down Brant Pitre's book. It kicks some exegetical tail. If you haven't read it, hit at least the excursus on NTW and Exile. Good critique there.

See especially http://www.ibresearch.org/page.php?page_id=24,
by Scot McKnight. Excellent help, esp on "the 12" from the framework of hist. Jesus.

 
At 2/09/2007 4:02 AM, Anonymous dan said...

SC,

If you are reading the "restoration of Israel" motif, as it appears in the NT, through the lens of your understanding of the contemporary nation-state of Israel, then you're making a serious mistake (i.e. those who oppose the restoration motif because they oppose Zionism, are just as mistaken as Christian who support the restoration motif because they support Zionism).

The restoration of Israel has nothing at all to do with being "an Israeli" instead of being "British." Rather, the NT makes clear that being a member of the restored Israel has everything to do with being "in Christ" -- an identity that transcends all forms of violent nationalism (whether that be British or Israeli).

Grace and peace.

 
At 2/09/2007 7:39 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Dan,
Yes, Jervell is relating this to wider themes.

“As to the question of whether or not Jesus failed in his restoration movement, well, I think we need to think about how Jesus' resurrection -- alone in the midst of history -- causes us to rethink what restoration might mean”

Thanks for that, I found this thought helpful! We could, of course, adopt a remnant model, instead of resorationism, but either way the matter is not dodged - remnant thinking in line with Elliot just delays the question! So I like your thought very much.

Ah, and thanks for pointing out the typo!

Steven, I think Dan has corrected the misunderstanding involved here. As to your questions paragraph, I think it would be more helpful if you formulated your point more straightforwardly instead of assuming that your premise(s) is/are understood in using a question mark all of the time. Simple formulations will help get at what you really want to say, especially as at the moment you seem to waver somewhere between theodicy and 2nd temple Jewish political allegiances in your subject concerns. Besides, a point hidden behind a question can often lead to self-deception.

“I'm sure the restoration of Israel would be a great miracle, especially if the Israel that is restored is an Israel that never existed”

Why do you think Israel never existed? Do I misunderstand?

Mike, do you think Rom 11 is talking about the salvation of all 12 tribes?#

JB, thanks for the link. Yes, I’ve worked with Pitre’s book, that’s why I wanted to do this article actually.

 
At 2/09/2007 10:13 PM, Anonymous Brant Pitre said...

Chris,

Great question! In fact, this issue of the relationship between the restoration of Israel and the resurrection of the dead has been one of THE questions that's been on my mind for the last couple of years. Their clearly linked (Ezek 37, Isa 26-27; Hosea 5-6, etc.), but what is the exact relation? And when and how does this restoration/resurrection take place? Obviously it's tied to the Resurrection of Jesus, but in what way?

I personally am not satsified with Wright's metaphorical explanation, and am currently working out some of these ideas in another book. My one suggestion here would be to point out that we shouldn't get too strictly metaphorical when it comes to the redemption inaugurated by Jesus' bodily resurrection. Remember that one of the effects of the resurrection was that "the tombs were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallens asleep were raised and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many" (Matt 28:53). What is the eschatological significance of this event? Who are the "saints" (clearly Israelites) in question? But I've gone on too long.

By the way, you've probably already found this (given your unmerited kindness toward my way-too-long dissertation), but just in case you didn't, I put several articles on the tribes of Israel in footnotes 130 and 131 on p. 37 of Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile. I especially like the Neubauer one and the James Scott one on Romans 9-11. The former contains a load of helpful rabbinic references. The whole Scott Restoration volume is a treasure trove on the issue.

Keep up the great work!

 
At 2/10/2007 6:50 AM, Anonymous Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Chris:
I would suggest both Josephus -- why isn't there a good translation less than 200 years old, and one of my favorite writers -- and unlike me, a believer -- Morton Scott Enslin's CHRISTIAN BEGINNINGS.

Glad to see you are back up. After my own quiescent period, I decide to write and visit you just on the day you went down.

 
At 2/10/2007 8:06 AM, Anonymous Steven Carr said...

DAN writes that the restoration of Israel has nothing to do with Israel.

What then is being 'restored'? When was it ever present?

 
At 2/10/2007 10:16 AM, Anonymous Steven Carr said...

CHRIS
'Why do you think Israel never existed?'

DAN
'Rather, the NT makes clear that being a member of the restored Israel has everything to do with being "in Christ"'

CARR
When was there a time before Jesus when lots of people were 'in Christ'?

Was the Maccabean revolt an attempt to 'restore Israel'? Was it backed by God?

 
At 2/10/2007 10:09 PM, Anonymous dan said...

SC,

You know, at first I was at a bit of a loss for words as I thought about how to respond to your comments. I mean, you seem intelligent enough to know how to read carefully so it almost looks like you're deliberately twisting what I wrote in order to deconstruct/question/mock?/whatever what ends up being a "Straw Man" ('tsk, tsk,' if that's the case!).

However, it could be that we're missing each other because we're operating from very different paradigms, or maybe you skimmed what I said, or who knows what. So, I'll take another kick at it.

(1) Let me be clear: in my prior comments I am not suggesting that "the restoration of Israel has nothing to do with Israel" (as you assert). That would be, as you imply, rather nonsensical. What I am saying is that approaching the restoration motif (as it appears in the NT) based on the thoughts one has about the current nation-state called "Israel," is decidedly unhelpful. We need to think twice before we start drawing any one-to-one correlations between Israel-in-the-bible, and Israel-the-contemporary-nation-state. Hopefully you can realize how different this assertion is from the assertion that "the restoration of Israel has nothing to do with Israel."

(2) Your next question ("When was there a time before Jesus when lots of people were 'in Christ'?") also misses the point. If Jesus is the boundary marker between the "former" Israel, and the "restored" Israel, then asking when people were in Christ "before Jesus" is sort of like asking who was a member of the restored Israel before Israel was restored. Doesn't make a lot of sense does it?

Grace and peace.

 
At 2/11/2007 7:43 PM, Anonymous Steven Carr said...

DAN
If Jesus is the boundary marker between the "former" Israel, and the "restored" Israel, then asking when people were in Christ "before Jesus" is sort of like asking who was a member of the restored Israel before Israel was restored.

CARR
It makes a great deal of sense to ask who was a member of a restored thing, before it was restored.

The Dresdner Frauemkirche was restored, so it makes sense to ask who used the church before 1945.

If the Habsburg Empire was restored, it makes perfect sense to ask who the previous Habsburgs were?

So what is being restored, as opposed to being created anew?

Can you restore something that never existed?

And was or was not the Maccabean revolt an attempt to restore Israel?

Were any of the people who died fighting that revolt , people who 'lived faithfully'?

 
At 2/12/2007 11:57 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Brant,
Many thanks for your kind comments! And yes, I had found your footnotes already. I thought Bauckham’s article in the same volume extremely helpful for my own work.

I personally am not satisfied with Wright's metaphorical explanation, and am currently working out some of these ideas in another book’

I look forward to this book very much! Do let me know when you are near publication, I’ll certainly run a promotional here.

In terms of the resurrection/restoration theme, one line of thought I’m pursuing involves looking at the prodigal son story, namely the dead/alive language in terms of the restoration/exile theme (understood in the terms you develop, not Wright). Actually, I’ll probably post the rest of my thoughts about this on the main blog page.

Mr Benton, Thanks for the book tip! I think Josephus the most promising line of support for my own developing thesis in this direction, actually, so I couldn’t agree more that the big J is significant.

 
At 2/13/2007 1:27 AM, Anonymous dan said...

SC,

We're talking past each other again.

To ask who is a member of a restored thing, before it is restored does not make sense because the thing has not yet been restored and so one cannot be a member of the restored thing. Certainly, one can be a member of that-which-is-going-to-be-restored but that is something different.

Perhaps an example will help.

Asking who as in Christ "before Jesus" is sort of like asking which caterpillars were butterflies before they turned into butterflies. Well, obviously no caterpillar is a butterfly before it is a butterfly -- it's a caterpillar. Now, asking this is different than asking, "which are the caterpillars that will turn into butterflies?" and it seems to me that these are the questions that you are confusing.

I'll probably be bowing out of this exchange at this point (lest we go on forever).

Grace and peace.

 
At 2/13/2007 6:57 AM, Anonymous Steven Carr said...

So absolutely bobody was in Israel before it was 'restored'???

It is amazing what consternation is produced in Christian theology by asking a simple question like 'What did Jesus think he was restoring and when did it previously exist?'

 
At 2/13/2007 4:37 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Steven, at least try to understand Dan!

He won the argument, btw.

 

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