Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gentiles as the return from exile people

Michael Barber once wrote a tremendously through provoking post on the salvation of 'all Israel'. Among other things he suggested that Paul saw the restoration of the lost northern tribes as directly associated with Paul's mission to Gentiles, suggesting a closer link between the lost tribes and the Gentiles.

Michael summarises part of a Scott Hahn essay with these words: 'God allowed Israel to be exiled so that he could use them to eventually bring the nations home as well--as their relatives'. Among other passages very ably discussed, Michael notes especially the way Paul applies a passage in Hosea 1, which originally spoke of the northern tribes, to Gentiles (Hosea 1:10 'where it was said to them, "You are not my people," it shall be said to them, "Children of the living God". Cf. Romans 9:26). One could add material in 2 Corinthians 6:16-18 to this too, where the return from exile people ('come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord' – i.e. come out from the nations!) are equated with the Corinthian Christians! Amazing! (cf. here for a few references on this)

Does this mean the Gentiles are the lost northern tribes? Or as Hahn implies, their relatives? Or perhaps the Gentiles are simply symbolically represent the lost northern tribes? Or are the Gentiles made holy, included in to the line of Abraham, because of intermingling with the northern tribes (cf. Rom. 11:16)? Or are they related in some other way? Love to read your thoughts…


At 11/20/2008 3:40 AM, Anonymous John Ottens said...

I wonder if it might be best to understand this intertextual question typologically: God had promised to bring the exiled Israelites back into covenant relationship, and now Paul witnesses the pattern beginning to escalate as the Gentiles (who had turned to idolatry long before the Israelites did) are receiving God's grace in the same manner.

What do you think?

At 11/20/2008 8:00 AM, Anonymous ordinand said...

Interesting. I am currently reading Pitre's 'Jesus, Tribulation and end of Exile' amd I wondered what implications this has for the Jesus/Paul debate. If Jesus is advocating the return of all the tribes.... where are they?
Matthew Harmon says the asame in his SBL review of Pitre,

"At least one question remains unanswered if Pitre is correct in his conclusion that Jesus
understood his death as inaugurating the eschatological tribulation and bringing about
the end of the exile: Was Jesus mistaken? Some may regard such a question as irrelevant,
but the answer bears on Pitre’s hypothesis. By insisting that the end of the exile must be
understood in geographical terms, the natural question is: Where are the twelve tribes?
This is not to say that this question cannot be answered; some theological traditions assert
that such a regathering occurred in the formation of the nation-state of Israel in 1948,
while others insist that it remains to be fulfilled in the future. Regardless of whether one
finds such “solutions” satisfactory, the point here is that Pitre never addresses the
question. Absent an explicit answer, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that, if Pitre has
correctly understood Jesus, Jesus was mistaken. When one recalls that this work is carried
out in the stream of tradition originating from Albert Schweitzer, such an impression
seems further confirmed.
Less significantly, other observations"

At 11/20/2008 5:11 PM, Anonymous J. B. Hood said...

Leaving aside your latter bevy of questions at the moment.

“The assumption of such a mission-minded proselytizing purpose for the exile is not unknown in early Jewish exegesis.” Davies-Allison 179 (that's all that's in my notes; I reckon it's from volume 1); R. Eliezer b. Hyrcanus and Apoc 2 Baruch among others.
See the Matthew commentary for citations.

Chris Wright makes a big deal of this, too; it's probably legit to see this in Ezek 36, 37 and 39 as what happens in "sight of the nations" is part of YHWH's motivation for punishing AND restoring Israel and Judah (both houses united under David). In my notes I have another citation from Erickson; must be the guy at Fuller-Seattle. Not sure which writing.

At 11/21/2008 12:08 AM, Anonymous Ben Gibbs said...

I thought in a similar vien to John Ottens above - perhaps Paul is viewing the northern tribes as a type for the gentiles. I have not given this that much thought, so I don't know if it stands.

At 11/21/2008 12:33 AM, Anonymous James said...

"Does this mean the Gentiles are the lost northern tribes"

Careful Chris, this opens the door for British Israelism and a whole host of problems!

Provoke node on: will Gentile Christians be claiming to be the true Jews when a new Hitler arises?

Provoke mode off: sorry, but you can't pick and choose!!

At 11/21/2008 9:59 PM, Anonymous TJ said...

Mr.Tillinch, why have you become so awfully boring in the last months?

At 11/22/2008 6:21 PM, Anonymous said...

Hmmm interesting questions... Paul is not renowned for quoting the OT is ways that we might expect him to - I'm going to have to think some more about this...

Oh... and who the hell is Mr Tillinch?

At 11/23/2008 12:04 AM, Anonymous TJ said...

Who the hell are you?

At 11/23/2008 9:37 PM, Anonymous TJ said...

I see, I see. Now that you are a "Teacher", you are playing mute and deaf. Ok. Be that way! Pathetic! Despicable!

At 11/23/2008 10:38 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi John,
Thanks for your comment. I certainly think your suggestion is possible. However, with texts such as those in Baruch and those at Qumran, which seem to speak of the perception of a continued curse of exile in the and shorty before the Christian era, I tend to think more direct continuity with the story of exile and restoration is more obvious. But certainly the typological reading avoids some difficult questions, such as those implied in my post.

Hi Ordinand, that is a good point. Brant is publishing agai nsoon, and I seem to remember him saying that he will address this question.

I wonder what TJ stands for ... Total Jerk? :-p

At 11/23/2008 10:42 PM, Anonymous TJ said...

Fault! FAULT! That was ad hominem. I will sue you, Mr.!

At 11/24/2008 2:28 AM, Anonymous John Ottens said...

Hi Chris.

Yeah, I see where you are coming from; in fact, I largely agree with you. I think that the apostolic ministry to the Jews was seen as fulfilling the return from exile prophecies. I suspect that the prophecies for the Northern Kingdom were seen as being fulfilled in the mission to Samaria (thus, Acts 1.9, Acts 8, and John 4). And then the mission to the Gentiles was seen as the next escalation of the pattern.

That's the model I'm currently working from, anyhow.


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