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In this sense many will see his path as much more orthodox than those who, like Schweitzer, feel compelled by their research to declare that Jesus miscalculated in his expectation of imminent divine intervention. Crossan writes and speaks with passion and honesty, committed to the ethics of sound, transparent methodology. In reality I find neither construct adequate. My problems lie more with what Crossan feels compelled to deny.
The focus in my response will fall in particular on this aspect. I shall therefore leave aside the major issues of method except for the following brief comments. It consist of material shared by Q and Thomas. It necessarily leaves aside sayings which are attested in only one source. Our truth lies more in the pain of having to admit that we shall never escape uncertainties with regard to degrees of possible authenticity of material attributed to Jesus.
Each claim must be tested against all the available evidence. We may cast our beads, as in the Jesus Seminar, but that does not take us beyond the value of opinion polling.
We may make spurious claims for divinely controlled accuracy of transmission, but those are statements of faith not history. There is no escaping the complexity of arguing each case. Soundness of argument matters more than how many people reach a conclusion, but, when combined, the latter warrants attention. My comments will then be by way of testing a hypothesis, the hypothetical construction which Crossan makes on the basis of his understanding of the sources.
My problem is with what this excludes: no future divine intervention. Among these we find the beatitudes.
The question relates in a broader sense to the way future statements are understood in the Gospel of Thomas. At least the following should also be reconsidered: the hidden shall be revealed 5, ; the imagery of harvest 57, 73 ; the promise that the angels and prophets will give you what is yours Perhaps they all refer to immanent hope rather than imminent divine intervention.
The saying that the heavens will be rolled up before the disciples sounds very apocalyptic. It is all the more remarkable because the verses which follow appear to correct its emphasis, adding to the impression about its original meaning. My first question, therefore, relates to the source material Crossan affirms: does it really exclude the notion of a future act of God?
My second question relates to categories. Throughout his book Crossan frequently poses alternatives. Often these are oversimplified.
Ruach Israel » Divine Reversal: The Transforming Ethics of Jesus by Russ Resnik
This appears to be the case with ethical eschatology, apocalyptic eschatology and ascetical eschatology. He makes an important observation about apocalyptic eschatology. By this he means reactive and vengeful, as if to say: they refuse our preaching; therefore let God take it out on them at the eschaton!
One might ask: can one imagine a future act by God which reverses the present without implying violence of some kind on the part of God? Crossan points here to an important theological issue. As far as the historical issue is concerned, he leaves little room for the possibility that future apocalyptic eschatology might not be violent.
Divine Reversal : The Transforming Ethics of Jesus
Certainly we should not assume too quickly that there is a single category: apocalyptic eschatology. Perhaps Paul was sensing the problem of how such a reversal might be fulfilled when he spoke of divine mystery: that all Israel will be saved. Similarly I have argued elsewhere that Jesus left loose ends, both about manner and about timing in the context of his imminent expectation. The Australia New Zealand Theological Review 29 There are positive images of future hope where former enemies are reconciled, Gentiles included, outcasts restored, from the prophets to writings such as the Psalms of Solomon These are in stark contrast to the overtly violent portrayals of the Apocalypse.
Crossan, however, argues that Jesus deliberately rejected the apocalyptic approach of John and others , because of these aspects. Associated with the theme of violence is the matter of how apocalyptic eschatology works. Crossan differentiates between primary and secondary apocalyptic. By the former he means the kind of expectation which has the effect of saying; do these things because the near end requires them, producing an interim ethic.
Such millennial movements hardly survive. This is his basic response to D. Allison, and so far I would agree D.
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Allison, Jesus of Nazareth. Millenarian Prophet , Minneapolis: Fortress, By secondary he means the effect: do these because they are what God wants and unless you do, you will be punished when the end comes, all too often a vengeance model.
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In this the eschatological vision operates negatively as a sanction. These appear to exhaust the possibilities Crossan considers. He gives too little attention to the latter, the theocentric model, or considers it only as a vengeance model. He appears to ignore completely a third variant: positive eschatological hope which generates not only expectation but also an agenda for life, here and now.
If my vision of the reign God is soon to bring includes radical commensality, then how can it be otherwise than that this vision informs my life now? It is this same God in whom I hope and whose will is to be done. Theocentric eschatology will always entail the double aspects of now and then.
The vision dictates the agenda for now. We see this operating in the sectarian documents of Qumran where the community structures its life already now in a manner patterned on the structure of its life in the eschaton.