Monday, May 23, 2011

NT Wright 52111 The Gospels in Four Dimensions (2nd Session)

NT Wright 5/21/11 The Gospels in Four Dimensions

We need to re-complexify in order to get to the simplicity of the Gospels.

The Gospels are each in their own way doing four primary things.

People today are used to hearing the gospels in a distorted fashion.

The basic tune that the gospels are all playing is to tell the story of the life of Jesus himself, but not biographies as we think of them. They are similar to what biographies of the time did. All biographies select, highlight, and arrange.

People used to say that the Gospels were Passion narratives with extended introductions, which is a distortion.

The gospels are shallow enough for a child to paddle in, but deep enough for an elephant to swim in.

The Four Dimensions of the Gospels
1. The Gospels tell the story of Jesus as the climax of the story of Israel
2. The story of Jesus' divinity, but importantly the God that Jesus is embodying: Israel's God
3. The Gospels are telling the story of God's Launching of His people into the world.
4. It is the story of Jesus told as the kingdom of God clashing with the kingdom of Caesar and the kingdom of the Enemy.

1. The Gospels tell the story of Jesus as the climax of the story of Israel
The OT ends with a question mark, looking toward something coming.
Genesis 1-11 is the story of Humanity; Genesis 12 to the end of the OT tells the similar story of Israel

The word "Christ" bears the weight of the entirety of Jewish Messianic expectation, I.e. The story of Israel in the OT.

Most Jews of Jesus' day did not believe that the Exile was true and properly over. Exile is not just about geography, but about politics and theocracy.

When the promises of Jeremiah and Isaiah are fulfilled, that's when Exile is over.

Even though the coming of Jesus was new, it was the new thing that had been promised for centuries.

Jesus' life and actions "flashback" to actions of the prophets, priests, and kings of the OT.

What's the point? The reason Israel's story matters is that the Creator of the world chose Israel to be the vessel through which God would save the world. Israel's story is the microcosm of the world's story.

Mark indicates that in Jesus' baptism is the beginning of the fulfillment of Isaiah's and Jeremiah's prophecies.
John retells the OT through his writing. "In the beginning."

Genesis and Exodus are shaped in the frame of God creating and rescuing the Creation.

Gnostic gospels talk about rescue from the world, not rescue for the world.

This fulfillment that Jesus brought is not what Israel expected.

2. The story of Jesus' divinity, but importantly the God that Jesus is embodying: Israel's God

Creates a covenant with Abraham and fulfills that covenant by rescuing his people and dwelling with them in the tabernacle and the Temple

Not tame, not safe, but good. - Aslan

Israel fails so dramatically that God leaves (Ezekiel)

At no point in the 2nd Temple literature, do we see a reference to God returning to the Temple.

The story is not simply that Jesus is divine, but the story of how Yahweh returns to his people.

The parable of the master who goes away and servants world have been seen by first century listeners as God leaving and then returning. God as the master and Israel as the servants..

John's talk of the Logos is not simply addressing Gnostic theology, but the embodiment of God returning.

John 2 (?) is about replacing the thorns and thistles of Genesis with new creation.

The Gospels deconstruct the either or of human or divine. They reject the idea of a different kind of human, but a different kind of God; a creator God who continues to love and care for his creation. A God who made humans as image bearers and Israel as the bearers of is message to the world, so that he mint more easily come as a human in Israel to redeem the world.

3. The Gospels are telling the story of God's Launching of His people into the world.

The Gospel writers are very much aware that they are writing foundational documents for a community.

They are telling the story of Jesus of how the church began.

We should look at how Jesus called the 12. The reversal of the prestige. The mission he gave them. He left tasks and vocations in the villages he travelled in. He wanted people to embody the Kingdom in the places that they were. A community practicing Jubilee and forgiveness.

The story of the Gospels reaching their climax in the death and resurrection of Jesus tells convincingly that his followers now have a mission. To take the message out that the King has come.

4. It is the story of Jesus told as the kingdom of God clashing with the kingdom of Caesar and the kingdom of the Enemy.

The story of Israel is one of how they oppose the powers in this world. The empire of this world vs. The Empire of God

Even though Caesar doesn't appear much in the Gospels, but his presence hovers like a shadow over the story.

"Should we pay Caesar the tax?" is a hugely loaded political question.

Jesus and Pilate talking is what it looks like when God's Kingdom confronts the kingdom of this world.

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