I am in solid agreement with Matthew Bates that the central narrative of the New Testament—the narrative which makes sense of the “gospel”—has to do with the enthronement of Jesus as king by his resurrection from the dead and his ascension to the right hand of the Father.
Two areas of disagreement have surfaced so far:
- Bates is trying to read the New Testament at a cosmic level, guided by theological interests, whereas I think it needs to be read at a political level, from a more rigorously historical perspective.
- Bates is firmly of the opinion that the story begins with the pre-existence and incarnation of Jesus—this was already apparent from his discussion of Paul’s gospel. I don’t deny that these ideas are part of the New Testament witness, but I think they arise from an association of Jesus with divine wisdom rather than from the Jewish hope of kingdom.