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(how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference)

The resurrection of the just and the unjust in Daniel 12:2, and the horizons of New Testament eschatology

I think that the best way to understand New Testament eschatology is to organise the material according to three future horizons: i) a disastrous war against Rome, which would result in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple; ii) the overthrow of classical Greek-Roman paganism and the confession of Jesus as Lord by the nations; and iii) in a very hazy distance, the final destruction of sin and death and the renewal of heaven and earth.

I have also argued that what Jesus’ resurrection anticipated, as an act of divine vindication, was not, in the first place, the final resurrection of all the dead but the resurrection of the martyrs, in conjunction with the figurative “resurrection” of the people of God, at the parousia. This seems to me to be required, not least, by John’s distinction between a first resurrection of those who had been “beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God” and a second resurrection of all the dead at the end of the thousand years (Rev. 20:4-6, 12-13). It points to the fact that the overriding practical challenge facing the disciples of Jesus, the apostles and the churches was to remain true to their calling in the face of persecution until they were finally vindicated in the eyes of Israel and the nations for their beliefs regarding Jesus.

16 May 2018

The relocation of the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has given airtime to a right-wing, fundamentalist-Zionist (I refuse to use the word “evangelical” in this context) eschatological narrative that regards this provocative endorsement of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as a big step towards a...

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8 May 2018

If Jesus believed that the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, with massive loss of life, would be an act of deliberate divine punishment, why didn’t he say so explicitly? Why is it that so many of the sayings about judgment that I listed from Luke’s Gospel come in the form of parables or rather...

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4 May 2018

It is sometimes argued by people who think that Jesus had no interest in violence that when he applied Isaiah 61:1-2 to himself in the synagogue in Nazareth, he deliberately stopped short of proclaiming judgment against Israel:

And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He...

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3 May 2018

I am generally a hesitant tweeter, but yesterday, in an idle moment, I tagged Derek Vreeland in a tweet suggesting that his republished Missio Alliance article asking “Did Jesus Really Usher in the Kingdom of God?” underplays the future aspect of the coming of the kingdom of God. He kindly tweeted...

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30 Apr 2018

What does Paul mean when he says that “death is swallowed up in victory”? When will this happen? And has he made fair use of the Old Testament texts that he cites in support of his claim?

Paul argues in 1 Corinthians 15:50-57 that flesh and blood will not inherit the rule with Jesus at the right hand...

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27 Apr 2018

The question of the meaning of Habakkuk’s “the righteous shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4) came up in a comment on a recent post about Romans. My argument is that when Paul quotes this line in Romans 1:17, he is using it more or less in the same way that Habakkuk intended it, as identifying a pragmatic...

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24 Apr 2018

There is a group of Gentiles in Paul’s eschatological narrative who do not have the Law of Moses, who nevertheless do the work of the Law, and who “will be justified” on a day of judgment and earn “glory and honour and peace” (Rom. 2:12-16). The question of the religious or rhetorical status of these Gentiles came...

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18 Apr 2018

Very reluctantly, I am going to take issue with Peter Enns here. In a recent “Bible for Normal People” podcast he advocates what is basically a New Perspective reading of Paul’s letter to the Romans.

It’s not about individuals but it’s about a collective. If I can put that a little bit differently...

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