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

The parable of the good Samaritan and the plight of Israel

Alex notes that a corollary of the narrative-historical approach is that “Jesus’ primary ethical concern centered around the survival of the covenantal communities he was forming—communities that he believed would face violent opposition”. That is well stated. Jesus taught his disciples how to behave—towards those inside the community and those outside it—in the tumultuous period leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the revelation of the glory of the Son of Man, and their public vindication. What the Gospels give us is not a general purpose Christian ethic but an eschatological ethic for groups of believers who had taken the risky step of following Jesus down the narrow road that would lead to the life of the age to come.

Nevertheless, Alex wonders whether texts such as the parable of the good Samaritan (Lk. 10:25-37) and the sheep and goats judgment scene (Matt. 25:31-46) “push against this predominant ethical agenda”. These have often been used to “demonstrate that Christianity is a religion whose ethical core is social transformation through acts of service”—and in the case of the parable of the good Samaritan, through the refusal to give priority to the insider.

17 Nov 2017

In “21 reasons why the coming of the kingdom of God was not the end of the world” I stated that “There is no new creation in the Old Testament…, only kingdom.” There are, however, two explicit references to new creation in the Old Testament, both in the third part of Isaiah: “For behold, I create new heavens and a...

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14 Nov 2017

I recently took part in a recorded conversation with Matt Hartke for Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable? programme on Premier Christian Radio. It will be broadcast and made available on podcast some time in the next few weeks, I believe.

Matt has been on a long journey of faith and theology. You can read his...

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7 Nov 2017

In Matthew and Mark Jesus speaks of events in the heavens prior to the revelation of the Son of Man: the darkening of sun and moon, the falling of the stars, the shaking of the powers of heaven (Matt. 24:29; Mk. 13:24-25). In response to Dale Allison’s argument that Jesus expected a literal remaking of the natural...

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2 Nov 2017

Shortly before his arrest in Jerusalem, as Mark tells the story, Jesus made a prediction: after a period of severe tribulation the sun and moon would be darkened, the stars would fall from heaven, the powers of heaven would be shaken, people would see “the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory”,...

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23 Oct 2017

I’m a little mystified by Larry Hurtado’s argument about “the son of man” as an “Obsolete Phantom”.

He is taking issue with the now rather dated view that when Jesus spoke of “the son of man”, he was referring to someone other than himself, namely a heavenly, eschatological redeemer figure bearing...

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17 Oct 2017

I argued last week that Jesus believed that his mission would lead not to a fundamentally new people of God, following the destruction of national Israel, but to the restoration and renewal of Israel, on the basis of repentance and Jesus’ atoning death, under a new covenant and a new régime.

But what about...

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12 Oct 2017

I saw a comment on a Reddit thread which said that this blog “takes a conservative unitarian view of things”, adding, “It’s very well-argued.” I also get accused of being a Preterist from time to time, though not so much recently. I understand how the misunderstandings arise, but I want to make it clear that, as...

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9 Oct 2017

My response to Peter Wilkinson’s attempt to show from Matthew’s Gospel that Jesus had no thought of reforming or restoring Israel as a nation has grown too long to post as a comment. My contention, more or less in agreement with Caird and Wright, is that the Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels announced a coming judgment...

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