Friday, January 16, 2015

Reading The New Testament with Goldingay

In Chapter 11 of Goldingay’s Old Testament Theology, volume 1, Israel’s Gospel he discusses how Jesus “fills or fills out or gives new significance” to the Old Testament scriptures. The chapter is entitled God Sent: The Coming of Jesus. He points out that the story of Jesus is a continuation of Israel’s story that picks up with Israel’s situation as returned exiles in the Second Temple Period who are becoming “people of the scroll,” who are focusing more and more on individual commitment and a future afterlife. It is into this very dispersed, oppressed Jewish environment that Jesus enters.

The first section, Jesus Herald of God’s Reign, focuses on Jesus’ good news that the kingdom of God is near, despite the fact the Jewish nation was in subservience to Rome without a Davidic king. Jesus’ miracles show that, despite the circumstances, God is acting as promised in Israel and his “Sovereign reign is coming.” Jesus comes as Yhwh and brings the Spirit with him. With Jewish opposition, “God’s intention is put on hold” and the church is ordained to proclaim the inaugurated sovereignty of Jesus. 

The difference Jesus makes is that he provides even more incontrovertible evidence that God is in a position to assert sovereignty when wishing to do so. God intends to rule sovereignly one day, and Jesus provides evidence that this day will come... That certainty opens up the possibility that the Jewish people (and others who join that community) can live a new life now, the kind of life Jesus portrays, a life lived in the light of that certainty. 793

The killing of Jesus has given a new expression to their sinfulness and points to a new focus for their repentance - and opens up a new understanding of the depth of God's grace (cf. Acts 2). God has turned their sin into the means of their forgiveness by being unwilling to be overcome by their resistance. All the options are open again. 799

Section 2, Jesus: Prophet and Teacher, emphasize his role as a charismatic teacher, a prophet with an inspired interpretation of the Old Testament scriptures with new applications,  a prophet who calls people into a new work of God as symbolized by baptism, a healer and a martyr who calls disciples who are willing to take up their own cross and be broken as he was.

(Jesus') teaching builds on the scriptures... He fills out the meaning of their promises and warnings and is himself the confirmation of these. He fills out the meaning of their expectations and looks for an even deeper commitment to the Torah than the scholars and Pharisees prescribed and exemplified. If his hearers want to be people who have a natural place in a world where God reigns, they need to whole, like God. 801

If Jesus' healings are signs that the fulfillment of God's purpose is coming, that helps us see why some people get healed but most people do not. The healing of some people is a sign that the End is coming, but the nonhealing of most people is a sign that the End is not here. To expect none to be healed is to ask for no signs, but to expect all to be healed is to ask for the End now.  807

Section 3, His Followers, discusses the people that followed Jesus and compares the “crowds” with the deeper sense in which the disciples followed Jesus. Jesus’ challenge to follow him brings about a need for decision that will determine future condemnation or reward. There is always a “mixed pattern” of disciples’ commitment to the high cost of following Jesus. This community is also much wider than the original disciples would have expected as it included women, Samaritans and, ultimately, Gentiles.

References to "the crowd" or "the Jews" as people involved in Jesus' death reassures Jewish and Gentile readers that they are not the first to be persecuted for their faith, but also puts them on the spot as they have to decide what sort of people they themselves are. 809

The story of the men and women around Jesus explodes any suggestion that there is something about men that provides a positive qualification for their being the exclusive leaders of the renewed Israelite community, though it might suggest that men should be excluded from leadership. 814

The next section, Jesus: The Man Anointed as King, focuses on the nature of Jesus’ kingship. He did not fill that role in the way expected by the various leadership factions in Judea of his day. Matthew shows that he is the one who fulfills the Messianic prophecies by birth, calling and heroic action although, again, not in the way anyone would have expected. He is a king who redefined and widened the Jewish concept of kingship. The key text here is the “Son of Man” reference in Daniel 7. “Kingship” needed to be expanded to include this idea of a divine-human figure exalted to the right hand of God.

(Jesus) is the person God intends should rule Israel in succession to his ancestor David, but from the beginning God shows him that this will be a much more complicated matter than it sounds, and he also has to try to show his disciples that this is so. His exaltation as king will be a different process from what one might have expected. 814

A person who insisted on Jesus being a simple fulfillment of scriptural prophecies could easily be offended at his failure to correspond to them with precision, and Jesus declares a blessing on the person who resists that temptation (Mt. 11.6). People have to work backwards from the fulfillment to the promises as well as forward from the promises to the fulfillment. It will be fun to see this all recur at Jesus' final Appearing. 820

Section 5, Jesus: Word Embodied, emphasizes that Jesus is more than the sum of his words and his acts. These show him to be the supreme manifestation of God in bodily form. He acts as God, speaks as God and has the qualities of God because he is God’s only Son.

At the beginning of the First Testament story God thought and then spoke...The story of humanity is the story of God's thought and speech in the world... But the world did need to have the light explained and to have its resistance to that light overcome. So eventually, in an attempt to achieve that, God's insight and God's word became a human being, without ceasing to be God's insight and God's word. Thus, Jesus' human birth is not the beginning of his story. 827

As human beings we are called to be people who manifest mercy, grace, long temperedness, commitment, faithfulness and forgiveness, and also toughness with wrongdoing. God supremely manifested these, and Jesus mirrors God's manifestation of them. 830

Section 6, Divine Surrender, deals with the question of how a divine Jesus could submit to execution. Goldingay says that this is the logical extension of the way Yhwh worked in the OT as  “Yhwh has been bearing the cost of a relationship with Israel. Jesus’ execution is the logical conclusion to that story of paying the penalty and bearing the cost of the world’s restoration. (830). Jesus’ death was a “divine self-giving” in sacrifice for sin. God experiences the powerlessness and isolation of humanity who has abandoned him. In both death and resurrection Jesus acts as God.

Jesus' healing ministry has involved bearing people's pain in the sense of taking it away (Mt. 8.17). The talk of cup and baptism implies that he also bears it in the sense of sharing it with people and in the sense of bearing it in their stead. 833

The First Testament suggests that deity embraces power and commitment. These have characterized Jesus' ministry. They are eventually expressed in his double exaltation, the exaltation involved in his execution and that involved in his resurrection... When Thomas confesses Jesus as Lord and God, it is because he sees that Jesus embodies in himself both execution and resurrection, both power and commitment. 839

Section 7, The Community of the Risen Lord, talks about the new community created after Jesus’ exaltation, ruled by Jesus and filled with his Spirit. The church is to take up where Jesus left off. They start in the Jewish temple but quickly expand into the Gentile world and become something completely new. Though many are Jews their primary identification is in relationship with Jesus. Acts, especially sees the church as repeating the experiences of Jesus.

To act in someone's name implies acting on their behalf, as their legitimate representative; their authority lies behind what one does. Acting in/by Jesus' name presupposes that he is alive, and the apostles' proclamation presupposes that the risen Jesus is now the key to understanding God's purpose in the world. 842

The triumph of God's message and the suffering of its messengers go hand in hand. 850

The final section of the chapter, Jesus: Light of the World, discusses the mission of the church to spread the good news and be a “light to the Gentiles.” The divisions that separate the Jews from Gentiles are done away with and the Spirit is poured out to prepare the church for this multi-cultural mission. Jerusalem would be the starting point from which God would extend his kingdom to all the world.

The community that acknowledges the risen Jesus is commissioned to proclaim this Jesus to the nations, not just to the Jewish people. Judaism was always open to people coming to know its God, and on the completion of his ministry, in Jerusalem, Jesus bids his disciples to proclaim repentance and forgiveness to all nations. (Lk. 24.47-48) 851

The New Testament story... brings to a climax the process whereby God gives everything in order to carry the sin of the people of God and the sin of the world. It invites people to live in the assurance that God's reign will come and to behave as if it is here. It offers them the story of Israel, the story of Jesus and the story of the early church to inspire us to do so. 858

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