Monday, August 08, 2011

N.T. Wright's Portrait of Jesus in Jesus and the Victory of God

Hummingbird, at our back deck feeder
Maryanne Meye Thompson has a nice summary of N.T. Wright's synoptic Christology, as he presents it in Jesus and the Victory of God. I'm still slow-reading through JVG, so Meye's summary nicely focuses things. Here are "the main contours of [Wright's] portrait of Jesus in JVC.

  • Jesus is a prophet who not only announced but enacted the kingdom of God, by which is meant the return of YHWH to Zion
  • This is the real end of Israel's exile
  • It is the forgiveness of Israel's sin
  • We have the reconstitution of Israel around Jesus who, together with his movement, constituted a new or alternative temple
  • In Jesus we have a concomitant call to faith centered on him and not in Torah and temple
  • And, this is the fulfillment of God's promise to the Gentiles.
Thompson says: "The end of exile and the "rebuilding" of the temple indicate the Messiah has come at last and that the new age, Israel's redemption, the resurrection from the dead, is coming into being. In order to accomplish his ends, Jesus gave himself to death on the cross, and allowed evil to do its worst, and so to be the means by which God would finally deal with evil. Most pithily summarized, "Jesus believed he had to do and be, for Israel and the world, that which according to scripture only YHWH himself could do and be.""

(Thompson, in Nicholas Perrin;Richard B. Hays. Jesus, Paul and the People of God: A Theological Dialogue with N. T. Wright (p. 28). Kindle Edition.)

Thompson claims Wright's portrait of Jesus in the synoptic Gospels goes well with Jesus as we meet him in the Gospel of John. This is important, as Wright himself alludes, since New Testament scholars following in the footsteps of Reimarus conclude that John's Gospel is "nonhistorical."

Thompson notes that Wright, in his John for Everyone, presents John's Gospel as simultaneously "very near" to the historical source and "the outcome of profound theological reflection."