Monday, February 06, 2012

That's Wright, you stud: Jesus is New Moses, Neo Victor, and reshaper of space, time and matter


I simply haven't even started "Simply Jesus" yet. (I know, simply no excuse).

Three emphases stand out for me  already from Scot McKnight's series of posts  and I will post a review after reading it on the plane today (pray for a quiet trip, such don't always happen).

1) The evocation and invocation of seven Exodus themes as central to Jesus'  message ministry as New Moses::

  • tyrant
  • leader
  • divine victory
  • sacrifice
  • vocation
  • divine presence
  • promised inheritance.
image source
BTW, is this (simply) a sequential narrative with seven "stops," or can it  (also) be

a seven-Venned  (see this schema) which can be hermeneutically entered anywhere?

See Scot McKnight:

The major themes of the Exodus are at the heart of Tom Wright’s new book Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters. But there’s more to say than that: Exodus is at the heart of the entire mission of Jesus. Because this Exodus theme is both cut up into its seven segments (more below) and because Exodus becomes more central, it is fair to say that Simply Jesus takes us beyond Tom’s well-known Jesus and the Victory of God. He puts it all together in this book….

First the seven Exodus themes are tyrant, leader, divine victory, sacrifice, vocation, divine presence, and promised inheritance. This is at the heart of this book.

Second, Tom sketches how three absolutely crucial (to Jesus and to the apostles) figures of the Old Testament illustrate these seven themes and therefore are instances of carrying forward the Exodus project. The three figures are the Servant of Isaiah 40-66, the Son of Man of Daniel 7, and Zechariah’s king, esp as found in the last half of Zechariah. You will have to take my word for it that he has given us an important sketch of exodus themes here.

Third, now the big one: Jesus’ mission is shaped by those same themes, and so I want to quote from what I think is perhaps the crucial paragraph in this whole book. Remember: it’s Exodus, Exodus from Moses through Isaiah, through Daniel, through Zechariah, and now reshaped and reconfigured for a new day in a new way by Jesus — the three-fold storm converging: Rome, Jewish leaders, and the new message about God becoming king in and through Jesus -link:Simply Jesus 4
Neo Jesus 2)Related, Richard Beck picks up on the Christus Victor (which I can never envision without thinking of Neo/Keanu)  connection:

A lot of people are listing N.T. Wright's recent book Simply Jesus on their "Best Books" lists for 2011. I agree, it's a great book and a lot of the book nicely supplements the work we've been doing in this series, particularly the work with Christus Victor theology. Recall, in the last few posts we've been thinking about the role of "the satanic" in human relations through the work of Walter Wink and William Stringfellow (and earlier in this series the Church Fathers and Eastern Orthodox theology).

What is the book Simply Jesus about? Simply stated (he he!), the book is trying to get into the head of Jesus. What did Jesus think he was doing during his life and ministry? How did he see himself? How did he envision his task? That's the question the book starts off with. The very opening lines:
Jesus of Nazareth poses a question and a challenge two thousand years after his lifetime. The question is fairly simple: who exactly was he? This includes the questions, What did he think he was up to?...
You'll have to read the book to find out all the in's and out's of the answers to that question. What I'd like to do is underline the Christus Victor themes from the book that supplement and reinforce what we've been talking about in this series. Specifically, Wright argues, rightly in my opinion, that Jesus primarily saw himself as doing battle with the devil.
1 John 3.8b
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
This conflict was framed by the Second Exodus expectations that Jesus invoked as he described his life and ministry. As Wright describes it, the Exodus story had seven themes:

  1. Wicked tyrant
  2. Chosen leader
  3. Victory of God
  4. Rescue by sacrifice
  5. New vocation and way of life
  6. Presence of God
  7. Promised/inherited land
By invoking this story, in announcing the inauguration of a Second Exodus, Jesus uses the seven themes (the Exodus narrative/paradigm) to describe his own life, teachings, and eventual death and resurrection.

So the question becomes who is the "Wicked tyrant"? Who is playing the part of Pharaoh in Jesus's dramatic retelling of the Exodus?

For a lot of the Jews Rome and Caesar would have been the obvious contender. But as we know, Jesus didn't say much of anything about Roman occupation and oppression.

So who is Pharaoh?

Well, this is where the Christus Victor themes come in. Here is Wright, after many chapters working through New Exodus material, finally turning to the battle with the Wicked tyrant....
         -Continued at "The Slavery of Death: Part 18, N.T. Wright on Christus Victor"

3)Again, related to the point above, and riffing off it:

  The "temple tantrum" passage is huge for me --particularly, what it was  fundamentally and microcosmically about;  and also its relationship to anger, battle and violence.  (I am inclined the believe the passage is the centerpoint of a "ripping" inclusio in Mark).  So I was thrilled to read this, from McKnight's series on the book, and find yet another of my favorite themes which is OBVIOUSLY(: and always  connected to the temple tantrum: the physics of time
 (Wright had been simply eading my mail.  I'll be retrurning the favor by simply reading his book )

It is Tom Wright’s contention, in his new book Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters, that Jewish kingdom movements had two integral features: a battle and the temple. Tom examines those two themes in the Gospel records about Jesus.

First, the battle: “it was a different sort of thing, because it had a different sort of enemy,” and here Tom examines “the satan” in the Bible. There is so much battle with “the satan” in the records about Jesus that it has to be taken not only as an element but significant (Mark 1:13, 27, 34; 3:11-12, 22-27; 5:1-20; Luke 10:18; 13:16; 22:31; John 13:2, 27).  To be sure, we may struggle with this stuff but that doesn’t mean they (or Jesus) did. That battle seems to have two stages: an earlier stage (the Temptation) and a final victory. The satan’s victory is the cross, but the victory was not to last.

How central are the battle and the temple to most of our understandings of Jesus? How central are space, time and matter? Do you think these ideas are supersessionistic or continuous with Judaism?

Second, the temple. Here Tom focuses on the “cleansing of the temple,” which is really a royal declaration of God’s judgment on the temple and its authorities.

This leads Tom into one of the more creative portions of this book: Jesus reshapes space, time and matter. Tom’s big idea is that God is becoming king in and through Jesus as his earthly representative. The temple was the place where heaven and earth met, where God’s presence overlapped. But Jesus redefined space by contending God’s presence was wherever Jesus was. “Jesus was, as it were, a walking Temple” (133). That Temple was a signpost but now that God was present in Jesus, the Temple was coming to an end. It became redundant, it was criticized as a place of economic oppressions, and it was a place of violent ambition.

As for time. Sabbath was the place where God’s time and our time met with God’s temporal presence, and Jesus saw himself as superior to the Sabbath. He is the walking, celebrating, and victorious Sabbath.

And as for matter. Big one here: new creation renews matter. The key element of this is Jesus’ miracles. The material world is being transformed. Matter becomes a more visible glorious presence of God. Another important indicator of this theme: the transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17:1-8. -Link:Simply Jesus 3

N.T. Wright is simply a Bible Stud...unlike some wannabees (see pic)...and he simply would never stand in front of the 'Y"...

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