Wednesday, April 27, 2011

N.T. Wright on the temple tantrum

N.T. Wright, "The Challenge of Jesus":

Jesus’ clash with the Pharisees came about not because he was an antinomian or because he believed in justification by faith while they believed in justification by works but because his kingdom-agenda for Israel demanded that Israel leave off her frantic and paranoid self-defense, reinforced as it now was by the ancestral codes, and embrace instead the vocation to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth. I therefore propose that the clash between Jesus and his Jewish contemporaries, especially the Pharisees, must be seen in terms of alternative political agendas generated by alternative eschatological beliefs and expectations. (58)

His attitude to the Temple was not "this institution needs reforming," nor "the wrong people are running this place," nor yet "piety can function elsewhere too." His deepest belief regarding the temple was eschatological: the time had come for God to judge the entire institution. It had come to symbolize the injustice that characterized the society on the inside and on the outside, the rejection of the vocation to be the light of the world, the city set on a hill that would draw to itself all the peoples of the world. (64)

…Jesus acted and spoke as if he was in some sense called to do and be what the Temple was and did. His offer of forgiveness, with no prior condition of Temple-worship or sacrifice, was the equivalent of someone in our world offering as a private individual to issue someone else a passport or a driver’s license. He was undercutting the official system and claiming by implication to be establishing a new one in its place. (65)  NT WRIGHT


Jesus the Temple

Jesus and the Temple Destruction: Did Jesus say he would destroy the temple?

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