5
Jesus and the Kingdom of God

From the mere frequency of the phrases, ‘Kingdom of God’ and ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ – they figure no less than a hundred times in the Synoptic Gospels – it is reasonable to infer that the concepts which they reflect played an important part in the teaching of Jesus. This plain statement represents the common ground of contemporary New Testament scholarship.

Thus the very first sentence of the opening chapter of Rudolf Bultmann’s Theologie des Neuen Testaments (p. 3) introduces the ‘Kingdom of God’ as the dominant concept (‘dex beherrschende Begriff’) of the preaching of Jesus. Christopher Rowland sees in it ‘a central pillar’ (Christian Origins’ 133) and Norman Perrin, ‘the central aspect’ of the teaching of Jesus (Rediscovering, 54). For E, P. Sanders, it is one of the ‘most discussed’ New Testament topics (Jesus and Judaism’ 123). In turn, Anthony Harvey (Constraints’ 86) echoing Joachim Jeremias (NT Theology’ 32–34), emphasizes the unparalleled nature of the idioms referring to it.

This consensus is, however, purely superficial and vanishes as soon as scholars seriously confront such basic questions as ‘what?’, ‘how?’ and especially ‘when?’. To grasp the true sense of the kernel of the religion of Jesus, we shall not shirk these but seek to answer them with the help of a full analysis of the Gospel evidence compared to the doctrine of the Kingdom of God preserved in parallel Jewish sources.1

1The literature on the subject has grown enormously since the pioneering works of Johannes Weiss (Die Predigt Jesu vom Reiche Gottes, 1900) and Albert Schweitzer (Von Remarus zu Wrede, 1906, better known as The Quest of the Historical Jesus, 3rd ed. 1954). Fortunately, Norman Perrin’s book, The Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus offers a most useful critical survey and discussion of the theories up to its publication in 1963. See also Martin Buber, Kingship of God (1967); N. Perrin, Jesus and the Language of the Kingdom

-120-

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The Religion of Jesus the Jew
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Jesus the Jew and His Gospel 1
  • 2 - Jesus and the Law- The Judaism of Jesus 11
  • 3 - Jesus the Teacher- Scriptural and Charismatic Authority 46
  • 4 - Proverbs and Parables 76
  • 5 - Jesus and the Kingdom of God 120
  • 6 - ‘Abba, Father’- The God of Jesus 152
  • 7 - Jesus the Religious Man 184
  • 8 - The Religion of Jesus and Christianity 208
  • Abbreviations 217
  • Bibliography 221
  • Index of Names 227
  • Index of References 231
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