Pure Kingdom: Jesus' Vision of God
Lamerson, Samuel, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Pure Kingdom: Jesus' Vision of God. By Bruce Chilton. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996, x + 178 pp., $15.00 paper.
This book is the first in a series called "Studying the Historical Jesus," edited by Bruce Chilton and Craig Evans. It is an examination of the nature of the kingdom of God as represented in the words and deeds of Jesus. The work has much to commend it. It is thorough in its documentation, and the exploration of the historical/scholarly state of the question in chap. 1 is very good. As one would expect from Chilton, both primary and secondary sources are well represented here.
There are, however, several troubling things about the book. (1) It is difficult to determine for whom the work was written. The elementary definitions of such things as "mishna" (p. 46), or "Q" (p. 61) seem to mark the book as an introductory text. These definitions are actually very good, but one wonders why they would be necessary in the work that deals with technical issues and footnote material in both German and French. Thus the question of whether this is an introductory text (judging from the inclusion of these definitions) or a more advanced text (judging from the fine discussions of some technical issues, and the wonderful bibliographic resources) is an important one. The work is probably too technical for a first- or second-year seminary class (which would need such definitions), yet the definitions are not needed by those who are able to follow the discussion contained in much of the work.
Chilton uses what he calls "generative exegesis" in his work on the gospels. The goal of "generative exegesis" is to "trace how things Jesus did and said generated a movement and produced a memory" (p. 51). He sets up a grid of five coordinates that are found in the book of Psalms (the eschatological coordinate, the transcendent coordinate, the coordinate of judgement, the coordinate of purity, the coordinate of radiation) which are then applied to the teaching of Jesus. …