Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Continuing Exile?

What can be made of Wright’s view that most Jews considered themselves to still be in exile despite the resettlement of Palestine? It is one of those things which I think is, ‘Well . . . yes and no’. On the one hand Wright is clearly correct to note that the grandiose promises of Isaiah 40-66 concerning the end of the exile were not completely fulfilled by the first century A.D. Moreover, end-of-exile like language does occur in the NT e.g. Mt. 8.11-12. But I submit that the theme of a continuing exile is not a meta-narrative but merely one metaphor of many that attempts to articulate in biblical language the fact that the hopes of restoration had only been partially realized. There were other metaphors that could signify the same point, e.g. hope for a new exodus, new conquest, quest for freedom, etc.

The lack of fulfilment of the biblical promises is underscored by an excellent quote from Joseph Klausner:

But what was the actual fact? Slavery to foreign governments, wars, tumults and torrents of blood. Instead of all nations being subject to Judah, Judah was subject to the nations. Instead of the “riches of the Gentiles,” godless Rome exacted taxes and tribute … Instead of the Gentiles “bowing down with their faces to the ground” and “licking the dust of their feet,” comes a petty Roman official with unlimited power of Judea. Instead of Messiah the son of David, comes Herod the Edomite (Jesus of Nazareth [trans. Herbert Danby; London: Allen & Unwin, 1969], 169-170)

If any budding researchers want an interim bibliography, see:

Bryan, Steven M. 2002. Jesus and Israel’s Traditions of Judgment and Restoration. SNTS 117; Cambridge: CUP. 12-20.
Dowing, F. G. 2000. ‘Exile in Formative Judaism.’ In Making Sense in (and of) the First Christian Century. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. 148-68.
Evans, Craig A. 1997. ‘Aspects of Exile and Restoration in the Proclamation of Jesus and the Gospels.’ In Jesus in Context: Temple, Purity, and Restoration. Edited by Bruce Chilton and Craig A. Evans. AGAJU 39; Leiden: Brill. 263-93.
Garnet, Paul. 1977. Salvation and Atonement in the Qumran Scrolls. WUNT 2.3; Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck.
__________. 1980a. ‘Jesus and the Exilic Soteriology.’ In Studia Biblica 1978. Sheffield: JSOT. 111-14.
__________. 1980b. ‘Qumran Light on Pauline Soteriology.’ In Pauline Studies: Essays Presented to F.F. Bruce on His 70th Birthday. Edited by Donald A. Hagner & Murray J. Harris. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 19-32.
Jones, Ivor H. 2001. ‘Disputed Questions in Biblical Studies 4. Exile and Eschatology.’ ExpT 112.12: 401-5.
Knibb, Mark A. 1976. ‘The Exile in the Literature of the Intertestamental Period.’ HeyJ 17: 253-72.
____________. 1983. ‘Exile in the Damascus Document.’ JSOT 25: 99-117.
Scott, James M. Editor. 1997. Exile: Old Testament, Jewish and Christian Conceptions. JSJSup 56; Leiden: Brill.
Wright, N. T. 1992. The New Testament and the People of God. COQG; Minneapolis: Fortress. 268-72.
__________­. 1996. Jesus and the Victory of God. COQG 2; Great Britain: SPCK. xviii.


Anonymous said...

Useful stuff here Mike, thanks for the comments and bib.

Granted "metanarrative" may be too strong a word, let's not understate the case, either. Quis et unde Daniel 9? (Likewise my understanding of the prophets and conditional nature of prophecy.)

Matthew 1 takes the cake in my book--three great pivots in God's plan to restore the world, all leading up to Messiah. He is the answer to each of the three stages in the Story/metanarrative (Abe--a people, Dave--a king, Exile--a tragedy). Seems to me each of these is looking for fulfillment at the end of the OT, throughout ITlit, and is found in the NT. Perhaps, with NTW, Exile (being the latest chapter and what seemed to be the failure of the first two stages) reflects the part of the Story that was most in-your-face for 1st century Jews?

J. B. Hood

Michael F. Bird said...


Good and valid points. I think if "Exile" works anywhere, it is in Matthew. Hmmm. Daniel 9 is a very interesting section isn't it! It impacts so much in NT studies: prayer, God's righteousness, sin, exile, eschatology etc. Well anyway, I look fwd to chatting to you about Matthew 1 over a beer and some Haggis!