Sunday, June 11, 2006

Jesus, the Tribulation and the End of the Exile

I've been working my way through the book by Brant Pitre, Jesus, the Tribulation and the End of the Exile (WUNT 2.204; Tubingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 2005). All in all, it's a good read and it scores a lot of points. It's a long, long book, but I recommend at least reading the conclusion which is a good precis of the project. The length is attributable mainly to Pitre's rigorous and thorough argument for the authenticity of every logion he addresses.

In sum, Pitre's contention is that the eschtological tribulation provides the background to much of Jesus' teaching and also his death; accordingly echoes of Schweitzer, Allison, Wright, and Meyers abound. He gives the mandatory outline of the tribulation in scholarship (chapter 1), surveys the tribulation in second-temple literature and notes how it was integral to Jewish restoration eschatology (chapter 2), he examines several of Jesus' sayings about entering into the peirasmos (Lk. 11.4 and par.) and how the tribulation has already begun in the death John the Baptist (chapter 3), the Olivet discourse of Mark 13 gets a thorough treatment with elaborate arguments for its authenticity (chapter 4), and finally he proposes that Jesus understood his death in terms of tribulation whereby his death would become an eschatological passover and inaugurage the end of exile and new exodus.

Pitre's discussion of the exile is sober and effective (Wright is right that the Jews were still in exile but about the wrong exile; the Assyrian exile was on-going, the Babyonian exile was over). He also says alot of things about Jesus, the salvation of the Gentiles, and the End-of-Exile/New Exodus which could have easily come straight out of my thesis (Doh!).

I only have two small quibbles with this book: (1) In discussing the various passages for his thesis, Pitre typically exegetes a passage before discussing its authenticity. That can give the impression that "authenticity" is merely an afterthought to his exegesis, and he doesn't pay as much attention as he should to the redactional activity of the Evangelists. (2) He does not really distinguish between remnant theology and restoration theology. Trying to establish a remnant within Israel is not the same as trying to restore all of Israel. Leander Keck and Mark Elliott have argued for remnant theology over restoration theology. Pitre, like Ben F. Meyers, seems to regard these themes as almost the same.

But this is a good book and one worth being familiar with, esp. for everyone doing HJ research. If Ph.D cands. want a lesson in thoroughness, this is a decent book to consider.

Note: A fuller review will be published in European Journal of Theology.

1 comment:

slaveofone said...

I'm sold.