Friday, June 08, 2007

Sanders on Jesus as God's Viceroy

E.P. Sanders in his two books on Jesus (1985; 1993) argues that Jesus saw himself as having a decisive role in the coming kingdom, somewhat along the lines of God's viceroy. Jesus thought of himself as a 'king' (demonstrated in the triumphal entry), but not as Messiah. He argues that the disciples inferred that Jesus was the Messiah based on his identity as king. But (and here is my question), Sanders is a bit unclear as to when they made that inference. Was it pre- or post-Easter? In his 1985 book Jesus and Judaism he seems to allow for the possibility that it was pre-Easter, but in his 1993 book Historical Figure of Jesus you get the impression that it was post-Easter.

Read Sanders, 1985: 307-8, 321 and 1993: 241-42 and tell me what ya think?


Geoff Hudson said...

The so-called 'triumphal entry' is a garbled version of what was a group of prophets arriving at Jerusalem for the feast of Tabernacles. Instead of laying their clothes on a donkey, they were laying branches on a tree cut down to build a booth - some spread branches in the fields and some on the road. Tabernacles was a time when they slept out under the stars in their booths waiting for the Spirit to come. Thus they shouted, "Blessed is he who comes IN the Spirit of the Lord". I have read both of Sander's books too.

D said...

What does Sanders do with Jesus own testimony that he was the Messiah (John 4:25-26)? He identified himself as such to the woman at the well.

Geoff Hudson said...

Page 241,The Historical Figure of Jesus - Saunders fudged the issue. He wrote:"We cannot read these texts (the DSS) and then say we know what 'Messiah' meant and consequently what the early Christians thought when they called Jesus 'Messiah' or 'Christ'." The excuse Sanders gives is:"There will be a great war (according to one scroll), but the Messiahs play no part in it." Here we have a classic example of a scholar taking a naive literalistic line and ducking the issue.

One Messiah in the DSS is a son of Aaron and thus a priest or high priest, and the other is a son of David and thus a king. Sanders wrote: "the priestly Messiah is in charge. The other Messiah does nothing." Well, what does Sanders believe the king Messiah was all about then? According to the best fudger in the business, "nothing"

Geoff Hudson said...

And talking about 'God's Viceroy', there was a whole bunch of them, not just one. They were called prophets, but were largely written out of the history. These of course were not messianic, but they did expect the Lord.

Geoff Hudson said...

From my first comment, Easter is not important. The prophet was taken prisoner and executed in October before the Feast of Tabernacles (thus 'The Feast' of Mt.26.5). The betrayer was the High Priest Caiaphus, not the interpolated fictitious Judas Iscariot (Mt.26.14) - the plot was contrived in the High Priest's palace (Mt.26.3). This was after the prophet's diatribe about the 'sheep' and 'goats' - clearly changed by the editor from prophets and priests. The priests had feathered their own nests and had neglected the prophets.

Geoff Hudson said...

Prophets were I suppose messianic or christian in the sense that they were anointed with the Spirit. Notably, there was no place at 'the common table' for a prophet type of Messiah (1QS).

Sanders wrote:"There is thus no certainty that Jesus thought of himself as bearer of the title 'Messiah'. On the contrary, it is unlikely that he did so; all the gospel writers so regarded him, but they could cite little direct evidence;" I suggest the reason for both was: the prophet only thought and spoke of himself in terms of being a prophet, no more and no less.

Geoff Hudson said...

Jeffrey Gibson has an issue regarding angels parallel to the Sander's Messiah issue. Thus Gibson wrote: "it appears that Jesus seems not to have shared all
of his co- religionists (or even the evangelists') beliefs about angelic functions."

Like Sanders on the Messiah, Gibson ducked this issue about angels when he wrote further (be prepared for a long sentence): "Though it is beyond the scope of this article to account for why it is that Jesus
apparently held this comparatively circumscribed view of angelic functions, especially with respect to those of "heavenly angels", the answer may lie somewhere along the lines of W.O.E. Oesterley's suggestion that it is due to a
conviction on Jesus' part that he, along with the Holy Spirit, are the ones who have been empowered with the roles of envoy, intermediary, and advocate that in
Jewish tradition were thought to be angels' provenance.

I would argue that the prophet, as a prophet, saw no need for interceding angels, given that he had direct access to God via the Spirit of God. The same was true for all prophets. They were all envoys empoiwered by the Spirit.