Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Continuing Exile?

N.T. Wright's thesis that Israel was, ideologically speaking, still-in-exile has prompted much criticism and discussion. Several scholars have attempted to rearticulate or qualify Wright's exilic theology in several ways. Was Israel still-in-exile despite the fact that most of the Babylonian exiles had returned to the land? The following scholars answer "yes":

Brand Pitre: Yes, because the 10 northern tribes were still dispersed away from the land.

Michael Bird: Yes, because the promises of Isaiah 40-66 had only been partially realized.

Michael Fuller: Yes, because most Jews lived outside of Palestine.

For criticism see the pertinent works by Steven M. Bryan and F.G. Downing.


metalepsis said...

Hey Mike,

I am doing a series about this on my blog. Check it out!

aaylnx said...

Matthew's genealogy appears to endorse the idea of a continuing exile.

Matthew 1:17 "Thus there were:

fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David,

fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon,

and fourteen from the exile to the Christ."

From Matthew's point of view clearly the terminus a quo of the exile begins at the end of the second set of 14 generations and it's terminus ad quem is at the end of the third set. Thus, for him, the exile extends from the deportation to Babylon until the coming of Christ.

Donald Hagner has pointed out the significance of Matthew's interpretation in light of the three sets of fourteen. The three sets of 14 should be taken as six sevens. Jesus, the seventh seven, therefore enters into a historical context where Israel is in exile. His arrival as the seventh seven clearly paints him as the one who will redeem Israel and bring her into sabbath rest.

Adam York

J. B. Hood said...


See also an article on exile in Matthew (esp the genealogy) by Mervyn Eloff in Neotestamentica 38 (2004), 75-87; comments also in Young S. Chae's recently published dissertation, Jesus as the Eschatological Davidic Shepherd; and I think Keener's commentary on Matthew though i can't swear to it.

aaylnx said...


Thanks for the references. I'll check those out.


sujomo said...

Hi Mike,

What helpful comments have been inspired by this post!

The Exile for Israel meant:
- loss of the Promised Land ie their 'inheritance'
- loss of their king - though 2 Kings 25:27-30 indicates hope for the future
- loss of the temple

This was tantamount to losing the raison d'etre of being Israel. Hence the repeated theme of exilic books concerning 'our hope has been cut off'(eg Ezekiel 37:11)

The exilic prophets declared inter alia:

- an emphasis on the mountain of the LORD/Zion/new Jerusalem as the place where God would be with His people and they with Him ie Jew and Gentile
- God would send His 'prince' or Shepherd King (Ezekiel 37)
- God would establish a new temple which would mean back to the Garden (Ezekiel 40-47)

In the event:

- the Edict of Cyrus meant return to the Promised Land
- the faithful remnant continued to wait for the coming of the Messiah
- the Second Temple was constructed but Haggai 2:3 indicated that it was a pale reflection of the glory of Solomon's temple. Surely there was more to come!

In reality the majority of Israel were still in spiritual exile despite the period of the Restoration.

It was only with the coming of Jesus, Son of David (as pointed out by the comments above concerning Matthew's genealogy)that the prophecies of the exilic prophets were fulfilled, including:

- the 'light' which not only attracted the Gentiles but also went to the ends of the earth
- the coming of Jesus as the Prophet (Deuteronomy 18) who, via a new exodus, would teach God's Torah ('instruction' not 'law') which would supersede the Torah of the OT and be written on the hearts of men and women (Ezekiel 36:26ff). This new Torah will be for both Jew and Gentile (Isaiah 2)and would usher in the blessings of the covenant.

The coming of Jesus the Messiah meant the end of the Exile for the Jews and the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham for the Gentiles (Galatians 3)

Cheers, Sujomo