Thursday, September 28, 2006

T.W. Manson - Jesus and the Non-Jews

Thanks again to Rob Bradshaw for uploading another significant short study onto the web. This time it is: T.W. Manson, Jesus and the Non-Jews. This is a brief lecture about materials pertaining to Jesus and Gentiles in the Gospels. And it is important, let me tell you why.

In many studies of the historical Jesus and the early Christian mission, particularly those with a salvation-historical focus, it is commonly argued that Jesus limited his mission to Israel (e.g. Matt 10.5; 15.24) because the Gentiles would be saved later. In which case, the mission to Israel by Jesus is a bottleneck that has to be traversed before the real mission to the Gentiles can get underway. Jesus' mission to Israel becomes a matter of form and polity in giving Israel first bite of the salvation-historical pie in full knowledge that they will reject it and that the rest of the pie will go to the Gentiles (I think that this is E.P. Sanders' problem with Joachim Jeremias).

In contrast, Manson had a different perspective. In his view Jesus' mission to Israel was part of a larger narrative. Jesus went to Israel because a transformed Israel would transform the world. Thus, we should refrain from saying that Jesus went to Israel because the Gentiles would get saved later; instead, Jesus went to Israel because he was a prophet of restoration eschatology, calling Israel to embrace the kingdom and the covenant, and those who accept the calling would become the Israel of the new age and they would fulfill the covenantal role of being a light to the nations (Isa 42.6; 49.6) and be a kingdom of priests (Exod 19.5-6).

In other words, the continuity between Jesus and Paul is not with the periodizing framework of "Jew then Gentile" in Rom 1.16, it is rather in the narrative framework embedded in Rom. 15.8-9 "Christ became a servant of the circumcized on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs, so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy".


Anonymous said...

Happily this article is now available again, following the resolution of a copyright claim from a publisher.



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