February 05, 2006

jesus: jewish messiah?

Yesterday I made a post here on the passage under consideration. Larry advised me that blogger wouldn't let him comment on it. While I was checking the settings the posting disappeared! I came back -- got halfway through rewriting it and saved ir as a draft and now the draft is gone too. I'm starting to worry somebody doesn't like me.

Here's the gist of what I was trying to post (three times lucky?):


Peter in this passage struggles to interpret recent (for him) events: the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, and the events of Pentecost in the Upper Room. He draws upon the scriptures he knows -- the Psalms of David and an oracle by the prophet Joel. His approach is something some scholars are starting to call pesher or raz pesher based upon their study of this approach in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The traditional label is prophetic typology.

In effect Peter attributes prophecies about a King of David's lineage on the throne as Israel being fulfilled by Jesus' ascension to the right hand of the Father. He attributes Joel's oracle about an outpouring of prophetic gifts to the events in the upper room.

But it is more complex than that. The heavenly signs in Joel's prophecy -- the moon turning to blood for example -- are signs of the fall of powerful kings. The blood moon is an effect associated with a total lunar eclipse - which for a people with a lunar calendar tends to be a symbol of the overthrow of the established order. If we read Joel in context he's claiming that the world empire harassing the people of God will itself be harassed. The people of God will be gathered back to Israel and the citizens of the former empire will find themselves sold into slavery as they once sold the children of Israel.

For Joel the world empire was Assyria and for Peter it was Rome. For Joel the people of God were the Jews. For Peter they were also -- though he was about to learn otherwise. For me the people of God are all from any corner of the earth and from any faith or non-faith who have the law of God written on their hearts -- those who do what God requires of them out of conscience and concern. If the typology of Pentecost maps to Babel and an end to nation states and our political divisions then Peter's interpretation calls for the formation of a new nation created by God and called forth from exile in the nations of old.

Now Pentecost is not a significant faith symbol for me. But Peter's interpretation tells me it should be. If its right then faith has serious political implications which go straight to the heart of our lives together. But when I look to those folks who see Pentecost as central to their faith lives I do not see a people awaiting political liberation. I see folks seeking personal liberation.

I do not know what to do with this.

3 Comments:

At 7:02 AM, Blogger jeff said...

Hello all...just to say I am sorry I haven't been around for a while. I have been studying...so no time for sustained reflection ...but am keeping up with your entries.
Special thanks to you Crystal for posting on my blog...really appreciate your concern.

 
At 9:13 AM, Blogger Larry said...

David, I'm happy to say what I "do with this". Yes, the text says one thing to Peter's listeners and something else to most of us today. But that's the nature of the Bible. It's the Living Word. God speaks through the Living Word to each of us according to our condition.

Therefore he's not required to say the same thing to everybody. Thank God for that.

 
At 1:08 PM, Blogger crystal said...

A good point, David, about the political implications of Pentecost. One of the interesting things about those end of the world/rapture scenarios is that the world will become a single political state - a "mew world order" - but if I remember correctly, that will be a bad thing, doomed to failure.

 

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