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The Apoclyptical Jesus


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If there is one thing that has made me hesitant to follow Jesus it's the consistent theam of the end of days, it seems to fly in the face of other teachings which are more about compassion ect. But parables about the sheperd sorting the sheep for what seems to be people's destination of heaven and hell and plenty of others I find disturbing. So my question is does anyone else feel this way? If so how do we reconcile it? The other problem is they would prove Jesus was wrong as it is stated more than once that this must happen before this generation passes away, surly it must prove that he was not fully Devine when he was born (disclaimer I don't believe the virgin birth story). About the only theory that I can come up with is that when the gospels were written the early desciples were having a hard time and parables like theses helped those communities to "keep the faith" so to speak. Thoughts anyone I am open to any suggestions and would be interested to find out if other people feel the same way.



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Two great biblical scholars that I respect, Dale Allison a committed Christian and Bart Ehrman an agnostic, agree, with others, that Jesus was indeed an Apocalyptic Prophet and that the various sayings have their origin in the historical Jesus. The further interesting dilemma to wondering if 'this generation' passing away and thus showing Jesus was wrong and not fully Divine is that if he knew the end would come while his disciples still lived, this would call into question whether he was really human. Simply because humans can't see and make such predictions: look at all those who have said the world will end in say 1789, and then 1817, and, okay, it will really end in 1948 and on and on. No one has ever been right and I am more than grateful for that.


I have come to recognize that Jesus was a human being, like us in all ways, and a Jew of the 1st C CE when many of his people were expecting the end and the promised deliverance from God. Although I think he 'stands out,' he agreed with the worldview and the religious expectation (which he built on) of his people. It seems, agreeing with the Baptist, the he did expect the Kingdom to arrive and he was 'desperate' to get people to listen, repent and change their lives in preparation of the coming of their God - but that mean a change 'now'. Within this he told the story of the God in whom he trusted and lived. I wonder if during the time he took to prepare to go public (early 30s) and standing on the shoulders of those who went before him, he "grew in wisdom, grace and knowledge' and came to 'know' the God that (he believed) was present and would come in fullness. I'm still reading on this but he did indeed seem to be a unique teacher and although God was considered Father by the Jews, to address God as Abba (Daddy) was, I believe unique. Both Ehrman and Allison have books on Jesus, the Apocalyptic Prophet and Allison's book on 'Constructing Jesus' is a commitment but worth the read.


The bottom line for me is that Jesus didn't have knowledge about God, in other words, he didn't (primarily) know 'things' about God (including when God would end it all), rather Jesus 'knew' God (participative knowing, the way we know a friend or lover) or to continue the Meister Eckhart comments from another thread, Jesus 'got rid of (mere knowledge of things about) God' because he was doing God, i.e. Love. And I think in this we have Divinity (Love) in Humanity as Humanity becomes Divinity (Love). Jesus, for me (and not exclusive of other Stories), is True Son of Abba; he does what the Father does and is.


Finally, he did make a mistake about the end coming before his disciples passed away, but then again, he was human.

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Hi Paul,


I see it a bit differently than others. I think his words were more spiritual than literal. The second coming i see as not a one time for all event in the far off future but rather a coming inside ones consciousness. Christ in you as a revealing or personal revelation. The kingdom of God coming not with observation or outward show as spoken of in Luke when he was demanded of the Pharasees as to when it should come. I think the Book of Revelations clearly indicates in the 1st Chapter that it was not literal and the things written therein were things that have been, are, and would shortly come to pass. Not that it matters much to me for agreement but i see it all in the present tense. I don't see as thormas has indicated that Jesus was wrong about the kingdom coming before his disciples passed away. It seems to me it has been here always and there were some standing there that did see it before physical death as there are some here now that also see it before physical death.


This is what i see personally as the true Gospel message.



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I was basing my comments on the work of biblical scholars, not only their work on the gospels but also research and insight into 1st C Judaism and their beliefs. Given that, it seems that Jesus did expect the literal establishment of the Kingdom on earth and soon, in the lifetime of some of his disciples. Paul also, at first, hoped for and expected to see the establishment of that Kingdom.


It also seems accurate that Jesus was executed for being the King of the Jews, such a King was expected to establish the literal Kingdom. If I remember correctly, Jesus did not state that he would be the King (for obvious reasons) but if you look at the role he believed the 12 would play, the question is, if he was their leader now, who would be their leader when they assumed their positions of authority in the Kingdom to be established? Some scholars have allowed that Jesus talked of his role with the 12 and that his betrayal by one of them led to the charge. I recognize that not all research and interpretation is in agreement and I am still reading and learning, but this seems to be the 'take' by highly respected scholars.


Having said all this, I think it is fine to reinterpret the Kingdom for a modern audience and speak of consciousness and an ongoing 2nd coming - I just don't know if that was what the historical Jesus and Early Church believed. And given that it seems the historical Jesus predicted the Kingdom in the lifetime of his disciples and it didn't happen, he was wrong. For me, that is okay because he was a man with the worldview of his time and a Jew of his time who shared much with his people while also having an 'insight' into or understanding of God, that still results in us saying: Messiah, Son of God, Incarnation of God.


Burl, I have understood it as a genre but also a description of an individual who held apocalyptic beliefs.

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