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Adam Masterman
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Did Jesus preach an apocalyptic Gospel? Was He an apocalyptic thinker?

The context is a (mild) renewed interest in John Crossan's work. I studied him in college, agreed then and agree now that Jesus was an historical figure who preached a sapiential or "realized" eschatology. IOW, the "Kingdom of God" He spoke of was not a future event, but a hidden reality.

Obviously there is a lot of context around that idea, but I am interested to hear from self-identified followers of Jesus as to which (if either) eschatology Jesus taught (personal interpretations as well as official church positions).

Adam

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edgmatt
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I've never heard it come up like that...8 years of Catholic school, regular church visits...

The first "Apocalypse" was the flood with Noah. After that, there was a covenant between God and his people that God would never do something like that again. (The rainbow was the sign of this.)

So it doesn't make sense that Jesus would be talking of an end of days. He was teaching how to live.
I'm really just summarizing that, it's not really a good synopsis of the story. This is all my take on it, someone with a deeper understanding of the Bible and the religion might give you a better answer.

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
Did Jesus preach an apocalyptic Gospel? Was He an apocalyptic thinker?

Yes, but not exclusively.
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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by Viking_Longship:
quote:
Did Jesus preach an apocalyptic Gospel? Was He an apocalyptic thinker?

Yes, but not exclusively.
What makes you say this? I haven't referenced the Gospels recently, but in my recollection, there's nothing in there that's apocalyptic.
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hobsen
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In this controversy, John Dominic Crossan is a strong believer in imminent eschatology. His close friend and associate Marcus J. Borg takes a more moderate position, and his book titled Jesus and published in 2006 discusses the matter at length.

The Gospels were written by Christians who believed that Jesus was the Christ and that Jesus would return very soon. And when duplications are omitted, they all together total about 10,000 words as I remember. That means that lots of things about what Jesus said or believed will remain controversial probably forever, because conclusive evidence is simply not there. And this particular controversy, which was probably the hottest of the last century, most likely falls among those questions which can be argued but never decided.

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kmbboots
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The gospels reflect a sense that there will come a kingdom or a day of judgment. Parable of the Wise and Foolish Bridesmaids, Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, and so forth. In that time, expecting the end times was a popular belief. Much of Jesus's teaching, from my point of view, was countering this. To remind people to pay attention to the here and now rather than waiting. "No one knows the day or the hour" and the aforementioned parables teaching that one needs to live one's life ready.
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Carlotta
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I don't understand the question well enough to answer a yes or a no. Jesus taught a lot of things, some of it was morality, some was theology ("I and the Father are one"), he healed, he preached, he foretold his own death, gathered disciples around him to carry out his work when he was gone.

I think the fact that the early Christians believed Jesus would come back very soon is strong evidence for the fact that Jesus did in fact teach about an apocalyptic future. However he also specifically said things that appear to be designed to take the focus off that future and put it on the here and now. When you read the gospels, see him talking about apocalyptic things, but then when people ask him about them he says things like "You know neither the day nor the hour" and tells parables about how we all should be doing our best right now and not wasting energy trying to figure out what will happen and when.

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Viking_Longship
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshuaD:
quote:
Originally posted by Viking_Longship:
quote:
Did Jesus preach an apocalyptic Gospel? Was He an apocalyptic thinker?

Yes, but not exclusively.
What makes you say this? I haven't referenced the Gospels recently, but in my recollection, there's nothing in there that's apocalyptic.
quote:
Luke 30"It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32Remember Lot's wife! 33Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left."[d]

quote:
Luke 12:40 (New International Version)

40You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."

quote:
[Luke 9:27 (New International Version)

27I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."/QUOTE]

5Jesus said to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 6Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

9"You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

12"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

14"When you see 'the abomination that causes desolation'[a]standing where it[b] does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 17How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. 20If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 21At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ[c]!' or, 'Look, there he is!' do not believe it. 22For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible. 23So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

24"But in those days, following that distress,
" 'the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
25the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'[d]
[QUOTE] 5Jesus said to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 6Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

9"You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

12"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

14"When you see 'the abomination that causes desolation'[a]standing where it[b] does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 17How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. 20If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 21At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ[c]!' or, 'Look, there he is!' do not believe it. 22For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible. 23So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

24"But in those days, following that distress,
" 'the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
25the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'[d]

26"At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

28"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30I tell you the truth, this generation[e] will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
The Day and Hour Unknown
32"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Be on guard! Be alert[f]! You do not know when that time will come. 34It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

35"Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch!' "

quote:
Matthew 31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

If one is speaking about the conventional understanding of appocalyptic those passages all would seem to qualify.
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Star Pilot 111
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Did Jesus preach an apocalyptic Gospel?

Yes He Did.

An Apocalypse (Greek: Ἀποκάλυψις Apokálypsis; "lifting of the veil" or "revelation") is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception.

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Carlotta
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Just off the top of my head, here are some references (sorry, can't give chapter and verse)

"Not one stone will remain upon another" speaking of the Temple

And in that day whoever is in the city should flee to the mountains and the people will say to the mountains "fall on us!" and the women will say "blessed are the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed"

The Son of Man will come on the clouds with angels (or something like that)

You know neither the day nor the hour, it will come like a thief in the night.

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cb
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All of Matthew 24 is about the end of days and the apocalyptic environment that will permeate that harsh reality. Some people feel Matt 24 was fulfilled during the aftermath of Christ's death. That is clearly not the case as:

* Those claiming to be Christ have not appeared as yet. We've had many false prophets, but no one yet who has laid claim to the title "Christ". That will happen in the form of the Anti-Christ who will work miracles and seem in form as the "son of God".

Matt 24:23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.

24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

* The signs of Christ's return have not yet appeared.

Matt 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

* The "rapture" has not occurred.

Matt 24:40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

* The trumps have not sounded.

Matt 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

It sounds like your John Dominic Crossan was attempting to believe in the peaceful teachings of Christ's kingdom without accepting the God of Judgement that attends it.

Jesus, who went in righteous wrath into the temple court yard and cleared it violently, doesn't sound like the kind of man who would teach of a final "clearing of His temple" as He prepares to make this earth into paradise?

Of course He was, and anyone who tries to teach Christ stripped of the righteous indignation that will attend Him as He cleanses the earth of the fullness of evil that will exist in the last days is fooling himself.

[ October 07, 2010, 12:39 AM: Message edited by: cb ]

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Pete at Home
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Jesus taught a lot of apocalyptic stuff, but the gospel itself, i.e. faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the holy ghost ... don't know how I could characterize any of that as "apocalyptic."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but AFAIK just about all Christian sects characterize the core salvic knowledge of Christianity, the gospel, as the good tidings that we can become free from sin and death through faith in Jesus, which leads us to repentance, etc. While the end times info is interesting, and potentially useful, AFAIK no Christian sect has asserted that such knowledge is essential to salvation.

Was Jesus an apocalyptic thinker? I reckon he thought in every non-sinful way that it's possible to think. But AFAIK eschatology isn't part of the gospel, i.e. it's not essentual for eternal salvation. At some point it might be extremely useful for temporal salvation, though...

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vulture
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I have to agree that Jesus (as presented in the gospels) certainly said some stuff that seems pretty clearly about a future apocalyptical event, as lots of people have already said. But it is also true that a lot of the "Kingdom of God" stuff is about the present (this won't be news to any Christians here, I'm sure). So Adam is quite right that Jesus is often talking not about some future event, but about a "hidden reality" in the present that is accessible his followers. But alongside that, Jesus does still talk about a future apocalypse in the 'conventional' sense.
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edgmatt
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Adam - was it just curiosity that motivated you to start this thread?
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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by edgmatt:
Adam - was it just curiosity that motivated you to start this thread?

Pretty much. Personally I find this the most compelling issue regarding the ministry of Jesus. I was wondering whether it was even significant for Christians.
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edgmatt
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The apocalypse is the most compelling issue? Or if Jesus talked about it?
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Adam Masterman
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Whether the Kingdom of Heaven was an apocalyptic vision, or a realized eschatology.
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Adam Masterman
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Edit: I should have said "view" instead of "vision"; I'm not talking about a literal vision (like the one that St. John the Divine had), but a view in the sense of "a way of looking at the world".

Also, Kingdom of Heaven was Mark's term, right? The other evangelists used Kingdom of God, I think. Anyone know the original Aramaic? Was it a jewish term that Jesus was clarifying/redefining? I'll do some research...

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Carlotta
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Adam,
It doesn't have to be an either-or. The Kingdom of God can refer to something that we can participate in right now by our lives and make present among us AND will be most fully revealed/lived out/made real by some future apocalyptic event.

As far as my personal religious belief, that's pretty much it (above). What CS Lewis said makes a lot of sense to me, that in a certain sense, the people in Heaven will be able to look back at their time on earth and see that Heaven was inside of them even then, while those in Hell will be able to truly say that they have been in Hell all along.

As far as what Jesus the historical man and literary figure meant when he used the term "Kingdom of God" and what the authors of the Gospels understood that to mean, I'd have to know more of the original language, culture, and Jewish background to have a better understanding of that.

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Grant
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It all depends on how important you see the Olivet discourse as being in the central theme of Christ's teachings. Adventists, pentecostals, evangalists, all love the stuff. Catholics and Episcopalians and Methodists rarely touch the stuff unless it is to remind the faithful that life here on earth is supposed to suck.
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RickyB
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From what I gather, Jesus did not dispute that the social-political order as he and his contemporaries knew it would soon come to an end, and indeed supported this analysis in his preaching. However, unlike most agitators of his time (and one must remember that Jesus was neither the only nor the most noticed in his time of the "the end of things as we know them is nigh" preachers), he turned the message around from "get ready for the final showdown" to "behave as I preach whether it comes tomorrow or in the far future".
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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Originally posted by Grant:
It all depends on how important you see the Olivet discourse as being in the central theme of Christ's teachings. Adventists, pentecostals, evangalists, all love the stuff. Catholics and Episcopalians and Methodists rarely touch the stuff unless it is to remind the faithful that life here on earth is supposed to suck.

Thanks for the reference, I just read an interesting couple of articles on the discourse (with which I was not familiar). Also realized that I take for granted that some of the biblical account is inaccurate, and that some aspects of Jesus' ministry are missing from it. In other words, I consider Jesus to be a historical figure and spiritual teacher, of whose ministry we have overlapping but imperfect accounts (necessitating various methods of interpretation, like textual criticism). Is it even possible to hold this view and be a Christian? Maybe this differs from branch to branch.

Adam

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Carlotta
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As a Catholic, I find it completely in accordance with my religion to do the following:

1. Recognize that the historical books of the Bible are limited and don't include everything. They were all written by men who each had a different perspective on Jesus' ministry and teachings and what they wanted to emphasize.

2. Admit that some details even in the historical books (because obviously in the books that were meant to be poetic or allegorical this is the case) that may not be exactly accurate to actual events.

3. However I don't believe that these details are essential to the core of what Jesus taught.

4. The way to find out what Jesus taught is to not only look at the Gospels (what he said and did) but the writings of his disciples, both in the later books of the New Testament and the writings of the early church fathers and other early Christians and Christian leaders.

There's no problem with looking at the gospels as you would any other ancient historical document, or analyzing it as you would any other work of literature. I happen also to believe that Jesus was God and established a Church while he was here on earth, giving it the charge to keep his teachings intact and pass them on to future generations, and that he gave the Church he founded the power to carry out that mission. But that doesn't negate the human aspects of scripture.

The more fundamentalist or evangelical Protestants will not take this view. Their view is much more that the Bible was dictated word for word by God to the human authors, that the Bible stands alone and can be clearly interpreted by any Christian, and that every word in it is literally true.

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