From Jesus to the Gospels September 16 From the Temple to the Upper Room September 23 The Kerygma of the Early Church: Sermons in Acts September 30 The Kerygma According to Paul: 1 Corinthians 15 October 7 The Teaching of Jesus: Embedded into the Letters October 14: What Are the Gospels? October 21 Choosing to Follow Christ into the New Covenant Community
From Jesus to the Gospels • How did we get from Jesus to the four Gospels? • It was a very different journey from what you might think. • What are the Gospels? When were they written? What was the purpose of writing them? How do they fit into the establishing process? And when?
From Jesus to the Gospels • Who exactly was Jesus? • What did He come to do? What was His core mission? • Who did the disciples think He was? . . . before and right after his crucifixion?
From Jesus to the Gospels • How did the Jerusalem churches understand Him? . . . and His work? (after His resurrection and ascension?) • What did they not yet understand? • (Next week—sermons in Acts)
The Quest of the Historical Jesus • The Quest • The Quest for the Historical Jesus, by Albert Schweitzer (1911). So this is a 100-year quest or conversation. • The New Quest (of the 1950s and 1960s) • Jesus was a prophet (or a poor peasant). Over time, the Church propagated the resurrection myth. • The 3rd Quest (1980s and 1990s; N. T. Wright’s work)
The Quest of the Historical Jesus • The Quest • The Quest for the Historical Jesus, by Albert Schweitzer (1911). • 3 positions in the 1900s quest: • Jesus can’t be known; Gospels are fiction. • Jesus was a prophet who died, understood apocalyptic expectations, birthed Christianity. • Quest is a mistake; no need to study the historical Jesus.
The Quest of the Historical Jesus • The New Quest (of the 1950s and 1960s) • Little happened. • Birth pangs for the “Third Quest”—named by N. T. Wright.
The Quest of the Historical Jesus • The 3rd Quest (1980s and 1990s) • Two main positions: • Jesus was a prophet (or peasant); small pieces of Kerygma, stories collected, myth grew, churches created resurrection myth—then Christianity. • The Jesus Seminar, interest in Lost Gospels, secret Jesus, etc. Da Vinci code Gnostic phenomenon. • Jesus was seen as the Messiah, gradually understood the full implications of His mission, resurrection—the Church birthed from Judaism.
The Quest of the Historical Jesus • The 3rd Quest (1980s and 1990s) • We have to enter the discussion. • If our faith is to hold water, then it must stand up to historical analysis, since our faith claims to be historical. (challenge of modernism) • We cannot give substantive answers to modern “gnostic searchers,” if our historical faith does not hold up. (challenge of postmodernism) • We have also become victims of the failure to study the massive 20th century research available on the Palestinian world of the 1st century and Graeco-Roman biography.
The Quest of the Historical Jesus • The 3rd Quest (1980s and 1990s) • N. T. Wright’s work
The Quest of the Historical Jesus • The 3rd Quest (1980s and 1990s) • The Graeco-Roman biography conversation
The Quest of the Historical Jesus • Our Own Quest—BILD’s Dilemma • We do not begin with the Gospels. • 30-year quest to situate them. • We knew what they were not—arbitrary, multiple interpretation, “personal discipleship–basic,” “personal salvation,” global, reach-the-world evangelism strategy—all ideas are very foreign to the eyewitnesses of the Gospels. • Direct criticism from discipleship groups; difficulty in handling the issue. Could only see dimly but knew we were right beginning with the Letters/Apostles’ Teaching.
The Quest of the Historical Jesus • Our Own Quest—BILD’s Dilemma • So this series is the result of our own 30-year quest of the use of the Gospels in the establishing process. • Process • My study, research (courses). • This series (published, dialogue). • Paper at conference. • Correct mistakes, republish. • Progress • Confident of what the Gospels are, their fit. • Not at all confident of intent of each Gospel.
The Quest of the Historical Jesus • Breakthrough • More personally—this summer produced tremendous fruit. • Journey • 70s—Kaiser’s influence—biblical theology. • Late 80s—Acts/Pauline Epistles (example: early, middle, later letters of Paul). • Late 90s till present—refined, expanded with social science research of Early Church. • This summer—6 weeks of all nighters, curriculum, all major literature on the Gospels (500+ books), break-through with curriculum (3 a.m.).
The Quest of the Historical Jesus How important is this quest? The whole discipleship movement has to be radically rethought, if these conclusions are accurate. The orality/literacy debate is distorted, if these matters are misunderstood. This shapes the whole curricular approach to oral converts in the massive, Global South church-planting movements. It has huge implications for setting out curricular processes in establishing churches and believers.
The Quest of the Historical Jesus • False dichotomies are everywhere adding to the confusion: • Jesus vs. Paul • Following Jesus vs. joining a church • Story/experience vs. theology/cerebral • Eastern (story) vs. Western (analytical) • Modern (academic) vs. postmodern (spiritual)
The Quest of the Historical Jesus • In short, almost all contemporary discipleship material • misuses the Gospels • misinterprets the Gospels • at almost every turn. • Let’s put the Gospels in context.
Gospels in Context • Three Stages of Gospel Formation: • The public ministry and activity of Jesus of Nazareth (the first third of the 1st century AD) • The (Apostolic) preaching about Jesus (the second third of the 1st century AD) • The written Gospels (the last third of the 1st century, approximately) • An Introduction to the New Testament by Raymond Brown
Gospels in Context • Three Generations • Jesus of Nazareth • The Jesus Tradition in the First Generations: The Logia Source and the Oral Tradition of Jesus • The Beginnings of Letter Literature in the First Generation: The Letters of Paul • The Synoptic Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles: The New Form of Literature in the Second and Third Generations • Pseudepigraphical Letters: The Continuation of the Literature of the First Generation • Johannine Writings • Fortress Introduction to The New Testament by Gerd Theissen
Gospels in Context • First Century Reality • Kerygma • Eyewitness notebooks (+ oral) • Theological reflection • Gospels with full understanding of Kerygma • Church emerges from Judaism solidified • Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Richard Bauckham
Let’s Return to Our 1st Question Set • The Historical Jesus • Who exactly was Jesus? • What did He come to do? What was His core mission? • Who did the disciples think He was? . . . before and right after His crucifixion?
Mark as the Starting Point • I am going to use Mark as my starting point. • Synpotics Tradition (syn – optically—view side by side) • The Gospels were written toward the last, not the first of the New Testament. • They were collections of stories, miracles, and teachings of Jesus that were drawn on by the Church, up until the time they were written. • The Early Church referred to the essence of the story of Jesus as the Kerygma—the good news proclaimed.
Mark—Basic Kerygma Mark Matthew Luke Matthew and Luke appear to build upon Mark. The core structure of the Jesus biography is Mark.
Observations on Mark’s Structure • Foretelling Death and Resurrection—Heart of Kerygma • Mark 8:31; 9:30–31; 10:32–34 • Structure of Book (good news) • John the Baptist • Ministry of Jesus (brief , quick action—city to city, event to event) • Proclaim good news/kingdom—everywhere • Confront Jewish leaders • Death and resurrection
Heart of Mark’s Kerygma • Foretelling Death and Resurrection—Heart of Kerygma • 8:31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. • 9:30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.”
Heart of Mark’s Kerygma Foretelling Death and Resurrection—Heart of Kerygma 10:32 They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; 34 they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”
Essence of Mark’s Kerygma Jesus preached the “news of victory” of God: the time is fulfilled (for Israel’s restoration), and the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe in this, and follow Jesus. Jesus is the promised Messiah, promised in the Old Testament, who would restore Israel and set up the kingdom. All who follow Him will be spared the coming judgment on Israel and be part of the New Covenant He is setting up with His followers.
Observations on Mark’s Message • Simple, stripped down, action oriented. “Proclaimed the message.” (1:38; 2:14) • Message: Proclaiming the good news of God, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent, and believe in the good news.” Mark 1:14–15 • Elements of message: • Time is fulfilled—prophesies, restoration of Israel. • Proclaim good news—(Kerygma = the proclamation; good news = gospel, “news of victory” TDNT). • Kingdom of God—rule of God through Israel.
Observations on Mark’s Message 42 When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Mark 15:42–43 What does it mean “waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God”? It means a man of faith, not of this evil generation, looking for the Messiah, not caught in the system Jesus is dismantling.
Literary Choices • Distinctives of Mark • Kingdom parables (kingdom is like…) • Identity dialogues (Who is He?—crowds, disciples, Pharisees, Jesus) Names: “Son of Man,” “Son of God” • “Brothers and sisters” dialogue • Spoke with authority, new teaching, “where did he get these things,” etc.
Literary Choices • Distinctives of Mark • Kingdom parables (kingdom is like…) • Like 4 types of soil • Like scattered seed everywhere, not knowing where it will grow • Like a mustard seed • Jesus is scattering the message everywhere. It will only stick with about 25%. But it will grow into an enormous kingdom.
Literary Choices • Distinctives of Mark • Identity dialogues (Who is He?—crowds, disciples, Pharisees, Jesus) 6:14–16; 8:27–30; 14:61–62; 15:2 (Names: “Son of Man,” “Son of God”) • Options: • John the Baptist • Elijah • A prophet • The Messiah (Listen to the dialogue)
Who Was Jesus? 14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” Mark 6:14–16
Who Was Jesus? 27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” 30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Mark 8:27–30
Who Was Jesus? 61 But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 Jesus said, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’ ” Mark 14:61–62 Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” Mark 15:2
Literary Choices • Distinctives of Mark • Progression in “brothers and sisters” (3: 31–34; 10:28–31; • His real family is those who join Him in the kingdom community. • Those who choose to do so will have to leave their families and heritages. • Their family will multiply in the kingdom. • In the future, they will have eternal life.
Who Is My Family? 31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:31–35
Who Is My Family? • 28 Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. • Mark 10:28–30
Literary Choices • Distinctives of Mark • Spoke with authority, new teaching, “where did he get these things?” etc. • “They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! Mark 1:27 • “On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him?” Mark 6:2
Key Interpretations • Who was Jesus? • What does it mean to believe? and be saved? • What was Jesus trying to accomplish? • Don’t tell anyone • Confront leaders • Special conversations with disciples
Key Interpretations • He was the Messiah, the coming Jewish deliverer who was prophesied in the OT, who would deliver Israel and bring in the kingdom of God. • Saved from the coming judgment on the Jewish leaders, the Temple and Jewish system, and the faithless generation. • He was creating a new community built around Him rather than Judaism—that is Christianity (the Church). • (From Temple to Upper Room)
Back Toward the Original Meaning • Forgiveness of sins—show receptiveness and readiness to follow Jesus into the New Community. • Repent and believe and you will be saved—from the judgment coming to this generation. • Gospel (“news of victory”)—the time has arrived for God to fulfill OT promises to Israel, for the Messiah to arrive, and for God to set up His kingdom. • Sermon on the Mount—preparation, choosing to follow Jesus into the New Community, cracking open their “Judaism worldview.” • Rich young ruler challenge—what is necessary for him to let go and follow Jesus into the New Community?
Personal Lesson • Whole new view of Jesus: • Real, developing, trusting, growing. • Action, fast—shake paradigm. • Aggressive, started fires everywhere. • Purpose controlled everything. • A totally different picture! • In three intense years He upset everything and everyone to prepare the way.