For my write-up today on W.D. Davies' The Gospel and the Land, I have two items.
My first item is imminent eschatology, the notion that the end would
come soon. According to Davies, Mark and Luke do not believe in such a
concept. Following Stemberger, Davies maintains that Mark emphasizes
Jesus' passion and resurrection rather than the parousia, and that "if
Mark anticipated a very imminent Parousia he would not have bothered
with problems such as marriage and divorce" (page 221). Regarding
Luke/Acts, Davies argues that Luke 21 distinguishes events in 70 C.E.
from the end, that Luke 19:11ff. seeks through the Parable of the Pounds
to counter the notion that the Kingdom would come immediately (I assume
because the parable presents the master preparing to go to a far
country and telling his servants to occupy until he comes), and that
Acts 1:7 essentially discourages Christians from focusing on "an
imminent end of the world" (Davies' words on page 265). Luke
1-2 regards Christ as the coming Messiah who would restore Israel
(perhaps soon, which was why people in those chapters are so happy about
Christ's birth), but Davies believes that those chapters are pre-Lukan
and reflect a primitive eschatology, whereas Luke looks beyond Israel to
the spread of the Gospel throughout the earth.
There may be
something to Davies' analysis. For that matter, there may also be
something to the arguments of A.J. Mattill, who argues in Luke and the Last Things that Luke/Acts has an imminent eschatology! My
question is this: Would believing in an imminent eschatology have
necessarily precluded the early Christians from addressing concerns such
as marriage and divorce? I can somewhat understand why there
are people who say that it would have, for, if the end is near, why
discuss such issues as ethics, divorce, remarriage, community
interaction, etc.? But I can also think of reasons to answer the
question in the negative: a desire for the community to be conformed to
God's moral will in preparation for when the end will come, for example.
John 7:41, Jewish leaders sarcastically ask if the Messiah shall come
out of Galilee, the implication being that they did not believe that he
would, and therefore Jesus was not the Messiah because he was Galilean.
But Davies states on page 222: "True, there are passages where Galilee
may be referred to in Messianic contexts. These are Song of Songs
Rabbah 4:16, with parallels in Lev. Rabbah 9:6 and Num. Rabbah 13:2. In
these passages, if the term 'North' be taken to refer to Galilee, then
the Messiah may be connected with that area."
I checked my Judaic
Classics Library. I did not see anything about the Messiah being in the
north in Song of Songs Rabbah 4:16, but I did see a reference to the Messiah abiding in the North in the other two texts. The prooftext for this is Isaiah 41:25,
which states (in the KJV): " I have raised up one from the north, and
he shall come: from the rising of the sun shall he call upon my name:
and he shall come upon princes as upon morter, and as the potter
Davies also evaluates material about the Messianic
or eschatological significance of Damascus in the Dead Sea Scrolls (IQS
8:12-15; 9:19-20; IQM 1:3) and rabbinic literature (Sifre Deut. ed. M.
Friedmann 65a; 79b; Genesis Rabbah 78:12; Song of Songs Rabbah 4:8; 7:5;
Numbers Rabbah 14:4). Davies is discussing a scholar (Wieder) who
maintains that Damascus includes upper Galilee. But Davies disagrees
with Wieder because Davies believes that some of these texts still
emphasize the importance of Jerusalem, whereas Wieder (if I am
understanding Davies' discussion correctly) holds that there was some
sort of rivalry between Galilee and Jerusalem. Moreover, Davies does
not think that Matthew partook of some pro-Galilean, anti-Jerusalem
sentiment, for Davies contends that Matthew ultimately relativizes the
land by exhorting the disciples to take the Gospel to all nations.
the importance of the North or Galilee in Jewish thought fascinates me
(though I have to admit that I have not yet looked at the texts that
Davies discusses). Was the writer of the Gospel of John unaware
of a Jewish association of Messianic or eschatological events with
Galilee? Could the presence of the rabbis in Galilee after 70 C.E.
pertain in any way to their exaltation of the region?