09 Prophet of Gods Empire

OFB, 139–57

PART THREE is focused on the distinctively Christian writings within the Bible, and concludes with a chapter that traces some possible future developments for the Bible in a world of many faiths.


Overview of chapter nine

This chapter begins the third and final section of the book, and is especially focused on Jesus. The title is suggesting that Jesus may have understood himself as a prophet of God's empire, and that such a lens may still be appropriate for religious progressives to view Jesus today. As a prophet, Jesus may have seen himself standing in the long tradition of God's troublemakers. In the case of northern Israel, where Jesus was most connected, that included such major biblical characters as Elijah, Elisha, Hosea and Jonah. The message that Jesus delivered was centered around the motif of the divine commonwealth, God's empire, or the reign of God—how things might be around here if God's perfect will for justice and peace was practiced rather than ignored.
  • The chapter begins with an overview of the Gospels (pp. 139–42).
  • This is followed by a thumbnail sketch of the historical Jesus (pp. 142–44), drawing especially on the work of the Jesus Seminar.
  • The so-called "Synoptic Problem" is outlined on pp. 145–47.
  • The multivalent term "kingdom of God" is discussed on pp. 147–49.
  • The distinctive representation of Jesus in the Gospel of John is then considered (pp. 149–51).
  • The concluding cameo (pp. 151–57) is rather longer than usual, and outlines the work of the Jesus Seminar.
One important topic not able to be considered in this chapter was the death of Jesus. This would include what we know about the circumstances of Jesus' death, the date of his death, who was directly responsible for it, how Jesus may have viewed the prospect of his own death, and how the earliest resurrection traditions may have developed. Supplementary materials around these questions have been developed and are posted on this site. In addition, the following materials may be of interest:


Web links with particular relevance to this chapter include:

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