JESUS:“THE TURNING POINT   OF HISTORY”                      Chapter 2     Jesus Through the Centuries                Jaros...
How did we get here?Because of Jesus of Nazareth, history will never be the sameWhy?• Easy answer: worldwide use of near-u...
A different ‘transfiguration’The evolution of metaphysics led by early believers produces adivergence in two significant a...
How did that happen?Pelikan helps us trace this evolution of thought. We start withthe words Jesus preached: “The time is ...
Finding a meaning• Jesus’ followers turn to scripture as they seek to understand  the prophetic mission. They find Jesus a...
What About the Parousia*?Jesus delivered one message repeatedly: His call forrepentance, for ethical change, was grounded ...
The non-ParousiaThe Parousia doesn’t happen. It’s a non-event.Now what?• What does the non-Parousia mean for Jesus’ promis...
Re-framingJesus’ followers are OK with the delay of the Parousia • 2nd and 3rd century sources don’t mention any crisis ab...
History starts to change• Dualistic approach paves way for 4th century idea of a Christian  Roman emperor who reigns in th...
New interpretations for a new historyTheologicalTertullian (2nd century) is a major player in developing thedogma of the T...
What is new theological interpretation?• Starts with history of Israel, whose main goal now taken to be life, death,  and ...
New interpretations for a new historyPolitical• Jesus ID’d as turning point in history of all nations of the  world, becau...
New interpretations for a new historyHistorical record4th century Greek Christian writers illustrate new historiographyins...
New interpretations for a new historyTime and dateViews of Jesus as turning point in history make their way intothe calend...
Jesus remains the historical turning point• Until recently, the letters BC and AD, for Before Christ and Anno  Domini (Yea...
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Pelikan chapter2

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This was for a presentation I gave in the Spring 2012 course, "In Search of Jesus" (RELS 316), taught by Chair of the Religious Studies Department Dr. Mitchell Reddish at Stetson University. The presentation was based on Chapter 2 of the book by Jaroslav Pelikan, "Jesus Through the Centuries."

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Pelikan chapter2

  1. 1. JESUS:“THE TURNING POINT OF HISTORY” Chapter 2 Jesus Through the Centuries Jaroslav Pelikan
  2. 2. How did we get here?Because of Jesus of Nazareth, history will never be the sameWhy?• Easy answer: worldwide use of near-universal Western calendar forces even atheists, agnostics and those of other faith traditions to realize that fact.• Deeper answer: Jesus’ followers rewrote history. In doing so, they transfigured metaphysics* and invited a new ‘grammar of history’*Wikipedia: ‘Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world.”
  3. 3. A different ‘transfiguration’The evolution of metaphysics led by early believers produces adivergence in two significant areas:• Christianity and classicism: seen through history, as one mode of thought overtook the other• Church and synagogue: seen in the way Christians appropriated the interpretation of the redemption of Israel: • Historical meaning of redemption of Israel accomplished by the Exodus from Egypt … becomes • … the redemption of humanity accomplished by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead
  4. 4. How did that happen?Pelikan helps us trace this evolution of thought. We start withthe words Jesus preached: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15)What does that mean?Jesus’ early followers ask the same question. They reflect onwhat was distinctive about Jesus’ prophetic mission.
  5. 5. Finding a meaning• Jesus’ followers turn to scripture as they seek to understand the prophetic mission. They find Jesus as Son: “God spoke of old our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son …” (Heb. 1:1-3)• Contemporary Jewish sources believe Jesus’ proclamation about the kingdom of God echoes Jewish apocalypticism – the expectation that the victory of the God of Israel over its enemies isfinally at hand. This is a deep belief: • Jesus and John the Baptist preach to people who are waiting for this to happen (Luke 3:15) • In Acts, the disciples even ask Jesus what time he will restore the kingdom to Israel. (Acts 1:6-7) BUT…
  6. 6. What About the Parousia*?Jesus delivered one message repeatedly: His call forrepentance, for ethical change, was grounded in the Parousia.• *Parousia: The coming of the Son of Man will put an end to human history and usher in the new order of the kingdom of God.People expect the time between Jesus’ earthy ministry and theend of history will be short. • Because of this expectation, early followers are able to accept teachings such as “turn the other cheek.” • All three Synoptic Gospels quote Jesus as saying, near the end of his ministry, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” BUT …
  7. 7. The non-ParousiaThe Parousia doesn’t happen. It’s a non-event.Now what?• What does the non-Parousia mean for Jesus’ promise that “my words will not pass away”?• How does he retain his authority when his validity had rested on the announcement of the impending end of history? ??????? Pelikan calls the delay of the Parousia the inner history of Christianity
  8. 8. Re-framingJesus’ followers are OK with the delay of the Parousia • 2nd and 3rd century sources don’t mention any crisis about it • People at the time accept both an apocalyptic expectation and the prospect of continuing history • Both understandings find expression in an increasing emphasis on the centrality of Jesus Christ • 2nd century scholar Tertullian counsels moral living and the awaiting of Christ’s return while also praying for the emperor and for preservation of the peace of the kingdom
  9. 9. History starts to change• Dualistic approach paves way for 4th century idea of a Christian Roman emperor who reigns in the name of and by power of Jesus• Tertullian’s paradoxical look (toward the Parousia, while also preserving the current world) is the “new understanding of the meaning of history”• Jesus’ second coming is not simply going to be the end of history.Instead:Jesus is already the Turning Point of History• History is transformed and overturned by the fact of Jesus’ first coming, in the past.
  10. 10. New interpretations for a new historyTheologicalTertullian (2nd century) is a major player in developing thedogma of the Trinity and the person of Christ. He anticipatesoutcome of 3rd and 4th century debates, when: • theological and dogmatic significance of Jesus as Son are worked out in the clarification of the dogma of the Trinity • the cultural significance of Jesus as hinge on which history turns becomes understood This new understanding becomes the basis for a new interpretation of the historical process
  11. 11. What is new theological interpretation?• Starts with history of Israel, whose main goal now taken to be life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. This is understood via prophecies fulfilled• Kingdom of Israel now authentic kingdom of God. The Crucified reigns over it “from the tree” of David.• Reunification of the kingdoms of Israel anticipates Christ as one and only king• Priesthood of Israel is viewed from the perspective of Jesus as its turning point. Aaron’s Levitical priesthood was temporary; Jesus now “holds the priesthood permanently” (Heb 7:24)• Church adopts Jewish name for ordained clergy: NT never uses term priest for ministers of Christian church or even for the apostles.
  12. 12. New interpretations for a new historyPolitical• Jesus ID’d as turning point in history of all nations of the world, because that history is encapsulated in history of the Roman Empire.• Augustine of Hippo’s 5th century City of God most influences this line of thought. According to Augustine: • The life, death, and resurrection of Christ was a single, unrepeatable event, and yet at same time a message and mystery announced from very beginning of the human race. (Augustine accused of being not only founder of Christian philosophy but also first man to discover meaning of time.)
  13. 13. New interpretations for a new historyHistorical record4th century Greek Christian writers illustrate new historiographyinspired by the life of JesusEusebius of Caesarea: Writes a history of Jesus that goes back tobeginning of the human experience and up through hiscontemporary times. Decisive event in that history took place in thelife of Christ. Eusebius understands entry of Jesus into the world asbasis of God’s plan for the world.Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria: Writes biography of the founderof Egyptian Christian monasticism. Life of Antony a new type ofbiography inspired by the life of Jesus in the Gospels. Hero expressesChristian ideals and imitates Christ, making the life of Jesus theturning point in biographies.
  14. 14. New interpretations for a new historyTime and dateViews of Jesus as turning point in history make their way intothe calendar, which evolves into a general recognition of Jesusas that turning point • 6th century Scythian monk – Dionysius Exiguus (Little Denis) in Rome proposes the new system, named for the incarnation of Jesus Christ. • It takes several centuries to establish itself. • Before that, everyone, including Gospel writers, uses Roman system of dating events by the reigns of emperors.
  15. 15. Jesus remains the historical turning point• Until recently, the letters BC and AD, for Before Christ and Anno Domini (Year of Our Lord), marked which side of Jesus’ birth a date occurred on the calendar• We now use BCE and CE, for Before Common Era and Common Era No matter what we call it, we’re still marking time by way of Jesus, and his words still have not passed away

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