Lecture 1. The Idea of the Holy in the New Testament
Lecture 1: The Idea of the Holy
After nearly a century it is impossible to approach the subject of the idea of the holy from any other angle than that of Rudolf Otto, whose great book, The Idea of the Holy, first appeared in German in 1917, English translation in 1923. This is sub-titled an investigation into the non-rational in religion, for 'holiness is peculiar to the sphere of religion. It is only applied to ethics. It cannot be taught. It can only be evoked, awakened in the mind' (p. 7). Otto takes his point of departure from Schleiermacher, who spoke of a 'feeling of dependence'. Otto prefers the expression 'creature-consciousness' before a numen praesens, and compares this to other human feelings: 'Such feelings exist in weaker form in feelings of gratitude, trust, love, reliance, submission dedication'. It is worth quoting Otto at length:
The feeling of it may at times come sweeping like a gentle tide, pervading the mind with a tranquil mood of deepest worship. It may pass over into a more set and lasting attitude of the soul, continuing as it were, thrillingly vibrant and resonant until at last it dies away. It may burst in sudden eruption up from the depths of the soul with spasms and convulsions, or lead to the strangest excitements, to intoxicated frenzy and to ecstasy. It has its wild and demonic forms and can sink to an almost grisly horror and shuddering. It may become the hushed, trembling and speechless humility of the creature in the presence of - whom or what? In the presence of that which is a Mystery inexpressible and above all creatures (p. 12-13).
Joined with the feeling of dread (Goethe says in Faust, Das Schaudern ist der Menschheit bestes Teil) is a feeling of fascination, an allurement. Holiness is inherently attractive, even lovable. Although the Holy is beyond human reach, it is a human instinct to long for it and desire it. Augustine speaks of this feeling eloquently: 'Quid est illud quod interlucet mihi et percutit cor meum sine laesione? Et inhorresco et inardesco. Inhorresco inquantum dissimilis ei sum, inardesco inquantum similis ei sum' (Confessions 2.9.1). Otto comments this, 'The divine object may appear to the mind an object of horror and dread, but at the same time it is no less something that allures with a potent charm, and the creature who trembles before it has at the same time the impulse to turn to it, nay, even to make it somehow his own' (p. 31).
A third aspect of holiness which Otto isolates is the galvanic energy of the Holy: our God is a consuming fire (Dt 4.24, quoted Hebr 12.29). Mircea Eliade also, in The Sacred and the Profane (Harper, 1961, p. 12), in his account of sacred spaces and sacred times, stresses that places are chosen as holy - a sacred tree or a sacred spring - because they are reckoned to possess some intrinsic power, to release some beneficent energy. Similarly, times are prescribed as sacred as the moment when a particular energy is released, a moment of penetration through to the reality of things, the suitable time for making contact with the divine and tapping into its energy. I must say that this release of energy at holy places and times seems to me only one aspect of them. I would regard holy places not so much as wells of energy as islands of peace, places where one feels most profoundly in harmony with oneself and with the basic structure of the universe. This seems to me also the feeling expressed by the classical Greek and Roman attitude to the sacred grove, or the sacred spring, such as is expressed by Horace in his Odes to sacred places (e.g. O fons Bandusiae, splendidior vitro (3.13): Te flagrantis atrox hora Caniculae, Nescit tangere, tu frigus amabile Fessis vomere tauris Praebes et pecori vago). It is, of course, possible to regard such oases of peace as restorative of vigour, and in this way avenues to the energy of the Holy. This might be regarded as the message about the holiness of God conveyed in Elijah's theophany in the cave at Horeb, in the 'light murmuring sound' (1 Kgs 19.12). In the Bible, however, as in Canaanite religion (witness the ancient Psalm 29: The Lord's voice shatters the cedars, the Lord's voice convulses the desert), power is an inescapable concomitant of the deity. And of course Elijah's peaceful theophany is balanced by the fiery whirlwind in which he is taken from the earth (2 Kgs 2.11).
B. The Idea of the Holy in the Bible
Building on Otto's findings I would like to isolate certain aspects of the holiness of God as they appear in the Bible. The holiness of God in the Bible is a specific sort of holiness, which cannot be divorced from the whole conception of God known and shown by the biblical authors. Thus the elements isolated by Otto as elements of holiness are coloured for the God of the Bible in a way specific to the way God is there envisaged. The subject of our investigation is the holiness of God in the New Testament. It is, however, impossible to follow this up without first investigating the idea of the holiness of God in the Old Testament.
1. The first of these is Das Tremendum, for which Otto cites Ex 23.27, 'I shall send terror of myself ahead of you'. Every reader of the Bible has favourite passages where this is expressed. For me, many of them are associated with places I have visited. To anyone with a feeling for nature (and this feeling might be expected to be far more fully developed among the wandering Hebrews of the desert than among the city-dwellers that we are), some of these are naturally awesome. They are naturally holy places.. I could mention the awesome scene of Jacob's struggle with the mysterious spirit at the massive gorge of the River Jabbok, or the theophany on Sinai, when the holiness is such that the people must keep away from the mountain (Exodus 19.16-25 - and the barren and majestic peaks of Sinai, with their sombre, kaleidoscopic rocks, stripped bare of any earth, of themselves command respect; their very solemnity evokes a meeting with God), or the second theophany on Sinai when Yahweh puts Moses in a cleft in the rock to shelter him from the majesty, for 'no human being can see God and live' (Ex 33.20).
One of the chief expressions of awe at the otherness and incomprehensibility of God is the prohibition of making images of God. The prohibition of graven images is no doubt partly motivated by the desire to distinguish Israel from the neighbouring peoples, among whom statuettes and images of the gods were current coin, and to prevent the proliferation of such charms as cult objects, male and female fertility.figurines. If no human being can see God and live, it stands to reason that any physical representation of God is an absurdity and a betrayal, bringing God down to a level capable of being comprehended and encompassed by human senses, human eyes and hands. The creator cannot be reduced to the level of a wooden idol, whence the sarcasm of Deutero-Isaiah's polemic against the makers of idols:
The craftsman casts an idol, a goldsmith overlays it with gold, and casts silver chains for it. Someone too poor for a sacrifice chooses a piece of wood that will not rot and seeks out a skilled craftsman to set up an idol that will not totter. Have you not understood how the earth was set on its foundations? He who sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, the inhabitants of which are like grasshoppers, stretches out the heavens like a cloth (Is 40.19-22).
This feeling of the majesty of God comes to expression strongly in Isaiah, with the stress in all parts of the Book on 'the Holy One of Israel'. Isaiah's conception of God is one of holiness from the beginning. The opening vision of his call is centred on the Trisagion in the Temple, when even the confident Isaiah can only cower until his lips have been cleansed with a burning coal. The human response to this holiness must be the overwhelming feeling of unworthiness and insignificance. This is expressed in the standard reaction to the divine or to a vision: the falling to the ground at the feet of a heavenly messenger. In Isaiah perhaps this sense is expressed most strongly in the refrain of that early poem,
Go into the rock, hide in the dust
in terror of Yahweh, at the brilliance of his majesty
when he arises to make the earth quake (Is 2.10).
The echoes of Isaiah's opening vision of God seated on the throne in the Temple are heard again in two other theophanies, centuries apart, and clear signs of the dominance of this conception of the exaltedness of God. The first of these is the great opening vision of Ezekiel, the Chariot-Throne of God with the four living creatures, surmounted by 'a brilliance like amber, like fire, radiating from what appeared to be the waist upwards, and from what appeared to be the waist downwards I saw what looked like fire, giving a brilliant light all round. The radiance of the encircling light was like the radiance of the bow in the clouds on rainy days. The sign was like the glory of Yahweh. I looked and fell to the ground' (Ezek 1.27-28). This echo if Isaiah 6 in its turn is echoed by the second, the climax of Daniel's vision of the night, the One most venerable, whose throne was 'a blaze of flames' (Dn 7.9), to whom comes the one like a son of man.
2. Power and Wisdom
Another aspect of the holiness of the divinity comes in the Book of Job, which deliberately prescinds from the historic revelation of the Chosen People, setting the story in the mystic Land of Uz. Job's sense of the divine is no less for that, and it is centred principally on a power which cannot be matched. This is the climax of the Book. There Job is given his answer in the final poems which attempt to convey the power and the wisdom of God in creation, with their wonderful imagery, the sea leaping tumultuous from the womb, dawn grasping the earth by its edges (38.6, 12), and its awesome great beasts Behemoth and Leviathan, far beyond human control, but powerless creatures of God (40-41). Before this power and wisdom Job can only yield in submission: 'I retract what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes' (42.6).
But the characterization in Job is far more complicated than that. The holiness and otherness of God does not imply a complete separation. The gulf between God and his creatures does not suggest a God divorced from and uninterested in humantiy. This is no distant God; rather God is interactive with the world. The absolute power is God is daunting but is not repellent. Throughout the Book the divine holiness is seen in a fascinating love-hate relationship with God. Job feels oppressed by El Shaddai ('Am I the Sea or some sea-monster that you should keep me under guard? Will you never take your eyes off me long enough for me to swallow my spittle?' 7.12, 19). At the same time Job feels a fascination, a dependence and a security which draws him to God: 'Call me forward and I shall answer!' (13.22), or
Will no one hide me in Sheol, and shelter me there till your anger is passed,
fixing a certain day for calling me to mind - can the dead come back to life?
Day after day of my service I should be waiting for my relief to come.
Then you would call and I should answer,
you would want to see once more what you have made. (14.13-15)
Finally in all his distress and misery Job sees his only hope of vindication and safety in God. His oppressor is at the same time his only hope of defence:
I know that I have a living Defender
and that he will rise up last, on the dust of the earth.
After my awakening, he will set me close to him,
and from my flesh I shall look on God (19.24-25).
The same mixture of oppression and intimacy is seen in Psalm 139, often called 'The Hound of Heaven':
Where shall I go to escape your spirit? Where shall I flee from your presence?
If I scale the heavens you are there, if I lie flat in Sheol you are there.
If I speed away on the wings of the dawn, if I dwell beyond the ocean,
even there your hand will be guiding me, your right hand holding me fast.
The final chapters of Job are from the literary point of view perhaps among the most powerful passages of the whole Bible. The message they convey is that the power and the wisdom of El Shaddai are so far beyond the range of human comprehension that Job has no right - and indeed he then has no desire - to question the mighty dispositions of God. The holiness of God consists in God's unfathomable wisdom and uncontrollable power.
3. An interventionist God, directing the course of history
Power, wisdom, majesty, otherness are all concepts which demote remoteness. God is beyond our reach, beyond our comprehension. But this remotely holy God is not the God who reveals himself in the Bible. Such sanctity, such untouchability is treasured in the Bible and enshrined in the cultic laws of holiness, to which we will return another day. The holiness of the God of the Bible is, however, modified in two special ways, or perhaps one should say expresses itself in two special ways, has two special modalities. Firstly, God intervenes to draw a people to himself. He has chosen a special people and destined them for holiness. His people are holy because he is holy, and they must constantly imitate his holiness in all the activities of their lives
You have been sanctified and become holy because I am holy; do not defile yourselves with all these creatures that swarm on the ground. Yes, it is I, Yahweh, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God; you must therefore be holy because I am holy' (Lev 11.44-45).
This choice of the people to be his own possession, his segullah or 'treasure' (Ex 19.5, etc), is full of consequences for the modalities of the divine holiness of the God of Israel. Firstly, the love of God is a family love, a protective and caring love, like the love of a father, a mother or a spouse, prepared to go to any lengths, as we see in Hosea 2 (the passionate love of the spouse - 'I shall betroth you to myself for ever'), Hosea 11 (the tender, caring love of the parent - 'I led them with the leading-strings of love') or the Canticle (the absorbing engagement of the young couple - 'strong as death'). A second consequence is that as Lord of history God will intervene at the Day of the Lord to re-establish his people, to vindicate them and to punish those who have exploited them. This gives history its purpose and its whole forward thrust. It is expressed in the Bible with all the cosmic imagery of creation. In his holiness God will bring all the powers of the universe, earthquake, thunder, lightning, the stars of heaven and the terrifying power of the sea, to bear at his final Visitation to vindicate his people. The Day of the Lord is a subject on its own into which we cannot enter at length, but the terrifying final coming of the Lord dominates much of Israel's conception of the world.
4. A forgiving God
Most important of all is the second modality in which the holiness of the God of the Bible expresses itself. The holiness of God comports forgiveness. Consciousness of human failure is woven into the structure of the Bible. It is first seen in that analysis of the process of temptation and failure in the myth of Adam and Eve. After the exile to Babylon one can almost speak of a guilt-complex in such books as Baruch and many of the Psalms, full as they are of self-confession and bemoaning of sin.
Ability to handle human failure is one of the salient features of the religion of Israel. The logical Greeks could not rise to forgiveness. The gods preside only over vengeance.The endless cycle or revenge continues relentlessly through the Oresteia or the Oedipus plays. The tragedy is that fate is inevitable and cannot be turned aside. Mercy plays no role, but only toothless pity. By contrast, standing as a banner-headline over Israel's concept of God is that first exegesis of the name of Yahweh, 'Yahweh, Yahweh, God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in faithful love and constancy, maintaining his faithful love to thousands, forgiving fault, crime and sin' (Ex 34.6-7). Yahweh had already revealed his name to Moses at the Burning Bush, but he gives its meaning only when the first massive failure of the covenant has occurred. It is then that God's dsx is revealed. This passage is quoted or alluded to again and again throughout the scriptures, in the ancient promise to David (Ps 89.16), that God's faithful love and forgiveness will never desert his descendants, in Jeremiah's purchase of the field as a guarantee of return from captivity (Jer 32.18), in Jonah's satirical petulance when his threats of disaster on Nineveh are foiled by their appeal to God's forgiveness (Jonah 4.2): 'Isn't this what I said would happen when I was still in my own country. That was why I first tried to flee to Tarshish, since I knew you were a tender, compassionate God, slow to anger, rich in fatihful love, who relents about inflicting disaster'. The satire is that Jonah is much more annoyed about the failure of his threats than he is delighted by the saving of the Ninevites.
So much as an outline of God's holiness in the Bible. God is wholly other, beyond human reach or comprehension. Yet this holiness is also of such a kind that it includes God's vibrant care for his creation. God does not simply set creation in motion and stand back to see what happens. He intervenes and with his sovereign power guides the course of history and cares for his own.
C. The Holiness of God in the New Testament
Almost in no other way is the continuity between Old and New Testament so clear as in the conception of God. Only now there is the staggering difference that with God is now associated the man Jesus. The holiness of God is more taken from granted than expressed; it is one of the conceptions that is carried over entirely from the Old Testament, and does not need to be re-iterated. Indeed, so central and obvious is this concept that it is used to express the close relationship of Jesus to God. The demons, who alone in Mark's gospel recognise Jesus for who he is, acknowledge him as 'the Holy One of God' (Mk 1.24; Lk 4.34, cf. Ac 3.14, 'you denied the Holy One of God'; 4.27 'your holy servant Jesus').
1. Das Tremendum
The best place to begin is at the end, for the Book of Revelation is dominated by the Trisagion.The only due reaction to the holiness of God is worship, and it is here that - almost uniquely - worship of God is portrayed. The imagery of the Book of Revelation receives all its sense from the constant allusion to the Old Testament, and the opening vision of the heavenly court (Rv 4-5) is no exception. This is, of course, built on the successive scenes of the heavenly court in 1 Kings 22.19-23, Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1 and Daniel 7, drawing elements from each. From Ezekiel is drawn the jewelled throne, the thunder and lightning, the living creatures. From Isaiah the cry of Trisagion which initially sets the tone, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty'. From Daniel the 'One seated upon the throne', the ten thousand times ten thousand attendants, and the refrain of the sevenfold doxology, 'Worthy is the Lamb to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing'. The novelty of the scene is that with the One seated upon the throne is now associated the Lamb standing as though slain. Not only is the relationship of the Lamb to the One seated on the throne obviously modelled on that between the one like a Son of Man and the One seated on the throne in Daniel. Further, the Lamb shares the throne, is in the middle of the throne itself (5.6).
Similarly in the final vision of the New Jerusalem at the end of the book. The Holy City is, and always was, made holy by the presence of God, just as it was the presence of God in the Tent of Meeting which made his people holy. Now, however, the presence of God has been expanded to include the Lamb. Consequently the throne of God is now 'the throne of God and of the Lamb' (22.1). The city is 'lit by the radiant glory of God', but at the same time 'the Lamb was a lighted torch for it' (21.22). 'The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, his servants will worship him' (22.3), not 'them', for the singular rather than the plural pronoun is used, showing that in the mind of the author God and the Lamb form one entity.. The holiness of the city is the consequence of the single presence of God and of the Lamb.
Allusion to the throne-visions of Ezekiel and Daniel also stands behind Jesus' declaration at the Sanhedrin trial. It is not easy to see why his reply to the High Priest immediately incurs the charge of blasphemy. The only satisfactory reply to my mind is that of JR Donahue, who sees in it this allusion. 'You will see the son of man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven' (Mk 14.62) carries the paradox that the son of man is both 'seated', stationary, and 'coming', mobile. This is reconcilable only if the cloud-throne on which he is seated is the very Merkabah throne of God. The scene is exactly similar to the final theophany of Revelation, a hideous blasphemy to Jewish ears, one at which the High Priest could react only by tearing his garments.
For many readers the apocalyptic genre, with its bright colours and lurid symbolism, is not the most natural way of expressing holiness. More impressive and convincing would be something more awesome, silent and mysterious. To this one can only reply that this mode of expression is part of the conventions of the apocalyptic genre of heavenly journeys, biblical allusion, otherworldly messengers, secrets revealed. That this expresses holiness is perhaps more obvious in the Qumran fragment about the merkabah throne:
The cherubim bless the image of the throne-chariot above the firmament, and praise the majesty of the luminous firmament beneath his seat of glory. When the wheels advance angels of holiness come and go. From between his glorious wheels there is as it were a fiery vision of most holy spirits. The whispered voice of blessing accompanies the roar of their advance, and they praise the Holy One on their way of return (4Q 405 20.2, Vermes p. 262).
Another way altogether in which the holiness of God appears as Das Tremendum is in the way the awesome personality of Jesus reflects the holiness of God. The divinity of Jesus is certainly not clear in the earliest gospel, Mark, but already there it is clear that God is at work in and through Jesus. This manifests itself in the authority of Jesus, an authority which makes a crescendo, an authority first over minds and personalities, then over bodies, then over morality and the Law, and before long over the elements themselves. The revelation of this awsome divine authority in Jesus is to me the basic meaning of the revelation of the person of Jesus in Mark.
The reaction to all these is increasing astonishment, amazement and awe. It is felt that the presence of the divine is among them. The reaction of qa,mboj is one of Otto's classic reactions to the Holy: 'they were all amazed' (Mk 1.27; 10.24, 32). In the synagogue at Nazareth 'amazement came upon them all' (Lk 4.36). The most striking occasion of this is at the finding of the Empty Tomb. In four verses Mark uses every available word for staggered astonishment: evxeqambh,qhsan mh. evkqambei/sqe tro,moj evkstasij evfobou/nto. His purpose is to express that the divine has unpredictably and terrifyingly broken into this world. Matthew strengthens it still further with the apocalyptic and eschatological machinery of a 'great earthquake'.
In the presentation of divine holiness in the Old Testament we focussed on the Book of Job for the contrast between divine Wisdom and human incomprehension. Wisdom is one of the ways in which the divine is seen to be acting in Jesus. Memorable (and often abused) is the passage in Lk 2.47 about the 12-year-old Jesus astounding the teachers with his answers. In two closely similar passages in Mark, the preparation for the entry into Jerusalem and the preparation for the Last Supper, the disciples are sent off with the mysterious promise of a sign which suggests supernatural knowledge (Mk 11.2; 14.13). But it is in John that Jesus' knowledge and wisdom has a definite divine tinge. It is part of the picture of Johannine Jesus famously characterised by Käsemann as ein über die Erde schreitende Gott. The knowledge of Jesus is presented as superhuman and somewhat uncanny, a reflection of the divine omniscience: 'How do you know me?' asks the nonplussed Nathanael (Jn 1.48). 'Jesus did not trust himself to them because he knew them all. He had no need that anyone should witness about people, for he knew what was in man' (Jn 2.24-25). Most of all, his knowledge of the impending Passion is emphasized: 'Jesus, knowing that his hour had come'; 'he knew who was to betray him' (13.1, 11), reinforced by the whole scene of the identification of Judas; 'knowing all that was to come upon him' (18.4). The whole scenario of the Passion is set by the arrest scene, in which the arresting party are mysteriously forced willy-nilly to acknowledge the evgw, eivmi of Jesus by falling to the ground in worship (18.5-8).
Two further powers of the Johannine Jesus may be subsumed under the holiness of God. These are power of judgement and the power of giving life. All the life-processes, everything to do with sex, procreation and giving birth, and, at the other end of life, everything associated with death, is surrounded with taboo as mysterious and sacred, both in Israel and beyond. The mysterious beginning and end of life are the two moments where contact with the divine is most absolute. When Jesus makes these two claims, then, he is claiming a part in the ultimate holiness of God:
As the Father raises the dead and gives them life,so the Son gives life to anyone he chooses, for the Father judges no one; he has entrusted all judgement to the Son, so that all may honour the Son as they honour the Father (Jn 5.21-23).
3. An interventionist God
The holiness of God exercised in judgement is also attributed to Jesus by the application to the Lord Christ of the symbolism of the Day of the Lord. In several places the imagery of the cosmic coming is transferred from the Lord God to the Lord Christ. This is the expression in an apocalyptic, pictorial mode of the power of judgement expressed in John 5. Earliest is 1 Thess 4.16, the coming of the Lord in his triumphal procession to take with him those who have fallen asleep and those who are still alive. The holiness of this scene is more apparent in Matthew's version, of the son of man coming 'in his glory, escorted by all the angels' when 'he will take his seat on his throne of glory' to judge all nations (Mt 25.31)
The conclusion of the New Testament, and possibly its climax, is in the same mode, the descent of the Holy City of Jerusalem, sanctified by the presence of God and of the Lamb. Certainly these scenes express the outlook, represent a foretaste of the final climax of world history. The joining of the Lamb to the One seated on the throne has, however, been prepared throughout the New Testament.
Lecture 2. The Holy Spirit in Paul
In the seven certainly authentic letters, Paul uses the word 'holy' nearly 50 times. Of these 13 refer to the Holy Spirit and 24 to 'the saints', an expression we will discuss later. Only three times does he use the noun 'holiness'. Of these two (1Thes 3.13 and 2 Cor 7.1) do not seem to me to tell us much about the concept. On the other hand, the third, in the introduction to Romans, is highly significant. In many ways Romans is the most important of all Paul's letters. Eminent scholars (with whom I disagree) have called it a Compendium doctrinae Christianae (Melanchthon), or Paul's Last Will and Testament (Bornkamm). The introductions to Paul's letters are always pivotal in importance, since they lay out the central theme which is to be tackled in the letter. Paul writes of God's Son, who was 'constituted Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness from the resurrection of the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord' (1.4). In fact the whole letter is about sanctification after the model of Christ, the Second Adam, and 'the spirit of holiness' is best understood here as 'the Spirit which brings holiness', or (Dunn, Romans) 'the Spirit characterized by holiness'. Dunn regards this statement as placing the Risen Christ in the sphere of the Spirit as opposed to the sphere of the flesh or natural state of humanity. We shall return to this element at the end. We must first, however, examine Paul's conception of the work of the holy Spirit in the communities to which he wrote.
1. The sanctifying Spirit in the Pauline Churches
The first fact to establish is the presence of the Spirit in the Pauline communities. These communities were highly diverse in structure and emphasis. First, in structure. The Christian communities established in Paul's first journey along the south coast of Turkey were ruled by a council of elders presided by a temporary archisynagogos. At Philippi there were overseers (the word later used for 'bishop') and deacons - but then at a Roman colony one might expect a strict organisation. At Rome there were many different communities, seemingly house-churches, and no overall organisation, so that Paul never speaks of 'the Church' of Rome. At Corinth there seems to have been no organisation at all, simply the Spirit rampant, so that they had not even any human authority to make judgements in disputes.
The single common factor was the presence and influence of the Spirit. This is underlined with great insistence by Luke in his story of the first communities. In the Acts he is at pains to show that every action of the nascent and growing Church is guided and monitored by the Spirit Similarly in the Gospel, especially in the infancy and resurrection stories, where Luke is more independent, the Spirit is seen to be at work in the ministry of Jesus. In the Infancy Stories the dual emphasis is on God's determination to sanctify and save his people of the Old Testament, and the holy Spirit is consantly perceived to be at work. It seems to me that the Sitz im Leben of both Gospel and Acts is a community where the Spirit is seen and felt to be at work, and that Luke is tracing back this influence to the beginning of Christianity. Luke is concerned to explain historically the present situation of his Church. This is why the beginning of the Church is marked by the coming of the holy Spirit at Pentecost, why we are constantly reminded that the ministers and missioners are 'filled with the Spirit', why Paul is repeatedly given geographical directions by the Spirit.
When we come to the Letters themselves, the most obvious stamping-ground of the Spirit is Corinth, to which we shall return. But it is by no means the only community where the Spirit is active. The Galatians are heavily lashed by Paul's tongue, to the extent that he even omits the otherwise universal praise of the faith of the community immediately after the opening greeting. Nevertheless he appeals to the phenomena of spirit-activity as part of his argument:
There is one thing I should like you to tell me: How was it that you received the Spirit - was it by the practice of the Law or by believing in the message you heard. Can all the favours you have received have had no effect at all? Would you say then that he who so lavishly sends the Spirit to you and causes miracles among you, is doing this through your practice of the Law or because you believed the message you heard? (Ga 3.2-5)
The argument presupposes that the Galatians are acutely aware of the divine presence and activity among them, and Paul browbeats them for an explanation. They must be palpably aware of something among them which they did not receive through the Law, and which was not among them when they were living under the Law. However, not only their external powers but also their whole stance and attitude of mind is determined by the Spirit, for by the Spirit they are enabled to cry 'Abba, Father' in the spirit of adopted sonship which expresses their closeness to God (4.6). Paul barely, as we have said, uses the expression 'holiness', and it seems to me that for him this relationship of saying 'Abba, Father' is the essence of what others might mean by 'holiness'. Moreover, this relationship is further defined, again in the Spirit, as one of confident hope:
We are led by the Spirit to wait in the confident hope of dikaiosu,nh through faith (5.5).
Now dikaiosu,nh is the whole subject of the two letters Galatians and Romans. It is the contact-point with the Spirit. Often translated as 'righteousness' or 'saving justice', it is God's faithfulness to his promises. It is, in short, the divine holiness with regard to human beings. It is a divine, not a human, quality. No human being can possess righteousness. A human being can only receive and benefit from God's righteousness, be suffused, shot through and lifted up by it. Literally, the word means 'justice', but it is not a justice in function of any law, which would be a matter of punishing transgressions. On the contrary, it is the quality by which God saves, by being true to the covenant of faithful love which he promised on Sinai.. As often, the real meaning of dikaiosu,nh is best seen by Hebrew parallelism in such expressions as
Is 51.6, My saving justice is suddenly approaching, my salvation appears.
Is 51.8, my saving justice will last for ever, and my salvation for all generations.
Dn 9.16, In your saving justice turn away your anger,... for we have sinned.
Similarly in Qumran, 1QS 11.9-12, He will wipe out my transgressions through his saving justice [this is hardly fitting for any human concept of justice]...From the source of his saving justice is my justification.
1 QH 11.17 I have known that saving justice is yours and that salvation is in your favours;
11.31 Cleanse me by your saving justice, even as I have hoped in your goodness and have put my hope in your favours.
Primarily dikaiosu,nh is a divine quality, divine holiness; secondarily, however, it is the human quality of holiness. The translation 'righteousness' means nothing; it is a mere cypher, a meaningless English word, standing for the Greek word. I do not believe it is possible to find a single satisfactory word for all the uses, unless we adopt 'holiness', which on the divine side is too restricted. On the divine side I would translate it 'saving justice', on the human side 'holiness'. So these two letters are not about God doling out to human beings what they deserve, but rather about God acting to human beings as God must act, saving those who put their trust in him after the manner of Abraham, a trust founded on God's reliability, in his fidelity to his covenantal promise to Abraham and covenant promises made to Moses on Sinai. That God gives human beings dikaiosu,nh means that God imparts to human beings his own holiness. It is the Spirit which enables human beings to remain steadfast in that reliance not on themselves but on God's promises. In the first place, therefore, the Spirit makes a stable relationship(1). The creation of this stable relationship of confidence is the primary work of the Spirit. Jürgen Moltmann puts this beautifully:
The saints are not holy morally or personally. They are holy as justified sinners - sinners who have been made righteous - and as strangers who have been accepted by God.
(The Source of Life, SCM Press, 1997, p. 46)
Two further dimensions of this relationship in the Spirit must be explored, the part of the Risen Christ in this relationship, and the extent of this relationship. How is it that in the Spirit Christians can cry out, 'Abba, Father'? This is the consequence of adoption as sons. The DNA, so to speak, is dikaiosu,nh or the Spirit. 'Because you are sons, God has sent out the Spirit of his Son into our heart, crying out "Abba, Father".' (Ga 4.6). Or, as he later puts it in Romans, 'You have received the Spirit of being-made-sons (ui`oqesi,aj) in which we cry out "Abba, Father". The Spirit itself bears joint witness with our spirit that we are sons of God, and if sons, heirs. For we are heirs of God, sharing Christ's inheritance - if indeed we suffer with him in order that we may be glorified with him' (Rm 8.15-17). All the time Paul, a Jew through and through, suffused with the Pentateuch, has ringing in his mind the promise of a son to Abraham and Sarah. This is the first covenant of salvation, not to be superseded but only enriched by the covenant with Moses. With the promises to Abraham and his seed in mind, Paul sees Christ to be the primary son, but Christians to be fused with Christ. This enables him to say in his more lyrical moments, 'I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me' (Ga 2.20), or (putting it from his own subjective point of view, that is, how he is aware of it), 'For me to live is Christ' (Phil 1.21). Through being baptised/dipped into Christ's death the Christian, buried with Christ, rises with a new life in the Risen Christ. This is the fulfilment of what God meant when he promised to keep Abraham safe, the 'mystery' which Paul sees it as his vocation to reveal at the end of time (Rm 11.25; 1 Cor 2.1; 4.1; 15.51).
Paul invents a whole series of terms to express this fusion of the Christian with Christ, the seed to whom the promises were made.. The community of life with Christ is expressed by a series of neologisms invented by Paul for the purpose. Sunestau,rwmai Cristw|/ (Ga 2.19). Christians are summorfoi with Christ (Rm 8.29; Phil 3.21), suntafentej with him (Rm 6.4; Col 2.12), sundoxasqeij (Rm 8.17), sugklhronomoi (Rm 8.17) - none of these words occur in the LXX; it is a new situation which Paul struggles to express. 'I carry Christ's wounds in my body' (Ga 6.17), but how can I carry in my body someone else's wounds? Christ's wounds must be my wounds. This must be related to Paul's teaching on the Spirit: 'and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead has made a home in you, then he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you' (Rm 8.11). Holiness consists not in anything anyone does, but in a relationship to Christ, or rather to the Father in Christ.
The other dimension of the relationship with Christ in the Spirit which remains to be explored is the extent of this relationship. It is not merely an individual adoption, which affects each individual singly. Romans 8 makes clear that the whole universe is made a new creation in the Second Adam. In the first Adam creation is condemned to futility, to the slavery of destruction (8.21) and has lost the glory of God. Now, having already the first-fruits of the Spirit, it is groaning in one great act of giving birth, waiting to be conformed to the first-born, waiting to be made holy. Paul sees the story of Adam as the myth of human failure and unholiness, human sin and futility, as he makes clear in the catalogue of woes and disaster in Rm 1. There disorder included the futility and misuse of the animal creation. In the same way Paul sees the Second Adam as the first-born and exemplar of the renewed creation in the Spirit, just as Isaiah sees the renewal of peace in the animal world as one of the eschatological benefits: the wolf will lie down with the lamb, and the lion will eat hay like the ox (Is 11.6-9). In the Second Adam Paul sees the trajectory of the Fall unfolding itself, as creation is brought into glorious freedom (8.20-22), moulded into the image of his Son and brought into glory (8.29-30). The adoption as sons and the imparting of the divine holiness is the unravelling of the alienation of the Fall.
Appropriately, Paul is not clear just when this takes place or is to take place. The renewal of the whole world in the eschaton is a thought common to Jewish apocalyptic writing, and clearly influential on Paul. The reader of the New Testament thinks automatically of such passages as 2 P 3.13, ' What we are waiting for is the new heavens and the new earth, where dikaiosu,nh will be at home', or above all of the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven in Rv 21-22 - whatever that may symbolise. But this is already envisaged in the Jewish apocalyptic tradition, not only the destruction of the old world at the cosmic events of the Day of the Lord, but specifically the renewal. The Valley of the Dead Bones in Ezekiel 37 is already an image which stretches far beyond the individual, though it can well be understood as referring only to the return of Israel to life, rather than a renewal of the whole world. The conception of the renewal of the world becomes clearer in the later apocalyptic writing. Explicit connection with the Spirit is not necessarily clear. We may take two examples from - probably - the late first century AD:
e.g. 1 Enoch 51: In those days the mountains will leap like rams, and the hills will skip like lambs satisfied with milk, and all will become angels in heaven. Their faces will shine with joy, and the earth will rejoice, and the righteous will dwell upon it.
Or 2 Baruch 73-74: Then shall joy be revealed, and rest made manifest, and then shall healing descend as dew and disease disappear. And in those days the reapers shall not grow weary, nor those that build be toilworn, for both works and workers together will prosper in complete accord.
Paul is clear that the transformation is still taking place, and through the Spirit. He speaks of the avrrabw,n of the Spirit in our hearts (2 Cor 1.22; 5.5), the first down-payment, or a pledge which makes sense only as a pledge of more to come. The groaning in the act of giving birth is taking place, just as (2 Cor 3.18) we are being transformed into the image that we reflect. It is a process which is taking place and is not yet complete.
2. The Fruits of the Spirit
The basic relationship established by the Spirit is one of sonship, but what are the consequences of this imparting of holiness in human life? The overriding emphasis is one of life and vigour, an enabling Spirit. It is, I think, useful to distinguish between two sorts of gifts of the Spirit, though I am not sure that Paul himself would have made this distinction, the ordinary and the extraordinary gifts. The locus classicus for the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit is First Corinthians 12-14. They stand in relation to the ecstatic behaviour which we see from time to time among the prophets of the Old Testament, Saul stripping naked and dancing among the prophets (1 Sm 10.10; 19.23-24) or Ezekiel cutting off his hair and beard and beating it all round the city with a sword (Ezek 5.1-4). It is as though this 'enthusiastic' behviour were a sign of being touched by God
The Christian community at Corinth seems to have had no authority-structure, and to have relied exclusively on the Spirit. The cynic would retort that it is not surprising that Paul had so much trouble with them, writing to them at least four letters, and constantly visiting them either personally or through his delegates, who were on occasion stormily received. They do not seem to have been wholly Christ-like! Many of the members of the community were arrogant, excessively sure of themselves (whence the slogans which Paul quotes, 'For me everything is lawful') and ambitious (Erastus, the city treasurer in Rm 16.23, reappears later on an inscription as an Aedile). In his strictures on the way they celebrated the Eucharist, Paul shows that there were also reprehensible divisions between rich and poor. It was a difficult and divided community, and one is reminded of the fact that holiness does not instantly follow adoption as sons; as Paul says, 'We are being changed into the image which we reflect' (2 Cor 3.18)..
At one stage (12.28) Paul gives a partial ranking of the gifts of the Spirit, which both confirms the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary gifts. The gifts of which Paul is here writing are all activities which have an effect on others, and go towards the building up of the Body. They are transitive gifts, less manifestations of personal holiness than activities which promote holiness in others. That is why Paul is so dubious and ambiguous about speaking in tongues.
And those whom God has appointed in the Church are, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers. After them, miraculous powers, then gifts of healing, helpful acts, guidance, various kinds of tongues.
Of this list we would not normally regard as extraordinary the gifts of teaching, nor the rather vague 'helpful acts'(avntilh,myeij). In a way the ranking of gifts is alien to Paul's thought, for he insists that each of the gifts is necessary for the wellbeing of the body, just as a human body needs an ear as well as an eye. No part can say to another, 'I have no need of you', nor conversely 'I am not a hand and so I do not belong to the body' (1 Cor 12.15, 21). Each needs and is needed by the others. Furthermore, he also insists that 'It is the parts of the body that we consider least dignified that we surround with greatest dignity' (v. 23). So there should be no ranking. It seems to me, therefore, that the chief purpose of this ranking is to put at the end of the row the gift about which he voices considerable reservations, namely speaking in tongues. I shall begin at the bottom, discussing the gift first as it appears in Paul and secondly as it appears in the modern Church.
A. Speaking in Tongues
We must ask how important this gift is either as a manifestation of holiness or as a means to holiness. There are two phenomena in the New Testament, technically distinguished as glossolalia and xenolalia. Xenolalia is the speaking in languages unknown to the speaker but intelligible to the hearers as real language. Glossolalia is the overflowing of prayer in more or less inarticulate sounds. In the New Testament xenolalia occurs only at Pentecost, and indeed the understanding of the phenomenon there as xenolalia is dependent finally on one word, e`te,raij (Ac 2.4)(2). I would suggest that we may treat this as a special case. Luke wishes to show the miracle as the undoing of the mixture of tongues at Babel, the coming together of all nations under heaven, as they were split at the Tower of Babel. We hear that a large crowd of people drawn from different races each heard the apostles in his own language. It remains unclear how this worked, whether each of the speakers spoke a different language, or whether they spoke successively in different languages, or indeed how many languages were required for each to hear th|/ ivdi,a| diale,ktw/|. In any case, I propose to leave this single instance out of account. According to the very full, balanced and well-documented account of Max Turner (The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts then and now, Paternoster Press, 1996, p. 308) reports of this phenomenon in the modern Church are not well attested or well examined. There are not cases of tape-recordings examined by authorities in the language purporting to be spoken, and backed up by establishment of the speaker's ignorance of the language.
At issue, therefore, is only glossolalia. About this Paul is reserved. On the one hand he grants that he does speak in tongues himself, 'more than any of' the Corinthians (14.18). On the other hand he insists that such speaking is of limited public value unless there is someone to interpret the tongues (14.5), and can even scandalize the uninitiated (14.23). Paul's instructions give the impression that speaking in tongues was very widespread in the Corinthian community: 'Suppose that if the whole congregation were meeting and all of them speaking in tongues...' (14.23). He obviously wants to show that the value of this - unless it is a form of prophecy, and interpreted as such - is at best limited to the community. He seems to want to curb a widespread phenomenon rather than to eradicate it. His own admission that he prays in a tongue (14.14) shows that this form of prayer and praise may have a place in individual spirituality. He does, after all, envisage that someone may pray in tongues for personal upbuilding (14.4), though here again Paul compares such prayer unfavourably to prayer with the spirit and the mind, to which others can say 'Amen' (14.16)(3).
Of the modern phenomenon Simon Tugwell gives an interpretation which is obviously dependent both on experience and on the Pauline account (Did you receive the Spirit? DLT 1972, p. 67):
So, what exactly is speaking in tongues? It is that one speaks words which do not mean anything in any language known to himself. It is not ecstatic in the strict sense; the speaker retains full consciousness throughout, his mind being alert and sober, though perhaps exhilarated. It remains his choice whether to speak or to stop speaking, though he may sometimes feel obliged to speak, in the familiar sense of the expression.
Although the author grants that Paul teaches that we should not expect every Christian to speak in tongues, he does hold that for most Christians it is a normal consequence of the prophetic awareness which is involved in 'the unfolding of the totality of grace given at baptism' (p. 69),so as an expression or manifestation of holiness:
'Sooner or later, there must come to most christians the challenge of the Spirit to enter into this inheritance. And when it comes, it may well be that the gift of tongues is the appointed doorway through which they must pass. Tongues is still, as it was in the beginning, a normal, proper first step of prophecy.'
Against the template of the New Testament this does seem to me to exaggerate the importance for the individual Christian of speaking in tongues. It is striking that nowhere else in the New Testament is this phenomenon even mentioned; it seems to have occurred exclusively at Corinth.
We started this discussion of the gifts at Corinth with the list 'miraculous powers, then gifts of healing, helpful acts, guidance, various kinds of tongues'. Working backwards, guidance and helpful acts seem to me too general to require specific discussion at this point. On the other hand the place of healing and works of power (du,nameij ) in the Christian community demands discussion. In the New Testament we have to consider three elements, Jesus' works of power as recorded in the gospels, the healings etc performed by the apostles in the Acts, and the mentions of such occurrences in the Letters of the NT.
It is out of the question to raise as a mere part of an already short discussion the whole question of the miraculous in the New Testament. Questions of factuality inevitably abound, and I can only throw out various suggestions:
1. Works of healing are not included in EP Sanders' widely-respected list of 11 facts of Jesus' life which are 'almost beyond dispute' (The Historical Figure of Jesus, Allen Lane, 1993, p. 10).
2. Most NT scholars accept - on the Friend&Foe principle - at least that Jesus was renowned as an exorcist, but they are less sure about miracles of healing. Some force must, however, be given to Josephus' description of Jesus as 'a worker of miraculous deeds' (Ant. 18.63-64).
3. The biblical concept is not 'miracle', i.e. something contrary to the laws of nature, but 'wonder', 'work of power', in which God's power is seen to be at work on behalf of his chosen ones. By contrast to the Greek world,already three centuries after Aristotle, the biblical world had not advanced sufficiently along the path of experimentation and scientific analysis to have a concept of laws of nature. The process of sifting of evidence in such matters was not far advanced. The pages of Josephus abound in portents and oddities such as three-headed births. They knew what was normal, but not what was or was not possible. Just as today many people whose lives are lived in the conviction of constant divine protection regard as miracles what others would regard merely as favourable combinations of ordinary causes, so events not strictly against nature could still be seen as works of God's power.
4. While it is very difficult to believe that the reputation of Jesus as a healer would have sprung up if he had never healed anyone, it is much more difficult to be sure that individual healings on the gospel would now be classed as truly 'miraculous'. In summary passages the evangelists freely invent them (e.g. Mt 9.27-34; Lk 7.21).
5. Even such a conservative scholar as Morna Hooker sees the healing wonders of Jesus as expressions or signs of his authority and of his power to save, to introduce the eschatological peace. Many similar wondrous healings are claimed for the charismatic Galilean rabbis contemporary with Jesus (see G. Vermes, Jesus the Jew), the principal differences between those and the gospel-miracles of Jesus being that the miracles of the Galilean rabbis come to us laced with an unmistakable Jewish humour, and the eschatological context of Jesus' wonders. Similarly the five nature-miracles in Mark 'are essentially christological', expressions of his prophetic or even divine power (see The Gospel according to Mark, A&C Black, 1991, p. 72-75).
6. The wonders of the Acts of the Apostles have their own message. The healings carefully parallel those of Jesus (just as Paul's parallel Peter's) in order to show that the Church carries on in the Spirit the ministry which Jesus performed in his life. These wonders are part of the overall parallel between the life of Jesus in his ministry and the continuing life of Jesus in his Church through the Spirit. Furthermore, attention must be paid to the genre and methods of the Book. Luke is writing a hellenistic monograph, using the historical and novelistic techniques of his contemporaries. It is impossible to estimate how far such wonders are to be attributed to Luke's narrative techniques as part of the machinery of this novelistic history-writing. For instance, miraculous escapes from prison occur with impossible frequency and rumbustious detail (5.19; 12.7-10; 16.25-26). They are more tales attesting to divine care for the mission of the apostles than straight historical records.
With these prolegomena we may approach the 'healings' of First Corinthians. We simply cannot know how 'miraculous' in any modern sense of the word these were. The words translated 'gift/grace of healing' occur only in First Corinthians 12.9, 28, 30. The cognate verb significantly occurs in a similar context in James with reference to the anointing of the sick (Jas 5.14-15). Here it cannot be claimed that any miracle is promised:
Any one of you who is ill should send for the elders of the church and they must anoint the sick person with oil in the name of the Lord and pray over him. The prayer of faith will save the sick person and the Lord will raise him up again.
It is quite unclear whether the saving and raising up are to occur in this life or the next. In any case, the language is perfectly compatible with the sort of healing offered by the present sacrament of anointing of the sick, a peace in the Lord and a willing acceptance of his ways. Whether Paul envisages the same sort of thing is not clear. In two of the three instances where the word occurs it immediately follows duna,meij, thus suggesting that the healing may be considered a work of power. It is hard to know what else the works of power, here and cited in Galatians as evidence of the effectiveness of the Spirit, can be.
As for healings in the modern Church as a fruit of the Spirit I can only rely again on the short but seemingly objective summary of longer surveys by Max Turner.(4) There are plenty of unsubstantiated and general claims , but
For the investigating doctor with a professional reputation to maintain, there needs to be a competent and documented medical history of the condition before the healing, and clear evidence of change that cannot simply be accounted for in terms of temporary or spontaeous remission. Though we could wish otherwise, it needs to be said in all honesty that there are relatively few occasions that stand up to such rigorous medical analysis (p. 333).
It is, however, an impoverishment to concentrate solely on total or immediate cures of incurable diseases as evidence of the power of healing in the Church, and so of the awesome power to bring the holy power of healing into play. We must also give value to occasions where the healing brings peace, a sense of liberation and entry of the Lord into a situation, a spiritual or psychological healing rather than physical healing from illness. These are gifts which some people in the Church possess in greater measure than others.
The highest gift after the apostolate seems to be prophecy. It is listed first after the apostolate in the classification of 12.28. Paul exhorts his hearers to be 'eager for spiritual gifts, and especially for prophecy' (14.1). Ephesians regards the Church as built on the foundation of apostles and prophets (2.20; 3.5) - possibly the biblical prophets, possibly contemporary prophets. But none of this tells us what Paul means by prophecy and why he holds it in such high esteem.
Tentatively we might make a start from the biblical prophets. Their principal task was not, as is sometimes imagined, to foretell the future ('speak beforehand', like the Delphic oracle), but rather to speak the truth as God sees it ('speak on behalf of'). It certainly could involve saying beforehand what would happen, as in the case of the prophet who foretold the death of the 'man of God' by the lion (1 K 13.20-21) or Micaiah's prophecy of Ahab's death in battle (1 K 22.17). This certainly seems to be the function of the court prophets who oppose Micaiah. But in the case of the great prophets, Elijah, Elisha and the written prophets, the main burden of the prophecy is moral guidance, to give the insight into the moral failure which invites God's punishment. Even in the case of Ahab and Micaiah, the king is only too aware of his situation and refuses to accept a favourable prophecy; he will accept as a true prophecy only that which corresponds to his own awareness of sin. The great prophets are sent, time and time again, to cast the full glare of God's holiness on Israel's conduct, in such a way that - whether they take notice or not - they can no longer blind themselves to the truth. This sense of a divine insight or penetration into God's view of things does occur in the New Testament, e.g. Caiaphas is said to prophesy when he announces the value of Jesus' death (Jn 11.51), and the Samaritan woman calls Jesus a prophet when he sees too deeply into her marital tangles (Jn 4.19). It is in this sense that Jesus is represented, especially in Luke and Matthew (the Second Moses), as a prophet, the teacher sent by God.
The relevance of this to prophecy as it appears in Paul's letters is, however, dubious. No more relevant are the cases in Acts, for Luke is writing in the hellenistic idiom. So the prophet Agabus, with his prophetic action of foretelling the future by tieing his hands with Paul's belt, need not be a model for the prophets of Corinth. There we have two striking factors:
In this context, I would like to move on to prophecy in the modern Church, an unmistakable witness to the presence of the Spirit. This is the presence of holy people who by their words or actions shame the rest of us into coming just a little closer to behaving as we know we should. It may be a prophetic figure like Mother Teresa, who became a world ikon for her fearless but gentle stance of respect for the neglected. It may be a wise and holy counsellor whom we cannot but respect, and who tells us more about ourselves than we wish to hear. This is the gift of prophecy which one would expect to be present in the bishops and other leaders of the Church. I would mention two figures, Fr Columba Cary-Elwes and - mirabile dictu - Cardinal Ratzinger. Without the personal witness of humility and holiness in their lives such prophecy is void.
Some time ago I made the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, before launching into a discussion of three extraordinary gifts. I now return to the ordinary gifts. These are gifts which are the stuff of human moral goodness and holiness. Perhaps one should avoid any judgement about their frequency, by calling them 'unspectacular' or 'hum-drum' rather than 'ordinary'. Some of these are listed in various places by Paul, in what are sometimes called the Haustafeln: 'on the other hand the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control' (Ga 5.22, cf. 2 Cor 6.4-10), contrasted with the works of the 'flesh'(5). With these are allied some of the gifts listed by Paul in his catalogue of 1 Cor 12, e.g. teaching (and any teacher will know the need of the Spirit for inspiration, excitement, finding the right phrase or illustration, striking the right chord, perseverance, humour and patience), guidance (and the Christian who starts to guide without a prayer to the Spirit is onto a loser) and helpful acts (avntilh,myeij). This means literally 'takings hold of', that is, offering a helping hand, being there to help when needed. The paradigm of them all is, of course love, of which Paul gives such a comprehensive and searching sketch in 1 Cor 13. This alone, which Paul calls the higher gift, makes all the demands of Christianity.
Love never comes to an end. But if there are prophecies, they will be done away with; if tongues, they will fall silent, and if knowledge, it will be done away with (1 Cor 13.8).
3. Final Transformation in the Spirit
In their arrogance and complacency the Corinthians thought they had the fullness of the holy Spirit. When Paul has criticised the disorders he has heard about by gossip, and given guidance on the questions the Corinthians had submitted to him, particularly on their attitudes to the gifts of the Spirit, he rounds off the letter by explaining the final transformation in the Spirit which is to be awaited at the assimilation to the Second Adam in the resurrection. As the first man Adam became a living soul, so the last Adam has become a life-giving spirit (15.43). It is here that Paul shows most fully the final transformation in holiness, the taking of the human into the divine sphere.
Paul explains the implications of this by a series of three contrasts, summed up in a fourth. First, however, lest the change seem too great, he stresses the continuity between the present state and the future, using the analogy of a seed. 'Each kind of seed has its own kind of body' (15.38), and there is continuity between the seed which dies and the plant which it produces. Each of these contrasts expresses a transference into the sphere of the divine (15.42-44).
We began with the introduction to Romans, that the Risen Lord was 'constituted Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness from the resurrection of the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord' (1.4). In 1 Cor 15 Paul shows how in the Second Adam the flesh is finally transformed by this Spirit of holiness.
Lecture 3. Holiness in Matthew - The Lord's Prayer
For Matthew's concept of holiness the Lord's Prayer is central. Firstly, the prayer itself is central, placed in an especially prominent position at the very centre of the Sermon on the Mount, itself arguably the most important of Matthew's teaching discourses. Some may regard the central position of the Prayer as coincidental, simply a consequence of the development of the Sermon: after the teaching on perfecting the Law, Matthew goes on to show how it should be put into practice by the way the three classic good works of Judaism are to be carried out, and the Prayer comes simply as an example of Christian prayer. Others argue that its importance is shown by the fact that it breaks open and departs from the series of formulae to which the other good works are restricted. In any case, such a formal teaching on prayer cannot be regarded as unimportant.
Here there exists a variety of options, which could be discussed at great length, were that our principal interest. I shall merely mention them with brief comments.
1. This is a common Christian liturgical prayer, which occurs in slightly different forms in Mt, Lk and the Didache, which is roughly contemporary with the two gospels. SHOW Each author simply inserted the liturgical form which was common in his own community. There are also striking parallels with Jewish prayers, the Amida and the Kaddish.
2. The prayer was derived by both Mt and Lk from Q. This depends, of course, on the acceptance of the Q-hypothesis.
3. The prayer was elaborated by Mt as part of his elaboration of the message of Jesus. Luke then took it from Mt and simplified it in his own way, just as he did the Beatitudes. This depends on the acceptance of Goulder's hypothesis for the composition of Mt. Goulder would call it a midrash on Mk, but the application of this technical term has been even less widely accepted than his general theory.
Matthew Luke Didache
Our Father who art in heaven Father Our Father in heaven
hallowed be thy name hallowed be thy name hallowed be thy name
thy kingdom come thy kingdom come thy kingdom come
thy will be done thy will be done
as in heaven, so on earth as in heaven so on earth
give us this day give us each day give us this day
our daily bread our daily bread our daily bread
and forgive us our debts and forgive us our sins and forgive us our debt
as we also have forgiven as we also forgive everyone as we also forgive
our debtors who is in debt to us our debtors
& lead us not into temptation & lead us not into temptation & lead us not into tempttn
but deliver us from evil but deliver us from evil
for thine is the kingdom
the power and the glory
Exalted and hallowed by his great name
in the world which he created according to his will.
May he let his kingdom rule in your lifetime and in your days
and in the lifetime of the whole house of Israel, speedily and soon.
Praised be his great name from eternity to eternity,
and to this say, 'Amen'.
Whatever the origin of the prayer, the important finding is that in its present Matthean form it is highly Matthean: 'Our Father in heaven' can well be derived from Jesus' saying about forgiveness, 'When you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failings too' (Mk 11.25 - significantly omitted by Mt there, since he is saving it up for here), but 'your father in heaven' is so frequent in Matthew that it is tempting to see it as a Matthean phrase, contrasting with Luke's simpler plain 'Father'. Similarly the third petition (similarly lacking in Lk) contains the typically Matthean 'on earth as in heaven' (15-1-6), and is centred on doing the will of the Father, similarly a Matthean pre-occupation, as we shall see (7.21; 12.50; 18.14; 21.31; 26.42 - Mark has only once 'do the will of God' 3.35). The aorist passive imperative of gi,nomai is also a Matthean feature.
I wish to treat the first three petitions of the Lord's Prayer as equivalent to one another, so that the other two petitions function as a sort of exegesis of the first. It is, in fact, difficult to decide which of these three is primary and which are secondary commentaries on it. Is it the sanctification of God's Name, or the coming of the Kingdom, or the accomplishment of the will of God that counts as the most direct and obvious way of expressing the one goal? In different moods one can think that different petitions predominate. Is the Kingdom the central concept, on which the petition about the Name and about the will of God are subsidiary commentaries? Is the Name the leading idea, filled out by the Kingdom and the will of God? Is it all summed up in the third petition, the will of God? It is best to consider all three as three sides of the same triangle. In outline, this first half of the prayer must be regarded as thoroughly eschatological.
1. Hallowed be thy name
The eschatological slant is already suggested by 'hallowed be thy name'. 'To hallow/sanctify God's name' can mean no more than to bless and praise God's name in prayer. So it is used often in the psalms. In the Similitudes of Henoch (possibly late first century AD, post-Qumran), when the Chosen Ones are finally gathered together, 'all his holy ones who are in heaven will bless him, and every spirit of light which is able to bless and praise and exalt and sanctify your holy name will praise and bless your holy name for ever' (61.12). The context of this sanctifying of the name gives it an eschatological tone; it is a programme for the end of time. In the Lord's Prayer, however, the theological passive puts the matter on a new plane. It is no longer merely human praise; rather 'hallowed be...' suggests that God himself is making his own name holy. Compare the Kaddish, 'May he reveal the greatness and holiness of his great Name'.
This petition, then, harks back to Ezekiel 36, the classic chapter on the hallowing of the Name of God. By the covenant God had guaranteed to protect his people Israel. When their infidelity compelled him to allow foreign nations to oppress and correct Israel by sending them into exile in Babylon, God's name was besmirched before the nations because he seemed unable to protect them. A God who could not even protect his own people had little right to a reputation! In this chapter of Ezekiel God promises to sanctify his Name, that is, to restore its reputation by restoring Israel to its own land:
I am going to display the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned among them. For I shall take you from among the nations and gather you back from all the countries and bring you home to your own country (Ezek 36.23-24).
The same longing is attested by Isaiah,
No longer shall Jacob be disappointed, no more shall his face grow pale, for when he sees his children, my creatures, home again with him, he will acknowledge my name as holy (Is 29. 22-23).
In fact, however, though Israel returned to Jerusalem and Judea, the exile was felt to be far from over. They continued to remain scattered over the whole world in Babylon and the rest of the Diaspora. In Judea itself they were oppressed, first by the Persians (comparatively benignly), then by the Egyptians, by the Syrians (especially Antiochus Epiphanes, provoking the Maccabean revolt), and finally by the Romans. The restoration of God's Name and reputation was felt more and more to be something eagerly expected at the end-time. The sanctification is still something to be prayed for in the future.
2. Thy kingdom come
The equivalence of these two first petitions brings the whole of Jesus' proclamation of the Kingship or Sovereignty of God under the heading of the sanctification of God's Name. This is the focus of Jesus' concepton of his mission, the subject of his parables. In the parables Jesus attempts to explain what the reign of God really portends, and how contemporary Judaism fails to embody it. In Galilee his teaching on the Law, his adjustments not only of oral interpretations of the Law, but even of the Law of Moses itself (e.g. on divorce, which rejects the ruling of Deuteronomy), all embody Jesus' conception of the rule of God, and so the sanctification of God's Name. Similarly, his choice of twelve foundation-stones for the new Israel, and his demonstration in the Temple at Jerusalem are expressions of what he considers the Sovereignty of God to imply, namely the radical renewal of Judaism.
In this renewal of Judaism the primary ethical factor for Matthew is dikaiosu,nh. It is closely connected with the kingdom itself, for Matthew 6.33 couples the ideas, 'Seek first the Kingdom of God and its justice'. This concept is so important for Mt that if we are to investigate the quality of holiness in Mt, what holiness means for Mt, the starting-point must be Dikaiosu,nh. This is surprising, for 'justice' and 'holiness' are by no means identical concepts in English. 'Holiness' is something to do with God, whereas 'justice' is something to do with Law. The missing link, however, is that for Judaism the Law itself is sacred, a sacred treasure, because it is the revelation of God's nature, the outpouring of God's love, and the response by which human beings can express their loving gratitude to God. My contention is that in Jesus' century Judaism had become so dominated by the Law that human holiness was considered to consist in observing dikaiosu,nh, or as Mt puts it at the Baptism of Jesus, in 'fulfilling all justice'. This is also a reflection of God's holiness, for - as we shall see in Paul - the primary quality of God is his dikaiosu,nh. Although the term appears to correspond more exactly to qdc than to vdq, I would suggest that at least for Matthew this is what constitutes the holiness of the Kingdom. 'Unless your dikaiosu,nh is more abundant than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will certanly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven' (5.20).
The Law of Moses had at its core the Heiligkeitskodex, the Law of holiness (Lv 17-26). The Law of the new Kingdom, in which the spirit of the Kingdom is enshrined, is, of course, the Sermon on the Mount. It is delivered by Jesus seated on the mountain, just as Moses' Law was delivered from the mountain. Matthew remains through and through a rabbinic Jew, a teacher of Law, concerned for the minutiae of legal observance(6), a scribe or lawyer capable of bringing out new and old (probably his own 'signature', 13.52). He thinks in legal terms, so that when Matthew's Risen Christ sends out his disciples to spread the gospel he tells them to teach their disciples to observe 'all the commandments I have given' (pa,nta o`,sa evneteila,mhn 28.20). The chief virtue of this Law, taking the place held in the old Law by 'holiness', is the renewed dikaiosu,nh which Mt teaches. It therefore merits examination.
The importance of this concept particularly for Mt's view of the Kingdom is clear from its place in the Beatitudes. The eight Beatitudes form a meticulously crafted summary of the requirements for the Kingdom. They are bracketed at beginning and end by 'for theirs in the Kingdom of Heaven'(7). Each half is brought to a final focus on dikaiosu,nh, those who hunger and thirst for it, and those who are persecuted for it, both in marked contrast to Luke's beatitudes which centre on those who are materially needy, so a specifically Matthean emphasis. What, however, is it, and how does it differ from the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees?
It is possible to approach an answer to this question from two angles, practical and theoretical. The practical angle is given in the six antitheses or corrections in the Sermon in the Mount, the theoretical in the argument from scripture. The practical angle is not easy to sum up briefly, which is, I think, why Matthew gives us a set of six diverse examples of good practice, or of holiness. Several, but not all, of these corrections have something to do with dispositions rather than mere behaviour. Thus the first and second, putting contemptuous anger on a level with murder, and putting the lust of the eyes on a level with fornication, count as interiorisation, application of the Law to the springs of action rather than to the action itself. The third and fifth, on the other hand, actually extend the Law of Moses, cancelling respectively the permission of divorce under certain circumstances and a limited exaction of revenge. The fourth, prohibiting oaths, could also be considered an interiorisation: the atmosphere of truth-telling must be so pervasive among the disciples of Jesus that oaths are unnecessary. Finally the sixth, the commandment of universal love, extends to all people the love which the Law of Moses had demanded towards one's fellows; this may be regarded as an extension or may be seen as an explicitation that all human beings, not simply fellow-Jews are fellows. To say that this is a rag-bag of examples is, of course, an admission of failure to find a unifying principle. Nevertheless, it does seem such a rag-bag, outlining different areas.
The theoretical angle is given by Matthew's principle which recurs three times. As one would expect in Matthew, this is a scriptural principle. In accordance with the middoth of Rabbi Hillel, Matthew interprets the Law by the scripture. So he takes as his principle Hosea 6.6, 'What I want is love not sacrifice'. Its importance can be seen from the fact that he introduces it twice into Mark's narrative. Once he introduces it into the story of the Call of Levi, to account for Jesus' consorting with tax-collectors and other outcasts, adding it to the Markan saying, 'It is not the healthy who need the doctor but the sick' (Mt 9.12), thus giving a scriptural authority for Jesus' behaviour. A second time Matthew introduces the quotation into Mark's story of the disciples rubbing ears of corn on the Sabbath (Mt 12.7), 'If you had known what is meant by "What I want is love not sacrifice", you would not have condemned the innocent'. Again it functions as a scriptural authority for Jesus' interpretation of the Law. A third time it occurs in Matthew's sevenfold reproaches against the.scribes and Pharisees (23.23).
The tone of this scriptural principle of love is vitally important. The word used by Matthew is ev,leoj which comes not only in the Hosea quotation but also in the great revelation of the meaning and nature of Yahweh in Exodus 34.6-9: Yahweh is a God full of ev,leoj and truth, granting ev,leoj to thousands, etc. It is, then, a divine quality required of human beings, and thus constitutes a commentary and focus on the final command of the six antitheses: the love of neighbour means that 'you must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect'. I would regard this as a transfer of the biblical command to 'Be holy as I am holy'. Matthew sees the holiness of God to be summed up precisely in love (ev,leoj), and the human goal to be imitation of this love.
Further precision of the orientation of this love seems to be directed towards forgiveness. This is the quality which Matthew most stresses. In the Lord's Prayer itself he stresses that we can ask for divine forgiveness only as we forgive others (Luke has 'for we too ourselves forgive every debtor to ourselves', not stressing so exactly the correspondence), and again he emphasizes the same point by repeating it after the end of the Prayer, adding the heavily Matthean couplet(8) - the only petition to receive this sort of stress - 'If you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either' (6.14-15). Similarly, in chapter 18 on relations within the community, more than half the chapter is taken up with instructions on forgiveness, ending with the typically Matthean parable of the two debtors. This is no innovation in the use of the concept, for in the Exodus passage the divine love is originally revealed as a forgiving love, coming as it does immediately after the betrayal in the worship of the Golden Calf and Moses' despairing breaking of the tablets of the Law
3. Thy will be done
The third petition of the Lord's Prayer is also central for Matthew's conception of holiness. Doing the will of the Father has a special connotation for Matthew. One interesting link with the first petition on sanctifying the Name comes in the summing up at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, as the first of a series of typically Matthean black-and-white contrasts (leading on to the men who build their houses respectively on sand and on rock): 'It is not everyone who calls me "Lord, Lord" who will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but one who does the will of my Father in heaven' (7.21). Real sanctification of the Name, 'Lord' occurs not through mere calling on the name, but only through doing the will of the Father.
The same definition of acceptibility as a disciple of Jesus recurs at 12.50, the crucial turning-point between the ministry to the masses and the instruction of the disciples (the turning-point marked by the parable-chapter which follows immediately). With the mother and brothers of Jesus standing outside, he distinguishes them from his disciples. True mother and brothers of Jesus are defined as 'whoever does the will of my Father in heaven'; this is the vital criterion of distinction.
However, the really important indication of the centrality of this concept for Matthew comes in the Agony in the Garden. There, in the second prayer, Matthew inserts this petition of the Lord's Prayer on Jesus' own lips. Mark has only 'going away again he prayed, saying the same word' (14.39), whereas Matthew deliberately puts on Jesus' lips the prayer, 'Thy will be done' (Mt 26.42), thus stressing that Jesus at this critical moment unites himself with the Father's will in obedience(9). I read this as a deliberate allusion by which Matthew indicates that Jesus' obedience to the Father in the despair and failure of the Cross is a fulfilment and accomplishment of the Lord's Prayer(10). The significant contribution of this to our theme is that holiness consists in the imitation of Jesus: Jesus is here seen as the model for his disciples, applying to himself the petition of the Lord's Prayer, and fulfilling the criterion of accomplishing 'the will of my Father in heaven'.
There are other indications of the imitation of Christ, or rather of Jesus as the model for his disciples, in three corresponding passages, all of which appear to be added by Matthew. The third Beatitude (absent in Luke) gives the blessing maka,rioi oi` praei/j. Further, Matthew adds to Mark's passage where Jesus tells his disciples that they must become like little children the explanation (typically Matthean in its balance) 'Whoever humbles himself as this little child will be great in the kingdom of heaven'(11). The same two qualities appear in one of the rare self-descriptive passages by Jesus, 'Come to me all you who labour and are burdened, for I am prau,j kai. tapeino,'j (11.30).
In searching for Matthew's concept of holiness we have considered briefly the first three petitions of the Lord's Prayer. Perhaps the most focussed of the three for our purposes has been doing the will of the Father, in imitation of the obedience of Jesus himself. Matthew also defines this conduct in relation to the Kingdom of Heaven as fulfilling all dikaiosu,nh, obeying the Law according to the principle of Hosea e,vleoj qevlw kai. ouv qusi,an. By establishing the Kingship or Rule of God, this human holiness in turn declares the holiness of the Name of God.
Lecture 4. Who is to be Saved?
1. Salvation is for Israel
Infancy narratives part of OT: observance of the Law, fulfilment of prophecy, Canticles
Destiny - theme of fulfilment
Importance of Jerusalem: it brackets the Gospel - great journey to Jerusalem, resurrection appearances in Jerusalem, Paul constantly returns there to check up, home of ideal community (prayer, eucharist, sharing), but they killed Stephen
Conversions at Jews at Crucifixion (23.27, 48), at Pentecost (Ac 2.4; 4.4; 6.1) and beyond (14.1; 17.12; 28.24)
2. Salvation passes to the Gentiles
Jesus' mission was to Jews only - single encounter with gentile: Syro-Phoenician woman wins her way in by enterprising reply. Hence problem of observance of Law in Christianity.
Cornelius' conversion authorized by Peter and the Spirit - recounted thrice (10; 11; 15)
Conversion and mission of Paul recounted thrice (9; 22; 26)
Gentiles in Luke: Simeon - 'a light to the gentiles'
Nazareth manifesto centred on gentiles
Samaritans - Good Samaritan, 10th Leper
Great Supper: double call, also 'outside the city'
Final charge: 24.47
3. Women paired with men
Zechariah & Mary, Simeon & Anna, Jairus & Widow of Naim, Lost Sheep & Lost Coin, etc
Women follow Jesus and support him (8.1-3) even at Crucifixion (23.27)
Mary: 11.27-28 - Luke's changes in 8.19-21 - Mary at Pentecost
4. The poor
Luke's own socio-economic position: sophisticated literary style
Larger sums of money: silver
Shame is a middle-class luxury
Blessing on the poor: Infancy stories - Magnificat - Bethlehem - turtledove
Beatitudes and woes
The Rich Man and Lazarus
Dangers of wealth: The Rich Fool - excuses at Great Fest
Disciples give up 'everything' 5.11, 28; 14.33; 18.22
Almsgiving the only hope: 6.30; 11.41; 12.33
Word-count shows importance of concept (Mt5 - Mk5 - Lk17 - Jn 3)
Peter's Confession (5.8) - you must admit to being a sinner before being called - reason for failure of 'rich young man.
To be a sinner is a condition of entry: Prodigal Son, Woman at Simon's House, Joy at lost sheep and lost coin, Good Thief.
5. 'Called to be Saints'- but when?
In the addresses of his letters Paul regularly addresses the recipients of his letter as 'holy'. Thus Rm 1.7; 1 Cor 1.2; 2 Cor 1.1; Phil 1.1; Phm 5. He has not formed the habit as early as 1 Thess, and significantly omits this complimentary title in the prescript of the abrupt and furious letter to the Galatians, where he also wastes no time on the conventional compliments before getting down to his serious reproaches. In the use of the title he is followed by the pseudonymous author of Colossians 1.2 and Ephesians 1.1. Is Paul simply complimenting the members of the community on their holy conduct? Mohrmann thinks not:
The saints are not holy morally or personally. They are holy as justified sinners - sinners who have been made righteous - and as strangers who have been accepted by God.
(The Source of Life, SCM Press, 1997, p. 46)
They are, however, more than mere accepted strangers. The term a`,gioi is commonly used in contemporary literature of the people of God (Ps 15.3 'the holy ones who dwell in his land', cf. Ws 18.9, the 'holy ones' in the desert wanderings). As Dunn points out in his Commentary on Romans 1.7, to listeners familiar with the Jewish usage, to call a mixed community of Jews and gentiles 'the holy ones', when they had among them no priest, no sacrifice, no circumcision, would have been fiercely provocative, indicating that this mixed gathering had taken the place of the Jews as God's people. In Rm and 1 Cor they are klhtoi, a`vgioi, not 'called saints' in the sense of 'spoken of as', but 'called to be saints' in the sense of a summons or vocation, just as the Chosen People were called to be God's people. It is a dynamic rather than a static epithet.
There is also a strong eschatological tinge to this appellation, derived from Dan 7.22, cf. 25-27. This is the eschatological scene of judgement when the people of God, 'the saints', will be delivered from the oppression of the evil empires and re-established in power and liberty:
This was the horn I had watched making war on the holy ones and proving the stronger until the coming of the One most venerable(12) who gave judgement in favour of the holy ones of the Most High when the time came for the holy ones to assume kingship.
The eschatological dimension and the Danielic overtones are confirmed by the Book of Revelation, in which 'the saints' is the regular name for Christians, those who are waiting, worshipping and praying to be delivered from under the altar and to assume their position of untrammelled worship. The Great Prostitute, that miasmic and degenerate figure, 'mother of all the the prostitutes and all the filthy practices on earth', symbolizing the corrupting might of Rome, is drunk on the blood of the saints (Rv 17.6).
The opening phrase of nearly the earliest writings of the New Testament (all except the first two of Paul's Letters) sets the eschatological tone, which is confirmed and, so to speak, capped by the writing which closes the New Testament. If 'the saints' is a basically eschatological expression, the question must be posed how important the eschatological dimension is for the understanding of the whole concept of holiness in the New Testament, how far eschatology determines New Testament morality, and how it came to have this importance.
B. Jesus and the Future
Jesus' eschatology has been a hot subject of discussion especially since Albert Schweitzer. There is no doubt that the message of Jesus was eschatological, the only doubt being the mode of this eschatology. Jesus succeeded to the message of John the Baptist, for each proclaimed, 'Repent, for the kingdom of God is close at hand'. I would like to keep open the possibility that John himself was at one time a member of the highly eschatological community at Qumran, who had gone out into the desert precisely to await the Messiah. I wonder if the reason why John left the community was simply that they did not admit the possibility of the repentance of the evil world, but only its annihilation, while John proclaimed repentance and conversion, flight from the wrath to come.
Jesus saw the Reign of God breaking out in a new way, in the elimination of evil by his exorcisms of evil or unclean spirits. When John the Baptist in prison sends messengers asking Jesus to explain himself (he was not bringing the fire and judgement which John had expected) Jesus replies with a quotation from Isaiah 35 or 61, claiming that his wonders fulfil these eschatological expectations. The context and character of Jesus' healings and wonders is wholly different from those of the charismatic Galilean rabbis, where there is no eschatological echo to be found or even hinted.
Similarly Jesus' forgiveness of sin brings to a reality the eschatological forgiveness promised for the last times. The spirituality of post-exilic Israel is dominated by guilt. Jeremiah promises a new covenant, taking away their heart of stone. Ezekiel promises 'I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed' (36.25). But still the Psalms (e.g. the Miserere) and the Book of Baruch are suffused with guilt and the longing for forgiveness in the messianic age:
Jerusalem, take off your dress of sorrow and distress,
put on the beauty of God's glory for evermore,
wrap the cloak of God's saving justice around you,
put the diadem of the Eternal One's glory on your head,
for God means to show your splendour to every nation under heaven.
There was a well-trodden path of set rituals for forgiveness in Judaism, according to the rites of the Temple, by sacrifice and the Day of Reconciliation (Lev 6.1-7; 16). But by contrast John the Baptist prepared a community of repentance by simple washing in the Jordan (perhaps a prophetic reminiscence of Naaman the Syrian), and Jesus scandalised the righteous by offering forgiveness to all who asked, calling sinners to repentance, including the ritually unclean (without demanding that they turn from their impure ways), tax-collectors (we are not told that Zacchaeus gave up his job) and those 'of a bad name in the city' (without laying any conditions on the woman who wept at his feet). This was the fulfilment of the promise in Joel of the outpouring of the Spirit of holiness, of which we hear at Pentecost. EP Sanders even famously maintains that (by contrast to the Baptist) Jesus did not demand repentance: 'he was not a repentance-minded reformer', but a friend of tax-collectors and sinners even while they were tax-collectors and sinners, sharing in their revelries, going after the lost sheep, not simply calling it back to repentance (The Historical Figure of Jesus, p. 232-7). In the last of the antitheses of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus proposes the perfect love of the Father as the model of human love, pointing out that the Father makes his rain fall on good and bad alike, not demanding that the bad should turn good before they can receive the precious gift of rain. This is the extent of the eschatological forgiveness demanded for the holy community in which the Sovereignty of God comes to expression.
Jesus' emphasis on the immediacy of the coming of the kingdom comes to a focus in his attitude to the Temple. This stands in a long tradition of the renewal of the Temple at the last days, attested fully already in Ezekiel's description of the renewed eschatological Temple (Ezek 40-48), repeated at the end of the New Testament by the vision of the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven like a bride adorned for her husband, in which God and the Lamb substitute for the Temple. Along the way come such descriptions as 1 Henoch 90:
And I stood up to look until he folded up that old house, and they removed all the pillars and all the beams and ornaments of that house were folded up with it, and they removed it and put it in a place in the south of the land. And I looked until the Lord of the sheep brought a new house, larger and higher than that first one, and he set it upon the site of the first one which had been folded up. And the Lord of the sheep was in the middle of it...
In this context the messianic entry into Jerusalem, so closely followed by Jesus' symbolic prophetic action of the attack on the Temple, portends the final coming of the Sovereignty of God. Such is the meaning also of the chants recorded at the entry into Jerusalem, whatever their original historical significance: 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David!' (Mark 11.9-10).
C. Jesus and the timing of the Eschaton
What did Jesus think of the timing of the consummation of the Kingship of God? Jeremias pointed out long ago that the terse little similes of Jesus, like the fig-tree, the new wine in new wine-skins, the patch of cloth, the bridegroom and the wedding-feast, all speak of newness breaking in now. Even a sceptic such as Gerd Lüdemann (Jesus after 2000 Years) agrees that such sayings have the stamp of authenticity, and that this is Jesus' own angle. We must beware of being too influenced by Matthew's parables. It is only Matthew who introduces the concentration on a longer time-span. It is his emphasis on good works and their reward at the final judgement that applies this message to a two-stage salvation. Matthew substitutes for the Markan parable of the Seed Growing Secretly the two parables of the Tares and the Dragnet, both signifying the Church in the world, a mixed bag which needs to be sorted out later. Similarly, even in Mark, the interpretation of the Sower is generally regarded as subsequent to Jesus, for the temptations listed (the lure of wealth, the fear of persecution) are more fitting to a subsequent age than to Jesus' own time. These developments in the first generation of the community do not remove the eschaton from calculation, for it is still there as the ultimate conclusion, but they do insert an intermediary period of Christian life lived out in the world, of which Jesus shows no consciousness. Matthew envisages a holy community, empowered by the divine presence of the Risen Christ, living in the world. Jesus seems to have envisaged holiness breaking in suddenly and finally.
Was Jesus wrong in his estimate of the coming of the Kingdom? Schweitzer famously thought of him as a mistaken apocalyptic visionary.who finally 'put his shoulder to the wheel of history, and, moving, it crushed him'. EP Sanders is not far different in his despairing estimate of Jesus' last moments:
It is possible that, when Jesus drank his last cup of wine, predicted that he would drink it again in the kingdom, he thought that the kingdom would arrive immeidately. After he had been on the cross for a few hours, he despaired, and cried out that he had been forsaken. This speculation is only one possible explanation. We do not know what he thought as he hung in agony on the cross. (The Historical Figure of Jesus, p.274-5)
The question is whether Jesus really expected an immediate end to the world in the sense of a cataclysmic destruction of the space-time cosmos as we know it. The saying to which Sanders refers ('My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?') is only one of several which suggest that he did. At the supper he said, 'Truly I say to you, I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God' (Mark 14.25). Again at the Jewish trial he raises the same expectations, 'You will see the son of man seated at the right hand of the Father and coming on the clouds of heaven' (14.62). Those who were present would themselves see it. Luke's addition is puzzling, leaving his understanding of this saying unclear: 'from now on you will see...' (Luke 22.69). It could be claimed that he makes it just too immediate: if it is that instantaneous Luke must understand it as predicting something other than the destruction of the world which he knew full well had not yet occurred. What are we to make of the saying in Mark (9.1), 'Amen, Amen I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they have seen the kingdom of God come in power'? Mark seems to understand this as the theophany which he describes by means of the account of the Transfiguration, since he places the saying as the immediate preface to it.
One of the most convincing arguments that Jesus taught an imminent end to the cosmos in the form of some kind of second Coming of the son of man is the gradual and hard-fought recession from it in early Christianity, which suggests that it was only the persistent delay of the Parousia which forced Christians to abandon a view which they had received from Jesus. Thus Paul seems to have taught the Thessalonians that Christ had conquered death in terms which led them to think that there would be no more physical death. He reassures them with a description of the Second Coming in terms of a Roman triumphal procession, clearly suggesting, if not implying, that it will occur within the lifetime of some of his listeners: 'We can tell you from the Lord's own teaching that we who are still alive for the Lord's coming will not have any advantage over those who have fallen asleep' (1 Thess 4.15). Such a point of view has to be adjusted in the epilogue to John's Gospel: 'The rumour then went out among the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus had not said to Peter, 'He will not die', but 'If I want him to stay behind till I come'' (John 21.23).(13) But already in the body of the Gospel of John the accent has been firmly taken off any putative event in the future by the realised eschatology, the stress that Jesus has already come again in the form of the Spirit of Truth, who makes Jesus present to his disciples now.
In First Corinthians Paul again envisages some sort of heavenly scene, 'And after that will come the end, when he will hand over the kingdom to God the Father, having abolished every principality, every ruling force and power' (1 Cor 15.24). But in the same chapter he gives a much less pictorial teaching on the final transformation of the Christian in the Second Adam, explaining this in terms of a transformation or transfer into the divine sphere in the Risen Christ, but without any suggestion of timing or of the finality of the cosmic continuum. Despite this, such an expectation remained strong enough for Christians at the time of Second Peter to expostulate, 'Where is the promise of his coming?' to which the author can only reply sommewhat apologetically, 'with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day' (2 P 3.3-8).
The solution seems to me to lie in the meaning of the imagery. This is not to claim that Jesus knew perfectly well what he meant in clear and unimaged terms, but simply chose to use biblical language. All language is imaged, even the image of an 'image', and use of imagery does not imply that the speaker can 'cash' the imagery into other terms, intelligible in other spheres of discourse or other terms demanded by another age. This is particularly the case with religious imagery and religious language, which is why parables are such a suitable and forceful method of teaching. I see no reason to say that Jesus was not a man of his own time, using the imagery of the time, and taking it precisely as imagery. He thought in this imagery, and need not necessarily have raised the question about what it meant about timing, any more than he raised the questions about the supersession of the Law, the future structure of the community of his followers, or the inclusion of gentiles in the Kingdom.
How much, indeed, did Jesus know about his approaching death and its consequences? Did Jesus know that his death was to redeem the world? It must be remembered that there is precious little sign in the sayings of Jesus of such soteriological language and images. Looking back with and through a Pauline perspective, Christian piety often assumes that Jesus knew that he was to rise again, to become the Second Adam, the exemplar and initiator of the New Creation, as Paul explains in Romans 5-8. There is nothing in Jesus' own sayings about God through Jesus reconciling the world to himself, nothing about 'salvation' in a theological sense. Or to what extent is the Johannine perspective to be taken literally, that at the Last Supper Jesus could speak of his exaltation and glorification? In Mark, the earliest record of the sayings of Jesus, we find very little reflection on the theological significance of the Passion. The only mention of 'redemption' is Mark 10.45b, 'The son of man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many, lu,tron avnti. pollw/n. However, at least if we accept the words of Institution of the Eucharist as Jesus' own (which seems to me uncontrovertible), the reference to Isaiah 53 makes it clear that Jesus was aware at the Last Supper that his death was impending and that it would be a service u`pe.r pollw/n. He was the Servant of the Lord, who was to take the sins of many upon himself. I see all Jesus' own emphasis on his obedience to the Father, accepting the will of the Father, even though this meant failure and death. He knew that his mission was to establish the Sovereignty of God, and his whole activity breathes the air of the excitement of the impending arrival of that kingdom, or the crisis facing his contemporaries. '
D. Paul and Eschatological Holiness
There is no doubt that Paul himself expected the eschaton to arrive very soon. ,Second Thessalonians seem deliberately to counter this expectation by interposing the Great Revolt and the appearance of the Evil One, a period of conterfeit signs and wonder (2 Thess 2.1-12). This is only one of the reasons why many regard Second Thessalonians as a pseudepigraphon.
The problem becomes more acute with the certainly authentic First Corinthians. The eschatological pressure has two main consequences for Paul's teaching:
1. The time is so short that each new convert should stay in the same condition. The principle is enuntiated three times: 'let everyone continue in the part which the Lord has allotted to him' (1 Cor 7.17, 20, 24), which is applied successively to remaining circumcised or uncircumcised, slave or free, married or unmarried. The general thought seems to be that the time is too short and the pressure of the cataclysms which will immediately precede the end is too great to make it worthwhile changing state. But Paul also supplies a particular reason in each case: with regard to circumcision he considers it irrelevant: 'what is important is the keeping of God's commands' (v. 19). With regard to freedom from slavery, this is irrelevant because all Christians are slaves of Christ and should not regard themselves as slaves to any human being (v.22-23).
2. Particularly with regard to marriage and celibacy Paul says that he 'would like you to have your minds free from worry' (v. 32), the worry of pleasing a spouse, in order to concentrate on pleasing the Lord. This is a somewhat strange position, for it is universal Christian teaching that serving the neighbour, and even the spouse, is a major way of working for the Lord. Has Paul fully worked out his position? Certainly his teaching on the matter is not absolute. He does not insist on the value of remaining in the unmarried state, but gives some arguments also in favour of marriage in particular circumstances. Finally he comes to the conclusion: 'he who marries is doing well, but he who does not, better still' (v. 38). It is important to distance Paul from the teaching which occasionally surfaces in the Middle Ages, that monastic celibacy is the only way to holiness or even to salvation.
On the other hand, Paul's teaching on celibacy may usefully be related in this respect to the gospel teaching on celibacy, which also has an eschatological colouring. The triple saying on eunuchs in Matthew 19.12 has been plausibly put in the Sitz im Leben of Jesus defending his own unmarried state: 'There are eunuchs so born from their mother's womb, there are eunuchs so made by human agency and there are eunuchs who have made themsleves so for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.'. The word 'eunuch' had the same contemptuous and injurious overtones in the ancient world as it has today, which suggests Jesus making a strong defence with fearless, strong language, taking up his opponents' or detractors' sneer without flinching. He begins by citing the two standard cases of celibacy, congenital impotence and the castration which was not uncommonly operated on attractive young prisoners of war. Fearlessly he takes up the taunt by relating to these his own celibacy for the sake of the kingdom. Related to Jesus' insistence on the urgency of the Kingdom, his answer is best understood not so much in Paul's sense of freedom from the material worries of married life as in the sense of the urgency and whole-hearted response to the Kingdom. The Kingdom fills the whole horizon, in such a way as to leave no room for other pre-occupations. We return to the same urgency with which we began from John the Baptist: hv,ggiken h` basilei,a.
E. Holiness and Martyrdom in Eschatological Perspective
One particularly vivid aspect of the eschatological perspective of holiness in the New Testament communities is associated with martyrdom. This may be illustrated from three writings, the Gospel of Mark, the letters of Paul and the Book of Revelation.
1. Persecution is never far from Mark's mind when he is looking at Jesus from the perspective of the future. One of his major emphases is the failure of the disciples. After their initial response they are represented in a predominantly negative light, slow to understand, sarcastic (at the Feeding of the 5,000 and in the scene of the Woman with a Haemorrhage) and obstructive (Keeping the Children away). Most of all, they shy away from sharing Jesus' lot at his Passion. This behaviour reaches its two climaxes in the Young Man who flees naked in the Garden, a satirical contrast to their leaving all to follow Jesus, and in Peter's emphatic triple denial. But the warning of persecution is everywhere, as for instance in the sandwiching of the Death of John the Baptist between the sending out and the return of the disciples (6.7-30). Various pedagogical and literary explanations have been suggested, but to me the most attractive is that Mark's Christian community has been undergoing persecution, and that they have found it difficult to get even with the fact that persecution is an integral part of the Christian vocation. Some have fallen away, perhaps even the leaders. The final reconciliation with Simon Peter - when the young man at the tomb gives the instructions to go and tell the disciples and Peter that the risen Christ has gone before them into Galilee - may be a hint that even those who fail must be granted reconciliation.
The chief single Markan passage where the emphasis on perseverance under persecution comes most strongly to expression is in the so-called Eschatological Discourse, where it forms the centrepiece. To understand the prominence of this motif it is essential to understand its structure. This passage is quite unlike any other in Mark. To begin with, it is one consecutive passage of 33 verses, as opposed to the short pericopes of a maximum of 10 verses, often much less. From a purely linguistic point of view, I am convinced that it is pre-Markan. In Mark 114 of the 148 sub-sections begin with kai., whereas here only 9 do so. Imperatives are twice as frequent here as in the rest of Mark, and there are 41 Markan hapax legomena. It is called 'the Markan apocalypse' since it has many features typical of apocalyptic writing (so obvious that I shall not give references to other apocalypses):
1. Its purpose is to strengthen those undergoing persecution.
2. The trials are shortened for the sake of the elect.
3. There are threatening anti-Christ figures, who give way to a messianic deliverer.
4. It includes cosmic disturbances and other-worldly figures (angels).
5. It is full of cryptic signs which need to be understood.
6. The imagery is drawn from the Bible and refers back to it, especially the major quotations which rule each of the three major sections.
The emphasis of the chapter is all on alertness, awareness that persecution was bound to happen. This is the message of the first and major section, centred on vv. 9-14. It then gives way to the balancing reassurance that the Son of Man will eventually come to deliver his faithful. But the most striking feature is that it resolutely refuses to give any time for this. It commands continuous alertness, ending with parables highly reminiscent of the parables of Jesus, using countryside imagery. But these parables instead of referring to the crisis brought by the coming of Jesus with his message of renewal, now refer to a Second Coming. The message has been radically adapted from Jesus' own crisis-proclamation.
Introduction (vv. 1-4)
The beginning of sorrows
5Then Jesus began to tell them, `Be on your guard that no one deceives you. 6Many will come using my name and saying, "I am he," and they will deceive many.
7When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed; this is something that must happen, but the end will not be yet. 8For nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is the beginning of the birth-pangs.
9`Be on your guard: you will be handed over to sanhedrins; you will be beaten in synagogues; and you will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, as evidence to them, 10since the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11`And when you are taken to be handed over, do not worry beforehand about what to say; no, say whatever is given to you when the time comes, because it is not you who will be speaking; it is the Holy Spirit. 12Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will come forward against their parents and have them put to death. 13You will be universally hated on account of my name; but anyone who stands firm to the end will be saved.
14`When you see the appalling abomination set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then those in Judaea must escape to the mountains; 15if a man is on the housetop, he must not come down or go inside to collect anything from his house; 16if a man is in the fields, he must not turn back to fetch his cloak. 17Alas for those with child, or with babies at the breast, when those days come! 18Pray that this may not be in winter. 19For in those days there will be great distress, unparalleled since God created the world, and such as will never be again. 20And if the Lord had not shortened that time, no human being would have survived; but he did shorten the time, for the sake of the elect he chose.
21`And if anyone says to you then, "Look, here is the Christ" or, "Look, he is there," do not credit it; 22for false Christs and false prophets will arise and produce signs and portents to deceive the elect, if that were possible. 23You, therefore, must be on your guard. I have given you warning.
The coming of the Son of man
24`But in those days, after that time of distress, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, 25the stars will come falling out of the sky and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
26 And then they will see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
The time of this coming (vv. 28-31)
31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will stand.
33`Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come. 34It is like a man travelling abroad: he has gone from his home, and left his servants in charge, each with his own work to do; and he has told the doorkeeper to stay awake.
35So stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow or dawn; 36if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep. 37And what I am saying to you I say to all: Stay awake!'
A few words on the highly artistic and symmetrical structure of this chapter. It is symmetrically articulated at beginning, end and middle by the repeated 'Be on your guard', which introduces and concludes the central section, and in turn introduces the central piece of this section, the two intermediate pieces of the section being introduced by 'When you hear/see'. The conclusion is also symmetrically articulated by the triple 'stay awake', at beginning, end and middle. Each of the major sections is ruled by, or comments upon, a scripture-quotation, v. 14 being drawn from Dan 9.27, v. 26 from Dan 7.13, and v.31 from Isaiah 51.6. The central section of all (v. 9-13) concentrates heavily on the persecution which the followers of Jesus will suffer. It would hardly be possible to put a clearer warning on Jesus' lips: 'What I say to you I say to all', that is, Jesus speaks also to future hearers. It is only after the certainty of persecution has been hammered home that deliverance is promised. This final chapter of Jesus' ministry before the final crunch of the Passion concludes, then, by a prediction of what following Christ will involve. Already a final discourse about the future by the leader about-to-die has become a convention. Following Hellenistic convention more closely, Luke and John will place such a discourse at the Last Supper. In Mark unmistakably it is persecution which will be the consequence of following Christ and so the way to holiness.
2. In fact it has been reckoned that 20 out of the 27 books of the New Testament mention the persecution of Chritians: death, torture, imprisonment, exile, flogging, being stoned, not to mention the mob violence described in Acts. Peter Oakes in his penetrating book Philippians, from people to letter (Cambridge Univesity Press, 2001, p. 96-102) graphically envisages at Philippi the more subtle form of economic persecution. There is no hint of violence in Paul's encouragement to his beloved Philippians to persevere, 'standing firm and united in spirit, battling as a team with a single aim for the faith of the gospel, undismayed by any of your opponents. Oakes paints a hypothetical but convincing picture of a Christian baker-family whose lose their friends, patrons and customers through their adherence to this odd sect which could not take part in the social life centred round pagan festivals. Similarly, the subsistence-level Christian farmer, whose oddity loses him his patron and precludes the occasional borrowing which would help him out of temporary difficulties. If Christians remained within Judaism they would have to cope with all the difficulties of the food laws, which bulk so large in Romans and First Corinthians: could a Christian eat meat sacrificed to idols? If not, could a Christian take part in social or civic meals at all? Once separation from Judaism lost Christians the protection of being a religio licita in the eyes of the Roman magistrates, the shame and opprobrium of mere appearance before the magistrates would make matters worse socially and therefore economically, even if no such penalty as imprisonment was imposed.
This, of course, is the sort of economic persecution which Christians behind the Iron Curtain had to bear. It was said that half the street-sweepers of Prague were priests, ministers and members of religious orders. A Czech friend of mine, a Lutheran pastor, was stripped of everything and spent the last 13 years before the Velvet Revolution as a cinema-cleaner, being arrested 25 times. In Czechoslovakia avowed Christians were not allowed to enter the professions or to attend universities - though technical schooling was permitted, perhaps because it did not encourage too much thought.
3. The Book of Revelation ultimately presents the triumph in holiness of the martyrs. The genre of apocalyptic to which the Book belongs is especially directed towards reassuring the persecuted, assuring them of ultimate triumph. The lurid and colourful imagery of battle between good and evil (represented most pointedly by the figure of the Great Prostitute seated on the Seven Hills, expressing the oppressive and corrupting power of Rome) suggests that blood-martyrdom is the ideal way to sanctity. The leader of the triumph is the Lamb, standing as though slain, and the saints who sing their triumphant hymn are those who 'have washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb' (Rv 7.14). But they are also described under the biblical image of virginity, 'those who have ketp their virginity and follow the Lamb wherever he goes' (Rv 14.4), signifying not so much sexual virginity as the biblical sense of fidelity in their following of the Lamb (as the Prostitute is the personification of infidelity). The secret of their reward is their attachment to the Lamb in whatever form: 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give water from the well of life free to anybody who is thirsty (21.6).
1. The Trinity is not explicit in Paul's writings. It is worth noting, therefore, the trinitarian nature of this statement. The Spirit makes the stable bond with God's salvation which is accomplished in Christ. Again and again in Paul we find this trinitarian language, not attempting to define the relationship between the persons of the Trinity, but stating their respective functions in the work of salvation.
2. It is strange that this word is missing in the reference to 'speaking in tongues' at the conversion of Cornelius. This event is clearly understood to be parallel to Pentecost, and is often referred to as 'the gentile Pentecost'. Luke, however, tells us only that they were speaking in tongues and glorifying God (Ac 10.46) without further details.
3. Paul does not seem to envisage entirely silent prayer. Just as reading silently was unknown at the time, so was praying silently also unknown. In modern Jewry the voice should be used in prayer, just as the rest of the body.
4. Op.cit., p. 339-40
5. It must be remarked that the works of the flesh are not particularly 'fleshly' in the modern sense. They are not related merely to bodily desires, but include 'antagonisms and rivalry, disagreements, factions and malice' as well as 'sexual vice, sensuality and drunkenness' (Ga 5.20-21).
6. So he removes the downgrading of the Sabbath in Mark 2.27, the dispensation from the food laws given in Mark 7.20. He is always careful to argue by rabbinic principles, using scriptural texts and working according to the middoth of R. Hillel, e.g. in justifying Jesus' defence of his corn-rubbing disciples by the scriptural precedent (12.5-7), and Jesus' healing of the man with the withered hand by the oral law about the ox fallen into the pit (12.11-12)
7. Just as the first half of the Lord's Prayer is bracketed by 'heaven': evn toi/j ouvranoi/j,
8. In fourfold rhythm, what Goulder calls a pardic, or to be more precise a machaeric
after Matt 26.52, characteristically intensifying Mark 11.25 by adding the contradiction of the
9. This is a careful Matthean addition, for 10. A further suggestion that this is to be read as the sanctification of Jesus comes in the
suggestion that John 17, the so-called High Priestly Prayer, is to be seen as a midrash on the
Lord's Prayer. It is, of course, in the Johannine mode. The accent is repeatedly on 11. Besides the obvious balance, it contains the Matthean 12. It is unclear whether this 'One most venerable' is the 'one seated on the throne' or
the 'one like a son of man'. It depends on whether the Greek text of 7.13 is read 13. The situation is, of course, complicated by the question of the identity of the Beloved
Disciple, to whom this refers. Many, including myself, would understand the Beloved Disciple
as a deliberately faceless figure representing The Disciple whom Jesus Loves, that is, the
Christian community, here standing as the tradent of the tradition which will remain till the
Eschaton, whenever and whatever that may be..
8. In fourfold rhythm, what Goulder calls a pardic, or to be more precise a machaeric after Matt 26.52, characteristically intensifying Mark 11.25 by adding the contradiction of the opposite.
9. This is a careful Matthean addition, forgeneqh,tw occurs 5 times in Mt and not at all in the other Synoptics.
10. A further suggestion that this is to be read as the sanctification of Jesus comes in the suggestion that John 17, the so-called High Priestly Prayer, is to be seen as a midrash on the Lord's Prayer. It is, of course, in the Johannine mode. The accent is repeatedly onpa,ter (17. 5, 11, 21,24, 25), and - to quote Raymond Brown, 'the disciple and the reader are party to a heavenly family conversation' (Anchor Bible John, p. 747). There is the same acceptance of the divine will (17.4), and the same prayer for the sanctification - or in John's case the 'glorification' of the Name. But instead of the agonized synoptic prayer in Gethsemane to escape the Cup, John shows a Jesus going forward in confidence to his own hour of glorification.
11. Besides the obvious balance, it contains the Mattheanou`to,j evstin and 'the kingdom of Heaven', and the Matthean preoccupation - like Qumran - with ranking, compare 11.11; 12.6; 23.11, 17, 19 (the last four unique to Mt).
12. It is unclear whether this 'One most venerable' is the 'one seated on the throne' or the 'one like a son of man'. It depends on whether the Greek text of 7.13 is readwj or ewj.
13. The situation is, of course, complicated by the question of the identity of the Beloved Disciple, to whom this refers. Many, including myself, would understand the Beloved Disciple as a deliberately faceless figure representing The Disciple whom Jesus Loves, that is, the Christian community, here standing as the tradent of the tradition which will remain till the Eschaton, whenever and whatever that may be..