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Chapter 8 Jesus and the Scripture Prophets We have established that Jesus thought he would die prematurely, in the providence of God, and would probably die at the hands of those who rejected his mission as a potential source of rebellion. It only makes sense that one who thought he would die, who on other grounds considered himself a prophet, also tried to make sense of that death. We can assume that Jesus did not think of his death as a sad tragedy or as a total accident of history. After all, Jesus could have escaped Jerusalem during the night; he could have avoided all public confrontation ; and he could have worked harder to maintain his innocence. The entire record of history suggests otherwise: Jesus thought he was to die and apparently knew it was his fate. He connected his mission and his death, and he did so in terms of the Final Ordeal. Can we go further? We have seen that Mark 10:45 would throw a morning light over the mission of Jesus if the ransom elements of that logion came from Jesus. Any Jew of Jesus’ status in the first century would have sought to solve the riddle of a premature or violent death by searching the Scriptures to find God’s mind. The question before us now concerns whether or not the ransom saying can be placed into the life of Jesus on the basis of his reflecting on Scripture to see his life inscripturated. There are significant examples of Jews who faced death as a result of their calling to declare God’s will to the nation. Some of these are what we might call Scripture prophets, prophets who searched the Scriptures to discover their own life and destiny in the pages of the Tanakh. These Scripture prophets provide a plausible context for understanding Jesus’ mission, and they will enable us to come closer in determining the pedigree of the ransom saying.1 Put in a differ177 1 In general, see P.W. Barnett, “The Jewish Sign Prophets—A.D. 40–70—Their Intentions and Origin,” NTS 27 (1981): 679–97; for an excellent discussion of “messianic scripts,” see C.A. Evans, “Messianic Claimants of the First and Second Centuries,” in his Noncanonical Writings and New Testament Interpretation (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1992), 239–52. 178 Jesus and His Death ent question: Is there a background in the Tanakh to move from a prophet’s suffering to the prophet’s suffering being atoning? We begin by looking at how rough contemporaries of Jesus appealed to the Tanakh to understand the fate of their own lives. MATTATHIAS AND HIS SONS A family that did search the Scriptures in a crisis and weaved itself into the fabric of the Jewish story is the Maccabees. Because of a compromise with Gentile customs, certain Jews (most notably Jason; cf. 2 Macc 4:7) formed an unholy covenant with Antiochus Epiphanes, and from this alliance the Maccabean movement was sparked (1 Macc 1:1-15). One of the first actions of Antiochus was to strip the temple of its sacred possessions (1:20-28; cf. Dan 9:24-27), leading to even deeper compromise of Israel’s principles (1 Macc 1:41-43, 52). Israel was put to the test by Antiochus’ double demand to renounce its temple system and to prohibit circumcision (1:44-61). Some resisted the reforms of Antiochus (1:62-63), but little came of their protest. A priest named Mattathias and his five sons grieved over Jerusalem, its temple, and the people’s sins (2:6-14). When Antiochus’ officers requested Mattathias and his sons to renounce the faith so they could become “friends of the king” (2:18), he resisted in words (2:19-22). But when a fellow Jew capitulated to the Gentile king’s demand, Mattathias erupted into murdering the apostate Jew (2:23-26) and called for all those so committed to the covenant of Moses with Israel to flee to the hills and caves as a place of divine deliverance, and there prepare to fight (2:27-28).2 Some, refusing to fight on the Sabbath, were senselessly murdered (2:29-38), but Mattathias and his associates decided to honor God by fighting on the Sabbath (2:39-41). Along with the “Hasideans,” great victories were won by the Maccabeans, pagan altars were destroyed, circumcision was reinstituted, and a new commitment to the Torah was covenanted (2:42-48). What concerns...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781602581203
Related ISBN
9781932792799
MARC Record
OCLC
67529773
Pages
590
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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