demilitarizing the kingdom of God

July 2, 2009

A few needed thoughts on the kingdom of God by Gerd Theissen in The Religion of the Earliest Churches:

This myth (the kingdom of God) is simply consistent Jewish monotheism: God will finally be the one and only God, alongside whom there will no longer be any other powers to limit his rule …

In Judaism this includes the rule of the one and only God. Now Jesus combines this talk of the kingly rule of God, i.e. a political metaphor, with a second, family, metaphor: the image of God as father…

It is striking that Jesus always speaks only of the kingdom of God, of God’s basileia as an objective entity, but never of God as ‘king’, of basileus as a personal role. This produces a void for him which he fills with the metaphor of father: in God’s kingly rue God comes to power not as ‘king’ but as ‘father’. As familia dei, the ‘family of God’, his sons and daughters have a privileged relationship to him and take part in his rule. Therefore in the Our Father the central message of Jesus is summed up as ‘Our Father, your kingdom come… ‘ In every respect this message is this a revitalization of the Jewish sign world in the light of two basic metaphors which come into the centre. However, for Jesus this ‘myth’ of the coming kingly rule of the Father takes a form which is characterized by two special features. In both cases the mythical world is extended or transformed in a unique way: by a historicizing, poeticizing and ‘demilitarizing’ of myth.

Just a note, when Theissen refer to Jewish thoughts, he specifically do not refer to Pharasaic thought.

Second note. Maybe this demilitarization of the kingdom of God need to be kept in mind when modern metaphors for the kingdom of God is looked for.

One Response to “demilitarizing the kingdom of God”

  1. Thomas Says:

    Cobus … I like this … and believe that recovering the household language of Jesus and Paul will help us in our journey here in South Africa. We are brothers and sisters … with an amazing Father.

    Your post is a great reminder


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