the first advent of Jesus fulfilled all eschatology. On the basis of this, all prophecy has already been fulfilled, and that, consequently, no teaching of the Bible is concerned with anything beyond the apostolic age.
CENTRAL FIGURE IN THE HISTORY OF “REALIZED ESCHATOLOGY”
Coined Theological Term
C.H. Dodd established, indelibly, the standard for all nonsectarian studies on the historical place of the pre-AD70 New Testament writings. J.A.T. Robinson then applied Dodd’s method to every book of the New Testament.
“The eschaton has moved from the future to the present, from the sphere of expectation into that of realized experience.”
Pope Benedict XVI: “Dodd was basically right. Yes, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is ‘eschatological,’ if you will, but eschatological in the sense that the Kingdom of God is ‘realized’ in His coming. It is thus perfectly possible to speak of an eschatology in process of realization.” (Jesus of Nazareth, p. 188)
- 1920: C.H. Dodd, The Gospel in the New Testament (pdf)
- 1920: C.H. Dodd, The Meaning of Paul for Today (pdf)
- 1935: C.H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments – What was the attitude of the apostles at the beginning? We must remember that the early Church handed down as a saying of the Lord, “The Kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt. xii. 28, Luke xi. 20). This means that the great divine event, the eschaton, has already entered history. In agreement with this, the preaching both of Paul and of the Jerusalem Church affirms that the decisive thing has already happened. The prophecies are fulfilled; God has shown His “mighty works”; the Messiah has come; He has been exalted to the right hand of God; He has given the Spirit which according to the prophets should come “in the last days.”
- 1935: C.H. Dodd, The Bible and the Greeks (pdf)
- 1938: C.H. Dodd, History and the Gospel (pdf)
- 1953: C.H. Dodd, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel (pdf)
- 1953: C.H. Dodd, Sub-structure of New Testament Theology (pdf)
- 1956: C.H. Dodd, The Bible Today
- 1968: C.H. Dodd, More New Testament Studies
- 1970: C.H. Dodd, The Founder of Christianity
- 1910: Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus
- 1914: Albert Schweitzer, Mystery of the Kingdom of God
- 1959: W.G. Kümmel: Futuristic and Realized Eschatology in the Earliest Stages of Christianity
- 1970: John Walvoord, Realized Eschatology
- 1976: J.A.T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament
- 1981: D.A. Carson, Historical Tradition in the Fourth Gospel: After Dodd, What? | Reformatted
- 2003: N.H. Taylor, The destruction of Jerusalem and the transmission of the Synoptic eschatological discourse (pdf)
- 2009: Fred Sanders, C.H. Dodd and Realized Eschatology – Jesus may be the eschatological man, but that doesn’t mean his eschatological work was complete in AD 33, AD 70, or last year.
- 2012: Pope Benedict XVI’s Statement on C.H. Dodd
One scholar picked up the pieces left by Schweitzer’s bombshell, in 1935. British bible student, CH Dodd, took the daring step of saying the kingdom of God had come already, during the life of Jesus. The kingdom of God wasn’t something in the future. It was something in the past. And Dodd went through many of the parables Jesus had taught, showing that they were talking about things Jesus did in his own lifetime. Dodd’s book, The Parables of the Kingdom, disagrees strongly with Albert Schweitzer, but I don’t think Dodd would have done that study if it hadn’t been for Schweitzer’s challenge. It made Dodd and others realise that they couldn’t ignore the idea of the kingdom of God.” (“Albert Schweitzer: too many talents”)
The Gospel according to Luke contains two passages which allude, with some particularity, to a forthcoming siege and destruction of Jerusalem; viz. XIX, 42–4, XXI, 20–4.
The latter of these two passages (with which we may conveniently begin) stands in a context where Luke, to all appearance, is using the Gospel according to Mark as a source. The Marcan parallel to Luke XXI, 20–24 forms part of what is often called the ‘Synoptic Apocalypse’, or, more appropriately, the ‘Apocalyptic Discourse’, since its literary form is not that of an apocalypse; it is in the main a Mahnrede making use of apocalyptic motives, and concluding with a few sentences of straightforward prediction in the apocalyptic manner (XIII, 24–7).
(On the Fall of Jerusalem and the Abomination of Desolation)
“The Gospel according In Luke contains two passages which aIlude, with some particularity, to a forthcoming siege and destruction of Jerusalem ; viz. XIX, 42-4, XXI, 20-4.
The latter of these two passages (with which we may conveniently begin) stands in a context where Luke, to all appearance, is using the Gospel according to Mark as a source. The Marcan parallel to Luke xxi, 20 – 24 forms part of what is often called the ‘ Synoptic Apocalypse , or, more appropriately, the ‘Apocalyptic Discourse’, since it’s literary form is not that of an apocalypse ; it is in the main a Mahnrede making use of apocalyptic motives, and concluding with a few sentences of straightforward prediction in the apocalyptic manner (xiii. 24-7).
The prevailing critical view is that Mark xiii. 37 represents either an early Christian apocalypse which Mark took over with little or no change, or a Jewish apocalyptic which he has supplemented with Christian material. Luke, it is generally held, re-edited and in part re-wrote the Marcan discourse in the light of historical events which took place between the original composition of the ‘apocalypse’ and the time at which his Gospel was written. That the Third Gospel was in fact produced after the Full of Jerusalem is on other grounds fairly certain, while the Gospel according to Mark, or if not that Gospel in its present form at least the bulk of the material in the Apocalyptic Discourse, may reasonably be dated to the period before the war of A.D. 66-70. “It seems clear” (wrote J. M. Creed in his commentary on the Gospel, 1930. ad. loc.) ‘ that for Luke the fall of Jerusalem is past history. The contemporary situation has made it necessary for Luke to impose an interpretation upon his source which will distinguish for his readers between fulfilled and unfulfilled prophecy, This accounts for the main change* in Luke.’ Our present passage, he continues, has been ‘drastically edited. The ‘abomination of desolation ” standing where it ought not is replaced by ‘Jerusalem encircled with armies ‘.
The fall of Jerusalem fulfils prophecy and the consequent dispersion of the Jews introduces the next epoch, ” the times of the Gentiles.” in which the evangelist and his readers live.’
This may be said to be still the dominant view, though then: hate always been some critics who have allowed for the use of another source or sources as well as Mark.
Recent trends in criticism seem to call for a more radical reconsideration of the question than it has (to my knowledge) yet received. In the first place, it would be very generally admitted that the earlier Two-document Hypothesis’ over-simplified the Synoptic Problem, and that the assumption (in particular) of the unconditional priority of Mark in passages where the Gospels run parallel requires much qualification. Further, the method of Formgeschichte has led us to recognize that much of the material of the Gospels was handed down orally (and perhaps even in writing) in the form of detached units of narrative and discourse. These units of tradition were built up by the evangelists (or their predecessors) into apparently continuous narratives and discourses, but the original discontinuity is often patent to careful observation, The separate units of tradition had a history of their own in the pre-canonical stage, and developed variations which may be reflected in the variations of the canonical record. Consequently, while the use of written source* (extant or conjectural), sometimes copied, sometimes ‘ edited’ with greater or leas freedom, is one explanation of the curious phenomena of agreement and difference which constitute the data of the Synoptic Problem, it is not necessarily an exhaustive explanation.
From this point of view the Apocalyptic Discourse appears as a sequence of warnings, precepts, and predictions, some of which are doublets of passages occurring in other parts of the gospels, while others readily separate themselves into typical units of tradition. Mk. xiii. 14-20, with which we are immediately concerned, is an oracle concerning the appearance of the ‘Abomination of Desolation’, with its immediate sequel, and is so far complete in itself. It is, however, itself composite.
Verses 15-16 are a doublet of Lk. xvii. 51, and may be supposed to have had a pre-canonical history outside their present context. Verses 19-20 may be regarded as comment or reflection upon the events in view in 14-18. It may well be that these diverse elements had already been welded together in the pre-canonical stage. But the connection of the whole episode with what precedes and what follows is not so organic that we are driven to conclude that this connection is original. Indeed, any attempt to define the chronological relations of this episode, before and after, reveals how disjointed the whole arrangement is.
The corresponding section of the Lucan discourse, xxi. 20-4, separates itself out equally clearly as a relatively complete oracle. But while its place in the general scheme of the discourse compels us to regard it as parallel to Mk. 14-18 (20), it is very different in character from the Marcan pericope, and whereas in the preceding verses of Lk. (xxi. 8-19) there are, in spite of divergences, continuous echoes of Marcan language, verses 20-4 have not the slightest verbal resemblance to Mark which repeat Mark verbatim, and (ii) 20, where the general structure of the sentence, with the clause” (More New Testament Studies)
“The primitive Christians were accustomed to speak, in a language which was older than Christianity, of being “in the Spirit” — as though Spirit were an ethereal atmosphere surrounding the soul, and breathed in as the body breathes in the air. Paul, too, used this expression, but he placed alongside it a parallel form of words, “in Christ” or “in Christ Jesus”. Where we find these words used we are being reminded of the intimate union with Christ which makes the Christian life an eternal life lived in the midst of time. The deeper shade of meaning would often be conveyed to our minds if we translated the phrase “in communion with Christ”. But, Paul’s Christ mysticism is saved from the introverted individualism of many forms of mysticism by his insistence that communion with Christ is also communion with all who are Christ’s.” (The Meaning of Paul for Today)
LETTER TO J.A.T. ROBINSON
My dear Robinson, It is a long time now since I received from you a letter, very kindly written, which gave me much pleasure, and also aroused no little interest. In the meantime I have been through a rather rough patch, when I was not much in the way of serious letter-writing. I had to go into hospital for an operation, and came out to lead a semi-invalid existence. That however has not prevented me from thinking much about the challenging views on the Fourth Gospel which you put forward. For all I know, you may already have published these in some form, but I am simply going on your letter. Your volte face takes one’s breath away, though you may well say that you prepared the way by various articles, starting with the ‘New Look’. As you know, I am very much in sympathy with a view which makes it possible to derive from John not only valuable light on the primitive church, but even authentic information about the Jesus of history. But I can’t help thinking that you will find it difficult to persuade people of the very early date which you now wish to assign. It is true that Bultmann was prepared to date it early, but that was on his presupposition that Christianity began as a kind of gnosticism, and was only later Judaized’ and so historicized. For myself, with every motive for assigning an early date, I found this encountered too many difficulties for me to get over. However, I am open to conviction. You are certainly justified in questioning the whole structure of the accepted ‘critical’ chronology of the NT writings, which avoids putting anything earlier than 70, so that none of them are available for anything like first-generation testimony. I should agree with you that much of this late dating is quite arbitrary, even wanton, the offspring not of any argument that can be presented, but rather of the critic’s prejudice that if he appears to assent to the traditional position of the early church he will be thought no better than a stick-in-the-mud. The whole business is due for radical re-examination, which demands argument to show, e.g., that Mark must be post-70 – or must be so because anything earlier than that could not present such a plain, straightforward story: that would be to neglect the findings of the fashionable Redaktionsgeschichte. It is surely significant that when historians of the ancient world treat the gospels, they are quite unaffected by the sophistications of Redaktionsgeschichte, and handle the documents as if they were what they professed to be (Sherwin-White, with all his limitations, is the latest instance). But if one approaches them in that way, does not the case for late dating collapse? I look forward therefore to your damaging assault on the system of late date. But I still feel that the Fourth Gospel has reasons of its own for resisting attempts to place it very early in the time-scale. But you will be airing the whole discussion in published form – or may already have done so; I am so out of touch. I hope I have not darkened counsel by words without knowledge, or wearied you with the product of muddled thinking (for I am conscious that I do get muddled nowadays).
With kind regards, Yours sincerely,
The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments
By C. H. Dodd
C.H. Dodd is recognized as one of the great New Testament scholars of the twentieth century. Dr. Dodd was for many years Professor of New Testament at Cambridge University. This book of three lectures was published by Harper and Row, 1964.
Chapter One: The Primitive Preaching
“It pleased God,” says Paul, “by the foolishness of the Preaching to save them that believe.” The word here translated “preaching,” kerygma, signifies not the action of the preacher, but that which he preaches, his “message,” as we sometimes say.
The New Testament writers draw a clear distinction between preaching and teaching. The distinction is preserved alike in Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypse, and must be considered characteristic of early Christian usage in general. Teaching (didaskein) is in a large majority of cases ethical instruction.2 Occasionally it seems to include what we should call apologetic, that is, the reasoned commendation of Christianity to persons interested but not yet convinced. Sometimes, especially in the Johannine writings, it includes the exposition of theological doctrine. Preaching, on the other hand, is the public proclamation of Christianity to the non-Christian world. The verb keryssein properly means “to proclaim.” A keryx may be a town crier, an auctioneer, a herald, or anyone who lifts up his voice and claims public attention to some definite thing he has to announce. Much of our preaching in Church at the present day would not have been recognized by the early Christians as kerygma. It is teaching, or exhortation (paraklesis), or it is what they called homilia, that is, the more or less informal discussion of various aspects of Christian life and thought, addressed to a congregation already established in the faith.
The verb “to preach” frequently has for its object “the Gospel.” Indeed, the connection of ideas is so close that keryssein by itself can be used as a virtual equivalent for evange1zesthai, “to evangelize,” or “to preach the Gospel.” It would not be too much to say that wherever “preaching” is spoken of, it always carries with it the implication of” good tidings ” proclaimed.
For the early Church, then, to preach the Gospel was by no means the same thing as to deliver moral instruction or exhortation. While the Church was concerned to hand on the teaching of the Lord, it was not by this that it made converts. It was by kerygma, says Paul, not by didache’, that it pleased God to save men.
We have to enquire how far it is possible to discover the actual content of the Gospel preached or proclaimed by the apostles.
First, we may place before us certain recurrent phrases which indicate in brief the subject of the preaching. In the Synoptic Gospels we read of” preaching the Kingdom of God,” whether the reference is to Jesus or to His followers. In the Pauline epistles we commonly read of “preaching Christ.” In the Acts of the Apostles both forms of expression are used. The apostles preach” Jesus” or “Christ,” or they preach “the Kingdom of God.” We may observe that in those parts of Acts where the writer speaks In the first person Paul himself is represented as “preaching the Kingdom of God.” We may therefore take it that a companion of Paul regarded his preaching as being just as much a proclamation of the Kingdom of God as was the preaching of the first disciples or of their Master, even though Paul does not himself speak of it in those terms.
Such expressions obviously need a good deal of expansion before we can form a clear idea of what it was that the apostles actually preached. We must examine our documents more closely.
The earliest Christian writer whose works are extant is the apostle Paul, and from him our investigation should begin. There are, however, difficulties in attempting to discover the apostolic Preaching in the epistles of Paul. In the first place, the epistles are, of course, not of the nature of kerygma. They are all addressed to readers already Christian, and they deal with theological and ethical problems arising out of the attempt to follow the Christian way of life and thought in a non-Christian world. They have the character of what the early Church called “teaching” or “exhortation.” They presuppose the Preaching. They expound and defend the implications of the Gospel rather than proclaim it.
In the second place, if we should find it possible to infer from the epistles what Paul preached, it would be in the first instance what he calls “my Gospel,” and not necessarily the Gospel common to all or most early preachers. For Paul, as we know, claimed a high degree of originality in his presentation of the Gospel, and the claim is clearly justified.
Nevertheless, it is, I believe, by no means a hopeless task to recover from the Pauline epistles some indication at least of the character and content of Paul’s preaching, and not only of his distinctive preaching, but of what he preached in common with other Christian missionaries.
To begin with, Paul himself was conscious of a distinction between the fundamental content of the Gospel and the teaching which he based upon it. In i Cor. i. 23, ii. 2-6, he recalls that at Corinth he had preached “Christ and Him crucified.” He would now like to go on to “speak wisdom among mature persons,” and regrets that the Corinthians do not show themselves ready for it.
Again, in i Cor. iii. 10 sqq., he distinguishes between the “foundation” which he laid, and the superstructure which he and others build upon it. The reference is no doubt to the “building up” of the life of the Church in all its aspects. But a study of the context will show that what was most particularly in his mind was just this distinction between the fundamental Gospel and the higher wisdom (not to be confused with “the wisdom of men “) which can be imparted to those whose apprehension of the Gospel is sufficiently firm. The “foundation” is Christ, or, may we not say, it is the Gospel of “Christ and Him crucified.” Paul himself, Apollos, and others developed this fundamental Gospel in various ways. The epistles represent for the most part this development, or superstructure. But Paul was well aware that what gave authority to his teaching was the Gospel which underlay it all.
In i Cor. xv. i sqq. he cites in explicit terms that which he had preached at Corinth:
and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures;
and that He was seen of Cephas . . .”
“It was thus,” he adds emphatically, “that we preached and thus that you believed.” He then goes on to draw out certain implications of these fundamental beliefs, part of which he describes as a “mystery,” that is, surely, as belonging to that “wisdom” which should follow upon the apprehension of the preaching of “Christ and Him crucified.” We seem, therefore, to have here, down to the very words, which he quotes in order that there may be no misunderstanding, a part at least of what Paul was accustomed to preach as Gospel, clearly distinguished from the theological superstructure of his thought: he proclaimed the facts that Christ died and rose again. As he puts it in writing to the Galatians (iii. i), Christ was “openly set forth before their eyes as crucified.”
These facts, however, are exhibited in a special light. They happened “according to the Scriptures “—a statement whose significance will become clearer presently. Further, Christ died “for our sins.” In other words, according to Gal. i. 4, “He gave Himself for us, to rescue us from the present evil age.” As this statement occurs in the exordium of the epistle, where Paul may be supposed, according to his practice, to be recalling ideas familiar to his readers, we may take it that it was in some such terms that he spoke of the significance of the death of Christ when he preached in Galatia. The language implies the Jewish doctrine of the two ages, “This Age,” and “the Age to Come.” “The entrances of this Age have been made narrow and painful and toilsome, few and evil and full of dangers, and packed with great labours. For the entrances of the greater Age are spacious and secure and bearing the fruit of immortality” (2 Esd. vii. 12-13). Paul’s meaning is that by virtue of the death (and resurrection) of Christ the boundary between the two ages is crossed, and those who believe belong no more to the present evil age, but to the glorious Age to Come.
Again in Rom. x. 8-9, the content of “the word of faith which we preach” is given in the terms : “that Jesus is Lord and that God has raised Him from the dead.” Thus the proclamation of the resurrection is also a proclamation of the Lordship of Christ. It is in this sense that it is “the Gospel of the glory of Christ “(2 Cor. iv. 4). Indeed, the attainment of universal lordship was, according to Rom. xiv. 9, the very purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection: “It was for this that Christ died and came to life, that He might exercise lordship over dead and living alike.”
It is noteworthy that the passage just cited leads almost immediately to a reference to the Judgment to come:
“We shall all stand before the tribunal of God” (Rom. xiv. 10)—which is also, according to 2 Cor. v. 10, “the tribunal of Christ.” We might fairly have inferred that there was in Paul’s mind a fixed association of ideas— resurrection, lordship, judgment—even if he had not explicitly stated that in his preaching of the Gospel he proclaimed a “Day when God judges the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” (Rom. ii. 16).
The kind of language he used in preaching judgment to come may be illustrated from i Cor. iv 5: “Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things that darkness hides, and expose the motives of hearts; then each person will receive his meed of praise from God”; and from 2 Cor. v. 10:
“We must all stand before the tribunal of Christ, that each may receive what pertains to him through his body, according to what he has done, whether good or evil.” It is to be observed that in these passages the fact of judgment to come is appealed to as a dalum of faith. It is not something for which Paul argues, but something from which he argues; something therefore which we may legitimately assume to have been a part of his fundamental preaching. Judgment is for Paul a function of the universal lordship of Christ, which He attained through death and resurrection, and His second advent as Judge is a part of the kerygma—as Judge, but also as Saviour, for in i Thess. i. 9-10 Paul sums up the effect of his preaching at Salonica in the terms: “You turned from idols to God, to serve the living and real God, and to await His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead—Jesus, who saves us from the coming Retribution.”
The Pauline kerygma, therefore, is a proclamation of the facts of the death and resurrection of Christ in an eschatological setting which gives significance to the facts. They mark the transition from “this evil Age ” to the “Age to Come.” The “Age to Come” is the age of fulfilment. Hence the importance of the statement that Christ died and rose “according to the Scriptures.” Whatever events the Old Testament prophets may indicate as impending, these events are for them significant as elements in the coming of ” the Day of the Lord.” Thus the fulfilment of prophecy means that the Day of the Lord has dawned: the Age to Come has begun. The death and resurrection of Christ are the crucial fulfilment of prophecy. By virtue of them believers are already delivered out of this present evil age. The new age is here, of which Christ, again by virtue of His death and resurrection, is Lord. He will come to exercise His Lordship both as Judge and as Saviour at the consummation of the Age.
We have now to ask how far this form of kerygma is distinctively Pauline, and how far it provides valid evidence for the apostolic Preaching in general.
Paul himself at least believed that in essentials his Gospel was that of the primitive apostles; for although in Gal. i. ii-i8 he states with emphasis that he did not derive it from any human source, nevertheless in the same epistle (ii. z) he says that he submitted “the Gospel which I preach” to Peter, James and John at Jerusalem, and that they gave their approval. Not only so, but in the locus classicus, i Cor. xv. i sqq., he expressly declares that this summary of the Gospel is what he had “received” as tradition; and after referring to other witnesses to the facts, including Peter, James, and “all the apostles,” he adds with emphasis, “Whether I or they, it was thus that we preached, and thus that you believed.”
Further, it should be remembered that in the Epistle to the Romans Paul is addressing a church which looked to other founders, and a church which he was anxious to conciliate. We may therefore take it that wherever in that epistle he appeals to the data of the Christian faith, he is referring to that which was common to him and to those preachers of the Gospel to whom the Church at Rome looked as founders and leaders. Those elements therefore of the kerygma, which we have already recognized in Romans, are to be regarded not only as parts of what Paul calls” my Gospel,” but as parts of the common Gospel.
Again, the opening verses of the epistle (i. 1-4) have the aspect of a formula which Paul could assume as recognized by his readers. They speak of ” the Gospel of God which He announced beforehand through His prophets in holy Scriptures.” This Gospel concerned “His Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh; who was appointed Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness from the time of the resurrection of the dead—Jesus Christ our Lord.” The language is unlike that of Paul in other places, but it sets forth substantially the same idea of the resurrection—that it marks the attainment of Christ’s lordship, as Son of God with full powers. What is additional is the affirmation of the Davidic descent of Jesus—a guarantee of His Messianic status in which Paul does not seem to have been particularly interested, but which he cites here as part of a recognized formula. I should find it hard to believe that this Christological formula was coined by Paul himself. He accepts it as stating the common Gospel which he and others preached.
Again in Rom. viii. 31-34 the process of thought demands that the readers should accept as axiomatic the propositions that God “did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all”; and that
“it is Christ Jesus, He who died, and more, who was raised,
who is at the right hand of God,
who also intercedes for us.”
We have once again the sense that a formula is being cited, a formula closely akin to that cited in i Cor. xv. i sqq. It is to be noted that the idea of Lordship is here expressed in the phrase “at the right hand of God,” which recurs in Col. iii. i, Eph. i. zo. As we shall see, this formula is deeply rooted in the kerygma, and is ultimately derived from Ps. cx. I
Sit thou at my right hand,
Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
This text is cited in Mk. XII. 36 (and the Synoptic parallels), and also (as a whole or in part) in Acts ii. 34-35, i Cor. xv. 25, Heb. i. 13, etc. Wherever we read of Christ being at the right hand of God, or of hostile powers being subjected to Him, the ultimate reference is to this passage. In view of the place which Ps. cx. 1 holds in the New Testament, we may safely put it down as one of the fundamental texts of the primitive kerygma. Indeed, I can see no adequate reason for rejecting the statement of Mark that it was first cited by Jesus Himself in His public teaching in the Temple. It follows that the use of the title “Lord” for Jesus is primitive. Since Bousset’s work Kyrios Christos, it has been very widely held that this title was derived from Hellenistic usage, and first applied to Jesus in the Gentile Church. Seldom, I think, has a theory been so widely accepted on more flimsy grounds.’2
We see emerging the outlines of an apostolic Gospel which Paul believed to be common to himself and other Christian missionaries. As the epistles from which we have quoted belong to the fifties of the first century, they are evidence of prime value for the content of the early kerygma. And this evidence is in effect valid for a much earlier date than that at which the epistles themselves were written. When did Paul “receive” the tradition of the death and resurrection of Christ? His conversion can, on his own showing, be dated not later than about A.D. 33—34.3. His first visit to Jerusalem was three years after this (possibly just over two years on our exclusive reckoning); at the utmost, therefore, not more than seven years after the Crucifixion. At that time he stayed with Peter for a fortnight, and we may presume they did not spend all the time talking about the weather. After that he had no direct contact with the primitive Church for fourteen years, that is to say, almost down to the period to which our epistles belong, and it is difficult to see how he could during this time have had any opportunity of further instruction in the apostolic traditions.
The date, therefore, at which Paul received the fundamentals of the Gospel cannot well be later than some seven years after the death of Jesus Christ. It may be earlier, and, indeed, we must assume some knowledge of the tenets of Christianity in Paul even before his conversion. Thus Paul’s preaching represents a special stream of Christian tradition which was derived from the main stream at a point very near to its source. No doubt his own idiosyncrasy counted for much in his presentation of the Gospel, but anyone who should maintain that the primitive Christian Gospel was fundamentally different from that which we have found in Paul must bear the burden of proof.
It is true that the kerygma as we have recovered it from the Pauline epistles is fragmentary. No complete statement of it is, in the nature of the case, available. But we may restore it in outline somewhat after this fashion
He was born of the seed of David.
He died according to the Scriptures, to deliver us out of the present evil age.
He was buried.
He rose on the third day according to the Scriptures.
He is exalted at the right hand of God, as Son of God and Lord of quick and dead.
He will come again as Judge and Saviour of men.
The apostolic Preaching as adopted by Paul may have contained, almost certainly did contain, more than this. Comparison with other forms of the kerygma may enable us to expand the outline with probability; but so much of its content can be demonstrated from the epistles, and the evidence they afford is of primary value.
We now turn to another source of evidence, later than the Pauline epistles, and not so direct, but yet of great importance—the account of the apostolic preaching in the Acts of the Apostles.
The date of this work cannot be fixed closely, but it is perhaps more likely to belong to the nineties than to the eighties or seventies of the first century. The author apparently used to some extent the liberty which all ancient historians claimed (after the example of Thucydides), of composing speeches which are put into the mouths of the personages of the story. It is therefore possible at the outset that the speeches attributed to Peter and others, as well as to Paul, may be free compositions of the author.
But there are indications that the author of Acts used his historian’s privilege with considerable restraint. Certainly in the first volume of his work, which we call the Gospel according to Luke, he can be proved to have kept closely to his sources in composing the discourses attributed to Jesus Christ. And in Acts itself, consider the case of Paul’s two apologies, before the people (xxii. 1-21), and before Festus and Agrippa (xxvi. 2-23). They give different accounts of his conversion, both differing from the account of the event given by the historian himself in ch. ix. Why should a writer who elsewhere shows himself to be not indifferent to economy of space and the avoidance of repetition have been at the pains of composing, independently, three different accounts of the same event? In the Third Gospel the occasional occurrence of “doublets” is reasonably accounted for by the hypothesis of various sources. Is it not most natural to conclude that in the case before us the author based the two speeches upon sources different from that which he followed in ch. ix? And if so, is any source more likely than some direct or indirect report of the line which Paul himself followed upon these or similar occasions?
Again, the speech of Paul to the elders of the Ephesian Church in xx. 18-35 contains so many echoes of the language of Pauline epistles that we must suppose, either that the writer had access to these epistles (which is on other grounds improbable), or that he worked upon actual reminiscence of Paul’s speech upon this or some similar occasion. And when we observe that this speech occurs in close proximity to “we “-passages, it is reasonable to suppose that the travelling companion who was responsible for these passages, whether or not he was also the author of the whole work, remembered in general lines what Paul said. We conclude that in some cases at least the author of Acts gives us speeches which are not, indeed, anything like verbatim reports (for the style is too” Lucan” and too un-Pauline for that), but are based upon a reminiscence of what the apostle actually said.
It is therefore not unreasonable to suppose that in the speeches given in the earlier parts of Acts, the author may have similarly made use of sources. This becomes the more probable in view of the following facts.
(a) Negatively, there are few, if any, ideas or expressions introduced which might arouse suspicion because of their resemblance to writings emanating, like the Acts, from the Gentile Church in the late first century; nor are there any echoes, even in turns of speech, of the distinctively Pauline theology, though the author, whoever he may have been, must have been associated with the Pauline wing of the Church.4. To suppose that this is due to deliberate archaism is to attribute to the author of Acts a modern view of historical writing.
(b) Positively, the speeches in question, as well as parts of the narrative in which they are embedded, have been shown to contain a large element of Semitism. Nor is this Hebraism of the kind which results from an imitation of the translation-Greek of the Septuagint, and which can be traced in other parts of the Lucan work. It can be shown to be Aramaism, of a kind similar to that which we recognize in the report of the sayings of Jesus in the Gospels. There is therefore a high degree of probability that the author was laying under contribution an Aramaic source or sources, whether written or oral, and whether the work of translation had already been done, or whether he translated it for himself.5.
In short, there is good reason to suppose that the speeches attributed to Peter in the Acts are based upon material which proceeded from the Aramaic-speaking Church at Jerusalem, and was substantially earlier than the period at which the book was written.
We may begin with the speeches in Acts ii-iv. There are four in all. The first two (ii. 14-36, 38-39) are supposed to have been delivered by Peter to the multitude assembled on the Day of Pentecost, the third (iii. 12-26) to the people after the healing of a lame man, and the fourth (iv. 8-15) to the Sanhedrin after the arrest of the apostles. The second account of the arrest in v. 17-40 is probably a doublet from another source, and it does not betray the same traces of Aramaism. The speech said to have been delivered on this occasion (v. 29-32) does no more than recapitulate briefly the substance of the previous speeches. The speech of Peter to Cornelius in ch. x. 3 4-43 is akin to the earlier speeches, but has some special features, and in it the evidence for an Aramaic original is at its strongest.
We may with some confidence take these speeches to represent, not indeed what Peter said upon this or that occasion, but the kerygma of the Church at Jerusalem at an early period.
The first four speeches of Peter cover substantially the same ground. The phraseology and the order of presentation vary slightly, but there is no essential advance from one to another. They supplement one another, and taken together they afford a comprehensive view of the content of the early kerygma. This may be summarized as follows:
First, the age of fulfilment has dawned. “This is that which was spoken by the prophet” (Acts ii. i6). ” The things which God foreshewed by the mouth of all the prophets, He thus fulfilled” (iii. i8). “All the prophets from Samuel and his successors told of these days” (iii. 24). It was a standing principle of Rabbinic exegesis of the Old Testament that what the prophets predicted had reference to the “days of the Messiah,” that is to say, to the expected time when God, after long centuries of waiting, should visit His people with judgment and blessing, bringing to a climax His dealings with them in history. The apostles, then, declare that the Messianic age has dawned.
Secondly, this has taken place through the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus, of which a brief account is given, with proof from the Scriptures that all took place through “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God”: (a) His Davidic descent. “David, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn to set one of the fruit of his loins upon his throne, foresaw (Christ),” who is therefore proclaimed, by implication, to have been born “of the seed of David” (ii. 30-3 x, citing Ps. cxxxii. ii).
(b) His ministry. “Jesus of Nazareth, a man divinely accredited to you by works of power, prodigies, and signs which God did through Him among you” (Acts ii. 22). “Moses said, The Lord your God will raise up a prophet like me; him you must hear in everything that he may say to you” (Acts iii. 22, apparently regarded as fulfilled in the preaching and teaching of Jesus). (c) His death. “He was delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, and you, by the agency of men without the law, killed Him by crucifixion ” (ii. 23). “You caused Him to be arrested, and denied Him before Pilate, when he had decided to acquit I-Jim. You denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, while you killed the Prince of Life” (iii. 13-14). (d) His resurrection. “God raised Him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. For David says with reference to Him, ‘Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades, nor give Thy Holy One to see corruption’” (ii. 24-3 i). “God raised Him from the dead, whereof we are witnesses” (iii. 15). “Jesus of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead” (iv. 10).
Thirdly, by virtue of the resurrection, Jesus has been exalted at the right hand of God, as Messianic head of the new Israel. “Being exalted at the right hand of God” (according to Ps. cx. i). . . . “God has made Him Lord and Christ” (ii. 33-36). “The God of our fathers has glorified His Servant Jesus” (iii. 53). “He is the Stone which was rejected by you builders, and has become the top of the corner” (iv. ii, citing Ps. cxviii. 25). Cf. “God exalted Him at His right hand, as Prince and Saviour” (v. 31).
Fourthly, the Holy Spirit in the Church is the sign of Christ’s present power and glory. “Being exalted at the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, He poured out this which you see and hear” (Acts ii. 33). This is documented from Joel ii. 28-3 z (Acts ii. 17-21). Cf. “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit which God has given to those who obey Him” (v. 32).
Fifthly, the Messianic Age will shortly reach its consummation in the return of Christ. “That He may send the Messiah appointed beforehand for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the times of the restoration of all things, of which God spoke through the mouth of His prophets from of old” (iii. 21). This is the only passage in Acts i-iv which speaks of the second advent of Christ. In Acts x this part of the kerygma is presented in these terms: “This is He who is appointed by God as Judge of living and dead” (x. 42). There is no other explicit reference to Christ as Judge in these speeches.
Finally, the kerygma always closes with an appeal for repentance, the offer of forgiveness and of the Holy Spirit, and the promise of” salvation,” that is, of” the life of the Age to Come,” to those who enter the elect community. “Repent and be baptized, each of you, upon the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all those far off, whom the Lord your God may call” (Acts ii. 3 8-39, referring to Joel ii. 32, Is. lvii. 19). “Repent therefore and be converted for the blotting out of your sins. . . . You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in thy seed shall all families of the earth be blessed.’ For you in the first place God raised up His Servant Jesus and sent Him to bless you by turning each of you away from your sins ” (Acts iii. i~, 25-26, citing Gen. xii. 3). “In no other is there salvation, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which you must be saved” (Acts iv. 12). Cf. ” God exalted Him at His right hand as Prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins” (Acts V. 31); “To Him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in Him shall receive remission of sins through His name” (Acts x. 43).
We may take it that this is what the author of Acts meant by “preaching the Kingdom of God.” It is very significant that it follows the lines of the summary of the preaching of Jesus as given in Mark i. 14-15 : “Jesus came into Galilee preaching the Gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has drawn near: repent and believe the Gospel.’” This summary provides the framework within which the Jerusalem kerygma is set.
The first clause, “The time is fulfilled,” is expanded in the reference to prophecy and its fulfilment. The second clause, “The Kingdom of God has drawn near,” is expanded in the account of the ministry and death of Jesus, His resurrection and exaltation, all conceived as an eschatological process. The third clause, “Repent and believe the Gospel,” reappears in the appeal for repentance and the offer of forgiveness with which the apostolic kerygma closes. Whether we say that the apostolic preaching was modelled on that of Jesus, or that the evangelist formulated his summary of the preaching of Jesus on the model of that of the primitive Church, at any rate the two are identical in purport. The Kingdom of God is conceived as coming in the events of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and to proclaim these facts, in their proper setting, is to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
It is clear, then, that we have here, as in the preaching which we found to lie behind the Pauline epistles, a proclamation of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, in an eschatological setting from which those facts derive their saving significance. We may proceed to compare the two versions of the kerygma, in Paul and in the Acts respectively.
There are three points in the Pauline kerygma which do not directly appear in the Jerusalem kerygma of Acts:
(i) Jesus is not there called ” Son of God.” His titles are taken rather from the prophecies of Deutero-Isaiah. He is the holy and righteous “Servant” of God. It is noteworthy that the first person who is said in Acts to have “preached Jesus, that He is the Son of God,” is Paul himself (ix. 20). It may be that this represents an actual difference of terminology. Yet the idea that Jesus, as Messiah, is Son of God is deeply embedded in the Synoptic Gospels, whose sources were in all probability not subject to Pauline influence; and the Christological formula in Rom. i. 1-4 is, as we have seen, probably not Pauline in origin. The phrase “Son of God with power” there carries much the same ideas as the phrase “Lord and Christ” in the Jerusalem kerygma, for its significance is Messianic rather than properly theological.
(ii) The Jerusalem kerygma does not assert that Christ died for our sins. The result of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ is the forgiveness of sins, but this forgiveness is not specifically connected with His death. Since, however, Paul includes this statement in that which he “received,” we may hesitate to ascribe to him the origin of the idea. Since the Jerusalem kerygma applies to Christ the Isaianic title of ” Servant,” the way was at least open to interpret His death on the lines of Isaiah liii. Acts viii. 32-35 may suggest the possibility that this step was taken explicitly by the school of Stephen and Philip, with which Paul appears to have been in touch.
(iii) The Jerusalem kerygma does not assert that the exalted Christ intercedes for us. It may be that in Rom. viii. 34 Paul has inserted this on his own account into the apostolic formula. But, on the other hand, the idea occurs also in Hebrews vii. 25 and seems to be implied in Matt. x. 32, so that it may not be of Pauline origin. It is perhaps, in effect, another way of saying that forgiveness is offered “in His name.”
For the rest, all the points of the Pauline preaching reappear: the Davidic descent of Jesus, guaranteeing His qualification for Messiahship; His death according to the Scriptures; His resurrection according to the Scriptures; His consequent exaltation to the right hand of God as Lord and Christ; His deliverance of men from sin into new life; and His return to consummate the new Age. This coincidence between the apostolic Preaching as attested by the speeches in Acts, and as attested by Paul, enables us to carry back its essential elements to a date far earlier than a critical analysis of Acts by itself could justify; for, as we have seen, Paul must have received the tradition very soon after the death of Jesus.
With this in view, we may usefully draw attention to other points in the Jerusalem kerygma which reappear in the epistles of Paul, though he does not explicitly include them in his “Gospel.”
The kerygma in Acts lays emphasis upon the Holy Spirit in the Church as the sign that the new age of fulfilment has begun. The idea of the Spirit in the Church is very prominent in the Pauline epistles. We are now justified in concluding that this was no innovation of his, but represents a part of the tradition he had received. It is to be observed that in Gal. iii. a Paul appeals to the evidence of the Spirit in the Church as a datum from which he may argue regarding the nature and conditions of salvation in Christ, and on this basis he develops his doctrine of the Spirit as the “earnest,” or first instalment, of the consummated life of the Age to Come (a Cor. i. 22, V. y; Eph. i. 13–14). This is true to the implications of the kerygma as we have it in Acts.
Again, the “calling” and “election” of the Church as the” Israel of God “can now be seen to be no peculiarity of Pauline teaching. It is implied in such passages of the kerygma as Acts iii. 25-26, ii. 39.
There is, indeed, very little in the Jerusalem kerjgma which does not appear, substantially, in Paul. But there is one important element which at first sight at least is absent from his preaching, so far as we can recover it from the epistles, namely, the explicit reference to the ministry of Jesus, His miracles (Acts ii. 22) and teaching (Acts iii. 22). Such references are only slight in the first four speeches of Peter, to which we have so far given most attention. But the case is different in the speech attributed to Peter in Acts x. 34-43. The principal elements of the kerygma can be traced in this speech—the fulfilment of prophecy, the death and resurrection of Christ, His second advent, and the offer of forgiveness. But all is given with extreme brevity, except the section dealing with the historical facts concerning Jesus. These are here treated in fairly full outline.
The Greek of x. 35-38 is notoriously rough and ungrammatical, and indeed scarcely translatable, though the general meaning is clear. This is strange in so excellent a Greek writer as the author of Acts. In some MSS. it has been improved. But Dr. Torrey has shown that if the text in its more difficult form (which on general principles of textual criticism is likely to be more original) be translated word for word into Aramaic, it becomes both grammatical and perspicuous. The case, therefore, for regarding the passage as a translation is strong. I shall here follow Dr. Torrey, and give the passage after his restored Aramaic, being convinced that by doing so we shall come nearer to the original form.
“As for the word which He, the Lord of all, sent to the children of Israel, preaching the Gospel of peace through Jesus the Messiah, you know the thing (literally, ‘the word’) that happened through all Judaea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached; that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with Holy Spirit and power; and He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all that He did in the country of the Jews and Jerusalem. Him they killed by hanging Him upon a tree. God raised Him up on the third day, and permitted Him to be manifest, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen beforehand by God, namely to us, who ate and drank with Him after I arose from the dead.”
It is to be observed that the first clause, “the word which He sent to the children of Israel, preaching the Gospel of peace through Jesus Christ,” which forms a sort of heading to the whole, is a virtual equivalent of the term “kerygma” or ” Gospel.” The passage is therefore offered explicitly as a form of apostolic Preaching. It is represented as being delivered by Peter to a Gentile audience. It is quite intelligible in the situation presupposed that some account of the ministry of Jesus should have been called for when the Gospel was taken to people who could not be acquainted, as the Jews of Judaea were, with the main facts. We may perhaps take it that the speech before Cornelius represents the form of kerygma used by the primitive Church in its earliest approaches to a wider public.
In the preaching attested by Paul, although it was similarly addressed to the wider public, there does not seem to be any such comprehensive summary of the facts of the ministry of Jesus, as distinct from the facts of His death and resurrection. It would, however, be rash to argue from silence that Paul completely ignored the life of Jesus in his preaching; for, as we have seen, that preaching is represented only fragmentarily, and as it were accidentally, in the epistles. That he was aware of the historical life of Jesus, and cited His sayings as authoritative, need not be shown over again. It may be, for all we know, that the brief recital of historical facts in x Cor. xv. i sqq. is only the conclusion of a general summary which may have included some reference to the ministry. But this remains uncertain.
According to Acts, Paul did preach in terms closely similar to those of the Petrine kerygma of Acts x. The speech said to have been delivered by Paul at Pisidian Antioch (Acts xiii. 16-41) is too long to be quoted here in full, but the gist of it is as follows:
God brought Israel out of Egypt, and gave them David for their king. Of the seed of David Jesus has come as Saviour. He was heralded by John the Baptist. His disciples followed Him from Galilee to Jerusalem. There He was brought to trial by the rulers of the Jews before Pilate, who reluctantly condemned Him. He died according to the Scriptures, and was buried. God raised Him from the dead, according to the Scriptures, and He was seen by witnesses. Through Him forgiveness and justification are offered. Therefore take heed.
This is obviously of the same stuff as the kerygma in the early chapters of Acts. It may be compared on the one hand with the speeches in Acts ii-iv, and on the other hand with the speech in Acts x. It is a mixture of the two types. In particular, its historical data are fuller than those of Acts ii-iv, but less full than those of Acts x, containing no allusions to the baptism of Jesus or His miracles in Galilee. There is nothing specifically Pauline in it, except the term ” justification.” On the other hand, the general scheme, and the emphasis, correspond with what we have found in the epistles, and there is little or nothing in it which could not be documented out of the epistles, except the historical details in the introductory passage (xiii. 16-22) and the specific allusions to episodes in the Gospel story, and in particular to the ministry of John the Baptist (the fullest account in the New Testament outside the Gospels) and the trial before Pilate.
That these two episodes did not fall wholly outside the range of Paul’s interest might perhaps be argued on the following grounds.
(i) Paul refers in his epistles to Apollos as one whom he would regard as a fellow-worker, though others set him up as a rival. Now, according to Acts, Apollos had been a follower of John the Baptist. Paul therefore must have had occasion to relate the work of the Baptist to the Christian faith.
(ii) In i Tim. vi. 13 we have an allusion to Christ’s “confession before Pontius Pilate.” Although we should probably not accept i Timothy as an authentic Pauline letter, yet it no doubt represents the standpoint of the Pauline circle, and the allusion to Pilate may have been derived from Paul’s preaching.
These observations are far from proving that Paul would have included such references to John the Baptist and to the trial before Pilate in his preaching, but they show that it is not impossible that he may have done so, in spite of the silence of his epistles. In any case, if we recall the close general similarity of the keyigma as derived from the Pauline epistles to the keygma as derived from Acts, as well as Paul’s emphatic assertion of the identity of his Gospel with the general Christian tradition, we shall not find it altogether incredible that the speech at Pisidian Antioch may represent in a general way one form of Paul’s preaching, that form, perhaps, which he adopted in synagogues when he had the opportunity of speaking there. If that is so, then we must say that he, like other early Christian preachers, gave a place in his preaching to some kind of recital of the facts of the life and ministry of Jesus.
If he did not do so, then we must say that in this respect he departed from the common model of apostolic preaching. For it seems clear that within the general scheme or the kerygma was included some reference, however brief, to the historical facts of the life of Jesus. These facts fall within the eschatological setting of the whole, no less than the facts of His death and resurrection. They are themselves eschatological events, in the sense that they form part of the process by which God’s purpose reaches fulfilment and His Kingdom comes.
A comparison, then, of the Pauline epistles with the speeches in Acts leads to a fairly clear and certain outline sketch of the preaching of the apostles. That it is primitive in the strictest sense does not necessarily follow. In one respect it appears that even within a very few years the perspective of the kerygma must have altered, namely, in respect of the relation conceived to exist between the death, resurrection, and exaltation of Christ on the one hand, and His second advent on the other.
It is remarkable that the expectation of a very early advent persisted so long in the Church. Even in so late a writing as the First Epistle of John (ii. i 8) the belief is expressed that this is ” the last hour.” The appendix to the Fourth Gospel is evidence that so long as one survivor of the generation of the apostles remained, the Church clung to the belief that during his lifetime the Lord would come (John xxi. 20-23). The expectation of a speedy advent must have had extraordinarily deep roots in Christian belief.
When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in A.D. so he clearly expected it very soon indeed, and the qualifications he introduces in 2 Thessalonians seem to have been of the nature of an afterthought of which he had said nothing in his preaching. It is clearly the result of reflection upon the fact that the advent had been unexpectedly delayed. His first preaching had left the Thessalonians completely surprised and bewildered when certain of their fellows died and yet the Lord had not come. If Paul preached in these terms at least twenty years after the beginning of the Church, we may suppose that the announcement of a very speedy advent was even more emphatic at an earlier date.
In the Jerusalem kerygma there is an equal sense of immediacy. It seems to be implied in Acts iii. 19-20 that the repentance of Israel in response to the appeal of the apostles will immediately be followed by “times of refreshing,” by the return of Christ, and by the ” restoration of all things.” And here again we may recall, that early as the source may be, the passage in question was not written down until much water had flowed under the bridge.
What was the attitude of the apostles at the beginning? We must remember that the early Church handed down as a saying of the Lord, “The Kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt. xii. 28, Luke xi. 20). This means that the great divine event, the eschaton, has already entered history. In agreement with this, the preaching both o~ Paul and of the Jerusalem Church affirms that the decisive thing has already happened. The prophecies are fulfilled; God has shown His “mighty works”; the Messiah has come; He has been exalted to the right hand of God; He has given the Spirit which according to the prophets should come “in the last days.” Thus all that remains is the completion of that which is already in being. It is not to introduce a new order of things that the Lord will come; it is only to finish His work. The Church believed that the Lord had said, “You will see the Son of Man seated on the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark xiv. 6z). One part of the vision was fulfilled: by the eye of faith they already saw Him on the right hand of God. Why should the conclusion of the vision delay?
The more we try to penetrate in imagination to the state of mind of the first Christians in the earliest days, the more are we driven to think of resurrection, exaltation, and second advent as being, in their belief, inseparable parts of a single divine event. It was not an early advent that they proclaimed, but an immediate advent. They proclaimed it not so much as a future event for which men should prepare by repentance, but rather as the impending corroboration of a present fact: the new age is already here, and because it is here men should repent. The proof that it was here was found in the actual presence of the Spirit, that is, of the supernatural in the experience of men. It was in a supernatural world that the apostles felt themselves to be living; a world therefore in which it was natural that any day the Lord might be seen upon the clouds of heaven. That was what their Lord had meant, they thought, by saying, “The Kingdom of God has come upon you,” while He also bade them pray, “Thy Kingdom come.”
It is to be observed that the apostolic Preaching as recorded in Acts does not (contrary to a commonly held opinion) lay the greatest stress upon the expectation of a second advent of the Lord. It is only in Acts iii. 20-21 that this expectation is explicitly and fully set forth, and only in Acts x. 42 that Christ is described as Judge of quick and dead. The speeches of Acts ii, iv, and v, as well as the professedly Pauline speech of Acts xiii, contain no explicit reference to it. That it is implied in the whole kerygma is true, but the emphasis does not lie there. The main burden of the kerygma is that the unprecedented has happened: God has visited and redeemed His people.
This conviction persists as fundamental to Christian belief through all changes in the whole of the New Testament. Paul speaks of the ” new creation” which has taken place when a man is ” in Christ” (a Cor. v. i6). He says that God has already “rescued us Out of the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. i. 13). The Epistle to the Hebrews says that Christians have “tasted the powers of the Age to Come” (vi. 6). i Peter says that Christians have been “born again” (i. 3, 23). So does the Fourth Gospel (iii. 3). It needs only a slight acquaintance with the traditional Jewish eschatology to recognize that these writers are all using language which implies that the eschaton, the final and decisive act of God, has already entered human experience.
This is surely primitive. In the earliest days it was possible to hold this conviction in the indivisible unity of an experience which included also the expectation of an immediate overt confirmation of its truth. The great act of God had already passed through the stages of the sending of the Messiah, His miraculous works and authoritative teaching, His death (according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God), His resurrection, and His exaltation to the right hand of God. It now trembled upon the verge of its conclusion in His second advent.
As time went on, the indivisible unity of experience which lay behind the preaching of the apostles was broken. The Lord did not come on the clouds. For all their conviction of living in an age of miracle, the apostles found themselves living in a world which went on its course, outside the limits of the Christian community, much as it had always done. The tremendous crisis in which they had felt themselves to be living passed, without reaching its expected issue. The second advent of the Lord, which had seemed to be impending as the completion of that which they had already “seen and heard,” came to appear as a second crisis yet in the future. So soon as only a few years had passed, say three or four, this division in the originally indivisible experience must have insensibly taken place in their minds, for they were intercalary years, so to speak, not provided for in their first calendar of the divine purpose. The consequent demand for readjustment was a principal cause of the development of early Christian thought.
1. I Cor. i.21
2 Hence the title Teaching of ihe Twelve Apostles. The tractate so called gives instruction in Christian morals and ecclesiastical practice. It is didaché, not kerygma. It would therefore be illegitimate to conclude that the Church represented by this book was not interested in other aspects of Christianity. If it had issued a “Preaching of the Twelve Apostles,” it tnight have had a very different character.
2. For an answer to Bousset’s theory see Burkitt, Christian Beginnings, pp. 44-52; Rawlinson, The New Testament Doctrine of the Christ, pp. 235-267. This is not to deny the importance of Hellenistic influence in helping to fix the connotation of the term as used in worship and in theology by Greeks peaking Christians.
3. See my article on the “Chronology of the Acts and the Pauline Epistles” in the Oxford Helps to the Study of the Bible, 1931, pp. 195-197.
4. The argument here is in danger of moving in a circle; for I shall presently show that there are parallels between these speeches and the epistles of Paul, and that these are not due to borrowing from Paul. But I think it is legitimate to point out, in reply to the view that the speeches in the early part of Acts are late compositions, that there is nothing in them which suggests that which is distinctive of Paul. This is not true of other parts of Acts. E.g., the phrase “the Spirit of Jesus” in Acts xvi. 7 is unique in the N.T., but is only a slight modification of the expression, “the Spirit of Jesus Christ,” which is not only peculiar to Paul, but is the product of his distinctive doctrine of the Spirit. Similarly in Acts xiii. 39, we have the characteristic Pauline term “justification,” and in Acts xx. 28, the chief ministers of the local church are called” bishops,” a term which is otherwise applied to them only by Paul or his imitators (Phil. i. i, I Tim. iii. 2, Tit. i. 7). No Pauline influence of this kind can be alleged against the earlier speeches.
5. See Torrey, Composition and Date of Acts. Dc Zwaan, in The Beginnings of Christianity, edited by Jackson and Lake, Part I. vol. ii. has subjected Torrey’s theory to searching examination, and concludes that the evidence for Aramaism is strong for Acts i. s—v. ,6, ix. 3i—xi. i8, quite doubtful for V. 17—IL 30, Xl. 19—XiV. 28, and somewhat less doubtful for xv. 1-36. But the speeches which concern us here, with the exception of v. 29-32, fall within those sections in which the evidence for Aramaism is strong, and for myself I cannot resist the conclusion that the material here presented existed in some form in Aramaic before it was incorporated in our Greek Acts. According to Torrey, there are some examples of mistranslation which would be natural in one whose knowledge of Aramaic had been acquired at Antioch, and who was not well acquainted with the southern Aramaic of Palestine.
A Letter From Paul the Missionary to the Society of Christians in Rome
The Book of Romans Paraphrased and Abridged By C.H. Dodd
THE FOLLOWING ABRIDGED PARAPHRASE OF THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS AIMS AT PRESENTING IN A PLAIN WAY THE CONTINUOUS SEQUENCE OF THE ARGUMENT, WHILE SUGGESTING THE FREE EPISTOLARY FORM OF THE ORIGINAL
My DEAR FELLOW-CHRISTIANS OF ROME,
Wherever I go I hear of your faith, and I thank God for it. It is a part of my daily prayers that I may be permitted to visit you. I believe such a visit would do you good, and I am sure it would do me good. In fact, I have tried again and again to get to Rome, but hitherto something has always turned up to prevent me. I shall not feel that my work as missionary to the Gentiles is complete until I have preached in Rome. My mission is a universal one, knowing no bounds of race or culture–naturally, since my message is a universal one. It is a message of God’s righteousness, revealed to men on a basis of faith. (Rom. 1:1-17)
Apart from this, there is nothing to be seen in the world of today but the Nemesis of sin. Take the pagan world: all men have a knowledge of God by natural religion; but the pagan world has deliberately turned its back upon this knowledge, and, for all its boasted philosophy, has degraded religion into idolatry. The natural consequence is a moral perversity horrible to contemplate. (Rom. 1:18-32)
But you, my Jewish friend, need not dwell with complacency upon the sins of the pagan world. You are guilty yourself. Do not mistake God’s patience with His people for indulgence. His judgments are impartial. Knowledge or ignorance of the Law of Moses makes no difference here. The pagans have God’s law written in their conscience. If they obey it, well; if not, they stand condemned. And as for you–you call yourself a Jew and pride yourself on the Law. But have you kept all its precepts? You are circumcised and so forth: that goes for nothing; God looks at the inner life of motive and affection. An honest pagan is better than a bad Jew in His sight. I do not mean to say there is no advantage in being a Jew: of this more presently ; but read your Bible and take to yourself the hard words of the prophets–spoken, remember, not to heathens, but to people who knew the Law, just as you do. No, Jew and pagan, we are in the same case. No one can stand right before God on the basis of what he has actually done. Law only serves to bring consciousness of guilt. (Rom. 2:1-3:20)
But now, Law apart, we have a revelation of God’s righteousness, as I was saying (Rom. 1:17). It comes by faith, the faith of Jesus Christ; and it comes to every one, Jew or Gentile, who has faith. We have all sinned, and all of us can be made to stand right with God. That is a free gift to us, due to His graciousness. We are emancipated in Christ Jesus, who is God’s appointed means of dealing with sin–a means operating by the devotion of His life, and by faith on our part. It is thus that God, having passed over sins committed in the old days when He held His hand, demonstrates His righteousness in the world of to-day; i.e., it is thus that He both shows Himself righteous, and makes those stand right before Him who have faith in Jesus Christ. No room for boasting here! No distinction of Jew and Gentile here! (Rom. 3:21-31)
But what about Abraham? you will say. Did not he win God’s graciousness by what he did? Not at all. Read your Bible, and you will find that the promise was given to him before he was circumcised; and the Bible expressly says that “he had faith in God, and that counted for righteousness.” The same principle applies to us all. (Rom. 4:1-25)
To return to the point, then, we stand right with God on the ground of faith, and we are at peace with Him, come what may. God’s love floods our whole being–a love shown in the fact that Christ died for us, not because we were good people for whom anyone might die, but actually while we were sinners. He died, not for His friends, but for His enemies. Very well then, if while we were enemies Christ died for us, surely He will save us now that we are friends! If He reconciled us to God by dying for us, surely He will save us by living for us, and in us. There is something to boast about! (Rom. 5:1-11)
Christ died and lives for us all, I say. But, you ask, how can the life and death of one individual have consequences for so many? You believe that we all suffer for Adam’s sin; and if so, why should we not all profit by Christ’s righteousness? Of course there is really no comparison between the power of evil to propagate itself, and the power of good to win the victory, for that is a matter of God’s graciousness. However, you see my point : one man sinned–a whole race suffers for it; one Man lived righteously–a whole race wins life by it. But what about Law? you say. Law only came in by the way, to intensify the consciousness of guilt. (Rom. 5:12-21)
Now I come to a difficulty. I have heard people say, “If human sin gives play to God’s graciousness, let us go on sinning to give Him a better chance. Why not do evil that good may come?” (Rom. 3:8) What nonsense! To be saved through Christ is to be a dead man so far as sin is concerned. Think of the symbolism of Baptism. You go down into the water: that is like being buried with Christ. You come up out of the water: that is like rising with Christ from the tomb. It means, therefore, a new life, a life which comes by union with the living Christ. You will admit that, once a man is dead, there is no more claim against him for any wrong he may have committed. He is like a slave set free from all claims on the part of his late master. Think, then, of yourselves as dead. When you remember the death of Christ, think that you–i.e., your old bad selves–were crucified with Him. And when you remember His resurrection, think of yourselves as living with Him, a new life. And above all, bear in mind that Christ, once risen, does not die again: and so you, living the new life in Him, need not die again. I mean, the sin that once dominated you need not any longer control you; do not let it! You are freed slaves; do not sell yourselves into slavery again. Or, if you like to put it so, you are now slaves, not of Sin, but of Righteousness (a very crude way of putting it, but I want to help you out). Just as once you were the property of Sin, and all your faculties were instruments of wrong, so now you are the property of Righteousness, and every faculty you have must be an instrument of right. Freed from sin, you are slaves of God; that is what I mean. The wages your old master paid was death. Your new Master makes you a present of life. (Rom. 6:1-23)
Or take another illustration. You know that by law a woman is bound to her husband while he lives; when he is dead she is free; she can marry again if she likes and the law has no claim against her. So you may think of yourselves as having been married to Sin, or to Law. Death has now released you from that marriage bond, though here the illustration halts, for it is Christ’s death that has freed you! Well, anyhow, you are free–free, shall I say, to marry Christ. You had a numerous progeny of evil deeds by your first marriage; you must now produce an offspring of good deeds to Christ. I mean, of course, you must serve God in Christ’s spirit. (Rom. 7:1-6)
Now I admit that all this sounds as though I identified law with sin. That is not my meaning. But surely it is clear that the function of law is to bring consciousness of sin; e.g., I should never have known what covetousness was but that the law said, “Thou shalt not covet.” Such is the perversity of human nature under the dominion of sin that the very prohibition provokes me to covet. There was a time when I knew nothing of Law, and lived my own life. Then Law came, sin awakened in me, and life became death for me. Of course, Law is good, but Sin took advantage of it, to my cost. I am only flesh and blood, and flesh and blood is prone to sin. I can see what is good, and desire it, but I cannot practice it; i.e., my reason recognizes the law, and yet I break it through moral perversity. If you like to put it so, there is one law for my reason, the Law of God, and another for my outward conduct, the law of sin and death. It is like a living man chained to a dead body. It is perfect misery. But, thank God, the chain is broken! The law of the Spirit of Life which is in Christ has set me free from the law of sin and death. Christ entered into this human nature of flesh and blood which is under the dominion of Sin. Sin put in its claim to be His master; but Christ won His case; Sin was non-suited, its claim disallowed, and human nature was free. The result is that all the Law stood for of righteousness, holiness, and goodness is fulfilled in those who live by Christ’s Spirit. There are two possible forms of human life: there is the life of the lower nature of flesh and blood, of which I have spoken; and there is the life of the spirit. We have Christ’s Spirit, and so we can live the life of the spirit. And in the end that Spirit will give new life to the whole human organism. (Rom. 7:7-8:11)
You see, then, that the flesh-and-blood nature has no claim upon us. We belong to the Spirit. Those who are actuated by that Spirit are sons of God. I used a while back the expression, “slaves of God “; but really we are not slaves but sons—sons and heirs of God, like Christ; and when we come into our inheritance, how glorious it will be! (Rom. 8:12-18)
This, however, is still in the future. At the present time the whole universe is in misery, and in its misery it waits for the revelation of God’s sons.Now all existence seems futile in its transience; and even we still share creation’s pangs. But we have hope; and the ground of that hope is the possession of God’s Spirit–in a first installment only, but enough to reckon upon. The fact is that every prayer we utter–yes, even an inarticulate prayer–is the utterance of the Spirit within us. We know that all through God is working with us. His purpose is behind the whole process, and He is on our side. If He gave His Son, we can trust Him to give us everything else. He loves us, and nothing in the world or out of it can separate us from His love. (Rom. 8:18-39)
That concludes the present stage of my argument; but before I can proceed to final deductions, I must return to a difficulty already raised (Rom. 3:1-4). If there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, does all the great past of Israel go for nothing? Do all the promises of Scripture go for nothing? First, let me say how bitterly I regret the exclusion of the Jewish nation as a body from the new life. I would surrender all my Christian privileges if I could find a way to bring them in. But we must recognize facts; and the first fact is that the nation as a whole never was able to claim the promises; from the beginning, there was a process of selection. Of the sons of Abraham, Isaac alone was called; of the sons of Isaac, Jacob only. If we ask why, there is no answer save that God is bound by no natural or historical necessity, but intervenes according to His will. To question that will is as absurd as for the pot to arraign the potter. Then again, while some members of the Hebrew race have always fallen out, always God has declared His purpose ultimately to include others, not members of the Hebrew race–and that is just what is now happening. Now, as I said, I desire nothing more earnestly than that the whole nation should be saved. But the fact is that they have deliberately rejected the chance that was offered them. There is nothing remote or abstruse about the Christian message. It is a very simple thing: acknowledge Jesus as Lord, and believe that He is alive; that is all. And they cannot say that they have never heard the message, for Christ has His witnesses everywhere. It looks, then, as if God had rejected His people, as punishment for their obstinacy. I do not believe it. God’s promises cannot go for nothing. In the first place, there has always been, and there still is, a faithful remnant of the Jewish people. And in the second place, as for the main body, their present rejection of the message is only a means in God’s Providence for its extension to the Gentiles. The old olive-tree of Israel stands yet; many of its branches have been lopped off, and new branches of wild olive have been engrafted in their place. But God can engraft the lopped branches on again, if it be His will; and I believe it is His will, and that in the end the whole nation will return to Him and inherit the promises. And if the failure of Israel has meant such blessing to the world, how much greater blessing will its ultimate salvation bring! God’s purpose, as I said at the beginning (Rom. 1:16), is universal: He has permitted the whole of humanity, Jew and Gentile alike, to fall under sin, only in order that He may finally have mercy on the whole of humanity, Jew and Gentile alike. How profound and unsearchable are His plans! (Rom. 9:1-11:36)
So now I can take up again my main argument. If this is the way of God’s dealing with us, what ought to be our response? Can we do less than offer our entire selves to God as a sacrifice of thanksgiving? How will that work out? In a life lived as by members of one single body. Let each perform his part faithfully. Let love rule all your relations one to another, and to those outside, even to your enemies. Do not regard the Emperor as outside the scope of love, but obey his laws and pay his taxes. Yes, and pay all debts to every one. Love is, in fact, the one comprehensive debt of man to man. If you love your neighbour as yourself, you have fulfilled the whole moral law. But be in earnest about things, for the better day is already dawning. (Rom. 12:1-13:14)
I hear you have differences among yourselves about Sabbath-keeping and vegetarianism. Take this matter, then, as an example of what I mean by the application of brotherly love to all conduct. Remember that the Sabbatarian and the anti-Sabbatarian, the vegetarian and the meat-eater, are alike servants of one Master. Give each other credit for the best motives. Do not think of yourself alone; think of your Christian brother, and try to put yourself in his place. If he seems to you a weak-minded, over-scrupulous individual, remember that in any case he is your brother, and that Christ died for him as well as for you, and reverence his conscience. If through your example he should do an act which is harmless in you but sin to him, you have injured his conscience. Is it worth while so to imperil a soul for the sake of your liberty in such external matters? If the other man is weak-minded, and you strong-minded, all the more reason why you should help to bear his burden. Remember, Christ did not please Himself. In a word, Sabbatarian and anti-Sabbatarian, Jew and Gentile, treat one another as Christ has treated you, and God be with you. (Rom. 14:1-15:13)
Well, friends, I hardly think you needed this long exhortation from me. You are intelligent Christians, and well able to give one another good advice. Still, I thought I might venture to remind you of a few points ; for after all, I do feel a measure of responsibility for you, as missionary to the Gentiles. I have now accomplished my mission as far West as the Adriatic. Now I am going to Jerusalem to hand over the relief fund we have raised in Greece. After that I hope to start work in the West, and I propose to set out for Spain and take Rome on my way. Pray for me, that my errand to Jerusalem may be successful, so that I may be free to visit you. (Rom. 15:14-33)
I wish to introduce to you our friend Phoebe. She renders admirable service to our congregation at Clenches. Do all you can for her; she deserves it.
Kind regards to Priscilla and Aquila, Epaenetus, Mary, and all friends in Rome.
(P.S.–Beware of folk who make mischief. Be wise; be gentle; and all good be with you.)
Timothy, Lucius, Jason, Sosipater, and all friends at Corinth send kind regards. (So do I–Tertius, amanuensis!)
Glory be to God!
With all good wishes,
PAUL, Missionary of Jesus Christ.
“You are certainly justified in questioning the whole structure of the accepted ‘critical’ chronology of the NT writings, which avoids putting anything earlier than 70, so that none of them are available for anything like first-generation testimony. I should agree with you that much of this late dating is quite arbitrary, even wanton, the offspring not of any argument that can be presented, but rather of the critic’s prejudice that if he appears to assent to the traditional position of the early church he will be thought no better than a stick-in-the-mud. ” Letter to John A.T. Robinson
“C.H. Dodd (1884-1973), who is the real fountainhead of the Full Preterist movement in the 20th century (even before Max R. King), was a modernist influenced by Adolf Harnack. Many of his disciples became far more radical than he in their views, but he was far out enough. His teaching on the difference between “the preaching” and “the doctrine” served as the basis for the teaching of ultra-liberal and change agent Carl W. Ketcherside, and Dodd’s teaching on the kingdom was involved in the development of the Emerging Church Movement as it combined with the Social Gospel of Walter Rauschenbusch and Sailer Mathews. It is interesting that Steve Baisden and Holger Neubauer have aligned themselves with probably one of the most liberal movements to attack the church of Christ in the past two centuries. Max R. King followed the teaching of Dodd to its ultimate conclusion — the doctrine of Universalism. That same doctrine is entailed in the teaching of many in the Emerging Church Movement, with which Don Preston has become entangled. The ecumenicism of Ketcherside and his partner, Leroy Garrett, has destroyed many congregations and taken many souls off into abject error on a wide assortment of false doctrines. I suspect that Preston, at his current evolutionary state, would have no problem with much of what Ketcherside and Garrett have advocated. The question is: How long until Steve Baisden and Holger Neubauer join him in that evolution — or, better, devolution — into error?” (The Real Fountainhead)
“The message of the cross of Jesus disturbs the world, for the gospel discovers the secrets of the human heart and pushes all latent human evil to the surface; Jesus reveals “the bottomless pit of evil in the human heart”.148
A.T. Hanson, deriving his main idea from the work of Dodd on Paul, understands the plagues in terms of the outworking within history of the consequences of human sin. Similar themes arc found in the commentary of which Hanson is a co-author.151 According to Hanson, the events of 6:1-17 are precipitated by the cross and martyrdoms. He writes that the power and judgement of Christ are Tested in the disastrous consequences working out in history of his rejection by the Jews and the persecution of his followers by the authorities of the Roman Empire. ‘The wrath here is not purely eschatological: it is a process stretching from the Cross to the Parousia.1″
Despite Dodd’s own views on Revelation,1″ he has also, through his views on realized esehatology.’*4 affected the influential work of G.D. Caird.1″ Caird believes that in Revelation, as elsewhere in the Bible, eschatological language is used to describe historical events. This is because some events, such as the coming of Jesus, “can be adequately viewed only through the lenses of myth and eschatology.”156 Thus, Revelation is not about the end of the world but. as the text expressly says, (Those things which must soon take place 1:1). According lo Caird, (he author uses eschatological language to express his conviction that, by attacking the church. Rome was bringing about its own downfall. The use of such language gave theological depth and urgency lo the present crisis.
Such theological-historical readings of Revelation have some features in common with the spiritual and sometimes associated ahistorical approach to the text which is derived from one stream of patristic exegesis.” (God, Order, and Chaos: Rene Girard and the Apocalypse, p. 29)
“I suppose that, in testing ihe limits of truth, someone is always willing to push it beyond its proper bounds. That is how I respond 10 Dodd’s “realized eschatology.” The grain of truth in Dodd’s thesis is that, as I have partially shown above, all prophecy does begin and end in Christ, and, more specifically, in His incarnation. He said, “1 am the beginning and the end” (Rev. 1:8). The truth that I would bring into confrontation with Dodd is that the incarnation of Christ and the eschatological truths associated therewith did not end with his ascension into glory, nor with the apostolic age. The incarnation of Christ is continued in the earthly experience of the Church, which is His body. “As He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4; 17). This truth is so fundamental and conclusive that its corollary is that the Church is destined to recapitulate the earthly life of Christ! Was He bom of the Spirit? So are we (individually and collectively)! Did He speak to the world with a prophetic voice? So must we! Was he rejected and did He suffer persecution for His witness? So must we! Was he crucified for his testimony by an ignorant and unbelieving world? So are we! Was He resurrected from the power of the grave and caught up to Heaven? So shall it be with us! As His faithful followers, we are, in this life, called upon to do the works of Christ.” (Thy Kingdom Come, p. 21)
John A.T. Robinson
“Since completing this manuscript I have found a letter from Dodd, whose contents I had entirely forgotten. It was written evidently in response to a first intimation of my rethinking the date of the gospel of John, in which I must have adumbrated the implications as I began to see them for the chronology of the whole New Testament. Since I have presumed to put some questions to Dodd’s own views — he did not live to see these — I thought it would be fair, as well perhaps as interesting to others, to reproduce a letter which reveals what, at the age of eighty-eight, openness of mind in a very great scholar can mean. Could any author ask for more? I Wellington Road, St Giles, Oxford 19 June, 1972″
Wikipedia: Realized eschatology is a Christian eschatological theory popularized by C. H. Dodd (1884–1973) that holds that the eschatological passages in the New Testament do not refer to the future, but instead refer to the ministry of Jesus and his lasting legacy. Eschatology is therefore, not the end of the world but its rebirth instituted by Jesus and continued by his disciples, a historical (rather than transhistorical) phenomenon. Those holding this view generally dismiss “end times” theories, believing them to be irrelevant. They hold that what Jesus said and did, and told his disciples to do likewise, are of greater significance than any messianic expectations.
This view is attractive to many people, especially liberal Christians, since it reverses the notion of Jesus’ second coming as an apocalyptic event, something which they interpret as being hardly in keeping with the overall theme of Jesus’ teachings in the canonical gospels, and are troubled by its firm association with the Christian right. Instead, eschatology should be about being engaged in the process of becoming, rather than waiting for external and unknown forces to bring about destruction.
|“||Apocalyptic eschatology is world-negation stressing imminent divine intervention: we wait for God to act; sapiential eschatology is world-negation emphasizing immediate divine imitation: God waits for us to act.||”|
|—John Dominic Crossan, The Essential Jesus: Original Sayings and Earliest Images (1998), p. 8|