Sunday, December 10, 2006

Pitre on the New Exodus

I'm beginning to work my way through the articles in the new volume of the Saint Paul's Center academic journal, Letter and Spirit. Right now I'm reading the articles by my good friends Scott Hahn and Brant Pitre. Scott does a masterful work sketching out the biblical theology of Pope Benedict. I will talk about that more in another post.

But since I've been posting on historical Jesus issues I thought I might also call your attention to Brant Pitre's article, which draws out the New Exodus themes in the Lord's Prayer. He writes,

As we will see, each line of the prayer is rooted in the language and imagery of the Scriptures of Israel and in the prophetic hope for a new Exodus. When this Old Testament background is adequately taken into account, the Lord’s Prayer does, in fact, appear to be a prayer for the new Exodus and all that it entails: the coming of the Messiah, the release of God’s scattered people from exile, and the ingathering of the Israel and the Gentiles to the promised land of a new Jerusalem. To borrow a felicitous phrase from Wright himself, the Lord’s Prayer reveals what can be called a “typological eschatology,” in which the events of the first Exodus establish a prototype for how God will save his people in the end-times.
Brant goes on to show the New Exodus imagery behind the various parts of the prayer. For example, "Our Father" is used in Is 63:10-17--a passage rich in New Exodus imagery.

The article does a great job setting the prayer within the context of restoration expectations in Jesus' day.

If you don't know his work, do yourself a favor and visit Brant's site. Although he is a good friend, believe me when I say that his contribution to the historical Jesus discussion is invaluable. He is the author of Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile: Restoration Eschatology and the Origin of the Atonement (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck) / Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006).

I think the book is truly a watershed.

And don't just take my word for it. The following quotes from David Aune, Dale Allison, Scott Hahn and Scot McKnight are from the back cover.

"In this rich, exciting, and grand book, the author shows himself to be both a gifted New Testament scholar and a sensitive and thoughtful theologian. Initially inspired by the works of Albert Schweitzer and the rigorous historical Jesus methodology practiced by John Meier, the author argues that the historical Jesus spoke and acted in light of the widespread expectation of the Great Tribulation, inseparably linked to the enduring Jewish hope for a final and decisive End of the Exile of the twelve tribes of Israel. By meticulously sifting through the relevant Jesus traditions, Pitre argues that Jesus intended to set the Great Tribulation in motion with the conscious expectation of dying so that Israel would receive forgiveness of sins, thereby ending the exile and ushering in the kingdom of God. This book is a bold and reasoned challenge to many of the currently cherished assumptions of modern historical Jesus
scholarship as well as a theological tour de force."--David E. Aune, professor of New Testament and Christian origins, University of Notre Dame

"In this thought-provoking book, Pitre seeks to show not only that the expectation of eschatological tribulation was at home in the teaching of the historical Jesus but further that it is fundamental for understanding important parts of the synoptic tradition. The main line of argument, which is regularly punctuated by fresh exegetical observations and supported by instructive Jewish parallels, is convincing. The implications for the study of Jesus and early Christian theology are manifold."--Dale C. Allison Jr., Errett M. Grable Professor of New Testament Exegesis and Early Christianity, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

"Every once in a while, a scholar emerges who forces us to rethink long-settled opinions and reorient our reading of the New Testament. With this book, Brant Pitre demonstrates subtly but conclusively that the historical Jesus did indeed understand his mission in terms of Jewish messianism--expressed especially in Israel's restoration from exile, a new exodus, and the tribulation of the Messiah. Along the way, Pitre illuminates many of Jesus' most enigmatic statements. This is an original and important work. The author has taken New Testament scholarship to a new level."--Scott W. Hahn, Pope Benedict XVI Chair of Biblical Theology, Saint Vincent Seminary

"Brant Pitre's Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile is not only a good read but also simply an important contribution to scholarship and the down payment of much more to come from this young, insightful, and wise scholar. Of the dissertations I've read, this is perhaps the finest."--Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University
I've been meaning to blog on this book... and when I can do it right, I'll really do it up.

But, for those of you interested in historical Jesus, New Testament studies and restoration eschatology--don't wait for me. You need to read this book. You also need to pick up the this Letter and Spirit Journal for his article on the Lord's Prayer (in fact, the whole thing is great!).

I should add, the book is really not for people just starting off in biblical studies. However, in addition to speaking to academic audiences, Brant also has the unique gift of being able to also communicate at the popular level. You can find a number of his audio sets here.
I've bought almost all of them--there's not a dud among them.

1 comment:

Chris Petersen said...


I recently read and used Pitre's book for my research paper. Without a doubt it is an erudite work and Pitre succeeded in convincing me that eschatological tribulation was a major factor in the historical Jesus.