Jesus Understanding of TimeAn Example of the Difficulty of Speaking about Time

From what has previously been said, one can see that "time" in the New Testament is a phenomenon shimmering with many nuances—a fact that time and again leads to considerable difficulties in theological discussions. A few remarks on Jesus' understanding of time will illustrate some of the problems.

Regarding the notion of time in Jesus' proclamation, Eta Linnemann111 remarks—in contrast to Joachim Jeremias, Werner Georg Kümmel, and Erich Grässer—that there is no evidence for a near expectation of the parousia in Jesus himself. Rather, she says, in the Gospels, words of Jesus that presuppose the futurity of God's reign and those that proclaim its presence appear to contradict each other. Linnemann wants to resolve this contradiction not by playing down the presence of God's reign, as she believes is done in Hans Conzelmann, Ernst Fuchs, Günther Bornkamm, and Kümmel.112 Rather, influenced by Martin Heidegger and Fuchs, she believes that the aporia of the juxtaposition of the present and future qualities of God's reign are to be resolved in the concept of time itself. For a traditional concept of time, which allows only for continual, ongoing time, present and future reigns of God cannot be conceived of simultaneously. On the other hand, an understanding of time "as time for, being with, as present"113 permits a correspondence between relating and withdrawing, between granting and withholding, between present and future.114 Wherever the traditional concept of time acts in a way that is excluding, the more original understanding of time, as "time for," creates new correlations. Thus, Jesus encountered "the concept [of the basileia tou theou] in a conceptual framework that implied the vulgar, improper concept of time and related it to an understanding of time that conceived of time more originally as time to."115 Linnemann therefore thinks that the concept of God's reign proves to be "the split switch that connects the track of traditional Jewish eschatology to the path of Jesus' specific announcement of time."116

Behind this distinction of time concepts, which Linnemann sees in Jesus' proclamation, one can of course recognize the difference between chronos and kairos. Whether the chronological concept of time should be seen as improper and exclusive while the kairological concept is seen as original and integrative, as Linnemann seems to suggest, remains questionable, however. In spite of this objection, Linnemann's attempt to provide an inte-grative account of Jesus' understanding of time seems to be an interesting alternative to antithetical frameworks, such as those found in Fuchs.

In the debate with Cullmann, Fuchs is concerned (in 1949) with presenting Christ as the end of history and the Law.117 In his opinion, God did not reveal a plan of salvation, but rather a "new" age.118 On the cross, Christ was the end of history, or in other words: Jesus' cross itself was the eschaton, the moment between the ages.119 This "time between the ages" reappears in Fuchs's 1960 essay on Jesus' understanding of time, namely, as the description of Jesus' presence as a "chronologically impossible time":120 "Jesus claims his time as the presence prior to God's coming, in a way that contrasts it to every other time."121 Thus, Jesus distinguishes between the two miracles of the call to freedom and the coming of God, a distinction that is ultimately identical with the knowledge of God. Present and future hereby relate to each other as the miracle of the call relates to the miracle of God's coming.122 What remains decisive for the understanding of time is that Je-

sus' cry on the cross was an eternally valid act of love upon which our entire time/age depends.123 It seems that this statement about Jesus' cry sheds light on Fuchs's claim that "His word was then word-of-time, nothing else."124

The very condensed way in which I have presented some of Linne-mann's and Fuchs's thoughts may create confusion, but in fact, the arguments themselves are at times opaque and appear to take place on several levels at once. The lack of clarity about what is meant by "time" whenever the term is used makes it difficult to grasp the content of the discussion. The various emphases and characteristics of the New Testament writings cause additional problems for a comprehensive account of Jesus' understanding of time.

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