A The Call to Return

If it is indeed the case that behind the Greek metanoeo is the Hebrew sub {§ 13.2a), then it should not escape notice that the call to 'repent' was a call to 'return' . This was a frequent appeal in the prophets,80 including but by no means only the return necessary if the scattered of Israel were to be restored to the land.81 Particularly poignant was the repeated call of Jeremiah 3: 'return, apostate Israel', 'return, apostate sons' (3.12, 14 , 22).82 In all cases the appeal was to Israel as a whole, to the covenant people failing as a whole to keep covenant with their God, though we should also note Ps. 22.27: 'All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship before you/him'. Similarly, the call to 'trust' (§ 13.2b) has covenantal overtones: to rely on Yahweh, on his commitment to his people.83 The covenantal implications are evident in all the biblical passages cited above (n. 62) and Deut. 32.20, though, as with Ps. 22.27, we should again note the reminder to Israel that other nations could also trust in Israel's God (Jonah 3.5). We may conclude confidently, then, that any call of Jesus to 'repent and believe' would have been heard by his hearers as a reiteration of the prophetic call to the people of Israel to return to their God and to trust him afresh.

78. The same issue has been highlighted by Hengel, Charismatic Leader 59-63, and Sanders, Jesus 222-27.

80. Isa. 44.22; 55.7; Ezek. 18.30; Hos. 3.5; 6.1; 14.2; Joel 2.12-13; Zech. 1.3; Mai. 3.7. But note again the enigmatic Isa. 6.10: '...lest... they turn and be healed' (see above, §13.1).

81. Deut. 30.2-5, 10; Jer. 24.5-7. Wright again focuses the motif too narrowly on return from exile (Jesus 246-58).

82. Jer. 3.12: subd rtfsubd yisra'el (literally 'turn back, turned-away Israel'); 3.14, 22: subu (literally 'turn back, turned-away sons').

83. Cf. Wright, Jesus 258-64; McKnight, New Vision 164-66.

Does this also mean that Jesus hoped for a national return to God along the lines, perhaps, of the national revival of the time of Josiah (2 Chron. 34-35)? Did he share the later belief that if Israel would only repent, then the eschatological transition to the new age would take place and the full range of expectation for the age to come would be fulfilled?84 The answers to these questions are less than clear.

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