D What Kind of Eschatology

What kind of 'end' does the Jesus tradition envisage? The earlier discussion noted that the term ('end') was used more flexibly than discussions of Jesus' eschatology have usually allowed for. Since 'end' could denote the end of an epoch, and 'the end of days' did not necessarily envisage the end of time (§ 12.3b), the idea of Jesus claiming in some sense to have fulfilled expectations for the age to come in his mission is less problematic than might at first appear.448 Similarly, the issues posed by the word 'apocalyptic' are a lot less clear than is often thought to be the case, since it can be used to indicate insight given by revelation and visions of heavenly realities now as well as in the (near) future. The features usually in view in the popular use of the term are hardly prominent in the Jesus tradition: cosmic convulsions are envisaged only in Mark 13.24-25; and 'divine intervention' is more implicit (particularly final judgment) than explicit, though, of course, we have still to discuss the tradition about the coming of the Son of Man. Even so, the issue remains: does the Jesus tradition not attribute to Jesus also a future and final eschatological expectation, including God's kingdom come in a way not experienced hitherto, God's final triumph over evil, final judgment of the nations, a state of affairs imaged as a great feast, and resurrection from the dead to angelic existence?449

A typical response has been to offer refinements of the key term 'eschatol-ogy' itself. Bultmann's transposition of chronological ultimacy into existential was a classic example. But such a proposal goes well beyond any conception of 'end' drawn from language which Jews of Jesus' time would have recognized. Crossan wants to use 'eschatology' as 'the wider and generic term for world-negation', and tries to mark out a middle ground between Q's 'apocalyptic eschatology' and Thomas's 'ascetic eschatology' in Jesus' 'ethical eschatology'. But does the replacement of an apocalyptic eschatology by some form of Utopian ideal 'end' actually resolve the issue of Jesus' future eschatol-

448. Cf. Sanders's wrestling with the same sort of question (Jesus and Judaism 228-37). Becker tries to finesse the issue by stressing the continuity between present reality and the coming perfection' in Jesus' mission, 'a continuous unity'; 'the point of Jesus' proclamation is that from now on God's kingdom will be a reality in this world'; 'the present is the beginning of God's final rule as king' {Jesus 104-107, 119-21). Similarly Merkel concludes that the presence of feasting and joy already during Jesus' mission means that the break integral to the two ages schema is lacking ('Gottesherrschaft' 159). But does this do more than reformulate the problem?

449. Goppelt, e.g., distances Jesus from 'apocalypticism', but has no doubt that Jesus announced the impending end of the world (Theology 1.55-61, 67-72).

450. Historical Jesus 238.

451. See now Birth chs. 15-16 (particularly 279-82); cf. Theissen's and Merz's reflection on the combination of present and future in the Lord's Prayer (Historical Jesus 261-64): 'the "kingly rule of God" is the expression of a powerful ethical energy' (264). See also Borg, Jesus in Contemporary Scholarship 70-73.

ogy? Here again the issue is nicely posed by Wright's treatment. He commits himself to Schweitzer's agenda of setting Jesus within the context of Jewish es-chatology, but it is an eschatology whose apocalyptic features are simply cosmic sound effects. This means that Wright is able to interpret the future elements of Jesus' expectation solely in terms of Jesus' ownjourney to Jerusalem and Jerusalem's destruction in 70 CE. That Jesus could have looked for anything more than that — judgment of the nations, resurrection to angelic existence, the heaven and hell of traditional Christian envisaging — Wright does not say.

The more common way forward has been the synthesis between the thesis of Schweitzer's 'thoroughgoing eschatology' and the antithesis of Dodd's 'realized eschatology' provided by Jeremias's inaugurated eschatology or 'eschatol-ogy that is in process of realization' Imagery such as a train drawing into a station, day beginning to dawn, the final stage of World War II begun with D-day and climaxing in (appreciated by an earlier generation), has all been em ployed to illustrate the tension in Jesus' usage. My own pennyworth to the debate has been to note the parallel between early Christian eschatology and Jesus' own eschatology provided by reference to the Spirit in each. In Paul's perspective certainly, the Spirit experienced by the early believers was to be understood as the 'first instalment' of the kingdom whose full inheritance was yet outstand-ing.455 Jesus' own experience of anointing and ministry empowered by the same of God may in itself have convinced him that God's longed-for (final) manifestation of his royal rule was already in evidence456 and that its full manifestation could therefore not be long delayed.

The point is that such treatments have found it impossible to deny that Jesus had expressed expectation for the imminent happening of events which did «of happen. Jesus' kingdom preaching cannot be disentangled from imminent expectation, with or without 'apocalyptic' features. Which also means that Jesus had entertained hopes which were not fulfilled. There were 'final' elements in his expectation which were not realized. Putting it bluntly, Jesus was proved wrong by the course of events. The discomfort of the conclusion for scholars who were also believers was softened by the thought both that it made more 'real' the hu-of Jesus and that such a conclusion demonstrated their own dispassionate method and scrupulous honesty: this was not the 'historical Jesus' they would have wished to find!

452. Jesus 80-82, 96-97, 207-209. Wright is indebted to Caird, Language ch. 14.

453. Jeremias, Parables 230 ('sich realisierende Eschatologie').

454. J. D. G. Dunn, 'Spirit and Kingdom', ExpT 82 (1970-71) 36-40, reprinted in The Christ and the Spirit vol. 2: Pneumatology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998) 133-41.

455. 2 Cor. 1.22; 5.5; similarly Rom. 8.23; cf. also Rom. 8.14-17; 1 Cor. 6.9-11; 15.4450; Gal. 4.6-7, 29-30; Eph. 1.14. See further my Theology ofPaul 421, 424, 469-70.

Nor is this a conclusion I would wish to resist on my own part. I do not think the conclusion can be easily escaped that Jesus expected the kingdom to come with final outcomes which have not appeared; some may want to say not yet appeared. But there is still more to be said.

Too little attention has been paid to the character of Jewish prophetic hope. The prophetic tradition learned to live with the failure of prophecy without denigrating the prophecies themselves.457 We have already observed how Psalm 89 wrestles with the failure of the promises to maintain the Davidic line. Jeremiah's depiction of Judah's expected devastation as a return to chaos (Jer. 4.23) was not regarded as a false prophecy because the end of the world did not come. Hab. 2.3 provided a cue for post-biblical Judaism's wrestling with the problem of de-lay.459 In emphasizing that many Jews were still in exile, it is easy to pass over the fact that such beliefs could be held only because the earlier hopes for return from exile had not been fulfilled — or should we say not completely fulfilled? The resulting 'dissonance', according to Robert Carroll, 'gave rise to hermeneu-tics', including the transition from prophecy to apocalypse.460 The hermeneutics included what he calls 'adaptive prediction' (citing Jeremiah and Ezekiel) and realized expectation (Ezra inspired by the preaching of Second Isaiah).461

More to the point, however, is the fact that the failed prophecies also gave rise to renewed prophecies.462 For example, Jeremiah fully expected that after seventy years exile both Israel and Judah would be restored to the land and would prosper under a restored Davidic king.463 That hope was only partially fulfilled, and the absence of complete fulfilment caused perplexity for Zechariah (Zech.

457. Schnackenburg, e.g., mentions texts which speak of a 'near expectation' — Isa. 13.6; 51.5; 56.1; Ezek. 7.1-13; 12.21-25; 30.3; Joel 2.1; Zeph. 1.7, 14-18 (God's Rule 201 n. 65). See also Meyer, Aims 245-49. 'The re-interpretation and adaptation of prophetic promises had always been a staple of Jewish religion, indeed a positive theological asset rather than a liability' (M. Bockmuehl, This Jesus: Martyr, Lord, Messiah [Edinburgh: Clark, 1994] 101).

458. Caird, Language 258-59.

459. A. Strobel, Untersuchungen zum eschatologischen Verzogerungsproblem auf Grund der spatjudisch-urchristlichen Geschichte von Habakuk 2,2ff. (NovTSup 2; Leiden: Brill, 1961).

460. R. P. Carroll, When Prophecy Failed: Reactions and Responses to Failure in the Old Testament Prophetic Traditions (London: SCM, 1979) 124-28, 212. Carroll draws on L. Festinger, etal., When ProphecyFails: A Social and Psychological Studyofa Modern Group ThatPredicted the Destruction ofthe World (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1956), and L. Festinger, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Evanston: Row, Peterson, 1957). Texts indicative ofthe problem of delay include Isa. 10.25; Hab. 2.2, 3; Joel 1.15; 2.1 (168-72).

461. Carroll, When Prophecy Failed 172-77, 180-82.

462. In what follows I draw particularly on C. L. Holman, Till Jesus Comes: Origins of Christian Apocalyptic Expectation (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996).

463. E.g., Jer. 25.12-13; 29.10-14; 30.3, 8-11; 31.1, 5-14; 32.36-41; 33.10-22.

1.12). But the hope was taken up again by Daniel, among others, in one of the most famous and lastingly influential prophecies, that of the seventy weeks of years (Dan. 9.24-27). It is generally accepted that the author was writing in the Maccabean period and saw himself as standing in the final week,464 of which half (three-and-a-half 'times' = three-and-a-half years) would be experienced under foreign subjection (7.25; 8.14; 9.27). So 'Daniel' fully expected that 'the end of days' was imminent (12.11-13). That hope again found only partial fulfilment in the establishment of the Hasmonean kingdom. But again it was taken up by Christians attempting to articulate a clear hope for the future.466 The point is this: within Jewish prophetic/apocalyptic tradition there was some sort of recognition that the partial fulfilment of a hope did not nullify or falsify that hope. Instead the earlier hope became the basis and springboard for a fresh articulation of the same hope.

In somewhat similar reflections, Anthony Harvey observes that as a story needs an ending, so individuals looking to the future need some kind of closure or boundary to make time finite and comprehensible for them. When some crisis foreseen with the character of finality or the end comes and passes without the finality expected, it is not necessarily seen as invalidating the earlier warnings, which may simply be redirected to the next crisis.467 When the end of a prophet's story of the future did not prove to be the end, it did not rob the prophetic message of its credibility in the eyes of those who cherished it.468

We could press the point by observing that any hope by its nature gives greater determinacy to what by its nature (the future) is indeterminate. For hope looks beyond the known present and past into the unknown future.469 And in trying to speak of the future, hope (even inspired hope) can do no other than take the patterns and structures of the known and from them attempt to construct (or dis

464. E.g., Collins, Apocalyptic Imagination 87-90, 109; Holman, Till Jesus Comes 5051.

466. Rev. 11.2-3; 12.6, 14; cf. Luke 21.24. The prophecies were influential into the patristic period (e.g., Justin, Dial. 32.3-4; Irenaeus, Adv. haer. 5.25.3; 5.30.4). See also W. Adler, 'The Apocalyptic Survey of History Adapted by Christians: Daniel's Prophecy of 70 Weeks', in J. C. Vanderkam and W. Adler, The Jewish Apocalyptic Heritage in Early Christianity (CRINT 3.4; Assen: Van Gorcum, 1996) 201-38. Indeed Daniel's seventy weeks shaped Christian eschatology well into the eighteenth century.

467. Harvey was writing when the threat of nuclear war was at its height. It is interesting to note how the de-apocalypticisation of the threat of global confrontation marked by the end of the Cold War coincided with a de-apocalypticisation of the message of Jesus.

468. Harvey, Jesus ch. 4. 'Jesus and Time: the Constraint of an Ending', here 71-76, 8990.

469. 'The future moves like a horizon . . . and always remains the same distance away' (Theissen and Merz, Historical Jesus 278).

cern) some sort of projection into the future.470 That is the character of hope.471 It gets things wrong, sometimes 'hopelessly' wrong, for the future is always unknown and can be known only when it has already become the present and the past. Yet we still hope, for hope is the only way we can cope with the future which might be crippling through the fear and dread which it otherwise inspires. More to the point here, prophetic hope was not hope in the future per se, but hope in God for the future, with concomitant concern for how that hope should determine living in the present.472

Now it would be impossible to enter into prophetic psychology at this point. But I cannot help wondering whether at the time of Jesus there was more conscious reflection on this feature of prophetic hope than has been allowed for.473 The question is whether Jesus or his first followers took such considerations into account when they made their own forward-looking eschatological statements. Or rather, whether it is not the character of prophecy to make such firm predictions and the responsibility of the hearer, aware of the tradition, to recognize that its affirmation of old images and aspirations for the same ends should not be valued more highly than any element of prediction. Given my understanding of the fundamental role of hearing and receiving in the tradition process, the two-sidedness of oracles uttered-and-received and valued as prophecy means that no prophetic utterance, however clear and outspoken, should be considered on its own without any qualification which the hearing-receiving-retelling involves. Without anticipating subsequent discussion too much, this mediating but also qualifying role of the tradition was no doubt one of the reasons why the 'delay of the parousia' was evidently of relatively little significance for first-generation Christians.474

470. This is the element of validity in B. J. Malina's otherwise overpressed contrast, 'Christ and Time: Swiss or Mediterranean?', The Social World of Jesus and the Gospels (London: Routledge, 1996) 179-214. Note also Talman's observation cited below (chapter 15 n.24).

471. In contrast, apocalyptic eschatology is born more of despair for the present and can only depict the future in bizarre symbols, since little or nothing in the present gives substance to hope.

472. Cf. Bultmann: 'The essential thing about the eschatological message is the idea of God that operates in it and the idea of human existence that it contains — not the belief that the end of the world is just ahead' (Theology 1.23); Crossan and Reed: 'Like our contemporary "we shall overcome", the certainty of its what and that is not accompanied by an equal certainty of its how and when' {Excavating Jesus 75).

473. As there certainly was on the concomitant problem of false prophecy (see above, §8.2). Caird is confident that 'Luke and Paul did not expect their language about life after death to be taken with flat-footed literalness' (Language 248). 'It did not occur to the first Christians to repudiate the predictions of Jesus on the ground that they were not immediately fulfilled' (Meyer, Aims 248).

474. E.g., already in Mark's version of the apocalyptic discourse we hear the clarificatory qualifying note added: 'but the end is not yet' (13.7).

What emerges from this is the possibility that the understanding of time informing the eschatology of the Jesus tradition should not be conceived as simply linear. A tradition which could use the language of 'end' as flexibly as we have seen in writings of the time of Jesus should not be boxed into a mathematical image of a straight line between two points. Typology was evidently a herme-neutical device much used by teachers of Jesus' time — that is, the recognition of patterns discernible in God's past dealings with his people and thus enabling an informed expectation regarding God's dealings with his people in the future. To locate one's time and audience within the time-frame of an ancient narrative, as Hebrews does with the wilderness wanderings of Israel (Hebrews 4) and as preachers have done before and since, bespeaks an awareness that time need not be regarded simply as the unbroken onward sequence of events. Is it then simply the case that strong affirmations regarding the 'end' attest more the prophet's conviction and assurance in God and in the future as God's, as taught from the past, than any clarity of perception regarding the 'end' itself? The prophet expresses his or her trust in God for the future with an intensity of faith which makes her or him sure it will come tomorrow. The prophet still 'gets it wrong' in temporal terms, but the tradition does not value the prophecy simply for its chronology.

What probably needs to be stressed in all this is that both Jesus' contemporaries and the first Christians could live with the disappointment of failed prophecy without that failure disturbing the core faith which found expression in the prophecy. Every so often, when the strain became too much, or in particular writings, they cried out, 'How long, O Lord?'. But for the most part they simply got on with living. The prophets turned from contemplating the future and in the same breath addressed the pressing issues of the present. Even writers of apocalypses, while writing and having written their apocalypses, no doubt continued to do Torah, to pray, and to live out lives of obedience as they saw it. The covenanters seem to have lived constructively out of a tension of prophecy fulfilled in their community and eschatological climaxes yet awaited.476 If Paul is in any degree typical, the first Christians certainly lived in and from the tension between the already of eschatological hope fulfilled and the not yet of what was still worked for and awaited.477

Was it different for Jesus? It is worth noting that Matthew's tradition of the Lord's Prayer seems to have added the third petition ('May your will be done, as

476. Schwemer notes that 'the juxtaposition of present and eschatological understanding of God's kingship receives fresh illumination through the Sabbath Songs: the eschatological expectation of God's kingship on earth has its basis in the present cultic celebration of the kingship of God in heaven' ('Gott als König in den Sabbatliedern' 117).

477. See, e.g., my Theology ofPaul chapter 18.

in heaven, so on earth', Matt. 6.10b), presumably as an explanatory elaboration of the second petition ('May your kingdom come', 6.10a).478 Does this indicate how the petition for the kingdom to come was understood early on? Either that the kingdom of God would be recognized (as present) when God's will was being done (on earth)479 or that seeking for the kingdom would be unavailing without striving to do God's will? Matthew himself seems to draw that conclusion (Matt. Either way, Matthew's tradition does not treat the prayer for the kingdom's coming as an aspiration which can stand alone. As Luke's subsequent account was to put it: questions about the kingdom's future had their place (and sky-gazing was all very well), but what mattered now was the mission (Acts 1.511). Or as Lee Keck has more recently put it: 'The real question is not whether Jesus was right or wrong about the time of the kingdom but whether he was right about the God whom he imaged as king and father'.481

e. The Kingdom as Metaphor?

Before we paused to take stock, the preceding line of reflection was leading us into the problems of conceptuality, where the basic problem is that of language itself. Language as it were forces us into a linguistic/semiotic box, with words having to serve (inadequately) as both windows of insight and lines of communication. In doing both, they do neither very effectively. The basic issue, then, is how language deals with time, and in particular with the future.

Paul Ricoeur has observed that it is narrative which gives history its temporal flow, with the idea of beginning and end usually inherent in narrative.482 Narrative draws on human experience and in evoking a response from the reader mediates between what has been and what is yet to be.483 But if we cannot

478. As already noted (§8.5b), the most obvious explanation for such a difference in the two versions of the Prayer (Matthew's and Luke's) is liturgical elaboration. The alternative of taking the first two petitions in parallel (Gnilka, Jesus of Nazareth 137: '"name" is virtually synonymous with "kingdom"') is less illuminating. The possibility that the explanatory addition was 'authorized' by Jesus himself should not be excluded (see below, § 16.2b).

479. See also Luz, Matthäus 1.344-45; Davies and Allison, Matthew 1.605-606.

480. Caird, Theology draws a similar conclusion with regard to Jesus: 'For Jesus, entering the Kingdom was synonymous with the life of discipleship — of submitting to the demands of the God who is King' (Theology 369).

483. This is my much too simplified attempt to draw out for my own purposes Ricoeur's 'threefold mimesis', that is, his distinction between mimesis2 and mimesis3, in which I acknowledge my debt also to D. Pellauer's Foreword to M. Joy, ed., Paul Ricoeur and Narrative (Calgary: University of Calgary, 1997) xiv-xvi. In correlation with the reflections of the understand the history of which Jesus was a part as a single (grand) narrative, what then? It is unsatisfactory to conclude that the only alternative option is to envisage a multiplicity of narratives for first-century Jews. For the undoubtedly different readings of God's hand in history which we find in the 'Judaisms' of the time were still perceived as different readings of the same narrative, as given in Israel's scriptures. The different readings were, in effect, variations on the common trust in God to work out his purpose for humankind and creation. What is lacking is a single complete narrative wholly agreed as to its details. What we have in the eschatology of § 12.2c is a common basic outline of trust and hope elaborated and supplemented only by flashes of insight and inspiration. We have a narrative somewhat like a fragmentary Dead Sea scroll: we know that (most of) the fragments belong together (though some may come from an unknown document); but piecing them together is literally beyond us, because so much is missing or has been worn away. The incompleteness of the narrative means that the temporal flow breaks down, and we do not know how to relate episodes and visions to one another. An alternative image is that of a film full of flashbacks, where it is not always clear whether the scene portrayed at any moment is past or present. With the eschatology of the Jesus tradition we have as it were a film full of flash-forwards, but posing the same problem for the viewer. If we're not confused, then something is wrong: we are imposing our order on an intrinsically unordered narrative. The shattered mirror of prophecy gives a Picasso-esque image, and how the often jagged fragments fit into a whole is by no means clear.

Another term which has proved useful in such discussions is 'myth '— myth understood not in the sense of unhistorical', but in the sense of denoting that which is beyond history, that for which scenes drawn on the template of human history can function only pictorially or allusively.484 Biblical scholars have become accustomed to using the term in relation to the 'time' of beginnings, the Urzeit, the opening chapters of Genesis. This is a 'time' which precedes history — historical time, by definition, being time which is in principle capable of being investigated by the normal tools of historical research. Urzeit is 'prehistory time', if we may put it so. What then about 'post-history time', Endzeit? One of the non-linear features of Jewish eschatology is the expectation that Endzeit will be as Urzeit, the 'end' will return to the beginning, heaven will be paradise restored. Which is also to say that post-history time will inevitably share the mythical character of prehistory time. Any attempt to speak about the final future will previous section (§12.6d) one might note the inevitability of some 'slippage' between the three phases of the process.

484. My use of the term 'myth' is thus limited (see also 'Myth', DJG 566-69). I am aware of the debate regarding its much more extensive use; K. W. Bolle and P. Ricoeur, 'Myth', inM. Eliade, ed„ Encyclopedia of Religion (New York: Macmillan, 1987) 10.261-82; R. A. Oden, 'Myth and Mythology', ABD 4.946-56.

have to use pictorial or allusive terms, unable to assert correlation between word and event with the same confidence as in dealing with historical time. To offer another analogy, history is somewhat like an autumn day — I view one from my window as I write these words — a day which begins with mists slowly clearing and ends with mist steadily gathering again. During the day, vision before and behind is clear enough. But in the beginning and ending periods, when it is far from clear when 'day' has really begun and really ended, no clear sense of position far less of direction is possible for one caught in the mists.

As an alternative mode of expression we have already mentioned Perrin's suggestion that the kingdom be seen as a 'tensive symbol' and Wright's rebuttal of Schweitzer for taking apocalyptic language literally. I prefer the term 'metaphor' precisely because, as I understand it, the metaphor is not readily translatable into something else. In the end Perrin wants to be able to unpack the tensive symbol of the kingdom into a variety of referents. And in the end Wright equally wants to translate the apocalyptic language of cosmic convulsion and 'end of the world' into the concrete event of Jerusalem's destruction. But if we follow Ricoeur and Martin Soskice, metaphor is not a synonym or alternative for another linguistic mode of description. Metaphor says what cannot be said otherwise, at least not so effectively or so well, and possibly not at all. The metaphor not only expresses the hope, as though for something else. The metaphor is the hope. One can still ask what the metaphor refers to, but the appropriate correlative question is not, What does this mean? but What does this evoke?4S(> We do not ask 'what it means' in regard to a piece of music like Beethoven's Eroica symphony or a piece of art like Picasso's 'Guernica' or a poem like William Blake's 'Jerusalem'; they appeal to heart more than to head. It is somewhat so with a metaphor. The troping effect 'turns' the metaphor from its logical referent and gives its appeal a non-rational, almost subliminal quality.

It should not occasion any surprise, therefore, when a sequence of metaphors 'describing' a particular subject do not gel with one another, for they are always aspectival and fragmentary by their very nature, mood-evoking more than meaning-communicative. The inherent polyvalency of the parables of the king-

485. Wright is indebted to Caird, Language 266 at this point. But in asserting that the biblical writers 'regularly used language metaphorically to refer to that which they knew well was not the end of the world' (256), Caird is referring primarily to Dodd's realized eschatology (253). Keck warns of similar dangers in the currently more fashionable talk of Jesus' vocation to 'restore' Israel: 'Because "Israel" was a sacral, evocative symbol, he [Jesus] could use "twelve" to suggest the God-given future without describing it or organizing a movement to speed its coming or administer it when it arrived' (Who Is Jesus? 51).

486. Cf. Caird's understanding of 'expressive language': 'Whereas the object of referential language is to clarify and convey an idea, the object of expressive language is to capture and communicate or to respond to an experience' (Language 15-16).

dorn subverts any attempt to draw a single uniform picture of the kingdom from them.487 So scholars should not make too much of the crudities and inconsistencies in the hope expressed in the metaphor of the kingdom of God, as though it could be expressed otherwise and more adequately. But for centuries Jews hoped for the age to come and Christians have hoped for heaven without either having any clear idea of what they are hoping for beyond these terms and the most prominent images which fill out the core metaphor.

Again we ask, was it any different for Jesus and for those who first treasured and performed his words? Perhaps we should simply infer that 'the kingdom of God' for Jesus was an alternative way of speaking of the age to come, of heaven, and of the way heaven impacts on earth. It had reference, but no precision of 'meaning' — hence all the variegated, sometimes inconsistent images.488 But its powerful symbolism evidently motivated Jesus as no other image or metaphor did.

All this discussion to clarify what Jesus may have meant or how he may have been heard when he spoke of 'the kingdom of God', and all to so modest an outcome! — or so it might seem to some. But if I am right in the final reflection above, it is more important to have clarified the evocativeness of the language before pressing it for more content of affirmation or practice. If the piano is to give out (a) coherent tune(s), it has first itself to be tuned. In this case I have said all that I can to fine-tune our hearing hermeneutically and can now begin to play tunes that should be more easily recognizable to devotees of the Quest.

487. Cf. the principal thesis of Liebenberg, Language (e.g., 46-47, 69, 158-59), though he also stresses the stability of 'generic-level structures' and that narrative contexts curtailed the parables' inherent polyvalency (58-59, 70-71, 156-57). 'Even when one reads them in isolation — in order to make sense of their stories — one has to assume a certain "Bedeutungshorizont" [horizon of meaning]' (58-59).

488. Leivestad, noting the great variety of eschatological expectations in early Judaism, adds the comment: 'Apparently Jesus did not feel the need to reduce them to any kind of order' (Jesus 167-68).

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