Gentiles

Given the emphasis on the Israel-focus of Jesus' mission and the subsequent expansion of the Jesus movement into Gentile mission (Acts), we cannot fail to ask whether Jesus' aim in mission would have included Gentiles. For those anxious to demonstrate continuity between the mission of Jesus and that of the first Christians, the indications are not encouraging. We have already noted that Matthew has preserved mission instructions which forbad the missionaries going beyond Israel — 'Do not go on the way of/towards the Gentiles, and do not enter a Samaritan town . . .' (Matt. 10.5) — instructions which were probably given by Jesus himself. Does that imply that Jesus may have seen no place for Gentiles

233. Jeremias argues that this practice was already customary in Judaism, partly for added protection and partly in echo of the legal requirement for two witnesses to establish a case (Deut. 17.6; 19.15) ('Paarweise Sendung im Neuen Testament', Abba: Studien zur neutestamentlichen Theologie und Zeitgeschichte [Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1966] 132-39).

234. Pace Crossan, Historical Jesus 335; Birth 337; L. Schottroff, who finds hints in Q of itinerant prophetesses who followed Jesus ('Itinerant Prophetesses: A Feminist Analysis of the Sayings Source Q', in Piper, ed., The Gospel behind the Gospels 347-60).

235. See again above, §12.4h and n. 266; also § 13.3c, h. Matthew has taken care to in the kingdom of God? Not necessarily. For in the eschatological hopes of earlier prophets and seers, there was scarcely any thought of a mission to the Gentiles; Isa. 66.19 is a unique exception.236 At the same time, however, we saw that a strong strand of Jewish expectation envisaged Gentiles coming in pilgrimage to Zion to pay tribute or to worship God there ('eschatological proselytes').237 That Jesus may have shared this hope is suggested by a number of episodes and passages.238

For one thing, when Jesus did encounter Gentiles, he is remembered both as responding to their requests and as impressed by their faith.239 Matthew incorporates into his version the Q saying which envisages many coming from east and west and reclining with the patriarchs in the kingdom (Matt. 13.29).240 Jesus' warnings of eschatological reversal (§12.4c), that confidence based solely on descent from Abraham (not forgetting Matt. 3.9/Luke 3.8) was misplaced, carried with them the implication that Gentiles (including even Nineveh, Tyre, and might well be the beneficiaries of Israel's fail-

ure.242 And Mark includes the full quotation from Isa. 56.7 in his account of the purging of the Temple — 'my house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations' (Mark 11.17) — one of the classic texts in Jewish expectation of a Gentile eschatological pilgrimage.243 Nor should we forget that in telling the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus must deliberately have intended to shock his hearers counterbalance 10.5-6, 23 and 15.24 by adding references to the 'Gentiles' at other points in his tradition (10.18; 12.18 21 [Isa. 42.1-4]; 21.43; 24.9, 14; 25.32; andof course 28.19) to indicate that the restrictions imposed by Jesus were limited to the contexts where they occur.

236. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism 214.

238. Jeremias, Jesus 'Promise to the Nations ch. 3; Lohfink, Jesus and Community 1720; Rowland, Christian Origins 150-51.

239. Matt. 8.5-13/Luke 7.1-10; Mark 7.24-30/Matt. 15.21-28. According to Mark 7.27 Jesus, by implication, refers to Gentiles as 'dogs', presumably a traditional term of abuse Phil. 3.2). It is noteworthy that the Greek uses the word kynarion, 'little dog' (house dog or lap-dog) , rather than kyon, a dog of the street (BDAG kynarion); whether such a distinction was possible in Aramaic is disputed (discussion in Davies and Allison, Matthew 2.554). And if Jesus referred to Gentiles as 'sinners' (Luke 6.34; cf. Matt. 5.47) he would simply be reflecting characteristic usage of the time (details, e.g., in my Partings 103). See also Keck, Who Is Jesus? 57-58.

240. See above, particularly chapter 12 nn. 173 and 442.

241. Matt. 11.22/Luke 10.14; Matt. 12.41/Luke 11.32.

242. McKnight suggests that reference to 'fish of every kind' in Matt. 13.47 'lends credence to the view that Jesus anticipated a universal kingdom' {New Vision 105; parable cited above, chapter 12 n. 218).

243. Matthew and Luke omit the key phrase 'for all nations' (Matt. 21.13/Luke 19.46), but the clear allusion to Isa. 56.7 remains and with it the evocation of the larger hope of escha-tological pilgrimage.

by presenting a Samaritan as hero, when Samaritans were usually regarded as half-breeds and apostates (Luke At the very least, the parable sug gests that Jesus' concern to break down boundaries within Israel (§13.5) may have extended beyond the bounds of Israel,245 though we should beware of romanticizing Jesus' conscious intentions at this point.246 Caution is even more necessary with the parable of the sheep and the goats, since it may be a further example of Matthew's own broader vision (see n. 235), but the possibility can hardly be excluded that Jesus did share an expectation of final judgment in which ethnic and religious identity was not a key factor but the universal responsibility to love the neighbour was.247

The picture which emerges is one in which Jesus did not envisage a mission to the Gentiles,248 but took for granted the likelihood that Gentiles would be included in God's kingdom. He did not seek out Gentiles but responded positively to faith and commended unreservedly neighbour love wherever and by whomsoever it was expressed.

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