H Eschatological Significance

If we are looking for the most distinctive feature of Jesus' exorcisms and healings, it is most obviously to be found in the eschatological significance which he is recollected as attributing to them. Here we need simply refer to the same two passages already mentioned above and discussed in §12.5c-d, Matt. 11.5/Luke 7.22 and Mark 3.22-29 pars. Most striking is the fact that Jesus seems to have regarded his successful exorcisms as the defeat (or evidence of the defeat) of Satan, as the plundering of his Satan's possessions (§ 12.5d[3]). This must have seemed an extraordinary claim to those who expected the destruction of evil and the defeat of Satan as the climax to God's purpose and the presupposition for a new age of restored paradise (chapter 12 n. 79). But it is a claim of that order which Jesus' disciples recalled him as making.

The significance of the key saying, Matt.l2.27-28/Luke 11.19-20, has already been noted (§12.5d[2]). It was the fact that Jesus achieved his success by the Spirit/finger of God which demonstrated or proved that the kingdom of God had come to them.375 It was this which distinguished Jesus' exorcistic success from the success of his Jewish contemporaries (Matt. he laid claim to a plenitude of power which, by implication, these other exorcists did not experience.377

Thus to recognize that tradition's testimony that Jesus was laying claim to a special anointing by the Spirit 61.1) helps explain the puzzling saying with which Mark climaxes his collection of exorcism sayings (Mark 3.29) and

'the clearest evidence of Jesus' knowledge and use of magic is the eucharist, a magical rite of a familiar sort' (Jesus the Magician 34, 104, 111, 152); Twelftree has an extended review of Smith {Jesus the Exorcist 190-207). Meier (Marginal Jew2.558 n. 16) cites A. F. Segal, 'Hellenistic Magic: Some Questions of Definition', in R. van den Broek and M. J. Vermaseren, eds., Studies in Gnosticism and Hellenistic Religions, G. Quispel FS (Leiden: Brill, 1981) 349-75: 'The early charge of magic against Jesus is not so much clear proof that Jesus was a magician as a clear example of the social manipulation of the charge of magic' (369).

374. Crossan does not hesitate to use both terms for Jesus (Historical Jesus 305,421).

375. On the echo of Moses' triumph over the Egyptian magicians in talk of 'the finger of God', see above, chapter 12 n. 366.

376. Twelftree was unable to any evidence to suggest that the 'Spirit' was appealed to as a source of power-authority for exorcism (Jesus the Exorcist 109 n. 50).

377. See further my Jesus and the Spirit 46-49, 60-62.

which Q presumably preserved elsewhere (Luke 12.10): the saying concerning the danger of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit.378 It is sometimes attributed to early enthusiastic groups of disciples or Christians as an expression of their confidence that they were themselves inspired by the Spirit — and (in their own eyes) inspired to such a manifest degree that opposition to them should be regarded as opposition to the Spirit.379 The point here, however, is that Matt. 12.28/ Luke 11.20 attests that very confidence on the part of Jesus himself.380 It may be more comfortable for critics to attribute such (overweening?) self-assertion to unknown enthusiastic Christians from the next few decades. But it was Jesus who was explicitly recalled as making the former assertion (Matt.

so that his own expression of confidence in his exorcistic ministry as manifestly of God would hardly be surprising or out of character.381 Just the same confidence comes to clear expression in Jesus' condemnation of the Galilean villages and 'this generation':382 his mission was so manifestly of God that their rejection of it was all the more culpable.

The fact that Matt. concludes the reference to the eschatological blessings evident in Jesus' mission with the benediction 'Blessed is the one who takes no offence at me' (Matt. 11,6/Luke 7.23) reinforces this line of thought.383 Did Jesus see himself simply as the channel of eschatological blessing? It sounds more as though he saw his mission as embodying these blessings, himself as the decisive agent in the realisation of eschatological hopes.384 In terms of the debate sparked by Bultmann, it was not simply that the proclaimer became the proclaimed (that is, after Easter). Rather, the proclaimer was integral to the proclamation. Here too we can include the 'something greater than Solomon', 'some-

379. E.g., Tödt, Son of Man 119; but see above, chapter 8 n. 104.

380. The point is not dependent on 'Spirit' being the earlier version (see above, §12.5d[2]).

Davies presses the point to argue that Jesus as a spirit-possessed healer understood himself as 'the embodiment of the spirit of God' (Jesus the Healer, here 21).

382. Matt. 11,21-23/Luke 10.13-15, linked by Matthew to the testimony regarding the Baptist and by Luke to the mission of the seventy; Matt. 12,41 -42/Luke 11.31-32, linked quite closely by both Matthew and Luke to the sequence of exorcism sayings. See also § 12.4e above.

384.1 do not think the point can be pressed so hard in Matt. 12.28/Luke 11.20: it is unclear whether was part of the original Q text (the evidence is very mixed as regards Luke more to the point, however, the text (in its Greek form at least) is constructed so as to set of God' in the place of emphasis, not the T. The point is missed and the christological corollary pressed too hard by Twelftree, Jesus the Exorcist 108-109, and H. K. Nielsen, Heiligung und Verkündigung. Das Verständnis der Heiligung und ihres Verhältnisses zur Verkündigung bei Jesus und in der ältesten Kirche (Leiden: Brill, 1987) 45; see also above, chapter 12 n. 362.

thing greater than Jonah' motif. For now we have observed its presence not only in the sayings tradition (Matt. but also implied in Jesus'

success as an exorcist and in talk of Jonah('s preaching) as a sign and integral to the story of the stilling of the storm. probably from its first telling. What should we take from this for Jesus' own evaluation of the category of 'healer. exorcist' as descriptions of his mission?

In all this we are touching on what Bultmann described as 'the immediacy of [Jesus'] eschatological consciousness' coming to expression in such material. somewhat surprisingly given Bultmann's overall reaction to Liberal attempts to penetrate into Jesus' self-consciousness. Today. when eschatology is being reinterpreted in more social and political terms. Bultmann's description has been largely left behind. But if self-awareness can legitimately be detected behind certain assertions (and ways of acting).386 then Bultmann's observation remains valid. We are unlikely to appreciate Jesus' kingdom teaching and his mission as a whole unless we are willing to recognize that Jesus claimed (was remembered as claiming) a distinctive. and distinctively eschato-logical. empowering for his mission. as evidenced particularly in his healings and exorcisms.

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