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Jesus and the climax of Israel’s story: An exploration of the hermeneutic of ‘Story’ with reference to Matthew 24-25, Mark 13 and Luke 21

Johnstone, Christopher (2012) Jesus and the climax of Israel’s story: An exploration of the hermeneutic of ‘Story’ with reference to Matthew 24-25, Mark 13 and Luke 21. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Our thesis unfolds through dialogue with N.T. Wright’s concept of ‘story’ and offers a critique of his methodology and specifically his exegesis of the ‘coming of the son of man’ saying in Mark 13 and parallels. In Part A, we explore with Wright the potential of the concept of ‘story’ to unify historical, theological, and literary enquiries with respect to biblical studies, and consequently refine the concept independently of Wright by drawing upon Jan Assmann’s idea of ‘mnemohistory’, the postfoundationalist theology and revised theological hermeneutic of Kevin J. Vanhoozer, and Michael Fishbane’s work in ‘inner-biblical exegesis’.

In Part B, it is argued that the traditions that emerged concerning Jesus of Nazareth are deliberately intertwined with Israel’s ‘story’ so as to assert Jesus’ central role in bringing this narrative to a climax. Together with James Dunn, each Gospel is viewed as a unified performance of the received traditions, where each selectively draws from the sources available, both literary and oral, to provide a fresh improvisation of the tradition for its own context. Our exegesis of the eschatological discourse in each of the three Synoptic Gospels employs the tools of narrative criticism and a chastened redaction criticism to demonstrate the explicatory power that the hermeneutic of ‘story’ provides in reading what have been notoriously challenging passages for New Testament scholars.

Our particular focus is to examine the nexus between the destruction of the temple and the ‘coming of the son of man’ saying in order to evaluate Wright’s conclusion that the ‘coming of the son of man’ expression must be read as a metaphor with the destruction of the temple as its referent. Our own findings agree with Wright that the expression is to be read as a metaphor, but, contrary to Wright’s conclusion, we determine that the referent is Jesus’ vindication at the eschaton.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Supervisor(s): Dunnill, John and Loader, William
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