Monday, May 14, 2012

Stage to Stage

Contemporary scholars generally agree that Paul's thinking and writing about Jesus and Christian experience are dominated by a certain way of conceiving God's work in history drawn from his Jewish background. Jews in Paul's day, especially those influenced by the apocalyptic movement, tended to divide the history of God's work in the world into two distinct eras: the "present age," dominated by sin and Gentile oppression of Jews, and "the age to come," when sin would be taken away and the Messiah would reign over triumphant Israel. New Testament writers, as well as Jesus himself, adopted this scheme but modified it in light of the two separate comings of the Messiah. Jesus' first coming inaugurates the new age of redemption without eradicating the present, evil age. At his second coming the present age will cease to be while the new age, in enhanced form, will remain. We use the term salvation history to denote this general scheme, according to which God's salvation is accomplished in the world through a historical process divided into stages.

~ Douglas J. Moo, Encountering the Book of Romans


The Underground Pewster said...

Uh oh, I worry when I see "contemporary scholars generally agree" on anything.

Others prefer the term redemptive history.

Does it make a difference depending on what kind of millenialist you are?

Chuck Hicks said...

I appreciate the concern. Moo wrote this book in part to compare and contrast Reformed views with the "new perspective." What he says here accords with the fact that scholars from both sides see (more and more) the Jewish background of Paul's idiom.

Moo is a reformed premillenialist (a position I doubt anyone in the "new perspective" holds) but I think it matters little how most believers read this. Christ inaugurated a new age at His first coming -- though the old is still with us -- and will bring the old to an end at His second coming.