Digest of terms

kingdom of God

the key feature of the message of Jesus according to the gospels, but one whose meaning remains among the most hotly debated issues in current New Testament scholarship. It derives from his background in the Jewish prophetic tradition, which drew attention to the difference between the ideal order and rule of God and that which prevailed in Israel and the wider world. Some have tried to 'spiritualise' it and suggest that Jesus was primarily concerned with inward transformation of individuals. Others have attempted an exclusively political agenda, after the fashion of first century revolutionaries known as Zealots. These views are now largely discredited. Probably the dominant view among British and German scholars - less so among American - is that the term referred to the imminent establishment of God's perfect governance, 'on earth as it is in heaven'. On this view Jesus stood in the line of 'eschatological' prophetic figures, announcing the imminent climax of history and final judgement. An important American school of thought views Jesus more akin to wandering Cynic purveyors of inspiring moral teachings. (Christian ethics, Utopia, millenarianism).

The signs of God's rule include peace and justice, healing and reconciliation, joy and forgiveness. In Jewish and Christian scriptural perspectives, God's politics are transformative on every front.

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