‘Restoration prophet is the most apt description of the person of Jesus.’ Discuss. (35)

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Introduction

  • There have been disputes surrounding how we are to interpret the work of Jesus and how in fact he saw himself.
  • One such view is that of a restoration prophet. In Matthews account of the triumphal entry Jesus is thought to be a prophet from Nazareth and in Luke crowds are said to think a prophet had appeared before them showing it was possible for Jesus to have been seen as a prophet in his lifetime.
  • There were many prophets around at the time however Jesus did not attempt to recreate Jewish history and so is thought to fit better into a prophet role similar to John the Baptist.
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  • Jesus himself was baptised by John which may be a look back to the Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah.
  • This also implies that Jesus was closely connected to John who definitely was a prophet and so adds weight to the view of Jesus as a restoration prophet.
  • Jesus shared in John’s eschatological message of impending judgement and need for repentance so it was likely that Jesus held great respect for John.
  • The fact that Jesus appears to be heavily influenced by John certainly points to Jesus holding a prophetic role.
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  • Many texts, from the inter-testamental period in particular, look to a time when there would be mass repentance and a return to god however this does not feature heavily in Jesus’ teachings.
  • Its feature in early Christian life suggests it must have some importance and it is included in Mark showing some form of relevance.
  • If Jesus did in fact seek guidance from old texts for views on repentance it would lead to a view of a restoration prophet however the minimal nature of the teachings may suggest this was the gospel writer’s view and was included to push this agenda.
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  • In addition, Jesus’ call for 12 apostles is a key part of his mission that generally goes unopposed.
  • For the Jews the number 12 holds great importance due to its association with the 12 tribes of Israel who were expected to be brought together during the end times.
  • The deliberate and conscious inclusion of the 12 would point towards a prophetic role as he would be fulfilling Jewish longings.
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  • E. P. Sanders has stated that Jesus’ cleansing of the temple shows him as a restoration prophet as a key part of Jewish eschatological belief was that the restored community would worship in a new and heavenly temple and Jesus’ actions alluded to this event.
  • Moreover, in the Dead Sea scrolls there contained a plan for a vast and splendid place of worship whilst other texts have also implied the rebuilding of the Temple.
  • When looking overall, Jesus’ demonstration can seem ambiguous in that some see it to be a criticism of the corruption in the temple at the time.
  • However his focus on the kingdom may be a sign of future destruction that would be followed by divine rebuilding.
  • If the latter is taken to be the correct interpretation then Sanders would be right in his stance of seeing Jesus as a restoration prophet.
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  • On the contrary, Bultmann believes that Jesus took more of a son of man title originating out of the apocalyptic view of the early Christians.
  • However others have said that Bultmann’s reliance on the son of man text in Enoch makes his claim a little too extreme and if Jesus did speak of the son of man he wasn’t referring to himself.
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  • Another view of Jesus is that of Messiah meaning anointed one and was particularly associated with a warrior king who would defeat the enemies of God.
  • E. P. Sanders has said that there are only two occasions where Jesus accepts the title Messiah and even these are historically weak and a general conclusion that Jesus probably wouldn’t have had accepted the title is adopted.
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Conclusion

  • In conclusion I would state that the idea of Jesus as a restoration prophet is the most apt.
  • Due to the evidence and arguments provided only that of restoration prophet seems strong enough to stand against criticism.
  • Although both son of man and messiah have reason to be argued their validity against the view of restoration prophet does not appear to be a better way of understanding the person of Jesus.
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