Wright makes a strong argument that Jesus’ hearers “were not expecting the end of the space-time universe,” the traditional read on eschatology. Rather, what was expected was a series of climactic events in Israel’s history which would leave the world a radically different place. (206-209)
I’m with him here. Wright ‘gets’ apocalyptic language, often used to describe either impending (minor prophets) or recently-occurred (Daniel) events in Israel’s life. These people weren’t casual star-gazers pondering “the end of the world,” but a repressed people who wanted to see things change, and used strong visceral language to express this desire.
Adopting a similar posture in relation to eschatology would shake up much of the evangelical universe, which has adopted a premillenial position, and dedicated much mental energy to speculating when and how prophecy will come to be. Reading the scriptures differently would negate all of that, and would guide us away from a defensive posture of ‘holding out until the rapture’ and into a commitment to living in a radically changed world (given the assumption that Jesus’ activity was this climactic event in Israel’s history). I can’t not get into that, but I do wonder, “what attaches people to premillenialist fatalism, and why might they be resistant to giving it up?” Does that eschatology offer some sort of comfort to people living amidst discontinuous change, who don’t understand what’s going on and are searching for an explanation, a way out, and an anchor? As one who wishes to be a pastoral person who opens his life to all, not just one particular sociocultural division, how do I interact with that?