Israel and Jesus

‘Israel and Jesus’ has become something of a catch cry in post-liberal theology. I appreciate how it pushes back against the way much contemporary evangelicalism pits law and gospel against each other — which results in our difficulty knowing what significance to give God’s dealings with Israel (except as a foil for His unique achievement in Jesus).

River Jordan

The River Jordan where Jesus was baptised as the true Israelite (posted by amanderson2, on Flickr)

It can swing too far the other way though — sometimes the ‘and’ in Jesus and Israel is taken to imply so much continuity between the two that there’s little room left for Jesus to fulfil God’s promises to (and through) Israel.

In The Mediation of Christ (p 29), T. F. Torrance tries to capture the appropriate relationship between Israel and Jesus:

In this Jesus … the Jew in whom the Creator Word and man the creature, the God of the covenant and man the covenanted partner, are brought together, all the interaction of God with Israel throughout their history, and all the intensifying conflict of Israel with God, are brought to their supreme culmination, so that from the moment of his birth at Bethlehem the road ran straight to the crucifixion.

What do you reckon?

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3 comments

  1. I like his turn of phrase “all the interaction of God with Israel throughout their history, and all the intensifying conflict of Israel with God…”.

    I know it may seem hard, but it’s important to emphasize the continuity and discontinuity.

    1. Yeah, the sort of ‘dual’ way Israel points us forward is a really big theme in The Mediation of Christ, and I’m loving it — although it leads Torrance to say some puzzling things about the contemporary status of Israel. Both the continuity and the discontinuity point us forward to the fulfilment in Jesus!

  2. I found the whole continuity/discontinuity idea really helpful when I was reading about the ‘Third Quest for the Historical Jesus’. Their argument was there is continuity and discontinuity between Israel and the early church. And where you find both is where you find the historical Jesus.

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