In N. T. Wright’s The Challenge of Jesus, he writes how Jesus controversially challenged the traditions of the Jewish people. These are the symbols that Jesus challenged, according to Wright (pp. 58-73):

  • Sabbath
  • Food
  • Nation and land
  • Temple

It’s fascinating to read how Wright pictures Jesus challenged his contemporaries and their understanding of these subjects, especially in relation to the redemptive-historical and Christocentric concept that Jesus clearly had. Wright summarizes this by writing,

“I have argued that Jesus remained utterly anchored within first-century Judaism. His place there, however, was the place of a prophet, warning that Israel’s present course was leading to disaster and urging a radical alternative upon her. His aim was to reconstitute the people of God around himself, to accomplish the real return from exile, to inaugurate the kingdom of God. This would not happen, however, simply by repetition of his message and his symbolic actions until more and more people were persuaded. It would come about through the decisive events to which his two great symbolic actions pointed. The Temple-action spoke of messiahship; the Last Supper pointed to the cross. It is to this strange combination of ideas, more deeply meaningful but more deeply subversive within first-century Judaism than all we have so far seen…” (p. 73)

 

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