For the second week in a row I was tapped to speak at Johnson University's chapel. The theme for this year is "Extending the Kingdom among All Nations," and our chapel services have been centered on tracing the kingdom of God (loosely conceived) through the story/-ies of the Hebrew Bible. Last Tuesday Mark Nelson (of "The Bible is one story from beginning to Jude" fame; see here for details) presented the story of Nehemiah, which brought an end to our traipse the Hebrew Bible. And next Tuesday Carl Bridges (of very little fame whatsoever, though his mustache has won runner-up in multiple county and state fairs) will speak on the birth of Jesus. Thus begins our look at the kingdom of God in the New Testament.
Between these two corpora, of course, lies an immense story of God's people variously waiting for God to act on their behalf. Sure, the Babylonians who had sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple of the Lord had themselves been conquered by the ascendant Persians. Sure the Persian potentate Cyrus and his successors allowed the Jews to return to Judea and rebuild the city and the Temple. But somehow, the restoration was falling well short of expectations. Something was left undone.
My assignment was to (briefly) discuss the idea of the kingdom of God (again, loosely conceived) in Second-Temple era texts. The theme is vast and the textual database vaster. So I chose to focus on two very different texts to take soundings, as it were, of the various different ways that Jews during this period anticipated their restoration and vindication from God. I briefly introduced the apocryphal book, Tobit, and the Dead Sea Scroll fragment, Melchizedek (11Q13, or 11QMelchizedek). I titled my address, "Anticipations: God's Kingdom during the Second-Temple Era," and my primary point was: "Jews of the Second-Temple era didn’t know what to expect, but they knew to expect something."
Below you can find the text of my address and a PDF version of the accompanying PowerPoint presentation. I welcome your comments.
God’s Kingdom During the Second-Temple Era
God’s Kingdom During the Second-Temple Era (pptx presentation)