02 May 2012
king jesus gospel 5
Scot McKnight, The King Jesus Gospel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011).
[My plan here is to take a series of posts to interact and respond to the book's content, rather than offering a more traditional review. I will be jumping over things and not taking the time to cover all of of the points.]
If we are to take a 'corrected' view (from the current average popular evangelical understanding) of gospel, such as McK has offered here, then a question which should be raised along the way is, Do the Four Gospels of Scripture contain the gospel? That is the aim of Chapter Six, and is phrased also as, "Have you ever wondered why the first four books of the New Testament are called 'the Gospel'?" (79). The move here is in the affirmative, but will require some rearranging of thought to go along with the reshaping of our understanding of gospel itself.
"The single biggest, and really one-and-only-one, idea dominating . . . the Gospels, is this: the Gospels are about Jesus, they tell the Story of Jesus, and everything in them is about Jesus" (82). This is true, but how does that then make them part of the gospel? Here there is room for cross-discussion (again) with N. T. Wright's How God Became King inasmuch as there needs to be a connection between the death-burial-resurrection accounts as with the life of Jesus itself. McK wants to point out that there is a push toward that climax of the story of Jesus - and that might be the case - but, is this the answer to the gospel in the Gospels if we are to take the very meaning of gospel as something bigger than the death-burial-resurrection account? Here is one place where I feel the study falling short, for there is room for more emphasis on what the Gospel writers are trying to convey instead of appealing to Pauline ideas to shape the Gospels.
That point aside, there is a good case made for the Gospels containing the gospel in that Jesus - the center of their narratives - is the climax of Israel, and the fulfillment of God's covenant. They see this as being "according to the scriptures" (cf. 87-88), and ultimately: "Death and resurrection are bound together to unleash an entire new world order, the new creation" (89). Ultimately, then, there is a connection to the story-telling about Jesus and the proclamation of the gospel, as McK evidences with Mark 14, "Because Jesus assumes the preaching of the gospel will mean telling stories about the life of Jesus, including this very story of the woman who had just poured oil on him" (91).
Thus, Jesus comes proclaiming gospel in his life and teaching (the focus of Chapter Seven). The covenantal themes are fulfilled with his coming, and he announces their arrival by giving ethics and by telling stories. There are good themes and examples here, but I will not rehearse them again at this point. Ultimately, McK wants to demonstrate that it is "Jesus preaching himself" (105) and that it is too intentional and too specific to be taken as anything other than his movement to the center of Israel's covenant of God's kingdom.
So, Jesus understands himself as the center and climax of Israel's covenant which, now being fulfilled, will inaugurate a new people of God to continue his work - the work of bringing the fullness of the kingdom on earth as in heaven. How the early church took this on is given over to the chapter of the journey.
labels: King Jesus Gospel