« ÎnapoiContinuați »
in the documents MK and G which report his ministry; (3) that the gospel MT record of that ministry is constructed from documents MK and G;' (4) that what Matthew credits above to John the Baptist is verbally the same as the opening message said to have been spoken by Jesus, Matt. 4:17; (5) that the latter is drawn by Matthew from document MK $4; (6) that, therefore, the former may be regarded as likewise traceable to MK $4; (7) that this editorial inference by Matthew is one expression of a tendency manifest in many places in his gospel. His document G made it clear to him
at John had announced an impending crisis, G g1B, D, E; for the evangelist that crisis seems to have been adequately and precisely covered by the words of summary, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Evidently he was not conscious of modifying the thought of his documents by placing this assertion as a summary of John's message at the opening of his report of the work of John. But for him who would know the precise phraseology of John, the summary of the evangelist must be passed over in favor of the documentary records in MK gi and G $1.
In crediting Jesus with the phrase, Matthew is following, with slight verbal modifications, the record of his document MK 84. That which document MK reports here is not used by Luke; he prefers the account of the opening message and method of Jesus presented to him in his document G $85, 6. The document G does not portray Jesus as beginning his ministry with the announcement, “The kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe in the gospel.” It represents him rather as giving expression, through the use of Old Testament Scripture, to his sense of prophetic vocation“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” By which, it seems, he does not mean explicitly to say either, “I am the Messiah,” or “The kingdom of the Messiah (or heaven or God) is at hand.” Since the document MK does not report the announcement, “The kingdom of God is at hand,” as spoken on any definite occasion, but places it at the opening of its record of Jesus' public activity, before the statement of work at any specific place in Galilee, it ought probably to be regarded as the summary, for the framer of document MK, of the message delivered by Jesus in the course of his public ministry.
i See p. 10.
It would do injustice, perhaps, to the historical accuracy of the fashioner of document MK to hold that he intends by these words to represent Jesus as stepping forth from private life with the bare, startling assertion, “The kingdom of God is at hand;" it is probably more just to think of him as intending by these words to state briefly and impressively what he conceived to be the central thought in the message of Jesus during his activity in Galilee.
The statement, “The kingdom of God is at hand,” may be interpreted either as an assertion that the kingdom is imminent with the implication that it will soon be realized, or as an affirmation that the kingdom has drawn near to men, is now in the midst of men, whether or no they recognize the fact of its present realization. We cannot say with certainty what content the statement held for the person who attributed it to Jesus in document MK $4; but it seems most probable that he used it in the former of these senses, that is, that he intended to represent Jesus as promising that the complete realization of the kingdom of God would not be long deferred. That he did so intend seems clear from that by which this promise is preceded and that which follows it: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe in the gospel.” Read in the light of the expectations of the age in which document MK was fashioned, these words of summary from the framer of the document would seem to bear one interpretation only. And it must surely be held that the thought involved in that interpretation is not conveyed by the opening message of Jesus as reported by document G $S5, 6. The document G does not represent Jesus as beginning his public activity by promising that within the lifetime of his hearers the kingdom of God would be fully realized.
Of course, it is to be said that neither does document MK do so by these words which it attributes to Jesus, since these words are capable of another interpretation, an interpretation which places them as, at the least, not out of harmony with document G. If that other interpretation be assigned to document MK, it becomes a question of determining whether Jesus did, at later periods in his ministry, state the thoughts of document G $6 in the phraseology of document MK $4, and thus give justification for summarizing his message in the terms of document MK $4. For it is taken as probable, in the
highest degree, that document MK $4 is intended as editorial summary, not as reportorial transcript. However, it is already clear that document MK $4 may be regarded in any one of four ways:
A. As a summary by the framer of document MK, intended to represent that Jesus promised, as the staple of his message, the speedy realization of the kingdom of God.
B. As a report of the substance of Jesus' public preaching from the person who fashioned document MK, intended by him to represent Jesus as stating that the kingdom of God had already drawn near to men, that is, was even now in their midst.
C. As a precise record of the words used by Jesus as his opening message in Galilee, intended by Jesus as an assertion that within the lifetime of his hearers the kingdom of God would be fully realized.
D. As an accurate report of the words by which Jesus began his public work in Galilee, intended by him to convey the thought that there was already present in the midst of men that for which they were hoping and looking, the kingdom of God.
If it be thought likely that document MK $4 is editorial summary, the study of what Jesus subsequently said as reported in the documents must determine whether A or B or neither correctly summarizes the teaching of Jesus. If C be regarded as the correct view of the passage, it is to be said: (1) that it stands opposed to the representation of document G $S5, 6, which reports Jesus to have begun his ministry in a manner fundamentally different; (2) that document MK itself, by subsequent reports, does not support the conviction that Jesus began his ministry by assertions about the kingdom of God, for it is not until the discourse on the kingdom in parables by the sea that document MK again attributes the phrase "kingdom of God” to Jesus, MK S$20–24-a discourse apparently intended by Jesus to oppose current conceptions of the kingdom;" (3) that among the sayings of Jesus about the kingdom in document MK2 there is one only that may be cited in support of the idea of the kingdom expressed in C above, namely MK 9:1, and this saying is open to
1 See pp. 229–35, 315-22.
The occurrences of “kingdom of God" in document MK are in 1:15; 4:11, 26, 30; 9:1; 10:14, 15, 23–25; 12:34; 14:25. In MK 9:47, it is a later substitute for "enter into life," as seen on pp. 260, 261.
another interpretation, and, in any event, probably belongs to the last days of Jesus' life; (4) that document G, which records the early ministry of Jesus in Galilee, credits Jesus with two references only to the kingdom of God, namely, "Blessed are ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God,” G$10, and “Among them that are born of women there is none greater than John: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of God is greater than he,” G $20C, both of which seem to indicate a present rather than an impending or future kingdom.
If, however, it be held that D above is the truth about document MK $4, it ought to be observed that the evidence already brought forward from documents MK and G requires that one believe that, having once made the announcement in isolation from all other statements, Jesus did not again expressly revert to the theme for a long time. At the earliest, document MK 9:1 was not spoken until the close of active work in Galilee, and is probably later; the statement in document G 820C is only secondarily, if at all, an indicator of the time of the kingdom of God. By interpreting MK $4 in the sense of D above, the thought is brought more nearly into accord with that of document G $85, 6, but still remains removed some distance from it, and there is the great difference in phraseology to account for in any case. That difference ultimately involves an essential difference in the method of Jesus, as will be understood if one considers the sure effect of direct statements at that time about the kingdom of God. The attitude of Jesus toward direct assertions about messiahship ought also to be had in mind. It seems difficult to hold that Jesus opened his ministry with the words of document MK $4, in whatever sense those words may be taken. If it be contended that he did, it is still to be conceded that the documents represent him as not again treating the theme of the time of the kingdom until a considerably later period in his ministry. This is not historically impossible, but in view of all the considerations involved seems improbable.
More probable is it that MK $4 is an editorial summary by the framer of document MK. As such it is open to test as to accuracy; certain evidences brought forward above as to the subsequent contents of the documents seem to show that it is not an accurate summary for, at least, the period of the Galilean ministry of Jesus.
Whether it is for the ministry as a whole, subsequent study must determine. Except for the single case of document MK $4, there is documentary agreement and consistency throughout the entire records of the Galilean ministry of Jesus as to the method and message of Jesus.
$2. THE KINGDOM AS ACTUAL IN THE PRESENT
DOCUMENT G 820C I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there is none greater than John: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of God is greater than he. If the kingdom of God is conceived to be some future place or state, and that alone, by this saying Jesus excludes John the Baptist from participation in it. If here the kingdom of God means the future form of life for the righteous, John, than whom Jesus declares there has arisen none greater in his field as preacher of righteousness, has no share in the future life of the righteous. But it seems evident that Jesus does not intend to teach the exclusion of John from the future kingdom, which was to be a possession even of men who, though great, were not regarded by Jesus as John's superiors—“Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets” (document P $40). Hence the phrase, “kingdom of God,” in this passage seems not to have a future reference, but relates to the present and the present only. Therefore the “kingdom of God” is something that has come subsequent to John. And it is so fundamentally different in nature from that for which John stood, it represents so great an advance upon the whole outlook and expectation of John, that it may be affirmed of one who has in the least degree entered into it that he is greater than John. Thus Jesus makes John the Baptist to stand as the final and noble representative of an old order. The new order he comprehensively covers by his phrase "the kingdom of God.” John belongs altogether within the days before the kingdom of God. On the other hand, the kingdom of God, as here used, belongs altogether within the days now being spent by Jesus and his disciples.
The same conception is involved in another passage, this time in document P:
DOCUMENT P 850 The law and the prophets were until John: from that time the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and every man entereth violently into it.