Eschatology refers to teaching about the last things, specifically to history’s consummation and the events directly associated with it.


An apocalypse (also sometimes called an apocalyptic) is a type of revelatory literature in which an otherworldly being reveals heavenly or eschatological secrets to a human recipient.


See Bruce Chilton, “The Son of Man—Who Was He?” BR 12:04.


Sapiential refers to things associated with the Wisdom tradition. A sapiential kingdom is a way of life or reality achieved through wisdom.


Helmut Koester and Stephen J. Patterson, “The Gospel of Thomas—Does It Contain Authentic Sayings of Jesus?” BR 06:02.


A hypothetical fifth gospel, Q contains sayings of Jesus common to Matthew and Luke but absent in Mark. See the following BR articles: Stephen J. Patterson, “Q—The Lost Gospel,” BR 09:05; Eta Linnemann, “Is There a Gospel of Q?” BR 11:04; and Patterson, “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Q,” BR 11:05.


Wisdom is often capitalized in this context because it is sometimes personified in the Jewish tradition, as already in parts of Proverbs.


Acts 3:19–20; Romans 13:11; Philippians 4:7; Hebrews 10:37; James 5:8; 1 Peter 4:17; Revelation 22:20; and the Didache 16.


See N.T. Wright, “How Jesus Saw Himself,” BR 12:03.



Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus (New York: Macmillan, 1961).


See, for example, Marcus Borg, “A Temperate Case for a Non-Eschatological Jesus,” Forum 2/3 (1986), pp. 81–102; John Dominic Crossan, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1991); Stephen J. Patterson, “The End of Apocalypse: Rethinking the Eschatological Jesus,” Theology Today (1995), pp. 29–48; and David Seeley, Deconstructing the New Testament (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), pp. 159–79.


Mark 2:10 (“the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”), for example, is taken to mean that human beings in general (including Jesus) have the authority to forgive sins.


Helmut Koester, “One Jesus and Four Primitive Gospels,” Harvard Theological Review 61 (1968), pp. 203–247.


See, above all, John S. Kloppenborg, The Formation of Q (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987).


Koester, “Jesus the Victim,” Journal of Biblical Literature 111 (1992), p. 7, n. 17.


Seeley, Deconstructing the New Testament, p. 165, n. 39.


See John J. Collins, “Wisdom, Apocalypticism, and Generic Compatibility,” in In Search of Wisdom: Essays in Memory of John G. Gammie, ed. Leo Perdue, Bernard Brandon Scott and William Johnston Wiseman (Louisville: Westminster, 1993), pp. 187–222; and George W.E. Nickelsburg, “Wisdom and Apocalypticism in Early Judaism: Some Points for Discussion,” in Society of Biblical Literature 1994 Seminary Papers, ed. Eugene H. Lovering, Jr. (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1994), pp. 715–732.


John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, vol. 2: Mentor, Message and Miracles (New York: Doubleday, 1994).


E.P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985).


Geza Vermes, The Religion of Jesus the Jew (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993).


The Jesus Seminar, founded by Robert Funk in 1985, is a group of academics who meet twice a year to discuss and vote on the authenticity of portions of the Jesus tradition. The result of their review of the sayings of Jesus can be found in Robert Funk et al., The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus (New York: Macmillan, 1993). They are currently working on the deeds of Jesus. For a lively hostile critique, see Luke Timothy Johnson’s “The Search for (the Wrong) Jesus,” BR 11:06, and The Real Jesus: The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the Traditional Gospels (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1996).


Apart from the Testament of Job 39–40, I know of no pre-Christian source that tells of a person’s resurrection to glory in the middle of history. Mark 6:14–16 is no exception, because it envisions a resuscitation; nor, in my judgment, does 2 Maccabees 7 provide an exception. Some have found in Revelation 11:3–12 and the Apocalypse of Elijah 4:7–19 evidence for Jewish belief in a dying and rising prophet. But if there was such a belief it was not (1) widespread or (2) properly eschatological.


Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, p. 345.


Rudolph Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, (New York: Charles Scribner & Sons, 1951, 1955), vol. 1, p. 37.


E.P. Sanders, “Jesus: His Religious Type,” Reflections 87 (1992), p. 6.


See especially Luke 7:24–26//Matthew 11:7–10; Luke 11:28//Matthew 11:11; and Luke 7:31–35//Matthew 11:16–19.


See, for example, Luke 12:39–40//Matthew 24:43–44; Luke 12:35–38; and Matthew 25:1–13.


See, for example, Mark 13:17; Luke 10:12–15//Matthew 11:20–24; and Luke 6:24–26.


See, for example, Mark 1:15, 13:28–29, 33, 37; Luke 21:36//Matthew 25:13; and Luke 18:1–8, 21:34–36.


See, for example, Mark 14:25 and Matthew 8:11–12//Luke 13:28–29.


Sanders, “Jesus: His Religious Type,” p. 11.