Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Urzeit and Endzeit in Prophetic Hope

In one of Childs' earliest works he analysed the elements of continuity and discontinuity in Israel's view of reality in terms of 'myth' and 'eschatology', which the following quote nicely illustrates:

“The prophetic hope of the new age was pictured in terms of God's former redemptive acts. However, the last events were now to fulfil the original purpose of the first. The return to the past signifies the continuity in the one will of God; the newness of the end indicates the full intensity of the light which at first shone only in dim reflection. The new of the Endzeit became the criterion for determining what was qualitatively new at the Urzeit.
Myth and Reality in the Old Testament (1960: 81, italics mine) SCM Press: London.

Once again, we catch a glimpse of the nature of the relationship between later and earlier traditions, as well and their interdependency. That later hope functions as a criterion for the earlier tradition is not a matter of external imposition of an alien ideology. It is a response to what has gone before, one that faithfully submits to God's providential guidence. It is only in light of the whole that we can see what is really going on.

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