This provocative study offers the first new model for understanding the meaning of the “kingdom of God” since the appearance of Albert Schweitzer's seminal work. In Pure Kingdom, Bruce Chilton advances the discussion beyond Schweitzer by offering a new theory of Jesus' preaching based on the Judaic context of his ministry and the subsequent generation of Christian theology. After first covering the scholarly state of the question, Chilton explores the meaning of the “kingdom of God” within the Judaism of Jesus' day, particularly as it developed on the basis of the most significant ancient source—the book of Psalms. Chilton then analyzes Jesus' individual sayings about the kingdom, giving careful attention to Jesus' own meaning and the extent to which that meaning was changed by those who passed on his teaching. Special focus is also devoted to what Jesus did in the name of the kingdom. Finally, the ways in which Jesus' followers interpreted the ultimate significance of the kingdom is explored, because their conceptions shaped the Gospels as they stand today.
The study overall is to be warmly commended as a fitting inauguration of a series that promises to be fully critical and scholarly and yet avoids the excesses of the skepticism that claims we can know little about the historical Jesus, a skepticism based more on philosophical and methodological idiosyncracies than on bona fide historical research.
—Craig L. Blomberg, The Review of Biblical Literature
Bruce Chilton was the Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College in Annandale, New York, and rector of the Church of St. John the Evangelist.