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Products>Jesus and the Origins of the Gentile Mission (Library of New Testament Studies | LNTS)

Jesus and the Origins of the Gentile Mission (Library of New Testament Studies | LNTS)

, 2006
ISBN: 0567044734

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Bird argues that Jesus was attempting to achieve and enact the restoration of Israel, and in continuity with other strands of Jewish belief, Jesus conceived of the restoration of Israel as resulting in the salvation of the gentiles.

Jesus’ mission was Israel-centric, but he espoused a view of restoration that was indebted to certain strands of Israel’s sacred traditions where the gentiles are implicit beneficiaries of Israel’s salvation. Since this restoration was already being partially realized in Jesus’ ministry, it was becoming possible for gentiles to begin sharing in Israel’s salvation in the present.

Additionally, Jesus understood himself and his followers to be the new temple and the vanguard of the restored Israel who would appropriate for themselves the role of Israel and the temple in being a light to the nations. Thus, a gentile mission has its germinal roots in the aims and intentions of Jesus and was developed in a transformed situation by adherents of the early Christian movement.

Resource Experts
  • Questions the view that Jesus did not exhibit any hope for the Gentiles
  • Examines the relationship between the salvation of the Gentiles and the restoration of Israel
  • Proposes that Jesus’ intention was to renew and restore Israel, so that a restored Israel would extend God’s salvation to the world
  • Introduction: Jesus and the Gentiles
  • “A Light to the Nations”: Proselytizing in Second-Temple Judaism
  • “Restore the Kingdom to Israel”: Jesus, the Gentiles and the Restoration of Israel
  • “No Crumbs for the Dogs”: Negative Remarks about Gentiles and Restrictions of Jesus’ Mission to Israel
  • “A Kingdom for the Birds”: Sayings Material About Gentiles
  • “I Have Not Found Such Faith in Israel”: Narrative Material About Gentiles
  • A Light and a House for All Nations: The Rationale for the Salvation of the Gentiles in Jesus’ Mission
  • Conclusion

Top Highlights

“‘During Jesus’ lifetime, Gentiles scarcely figured at all in his mission: How, then, and why so soon after his death does the Jesus movement come to see the Gentiles’ inclusion as a natural extension of itself?’8 It seems improbable that the origin of Christian missionary activity is indebted to imitation of a pre-existing Jewish mission, since Jewish proselytizing activity among Gentiles was spasmodic and at no stage was there a concerted mission to win over Gentiles.” (Page 2)

“A cursory reading of Acts and the Pauline corpus suggests that the Gentile mission emerged not from Jesus’ teaching, but from the experience of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and from reading the Septuagint in light of a belief that the eschaton had dawned in Christ’s death and resurrection.” (Page 4)

“In sum, I intend to demonstrate that the emergence of the Gentile mission in the early church was the logical outcome of the hope for the final admission of the Gentiles in Jewish restoration eschatology and in Jesus’ own expression of a partially realized restoration eschatology.” (Pages 3–4)

“Although Jesus was not the ‘founder of Christianity’,” (Page 5)

“Second, a mission to the Gentiles was never disputed” (Page 4)

This volume is commendable for its comprehensive interaction with both scholarship on the question and the relevant ancient sources. The book’s real contribution comes in the plausible explanation of how Jesus understood his role and mission developing naturally out of his understanding of the OT, with the early church then carrying the program forward. Jesus and the Origins of the Gentile Mission is a book whose thesis transcends the limitations of the disputed field of historical Jesus studies. That is to say, even those who think that discussions of authenticity are unnecessary will find Bird's thesis stimulating and helpful. This is an important book with an engaging and convincing argument...

—James M. Hamilton Jr, Criswell Theological Review, Fall 2007

There is much to commend in this very fine study, which provides us with what is now perhaps the most developed analysis of Jesus’ view of the Gentiles from the vantage afforded by the emerging understanding of Jesus as a prophet of Israel’s restoration...Bird’s greatest contribution is that he sets Jesus within a recognizably Jewish eschatological framework in which the salvation of the Gentiles is no longer simply a sequel to Israel’s salvation but is part of Israel’s salvation. Bird goes further than most in seeking to locate the inclusion of the Gentiles within the realized aspects of Jesus’ eschatology...Bird’s demonstration of the continuities between Jesus and the Gentile mission is thus to be welcomed as an important contribution to our understanding of the indispensable role of Jesus in the rise of early Christianity.

—Steven M. Bryan, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, September 2008

Clearly written and persuasively argued, Bird’s thesis will evoke responses from a number of sides—questers for the historical Jesus, and theose concerned with synoptic relations, or with Second Temple Judaism. Bird acknowledges and works with that fact, so his claims are measured and circumspect. Although there are many points where one wants to argue detail with him—particularly his discussion of Ps. 118 and the Vineyard parable—this thesis resonates with, though is not identical with, results from narrative studies of Luke. Bird’s case will stimulate discussion and shed light on the question of how the Gentile missions flowed from the remembered Jesus.

—Peter Doble, JSNT Booklist, vol. 31.5, 2009

Michael F. Bird is lecturer in theology at Ridley Melbourne College of Mission and Ministry. He is the author of several books, including Jesus and the Origins of the Gentile Mission, The Saving Righteousness of God, and with James Crossley, How Did Christianity Begin?


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  1. darksweet102



  2. Daniel Aroro

    Daniel Aroro


  3. Marco Ceccarelli
    Is it correct that the pages are 331?


Digital list price: $158.40
Save $130.41 (82%)