Burge, Gary M.
Jesus and the Land
. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2010.This slim yet weighty volume disabuses readers of the misprisions of a ChristianZionist interpretation of the New Testament. Part by part, Burge dismantles theunderpinnings of the proof texts which Christian Zionists are so fond of using.In the first part of the volume Burge discusses the biblical heritage as described inthe Old Testament. What is the covenant of the land and what does it mean to thepeople of ancient Israel? And, equally importantly for later developments, what dothe rabbis do with that covenant?In part two Burge turns his attention to Diaspora Judaism. Philo and Josephus arehis primary sources and in their writings the Jewish people
are a people widely distributed throughout the empire without anecessary territorial base. The benefit of life within their ranks is notan eschatological promise of the defeat of the Gentiles and theresumption of an Israelite kingdom. Nor will blessing be found in theland given as reward. Instead, obedience to God within the Jewishframework will result in a better life, longevity, and even prosperity.Here then we see that Judaism
has been entirelyredefined. And it will be a redefinition that will deeply influence theformation of Christian thinking in the New Testament (pp. 23-24).In light of that completely accurate evaluation of the evidence, Burge nextdemonstrates how Jesus too held precisely that perspective. I.e., that it isn
t thepromise of a land that is the core of faith, it
s faithful obedience to the will of Godin daily routine life.[Jesus] expresses no overt affirmation of first-century territorialtheologies (p. 40).When it comes to the Fourth Gospel, things are even less
(myterm, not Burge
s) then they are in the Synoptics.Interestingly, Burge reminds us, the Christians who were in the land when theRomans invaded refused to fight against Rome on the side of the Jews and evenlater they refused to lift swords in the Bar Kochba revolt.