Monday, October 18, 2010

Jean Daniélou:

The prophetic eschatology of the Old Testament
harmonized with the New Testament /

Η προφητική εσχατολογία της Παλαιάς Διαθήκης
σε αρμονία με την Καινή Διαθήκη


«As far as it concerns the theology of history, the essential contribution of the New Testament is the affirmation of Christ as the present reality of the prophetic predictions of the Old. It is not the purpose of the New Testament to proclaim the existence of a paradise to come -- the Old Testament is full of that message, but in the New, paradise is here and now, with Christ: 'This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.' It is not the purpose of the New Testament to declare that a servant of God shall be sacrificed for the sins of the world, but that Christ is this lamb that was slain: 'Look, this is the Lamb of God; look, this is he who takes away the sin of the world';  and that the immolation of this victim fulfils the destiny of mankind. The New Testament is precisely the record of this present reality, this Dasein. The operative words are hodie, ecce. This is what makes the Gospel 'news', as St Irenaeus rightly saw: it 'introduced an altogether new thing, bringing forth now him that had been foretold'.

With the coming of Christ, 'the last days' of which the Old Testament speaks have arrived. The New Testament declares it in many passages. 'In old days, God spoke to our fathers in many ways and by many means, through the prophets; now at last in these times he has spoken to us with a Son to speak for him.' These 'last times' refer to the Incarnation: '. . . till the appointed time came. Then God sent out his Son.' Again, the reference is to the Passion and Resurrection: 'he has been revealed once for all, at the moment when history reached its fulfilment, annulling our sin by his sacrifice'; 'it was his loving design, centred in Christ, to give history its fulfilment by resuming everything in him'.

These are the 'last days' spoken of by the prophets of the Old Testament: and it appears on examination that the eschatological prophecies belong to two quite distinct traditions. In one, the Old Testament declares that Jehovah will perform such wonders at the end of time as shall put into the shade all the mighty works he has accomplished for Israel in the past. These prophecies directly concern God himself, whose coming is thus foretold by Isaiah: 'Make way for the Lord's coming; a straight road for our God through the desert.' It is Jehovah that will 'create new heavens and a new earth', and dwell in the new Zion, and sit in judgement on the nations. The Scriptures as a whole are a chronicle of the gesta Dei, revealing God, not in his eternal being, but in his actions in the world of time. The God of the Bible is always a living God, breaking in upon history, drawing near to men. This immediate presence of God, which is the mark of the Old Testament, is to be incomparably accentuated in the last days.

There is also a second, altogether different tone of prophetic tradition in the Old Testament, the prediction of a Messiah to come, the instrument of God's purpose in the fullness of times. Just as God at first made man and put him in Paradise, so a new man shall be created in the last days, and brought into the Paradise to be. Abraham receives the promise of a seed in whom 'all the races of the world shall find a blessing'. Jehovah declares to Moses that he will raise up from the midst of his brethren a greater prophet than himself. David learns from Nathan that God 'will grant thee for successor a son of thy own body, established firmly on his throne . . . dynasty and royalty both shall endure; thy throne shall remain for ever unshaken'. This is the typological relationship of Israel to Christ, not strictly a matter of theology: the reference here is not to God himself, coming again to complete the series of the divine interventions in the history of his chosen people, but to a human being, a representative of that same people prefigured, albeit  dimly, by its kings and prophets. This is the authentic Messianic tradition.

The two streams of prophecy remain radically distinct throughout the Old Testament: the coming of Jehovah in the last days to judge the world from his eternal habitation, and the coming of Messiah to set Israel free from her enemies and to inaugurate a new people, are envisaged in reality as two separate events, and give rise to two divergent literary traditions. From the first comes the idiom of transcendental eschatology, culminating in the apocalyptic books; from the second, temporal messianism, represented in the main by the prophetic books. In later Judaism, some efforts were made to harmonize these points of view, but for the most part only through introducing an order of succession between two phases: the earthly kingdom of Messiah, to be followed by the coming of Jehovah in the end of the world.

The essential doctrine of the New Testament is that these two things come together in Jesus. The evangelists attribute to him the fulfilment at once of the prophecies that foretold the coming of Jehovah, and those concerning the Messiah. They quote of him the words of Isaias about the preparations for Jehovah in the desert, and identify in him the new Moses leading the chosen people out into the desert in a new Exodus. He is that new Israel, whose faithfulness is contrasted with the infidelity of the old; he is also that God who sets up his dwelling in the midst of the new Israel. He is at once God, giving the New Law from the Mountain, and the Prophet foretold by Moses, making known to the people what is the will of God. His name is κύριος, Lord, the scriptural designation of divine sovereignty -- and χριστός, the messianic king.

Two kinds of history terminate in the one person of Christ. He appears within the historical framework of mankind, which he brings to its fulfilment -- that is the significance of the genealogies of Christ at the beginning of Matthew and Luke. St Leo, using this argument against Eutyches, as proving the reality of human nature in Christ, brings out the force of the two-fold genealogy: 'The evangelist Matthew, following the sequence of generations, shows how the promise made to Abraham was fulfilled in Christ, in whom all families of the earth shall be blessed. The evangelist Luke, starting from the birth of the Saviour, traces back the series of his ancestors, to show that the ages before the Flood are included in this mystery, so that all generations from the beginning culminate in him that is the salvation of all men.' And in another sermon, St Leo emphasizes Christ's kinship in the seed of David. Thus the three filiations of Christ, from David, from Abraham, and from Adam, are successively brought out into prominence.

But on the other hand, part of Christ's activity visibly continues the record of Jehovah's action in the Old Testament -- the creation, the dwelling in a tabernacle made with hands, the making of a covenant, the destruction of death. These are works of God, in line with the wonders chronicled in the former narrative of divine interventions. Together with the genealogical continuity, linking Christ with the sons of Adam, we find a theological continuity: his work belongs to the historical framework of the mirabilia Dei, of which it is the last and supreme instance. How these two successions come together in one was the critical problem of primitive Christology. Christ himself indicated the terms of it when he asked the Pharisees: 'David calls Christ his Master; how can he be also his son?'

There was no doubt of the fact that Christ fulfils both types of prophecy: the question was as to the manner of this fusion of two things in one person. Some of the Biblical formulae were open to several interpretations. By attending too exclusively to the human filiation of Christ, and his prefiguration in the heroes of the Old Testament story, it was possible to fall into an adoptionist solution, in which the Saviour is regarded simply as a man full of the presence of God. The Antiochene theologians ran this risk; Nestorius succumbed to it. Alternatively, when soteriology alone was taken into consideration, as by the school of Alexandria, and the Incarnation was seen as nothing else but the saving work of God, there might be a tendency to minimize the humanity of Christ, and the significance of his human genealogy for the seed of Abraham which he assumed and brings to perfection.

The dogma of Chalcedon, however, furnishes an unambiguous answer to the eschatological problem of Christianity. If Christ is 'the last Adam' the mystery of his personality contains the truth about 'the last things'. Christological definition opens the way to a right judgement of the theological meaning of history. The formula for the union of the two natures in the incarnate Word, saving the perfect integrity of each and the unity of the person, was the key for interpreting much evidence that was otherwise indecisive. In the words of Dom Jean Leclercq epitomizing the thought of St Leo: 'Among the prophetic witnesses to the Messiah, some foretold him as God, others as man. The hypostatic union harmonizes the testimony.'»

«Όσον αφορά τη θεολογία της ιστορίας, η ουσιαστική συνεισφορά της Καινής Διαθήκης είναι η επιβεβαίωση ότι ο Χριστός είναι η παρούσα πραγματικότητα των προφητικών προβλέψεων της Παλαιάς [ενν. Διαθήκης]. Σκοπός της Καινής Διαθήκης δεν είναι να διακηρύξει την ύπαρξη του ερχόμενου παραδείσου -- η Παλαιά Διαθήκη είναι πλήρης από αυτό το άγγελμα, αλλά στη Νέα, ο παράδεισος είναι εδώ και τώρα, με τον Χριστό: "Αυτή τη μέρα θα είσαι μαζί μου στον Παράδεισο". Σκοπός της Καινής Διαθήκης δεν είναι να δηλώσει ότι ο υπηρέτης του Θεού θα θυσιαστεί για τις αμαρτίες του κόσμου, αλλά ότι ο Χριστός είναι το αρνί που σφάχτηκε: "Ιδού, αυτό είναι το Αρνί του Θεού· ιδού, αυτό είναι που απομακρύνει την αμαρτία από τον κόσμο"· και ότι η εθελοντική θυσία αυτού του θύματος εκπληρώνει τον προορισμό της ανθρωπότητας. Η Καινή Διαθήκη είναι ακριβώς το υπόμνημα αυτής της παρούσας πραγματικότητας, αυτής της Dasein [διαβ. νταζάιν]. Οι λειτουργικές λέξεις είναι σήμερα, ιδού. Αυτό είναι που καθιστά το Ευαγγέλιο "νέα", όπως σωστά διέκρινε ο Αγ. Ειρηναίος: "εισήγαγε κάτι εντελώς νέο, φέροντας σε ύπαρξη εκείνον για τον οποίο είχε προλεχθεί".

Με την έλευση του Χριστού, έφτασαν "οι τελευταίες ημέρες" για τις οποίες μιλάει η Παλαιά Διαθήκη. Η Καινή Διαθήκη το δηλώνει σε πολλά σημεία. "Στους αρχαίους χρόνους, ο Θεός μίλησε στους πατέρες μας με πολλούς τρόπους και με πολλά μέσα, μέσω των προφητών· τώρα εντέλει σε αυτούς τους καιρούς μας μίλησε μέσω ενός Γιου που θα μιλήσει για εκείνον". Αυτές οι "τελευταίες ημέρες" αναφέρονται στην Ενσάρκωση: "...μέχρι που έφτασε ο προσδιορισμένος καιρός. Τότε ο Θεός απέστειλε το Γιο του". Πάλι, η αναφορά γίνεται στο Πάθος και την Ανάσταση: "αυτός αποκαλύφθηκε μια για πάντα, τη στιγμή που η ιστορία έφτασε στην πλήρωσή της, εκμηδενίζοντας την αμαρτία μας μέσω της θυσίας του"· "ήταν το στοργικό του σχέδιο, με επίκεντρο τον Χριστό, να φέρει την ιστορία στην πλήρωσή της ανακεφαλαιώνοντας τα πάντα σε αυτόν".

Αυτές είναι οι "τελευταίες ημέρες" για τις οποίες μίλησαν οι προφήτες της Παλαιάς Διαθήκης: και φαίνεται κατόπιν εξέτασης ότι οι εσχατολογικές προφητείες ανήκουν σε δύο εντελώς διαφορετικές παραδόσεις. Στη μία, η Παλαιά Διαθήκη δηλώνει ότι ο Ιεχωβά θα εκτελέσει τέτοια θαύματα στο τέλος του χρόνου ώστε θα επισκιαστούν όλα τα κραταιά έργα που επιτέλεσε για τον Ισραήλ κατά το παρελθόν. Αυτές οι προφητείες αφορούν άμεσα τον ίδιο τον Θεό, του οποίου η έλευση προλέγεται έτσι από τον Ησαΐα: "Ετοιμάστε την οδό για την έλευση του Κυρίου· ευθή δρόμο για τον Θεό μας μέσα από την έρημο". Ο Ιεχωβά είναι εκείνος που θα "δημιουργήσει νέους ουρανούς και νέα γη", εκείνος που κατοικεί στη νέα Σιών και ο οποίος κάθεται για να κρίνει τα έθνη. Οι Γραφές στο σύνολό τους αποτελούν ένα χρονικό των gesta Dei [σημ. "ενεργειών του Θεού"], που αποκαλύπτουν τον Θεό, όχι στην αιώνια οντότητά του, αλλά στις ενέργειές του στον έγχρονο κόσμο. Ο Θεός της Βίβλου είναι πάντα ένας ζωντανός Θεός, που εισβάλει εντός της ιστορίας, πλησιάζοντας στους ανθρώπους. Αυτή η άμεση παρουσία του Θεού, η οποία αποτελεί το χαρακτηριστικό της Παλαιάς Διαθήκης, πρόκειται να ενταθεί σε έναν άνευ προηγουμένου βαθμό κατά τις τελευταίες ημέρες. [...]»


* Jean Daniélou,
The Lord of history: Reflections on the inner meaning of History,
[Ο Κύριος της ιστορίας: Στοχασμοί στο εσώτερο νόημα της Ιστορίας]
Longmans, 1958/Textbook Publishers, 2003,
pp./σσ. 186-188.

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