In my previous post I explained what ancient Jews who were expecting the messiah were expecting. I do not want to give the impression (one widely held today) that most Jews *were* expecting a messiah. My sense is that most ancient Jews didn’t spend much time thinking about the matter, any more than most Jews today do. But for those who did expect a messiah, there were certain expectations. In this post I want to explain why those expectations relate to the question about whether Jesus existed.
Recall: whatever the specifics of what this, that, or the other Jewish group thought, everyone thought the messiah would be a figure of grandeur and power, one who would be a mighty figure who would rule Israel, the people of God, as a sovereign people under no foreign oppression. The most popular view was that he would be a mighty military leader and political ruler who would overpower the enemy and set up a kingdom for Israel like that of his ancestor David of old. Another popular view is that he would not be a mere mortal but a divine cosmic judge of some kind who destroyed all God’s enemies before bringing in the kingdom. Some thought he would be a powerful priest who led his people through his forceful implementation of divine law based on his interpretations of the Torah.
What does this have to do with Jesus? The earliest followers of Jesus…
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