Israel's theological asperations ... had an inescapably historical and political referent. If someone had offered a first-century Palestinian Jew the consolation of pie in the sky, it would have been refused, no matter how kosher the pie. One of the great myths of twentieth-century scholarship is that most first-century Jews expected the space-time universe to end immediately. They did not: they expected their God to act dramatically within history, with effects that they could only describe with metaphorical end-of-the-world language. We might describe the fall of the Berlin Wall as an 'earth shattering event'; 2,000 years hense no doubt, some pedantic literalist will argue, in the Martian Journal of Early European Studies, that the wall fell because of a large earthquake, and we will all turn in our graves at the misreading of our everyday metaphors.
N.T. Wright, "The New Testament and the State," in Themelios 16.1 (1990): 11-17.
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