For the Nation: Jesus, the Restoration of Israel and Articulating a Christian Ethic of Territorial Governance

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Recent trends in historical Jesus scholarship and Christian ethical discourse have paid increased attention to Jesus and his proclamation of the kingdom of God. In particular both fields have re-examined Jesus’ kingdom proclamation in light of his first-century Jewish Palestinian milieu and come to the conclusion that it is impossible to fully appreciate and comprehend Jesus’ kingdom logia apart from re-situating it in the theo-political matrices of a Jewish restoration eschatology.

At the same time, however, leading scholars in both disciplines have argued that although Jesus’ kingdom vision is underpinned and informed by a Jewish restoration eschatology, it is also the case that Jesus decouples the kingdom’s manifestation from the territorial moorings of eretz Israel. Instead Jesus is said to transform the kingdom into a non-territorial entity and subsume it into a diasporic ethical praxis. The purpose of this dissertation is to critically re-examine these de-territorialized interpretations of the kingdom in order to discern whether Jesus does in fact reject Israel’s land and whether it is possible to craft a Christian ethic of just territorial governance.

It begins by reviewing the work of W.D. Davies, Marcus Borg and N.T. Wright and their respective arguments for how Jesus de-territorializes the kingdom. It then proceeds to examine how a comparable hermeneutic of de-territorialization is at work in the ethical reflections of Glen Stassen and David Gushee, Stanley Hauerwas, Christopher Wright, and John Howard Yoder. From there it explores how the genesis of an a-territorial reading of the kingdom is embedded in the theological reflections of St. Justin Martyr and St. Irenaeus and then discusses the significant theological and ethical problems that are posed by a de-territorialized interpretation of the kingdom.

Lastly, the theological and ethical role of Israel’s land is discerned in the restoration eschatologies of prophetic and Late Second Temple Jewish literature and then juxtaposed with Jesus’ kingdom proclamation in the Gospels. This comparison yields rich inter-textual connections and provides the basis for not only supporting the claim that Jesus did indeed envision a territorial restoration of Israel, but also for providing the normative basis from which to articulate a Christian ethic of territorial governance.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Theology (PhD in Theology)

First Advisor

Gushee, David

Document Type





Jesus Christ, Kingdom of God, Eschatology, Territorialism, Christian ethics


Missions and World Christianity


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