"The notion that Jews in the late Second Temple period saw themselves as sinners permanently punished by God and in need of salvation from the sufferings of exile and Roman domination is a myth expressed particularly by New Testament scholars in order to provide a theological grounding for the mission of Jesus to Israel. The most that can be said is that some wicked actions, like the internecine struggles and other sins of the Hasmonaeans in the 60s BCE, could be interpreted...as having brought about specific national disasters such as the capture of Jerusalem by Pompey in 63 BCE."So says Martin Goodman in Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations (London: Penguin, 2007), 194, and I agree. Although it is more nuanced than Goodman's summary suggests, N.T. Wright's view that most Jews still saw themselves as being in exile (in some sense) is wrong.
On the other hand, after teaching Mark 1 in class this afternoon, I am reminded again how well Wright's model explains the introduction to Mark's Gospel. Mark certainly uses the imagery of exile and return metaphorically to describe the activity of John--the voice calling in the wilderness (Isa 40:3)--and Jesus, whose Gospel ministry John prepared.
This is the first of three posts on this topic. Here are the other two:
N.T. Wright on the Continuing Exile
Why N.T. Wright is Not Totally Right