My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This work opens with a lengthy introduction that gives us a foundation with which to start thinking about time. This is important, because most of us don’t really think too deeply about time … it is simply something that passes in which events happen whereby those events become fixed or permanent. We approach eternity much like to approach infinity in mathematics, by adding more to the dimension we call time (in either direction). Classical though where eternity is outside of temporality and is unchanging and unmoving (Plato). Next up is a survey and comparison of current (and perhaps competing) viewpoints that government interpretation through an historical/salvific or an apocalyptic lens. I found the idea that the apocalyptic interpretation sees the eternal God “invading” history (time) to be an interesting perspective. Chapter three (3) introduces the idea that there is an overlap between the current (and dying) age and the age to come … an idea that I had not previously found in my current studies, but is none the less a good talking point for evaluating how early Christians responded to the fact that believers were dying before the second coming of Christ … and which the author specifically rejects. It is in chapter four (4) that we finally see the paradigm shift that the author wants us to consider, breaking time in the “death-time” and “life-time” with the rest of the book dedicated to explaining what that even means.
The rest of the book is a bit tricky and can be hard to understand, which is why so much effort went into the previous chapters to enable the reader to at least grasp the basics. While I think I understood the concept, I still struggled a little with understanding how this all changed or otherwise impacted how the salvation offered by Christ works … leaving me with an over all feeling that this was more of an academic exercise. It was very interesting, but I will need to think on it a lot more before I have a good handle on it.
The chapters and sections in this work are:
Introduction: Thinking About Time
1. Paul’s Conception of Time in Salvation Historical Perspective
2. Paul’s Conception of Time in Apocalyptic Perspective
3. Time in Christ - Not in the Overlap of Ages
4. Christ Lives Time
5. The Nature of the Exalted Christ’s Time
6. The Future of the Exalted Christ’s Time
7. Union with Christ and Time
8. Life in Christ’s Time: Suffering, Physical Death, and Sin
Scripture and Ancient Writings Index
Some of the other points that really got my attention are:
Interestingly, despite their differences, both salvation historical and apocalyptic readings rely on a common conviction that Paul inherited a two-age framework, which he had to modify in order to make sense of the fact that Christ was resurrected but the faithful were not. Paul fit Christ’s resurrection into his inherited schema by reworking his inherited framework: the two ages are not sequential but rather, because of Christ, now overlap.
Augustine articulates this experience: “There are three times, a present of past things, a present of present things, and a present of future things. Some such different times do exist in the mind, but nowhere else that I can see. The present of past things is the memory; the present of present things is direct perception; and the present of future things is expectation.”
Time that ends has a different quality from time that does not. Time that ends is shaped by its end; time that does not end is shaped by the abundance of ongoingness, which for Paul is the abundance of life. This is not only everlasting duration but everlasting life. Seeking to resonate with Paul, I call the former type of time “death-time” and the latter “life-time.”
Union with Christ means direct access to moments in Christ’s incarnated past: Christ’s death and burial. This is the case not because believers travel to Christ’s past but because Christ’s past is present and can be known in human present tenses.
Admittedly, those joined to Christ do not yet have glorious bodies like Christ’s. This is, however, of no moment to Paul, for that will come (1 Cor. 15:16–19). Believers can know that they are now free of the power of Death (e.g., 2 Cor. 4:10–5:5). Their physical deaths are simply doors to a fuller experience of resurrection life.
Believers suffer, as does the exalted Christ in whom they live, not because they remain partially subject to the present age but because from a situation of liberty they groan along with the unliberated. Believers share Christ’s suffering; like Christ, their suffering is embraced by, even defined by, resurrection and exaltation.
Paul did not think in terms of “already–not yet,” if that moniker signals that believers remain enslaved to Death.544 Paul believes that those united with Christ are, like Christ, now liberated from Death. Those who belong to Christ live life-time in mortal bodies;
Union with Christ is freedom from Sin, but it does not obliterate the capacity for sinning.567 Sin can be compared to a colonizing power, which distorts and disfigures the character and appetites of those it oppresses. In a post-colonial context, when the colonizing power is defeated, the previously enslaved find it challenging to fully claim their free identity
I was given this free advance reader copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
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