Paula Fredriksen: “Ends without Messiahs”

Paula Fredriksen, When Christians Were Jews: The First Generation (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018), 113:

Ends without messiahs; messiahs without Ends. The earliest community around Jesus, both pre- and postcrucifixion, had expected the imminent End. That conviction had bound them together as a community. The preaching of Jesus of Nazareth had primed and prepared them for it. Whether or not these followers, in Jesus’ lifetime, had thought of their leader as the Kingdom’s messiah, the intense and unanticipated highs and lows of their final Passover sojourn in Jerusalem – triumphal entry, then crucifixion, then resurrection, then the outpouring of charismatic acts-compelled them there. Jesus, by Rome’s hand, had died “King of the Jews.” If he were raised – to no discernible difference in normal time – then surely he must be returning soon as the King of the Jews. Then the Kingdom would come. 

The Kingdom’s persistent (and baffling) nonarrival, coupled with the falling away of the resurrection appearances, rendered Jesus’ second coming a necessity. This necessary reappearance, especially in light of Jesus’ death as Israel’s king, in turn tapped into Davidic traditions. And the apocalyptic, and specifically Davidic messiah in its turn drew upon those traditions that shaped ancient biblical texts.

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