Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile
Published in 2006
Review by Ben Pascut
In Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile, Brant Pitre argues that the historical Jesus spoke and acted with a great anticipation of the Great Tribulation, inseparably associated with the Jewish expectation for a final end of exile of the twelve tribes of Israel.
In chapter 1, Pitre gives a detailed overview of the scholarly agreement that the expectation of the eschatological tribulation was a common and even central aspect of early Jewish eschatology, and significant in the Jesus tradition. However, he shows that there remains as of yet no systematic study of the tribulation in the Second Temple Judaism which is vital for the Jewish tradition.
In chapter 2, he explores the concept of the eschatological tribulation in Late Second Temple Judaism with the goal of gaining a deeper understanding on how this concept was understood and articulated in the extant literature of the period.
Using the historical methodology of John Meier (criteria of authenticity, multiple attestation, embarrassment, coherence, and discontinuity with the Early Church) the following chapters are full of great insight.
In chapter 3 in particular, the tribulation not only proved to be a helpful concept for explaining the difficult sayings of Jesus but also provided an important tool for understanding how Jesus may have considered both the tribulation and the coming of the kingdom of God.
In chapter 4, Pitre draws the conclusion that Jesus evidently expected many of the same things that other Jews in the Second Temple period awaited: a period of wars, strife, deception, the persecution of the eschatological remnant, the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, the coming of Messiah and of other false prophets.
Finally, in chapter 5 Pitre investigates the relationship between the eschatological tribulation and the death of Jesus concluding that 1) Jesus saw himself as Messiah 2), his expectation that he would die in the eschatological Tribulation remained central in his life, and 3) Jesus went to Jerusalem and performed symbolic signs that not only meant to symbolize events connected with the Tribulation but to set them in motion.
Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of the Exile is indeed fascinating and worth reading. It can help the reader understand the concept of the Tribulation in the life of Jesus and of his contemporaries from a historical perspective that will equip, edify, encourage them and ultimately better understand Jesus and his message.