The term "kingdom of God" is found in all four gospels in the Bible and in Apostle Paul's letters. The Gospel of Matthew uses the phrase "kingdom of Heaven" more often, perhaps to avoid offending Jews in the early church or perhaps simply a translation of the rabbinical expression "Malkut Shamayim". The term is also found in various writing styles such as parable, beatitude, prayer, miracle story and aphorism.
C. H. Dodd and John Dominic Crossan argued that the “kingdom” was fully manifest in the present teaching and actions of Jesus. Through his words and deeds the "kingdom" was brought into the present reality of Palestine. Dodd coined the term "realized eschatology" and largely based his argument on Luke 11:20, and Luke 17:21, claiming that "the kingdom of God has come to you" and “the kingdom of God is within you”. Crossan imagined Jesus as a cynic-like peasant who focused on the sapiential aspects of the "kingdom" and not on any apocalyptic conceptions.
Albert Schweitzer, Rudolf Bultmann, Norman Perrin and Johannes Weiss argued that Jesus’ "kingdom" was intended to be a wholly futuristic kingdom. These scholars looked to the apocalyptic traditions of various Jewish groups existing at the time of Jesus as the basis of their study. In this view, Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher who would bring about the end times and when he did not see the end of the cosmic order coming Jesus embraced death as a tool in which to provoke God into action.
The most common view of the "kingdom" in recent scholarship is to embrace the truths of both these parties─present reality and future manifestation, known as Inaugurated eschatology. Some scholars who take this view are N.T. Wright and G.R. Beasley-Murray. In their views, the “kingdom” that Jesus spoke of will be fully realized in the future but it is also in a process of “in-breaking” into the present. This means that Jesus’ deeds and words have an immediate effect on the “kingdom” even though it was not fully manifested during his life. Even greater attention has been paid to the concept of the “kingdom of God” by scholars during the current third quest for the historical Jesus (with which N.T. Wright is associated).
Another important recent observation on the meaning of the “kingdom” was made by Rudolph Otto who took a feminist approach to the study of Jesus. He claimed that “it is not Jesus who brings the kingdom; on the contrary; the kingdom brings him with it…” This approach attempts to take Jesus out of the Jesus movement that followed after his death and resurrection; by doing this the communal aspects of the “kingdom” become emphasized and not just the focus on Jesus as a man.
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