Kraybill Chapter 2
In Kraybill’s book The Upside-Down Kingdom he introduces us to Jesus’ three temptations in the wilderness. Kraybill explores the social, political, and economic significances of these temptations. He focuses on five key symbols that are connected to Jesus’ temptations; bread, devil, desert, mountain, and temple. Each symbol recalls key episodes in the Hebrew history. “The temptation points to a right-side-up kingdom encompassing the three big social institutions of his day: political (mountain), religious (temple), and economic (bread)” (Kraybill). In Chapter two Kraybill goes into more detail about the “mountain politics” and Jesus’ role in them.
Because the devil tempts Jesus with “all the kingdoms of the world and all their splendor” (Matthew 4:8), Kraybill starts the chapter with a historical summary of political power before and throughout Jesus’ life in. The Persians’ finally released the Hebrews from captivity in 538 B.C.E after fifty years in Babylonian captivity. This was short lived as Alexander the Great came into power, and quickly conquered the Persians. After Alexander’s death his empire fell due to his quarreling generals. Syria, or “The Madman”, captured the Jewish kingdom from the Egyptian’s in 198 B.C.E. The Syrian King quickly set up policies teaching Jews the Greek lifestyle. He built a gymnasium for athletic training, where Jews were made fun of for their circumcisions. “The Jewish writer of 2 Maccabees (4:14) laments that even Jewish priests had deserted their sacred responsibilities to watch sporting events—wrestling, discus throwing, and horse racing”(Kraybill). These activities were threating Jewish identity and heritage. Although there were Jews who welcomed the Greek culture, there was a small group of traditional Jews who resented the foreign influence. “Some other Jews, however, thought they had to fight if their culture, worship, and identity were to survive here in their homeland. They were known as the...
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