Continuing his metaphor of the perfect storm, Wright directs us exclusively to the first century. He begins this discussion with the Roman storm. Rome's line of rulers included Julius Caesar and his adopted son, Octavian...who assumed the title of "Augustus." Following him, Tiberius took the same titles.
1. What did these three gentleman (oops...wrong word) have in common?
2. What were their individual and collective goals?
3. Why did Rome need the Middle East?
4. Why did they fail so miserably?
On now to the Jewish storm...the second great element in Jesus' perfect storm. The Jews of Jesus' day believed they were living within a story...like actors in a play whose script they already know. And so for them, history itself was "progressive." This was contrary to Roman thinking altogether. "Thus, whereas the Romans had what we might call a 'retrospective eschatology,' in which people looked back from a 'golden age' that had already arrived and saw the whole story of how they had arrived at that point, the Jews cherished and celebrated a 'prospective eschatology,' looking forward from within a decidedly ungolden age and longing and praying fervently for the freedom, justice, and peace that, they were convinced, were theirs by right. God would do it...at last!" This is what their stories conveyed with deep passion and hope.
5. As you reflect upon your own biblical training, what do you recall about the passions and hope of ancient Israel? What, besides the stories themselves, do you remember about these people?
6. In what ways do these stories mimic or share in the passion and hope of our stories today?
7. As Wright lifts up the importance of "creation & covenant" for the Jews, how these same words serve to describe our sacrament of baptism?
Wright give us the chant, "Hitler and the Messiah!" to illustrate the two themes of the great evil empire and the coming royal deliverer. "Down with the one! Bring on the other!" First Egypt, then Babylon...Israel was captive to both. Upon their return home, thanks to Persia's overthrow of Babylon, Israel has little time, relatively speaking, to establish itself and gain stability. Then comes Rome...and the perfect storm ensues with a vengeance!
8. What do you imagine life to have been like for these ancient Jews?
9. Aside from the larger theme of dominance by foreign governments, what would their day-to-day and week-to-week existence consisted of?
10. Where on this earth do such struggles continue today? Why do they perpetuate still?