Election in Ancient Judaism

Dr. A Chadwick Thornhill, a New Testament scholar, in the video below surveys how Jews of the second Temple period, which includes the New Testament church, thought about who the people of God are.

The presentation is a summary of his 2016 book The Chosen People: Election in Second Temple Judaism (InterVarsity Press.) Thornhill’s views on election are quite close to N.T. Wright’s even though I suspect he will disagree with Wright on important exegetical details.

Thornhill’s work decisively shows that the popular Protestant conception of election as an individual thing is not accurate. Rather, the New Testament authors with the rest of the Jews of that period thought of election corporately, that is, God chooses a group and not an individual. This has huge soteriological and obviously ecclesiological implications for mainstream Protestant theology. In other words, it affects how we understand salvation and the function of the Church. In the New Testament you are saved by belonging to the group, which in this case is the Church. The local Church community therefore has a role in salvation that traditional Protestant theology has not accounted for.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s