Friday, December 13, 2013

Blogging with Barth: CD 1.2 §14.2 "The Time of Expectation" pp. 70-101

The Leitsatz (thesis statement) for §14 states: "God’s revelation in the event of the presence of Jesus Christ is God’s time for us. It is fulfilled time in this event itself. But as the Old Testament time of expectation and as the New Testament time of recollection it is also the time of witness to this event."

In subsection §14.2 ("The Time of Expectation"), Barth wants to talk about one aspect of "fulfilled time" which is "pre-time" (He'll talk about "post-time" in the next section). Barth calls "pre-time" the "time of expectation." The record of the "time of expectation" is the Old Testament. The Old Testament is the time of expectation because it is the time when a genuine expectation of revelation in the expected One, Jesus Christ, is manifested:
The Old Testament is the witness to the genuine expectation of revelation. This raises its time (from the standpoint of revelation or in view of revelation) high above the other times in the time area ante Christum datum [before the birth of Christ]. What is in question here is not the independent significance belonging to the history as such which is attested in the Old Testament. The historical uniqueness of Israel, particularly the originality of its religious history, is another matter. On that ground we could speak only improperly and with reservation of a revelation of God in the Old Testament. For that involves making an historical value-judgment, whether it is in place to recognise revelation of God in the Old Testament, and not in the Babylonian or the Persian or even the early German tradition. But what we purport to recognise as revelation in such circumstances is not revelation at all. Revelation is not a predicate which may be attributed or not attributed to this or that historical reality. If we are speaking of revelation in the Old Testament, by that cannot be meant this or that attribute supposed to belong as such and in itself to the Old Testament or to the stories attested in the Old Testament. The history of Israel has such attributes, as the history of any nation has. But it is not because of such attributes that we see in the time of the Old Testament a time which has prominence in relation to the other times in the time area ante Christum datum [before the birth o Christ]. Revelation in the Old Testament is really the expectation of revelation or expected revelation. Revelation itself takes place from beyond the peculiar context and content of the Old Testament. It breaks into the peculiar context and content of the Old Testament, from an exalted height which has not the slightest connexion with a peak point in the history of early oriental religion or the like. Even in the most significant context and content of the Old Testament as measured by general historical standards we shall only recognise revelation, in so far as the significance of the Old Testament is actually aligned to this revelation. Apart from this revelation breaking in from without or from above, or apart from this alignment to revelation, we cannot speak of revelation in the Old Testament. In that case it is much better not to ascribe singularity to the Old Testament in the strict sense, not to use theological emphasis, but to content ourselves with regarding it as one remarkable phenomenon among others within the world of piety in the ancient East. Exactly the same will also have to be said later about the time of the New Testament and about the New Testament itself. The real singularity of the Old Testament consists sufficiently in the sole fact that in it expectation of revelation takes place and is attested. It can thus be seen and asserted only from the side of revelation or in view of revelation. 
But what is meant by “from the side of revelation” or “in view of revelation”? We must recall all that was said about the hiddenness of historical revelation itself, and about the miracle which we indicate, when we dare to employ this concept at all or to take it upon our lips. Revelation is not a standpoint from which, or an end towards which, all we need to do is to draw a circle with a pair of compasses, in order to make it plain that at such and such points there is genuine expectation of revelation. Like revelation itself, genuine expectation of it is also surrounded by hiddenness. And here also revelation itself alone can and will break through this hiddenness. As it makes the decision about itself, so it does also about the witness to itself. It makes it its witness and it attests it as such. So in confirmation of the statement that revelation, i.e., genuine expectation of revelation, is to be found in the Old Testament, we cannot ultimately and in principle point to any other authority than to revelation itself, i.e., to Jesus Christ Himself. His death on the cross proves the truth of the statement, and it proves it by the power of His resurrection. If the statement is true, it is so because Jesus Christ is manifest in the Old Testament as the expected One. All attempts to show how far He is can claim only to be explanations of this fact, which is confirmed in itself because it confirms itself. But if they are really theological explanations, they will not claim to be proved or independently demonstrated (70-72).
In an extended small print discussion on pp. 72-78, Barth reviews the scriptural (and the Tradition's) witness to the unity of the Old Testament as it is centered on Christ.
This fact, which is confirmed in itself because it confirms itself, the fact that Jesus Christ is also manifest in the Old Testament as the expected One, we cannot bring forward as being ourselves witnesses; but, with reference to this ultimately sole witness and so the axiomatic character of the statement, we can bring up the counterproof, by addressing the question about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament to the New Testament, in which we have before us the witness to recollection of Christ. But in this respect we are, above all, brought up against the fact that the unity of the revelation of Christ with the history of the expectation of it in the Old Testament is not an item that occurs in His proclamation, doctrine and narrative with a certain frequency alongside other items; it is taken for granted as their universal and uniform presupposition. Remember what that means in view of the fact that historically speaking the New Testament as we have it before us is altogether a collection of documents about a Hellenistic spiritual movement, for which Judaism and its antecedents might just as well have been one connecting point among others, and a connecting point validated by its various representatives only more or less or even not at all. But the New Testament writers are utterly unanimous in seeing, not in Judaism—not one of them was concerned with that—but in the history of Israel attested in the Old Testament Canon the connecting point for their proclamation, doctrine and narrative of Christ; and vice versa, in seeing in their proclamation, doctrine and narrative of Christ the truth of the history of Israel, the fulfilment of the Holy Scripture read in the synagogue (72) 
To indicate the axiomatic character of the statement that Christ was manifested as the Expected One even in the time of the Old Testament, we may make the further point that this statement was one which was taken for granted by the whole of the early Church from the 2nd century up to and including the Reformation and the orthodoxy of the 17th century determined by the Reformation, in spite of all the changes in the interpretation and evaluation of the Old Testament (74).
Barth then articulates three ways that the the unity between Old Testament and New Testament as it is centered on Christ - namely, expectation to fulfillment - is recognizable:
1) The Old Testament, like the New, is a witness to revelation, seen in Israel's being a congregation (and then nation) and in the covenant which points to Jesus Christ: "The Old Testament like the New Testament is the witness to revelation, which is decidedly to be regarded as a free, utterly once-for-all, concrete action of God. All along the line it has to fight against deviations from this attitude. But in itself the line is clear: when it speaks of the togetherness of God and man, the Old Testament is thinking neither of an objectively nor of an ideally grounded manifest state of God. It is thinking of revelation. It is therefore neither thinking of a givenness of God in and with the present of the spationatural cosmos, nor of a knownness of God in the form of a doctrine of transcendental truth known once for all or to be co-opted into knowledge. It holds that God’s presence is not bound up with the national existence, unity and peculiarity of the people Israel, nor yet with the individuality of this or that religious personality. But God’s revelation in the Old Testament is throughout a self-relation of God which posits itself from time to time in the sovereign freedom of divine action: a self-relation to a nation, but to a nation which from time to time concretely confronts Him in certain individual men and on which from time to time He acts through these individual men; a self-relation to definite individual men, who can concretely confront and serve Him only as examples, only as representatives of this nation; a self-relation which relativises and leaves behind it the contrast between nature and history as supremely as it does that of individual and community; a self-relation of the one, only God out of His own untrammelled initiative in the sheer Now of His decision. This Now of the divine decision and hence the revelation of God is the berith, the covenant, carried out in the flight from Egypt, introduced, made possible and led by God, proclaimed in the once-for-all lawgiving, sealed in the equally once-for-all covenant sacrifice at Sinai. This does not discover Israel already existing as such. It creates Israel as a national unit. And only in view of this covenant does the Old Testament witness have an interest in this nation, and this nation in particular [...] This covenant attested in the Old Testament is God’s revelation, because it is expectation of the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is expectation of the revelation of Jesus Christ once for all in its strict genuine historicity. As freely, as concretely, as uniquely as in the Old Testament berith, God in Jesus Christ becomes history, and with the same mercy and strictness man in Christ is adopted by God. To that extent, therefore, Jesus Christ is already the content and theme of this prehistory, of the Old Testament covenant (80-82).
The Old Testament covenant is the revelation of God as thus specially defined, in so far as, being so defined, it is expectation of the revelation of Jesus Christ. Humanly God will be made manifest, when He is made manifest in Jesus Christ. Man will have to do with one Man as God’s representative, as the upholder and proclaimer of the covenant; he will have to do with a prophet, priest and king. An office of revelation will be set up and exercised. Of this the Old Testament is aware, and so it must also be said in this respect that  Jesus Christ is its content and theme. That its revelation is only the expectation of revelation is shown from this aspect, not only in the confusing number and variety of its mediating forms, which already in their parallelism and succession (like the various forms of the covenant itself) point beyond themselves, but still more in the limitation under which they are all manifestly what they are, in the thoroughgoing portent-bearing nature of their functions, in the impropriety of their office as God’s representatives. The kings of Israel did not indeed (as the usual idea of “theocracy” leads us to believe) carry out the law of Yahweh in their law, or exercise the might of Yahweh in their might, but Yahweh reserved His law and His power for Himself, and did so precisely in face of them. The priests did not forgive sins or create reconciliation between God and the nation, when they offered the sacrifices for the nation. With their human actions as priests they could only hint at this divine action. The prophets, too, did in all actuality receive and transmit the Word of the Lord. But they only received and transmitted it. They did not utter it of themselves, or as their own word. That the Word of God became this man himself and therefore flesh, the Old Testament does not venture to assert even of its greatest prophets. The almighty representation of God among men—the representation in which as a man God Himself is His own representative among men—is only announced in Abraham, Moses and David and the kings, priests and prophets of the Old Testament. They are all of them only instruments of divine action, not themselves or of themselves divinely active. Obviously they all signify the divine Agent, i.e., God Himself humanly present, God’s own Son. They do really signify Him. To that extent He is also manifest in them, and to that extent men may already be called in the Old Testament “sons of God,” even incidentally “gods.” But they signify Him in terms of the infinite distance that lies between the one who signifies and the One who is signified. They all have to point beyond themselves, and with them we have to look beyond themselves, in order to see the One who is signified. Or rather we must regard them from the standpoint of the One who is signified in order to realise that they do really signify Him. The covenant of God with His people through the incarnation is in truth the mysterium, the true mysterium, the mystery of the Old Testament (83–84). 
2) Second, the Old Testament is witness to revelation as God's veiling and unveiling, and we see that Jesus who was crucified for us is typified in the suffering servant: "The Old Testament like the New Testament is the witness to the revelation in which God remains a hidden God, indeed declares Himself to be the hidden God by revealing Himself. In and with this attested revelation a judgment is pronounced upon the whole world surrounding it, since God—here and now actually present—declares the whole world surrounding His revelation to be godless, irrespective of what it apparently believed itself to possess in the way of divine presence. And by this judgment this entire surrounding world is as such destined to die off, to pass away. If it has a hope, it is not to be found in itself, but only in connexion with the divine presence which breaks out fresh in revelation, and is the only real presence (84–85).
"...the decisive thing that is to be said in connexion with this Old Testament necessity, namely, that on the basis of the covenant Jesus Christ had to be crucified. If, when the Word was made flesh, anything else could have happened upon the ancient critical stage of Galilee and Jerusalem than actually did happen, then a different God and a different man would at once have had to confront each other upon that stage. If God did not become another, if, therefore, man did not become another in the event when God asserted His real lordship, if, on the contrary, this event was the fulfilment of time, the fulfilment of the covenant, how could its content be other than the real hiddenness of God and so the suffering and dying servant of God? And likewise on the side of man, how could it be other than rebellion and desertion really and finally consummated? Jesus had to go up to Jerusalem. But the high priests, too, and the scribes and the people, had to do as they did in the only too genuine succession of tradition. The disciples had to leave Him, Peter had to deny Him, Judas had to betray Him. Not even here does this necessity imply the slightest excuse. Man unveils himself here as really and finally guilty. But that this did happen, that man really and finally revealed himself as guilty before God by killing God, had to happen thus and not otherwise in the event in which God asserted His real lordship. Of course this necessity can be expressed only in retrospect of this event, i.e., in retrospect of Easter to Good Friday; we might also say, in prospect of Christmas to Good Friday. “Our chastisement was upon him, that we might have peace.” If that is true, if the encounter of God and man here is really reconciliation, then it may be said that Christ had to be crucified, that God had to meet man here as the Hidden, and that man had to meet God here as a rebel. And if reconciliation is the truth about God’s action on Good Friday, and is recognised as the truth, in virtue of the revelation at Easter or Christmas, then this “had to” must also hold for the Old Testament, and the events in the Old Testament are to be regarded as expectation, as prophecy of the revelation in Jesus Christ. Then the truth of God’s hiddenness in the Old Testament and the truth of Israel’s sin is seen to be the forgiveness of sins. So, in view of the terrible encounter of God and man in the Old Testament, we shall have to say that here, too, we already have the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the flesh and the life everlasting. To expect Christ in this full and complete way, as was the case here, means to have Christ and to have Him fully. The fathers had Christ, the complete Christ. Here, too, naturally, not an idea of Christ, but the incarnate Word, the Christ of history (92-93).
3) Third, the Old Testament is the witness of revelation in which God is present to man as the coming God (particularly as typified in the people, the land, the temple, the divine lordship, and the monarchy, pp. 94-98): "The Old Testament like the New Testament is the witness of the revelation in which God is present to man as the coming God. Present and coming are both to be stressed. In this way we describe the side of the Old Testament witness, according to which it is now explicitly witness to expectation; from the New Testament standpoint we say, expectation of Jesus Christ, according to which it is prophecy. It is this implicitly, as we have seen, even as a witness of God’s covenant and God’s hiddenness (94). All of these things are God's but they await their fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
Thus the Old Testament is a "pre-time" - it was a time of expectation of revelation:
This, then, is the explicit expectation of the Old Testament. It must be held together with what is said about the covenant concluded but not fulfilled and about the revealed but not realised hiddenness of God in the Old Testament. And what was said about the covenant and about the hiddenness of God receives confirmation from the presence of this explicit expectation. It is only ex event [after the fact], however, from the recollection of fulfilled time, from the New Testament point of view, that we can say that in respect of this expectation the Old Testament is the witness to divine revelation, so that its expectation is no illusion, but the kind of expectation when the expected One has already knocked at the door and is already there, though still outside. Mere expectation, therefore, or abstract expectation, an autonomous time of preparation, is excluded. Is there fulfilled time and expectation? Has the Messiah appeared? Later Judaism, the documents of which were not adopted into the Old Testament Canon, more than once thought so, and every time the end was a bitter disillusionment. And when Jesus Christ arose in Galilee and Jerusalem, the same later Judaism, represented by the authorised experts in the canonical Old Testament and the official bearers of the sacred tradition, looked right past Him, in fact rejected Him outright and smote Him on the cross. If He was the Messiah to come, if He was the revelation attested by the Old Testament in expectation, as the Christian Church confesses it, then we can only say that it had to be so, that rejection was possible in spite of the fact that Holy Scripture of the Old Testament lay open straight in front of these men’s eyes and was read by them with genuine industry and attention. Revelation does not speak directly even in its most definite testimonies—i.e., not by way of a demonstration that can be carried out by experiment and logic. The expectation of revelation in the Old Testament is prophecy, not prediction to be controlled experimentally by logic. That is why it was and is possible to look past it. That is why it could and can be rejected. How could it be otherwise? It is self-attested by the fact that this expected revelation is really revelation, that the Old Testament present participates in a future which is really God’s future. That is, one may be offended by it; it can only be believed in; it speaks only in the way revelation speaks. To this day the Synagogue waits for the fulfilment of prophecy. Is it really waiting? Is it waiting as the fathers waited? The fathers’ waiting was no mere abstract, infinite waiting, but a waiting which already participated in fulfilled time. Ought it not to have been in this knowledge that the Synagogue closed the Canon as the document of this waiting? Did it not thereby confess that there is a time for waiting but that waiting has only its own time? Could the Canon be closed and Christ yet be rejected? Can the closed Canon of witness to expected revelation be read with meaning apart from the counter-canon of revelation that happened? Is an infinite waiting, such as is the result of an abstracted Old Testament faith, a real waiting and not rather an eternal unrest? Is revelation that is only awaited real revelation? We have already denied this and can only repeat the denial. The Synagogue of the time after Christ is the more than tragic, uncannily pitiful figure with bandaged eyes and broken lance, as depicted on the Minster at Strasbourg. We must remember, however, that revelation, especially in the Church which believes in it as revelation that happens, which believes in Jesus Christ, only speaks as revelation speaks. Knowledge of it in either case, whether related to witness to it in the Old Testament or in the New Testament, is decision. The Church may also be a figure with bandaged eyes and a broken lance, even though the New Testament is in her hands, the Canon of the witness to the revelation that happened. And if the Church is not this, if it recognises revelation and lives by revelation, that is unmerited grace, as Paul says in Rom. 11:20f. The mystery of revelation, which is the mystery of free, unmerited grace, includes the Church of the New Testament inseparably with the people whose blessing is attested for us in the Old Testament as expectation of Jesus Christ. And this very mystery acts not only as a barrier but as a bond between Church and Synagogue which, like the impenitent sister with seeing eyes, refuses to see that the people of the Old Testament really expected Jesus Christ and in this expectation was graciously blessed (100-101).