Apr 28, 2013
McKenzie on the Messianic Kingdom
I have been scanning some old articles from my files and came across one from the Roman Catholic scholar John L. McKenzie. I have provided two excerpts, one from the beginning of the article and one from the end.
“Exegetes are not entirely in agreement on the extent on which messianism should be called eschatological: that is, whether the messianic hope is to be realized within history or outside history. In either case, however, messianism is understood to be a divine intervention in history and the establishment of the kingdom of God over all men. In the conclusion of this paper I shall state the meaning which I think should be attached to the word eschatological. Here at the beginning we must notice that the future kingdom of God is conceived and described in the terms of historical kingdom of Israel as the primary term of analogy; consequently, the messianic hope rarely appears entirely deprived of national features.”
“In conclusion, then, we can state that royal messianism is a conviction that Yahweh has promised the dynasty of David an eternal duration. With this eternal duration Israel is inescapably connected. The Davidic king and the kingdom of Israel are to extend their sway over the entire world and to be the medium through which the kingdom of Yahweh realize itself for all men, a kingship not of conquest and oppression like the world empire of the Assyrians, but a kingdom of justice, righteousness, peace and security. This hope in its earliest form focuses upon the dynasty as a whole, represented in each successive historical king. As time goes on and the historical perseverance of the dynasty becomes uncertain, and it finally comes to an end, the hope turns to an assurance that the promises of Yahweh will find fulfillment only in the restoration of the dynasty. Attention is then focused not upon the dynasty as a whole—for it no longer exists, or is shortly to perish—but rather upon the ruler who will restore the dynasty. This founder of the new dynasty will be another David in the sense that the reign is inaugurated with him. Like David, he will exhibit the qualities of the ideal king. In him the fullness of the spirit will be realized, upon him will rest the gifts of the spirit, and through him the power of Yahweh will establish His reign over the entire world, which will submit in peace to the rule of a righteous God.”
John L. McKenzie, “Royal Messianism, Catholic Bible Quarterly 19 (1957): 25, 51–52.