God’s Government

God’s Government October 18, 2015

It seems that I have reached the point in my life where I am doing scholarship even in my sleep. A few nights ago I had a dream in which I was looking into the possibility that “God’s government” would be a good way to translate the New Testament phrase “the kingdom of God.” I was working through the parables, noticing many where the first impression one gets is that the rendering simply doesn’t fit, and then discovering that on closer inspection it just might work.

I suppose, after this experience, I have two questions. The first is what you think of “the government of God” as a way of rendering “the kingdom of God” for modern audiences, and as an attempt to capture the essential points of the phrase’s meaning in Jesus’ time. Poking around just a little on line (after waking up from the dream), it seems to be a rendering that some religious groups like (such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses), but I did not find much scholarly discussion of the concept. It does seem to me worth discussing – if only to bring into focus the ways that such a rendering is inadequate, and thus to highlight the differences between modern governments and ancient kingdoms for modern readers. But given that “government” has overlap with the range of meanings of both “kingdom” and “reign” or “rule,” and given that the latter two words have been proposed as alternatives to the former as renderings in English of the Aramaic word that Jesus would have used, I’m not sure that my dream would have been better spent doing something else.

The second question is whether anyone else has ever practiced their profession in their sleep – or is this a sign of how much I love what I do, since engaging in hobbies, like music or sports, is not uncommon in one’s dreams…?

Slide by Brent Lokker highlighting different translations of Isaiah 9:7
Slide by Brent Lokker highlighting different translations of Isaiah 9:7

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