N.T. Wright says this about repentance in The Challenge of Jesus:
Jesus’ opening challenge as reported in the Gospels was that people should “repent and believe.” This is a classic example…of a phrase whose meaning has changed over the years. If I were to go out on the street in my local town and proclaim that people should “repent and believe,” what they would hear would be a summons to give up their private sins…and to “get religion” in some shape or form; either experiencing a new inner sense of God’s presence, or believing a body of dogma, or joining the church or some sub-branch of it. But that is by no means exactly what the phrase “repent and believe” meant in first-century Galilee.
…Consider, for example, the Jewish aristocrat and historian, Josephus, who was born a few years after Jesus’ crucifixion and who was sent in A.D. 66 as a young army commander to sort out some rebel movements in Galilee. His task…was to persuade the hot-headed Galileans to stop their mad rush into revolt against Rome and to trust him and the other Jerusalem aristocrats to work out a better modus vivendi. So when he confronted the rebel leader, he says that he told him to give up his own agenda and to trust him, Josephus, instead. And the word [sic] he uses are remarkably familiar to readers of the Gospels: he told the brigand leader to “repent and believe in me”. . . (p. 44)
Thanks to Marc for this quote.
What do you like? What’s not clear? What would you change?