PMW 2018-059 by R. T. France
Gentry introductory note:
As I am researching my commentary on Matthew 21–25 (the contextual unit in which the Olivet Discourse appears in Matthew), I have stumbled across a helpful older work by R. T. France: Jesus and the Old Testament. (By the way, I literally stumbled over this work: I already owned, it was in my library, and it fell out when I reached for another book.)
In the Appendix to his study, he gives a brief exegesis of Mark 13, which argues for a transition from AD 70 to the Final Judgment (just as I argue in my work on Matt. 24
He puts the matter well, so I will share it with my readers.
So now, let us hear R. T. France on Mark 13 and the transition from Jesus’ prophecy regarding AD 70 to his prophecy of the Final Judgment. The following is taken from Jesus and the Old Testament (p. 232):
Given this context, it would take a quite incontestable exegesis of [Mark 13:] 24–27 in terms of the Parousia [i.e., the Second Advent] to shake the conviction that the reference must be to the fall of Jerusalem. As we shall see, such exegesis is not forthcoming.
We maintain then that unless the wording demands it, the introduction of a reference to the Parousia into this chapter before verse 31 is quite gratuitous, and destroys its natural sequence of thought. There is, of course, a reference to the Parousia in Matthw2 24:27, but this is with the express purpose of differentiating it from the events under consideration, stating that it is not to be confused with the events at the siege and fall of Jerusalem: it will be no localized event, but universally and unmistakably recognized. The reference to the Parousia here, therefore, further confirms that in this section of the chapter the Parousia is not being described.
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In verse 32 (Mt. 24:36) we are introduced, it seems to a new subject. There is, first, the fact that whereas the preceding verses have describe an event shortly to occur, and definitely within a generation, this verse introduces an event of the date of which Jesus explicitly disclaims any knowledge. Further, the phrase de tes hemeras ekeines (‘but of that day’) is a clearly as possible setting the day it describes in contrast with what has preceded. The phrase he hemera ekeine (‘that day’) is a new one in this chapter. The events of AD 66–70 have been described as tauta panta (‘all these things’), and as ekeinai hai hemerai (‘those days’) (verses 17, 19, 24; and Mt. 24:22), but the singular has not yet occurred. The inference is clear that a new and distinct day is being described.
In both Mark 13:32ff., therefore, and, more obviously still, Matthew 24:36ff., we come to a new section, in which the fall of Jerusalem is left behind, and the Parousia introduced, thus answering the second half of the Matthean version of the disciples’ question. In Matthew 24 this section is greatly expanded …, and continues without a break into the peculiarly Matthean chapter 25 with its parables of judgment. Thus Matthew 24:36–25:46 is a unity in that it all refers to the final judgment, which coincides with the Parousia.”
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We conclude, then, that the context suggests strongly that verses 24–27 [of Mark 13] will describe the fall of Jerusalem, and not the Parousia; indeed, unless the wording makes such an exegesis quite impossible, we might say that the context demands it. But in fact the wording not only allows, but even encourages such an interpretation, when seen against its Old Testament background.
Gentry concluding note:
I highly recommend the exegetical works of R. T. France. I do not always agree with him, but he is always insightful and usually correct!
JESUS, MATTHEW, AND OLIVET
I am currently researching a commentary on Matthew 21–25, the literary context of the Olivet Discourse from Matthew’s perspective. My research will demonstrate that Matthew’s presentation demands that the Olivet Discourse refer to AD 70 (Matt. 24:3–35) as an event that anticipates the Final Judgment at the Second Advent (Matt. 24:36–25:46). This will explode the myth that Jesus was a Jewish sage focusing only on Israel. The commentary will be about 250 pages in length.
If you would like to support me in my research, I invite you to consider giving a tax-deductible contribution to my research and writing ministry: GoodBirth Ministries. Your help is much appreciated!