View Full Version : An Exegetical Test

John Reece
09-30-2015, 03:12 PM
I request that neither Geert van den Bos nor any other cabalist post in this thread.

This is not intended to be a debate thread; at least, I am not interested in debating the subject; I only wish to present an example of how an eminent exegetical scholar interprets certain biblical texts.

The following is a quote of a post in the Eschatology forum:

Matthew 24:8 - "The beginning of sorrows" (but the end is not yet).
Matthew 24:21 - "Great tribulation."
Matthew 24:29 - "After the tribulation."
Matthew 24:30 - "Coming of Christ."

Is it that complex? :shrug:

Point being, futurists don't argue that one event will lead to the "end of the world." That's just a misrepresentation of futurism and a strawman.

I am curious to see how the four texts listed above are interpreted by an exegetical scholar.

My "plate is full" at present, but I hope to deal with the four texts in four posts as I may muster time and energy to do so.

John Reece
10-01-2015, 08:36 AM
Continued from prior post↑ (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?8579-An-Exegetical-Test&p=251217&viewfull=1#post251217)

Text (NA27):

πάντα δὲ ταῦτα ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων.

Transliteration (Accordance):

panta de tauta archē ōdinōn.

Translation (NIV):

All these are the beginning of birth pains.

Grammatical Analysis (Zerwick/BDAG, meanings in this context):

ἀρχή : beginning ; here, (only) a beginning.
ὠδίν, ῖνος, ἡ : BDAG: of the ‘Messianic woes’, the terrors and torments traditionally viewed as prelude to the coming of the Messianic Age (Billerb. I 950) are associated with the appearance of the Human One (Son of Man) at the end of history [= ἐπ’ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?8365-These-Are-Not-The-Last-Days&p=251368&viewfull=1#post251368) ―JR], as the beginning of the (endtime) woes ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων Mt 24:8; Mk 13:8 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mar+13%3A8&version=NIV)...

Comment by R. T. France in Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (TNTC) The Gospel According to Matthew:

Matthew 24:6-8 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+24%3A6-8&version=NIV). Similarly, wars and natural disasters could be interpreted, and often were in the ancient world, as 'signs of the end'. But these things are, and always have been, part of human history; they must take place as part of God's overarching purpose, not any specific connection with the end. Verse 7 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+24%3A7&version=NIV) makes the point of echoing Isaiah 19:2 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=isa+19%3A2&version=NIV), which foretold similar events in Old Testament times. The beginning of the sufferings (literally 'birth-pangs', a technical term in apocalyptic for the period of suffering which must lead up to the new age) suggests that, while all such events have an ultimate connection with the final consummation, they are far from being its immediate precursors, and so cannot be used to plot its nearness. All that is mentioned in verses 5-8, then is presented precisely as not being 'signs of the end'.

To be continued...

John Reece
10-03-2015, 03:54 PM
Continued from prior post↑ (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?8579-An-Exegetical-Test&p=251371&viewfull=1#post251371)

Text (NA27):

σται γὰρ τότε θλῖψις μεγάλη οἵα οὐ γέγονεν ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς κόσμου ἕως τοῦ νῦν οὐδ᾿ οὐ μὴ γένηται.

Transliteration (Accordance):

estai gar tote thlipsis megalē hoia ou gegonen ap’ archēs kosmou heōs tou nyn oud’ ou mē genētai.

Translation (NIV):

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.

Grammatical Analysis (Zerwick/BDAG, meanings in this context):

θλῖψις : metonymy : affliction, distress.
οἷος : such as.
ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς : from the beginning ; omission of article common in prepositional phrases and doubly so when followed by genitive.
οὐ μή : never, here in relative clause necessarily less emphatic.

From The Gospel of Matthew (NICNT: Eerdmans, 2007), by R. T. France:

21–22 Josephus’ lurid description of the horrors of the siege (War 5.424–438, 512–518, 567–572; 6.193–213) shows that, while verse 21 uses the hyperbolic language of apocalyptic (cf. Dan 12:1; Joel 2:2; 1QM 1:11–12; Test. Mos. 8:1; Rev 16:18), it is an assessment which would have been agreed by those involved in the events.* In passing, we should note that “nor ever will be again” confirms that this passage is about a historical event, not about the end of the world! The horror was in fact “cut short” by the Roman capture of the city after five months, bringing physical relief to those who had survived the famine in the city. But even this “natural” process of conquest is attributed to the purpose of God (the passive verb without expressed agent often indicates divine agency; in Mark 13:20 it is explicit) to enable his “chosen people” to survive. These same “chosen people” will reappear in verses 24 and 31, where they are the people who belong to the Son of Man; the boast of Israel to be God’s chosen people (Exod 19:5–6; Lev 20:26, etc.) is now being applied not to the nation as a whole but to those from among Israel and also from the ends of the earth (verse 31) who constitute the new messianic community (cf. 8:11–12). See further above on 22:14. These true people of God will not be spared the experience of the siege but will be enabled to survive through it both physically (verse 22) and spiritually (verse 24). And it is because of their presence among the people of Jerusalem that the siege will not be more protracted and disastrous.**

*Josephus himself, who was involved in the events, claims that none of the disasters since the world began can compare to the fate of Jerusalem (War 1.12).
**Carson, 502, wishes to separate verse 22 from verse 21 (and even places a paragraph break between them), seeing verse 21 as referring specifically to the siege of Jerusalem but verse 22 as more generally about “the entire period of which verses 15–21 are only a part;” this requires, improbably, that “those days” in verse 22 must have a different meaning from the same phrase in verse 19 (and the resumptive “then” of verse 21). By this unusual exegesis Carson aims to separate “those days” in verse 29 (where it picks up the language of this verse) from the period of the siege, and thus to argue that verses 29–31 describe a distant event unconnected with AD 70 (504–505). The proposal seems to be determined by a prior assumption as to the scope of the passage as a whole rather than a natural understanding of what this verse says in context. See further below on verse 29.

To be continued...

John Reece
10-04-2015, 09:19 AM
Continued from prior post↑ (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?8579-An-Exegetical-Test&p=251987&viewfull=1#post251987)

Text (NA27):

Εὐθέως δὲ μετὰ τὴν θλῖψιν τῶν ἡμερῶν ἐκείνων ὁ ἥλιος σκοτισθήσεται, καὶ ἡ σελήνη οὐ δώσει τὸ φέγγος αὐτῆς, καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες πεσοῦνται ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, καὶ αἱ δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν σαλευθήσονται.

Transliteration (Accordance):

Eutheōs de meta tēn thlipsin tōn hēmerōn ekeinōn ho hēlios skotisthēsetai, kai hē selēnē ou dōsei to pheggos autēs, kai hoi asteres pesountai apo tou ouranou, kai hai dynameis tōn ouranōn saleuthēsontai.

Translation (TNIV):

“Immediately after the distress of those days “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

Grammatical Analysis (Zerwick/BDAG, meanings in this context):

θλῖψις : metonymy distress.
ἥλιος : sun.
σκοτισθήσεται : future passive of σκοτίζω (< σκότος darkness) : darken.
σελήνη : moon.
δώσει : future of δίδωμι give.
φέγγος : brightness, light.
ἀστήρ, -έρος, ὁ : star.
πεσοῦνται : future of πίπτω fall.
σαλευθήσονται : future passive of σαλεύω shake fundamentally, metonymy undermine.

From The Gospel of Matthew (TNTC: Eerdmans, 1985), by R. T. France:

[Matthew 24:29.] After the opening phrase (which by itself rules out a reference to an event expected at a time remote from the Jewish War) the words of this verse are drawn from Isaiah 13:10 (http://biblehub.com/isaiah/13-10.htm) and 34:4 (http://biblehub.com/isaiah/34-4.htm). Of these the first is a description, in the symbolic language of apocalyptic, of the fall of Babylon, and the second of God's judgment on 'all the nations', but particularly on Edom. Similar language is used elsewhere of God's judgment within history on cities and nations (e.g. Ezk. 32:7 (http://biblehub.com/ezekiel/32-7.htm); Joel 2:10 (http://biblehub.com/joel/2-10.htm); Am. 8:9 (http://biblehub.com/amos/8-9.htm)). While such language may be taken as foreshadowing some final cosmic disintegration, its immediate reference is therefore to temporal judgment, and particularly to the fall of political powers. If such colorful language is appropriate to the fall of pagan nations such a Babylon, it is surely still more suitable for the destruction of Jerusalem, with all the momentous implications that must have for the status and destiny of the people of God. A literal application of this verse to the disintegration of the universe is therefore quite inappropriate. 'Only a pitiful prosiness could imagine that Christ meant an actual dropping of the stars upon the earth' [< Christ and the World of Thought, by D. Lamont (1934), p. 266].

To be continued...

John Reece
10-05-2015, 01:16 PM
Continued from prior post↑ (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?8579-An-Exegetical-Test&p=252151&viewfull=1#post252151)

Text (NA27):

καὶ τότε φανήσεται τὸ σημεῖον τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν οὐρανῷ, καὶ τότε κόψονται πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς καὶ ὄψονται τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐρχόμενον ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ μετὰ δυνάμεως καὶ δόξης πολλῆς

Transliteration (Accordance):

ai tote phanēsetai to sēmeion tou huiou tou anthrōpou en ouranō̧, kai tote kopsontai pasai hai phylai tēs gēs kai opsontai ton huion tou anthrōpou erchomenon epi tōn nephelōn tou ouranou meta dynameōs kai doxēs pollēs

Translation (France):

And then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven and then all the tribes of the land will mourn as they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with great power and glory.

Grammatical Analysis (Zerwick/BDAG, meanings in this context):

φανήσεται : future of φαίνομαι (passive) appear.
σημεῖον τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου : either the sign which he will give or, epexegetical genitive, the sign which he himself will be.
κόψονται : future of κόπτομαι mourn by beating the breast.
φυλή : tribe.
ὄψονται : future of ὁράω : καὶ ὄψονται when they see.
ἐρχόμενον : coming participle of ἔρχομαι.
νεφέλη : cloud.

From The Gospel of Matthew (NICNT: Eerdmans, 2007), by R. T. France, via Accordance:

[Matthew 24:30.] The concluding clause of this verse, with its clear echo of Dan 7:13, is parallel to the prediction which follows the cosmic imagery at this point in both Mark and Luke. But before that Matthew adds two further clauses, concerning the visibility of “the sign of the Son of Man in heaven” and the mourning of the tribes (the latter introducing a further OT allusion, to Zech 12:10–14). We shall return to these Matthean additions when we have considered the meaning of the allusion to Daniel.

See on 10:23 for the importance of allusions to Dan 7:13–14 in Matthew and the range of application of such language. This saying belongs to the group of three Matthean allusions (16:28; 24:30; 26:64) which are shared with Mark (Mark 8:38; 13:26; 14:62), and which have certain significant features in common: all of them speak of a “coming of the Son of Man” which is visible, which is associated with power, and which is to take place within the lifetime of those to whom he is speaking (in this case “this generation” in verse 34). We have seen at 10:23 how the imagery of Daniel’s vision requires that these passages be interpreted not of a “coming” to earth at the parousia but of a “coming” to God in heaven to be given the universal dominion declared in Dan 7:14. These are enthronement texts. In 26:64 that exegesis is now widely recognized (see comments there), not least because that pronouncement speaks explicitly of what is to be true “from now on,” not at some separate time in the future. And yet the present passage, which uses very similar language to allude to the same OT text, is persistently given a different reference by commentators, even though verse 34 will make its contemporary application quite as explicit as that of 26:64. The basis for this inconsistency of approach seems to be the influence of the term parousia occurring in this context, though it must be stressed that it is not used in this verse, which speaks of “coming” (erchomenos) not parousia. But we have seen that in verse 27 the point of mentioning the parousia is actually to dissociate it from the events surrounding the destruction of the temple, and we shall see that the recurrence of parousia in verses 37 and 39 is with reference not to the “coming” described here but to a different “day and hour” introduced in verse 36, whose timing, unlike that of the destruction of the temple, cannot be known. If then this verse is interpreted in terms of what it actually says, rather than by merging it into a parousia context from which the text in fact explicitly differentiates it, there is no reason why we should not understand the “coming of the Son of Man” here in the same way as in the related texts in 16:28 and 26:64 (and, as we have suggested earlier, also in 10:23, to which there is no Marcan parallel), and in the imagery of Daniel’s vision, of a “coming” to God to receive sovereign power. The time of the temple’s destruction will also be the time when it will become clear that the Son of Man, rejected by the leaders of his people, has been vindicated and enthroned at the right hand of God, and that it is he who is now to exercise the universal kingship which is his destiny. That is how Daniel’s vision is to be fulfilled.

As in verse 29, this is a shocking reversal of roles. The “one like a son of man” who is the subject of Daniel’s vision is a symbol for Israel, the people of God, in their eventual vindication and triumph over the pagan empires who have hitherto oppressed them. But in Jesus’ use of the phrase “the Son of Man” that corporate symbolism has become focused in an individual to whom the kingship is now to be given. He too will be vindicated over his enemies, but those enemies have now become the leaders of the very people he has come to represent. When Israel’s leaders reject and execute Jesus the Son of Man, they put themselves outside the ongoing purpose of God, and the true people of God will be found not in them but in the individual “Son of Man” they have repudiated, and derivatively in the community of those who have accepted the good news of God’s kingship as it has come to them in the rejected and vindicated Messiah. It is this reconstituted people of God whose ingathering will be described in verse 31.

The witnesses of the “Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” will be “all the tribes of the land,” who will greet his vindication not with acclamation but with mourning. The allusion is to Zech 12:10–14: “they will look on the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him.” There the mourners are identified as “the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (verse 10), who are then listed by families (the families of David, Nathan, Levi, Shimei and others, verses 12–14). That is why the phrase pasai hai phylae tēs gēs must here refer to all the tribes of the land (i.e., as in Zech 12, a specifically Jewish mourning) not “of the earth.”* This is required also by the use of phylē, which in the NT (as normally in the LXX) is used specifically of the OT tribes (Matt 19:28; Luke 2:36; Acts 13:21; Rom 11:1; Heb 7:13–14; etc.).** There are problems in both the text and the interpretation of the Zechariah passage, but it appears to speak of the Israelite families mourning over one of their own whom “they have pierced,” suggesting a blend of genuine sorrow and remorse. And in the overall pattern of Zech 9–14 this “one they have pierced” is usually interpreted as a rejected messianic figure, who appears also as the rejected shepherd in Zech 11:4–14 and the shepherd killed by the sword in Zech 13:7–9. In this gospel both those latter passages will be applied to Jesus’ death in Jerusalem (see on 26:31; 27:9–10), and the present allusion should therefore probably be taken in the same way. Jesus’ words here suggest then, in the light of their OT background, that the people of Jerusalem will recognize what they have done to their Messiah, but their mourning will be prompted by seeing his eventual vindication and triumph, when it will be too late to avert the consequences of having rejected him.***

Matthew’s other addition to the Son of Man saying of Mark 13:26 is the puzzling introductory clause “And then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven”, which, because of its obscurity, I have left to the last for comment in the hope that the sense of the rest of the saying may cast light on it. Some interpreters take the “of” to be epexegetic: “the sign which is the Son of Man in heaven;” in that case there is no separate “sign” in view, but the Son of Man himself. But if it is taken to speak of an actual sign belonging to or about the Son of Man, the sense will depend on whether “in heaven” is taken to specify the location in which the “sign” will be seen or as linked more closely with the immediately preceding words “the sign of the-Son-of-Man-in-heaven,” i.e. the sign of the heavenly authority of the Son of Man. Some take it in the former sense, and speak of a symbol visible in the sky, but there is little in the context to indicate what sort of “sign” might be expected. Some patristic writers supposed that the prediction was of a vision of a cross in the sky such as Constantine is reputed to have seen (Eusebius, Vit. Const. 1.28), but there is nothing in the context to suggest that and surely it would require some indication of what sort of “sign” to look for. If, however, “in heaven” is taken with “the Son of Man,” the following clauses perhaps suggest an answer. The tribes are to see the vindication and enthronement of the Son of Man in heaven, but how are they to “see” it, i.e. to know that it is true? Not perhaps by a celestial phenomenon, but by what is happening on earth as the temple is destroyed and the reign of the “Son-of-Man-in-heaven” begins to take effect in the gathering of his chosen people. In that case the “sign” is not a preliminary warning of an event still to come, but the visible manifestation of a heavenly reality already established, that the Son of Man is in heaven sitting at the right hand of Power (26:64 (http://biblehub.com/matthew/26-64.htm)).

The disciples had asked for a “sign” of the parousia and the end of the age, but Jesus will give no such sign because the parousia will be sudden and unexpected (verses 27, 36–44). He has urged them too not to interpret current events as signs of the end for Jerusalem (verses 4–14), and while he has himself given them one cryptic sign of when that event is to be expected (verse 15) he has warned them that visible “signs and wonders” are rather the province of false prophets (verse 24). It would be consonant with that generally negative approach to the sort of “signs” the disciples (and earlier the Jewish leaders, 12:38; 16:1) wanted that the “sign” here offered is not a prior notification but simply the visible evidence of what has already been achieved.

*Matthew’s clause κόψονται πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς echoes, though it does not directly quote, LXX Zech 12:12 κόψεται ἡ γῆ κατὰ φυλὰς φυλάς, “the land will mourn tribe by tribe,” where the context, with its listing of Israelite families, requires that ἡ γῆ be understood here, as often in the LXX, as “the land (of Israel),” not “the earth.”
**The only NT use where it is applied to non-Israelite tribes is in the set phrase “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9; 7:9; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6); elsewhere in Revelation it refers specifically to Israelite tribes, except perhaps in Rev 1:7, but since that verse is apparently based on the present text it cannot be used to determine the usage here.
***See further my Jesus and the OT, 236–238, for the meaning of the Zechariah allusion here. I am baffled by Carson’s statement (505) that “those who follow Kik and France” do not want to keep the OT idea of mourning; that is the central point of the allusion.