Sunday, February 21, 2010

Did Jesus Blow It or did the Atheist?

 CHS



Atheists often use the so called "Olivette discourse" As what they must think is a certain proof that Jesus screwed and predicted the end of the world wrongly. The issue is found in all three synoptic Gospels but in Mark it's found in chapter 13: 1=3

1As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!"

2"Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."

3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4"Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?"
Jesus seems to say "this generation will not pass away before this comes to pass," by "this" is included angels coming in glory and the end of the world. So it appears that Jesus got it wrong. There is an answer that I came up with. It's not the only answer, there are others. The Preterits answer for example (which most Christians find untenable). I like my answer best. I came up with it way back around 2002-4 or something and I've used it a lot. It's based upon textual criticism.

My answer says there is an older version than we have in the canonical Gospels. The pre-Mark redaction was circulating in writing as early as AD50 and this is agreed upon by a majority of Scholars* today. Certainly three of the major one's, Koester, Crosson, and Brown all agreed in principle even though they all  have different senerioes as to what that original writing was like. So I assume that in the original there were two separate questions.

(1) What will be the sing of Messiah' coming

(2) when the temple be destroyed.

To one Jesus says "this generation will not pass away," to the other he says "you will see the son of man return in the clouds with the angels" to the other. So he has two questions and two answers. It only makes him a fool if he gave as an answer to "when is the end of the world? (messiah returning) as "this generation will not pass away" and when will the temple be destroyed as "when you see the angles coming." If he got it the other way, when is the temple destroyed, before this generation passes away, when is the end? "when you see the angels coming," then he's a prophet. The fact that that's the right is just obvious since the end of world did not accompany the fall of the temple but some of Jesus' generation did live to see it. So that seems to be what did happen and that's that's a good reason to think that's the way the questions and their answers really stack up.

But we can see that Mark reduced or collapsed the two questions into one and Matt preserved them as two with their two answers. but the answers were cross threaded. Let's see how it's worded:


Mark 13:


 1As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!"  2"Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."
 3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4"Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?"
there we see the collapse into one question. Why? Because this is the question:

v4 (a) when will these things happen?

(b) what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?"

this is the same question. It's just saying "when will this happen" and when will it be fulfilled? that's the same thing. What things' (Notice plural two things what are they?) he's been talking about destruction of the temple. what was said in vs 2:

2"Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."

that's just one thing, the stones will not be left, (they are at the temple so they are talking about the destruction of the temple) they get to the mt of Olives and suddenly it's "things" not just one but two. where did they get two things to ask about? Obviously there are two questions in the original version and Mark has collapsed them into one. They began with the temple and suddenly they have the return of Messiah in it and the the end of the world and they are talking about more than one thing. where did they get that? How do I know they are discussing the end? Because the rest of the chapter, Jesus' answer to this question is about the end times, it concludes in verse 25 with this:

24"But in those days, following that distress,
   " 'the sun will be darkened,
      and the moon will not give its light;
 25the stars will fall from the sky,
      and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'[d] 26"At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
So somehow they go from destruction of the temple to the end of the world and form one question to discussion "things" including the return of the Messiah. Why do that? Why collapse two questions in to one and why one questions bout the end times? Because they Jews believed then and they do now that the Messiah will return at the end when the temple is destroyed. They would not conceive of their faith with out the temple so the end of the temple had to mean the end of the world. So why bother to preserve two questions which are unrelated when you assume they are about the same thing? Of cousre Jesus answer is not reflective of his real words, but may contain the elements of his answers but crosses the answers to the wrong questions because they assume it's one question, about one event with one answer: when the temple is destroyed you will see the angels coming in the clouds with the son of man. one event.

Now Mat just happens to preserve the original two questions, but the redactor while not collapsing the questions cross threads the answers. So the answer to "when will the temple be destroyed" becomes "when the angles come down" and the answer to "when will the end come?" becomes "this generation will not pass away. It should be the other way around. Since the redactor didn't understand that the questions are preserved as separate becuase they are two separate events, he just preserved them by accident and when on assuming that' they about one event.

Let's look at how Mat preserves the questions:

Mat 24:1-3

1Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2"Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."  3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"

This is not just one question repeated two different ways as Mark has it. These are two seperate questions, even though the redactors probably never realized it. They are (1) when will this (destorcution of temple) happen? and (2) what is the sign of your comming? But since they understood those two things as one event Mark conflated them. Mat on preserves the distinction by accient. why? because the answer Jesus gives in Mat reflect the notion of one event:


 4Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,[a]' and will deceive many. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains.
He goes on for the rest of the chapter talking about the end times. So clearly the redactor the two events as one even though it seems there must have been two seperate qeustions in the begining. Now one might ask do I know it wasn't the other way around? Mat might break them into two when they were one to begin with. But while its' obvious what the motive would be for conflating them but there seems to be no motive I can think of for doing it the other way. This is especially true the the answer Mat gives implies that he though of these two events as one just as everyone else did, it's just by happen stance, (or because the original document did) that he preserves the two (perhaps the original document did because there really were two questions in the beginning). I have shown above direct evidence that Mark was deal with two questions and collapsed them into one: Jesus speaks of one thing, the stones wont be left one another (the context is the temple) but then Mark suddenly sticks in end times stuff and changes it to a purl "these things."

This is textual criticism. This is exactly what the work of lower criticism invovles. The only thing I'm missing that a real textual critic would do would be to look at the various ms of these existing passages and show their differences and ry to relate that the analysis. I no longer have my textual apparatus after moving so many times in the last view years. I don't have the time or Patience to look it up, and I think I have a good argument anyway.

*The phrase on that page that documents my view is this: "Nevertheless, the idea of a pre-Markan passion narrative continues to seem probable to a majority of scholars. One recent study is presented by Gerd Theissen in The Gospels in Context, on which I am dependent for the following observations." (Peter Kirdy). Now some atheist is goign to say "that's just for the Passaion narrative not a whole pre Mark redaction" but with Koester the Passion narrative includes several redactions of books such as Eterton 2, GThomas, and others. It includes much more than just the passion.

2 comments:

Weekend Fisher said...

I think it also opens the door to consider: when was the final edition of Mark's Olivette Discourse put together? Conflating the end of the world and the fall of Jerusalem would have been far more difficult after A.D. 70., just saying.

Take care & God bless
WF

Metacrock said...

That's a good point. Suggests an early date for Mark. But then the early dates for gospels are the trend now.