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THE FINAL DISCOURSE OF JESUS ON THE FUTURE $1. THE OCCASION, TIME, AND REPORT OF THE DISCOURSE
There is no more striking phenomenon in document MK than the fact that within that document the one discourse of Jesus which is reported at great length is that which deals with the future, MKX chap. 13. On the evidence of document MK there seems to be necessary either the conclusion that Jesus spoke with fulness on no other theme, or that this theme had an interest, for those who framed the document MK, so much more intense than any other subject in the teaching of Jesus that everything else became secondary in their memory and in their oral and written report of that teaching. It is not unnatural that the words of Jesus which formed a forecast of events, especially those events falling within the lifetime of his hearers, should be treasured from the first, should be most often repeated, and should finally constitute one of the fullest reports in a document which, on the whole, is devoted primarily to the narration of events. In the period in which the gospel tradition was taking fixed form, no part of it would have so lively an interest for the members of the early community as that which dealt with the very experiences through which they were passing. And these experiences of persecution, tumult, national unheaval, war, and impending crisis are precisely those portrayed by the discourse in the thirteenth chapter of document MK.
The discourse is reported in document MK as spoken by Jesus during the Passion Week, at the close of his last day of active public ministry. The occasion of the discourse was some questions raised by the disciples because of a reference by Jesus to the future complete destruction of the Temple. The remark by Jesus was entirely appropriate to the time. The resulting question of the disciples was a natural one. That Jesus should have answered at some length is what might have been expected in view of his prospective separation from his disciples within a few hours. At no previous period in his
relations with them had his disciples been as ready as now to give a receptive hearing to any word from him about the future. Indeed, as to the graver sides of the future, it may be affirmed that, judging from their inability to take Jesus' sayings about his death seriously, they would have given no heed to anything Jesus might have said previous to the present-in which the shadow of the tragedy hung over them. The occasion to which the discourse of Jesus on the future is assigned by document MK is, therefore, the most fitting in his ministry.
$2. INFLUENCES AFFECTING THE SAYINGS OF JESUS ABOUT THE
FUTURE In any study of the reported sayings of Jesus about the future, the interpreter cannot too often remind himself that he is dealing with that body of material which is more likely to have suffered modification in the course of transmission than anything else which finds a place in the record of the life of Jesus. That this likelihood is a matter of fact in certain parts of the documents seems to be a conclusion suggested by studies made in chap. i. But ought such a conclusion to be expected in connection with a study of the thirteenth chapter of document MK? Because of the fact that it deals with the future, independent of any other consideration, it was open to the effects of time and varied opinion in transmission. But when to this general consideration there is added the all-important recognition that this discourse deals, for the most part, with future events which were to fall within the lifetime of the generation of Jesus, it is clear
that there is some probability of more or less modification in the say*ings. For they were “sayings," not written prophecies. Even had
Jesus given them literary form, the history of interpolation in documents exhibits the danger to which they would have been subjected. Had they immediately taken written form, some check might have been given to modifications. But the transmission of sayings as to the future, and the actual unfolding of that future, went on side by side. It seems inevitable that the latter should affect the former. It seems unavoidable that the sayings should take on the precision afforded by the actual experiences. Further, it was to be expected that, during the fluid period of the sayings of Jesus about the future,
they would take on phases suited to the solution of new problems arising during that period. Whether, as a matter of fact, these natural and inevitable tendencies affected the report of this discourse of Jesus, as they certainly would have affected the forecast of any other person, may, perhaps, be determined by a close examination of the discourse. Such is the purpose of the present study.
THE OPENING FORECAST AND THE RESULTANT QUESTION
GOSPEL MT 24:1-3
GOSPEL LK 21:5-7 A And Jesus went out from the A And as he went forth out of the A And as some spake of the temtemple, and was going on his temple, one of his disciples saith ple, how it was adorned with way;
and his disciples came unto him, Master, behold, what goodly stones and offerings,
ner of buildings!
he and said unto them, See ye not unto him, Seest thou these great said, As for these things which ye all these things? verily I say unto buildings ? there shall not be behold, the days will come, in you, There shall not be left here left here one stone upon another, which there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall which shall not be thrown down. one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
not be thrown down. C And as he sat on the mount of C And as he sat on the mount C
And they Olives, the disciples came unto of Olives over against the temple, asked him, saying, Master, when him privately, saying, Tell us, Peter and James and John and therefore shall these things be? when shall these things be? and Andrew asked him privately, and what shall be the sign what shall be the sign
Tell us, when shall these things
when to be accomplished ?
these things are about to come to
of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
The opening statement from Jesus, in portion B, does not go beyond the destruction of Jerusalem; indeed, only by implication does it include the city as a whole, for the words prophesy only the ruin of the Temple. The question of the disciples, as reported by document MK, confines itself to that event of which Jesus had spoken, and asks simply when and how the ruin of the Temple is to be effected. In this the evangelist Luke closely follows his document. But Matthew substitutes for “these things,” of portion D, the phrases, “of thy coming (Tapovo la), and of the consummation of the aeon,” in portion E. He is concerned to represent the disciples as inquiring of Jesus for a complete eschatological programme. It may not be affirmed that Jesus did not give such a programme simply because it was not asked for by his hearers. But it is to be recalled that “coming (Ttapovo la)” is credited to Jesus in this discourse only, and X that its three appearances here, Matt. 24:27, 37, 39, are in portions drawn by Matthew from document P $6o, where the phrase of Jesus
is not “coming (Trapovo la) of the Son of man,” but “day of the Son of man.” The former is a Matthaean term.' Similarly, the phrase “consummation of the aeon” is peculiar to Matthew, in which gospel it occurs four other times, Matt. 13:39, 40, 49; 28:20, three of which instances are in the exposition of two parables drawn from document M$$15B, 18. These expositions are among the striking eschatological features which so singularly characterize that document. Even were it certain that “coming (Trapovola)” is an authentic term from Jesus, given at some point in this discourse, it would have to be considered whether the disciples could have asked about its time before they were taught to expect it as an event of the future. It will hardly be held that the idea of some "coming (Trapovo ía)” formed a part of their present conception of the future of Jesus. Every indication that the gospels give of their hopes seems against such a supposition. In the light of these facts, it would seem that portion E must be regarded as another evidence of the strong eschatological interest of the Gospel of Matthew. The notion of the Two Aeons has been seen elsewhere as an accretion to the words of Jesus.3
84. THE PERSECUTION OF THE DISCIPLES
In the examination of the discourse, it seems best to give consideration at the first to that section of it which has the most extensive gospel testimony, though this leads to a departure from the order of the discourse as now recorded in document MK. That section is the portion dealing with the persecution of the disciples, MK 13:9-13, which Matthew used from document MK in his construction of the discourse on the mission of the disciples, Matt. 10:17-23, and again, in part, in the final discourse, Matt. 24:9-14. Luke used it once only (Luke 21:12-19), but had in his document P a section which is closely related to a part of this Markan paragraph, P 822=MK 13: 11. Thus there is provided for this body of sayings about persecution a synoptic testimony unsurpassed in volume by that on any other subject in the recorded teaching of Jesus.
1 For Matthew and document P in parallelism, see pp. 64-67. 2 An examination of these expositions is made on pp. 226–35. 3 See p. 57, paragraph 3, and p. 95, paragraph 10.
GOSPEL MT 24:9-14
GOSPEL LK 21:12-19
yourselves: B Then shall they de- B
for they shall B they shall lay liver you up unto tribu- they will deliver you up deliver you up to coun. their hands on you, and lation, and shall kill you: to councils, and in their cils; and in synagogues shall persecute you, de
synagogues they will shall ye be beaten; and livering you up to the
my name's sake. It
shall turn unto you for Gentiles.
a testimony. с
And the gospel must first be
X preached unto all the nations.
DOCUMENT P 822
Settle it you before the syna deliver you up, be not lead you to judgemeni, therefore in your hearts, gogues, and the rulers, anxious how or what ye
and deliver you up, be not to meditate before and the authorities, be shall speak: for it shall
not anxious beforehand hand how to answer: not anxious how or what be given you in that what ye shall speak: but for I will give you a ye shall answer, or what
hour what ye
whatsoever shall be mouth and ye shall say: for the speak. For it is not ye given you in that hour, which all your adverHoly Spirit shall teach that speak, but the Spirit that speak ye: for it is saries shall not be able you in that very hour
Father that not ye that speak, but to withstand or to gainwhat ye ought to say.
And E But shall be de-
up even by brother to death, and brother to death, and parents, and brethren, the father his child: and the father his child; and and kinsfolk, and children shall rise up children shall rise up friends;., and some of against parents,
and against parents, and you shall they cause to cause them to be put to
cause them to be put to be put to death. death.
death. F and ye shall be hated F And ye shall be F And ye shall be F of all the nations for hated of all men for my
hated of all men for my
shall be hated of all men my name's sake. name's sake: name's sake:
for my name's sake. G
And then shall many stumble, and shall deliver up one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall arise, and shall lead many astray. And because iniquity shall be multiplied, the love of the many
shall wax cold.
but he H
patience ye shall win
your souls. I
And this I But when they persegospel of the kingdom cute you in this city, shall be preached in the flee into the next: for whole world for a testi- verily I say unto you, mony unto all the na Ye shall not have gone tions; and then shall through the cities of the end come.
Israel, till the Son of
Not only do document MK, gospel LK, and gospel MT (tenth chapter) record a succession of ideas in the same order, idea for idea, and in closely similar, often precisely the same, language, but these ideas form a unit; they have a single theme; they are closely knit