Showing posts with label Biblical Interpretation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Biblical Interpretation. Show all posts

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The cause of their condemnation: That firmly rooted Tree of life

As I noted in a previous series of posts, most scholars nowadays presume that the clear eschatological promises and expectations woven throughout the New Testament "Scriptures" have not yet been fulfilled, even though they also clearly read as though they were meant to be interpreted as to-be-fulfilled in that first century generation. In this post I want to continue that sporadic series I started late last year. 

For those who follow this blog, it should already be abundantly clear that I have thought about this academically hot topic in lengthy detail for over a decade (see here and here and here and here and here and here), so this isn't some kind of stream-of-consciousness eisegesis or exegesis on my part. I have researched this topic extensively, and I have reached a point in life when I am willing to share how I feel about it all. I am seriously bothered by both the hubris of many contemporary biblical scholars and the apathetic torpor of brilliant academicians who specialize in the field of Second-Temple Judaism and early Christianity. Even though most of them admit that the New Testament corpus of literature clearly refers to first century cataclysmic events about "the end of the world" in direct relation to first century historical events surrounding the Roman/Jewish wars, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the fall of Herod's Temple in AD 70 (the axis mundi of first century Rabbinic Judaism), they all nevertheless invent farcically esoteric theories and inane paradigms for interpreting first century Judean eschatological language to justify their presumption that such "prophecy" and historical allusions to first century events were not really divinely revelatory prior to the events they describe, and also did not actually become fulfilled in the first century. All "prophecy" supposedly must be recorded to look like they're referring to past events. But it wasn't all true prophecy anyway, because we know that the end of the world has not literally occurred yet, according to Gospel prophecy. At best, the parousia of Christ has been delayed thousands of years, and no one knows the day nor the hour. 

I have hundreds of pages of notes among scholarly publications that I own, highlighting such professional opinions. After all these years of trying to become convinced along with them, I now think that such presumptions are based entirely upon official yet questionable dogmas that developed organically through various politically and ecclesiologically philosophical concerns which arose centuries after the Second-Temple early Christian period. Only those scholars who are not beholden to questionable tribalistic dogmas are brave enough to challenge the status quo, reading the texts with literary, historical, and rhetorical integrity.

Although today's post is only topically related to the subject of New Testament eschatological fulfillment in the first century, I consider this post to be a unique and important shift in perspective. I have never commented publicly at length about Christian "scriptures" that are clearly pseudepigraphic and vaticinium ex eventu. In the past I have insisted that the New Testament Scriptures are historically reliable and rhetorically coherent, or else they are false and unreliable witnesses to first century expectations and events. In this post, I'm not going to stop insisting as much. Instead, I will be upping the ante to such positions. Despite the many and disjointed scholarly conjectures about New Testament eschatological promises being unfulfilled and delayed, even delayed beyond our own future (in the present time), I will be insisting in future posts that a huge amount of writings outside of the New Testament literary corpus actually bear witness to the New Testament eschatological expectations, and thereby testify literarily to first century historical events being their actual fulfillment. I will be upping the ante today by using pseudepigraphic, ex eventu "scriptures" to illustrate that first century fulfillment was the primary reason for composing such "scriptures."

In this post, I want to show how one, small, and highly relevant piece of pseudepigraphic Jewish-Christian literature that has clearly been written after the events of AD 70 (and thereby vaticinium ex eventu by design), can be an extremely valuable and helpful specimen for understanding and appreciating the New Testament eschatological message of first century fulfillment. The specimen of which I am speaking is known as 4 Baruch (the Paraleipomena Jeremiou, also known in the Ethiopic tradition as "The rest of the words of Baruch," the scribe of Israel's prophet, Jeremiah).

Below is an excerpt taken from Dale C. Allison's translation of 4 Baruch 9:7-21.
...After saying these things, and while standing in the area of the altar with Baruch and Abimelech, he became like one of those handing over his soul. And Baruch and Abimelech remained weeping and crying with a great voice, "Woe to us because our father Jeremiah, the priest of God, has left us and gone away." All the people heard their weeping, and they all ran to them, and they saw Jeremiah lying on the ground as though dead. And they tore their garments and put dust on their heads and wept most bitterly. And after these things, they prepared themselves to bury him. And behold! a voice came, saying "Do not bury one who yet lives, because his soul is returning to his body again." And when they heard the voice, they did not bury him, but for three days they remained in a circle around his body, talking (with each other) and being perplexed as to what time he was going to stand up. After three days, his soul re-entered his body, and he raised his voice in the midst of all and said, 
"Glorify God with one voice, all (of you) glorify God and the Son of God who awakens us, Jesus Christ the light of all the ages, the unquenchable light, the life of faith. And it will happen after these times that there will be another 477 years, and he will come to earth.1 And the tree of life, which is planted in the middle of paradise, will make all the unfruitful trees bear fruit, and grow, and send forth shoots. And it will make the trees that had (sprouted) and grown great and said, 'We have sent our top to the sky,' together with their high branches, to shrivel up; and that firmly rooted tree will cause them to be condemned. And it will make that which is scarlet to become white as wool. The snow will be turned black, the sweet waters will become salty, and the salty will become sweet in the great light of the joy of God. And he will bless the islands so that they produce fruit by the word from the mouth of his Christ. For he will come, and he will go out, and he will choose for himself twelve apostles, so that they might preach the good news among the nations. He whom I have seen has been adorned by his Father, and he is coming into the world upon the Mount of Olives; and he will fill the hungry souls." 
While Jeremiah was saying these things concerning the Son of God, that he is coming into the world, the people became furious and said, "These are once again the words spoken by Isaiah the son of Amos when he said, 'I saw God and the Son of God.' Come then, and let us not kill him by the death (with which we killed) that one, but let us stone him with stones."....2

In this story, the prophet Jeremiah is miraculously revived for the purpose of sharing an eschatological vision of Jesus Christ coming hundreds of years later, to the land of Israel. At that special eschatological time, "the tree of life" which is planted in the protological Garden of Eden --the "middle of paradise"-- will bring about miraculous change among the nations surrounding Israel: unfruitful trees will bear fruit and send out shoots for future Garden expansion. The apostate leadership of Israel, described throughout the literature of Second-Temple Judaism and early Christianity, are the trees who would be judged by God severely, for they would sprout and grow greatly, boasting like one who ascends to heaven, up to the plane of ruling stars. The surrounding trees of Israel would become shriveled up and condemned by "that firmly rooted tree" of life in the midst of Paradise. 

At that time, that Tree in paradise will also reverse the fortunes of the surrounding trees of Israel's land in order to expand the Garden's fruitfulness. A tiny portion of this fortune-reversal pericope is structured chiastically, for poetic emphasis: 

A) that which is scarlet will become white as wool  (i.e. the "unclean" will become "clean")
  B) the snow will be turned black  (i.e. the "clean" will become "unclean")
  B') the sweet waters will become salty  (i.e. the "fresh" will become "repugnant")
A') the salty will become sweet  (i.e. the "repugnant" will become "fresh")

Finally and wondrously, all of this would take place "in the great light of the joy of God." That Son of God, "Jesus Christ," whom Jeremiah had seen while lying on the ground in virtual death for three days, would come into the world upon the Mount of Olives, and fill the hungry souls. As Dale C. Allison, Jr. has highlighted:
A reader of the NT may think of stories in which Jesus is on the Mount of Olives... One might also recall the many texts in which the risen Jesus discourses on the Mount of Olives. It is more likely, however, that the second coming is in view. 4 Baruch takes up the language of Zech 14:4-5, an eschatological text which Jewish readers often connected with the resurrection of the dead and which some early Christian texts associated with the parousia. If so, 4 Baruch likely assumes, in line with a host of other ancient sources, that Jerusalem, the axis mundi, will be the center of the end-time events.3

Notice carefully that Allison presumes that Jesus' discourses on the Mount of Olives can be separated conceptually from the "second coming," the "parousia," and "the resurrection of the dead." According to Allison, the author of 4 Baruch imagines along with "a host of other ancient sources" that Jerusalem was the center of the end-time events, but Allison's own personal eschatological convictions about the parousia and the resurrection of the dead preclude the possibility of the "end times" actually being fulfilled in the destruction of first century Jerusalem. But why must we assume this, too? 

Here's an honest question of mine: Why not consider all of those events taking place in that first century generation, as Jesus said it would

Allison associates all of those things with a "second coming," a phrase that isn't even mentioned in the New Testament! The closest remark to a "second" coming of the Lord Jesus is found in Hebrews 9:28, which, in its very close context alongside verses 24-27 (compare with Heb. 9:8-9), clearly refers to Christ's appearance at the end of the ages, in that generation. The author of Hebrews is the one who defines the terms for us, and sets the time-frame in which the end of the ages takes place. He says that Christ "appeared" once "at the end of the ages" to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. It is in that immediate context that he also mentions that Jesus would "appear a second time" (which, if you were a recipient of this authentic letter among a first century audience, such an "appearance" would obviously be in that generation because the first "appearance" was at the end of the ages, not the beginning of the ages). That second appearance would not be to put away sin (which, in context, means to suffer repeatedly, to sacrifice himself again, etc.), but instead to save all those who eagerly waited for him. Such an eager expectation happens to comport very well with preterist hermeneutic, because most (!!) eschatological expectations of Second-Temple Judaism hoped for ancestors to be raised from the dead-ones in Hades/Sheol at the coming of Israel's Messiah. 

Let's now rewind a bit, and get our focus back onto 4 Baruch

Let's not forget that 4 Baruch is clearly vaticinium ex eventu and pseudepigraphic. Baruch, the servant of Jeremiah, did not prophesy about Jesus Christ by name, or his disciples by number. We should now be asking why anyone after the fulfillment of such extraordinary first century events would write as though they actually were old testament prophets of Israel, foreseeing motifs of eschatological renewal and resurrection hundreds of years in advance.

Let's now ask an obvious question: Why would an author (or redactor) of "scriptural" history such as 4 Baruch compose such a story?

Isn't it obvious that 4 Baruch was designed to persuade readers after the events of AD 70 that they had already been clearly fulfilled in that generation of Jesus and his apostles, within the first century

For most Christians this is a large pill to swallow because it appears heterodox. I'm not bothered by such suspicions. I think there are numerous ways in which to fit such paradigms into orthodoxy; but sorting that out is not a concern of mine at the moment. For now, I'm just thinking out loud about what I have studied and how I think it can be interpreted; and I think there are only two ways to interpret 4 Baruch 9:7-21. Either the New Testament promises and expectations of imminent eschatological fulfillment were historically reliable and rhetorically coherent, or else they were false and unreliable witnesses to first century expectations and events. 4 Baruch was composed long after such first century fulfillment, to tell a story about the destruction of Jerusalem in Jeremiah's day. That story concludes with Jeremiah being martyred like Jesus Christ for telling Israel about a vision he had while lying as a dead man for three days. That vision was about the trees of Israel (i.e. the leaders) being condemned by God's chief and chosen tree, the Tree of life. That vision promised the definitive beginning of God's proctological Garden-expansion project finally getting underway; but that necessitated purging all the rotten trees around the Tree of life, in order to spread seeds of life upon the surrounding nations. At that time, the unclean would become clean, and the fresh waters of Israel would become repugnant. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, would come into the world upon the Mount of Olives and fill hungry souls. All of that, notably, referred to the appearing of Christ a second time in that generation, at the end of the ages, to save all those who eagerly waited for him. It alluded to the "end time events" of Zechariah 14, an eschatological text which ancient Jewish literature and iconography connected with the resurrection of the dead-ones from Sheol/Hades who had been awaiting eternal life with their promised Messiah's exaltation to the right hand of his Heavenly Father.

With all of this in mind, I still contend that if Christians continue to presume that the clear eschatological promises and expectations woven throughout the New Testament Scriptures have not yet been fulfilled, even though they also clearly read as though they were meant to be interpreted that way, the integrity of New Testament scriptures as historically reliable and rhetorically credible witnesses to Jesus Christ will never be taken seriously by the surrounding world.

4 Baruch is not an exception to that rule either. 4 Baruch 9:7-21 was meant to be interpreted as to-be-fulfilled in that first century generation in which Jesus, Israel's Messiah, had lived and died, was raised from the dead-ones, and was vindicated in the promised destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, like YHWH's word was vindicated in his prophet Jeremiah's life and message about the destruction of Jerusalem and Israel's first temple (Jer. 52:12-16; cf. 2 Kings 25:8-12; 2 Chron. 36:17-21; Psa. 137). 

1.  The Greek manuscripts actually read ες τν γν, "into the land." The translation of γν as "earth" is often misleading because it is easily interpreted anachronistically. Ancient eastern cultures thought in terms of territories, tribes, and land.
2. Dale C. Allison, Jr., 4 Baruch [Commentaries on Early Jewish Literature], (Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter GmbH, 2019), pp. 393-4
3. Ibid. p. 443

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Bible Literalist?

Truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. 

The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation.  

The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation. 

To what shall I compare this generation?

Have you understood all these things? 

O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? 

Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. 

Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Ex Eventu Deviance

Consider this my second post in a potential series that started earlier this month. That first post is found hereIn that post, I mentioned a few personal views:

1) People either believe the so-called 'New Testament' witness is historically reliable and rhetorically coherent, or they don't. 

2) Almost all academicians unswervingly swear allegiance to the same dogmas: that the end of the ages did not come in the first century, and the parousia was delayed (and must still be delayed); therefore all "data" collected from new testament witnesses and even non-canonical literature of that general era must be jammed through a peer-reviewed process that, in the very least, attempts to cohere with those dogmas.

3) All the eschatological mumbo-jumbo of academic guilds theorizing about imaginary sources seems more convoluted than just taking the new-testament texts at face value. Either something cataclysmic occurred as promised (or prophesied) in first century Israel, and that fulfilled promise influenced the course of history, or the New Testament witness is false and unreliable.

4) I also don't think 'already-not-yet' paradigms are helpful in mediating the tension between what the texts are and what meaning those texts would have communicated if they were historically reliable and rhetorically coherent. 

Even though I have not traced out a history of that paradigm (because that would be an exhaustive study), I nevertheless imagine, based on what I have studied over fifteen years, that every traceable, popular tradition thereof was conjured up and defended because Christians throughout history have, in large part, been highly influenced by inescapable social expectations, dogmas, and politics. In social-psychological parlance, this natural movement away from some dogmas and toward others is described as the black sheep effect, where Christians have renegotiated the boundaries of permissible thought in response to perceived deviants.1

5) Last of all, if 'already-not-yet' paradigms are only partially adequate (which is to say, they are not wholly adequate), then I think one might as well seriously consider playing around in the Jumanji of source-critical dogmas. 

* * * * * * *

In this post, I just want to say a few words about point #5 above: playing around in the wild and enticing jungle of source-critical dogmas. 

Over many years I have marked up a few hundred books in my personal library that attempt to apply the 'science' of Vaticinium ex eventu to the Tanakh, the New Testament scriptures, the so-called 'intertestamental' scriptures, the so-called 'Apostolic Fathers,' and the pseudopigraphical writings surrounding them all. I am well aware of scribal traditions and the ever-shapeshifting attempts of scholars to pinpoint sources and the reasons for redaction or composition after the events. Undoubtedly, some manuscripts manifest reasons for redaction. 

I also do not (personally) deny that there exists a plethora of redacted religious documents related to the Christian Scriptures; nor do I blow off the reality of ex eventu compositions between 1,000 BC and AD 1,000. Nevertheless, I have remained intrigued and perplexed by the voluminous conjectural dogmas surrounding the list of first-century time sensitive texts that I presented in the previous post (in footnote #74). All of those, if one looks back, relate to Jesus and his claims about the so-called "end of the world" in some future. Most Christians nowadays imagine it referred to our future, and not merely the near future of that generation in which Jesus and his apostles lived (i.e. the first century). 

Scholars nowadays have combed through each and every one of those time-sensitive statements and have cataloged reasons why some statements were about our future, and others were not. Pseudo-explanations range between why those statements were made, to what culturally sensitive memories were behind or underneath the final edit. Needless to say, there once was a day when such conjecture was considered both silly and dangerous. Yet it is no longer considered deviant to honestly believe and promote the dogma that all predictive references to AD70 and the events leading up to it throughout the Scriptures were vaticinium ex eventu. Accordingly, none of them must be or can be definitively asserted to be part of Jesus' genuine gospel, and therefore it is probable that they were not.2 Such prophesies, instead, were "likely" Christian reflections of a later era, imposed upon much clearer, more reliable apocalyptic messages about the end of the physical cosmos.

So then, what I want to do next is play with that idea. Let's take one example and toy with it accordingly. 

Let's take for granted that the Gospel of Matthew is a Jewish-Christian scribal amalgamation, and the final redacted form (or composition) was truly after the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple. We then select Jesus' Olivet Discourse as a specimen. We look at the texts of Mark chapter 13 and compare them with Matthew 24. After examining them carefully, we conclude, along with F.F. Bruce and countless others over the last hundred years of western civilization, that the Markan form of Jesus' Olivet Discourse is earlier than AD 70, as indicated by those modifications of it in the Gospel of Matthew, which reflect the situation after AD 70.3 We also conclude, based on our lack of absolute certainty, that "Mark" was likely not even alive prior to AD 70, nor did he know Jesus' apostles (as older, sacred tradition asserts). 

Indeed, we conclude that based on the raw data left to us now, almost two thousand years ex eventu, that it is highly improbable that the Markan form of the Gospel was composed prior to AD70. In the very best and most idealized circumstances, it is merely the Olivet Discourse contained in the Markan form which could possibly be authentically reported from sources prior to AD70. As F. F. Bruce dogmatically asserted, such deductions seem to be self-evident. Regarding the ex eventu composition of Matthew 24 in relation to Mark 13, he mentions that:
In the Markan form of the question they apparently belong to the same temporal complex as the destruction of the Temple. But in Matthew the question is re-worded so that the destruction of the Temple is separated from the events of the end-time: 'Tell us, when will this be [the destruction of the Temple], and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?' (Matt 24:3). For, when Matthew's Gospel was written, the destruction of the Temple had taken place, but the parousia and the 'close of the age' were still future. A distinction which was patent after A.D. 70 was not so obvious at an earlier stage, and it is such an earlier stage that is implied in Mark's wording.4

Below are some questions in my mind, to serve as a little push-back to these popular ex eventu assertions. 

1) Because the entirety of the New Testament texts indicate a seamless historical context anticipating imminent events to take place within the first century (see the previous post), why not assume that the authors or redactor after AD70 edited the texts to make future readers think Jesus did actually refer to AD70 and the events leading up to it? 

2) Why do we, in the 21st century, imagine some dude (tradition calls him "Matthew") changed or inserted “prophecies” about the so-called “end of the world” into discourses about AD70 and the events leading up to it? 

3) Given the consistent first century, soon-coming emphasis of the entire New Testament corpus (as I illustrated plainly in the previous post), why not imagine Matthew (and all the NT authors) edited just those statements that appear to pertain to the “end of the world”, and not those pertaining to AD70? 

4) Given the nature of contemporary source-critical ventures and the liberty available within such enterprises, why not imagine that the Matthean "form" of the Olivet Discourse was composed to communicate the truly reliable and fulfilled (past) events of AD70 alongside an imaginary and contrived (yet psychologically hopeful) view about Jesus teaching a “literal” end of the world as his Parousia and as the 'close of the age'? 

5) Why not instead imagine that the original intent behind the composition or redaction of Matthew 24 was entirely about AD70 and the events leading up to it, and that whatever modifications were ever made to it based on earlier sources, those are evidently indicated by later imaginary scribal conventions and folklore about the literal end of the world

* * * * * * *

Here is my point behind all of these questions:

Given one's commitment to the slipperiness of redaction criticism, "Matthew" very likely left us with chapter 24 in order to highlight the truth that Jesus really did prophesy, preach, teach, and emphasize the upcoming turmoils, persecutions, and trials leading up to and culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70. Even if the destruction of the Temple had taken place in the past by the time Matthew's gospel was written, that does not mean he wrote about the Parousia or the 'close of the age' as something in our future (or his future, after AD70). Even if Matthew was not a contemporary of Jesus or his apostles at all, the final form as we have it today (and we have no other Matthean form of the Olivet Discourse, by the way) would likely have been designed to portray Jesus and his message as it was truly believed, as it was understood to be. That's the whole point of Matthew's Gospel: to present a believable message, one that is both historically reliable and rhetorically coherent. And that message, regardless of whether it was composed before or after AD70, need not be that Jesus taught about AD 70 and then, afterward, about the literal end of the “world” a few millennia beyond AD70, all within the same discourse. 

As I have pointed out in detail elsewhere, there is no noticeable form of the Olivet Discourse among the Synoptics that makes a sharp or clear distinction between the destruction of the Temple and events after AD70 (i.e. events which could potentially be in our future, thousands of years after the discourse).

So then, here I am, being all deviant. Please don't waste your time trying to crucify me on social media (or privately) for thinking out loud on my own blog. Although it certainly is in vogue nowadays, it's certainly not godly to crucify Christians for simply pointing out what Jesus taught. I'm aware that this paradigm of first century fulfillment is perceived nowadays to be heterodox. It actually is not, either hermeneutically or factually because I don't think philosophical commitments to Christian dogmas about the "end of the world" absolutely must be proof-texted from the "Bible." There are lots of Christian dogmas that are derived philosophically from sources outside the "Bible" to justify what they believe is also taught within the Bible, yet their case from inside isn't as tightly sealed as they imagine. 

I happen to believe such is the case surrounding preterist convictions, too. Two significant reasons why I think Christians nowadays imagine first century fulfillment to be heterodox (or they overreact in rage against imagined trajectories toward other heterodoxies) is because catalogs of sacred traditions and confessional standards have so much dogma surrounding these texts that serious, detailed attention to first century fulfillment of the entire Olivet Discourse has continued, in large measure, to be completely overlooked, ignored, or deflected over the last 500 years; adding to that gaping chasm of presumption, other paradigms have been inserted to fill in and reorient public perspectives about that gap (like "already-not-yet" templates), as an attempt to synthesize sacred traditions of Reformational and Counter-Reformational dogmas with the crystal clear first century time-sensitive statements. But i'll save a detailed discussion about all of that for the future. 

1. See Outi Lehtipuu, Debates Over The Resurrection Of The Dead: Constructing Early Christian Identity [Oxford Early Christian Studies] (2015). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pp. 67-108
2. For a specimen of such views, carelessly asserting autobiographical remarks about the certainty of vaticinium ex eventu scribal redaction throughout the New Testament, see G.H.W. Lampe, "A.D. 70 in Christian Reflection" in Jesus And The Politics Of His Day [Edited by Ernst Bammel & C.F.D. Moule] (1992 Reprint). New York, NY: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, pp. 153-71 
3. F.F. Bruce, "The date and character of Mark" in Jesus And The Politics Of His Day [Edited by Ernst Bammel & C.F.D. Moule] (1992 Reprint). New York, NY: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, p. 81
4. Ibid. 

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Capital of Futurism

G.K. Chesterton once said that too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists. That, of course, was a witty way of pointing out the real problem of economics and free markets in practice: Capitalism is easily tempted to conspire with civil governments to foster monopolies over an entire industry with only a few capitalists largely in control, under the auspices of an oligarchy, instead of allowing the market to actually be more free through organic entrepreneurial enterprise. I want to take this idea and spin it a little bit, and replace free market capitalism with eschatological futurism. 

With regard to the well-known problems of eschatology in practice and the liberty to look at historical texts to interpret them honestly without being demonized, I wish the same could be said for futurism, but unfortunately there are not too few futurists; there are far too many--far too many who believe in whatever they're told about it, and far too few who are willing to research and think for themselves. I consider it to be a truism that over the last one hundred years of academia there has been a monopoly over the market of eschatological dogmas. In the Church, I have found there to be a surprising amount of liberty with regard to the promoting the reliability of the New Testament historical witness; but in the academies around the world, the environment is very different. It doesn't matter which "New Testament" author is researched, used, or cited. Among the many doctrines propounded, almost all academicians unswervingly swear allegiance to the same dogmas: that the end of the ages did not come in the first century, and the parousia was delayed (and must still be delayed); therefore all "data" collected from new testament witnesses and even non-canonical literature of that general era must be jammed through a peer-reviewed process that, in the very least, attempts to cohere with those dogmas. 

However, just a cursory glance through the new testament literature should provide a sense of eschatological coherence. I personally think that the same can be said with some popular non-canonical literature surrounding the Bible (like the Didache, Epistle of Barnabas, 1 Clement, etc.) but if we don't see it clearly in the New Testament we won't be able to apply it to our critical thinking outside the Bible either. We will just allow our minds to be programmed by the guild and the sources they insist we must believe in order to be saved by their dogmas.

All of this made me realize that I have something to share with the public that I have not yet shared. 

Below is a screenshot of one page from an academic paper I wrote earlier this year in response to a major publication by Cambridge University Press. Currently my paper is under review, so I'm not going to say anything more about that. Nevertheless, today I had a strong urge to share footnote #74 of that document, because, if read carefully, and taken seriously as reliable history, one can only presume that these authors were describing the same first century events, and those events actually occurred, or they were all delayed into the distant future, even beyond the current century in which we live. In other words, there is a timeline of events in which something cataclysmic was believed to occur soon, and there isn't room for parts of it to get pushed off thousands of years into the distant future. 

Below is that footnote. All I ask is that you think about this seriously. I have studied thousands of pages of academese and I am personally convinced that all the eschatological mumbo-jumbo of academic guilds theorizing about imaginary sources is vastly more far-fetched than just taking the new-testament texts (along with all of their variants) at face value. Either something cataclysmic occurred in first century Israel, and that influenced the course of history, or the New Testament witness is false and unreliable:

Last of all, for those who have been trained to play safely in the eschatological Ouija of "already-not-yet" paradigms, I just want to point out that I understand why and how those paradigms typically work. I also was reared in already-not-yet hermeneutical presumptions. Yet I don't think any attempts at justifying those paradigms, offered by fundamentalists or critical scholars, are credible. I have spent fifteen years looking for one credible justification, and have not found one to be convincing by comparison with their fulfillment in well-documented first century events. The "data" doesn't actually add up to "already fulfilled-but-not-yet-fulfilled", or consummated, or whatever. One either believes the New Testament witness is historically reliable and rhetorically coherent, or not. It cannot be both under any already-not-yet paradigms. And if not both, then I think one might as well seriously consider playing around in the Jumanji of source-critical dogmas. 

I contend that all of what is contained in footnote #74 doesn't add up to proof or persuasiveness of the New Testament witnesses historical reliability and rhetorical coherence unless these time sensitive texts were seriously and truly referring to first century events that did take place. And I'll bite the bullet and say one more thing: they were seriously and truly referring to first century events that did take place in their future. Elsewhere on this blog I have written extensively about the many Church Fathers who interpreted many of these texts (cited above) as being fulfilled in first century events. Check that out too, when you get a chance.