Showing posts with label Literary Structure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Literary Structure. Show all posts

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Umbrella Corporation and its Crowning Influence

There are many things that we don't know and have yet to discover
How long will this pandemic last?
Every one feels the test, and most know they'll survive; it's the elderly we don't want to put in harm's way
Yet their owners added a bandwidth between 24 and 28 gigahertz regardless of the harm

A lot more information can be carried on them
Radio waves will be supplemented with millimeter waves
Enabling data to be transmitted in larger amounts and faster speeds, with shorter lagging

Low latency enables near instantaneousness communication
Yellow buses won't need drivers for long
In less than ten years we will achieve the fourth industrial revolution prophesied back in 2017
No one can stop their plans to roll out more and more big tech & big pharma
Global economic output is banking on an estimate of at least 250 billion dollars more annually by 2025

That is only five years from now, and most won't receive education about it's health risks
Once the infrastructure is up and running, we won't be able to opt out

Ushering in a new era of computer-assisted living is the goal
Smart cities will be reaching into every living cell, containing every virus

Thursday, February 13, 2020

A Harmony of the Olivet Discourse

Below is a parallel layout of Jesus' Olivet Discourse. I must apologize in advance for it being in the format of successive photos pasted to the wall, and not the most clear quality either. For now it is the best I can do. The source of these parallels is from Burton's English edition of Gospel parallels (as footnoted at the bottom of this post). Unfortunately, the English looks like it uses the KJV, which provides a notoriously misleading translation of Matt. 24:3, which reads: "What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"

For those who have access to the Greek text underlying that translation, it is obvious that the word translated as "world" is actually "age." Jesus is asked what would be the sign of his coming (parousia) and the sign of the end of the age (not the "world", which is an entirely different Greek word).

For those interested in viewing the parallels, a pdf of Burton's greek parallels can be found here. As far as the formatting is concerned, that is my own; it was the only way I knew how to share it publicly with very little time at my disposal this evening.

The reasons why I am sharing this parallel layout of Jesus' Olivet Discourse are very straightforward:

1) The average Christian in the pews nowadays has little patience to map out the parallels between each verse of Jesus' Olivet Discourse. So here it is. I have copied and pasted it all for you. 

2) The average Christian who takes Jesus' teaching seriously, and has been taught in Church (or by reading Christian books) that the so-called "end of the world" is clearly taught in the Olivet Discourse, now has the means by which each version can be carefully traced in context, to see if that is actually so. As I have already noted (here), dozens of very important Church Fathers viewed Matthew 24:4-35 as references to the historical destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 and the historical signs of persecutions and turmoils leading up that cataclysmic event. Most New Testament historical scholars over the last one hundred years concur with that assessment. But then a shift takes place, where virtually all scholars nowadays think that the comments made in Matthew 24:36 and afterward either refer to cataclysmic events in our future, or they are inauthentic and "fanatic" vaticinium ex eventu redactions by later scribes after AD70. 

3) I am convinced that there is a third alternative: Jesus was describing the parousia and the "end of the age" as to-be-fulfilled in that generation (cf. Matt. 24:34, Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32). 

4) When you have finally studied all of these parallels, matching phrase upon phrase, and following the descriptions of each Gospel author, feel free to study the chapters and verses surrounding the passages in Mark outside of chapter 13, and the passages in Luke outside of chapter 21, as contained in bold-typed brackets below.

I believe that there is absolutely no way to take any portion of this Olivet Discourse of Matthew's Gospel seriously as authentic teachings of Jesus without also seriously studying its parallels in Mark and Luke. That means that there are not two cataclysmic events about "the end" in this Discourse. There is no fulfillment of "the end" that has "already" happened in Matthew 24:4-35 and also a future fulfillment of Christ's parousia in judgment that has "not yet" happened, and still awaiting fulfillment in our future. The "already-not-yet" paradigm advocated by too many Christian tribalists simply cannot be taken seriously when the exact same historical discourse is mapped out in parallel between all three synoptic Gospels. 

Take the time. Don't be lazy. See for yourself. Think for yourself. 

I have shared other thoughts of mine here and here and here. The thoughts of Church Fathers can be found here.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Matt 23-25: The Olivet Discourse (part 5 of 5)

This is the final installation of a post long overdue. Life has been extremely busy over the last year, yet I did not forget about closing out this five-part series on the Olivet Discourse

In this post I'm going to continue where I left off, which was my promise to show the literary relationship between the last section of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 25:31-46) with the first section of that same Sermon (Matt 23:1-12). 

As I also presented in the first post of this five-part series, Matthew's Sermon on the Mount is structured in a six-part chiasm as follows: 

A)  Those seated in Moses’ seat: not doing what they do 

     B)  Jesus denounces those seated in Moses’ seat / 8 sections 
           (23:13, *14, 15–39)                                                                                         
            C) Jesus asks his disciples a question about the temple, and then promises its 
               desolation (24:1—2)

             C’) The disciples ask Jesus three questions about the temple and its desolation 
      B’) Jesus answers all three questions about the temple and its desolation / 8 sections   

A’)  The Son of Man seated on his own throne: doing what they did not do 


This chiastic literary structure shows that there is a relationship between sections A and A', B and B', C and C', focusing heavily on a central sections (sections C and C') but yet moving forward in an A-B-C-C'-B'-A' trajectory, ending with words, phrases, and concepts that mirror how the Sermon began.

With that in mind, let's dive into the first Section (Section A above), which begins the entire Sermon as follows:

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. 

For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. 
But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matt 23:1-12)

Matthew records Jesus' Sermon on the Mount with a direct address to "the crowds and to his disciples" about another influential group of Jewish authorities they were all familiar with, "the scribes and Pharisees."  Nothing could be more clear from the outset that Matthew records a contrast between two groups of disciples-->(1) disciples and observers of Jesus and (2) disciples and observers of respected first century Jewish authorities. In other words, Jesus is shown directing his whole Sermon with a distinction between a group addressed as "you" and a group addressed as "them", and the main difference between the two groups is whom they would choose to listen to, and trust, and follow. Would it be Jesus and his disciples, or the already-established Jewish authorities? According to Jesus, "whoever" had decided to exalt himself would ultimately be humbled, and "whoever" committed to humbling himself ended up being exalted. 

So, again, the contrast is very clear: people in first century Judea had a choice to make when listening to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Whoever followed Jesus and his disciples would be exalted, whereas those who followed the Scribes and Pharisees (who would later indulge in slandering and crucifying Jesus, and also persecute his disciples) would be humbled. 

Interestingly, Matthew begins this discourse with a unique description of the Scribes and Pharisees, worthy of remembrance. He says "they" are the ones who "sit in Moses' seat". Here, again, it is noteworthy to point out that this action of "sitting" is what begins the Sermon. It is also what Matthew highlights from the teachings of Jesus to end the Sermon. Surely that cannot be a mere coincidence if this is a thoughtful piece of literature, which it clearly is! 

Now let's dive into section A', the last section of the Sermon in Matthew's Gospel, and look at the way in which Matthew draws together these images from the beginning of the Sermon. Pay special attention to how this section begins with Jesus "sitting" on a throne in the heavens (not Moses' seat on earth, among Jewish authorities), and the repeated contrast that is highlighted between two groups of disciples---> one flock (goats) on the left side, and one flock (sheep) on the right side of Jesus. 

This closing section of the Sermon (Matthew 25:31-46) reads as follows:
And when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne, and they—all the nations—will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” 
When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

Do you see the contrast?

The scribes and Pharisees "sit" in Moses' seat, the conceptual throne of those guarding and administering Moses' Law, whereas Jesus is described as "sitting on his glorious throne". The scribes, Pharisees, and "whoever" else rejected Jesus in preference for those authorities sitting in Moses' seat are the goats on the left side of Jesus. The disciples who humbled themselves before God, following Jesus and his Apostles would be exalted. They were the sheep on the right side of God.

Is this making sense now?

All throughout this five-part series of the Sermon on the Mount I have been showing verse by verse the literary relationship between everything described therein, and at the center of the entire Sermon in a very clear sequence of promises---> promises regarding the signs preceding the end of the Old Covenant, and the signs of the end itself---> promises regarding the signs preceding Christ's coming in judgment upon Jerusalem, and the signs of Christ's coming in judgment itself.

So far, from the beginning of Matthew chapter 23, when this sermon began, there has been absolutely zero indication of two separate historical judgments. All references clearly direct the sustained reader to focus upon the soon-coming events leading up to the (now famous and cataclysmic) destruction of Jerusalem and it's precious Temple in AD70, which was the definitive end of the old covenant administration, the end of Moses' so-called "seat".

A question remains: Is Matthew 25:31-46 also about the events related to AD70? After all, the scene describes Jesus sitting on his throne, which could possibly refer to another time period other than the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem.

I think this is still primarily describing the same events, and not some so-called "end of time" scenario. Let me explain some reasons as to why I say that.

First, there is absolutely nothing whatsoever in the text itself which implies, infers, or directly states that it's an "end-of-time" event. Rather, it states (in the text itself) that this enthronement scene takes place when the Son comes in glory, which, as we have seen in this series, can only refer to the event of AD70 when the Old Covenant administration (and those sitting in "Moses' seat" within it) finally vanished away and was made completely obsolete (Hebrews 8:13).

Secondarily, the scenario describes the Son sitting on "his glorious throne", which describes a host of allusions to the absolute reign of Israel's promised Messiah. Unless we presume (erroneously) that this is describing an event in our future, at the so-called "end of the world" or "end of time", there is no reason to view this scenario as anything other than the definitive reign of Christ over all the earth, which began in the first century and was demonstrated definitively as promised in the end of the Old Covenant in AD70. 

Third of all, it is well within the boundaries of biblical symbolism to imagine this scenario of Jesus enthroned as taking place within the heavenly realm, and not on earth at all. A clue given to us is the language about gathering and separating nations before him. Such a description does not need to entail a gathering of all people from the beginning of time to the end of time, let alone at a location on earth. Indeed, in its close historical context, it is far more likely to envision this gathering of all peoples to describe all those in covenant with God who spread throughout the nations within the first century, those faithful and unfaithful witnesses who had died and descended to "the dead ones" in Hades/Sheol, awaiting vindication/judgment from the living and true God of all times and all locations on earth. In other words, this "final judgment" scene is likely describing, in it's first century Messianic context, a gathering of people, faithful and unfaithful, who had died prior to and during AD70 while the reign of the Old Covenant administration was still in place. 

Yes, I said that correctly. There is no reason to describe this gathering and separating as a description of a singular, "final judgment" of all people at the end of all time. Rather, in context, it is exponentially more likely to be describing the time of the promised end in which the New Covenant would be administered throughout the world without hindrance by those insisting upon life under the Old Covenant administration. 

As I have noted throughout my exposition of Matthew's Gospel,  Jesus was very clear about "the end" taking place in that generation. The harvest where reaping and gathering takes place is in "the end of the age," the same "end" described throughout this Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere (e.g. I Cor 10:11; Heb 9:26).

Friday, April 6, 2018

Matthew 23-25: The Olivet Discourse (part 2 of 5)

Continuing where I left of in part one of this brief series on Matthew 23-25, we arrive at the central pivot point of the Olivet Discourse, sections C and C'. 

C) Jesus asks his disciples a question about the temple, and then promises its desolation (24:1—2) 
Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”  

C’) The disciples ask Jesus three questions about the temple and its desolation (24:3) 
As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?”

Notice that section "C" is extremely obvious about what is meant. Herod's temple in Jerusalem, which Jesus and his disciples had just walked out of, is pointed out by Jesus' disciples. Jesus then points back at the temple stones and declares that it will all be "thrown down", i.e. left desolate.

However, immediately thereafter--literally the very next verse composed within this discourse--we are told that as Jesus sat down on the Mount of Olives, across from and in plain sight of the temple they had just left, his disciples came to him privately, asking three questions. These three questions are asked within the close context of leaving Herod's temple, pointing to Herod's temple, discussing Herod's temple along with every one of its stones "thrown down", and sitting on a hill while viewing that same temple. The literary layout of those three questions in that scene is actually quite simple:

The disciples then ask,
 “Tell us… 
1) …when will these things be
2) and what will be the sign of your coming 
3) and [what will be the sign] of the end of the age?”

Here is where things get interesting. Throughout Church history, almost all of the Catholic and Orthodox "Fathers" who said anything about these three questions and Jesus' response to them interpreted these questions as being answered sequentially and linearly (in the following verses thereafter)

Accordingly, they interpreted Jesus' first answer as a response to the first question, teaching clearly that it pertained to the Jewish wars of 66-70 A.D. and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Next, they interpreted the second question as pertaining to the miraculous sign of Christ returning to earth visibly prior to the end of the physical, fallen world. (There actually was a small handful of Fathers who connected Christ’s “coming” here, in the second question, with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., but for the purposes of this post, it isn't necessary to get sidetracked by that minority opinion.) Lastly, the Fathers interpreted Jesus' third series of answers as a response to the third question, arguing vividly that such pertained to the end of the fallen, but yet material world we live in.  As a result, all of the Fathers connected the second and third questions, and Jesus' responses to those questions, with their (and our) future. (This pattern is very important to memorize for now. You will understand its importance by the end of this post.)

Do you understand the significance of this pattern? I will say it one more time so it sticks...

Three questions are asked within the close context of leaving Herod's temple, pointing to Herod's temple, discussing Herod's temple along with every one of its stones being "thrown down", and sitting on a hill while viewing that same temple. Yet the overwhelming majority of Church Fathers interpreted question number one as being answered first by Jesus, followed by question number two being answered second in the sequence offered by Jesus (as laid out by Matthew), and question number three being answered last. 

And not only that, the majority of Church Fathers recognized that the first question that Jesus answered was addressing the Jewish wars of 66-70 A.D. and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.!

Let that sink in....

Not only did the Church Fathers believe Jesus answered all three questions sequentially and linearly (e.g. Question 1 is followed by Question 2, then Question 3, followed by an Answer to #1, then an Answer to #2, and finally the answer to #3), but the majority of them over many centuries also interpreted the second and third questions (and Jesus' answers), as referring to something entirely different than the first question and Jesus' answer to it. They transition from a discussion about Jerusalem and its temple in the first question to the end of the physical, fallen cosmos in the second and third questions.

This isn't much different from what we hear (or believe) in churches around the world today, right?

Here is what I have to say to that: There are at least three significant problems with that interpretation, and the final (third) reason I will list below strikes a death blow to it. 

The first significant problem is that every other reference within Matthew’s Gospel corresponding to the “sign” of Christ’s “coming” in judgment or the “end of the age” are explicitly stated in terms of events occurring within the first century.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (Matthew 3:7, the prophet John speaking to the Scribes and Pharisees) 
When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 10:23, Jesus speaking to his disciples)
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of this age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:47, Jesus speaking to his disciples; c.f. Galatians 1:4, which shares the same construction of "this age" in Greek)
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 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. (Matt 16:27, Jesus speaking to his disciples)

Everything within the broad context of Matthew's Gospel suggests one cataclysmic event culminating within the first century, upon that generation, at the end of that old covenant age in which Israel's temple was central. In the close context of the Olivet discourse, Jesus clearly has one cataclysmic event in mind as well (i.e. “there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down”). Therefore it is presumptuous to insist that this would prompt the apostles to ask three questions, but with only one of the three questions being related to the events that Jesus and his disciples have both clearly illustratedMoreover, if Jesus (or Matthew) is suddenly introducing the same terminology as utilized elsewhere in this Gospel, but with entirely different time references and meanings as everywhere else in the same letter, I think it's safe to say that this would make both the second and third questions and Jesus’ answers to them inexplicable, inconsistent, and confusing within the context of Matthew’s letter. 

Think about this: If Jesus (or Matthew, the composer of this Discourse) has not yet—even once—mentioned the promised end of this sinful world thousands (or tens of thousands) of years later, or even the final “coming” of Jesus to end this sinful world thousands (or tens of thousands) of years later, then there is no apparent reason to start introducing that topic within a series of three questions that seem--at least within the close context--to be concerned with the desolation of Israel's temple. The disciples ask "when will these things be", and there are no internal indicators that the two questions following immediately thereafter are about something other than those very same things.

The second significant problem is that the disciples ask about the end of the "age," not the end of the "globe" or the "earth" or the "world" or "physical cosmos." There are distinctive greek words for those concepts, and Matthew does not record Jesus using them. The greek word that Matthew records is aion. The essence of aion indicates time, not space or matter. That is why the cognate Latin terms are aeuum or aevum, which both mean “age”, and are present in such words as “longevity” (meaning “long-age”) and “mediaeval” (meaning “middle-age”). From Greek to English, the phrase “unto aions of aions” is translated as “for eternity” because the essence of aion denotes time. There are no internal indicators within the discourse that conjure up an idea about the end of the globe, the earth, the world, or the physical cosmos. That is because the Greek word used denotes age. Matthew records Jesus teaching about the end of the old covenant age in which they lived, in that generation of the temple's desolation.

The third significant problem (and death blow to it all) is that Jesus does not answer question number one first. Jesus answers question number three first, and question number one last.

Take a few extra moments to let that sink in....

I just dragged you (the reader) through an extensive display of what the overwhelming majority of Church Fathers taught. They taught that Jesus was answering the first question firstThey taught that Jesus was answering the second question second, and the third question third as well. They taught that Jesus answered all three questions sequentially and linearly. (Hopefully you now recall my suggestion above to memorize that!) It turns out, in fact, that such presumptions on their part were patently falseJesus answers the third question first, and the first question third. Let's see how this is so. Remember, the sequence of questions was this:

The disciples then ask,
 “Tell us… 
1) …when will these things be
2) and what will be the sign of your coming 
3) and [what will be the sign] of the end of the age?”

Now, if we glance back at the last post in this series we can see that in section B' Jesus answers all three questions in eight distinctive subsections (thus mirroring section B, which also is composed of eight distinctive subsections). The exact sequence in which Jesus answers those three questions is the inverse of what the Church Fathers presumed, and is illustrated below, beginning with Jesus answering the third question and working back to answering the first question last:

Answer to Question #3, part one:  the signs preceding "the end" of the age (24:4—14) 
Answer to Question #3, part two:  the sign of "the end" of the age (24:15—22)

Answer to Question #2, part one:  the signs preceding Christ’s coming (24:23—29)
Answer to Question #2, part two:  the sign of Christ’s coming (24:30—35) 

Answer to Question #1, part one:  when these things will be--> "Watch therefore" / "No one knows the Day or Hour" (24:36—44) 
   Answer to Question #1, part two:  when these things will be--> "Master" & "Servant" / "Wailing & Gnashing of Teeth" (24:45–51)

Answer to Question #1, part one (prime):  when these things will be--> "Watch therefore" / "No one knows the Day or Hour" (25:1—13)
   Answer to Question #1, part two (prime):  when these things will be--> "Master" & "Servant" / "Wailing & Gnashing of Teeth" (25:14—30)

Go ahead and study those verses yourself. Study the language recorded by Matthew. Notice the parallels. If you can study the Greek text, even better. It is glaringly obvious that such is exactly the sequence in which Jesus responded to the three questions of his disciples. Jesus answered the third question first, and the first question third. But why does this matter, you (the reader) might ask? It matters because it is overwhelmingly demonstrable that the majority of Church Fathers who referred to the Olivet Discourse were crystal clear about interpreting Jesus' initial response in 24:4--22 as referring to the Jewish wars and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

But they assumed that Jesus was answering the first question first. Jesus was actually answering the third question first---the question, "what will be the sign of the end of the age?"---which they all mistakenly assumed was a question about the end of the physical world as we experience it today!

Let that sink in....

In the next post I will show verse by verse, section by section, how crystal clear the language and structure of Jesus' answers really are.