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Eschatology: Mark 13

While I titled the event Eschatology: Mark 13, Matthew 24, and Luke 21, I will be focusing on the first. I will be mentioning the parallels and likely working directly from gospel parallels. I’m embedding the YouTube viewer first, then I’ll make a few comments.

I had hoped to post more earlier, but the work load this week prevented it. I also hope to post something more this afternoon, giving some background for what I’ll be saying. It is obviously impossible to do a detailed exegesis of Mark 13 in an hour, so I’ll be looking at some key points.

First, yes, I won’t be able to resist. I’ll mention some elements in the parallels that could play into arguments over Markan vs. Matthean priority.

Second, I want to talk about my overall view of biblical eschatology, and how I read that in Mark 13. Note that this is, to a certain extent, eisegesis. My overall view is the result of my study of many eschatological and apocalyptic passages, and not a derivative from Mark 13. Yet I will use it. I had planned to wait to present this overview, but I think it’s better for me to give my “mini-eschatology” first and then develop how I connect it with much broader and deeper eschatological views as I move forward.

Third, I want to focus on just what the disciples would have expected when they heard or encountered this material. Thus I’ll discuss the debates on whether this is original to the gospel (as a whole), whether certain elements were added later, and also just when this was written.

All of that leads to the point where I—finally—talk about “this generation shall not pass,” which has provided fodder for biblical and theological debate for the last two millenia. How was it understood in the past and how shall we read it now?

In studying eschatology from a biblical perspective, it is important to realize that one needs to resolve a broad range of questions nearly every time one wants to resolve one question. For example, the way in which one understands Daniel 9:27 impacts how one will understand “the abomination of desolation” and how one understands the vision of Daniel 7 will impact how one understands the son of man coming in the clouds. Not to mention whether one is certain those particular references are in view. Deciding how to understand those chapters involves a range of decisions regarding the text of Daniel as well as its historical and cultural context. Those decisions involve a number of issues regarding how one dates literature.

I say this because I expect to circle back to many of these passages after we’ve studied others. I think it would be useful to read Mark 13 again after we have done further study of Daniel. Jesus did not live in a cultural or theological vacuum either. Certainly his disciples did not. How might they have drawn these passages into their understanding of the words in the gospels? It is possible that what you or I decide in studying Daniel might be the correct historical understanding, i.e., we might be right about when it was written and how it would have been understood by its original audiences, but that the understanding we get there might not be the one the disciples would naturally draw in as they studied the words of Mark.

Complicated? Indeed. Fun? I think so!

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  1. Steve Kindle says:

    I’m definitely looking forward to “this generation”!

    1. I’m going to get into that more this coming Thursday and hopefully write a bit about it before that. I ran out of time just as I was about to examine it, which threw me off my stride, such as it was!

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