Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Preterist Possibility in the Olivet Discourse

I mentioned in the post linked in the title that Mark and Luke's account of the Olivet Discourse at least allowed the possibility of a preterist interpretation, because of how both framed the questions the disciples asked of Jesus. However, I showed how the greater detail of the questions as framed by Matthew should be the determining factor in understanding what Jesus was responding to with the rest of the discourse.

I'd like to take this hermeneutical issue a step further, and say, that past the disciples' questions that initiated Jesus response, Mark's account so closely mirrors Matthew's that Mark cannot truly be interpreted preteristically either. If the body of Jesus response in Matthew was to an eschatalogical question, it's mirror image in Mark must be too, because for all intents and purposes, it's the same answer! So, that leaves Luke's account alone to have preteristic possibilities.

It is obvious that Luke is telling the same tale as Matthew and Mark, but he does so differently. Oh, the commonalities are striking, but so are the differences. All three march in lock step until the subject of Jerusalem comes up, then Luke parts company for a bit with M&M.  M&M do not even mention Jerusalem (they do refer to Judea), Luke puts a focus on Jerusalem. M&M specifically mention the Abomination of Desolation (which Matthew identifies with Daniel), Luke only mentions Jerusalem's desolation. Luke speaks of a period of vengeance against the Jews that results in their deaths, captivity and dispersion, and the trampling of Jerusalem until the time of the Gentiles is over, M&M are silent on these subjects.

It seems to me, all three accounts could be seen to coalesce again at the end of the age of the Gentiles. M&M refer to that period as the gospel being preached to all nations, Luke calls it the fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles. That certainly tracks well with what the Apostle Paul says on the subject in Romans 11:25-27. If the mention of the Gentiles aligns the three accounts, then Luke is saying the Jews would be on the outs with God from the time Jerusalem was destroyed until God was done bringing Gentiles in. Hmmm, that seems to match history too! 

For whatever reason, Luke alone at least seems to record Jesus' answer to the first of the disciples' questions. M&M have Jesus blowing right past it to deal with the question about the end of the age. Therefore, Luke alone can be interpreted as dealing with the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews that occurred in 70 A.D. So, the possibility of preterism in the Olivet Discourse is alive and well, but only in verses 12 through 24 in Luke's account.


  1. SLW, I'm wondering if you're currently doing a series on this. If the answer is yes, then it would affect the way I might comment. I might want to breathe in the entire series before I comment. And I especially appreciate this because I'm currently writing a chapter on the end times in the Gospels.

  2. JG,
    Yes, I'm in a series, although slow in getting each article posted. I welcome your comments now or at the end. :-)

  3. Hello SLW

    PS Must admit I don't get this one -- I think I need to do some homework

  4. Anthea,
    Nice to have you back.

    What part doesn't make sense, maybe I can help/

  5. Hello SLW

    I read this late at night,so that accounts for some of my problem!

    What does preterist mean?


  6. A preterist believes that end times prophecy was fulfilled by the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. The word preterist basically means "one who believes it already happened". Full-blown preterism believes all "end times" prophecy was fulfilled by 70 AD, partial-preterists think much if not most prophecy was fulfilled by 70 AD, but the the final judgment remains, and perhaps a few other bits and pieces (they vary widely about how they view things).

    If any of my readers is a preterist, full or partial, perhaps they might care to add something.

  7. Thanks for the explanation. Wait a minute SLW -- does this mean that I've been ... LEFT BEHIND??


  8. Anthea,
    Only if you're a Tim LaHaye fan!


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