Friday, January 19, 2018

The Olivet Discourse: Pregnant Refugees

A common feature of all three accounts of the Olivet Discourse is the pronouncement of woe upon the pregnant and nursing. It is situated in about the same place in the unfolding story in Matthew and Mark, but is located in a slightly different place in Luke. It doesn't appear to be a different detail, so can it be used to "align" all three accounts? I think that it could, but if it is, it removes any possibility at all that the Lucan account was referring to events foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.

If the woe is the same woe in all three accounts, then Matthew and Mark's reference to the gospel being preached to all nations is a detail skipped over by Luke. The surrounding of Jerusalem and its desolation mentioned by Luke is just a different way of saying "the abomination of desolation" as stated by Matthew and Mark. Even though the Lucan description of this section would fit the events of 66-70 CE, the phrase "all that is written will be fulfilled" doesn't fit at all with 70 CE. Considering that at our late date all that is written still hasn't been fulfilled makes that especially so!

The only way to keep the preterist hope alive, therefore, is to see the woe on the pregnant and nursing as referring to two distinct occurrences of such a plight. Otherwise, the language of the end which dictates the interpretation of Matthew and Mark, would carry for Luke's account as well. The dual fulfillment of things like the "Abomination of Desolation" (seemingly fulfilled in Antiochus Epiphanes, yet used by Christ to refer to something yet undone) perhaps allows for such an approach, but I think it strains credulity to apply it to the pregnant refugees.

So in the end, I must dismiss it, and with it, the preterist interpretation of the Olivet Discourse.