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In Matthew 24 there are two themes that run throughout the narrative one is the destruction of Jerusalem/Temple and the other is the coming of the son of man

Matthew 24:1-2

Destruction of Jerusalem/Temple(A)

Matthew 24:3-14

The coming of the son of man (B)

Matthew 24:15-22

Destruction of Jerusalem/Temple (A)

Matthew 24:23-33

Coming of the son of man(B)

Matthew 24:34

Destruction of Jerusalem/Temple(A)

Matthew 24:35-51

Coming of the son of man(B)

Could the above layout be a chiasm or a parallel structure?

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  • What did your tutor tell you? Why would you doubt that? Jul 16, 2022 at 20:19

3 Answers 3

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Yes, this is not an uncommon view: Jesus is speaking prophetically of two events, at different points in time, which have some common features between them.

Parallelism

Although this would not be a chiasmus (an inverted parallelism), it is a form of parallelism. As noted by Victor Ludlow:

Parallelism is the most distinctive quality of Hebrew poetry...In parallelism, a thought, idea, grammar pattern, or key word of the first line is repeated or continued in the second line. There are two basic types of parallelism, grammatical and semantic (Isaiah: Prophet, Seer, And Poet p. 32)

The parallels here are not grammatical (although there remains the possibility that there were such parallels in the original language), but parallels in meaning. (note that the delineations between which verses in this chapter apply to one event, which apply to the other, and which apply to both, is a matter on which not all readers will agree).

I suggest verse 15 is a good example of a statement that could readily be applied to both the destruction of the temple & the coming of the Son of Man. As noted in the OP, many see in this verse a clear application to Jesus coming in glory & power. However, Daniel's prophecy of the abomination of desolation can also be applied to the cessation of temple ordinances and the destruction of the temple by Titus in AD 70.

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Dual Prophecy

Matthew is employing a technique common in Jewish literature. Hebrew writing frequently makes a "dual prophecy" - that is, the prophet states something that will have a temporal fulfilment and a spiritual fulfilment, or an application in his day and an application at one (or both) comings of the Messiah. Another good example from Ludlow.

Isaiah spoke in such a manner that his words find application and fulfillment in many different ages or events in world history. (see Ludlow Isaiah - Prophet, Seer, and Poet p. 54)

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Conclusion

Although I do not see that this chapter exhibits the characteristic, inverted structure of a chiasmus (e.g. A-B-C-C'-B'-A'), it does appear to make parallels between the Jewish-Roman War which would occur AD 66-73, and the second coming of Christ, which most (but not all) who believe the New Testament see as a still future event.

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I tend to say that it is not a chiasm or a parallel structure.

Concernig your thesis:

15-22 may well be linked to the destruction of the Temple because it mentions Judea. However, I do not see a clear reference to the destruction of the Temple in verse 34.

Parting from the hypothesis that the Gospel according to Mark preceeds the presently known edition of the Gospel according to Matthew, Mt is already a composite drawing from different sources.

A 1-2 with Mk/Lk

B 3-8 with Mk/Lk B 9-14 Mt only

A 15-22 with Mk/Lk

B 23-25 with Mk B 26+27 Mt only B 27-28 with Lk B 29-31 with Mk/Lk (one insert in Mt)

B 32-36 with Mk/Lk B 37-39 with Lk B 40-41 with Lk B 42 with Mk/Lk and Mt25:13 B 43-51 with Lk

Both, the destruction of the Temple and the Coming of Christ is already exposed in Mark. But Mark, after the prophecy of the destruction of the Temple, continues with a passage (13:9-13) that is parallel to Mt 10:17-22, giving advice not to be anxious under prosecution in the near future. This passage ends

But he who endures to the end will be saved.

which in Mk makes the link to the End of time and the final salvation that Jesus (knowing that he does not know) as well as his followers thought to be a near future.

In contrast to Luke, the author of Mt omits this original link and constructs a direct link between the destruction of the Tempel and the coming of Jesus. Some authors see in this a sign that Mt was written shortly after the destruction of the Temple, estimating this would be the first sign of the escatological vision revealed by Jesus. The version of Mk makes much more sense knowing what really happened and that the Temple has been destroyed 1950 years ago but the rest of the prophecy has not been fulfilled so far.

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  • ,if verse 34 did not refer to the destruction of Jerusalem which took.place some forty years after this pronouncement, then this will be one of the longest generation which is still waiting for the coming of the son of man Jul 16, 2022 at 17:59
  • @collenndhlovu Yes. I see this as a false assumption of Jesus (peace be upon him) when he was on earth. None in the context gives a hint that this sentence only refers to the destruction of the Temple. Or do you think that the coming og the Son of Man has already fulfilled?
    – Jeschu
    Jul 16, 2022 at 18:19
  • Is it good exegesis to discount the literary structure of a passage based on presumed sources? Even if the material was taken from another source, doesn't the new arrangement demonstrate how it was presented? Jul 16, 2022 at 20:01
  • @revelationlad I have understood this question in the sense whether the account is combining two accounts into one - a question on source theory, not on exegesis.
    – Jeschu
    Jul 17, 2022 at 6:49
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The OP's proposed analysis of Jesus' sermon in Matt 24 is problematic for two main reasons:

  1. It is based on one interpretation, assuming the predictions in Matt 24 are distinct. However, many see most (not all) the predictions as being dual, ie, applying to BOTH the coming of the Son of Man/Messiah AND the destruction of Jerusalem. It is better to analyze a passage based on the language and not the interpretation.
  • For example, there were many false christs and false messiahs between Jesus' sermon and the destruction of Jerusalem (V4-13). Therefore, this prediction about false christs, wars, and deceptions applies to both the destruction of Jerusalem and Jesus second coming.
  1. It is incomplete because Jesus' sermon actually extends over two chapters of Matt 24, 25.

Linguistic Analysis of Matt 24:

  • V4-5: Deception
  • V6-8: War, Disasters,
  • V9, 10:Tribulation,
  • V11: Deception, Apostasy, Lawlessness
  • V14.:. Gospel Preaching
  • V15-20: Abomination of desolation
  • V21-23: Tribulation
  • V24-26: Deception
  • V27-31: Signs of the Coming of the Son of Man
  • V32-34: Parable of Fig Tree
  • V36-41: Parable/Metaphor of Noah
  • V42-44: Parable of the Thief
  • V45-51: Parable of the two servants

APPENDIX - Another Analysis of the Synoptic Apocalypse

  • Introduction: Matt 24:1-3, Mark 13:1, 2, Luke 21:5-7
  • Sign #1: False Christs and False prophets, Matt 24:5, 23-28 & Luke 21:28)
  • Sign #2: Wars and Rumors of Wars, Matt 24:3-8
  • Sign #3: Persecution of the Saints, Luke 21:12-19, Matt 24:9-13
  • Sign #4: Worldwide Gospel preaching, Matt 24:14
  • Sign #5: Abomination of Desolation, Matt 24:15-22
  • Sign #6: Times of the Gentiles, Luke 21:28
  • Sign #7: Sun, Moon and Stars, Matt 24:29-31
  • Warning Parable #1: Fig Tree, Matt 24:32-35
  • Warning Parable #2: Noah & Flood, Matt 24:36-41
  • Warning Parable #3: Thief, Matt 24:42-44
  • Warning Parable #4: Servant, Matt 24:45-51
  • Warning Parable #5: Ten Virgins, Matt 25:1-13
  • Warning Parable #6: Talents, Matt 25:14-30
  • Warning Parable #7: Sheep and Goats, Matt 25:31-46

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