Response to Elton Hollon’s Critique of Full Preterism- #2-#3

Response to Elton Hollon’s Critique of Full Preterism  #2- #3

Raz Pesher, The Gospel of Mark and 1 Peter

Be sure to read the first and second installments of this response.This is my second overall response, and I am breaking it up into installments. Thus, #2- #1 refers to Second Response, installment #1, and so on. Be sure to read Hollon’s critique.

Hollon seeks to counter a point that I made earlier in regard to what was known as the Raz Pesher hermeneutic. He suggests that since the Dead Sea Community (DSC) incorporated that principle that this somehow negates my point that the NT writers appealed to that hermeneutical approach to the OT prophecies. I naturally disagree. Hollon offers:

Problematic for Preston’ analogy is that Mark would then be the inspired interpreter disclosing the eschatological mysteries of the OT. The analogy suggests an eschatological orientation for Mark 13:24-27 understood in this manner. Presumably, Preston compares the unit to the non-eschatological OT texts later eschatologically reinterpreted by the inspired teacher. In this case, the analogy with the OT prophets blocks Mark’s ability to understand any eschatological purpose for 13:24-27. The OT author is the least likely analog of the raz pesher since vv. 24-27 combine several OT texts. Mark more likely presents their inspired interpretation than repeats their mystery. Also, the response adds nothing to the preterist argument. It just reasserts that vv. 24-27 are like the OT prophecies of historicized judgment, e.g., Isa 13:10, Ezra 32:7, Amos 8:9, Joel 2:10, etc. Thus, it faces the same problems already raised in our article. Mark 13:24-27 shares many qualities with Jewish apocalyptic eschatological texts not found in the OT.2320

Hollon’s comments run counter to what Peter says in 1 Peter 1:10-12, where the apostle specifically says that the OT prophets did not understand either the time or manner of their last days prophecies. Hollon attempts to counter this by an appeal to Daniel 10:1-2 where Daniel spoke of his vision: “The message was true, but the appointed time was long; and he understood the message, and had understanding of the vision.”

First, the angel was sent to give Daniel understanding. He did not have understanding simply by receiving the vision, or some innate understanding. The angel told Daniel: “Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come” (10:14). Thus, Daniel’s statement that he understood the vision was a declaration that after the angel interpreted the vision, then he understood. If he already understood the vision, why did the angel have to come to him to make him understand the vision?

Second, Daniel could understand at least that the fulfillment of the vision was not for his day. It was far off: “The message was true, but the appointed time was long” (v. 1), and, “Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come” (v. 14).

We find the same facts in Daniel 12 where Daniel was informed of the coming “Great Tribulation,” the resurrection, the time of the end (kairou suntelias, v. 4). In verse 8 we find this: “Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?”

So, Daniel very specifically said that he did not understand the vision of the end times of verses 1f, which included the Great Tribulation, the resurrection (v. 2), the consummation of the appointed time, (kairou suntelias -v. 4); the end (peras, v. 6) of the wonders, etc. (Daniel 12:8-10).

What we find in Daniel is precisely what Peter iterated in 1 Peter 1:10-12:

Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.

Now, Daniel could know that the vision was about the last days fate of Israel which was far off: “Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come” (Daniel 10:14). From the narrative flow of the vision that much would have been obvious. But that was about all that he could discern from the vision itself. He could not know except in the vaguest of ways even when those last days would arrive. (He did know that he was not in the last days, (Daniel 12:9, 13). This stands in stark contrast with what Mark and the NT writers said. They tell us repeatedly that they were living in the appointed time foretold by those OT prophets.

And it must be remembered that Mark in his Discourse is NOT acting as a NT prophet interpreting the OT prophecies. He is simply writing what Jesus said. Thus, the claim that Mark was serving as the inspired interpreter in his version of the discourse is not accurate. It was Jesus who employed Raz Pesher in his teaching: “For assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Matthew 13:17). Here, Jesus said that the time and events foretold by the OT prophets, unrealized in those ancient times was present.

Jesus’ citation of the various OT references in Mark 13:24f concerning his parousia was to show that his parousia would be of the same nature as those previous Days of the Lord– i.e. historical judgments controlled by the sovereign God. I would thus both disagree and agree to an extent with Hollon’s comment: “The (preterist, DKP) response adds nothing to the preterist argument. (I disagree). It just reasserts that vv. 24-27 are like the OT prophecies of historicized judgment, e.g., Isa 13:10, Ezra 32:7, Amos 8:9, Joel 2:10, etc.” (I agree). This is, in reality, the point.

Jesus was not asserting that his parousia was to be literal, bodily descent out of heaven at the end of time in stark contrast to the Days of the Lord described in the OT texts that he echoes. Hollon’s argument, remember, is that Jesus was delineating between the judgment of Jerusalem, which in BC 586 had itself been called the Day of the Lord (Zephaniah 1-2), and his parousia. But Jesus’ analogical appeal to those OT texts actually define his parousia in a way that counters the futurist paradigm. If Jesus was positing such a radically different kind of parousia from those OT Days of the Lord, why reference those texts analogically as he did? He did, after all, say that his coming was to be “in the glory of the Father” i.e. of the same manner as the Father’s Days of the Lord (Matthew 16:27-28).

Hollon continues, asserting that neither Mark or Jesus knew the day or the hour of the eschaton:

Preston might appeal to the mystery in 13:32, ‘But about that day or hour no one knows,
neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.’ However, this saying denies knowing the timing, not the anticipated event’s nature.

The fact that Jesus did not know the day or the hour (at the time he spoke those words) does not mean that he did not know the generation, which he clearly did: “This generation shall not pass until all of these things come to pass.” It is only by over-emphasizing “after these things” can such an argument be sustained. And since, as demonstrated above, Jesus’ citation / allusions to the historical Days of the Lord in the Tanakh as analogous to his parousia (or vice versa) that means that the nature of his parousia was not in question. And it was not being redefined.

There is another thing to consider: While Jesus said his disciples did not know the day or the hour of his parousia the narrative flow of the Discourse informs us that they could know the approaching imminence.

The apostles asked for a sign of Jesus’ parousia.
Jesus gave the completion of the World Mission as a sure sign (Matthew 24:14). And that mission was fully accomplished in the first century (Romans 1:8 / 16:25-26 / Colossians 1:5-7, 23, etc.).
He gave the appearance of the Abomination of Desolation in the confines of Judea as a sure sign.

The apostles did not ask for the sign of Jerusalem’s destruction divorced from Jesus’ parousia. They conflated those two events, and contra the claim that they were mistaken, they had every right (established in the Tanakh, as we shall see) to see those events as inseparably connected.

Notice then that Jesus said, speaking of the signs of his coming: “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!” (Matthew 24:32-33). The “it” here is almost assuredly the “he” of the parousia. Thus, per Jesus, the signs that occurred in the first century were signs of the imminent parousia.

We cannot ignore the role of the revelatory Spirit in disclosing the time of the parousia. A few bullet points:

☛ In Mark, Jesus said no one knew the day or the hour of his parousia.

☛ In Luke 21:8 he warned against believing- and thus, against making- premature declarations of the end: “Many will come in my name saying “the time is at hand” (ho kairos engiken). Significantly, later in that very generation, James said “the parousia has drawn near (engiken– James 5:8). Peter, who heard the warning in Luke said, “the time (ho kairos) has come for “the judgment” (to krino). He also said, “the end (telos) has drawn near (engiken). And John, in Revelation was told, ostensibly by the Father who informed Jesus to instruct him, “the time (kairos) has drawn near (engiken). We thus have three canonical writers who used almost the identical words that Jesus used to warn against making premature declarations of the end. Had they forgotten his exhortation and warning? Were they deceived into thinking the time had actually come? Did they become some of the very false prophets that Jesus warned them about?

☛In John 16:1-13 Jesus promised that the Father would send the Spirit to the apostles to “guide them into all truth” and to, “shew you things to come.”

☛ In Acts 1, immediately before his ascension, he told the apostles it was not for them to know the time of the kingdom, but they were to go into Jerusalem where they were to wait for just a few days when they would be endowed with the Spirit that had been promised.

☛ In Acts 2, the apostles received that promised revelatory Spirit.

☛ Having received that “inspiring” and revelatory Spirit, the NT authors spoke repeatedly and emphatically of the nearness of the parousia of Christ. As only one example, consider Romans 13:11-12

And do this, knowing the time, (Kairon– the appointed time) that now it is (It is the hour – hora) high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer (enguteron) than when we first believed. The night is far spent, (proekopsen) the day is at hand (engiken).”

A text could hardly more powerfully convey the idea that the Spirit sent by the Father was now revealing that the appointed time, indeed, “the hour” (hora) of “the Day” of the Lord,” i.e. the parousia had arrived. Needless to say, many other passages could be adduced that say the same thing. Space forbids a full listing. In light of the revelatory Spirit and the epistolary confirmation that the parousia was at hand, coming soon and shortly – all written before the judgment of Jerusalem – I suggest that this effectively counters Hollen’s claim that:

Logically, Mark 13:32 cannot refer to Jerusalem’s destruction either. Mark correlates it
with the master’s return in vv. 33-37, where Jesus instructs the disciples to be on the ‘watch’ because the master could return at any time, though the precise day and hour are unknown. On the contrary, Jerusalem’s destruction could not occur then because of a sequence of prophetic signs in vv. 5-23. Most likely, the master’s return represents the Son of Man’s coming in v. 26, and these events relate to the eschaton ‘after’ Jerusalem’s destruction.

I concur that Mark 13:32 refers to the parousia. But it must be remembered that the claim that the judgment on Jerusalem could not be the parousia is the unproven presupposition at work here. The apostles certainly believed those were concurrent events. And according to Matthew 21:40f and Luke 19, the return of the Absent Master was indeed the time of the judgment of the wicked Vineyard workers (Matthew 21:40) who had slain the Son and who had said, “We will not have this man to rule over us” (Luke 19:11ff). We thus have the coming of the Absent Master in judgment of the Wicked- the Wicked City of Jerusalem.

Once again, I would take note that the “after” these things” cannot, because of Matthew 24:29-33 be referent to events years, certainly not decades, later. Matthew was emphatic that the parousia was inextricably linked to the Tribulation– “immediately after the Tribulation of those days…” Even Hollon notes that some scholars recognize this. While some posit that: “The phrase ‘in those days’ may introduce a time gap of indeterminate duration between Jerusalem’s destruction and the eschaton. (Garland A Theology of Mark’s Gospel, 529). It may also refer to a period immediately following Jerusalem’s destruction with no time gap.” (Page 18, n. 7) – My emphasis). Personally, I fail to see how “in those days immediately after” can be construed as referent to a period of “indeterminate duration.”

If Mark was positing the parousia as totally detached from the fall of Jerusalem, at some indeterminate future time, how could the writers of the epistles say so confidently that it was the parousia and the end of the age that was in fact at hand and coming in a very, very little while, without delay? Why did they not speak of the imminent coming Judean catastrophe but inform their readers of the distant parousia. Marius Reiser even comments that with the ministry of John the Baptizer, the message of the kingdom, with the attendant parousia, was proclaimed as imminent: “The expectation of the final judgment in the immediate future was the basis of his call for repentance and the action that gave him his name: baptizing.”

John’s references to “the wrath that is about to come” (Matthew 3:7) and his warning “the axe is already at the root” (Matthew 3:10-12) were powerful declarations that the Tribulation, and the subsequent kingdom were very near. Remember, in the Jewish eschatological time line, the Tribulation would bring in the parousia, the resurrection and kingdom.

The connection between the tribulation and the parousia is undeniable, and yet, that distinction / delineation is foundational to the futurist view. More on that later. Stay tuned!