Monday, May 19, 2014

No One Knows The Hour (part 34)

As one hears the words of the second letter of Peter (as a perfect example, though one could also comb through Paul’s letters as part of this exercise) and considers the possibilities surrounding the potential interpretation of what is to be found there, while also considering the possibility that it was produced before the fall of the Temple, in demonstration of the church’s expectation of that fall and what it would mean for their faith,  it is appropriate to think about the time frame in which the written synoptic Gospels are said to have been produced. 

If indeed it was well understood that Jesus, as reported by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, was speaking of the fall of the Temple as something that would occur within the lifetimes of many of those that heard His answer to the disciples’ question about when the Temple would be thrown to the ground with not one stone left upon another, then this can also help to explain the time period that saw the relative explosion of Gospel narratives on to the scene in the first century. 

Though there are ongoing debates about the time frame for the production of the synoptic Gospels, and though there could certainly be written records that would be incorporated into the Gospels themselves that were composed at an early stage, it is generally accepted that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Mark preceding the other two) in the forms in which the church possesses them, were all composed roughly around the year seventy.  Some suggest an earlier dating for Mark, perhaps in the late sixties.  If true, this is not problematic for our suggestion. 

However, if the insistence of this study is correct, and the early church did indeed hold Jesus’ prediction concerning the Temple in very high regard (again considering that Jesus is reported to have made precious few predictions), giving it a place at the center of their teaching about Jesus as the thing that would bring about a great validation of His ministry, then it would be quite understandable to place all three of the synoptic Gospel accounts as being produced shortly after the very fall of the Temple that was predicted by Jesus as recorded by the Gospel authors. 

Remember, a great deal of weight has been placed on the fact that, despite numerous differences in details throughout the whole of their accounts of Jesus’ ministry and of His time and activities in the Temple, all three coalesce to identically report His talk about the generation that will see the fall of the Temple, along with the words that immediately followed.  This single fact should be endlessly fascinating.  It would make perfect sense for all three of the evangelists works to spring from the fall of the Temple, with all being produced after that event in a veritable rush to generate and disperse the written account that would include His words about the Temple’s fall. 

It is possible that, in the minds of the authors and the Jesus communities, the fall of the Temple would be the final piece of the puzzle, validating all that Jesus had said and done.  Now, with the Temple destroyed, which also meant that the Son of Man had most certainly gone before the Ancient of Days to receive His kingdom (for if one prediction was correct, then the prediction tied to it must be considered to be correct as well), all of the preaching and teaching about Jesus that had been taking place within the nascent church movement, and all of the persecution undergone by the church, primarily at the hands of the Temple authorities, could be seen to not have been done or experienced in vain. 

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