You are hereThe Pretzel Logic of "Orthodox" partial Preterism

The Pretzel Logic of "Orthodox" partial Preterism

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By Duncan - Posted on 03 February 2008

by Duncan McKenzie
This is an excerpt from my book, The Antichrist and the Second Coming. The book is done but I am still revising and refining it. I am still not sure how I am ever going to get the thing into print. It has three strikes against it: 1. It is written from a preterist perspective. 2. It is too long (about 850 pages). I am technically not qualified to write it. I have a Ph.D. but it is in psychology not theology. Please pray that God makes a way.This is an excerpt from my book, The Antichrist and the Second Coming. The book is done but I am still revising and refining it. I am still not sure how I am ever going to get the thing into print. It has three strikes against it: 1. It is written from a preterist perspective. 2. It is too long (about 850 pages). I am technically not qualified to write it. I have a Ph.D. but it is in psychology not theology. Please pray that God makes a way.While I am what Kenneth Gentry would term a hyperpreterist (I believe the Second Coming, resurrection and judgment happened at AD 70, or more correctly the resurrection and judgment began at AD 70 cf. Rev. 14:13), I am not a full preterist. I do not think all prophecy was fulfilled by AD 70 (I still look for Rev. 20:7-10 to be fulfilled). I find J.S. Russell’s position to be correct. He saw the Second Coming, resurrection and judgment as happening at AD 70 but saw that as the beginning of the millennium (full prets. say AD 70 was the end of the millennium). I think the book of Daniel backs up Russell on this (see my article, “J.S. Russell’s Position on the Millennium, the Neglected Third Way of Preterism” http://planetpreterist.com/news-5017.html (or click on my name on the left under columnists).

The sequence shown in Daniel 7 is the following: God comes and defeats the Antichrist (the little horn) and then thrones are put in place as the court is seated and the saints receive the kingdom. This sequence is shown three times: .Dan. 7:7-11, 19-22; 23-27. The same sequence is shown in Revelation 19:11-20:4. The Word of God comes and defeats the Antichrist (the beast) in Rev. 19:11-21 and then the saints receive the kingdom in Rev. 20. This sequence explains why some of those who come alive at the beginning of the millennium had been killed for not taking the mark of the beast (Rev. 20:4). This is a direct reference to the events of Revelation 13 (which were about to happen when John wrote). These souls of believers (cf. Rev. 6:9) had been killed during the tribulation of AD 67-70 (Rev. 13:4-7) and are being resurrected at AD 70 to share in the millennial reign. The martyrs of the beast being resurrected at the beginning of the millennium in no way fits the AD 30 beginning of the millennium that full preterists teach. It is a huge red flag that should not be ignored.

Enough about that, however, I am here to critique traditional partial preterism, not full preterism. I just want the reader to know that just because partial preterism is wrong, that does not mean that full preterism is 100% right. There is something in-between. Now that I have stepped on the toes of my full preterist brethren let me get back to the task at hand, stepping on the toes of my partial preterist brethren.

DANIEL 12

One does not have to look too hard to find problems with partial preterism. The partial preterist position argues that the tribulation happened at AD 70 but the resurrection happens in the distant future. Look at Daniel 12, however. It shows the resurrection happening right after the great tribulation. These events were to happen at the AD 70 shattering of the Jewish nation:

At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt…it shall be for a time, times, and half a time, and when the power of the holy people has bee completely shattered all these things shall be finished. Dan. 12:1-2, 7

Partial preterists usually try to get around this in two ways:

1. They say there is really a gap of thousands of years between vv 1 and 2. That is about as convincing as the gap of thousands of years that dispensationalists claim happen between the 69 and 70th week in Daniel 9:26-27

2. They say that this is not the resurrection but is some sort of national resurrection. This is wrong because it is clearly showing a resurrection of individuals. If one wants to see what a national resurrection looks like see Ezekiel 37. Added to this, Daniel’s people are shattered at this time (Dan. 12:7); that is hardly showing a national resurrection. By the way Revelation 11:15-18 shows the same thing, the resurrection happening at the AD 70 destruction of those who were destroying the Land (is often better translated as “Land,” the Land of Israel, in Revelation rather than “earth”).

PRETZEL LOGIC

The partial preterist position of two separate comings of Jesus can lead to some very questionable distinctions between the supposed comings. Consider the following comments by Gentry in discussing 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2.

Though he [Paul] speaks of the Second Advent just a few verses before ([in 2 Thess.] 1:10), he is not dealing with that event here [in 2 Thess. 2:1-2]. Of course, similarities exist between the Day of the Lord upon Jerusalem in AD 70 and the universal Day of the Lord at the Second Advent. The one is a temporal betokening of the other, being a distant adumbration of it. The Second Advent provides a final hope for the eternal resolution to their suffering; the A.D 70 Day of the Lord affords an approaching temporal resolution (cp. Rev. 6:10). Orthodox scholars from each of the millennial scholars agree that Christ brings these two events into close connection in the Olivet Discourse, Indeed, Christ’s disciples almost certainly confuse the two (Matt. 24:3). The same connection seems to exist here as well. [Kenneth L. Gentry, Perilous Times: A Study in Eschatological Evil (Texarkana AR: Covenant Media Press, 1999), 100]

I invite the reader to look at first and second chapters of 2 Thessalonians (see below). See if you can find the two different comings of Jesus supposedly found there; they are three verses apart! Maybe I am missing the adumbration. Gentry maintains that the first coming (2 Thess. 1:7-10) is a reference to the future Second Coming and the next (2 Thess. 2:1) is to the AD 70 coming. I have underlined the supposed two different comings of Jesus.

2 Thessalonians 1:6-2:3

Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed [Gentry sees the preceding as referring to a future Second Coming]. Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Now brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, [Gentry sees this as referring to the AD 70 coming] we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition. brackets mine

Gentry is saying that Paul is talking about a future final advent in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 but a mere three verses later switches to the AD 70 coming 2 Thessalonians 2:1! Gentry is forced into this far-fetched position because 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 is talking about the judgment (which Gentry says is still future) while 2:1 is talking about the AD 70 gathering of God’s people (cf. Matthew 24:29-34, which Gentry correctly believes is AD 70). Such are the extremes that partial preterists are forced into to try and maintain their distinction between an AD 70 coming of Jesus and a supposed future final advent.

 

Do Different Greek Words Refer to Different Comings?

Gentry’s defense for his distinction of the two separate comings in 2 Thessalonians 1-2 is that the word that Paul uses for the Lord’s final advent in 2 Thessalonians 1:10 (Gr. elthe) is different from the word he uses for the advent in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 (Gr. parousia). [Gentry, Perilous Times, 100-101] It is hard to take this distinction very seriously, however, since Gentry himself says that the word parousia (which he applies to AD 70 in 2 Thess. 2:1) refers to the final advent in 1 Thessalonians 4:15. Thus Gentry makes his elthe/parousia distinction in 2 Thessalonians 1-2 where it suits his position and ignores it in 1 Thessalonians 4 where it doesn’t!

Preston astutely critiqued the inconsistencies in Gentry’s attempts to use the Greek to differentiate the AD 70 coming of Jesus from a supposed final Second Coming:

Gentry says 1 Thessalonians 4:13f and 2 Thessalonians 1[:7-12] are the same event, i.e. the Final Advent. But there is a major problem here for Gentry. Remember that he delineates between 2 Thessalonians 1[:10] and chapter 2[:1] because of the use of elthe in chapter 1 and parousia in chapter 2. [But] 1 Thessalonians 4[:15] and 2 Thessalonians 1[:10] contain the same ‘different words’ as do 2 Thessalonians 1[:10] and 2 Thessalonians 2[:1]! In 1 Thessalonians 4 Paul uses the word parousia (v. 15, the same world used in 2 Thessalonians 2:1), to describe the coming of the Lord. However, remember that in 2 Thessalonians 1:10 Paul uses elthe, and Gentry insists that this word indicates a different coming than parousia. Why then does he not delineate between [parousia and elthe in] 1 Thessalonians 4[:15] and 2 Thessalonians 1[:10]? This is inconsistency exemplified.

Here is what Gentry does:

1 Thessalonians 4:15- parousia is final coming

2 Thessalonians 1:7f- elthe, is final coming.

So, Paul uses different words to describe the same event, and Gentry has no problem with this.

However,

2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 is parousia, and is AD 70, but,

1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17 is parousia and is the “final coming.”

So, Paul uses the identical words, and in both contexts he speaks of the gathering of the saints. But, Gentry insists that these are two totally different events, disparate in nature and time.

If the use of different words (parousia-v-elthe), does not demand different events in Gentry’s application of 1 Thessalonians 4 [:15] and 2 Thessalonians 1[:10], then why does the use of those same different words demand two different events in 2 Thessalonians 1[:10] and 2 Thessalonians 2[:1] (elthe-v-parousia)? And, if different words can be used describe the same event, then why does not the use of the identical words demand the reference to the same event (1 Thessalonians 4:15, parousia / 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, parousia)? [Don Preston The Elements shall Melt with Fervent Heat: A Study of 2 Peter 3 (Ardmore OK: JaDon Productions LLC, 2006), 223-224 Great stuff Don!]

Is Paul talking about a different coming in the first chapter of 2 Thessalonians than he is in the second chapter? How could the coming in 2 Thessalonians 1:10 (These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes in that Day to be gloried in His saints…”) be referring to end of time and the coming in 2 Thess 2:1 (Now brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him…) be referring to AD 70? Again, the supposed two different comings are only three verses apart and no distinction is made between the two!

If that isn’t bad enough, the coming of Jesus with His angels in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 (which Gentry says is the end of time) is said in Matthew 16 to happen within the lifetime of some of Jesus’ hearers. Compare 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8 with Matthew 16:27-28; I have included A and B for points of comparison.

Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us [A] when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire [B] taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who don’t not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8

[A] For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and [B] then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. Matt. 16:27-28

Gentry says 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 is the end of time but is forced to admit that Matthew 16:27-28 is AD 70 (because of the time referent it contains in v. 28). Both of these sections, however, are talking about the same thing: A: Jesus coming in God’s glory with the angels, and B: the judgment. Again, Gentry’s partial preterist distinction doesn’t hold up to biblical scrutiny.

If Paul is talking of two different comings of Jesus in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-2:3 he certainly did not make it very clear. Gentry seems to be suggesting that Paul didn’t make the distinction because he wasn’t totally clear on it himself (“Christ’s disciples almost certainly confuse the two [comings in] Matt. 24:3. The same connection seems to exist here as well”). For Gentry to suggest that the distinction between the supposed two comings of Jesus may not be clear because the NT writers may not have been clear about the comings puts him on very thin ice. If the NT writers were not clear on two separate comings of Jesus then it would mean that they were not making the distinction between two comings of Jesus that partial preterists do. If that is the case then the teaching of partial preterism on this issue is superior to the revelation of Scripture. This is thin ice indeed.

It is indefensible distinctions between an AD 70 coming and the supposed true Second Coming at the end of time that leads me to reject the traditional partial preterist position; it just doesn’t hold up to biblical or logical scrutiny. The Coming of Jesus in Revelation 19 is referring to the one and only Second Coming at AD 70. With harlot Israel destroyed, Jesus comes and defeats the beast from the abyss. This was the Parousia; it was the beginning of the judgment and resurrection (Dan. 12:1-7; Rev. 11:15-18) as well as the millennium (Dan. 7:7-12, 21-22; Luke 19:11-27; Rev. 19:11-20:4).

Duncan's picture

I noticed that this article has more comments than any other in Planet Preterist history! Check out the top 15 list in the left column. I am sure there is some prize that comes with this honor, at least a trophy! I will probably be receiving a check or something from Virgil (well maybe not ;-)
What I find amusing is that most of the comments have little or nothing to do with the article. That is not to say I don't appreciate them; I surely do! It is still kind of ironic, however.

I would be interested in a partial preterist response (not looking for a debate; go see Don Preston for that). It seems to me that Gentry's position on the two comings three verses apart (2 Thess. 1:10 & 2 Thess. 2:1) is indefensible. But maybe I am wrong and there is a defense for it (just not the one he gave). Having said that, just because "orthodox" partial preterism is wrong does not mean full preterism is 100% correct.

Duncan

tom-g's picture

Hey Duncan,

I hate to sound like a broken record but, before a response can be given to your interested request it is mandatory that first a definition must be given of preterism.

Preterism, whether partial or full is the universal whole of which partial or full would be parts. It is the universal whole that is said to be true of all of its parts not the reverse. That would be the fallacy of arguing from the particular to the universal.

As you know any argument involving particulars may both be true. They may not both be false but they may both be true. So any argument of partial preterism may be true and at the same time any argument of full preterism may also be true. So what benefit is there? It the argument is Preterism and not Preterism and then apply the arguments of full or partial to that for truth or falsity. Or, if the argument is: Full preterism is preterism and full preterism is not preterism, then you would have the basis for discussion.

From a reluctant broken record,
Tom

Duncan2's picture

Tom

All I am asking is, does Gentry's position of 2 different comings in the space of 3 verses make any sense. I, for the life of me, can't see that it does.

Duncan

tom-g's picture

Duncan,

I have never been able to make any sense out of any coming other than the Parousia that's how and why I became a preterist. Which by the way I define by its relationship to eschatology, fulfilled prophecy. Not to a theology that uses fulfilled prophecy in its system.

I think any individual or church system, that recognizes that the Lord Jesus is currently ruling and reigning in his eternal kingdom, which is his body, the church, as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and is the High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, is a preterist. I think any person who acknowledges those truths and tries to prove some prophecy is yet unfulfilled (partial futurists) can be proven in error by the laws of grammar and logic.

Tom

Virgil's picture

Non sequitur congrats!! :)

tom-g's picture

Thanks Dr.

Your minor premise was: "Jesus was crucified outside Jerusalem" For sake of examination I grant the truth of the premise, which I in fact deny. Your conclusion based upon "outside" is that Jesus could not therefore have been crucified inside the great city as affirmed by your major premise. Therefore Jerusalem is not the great city since the text says Jesus was crucified in the great city. Just as a point, not to cut off discussion, your syllogism contains the fallacy of 4 terms; Lord; Jesus; Jerusalem and The great city. You have also arrived at a negative conclusion from a positive antecedent, plus all of the violations that follow from those fallacies. Most notably, your major term, the great city, also becomes your minor term (the subject of the conclusion which you are supposedly proving but have already affirmed as true).

By substituting any specific city (Rome?) for the predicate term of your minor premise, Then for the same reason that Jerusalem is concluded as being excluded from being The great city. Then for the same reason any city (Rome?) as the predicate of the subject, The great city, in your conclusion would not be the great city. The conclusion would be then that no city, including Rome, could be the great city. This conclusion is inferred from your premise that Jesus was crucified outside (meaning not inside) a city.

Thus from your syllogism, since no city, including Rome, could be the great city, My question was: What then do we do with the truth of Revelation?

For point of reference, if it is important to you, my examination is using the laws of grammar and logic applied directly to the text under discussion and finding an understanding of the questions of the text in the text itself. Looking nowhere but to the same text for the answers. Your inquiry, evidenced by your comments and syllogisms, is to completely look outside all scriptures for human intellectual inventions for proof and interpretation of the truth of Scripture.

Your method I reject as being incapable of achieving that goal. My method, though you may (rightly so in far too many instances) disagree with my application of the rules of grammar and logic to interpret scripture, nevertheless cannot be rejected as incapable of achieving that goal.

To expect that God himself will answer the questions of: Who; What; When; Where; Why; and How, in any thing that he chooses to reveal to us is, I affirm the only honest method of "Studying to show ourselves approved of God"

Tom
PS. Dr. Tom, I have always had the time for the RAPTURE, I'm just lazy and undisciplined. That's why I admire you (and all those others) so much, who have exhibited the personal intellectual integrity and perseverance to attain your goal and with it the rights and privileges you justly deserve. (I think I left out, your responsibilities also)

ThomasS's picture

Dear Tom,

You seem to believe that there can be only ONE "great city". I do not agree. I have seen several ancient (Greek, Latin) sources calling several cities "great".

My point is that the city in Rev 11 is Jerusalem, not Rome. I do not think you should (or have to) equate the great city in Rev 11 with the great city in Rev 17-18.

Blessings

Th.S.

tom-g's picture

Thanks Doc,

Am I correct in assuming you are agreeing with my exclusive premise of the immediate and remote use of "Sola Scriptura" as understood by the laws of grammar and logic to interpret the word?

Tom

ThomasS's picture

Dear Tom,

I do not accept "Sola scriptura" as a valid hermeneutical principle. I am guided by e.g. linguistics and logic.

Regards

Th.S.

tom-g's picture

Hey Doc,

Which linguistics are you guided by and what linguistics are you subjecting to the test of internal logic?

Tom

ThomasS's picture

Tom,

I am a linguist. I use commonly accepted principles of 'text linguistics' and Greek (koine) Grammar when reading the so-called NT. I am guided by commonly accepted rules of logic.

Best wishes

Th.S.

tom-g's picture

Hey Dr. Tom,

Then am I to understand when it is "the so-called NT" which is the Sola Scriptura that is the text being examined, then the analysis you make applying the commonly accepted principles of "text linguistics" and "accepted rules of logic" is applicable to that Sola Scriptura alone without importing or super-imposing any other text on the Sola Scriptura to attain your analysis?

Tom

ThomasS's picture

Tom,

I do not know what you mean by "the New Testament". I am following the tradition of the (Catholic) Church re: the NT canon.

I do not subscribe to "Sola scriptura" -- the very term is inconsistent. In order to understand the NT, I have to understand the socio-cultural matrix from which it originated (language, symbolism, rhetoric, historical background, etc.).

Regards

Th.S.

tom-g's picture

Hey Dr,

I could go through the list but will you stipulate my identification as including the books contained in the KJV in their original autograph in any commonly accepted text? For your benefit I will allow you to include more than this list. But what is common to stipulate is the books I list which you also affirm in your list, that these are the word of god and truth without error. You may include additional books that you perceive to be truth without error that I do not but that would not make the ones that are common untrue.

Tom

ThomasS's picture

Tom,

I do believe in a sacred NT; I follow the canon of the (Catholic) Church. But I do not subscribe to "Sola scriptura" because I think this hermeneutical principle is inconsistent. Unfortunately, the NT autographa is not available to us. What we have are the texts preserved by the (Catholic) Church.

Regards

Th.S.

tom-g's picture

Hey Dr,

Do you subscribe to the sacred NT as the inerrant word of God or is something else more inerrant than the sacred NT? Do you subscribe to that method of interpretation of a document which is made by following the laws of linguistics and logic applied to the document being examined?

Tom

Virgil's picture

You ASSUME that Jerusalem is indicated by the cipher "Babylon", but your assumption is not evidence at all. Your 'argument' speaks volumes about your 'exegetical' method!

And you are not ASSUMING that this Babylon is Rome? Your assumption is not evidence at all! That speaks volumes about your 'exegetical' methods!

In Galatians 2, we learn that Peter remained in Jerusalem, therefore it's hardly reasonable for the Babylon in 1 Peter 5 to be Rome since Peter was in Jerusalem rather than Rome.

We do know that Jerusalem was called "Sodom".

No, it's not called Sodom...it's called worse:

As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done. Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. - Ezekiel 16:48-50

Let's try again. I'll take "exegetical methods" for $50 :)

ThomasS's picture

Dear Virgil,

You seem confused. I am sorry about that.

For the record: I have never used 1 Peter 5:13 as evidence for "Babylon" = Rome. The problem with the method applied by C. Livingstone is that it does not prove anything. He may assume what he wants -- I have no problem with that. But he should not present his assumptions as evidence. You may of course disagree...

According to Rev 11:8, the great city mentioned there was called "Sodom". We do know that Jerusalem was called Sodom. Rev 11:8 is not in conflict with an identification of Jerusalem with "the great city" in Rev 11.

Best wishes

Th.S.

Duncan's picture

Thomas,

Lets assume you are right for a moment; Babylon is Rome. How do you put Rev. 17-19 together? What is it showing? Was John expecting Rome to fall in the first century and just plain mistaken? Or as you usually seem to revert to at this point is this chronography (a form of history that is more stylized than chronological)? If so, is it talking about the eventual fall of Rome in the fifth century? If that is the case what did that have to do with the people the letter was sent to? Also if it is talking about the fifth century fall of Rome, how do you reconcile this with the fact that Rev. 17:8 (NASB) says the beast (who would bring the fall of harlot Babylon) was "about to come"?

In addition, if this is about the fifth cent. fall of Rome does that mean the Parousia happened in the fifth cent. (Rev. 19:11-21)?

Assuming you are right about Babylon being Rome I think you will have a very hard time putting it all together, but let us hear your attempt.

Duncan

ThomasS's picture

Duncan,

I do believe that Rev 17-19 is based on chronography rather than chronology. (The same may be observed in Dan 2:44, by the way.)

Thus, I do not believe that 'temporal markers' in the Apocalypse have to be understood literally. In fact, I do not believe in a literal interpretation of the Apocalypse at all.

However, I do understand your point. And IF...

(a) John had called the whore in Rev 17 "Sodom" or "Egypt" (or, indeed, Jerusalem),

(b) omitted a reference to the seven hills (of Rome),

(c) had written to seven congregations of Jerusalem or, at least, Palestine (rather than seven congregations locate in Asia Minor)

...I think I would be more open for an identification of the "woman city" with Jerusalem.

Your argument is that "Babylon" cannot be Rome because Rome didn't fall in the first century CE. There is, however, a problem with your reasoning: You do not accept the possibility that John may have erred... So, even IF John had written "Rome" in Rev 17, you would have said that "Rome" = Jerusalem, because Rome didn't fall in the first century CE. Obviously, this line of reasoning is nothing but an exercise in apologetics.

See my point?

For the record: I have nothing against an identification of "Babylon" with Jerusalem as a working hypothesis; but I think one should recognise that there are problems with this interpretation.

Regards

Th.S.

Duncan's picture

Thomas,

You totally dodged my question (which probably means you don't have a coherent answer). Let me ask it again.

How do you put it all together? Lets assume you are right for a moment; Babylon is Rome. What is Rev. 17-19 showing? Was John expecting Rome to fall in the first century and just plain mistaken? Or, if this is chronography, is it talking about the eventual fall of Rome in the fifth century? If that is the case what did that have to do with the people the letter was sent to? Also if it is talking about the fifth century fall of Rome, how do you reconcile this with the fact that Rev. 17:8 (NASB) says the beast (who would bring the fall of harlot Babylon) was "about to come"?

In addition, if this is about the fifth cent. fall of Rome does that mean the Parousia happened in the fifth cent. (Rev. 19:11-21)? The beast destroys the harlot and then is destroyed by the coming of the Jesus; is that the fifth century? And if it is what 8th ruler was defeated by this coming?

Again I think you will have a very hard time putting the pieces of your position together in any kind of a coherent way.

Or do you fall back on the usual liberal theological position (when their theory does not make sense), that John was just giving us his thoughts and was mistaken. If that is the case I am wasting my time with you.

Duncan

ThomasS's picture

Dear Duncan,

I have never "totally dodged" your question. You may, of course, not like my answer. That is something else!

According to 'classic preterism', John thought Rome would be destroyed, but not necessarily in the first century CE. I know that this is difficult for you to understand, but perhaps you may consider the following:

IF we insist on a literal interpretation of the temporal marker in Dan 2:44, the "stone kingdom" should have destroyed all four kingdoms at the same time . Historically, this is not what happened.

I, for one, do not believe Daniel was expecting all four kingdoms to fall at the same time. I rather think the prophecy in Dan 2 has to be understood as chronography (not as chronology). The same can be observed in Dan 11:45-12:1ff. Here, the resurrection is depicted as occurring "at the same time" as the fall of Antiochus IV ("the king of the north").

According to classic preterism, then, the destruction of "Babylon the great" is theologically (rather than chronologically) linked with the parousia, the final coming of Christ. As I see it, the Millennium starts after the fall of "Babylon" and ends with the final coming of Christ. The 1000 years may be seen as more or less corresponding to the stone becoming a great mountain (and filling the whole earth).

The problem with your view is that you insist on a literal interpretation of the temporalia in the Book of Revelation. I do not subscribe to a literal interpretation.

It seems to me that you do not even consider the possibility that John could have been mistaken. If so, you are just being apologetic not rational or open minded. In that case I am wasting my time.

Your essays seem to create a lot of discussion. That's not bad at all...

Best wishes

Th.S.

Duncan's picture

Thomas

If John was mistaken then we are both wasting our time. I have better things to do than to study cleverly devised fables. If I really thought that were the case I would spend my time doing something else, something I could believe in.

Duncan

ThomasS's picture

Duncan,

So, I guess you think the study of literary texts (within their socio-cultural context) is a waist of time. Interesting.

Regards

Th.S.

Duncan's picture

Thomas,

First let me thank you for putting words in my mouth (typical straw man jab from you). I see Scripture as something much more than your average literary text. I see it as the word of God.

I might add you still have not put Rev. 17-19 together in any sort of a coherent fashion. Who was the 8th ruler (who was about to come)? This ruler is defeated by the coming of Jesus in Rev. 19:11-21. How is it this ruler about to come but the Second Coming (when he would be defeated) is in the distant future (as you seem to indicate)? It doesn't add up. When do you think the Second Coming did or will happen. If it is still future why is it connected with the 8th ruler who was about to come? You mentioned the millennium. If the Second Coming is after the millennium when did the millennium start?

Duncan

ThomasS's picture

Duncan,

I do understand that you believe the Bible is the word of God. That's OK with me. My point is that even if one does not see the Bible as the word of God, one can find the text interesting for other reasons.

I think John has thought of Domitian as the "Nero II" ("one of the seven previous kings"). We do know that Domitian was called "a second Nero". R. Bauckham ("Climax of Prophecy") is very good on the meaning of the seven/eight kings (and the one that is both an eight king and one of the seven kings).

Unlike you, I do not believe that the 'antichrist' was killed in 70 CE, although your candidate for this role actually became more powerful after 70 CE...

I do not think that the phrase "about to come" (in Rev 17) should be taken literally. As I have stated before, I do not subscribe to a literal interpretation of apocalyptic prophecy.

According to the Book of Revelation, the so-called Millennium starts after the fall of "Babylon" (and the beast).

The so-called "second" (or, perhaps better, final) coming will happen at the end of the Millennium. This will be the end of 'history' (as we know it) and the beginning of eternity.

I think you will see that this correspond to the oldest teachings of the Church, the very same Church that gave you the Biblical canon of Scriptures that you believe contain the word of God.

The very idea that "Babylon" = Jerusalem is totally absent from all Christian tradition until the 18th century (CE). One may wonder why...

Regards

Th.S.

Duncan's picture

Thomas,
You are illustrating quite well how your theory does not fit together.

You say that Domitian was the eighth king. Ok. But then you say the Final Advent (when this king is defeated, Rev. 19:11-21) is way off in the future. How do you fit that together?

You say you don't take "about to come" in Rev. 17:8 literally. To be honest I don't know what a symbolic time text is. To say the nearness portions of Revelation (Rev. 1:1,3; 22:6, 10) are symbolic does not even make sense. Either way if you look at the context of Rev. 17:8-11 it says all that was between the then reigning ruler and the beast was the short reign of one king (v. 10). This clearly indicates that "about to come" means just that, the individual beast was about to come.

By the way the 8th king was about to come out of the abyss (Rev. 17:8, cf. Rev. 11:7). This supports my contention that ultimately the rulers here are spiritual rulers (just like the demonic kings and rulers in Dan. 10:13, 20-21). It was not a man that was destroyed at the Parousia but a demonic spirit that worked through a man.

Duncan

ThomasS's picture

Dear Duncan,

You have misunderstood me. Basically, I follow R. Bauckham's interpretation of the 7/8 kings. I do think Domitian as a second Nero was the 8th king. This is how this king can be said to be an eight king and, still, one of the seven emperors.

I see no reason why we necessarily have to take temporalia in apocalyptic writings literally, even if you are not able to understand how chronography works. Temporal nearness may be introduced for rhetorical purposes: linking different events together theologically. This is why Dan 2 may have all four kingdoms destroyed at the same time. This is also how Dan 11-12 can have the resurrection following (immediately after) the death of Antiochus IV.

You wrote:

>> It was not a man that was destroyed at the Parousia but a demonic spirit that worked through a man. spiritually -- but you do not have any proof for your idea. Facts are: (1) the Roman Empire did not fall in 70 CE. In fact, it grew more powerful after 70 CE; (2) the man that you think the invisible evil spirit was working through was not killed in 70 CE. He became more powerful, viz. emperor, after 70 CE. But I guess you can always make the following argument: IF the interpretation does not fit what is know from visible history, you may say that it was about invisible history...

...just like the SDA idea of Jesus entering the heavenly/spiritual temple in 1844; or the Watchtower's idea of the parousia as an invisible coming in 1914.

When they/you say something happened in the invisible world, I cannot argue with that, right? :)

Regards

Th.S.

Duncan's picture

Thomas,

And when your theory does not make any sense it is because of:

1. Chronography (the resurrection right after the death of Antiochus IV??).
2. Because John's writing in Revelation may have just been wrong.

I can't argue with that; right?

Just what exactly is Revelation 19:11-21 showing (and when). By the way vv 11-21 are not after the 8th king, they involve the 8th king. It is his defeat.

Duncan

ThomasS's picture

Duncan,

If you think interpretation does not make any sense it may be (1) because there are problems with my interpretation or (2) because you have a problem...

If we exclude the possibility that John may have been wrong, we are just being dogmatic not rational (scientific). If you do not accept the possibility that a certain interpretation may be correct, there is no point in discussing it with you. Right? :)

I think Rev 19:11-21 is showing the fall of the Roman Empire and the priests of the emperor cult ("the false prophet"). I see absolutely no reason to identify the beast with the 8th king (alone).

If you have access to Bauckham's book "Climax of Prophecy", you may want to take a look at it. It' a good read!

Regards

Th.S.

Duncan's picture

Thomas,

If the Bible is wrong on something as major as the fall of Babylon what else is it wrong about? The resurrection of Jesus? The miracles? The fact that there ever would be a final advent?

Just what is your rational and scientific criterion for when the Bible is wrong? I know the criterion of the Jesus Seminar, it is their own rationalistic liberal bias. What is your criterion? Where else in the Bible do you have suspicions that it is just plain wrong (I am talking major error, not something like one Gospel says there was one angel at the tomb of Jesus and another says there were more).

Duncan

ThomasS's picture

Dear Duncan,

I do hope that the Bible contains the truth and nothing but the truth. We got the Biblical canon from the Church, and I do trust the Church. Hopefully the Church is right. Classic preterism is one way of viewing the Bible as truthful.

By the way, how do you know that the so-called "Book of Revelation" is part of the Bible?

Regards

Th.S.

tom-g's picture

Amen and Amen Duncan. I see your comments as an application of Hebrews 12:4-13.

Tom

tom-g's picture

Hey Duncan,

AMEN and AMEN

Tom

tom-g's picture

Hey Dr Tom,

Since you do admit the great city in Rev 11 is Jerusalem and only the speculative "possibility" that some other city could be mentioned elsewhere. It would seem to me it is incumbent upon you to prove that there is absolutely a city other than Jerusalem as the subject of other passages in the immediate text.

Does your "possibility" provably eliminate Jerusalem as the continuing definition of the city in the immediate text, or just the "possibility" that it may not? Is it this "possibility" that you then convert into "absolutely" that guides your interpretation of introducing Rome into the immediate text instead of continuing with Jerusalem which you have already affirmed is the great city? Do the rules of linguistics and logic "Demand" that Jerusalem not continue as the definition?

Tom

ThomasS's picture

Dear Tom,

You wrote:

>> Since you do admit the great city in Rev 11 is Jerusalem and only the speculative "possibility" that some other city could be mentioned elsewhere. It would seem to me it is incumbent upon you to prove that there is absolutely a city other than Jerusalem as the subject of other passages in the immediate text. admit anything!

Furthermore, I have never spoken of "only the speculative 'possibility' that some other city could be mentioned elsewhere". What I have argued, is that the evidence at hand suggests that "Sodom" in Rev 11 is Jerusalem and that the evidence at hand suggests that "Babylon" in Rev 17-18 is the City of Rome.

There is no rule of Grammar, text linguistics, rhetoric or any sound hermeneutical principle which supports your idea that there is but one great city in the Book of Revelation.

We do know (for sure) that in the first century CE, the City of Rome was called "Babylon" (cf. Rev 17:18) and that the City of Rome was known as a woman city situated on seven mountains (cf. Rev 17:9). In my opinion, the imagery in Rev 17 pretty much excludes an identification of "Babylon" with Jerusalem. Trying to make "Babylon" in Rev 17-18 to be Jerusalem is like trying to identify "Sodom" in Rev 11 with the city of Rome. Besides being totally unnecessary it does not work.

Regards

Th.S.

tom-g's picture

Hey Dr Tom,

I have hoped up to this point only to establish the authority that will be used as the means to establish truth. We obviously cannot proceed without that understanding.

I am affirming that the only source for establishing the truth of what is revealed in scripture is scripture unaided or supplemented by any other source. With that definition I understand your criteria of "The evidence at hand" to mean the evidence contained in the Revelation itself. I have affirmed that the evidence at hand is contained and known in both the name itself and language containing the definition of the name. Either or both may be converted to the other to identity the single entity that is known by name or definition.

If the immediate evidence on hand in the Revelation is disputed as being sufficient to establish truth, then a remote evidence is appealed to for that evidence and I affirm that the only remote evidence that can be appealed to as a source is also scripture speaking to the same subject by name or by definition.

With that established, I affirm that the only city that is charged by God, in the books contained in the KJV, to be guilty of the things identified in Revelation, is Jerusalem both directly by name and by definition.

To identify Rome as the city in Rev. 17-18 because "evidence at hand SUGGESTS Babylon in Rev. 17-18 is the city of Rome" is obviously a circular argument which is a fallacy.

Tom

ThomasS's picture

Dear Tom,

It is not a circular argument that the evidence at hand suggests that "Babylon" (in Rev 17-18) is the City of Rome. Your "Sola scriptura", on the other hand, is logically inconsistent and, therefore, a fallacy.

Blessings!

Th.S.

tom-g's picture

Hey Dr. Tom,

You do realize that you are now affirming that the city of Rev.11 is Jerusalem which you denied in your (d) syllogism. You are also affirming the contradiction of your requirement that Jerusalem is not mentioned in Rev.

Based upon your criteria of Jerusalem not being in conflict with an identification of the great city, is Jerusalem in conflict with the identification of the great city in any other chapter of Revelation, if that is your understanding?

Tom

ThomasS's picture

Dear Tom,

Do you realize that you haven't understood that I do not accept syllogism # (d) as valid? I was only trying to make the following point: one should not use syllogisms uncritically!

I think there are more than one great city in the Book of Revelation. The syntax in Rev 16:9 makes this quite possible. Thus, the Book of Revelation reflects a common theme from the so-called OT: (Old) Jerusalem (Rev 17:8) destroyed by (new) Babylon. Hopefully, we all know who destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE.

Regards

Th.S.

Duncan's picture

Virgil et al,

Thomas is right about one thing. 8th century evidence for Jerusalem being on 7 hills does not cut it. There is no good first century evidence for Jerusalem being on seven mountains. Having said that Thomas is sooo wrong about almost everything else when it comes to harlot Babylon!

There is a symbolic use of the number seven in Revelation to signify that which is holy to God. I think that is the use of seven in this context. Here is something from my book on this subject.

THE HARLOT IS SEATED ON SEVEN MOUNTAINS,

The first identification that comes to most people’s minds of a city that sits on seven mountains is Rome, the city on seven hills. This had led many commentators to say that Rome is the harlot-city, with the beast being the Roman Empire. This solution has at least three problems: First, it does not require special wisdom to come up with it as v. 9 requires. Second, as I have shown, to say Rome is the harlot is inconsistent with the Biblical use of the harlot motif. Biblically speaking, to say the beast and the harlot are the same Gentile power does not make sense. The motif of the harlot speaks of God’s old covenant people going after the gods and ways of the Gentiles (cf. Ezek. 16). It is unfaithful Israel that is the harlot, she is the one the Roman beast threw off and destroyed with fire in AD 70 (Rev. 17:16).

A third problem with identifying Rome as the harlot is that Rome did not fall in the first century. If the harlot is a symbol for Rome and the things of Revelation were to happen soon (in the first century; Rev. 1:1-3; 22:6, 10), then the Bible is in error. Many of those who hold the position that Rome was the harlot simply say that John thought Rome was about to fall and was wrong. Others say that Revelation is not related to chronological history but is a chronography, a more stylized form of history that speaks of the eventual fall of Rome. The fall of Rome, however, (which would not happen for centuries) would have had no relevance for the first century recipients of Revelation. It should be noted that the disastrous events that Rome went through in AD 68-69 are shown in the beast having a mortal would and recovering (Rev. 13:3, 12, 14 cf. Rev. 16:10-11). This is in contrast to the harlot who does not recover from her judgment but is totally burned with fire (Rev. 17:16; 19:3), never to rise again (Rev. 18:21). It is true that the (individual) beast is destroyed right after it burns the harlot (Revelation 19:11-21) but this is not speaking of the destruction of Roman Empire but of the destruction of the demonic ruler from the abyss (Rev. 17:8; 19:19-20; cf. 11:7).

The use of the number seven for the seven mountains that the woman is seated on (Rev. 17:9) has a symbolic meaning. This is consistent with the context of mystery in this chapter (v. 7) as well as the symbolic nature of most numbers in Revelation. In Revelation the number seven often has the symbolic meaning of “that which is God’s” or “God’s holy.” I believe that this symbolic use of the number seven is derived from the holiness that God ascribed to the seventh day in creation (cf. Ex. 31:15). God blessed and sanctified the seventh day (Gen. 2:3); it was God’s holy day (Ex. 20:8-11). The number seven in Revelation often has this meaning of that which is holy to God. When we are told that there are seven spirits before the throne of God (Rev. 4:5) it is referring to God’s Holy Spirit, not seven distinct Spirits of God. Similarly, the Lamb with seven eyes and seven horns is talking about Jesus possessing God’s knowledge (seven eyes) and authority (seven horns); it has nothing to do with seven literal eyes or horns.

With this symbolic use of the number seven in mind (i.e. that which is holy to God), the seven mountains on which the harlot is seated are not talking about seven physical mountains but about God’s holy mountain, the mountain of the Lord. Just as the seven spirits of God are not a reference to seven literal spirits but stand for God’s Holy Spirit, so the seven mountains on which the woman sits are not a reference to seven literal mountains but stand for God’s holy mountain. The mountain of God was where the harlot was seated. It was God’s holy mountain that the Antichrist was to attack, not Rome (Dan. 11:45; 2 Thess. 2:4; cf. Dan. 9:26; ). The mountain of the Lord was the seat (i.e. the center) of the temple system of unfaithful Israel.

Duncan

ThomasS's picture

Duncan,

You are correct in ONE thing: IF one insists on having "Babylon" = Jerusalem, one has to ignore the reference to the pro-Roman imagery (suggested by Gentry).

Furthermore, one has to ignore the fact that Rome was called "Babylon" and one has to believe John really didn't want his readers to think of the seven hills of Rome. This strategy has been tried before, e.g. by the Dutch scholar Cornelis v/d Waal. I am not able to follow this line of thinking, but I welcome different perspectives. The Book of Revelation still is a fascinating text!

Best regards

Th.S.

Duncan's picture

Thomas,

The great harlot has Israel written all over her. Revelation is showing what God told Moses would happen in the last days. The children of Israel would play the harlot with the Gentile nations and would be devoured (Deut. 31:16-17). The harlot is arrayed in the colors of the Temple. She is a parody of the high priest dressed in his finest garments for the day of atonement. She is a widow (which she became when she had Jesus killed). The merchandise of Babylon is the merchandise of the Temple. She was persecuting God's people just as the Jews were. Revelation is a story of two women who are two cities. The storyline is the exact same as the storyline of Galatians 4:21-31. Two women/cities represent those of the two covenants. One is destroyed the other receives her inheritance.
The fact that more scholars do not at least bring these points up is to their shame. That is slowly starting to change but there is still a severe case of group think on this issue by many scholars.

Duncan

ThomasS's picture

Duncan,

I think you are wrong. Several scholars have considered the arguments that you are presenting. I think you have to accept that they -- who actually are able to read the original OT/NT texts -- have reach another conclusion than you. That does not make them right and you wrong. But it most certainly does not make you right and them wrong either.

The problem with your argument is not that you are able to find parts of Rev 17-18 that may be applied to Jerusalem. Obviously, there are parts in Rev that may point to Jerusalem. The real problem is twofold: (a) that you are not able to find any part that exclude an identification of "Babylon" with the City of Rome, and (b) that there are parts that are making an identification of "Babylon" with Jerusalem rather difficult. These are: (a) the name "Babylon" and (b) her 'location' (on seven mountains/hills). Only by means of eisegetical acrobatics are you able to explain (away) these problems.

Regards

Th.S.

Virgil's picture

Duncan, I don't care about the "seven hills." Nothing else in the text is literal-physical, so why do the seven hills need to be taken in a physical, literal way?

Duncan's picture

Virgil,

What you are saying is quite true. But if one is going to say something is symbolic one needs to offer a plausible answer as to what it is symbolic of. One can not just say the seven hills are symbolic and leave it at that without any explanation.

Duncan

chrisliv's picture

Yeah,

The "city" and "seven mountains" of Revelation could have also been easily identified as symbolic and a metaphor for Jerusalem by any Jew of that time as a reference or parallel to the first Book of Enoch, which was complied around the first part of the 2nd Century BC. Portions of it were found in the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran and were stashed away right before Jerusalem's destruction, only to finally be discovered in 1948.

What a time-capsule!

Anyway, the context and mention of the "city", "throne", and "seven mountains" at 1 Enoch 24-25 are strikingly similar to Revelation and New Jerusalem.

So, the symbolism may have needed no explanation, since recent copies of the Book of Enoch were certainly extant at that time and place.

I'll post 1Enoch 24-25 below.

It may give added evidence, for those who need it, beyond the internal evidence within Revelation, as to the identification of the "city" with the "seven mountains".

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone
------------------------------------------------
[Chapter 24]

1 And from thence I went to another place of the earth, and he showed me a mountain range of 2 fire which burnt day and night. And I went beyond it and saw seven magnificent mountains all differing each from the other, and the stones (thereof) were magnificent and beautiful, magnificent as a whole, of glorious appearance and fair exterior: three towards the east, one founded on the other, and three towards the south, one upon the other, and deep rough ravines, no one of which 3 joined with any other. And the seventh mountain was in the midst of these, and it excelled them 4 in height, resembling the seat of a throne: and fragrant trees encircled the throne. And amongst them was a tree such as I had never yet smelt, neither was any amongst them nor were others like it: it had a fragrance beyond all fragrance, and its leaves and blooms and wood wither not for ever: 5 and its fruit is beautiful, and its fruit n resembles the dates of a palm. Then I said: 'How beautiful is this tree, and fragrant, and its leaves are fair, and its blooms very delightful in appearance.' 6 Then answered Michael, one of the holy and honoured angels who was with me, and was their leader.

[Chapter 25]

1 And he said unto me: 'Enoch, why dost thou ask me regarding the fragrance of the tree, 2 and why dost thou wish to learn the truth?' Then I answered him saying: 'I wish to 3 know about everything, but especially about this tree.' And he answered saying: 'This high mountain which thou hast seen, whose summit is like the throne of God, is His throne, where the Holy Great One, the Lord of Glory, the Eternal King, will sit, when He shall come down to visit 4 the earth with goodness. And as for this fragrant tree no mortal is permitted to touch it till the great judgement, when He shall take vengeance on all and bring (everything) to its consummation 5 for ever. It shall then be given to the righteous and holy. Its fruit shall be for food to the elect: it shall be transplanted to the holy place, to the temple of the Lord, the Eternal King.

6 Then shall they rejoice with joy and be glad,
And into the holy place shall they enter;
And its fragrance shall be in their bones,
And they shall live a long life on earth,
Such as thy fathers lived:

And in their days shall no sorrow or plague
Or torment or calamity touch them.'

7 Then blessed I the God of Glory, the Eternal King, who hath prepared such things for the righteous, and hath created them and promised to give to them.

ThomasS's picture

Dear C. Livingstone,

I like your reference to Qumran writings. This is a very interesting subject. At Qumran we see the oldest interpretation of the Book of Daniel (identifying the little horn in Dan 7 and 8 with Antiochus IV etc.) Very effective against historicism (light).

By the way, do you have any thoughts on the similarity between anti-Roman polemic at Qumran and the Book of Revelation? I am especially thinking about texts like e.g. 4Q161, 1QSb, etc. Any thoughts?

However, do you exclude the possibility that Rev 17 would make the audience in Rev 2-3 think about the pro-Roman imagery of "Dea Roma", the Roman beast and the seven hills (know from Roman art)? A simple "yes" or "no" will do.

Thanks!

Th.S.

chrisliv's picture

Well,

I think we need to take lightly the OT Jewish interpretation of the prophetic imagery. But, it would be hard for OT Jews not to see Antiochus Epiphanes in Daniel.

Yeah, I'm sure it came to mind for many early readers of Revelation. The Romans certain had their cult and Whore, too. But, like I said, the metaphors are all equated and categorically identified as the place/city where Christ was crucified. And I don't think the vision from God would obsess about Greek paganism, except in passing, like when Isaiah was told there were 7000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal.

I've only read a condensed commentary or two on the Dead Sea Scrolls. I see the Essenes as hating the occupational Romans, and rightly so, as much as the typical Jews of Jerusalem. Of course, the Essenes were very strongly against the greater Jewish culture, too, due to Hellenization, I suppose.

I think it is pretty obvious that John (the baptist and cousin of Christ), and maybe John's disciples too, were former Essenes or had spent a lot of time at Qumran.

I think the fiery style of some of the Qumran writings can be seen in John's verbal statements in the NT, where John more properly directed them at the Jewish State and its soon-coming Apocalypse.

Of course, the New Testament gives us far better illumination than OT Jewish commentary, especially in places where Christ or the Apostles quote Daniel, Isaiah, Joel, Hosea, etc., and demonstrates that a Jewish Kingdom or Israel-centric view was not intended at all, and that the fulfillment was actually occurring before their very eyes or would occur within their 1st Century generation.

So, what limited exposure that I've had to translated portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls I think can be helpful, but they should always take a back seat to where the New Testament contradicts their interpretation of OT prophetic imagery.

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

ThomasS's picture

Thanks!

Th.S.

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