An Excerpt From a Chapter in a New Book I'm Compiling: "At Best Jesus Was A Failed Apocalyptic Doomsday Prophet"

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And when we look at the New Testament we see this theme reflected in many places. In what has become known as the “Little Apocalypse,” Mark chapter 13 (cf. Matt 24), we find Jesus instructing his disciples about the time when the temple would be destroyed and the “Son of Man” comes. Making a crystal clear reference to a prophecy in the book of Daniel ('the abomination that causes desolation') Jesus tells them it will be shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem that took place in 70 A.D:
"But in those days, following that distress, " 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' "At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.” And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. "Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”
Given what we already know about the apocalyptic milieu in which Jesus preached and granting for the moment that this passage comes from the lips of Jesus, his disciples would understand exactly what he meant. The sign of the coming “Son of Man” was the distress and tribulation surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The lesson of the fig tree merely reinforces the point that just as they can predict when summer is coming when the fig leaves blossom, so also can they know the “Son of Man” is coming when they see the destruction of Jerusalem. [Critical studies of this passage lead many scholars to think Jesus probably didn’t speak of the destruction of Jerusalem here, only that he predicted the imminent coming of the “Son of Man.” Such a prediction may have been added by the author of this first gospel after the fact, leading his readers to conclude the eschaton would take place immediately based on Jesus’ prior eschatological preaching]. And as such the very generation of people living in his day will witness this apocalyptic event, which echoes clearly what we read earlier in Mark 9:1 (cf. Matt. 16:28; Luke 9:27) when Jesus says to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power."

Theologians have tried to construe the word “generation” in the above passage to mean “race,” as in “this race of people will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” But that is not the obvious natural reading, given the whole context. Edward Adams, Senior lecturer in New Testament Studies at King’s College, London, states it forthrightly: "It is virtually certain that 'this generation' means the generation living at the time of utterance. The time frame in this verse is thus the lifetime of Jesus' own contemporaries." [Edward Adams, The Stars Will Fall From Heaven: Cosmic Catastrophe in the New Testament and its World (New York: T & T Clark, 2007) p. 164.] We can see this from a study of the Greek word itself, in which the primary usage means “generation” rather than “race.” The translation “race” wouldn’t make any sense here anyway, since no Jew of that day would ever consider the possibility that their race of people could “pass away” given their assuredness of special divine promises of favor. We also see this from the whole context of the Jewish milieu and from what we read in the rest of the New Testament itself. We read of Jesus saying: “I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes” (Matt. 10:23). Speaking to the Sanhedrin during his trial Jesus reportedly said, “you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Mark 14:16; Matt. 26:64). The meaning is obvious.

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