I responded in his combox.
Though I take a partial-preterist position, I likewise think that my fellow bloggers on T-blog who do not share my interpretive schema could also easily answer Exapologist.
At any rate, here's the informal discussion (Exapologist's post is in red):
It appears that if the partial-preterist is correct, then your case crumbles.
I note that you didn't even address this.
Jesus' coming inaugurated the "last days" as well as "the kingdom of heaven."
Your number one flaw is your *assumption* that "the last days" refers to the "end of the world as we know it, in a physical/cosmic sense."
But that was nowhere defended.
Jesus did "come on the clouds" as he promised.
The Bible uses the language of "coming on the clouds" to refer to God's judgment. Look at Isa.19:1; Ps. 68:4; Ps. 97:2,3; for example.
So, you may choose to read the Bible with your 21st century goggles on - thinking that Jesus really intends to convey that he's really surfing some clouds toward earth - but how would the Israelite hearers have understood Jesus? After all, they were very familiar with the "coming on clouds" language.
And Jesus did judge Jerusalem, just like he promised in Matt. 24.
The end of the old covenant era did happen in their lifetime.
Given my partial-preterist reading, I find *zero* problems with your post. Doesn't shake my belief in Christianity at all.
The only problem is that you're reading the Bible while importing your understanding of terms like "last days" and "coming on the clouds" into the text.
John "drops" the kingdom or eschaton verses because Revelation is John's extended "kingdom/eschaton" talk. It's his extended Olivet Discourse.
So, Jesus came back exactly when he promised he would. The fact that you read your interpretation into the text doesn't cause us problems.
Hence you should re-name your post: "If I misrepresent the Bible, Christianity is Pretty Clearly False."
Actually, I *did* mention the partial preterist position in connection with N.T. Wright's version of it. I didn't develop it because I agree with William Lane Craig that it's a transparently absurd position. It's worth quoting Craig's critique of Wright's partial preterism (which occurred in his review of Wright's tome on the resurrection of Jesus) at some length in this connection (sorry, but I can't resist using a greater apologist to refute a lesser apologist):
"...Wright defends in his earlier books [i.e. his books prior to his tome on the resurrection of Jesus]...the view that Jesus' prophecies of the coming of the Son of Man in judgment were fulfilled in AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem. Wright repeatedly asserts that Jews did not anticipate "the end of the space-time universe" at the coming of the Kingdom of God, but a shift within history. I wondered in reading those earlier works how Wright would interpret Paul's teaching that the general resurrection of the dead would take place at Christ's return (I Thess. 4:13; 1 Cor. 15:20-23, 51-54), teaching which was given prior to AD 70. Surely Wright did not believe tht the predicted resurrection took place in AD 70? Certainly not; Wright maintains that the second stage of the resurrection remains future. But if that is the case, in what principled way can we discriminate prophecies concerning Christ's return in AD 70 from those concerning his final return? Are we really to think that Paul, writing in the AD 50s, took the return of Christ and the attendant resurrection to be something different than the return predicted by Jesus and anticipated by the early church (Mk. 13)?" Craig, William Lane. "Review of N.T. Wright's "Christian Origins and the Question of God Vol. 3: The Resurrection of the Son of God"", Faith and Philosophy, Vol. 22, No. 2 (April 2005), pp. 241-242.
Or perhaps you want to say that William Lane Craig is misrepresenting the Bible as well?
Also, you mentioned the Book of Revelation as John's place where he has his full say about the eschaton. If you want to identify the Book of Revelation with John's predictions of the eschaton (leaving to the side the fact that few NT scholars will side with you about Johannine authorship of the Book of Revelation), then, as I said in my post, the
author identifies the beast with Nero, provides an independent deadline for the eschaton -- including the general resurrection and the final judgment -- to within the lifetime of Nero.
Again, this view about Jesus isn't idiosyncratic with me. I'm just summarizing mainstream, middle-of-the-road scholarship on this matter.
I know you *did* "mention" the partial preterist position. But "addressing" whether or not the position is "correct" is not the same thing as "mentioning" the partial preterist position.
At any rate, much more capable partial preterists should be consulted, but for now we'll have to deal with your borrowing Craig to refute Wright to refute me.
"Wright repeatedly asserts that Jews did not anticipate "the end of the space-time universe" at the coming of the Kingdom of God, but a shift within history."
That's right, though the Jews did interpret the Messianic kingdom as a political kingdom, rather than spiritual.
One thing is clear, even as you quoted, the kingdom was "near" and "immanent."
Indeed, your citing of Craig, and calling the partial preterist position "absurd," serves as an argument against you. You argue that the Bible means to imply that these things (i.e., the last days, the kingdom of heaven, etc) are "near." And so how is citing someone who does not think those things are "near" help you, at all? Indeed, why is my position "absurd," when it claims that many of those things you mentioned did occur in that generation? My position affirms much of what you wrote, yet you call my position "absurd." I can only infer from this that you must think your post is absurd! If you don't think your "immanent" interpretation is "absurd" then why think mine is? Thus it turns out that your position is the absurd one!
So, I agree that many of those things were fulfilled, I just disagree with your understanding of "last days" to mean "the destruction of the physical earth."
The old covenant days were called "the former days" (mal. 3:4), while the advent of Jesus ushered in "the last days" (Heb. 1:1-2), the new covenant days.
"I wondered in reading those earlier works how Wright would interpret Paul's teaching that the general resurrection of the dead would take place at Christ's return (I Thess. 4:13; 1 Cor. 15:20-23, 51-54), teaching which was given prior to AD 70."
1. I argued that Christ did return in judgment against apostate Israel. But, that is not "the second advent." The two are not the same.
2. The partial preterist position says that some eschatological prophecy was fulfilled in 70 AD, not all.
3. Craig is equivocation of Christ's "return." His bodily return? His spiritual return in judgment? Craig doesn't tell us. Indeed, that Craig would even say what he did indicates that he's actually quite ignorant of the preterist position. For you to quote him indicates the same about you.
4. Therefore, my position makes clarifications and specifications which avoid all these "problems" you pose. Now, I guess you can continue to call it "absurd," but I'm not really bothered by your opinion on the matter.
"Surely Wright did not believe that the predicted resurrection took place in AD 70? "
"But if that is the case, in what principled way can we discriminate prophecies concerning Christ's return in AD 70 from those concerning his final return?"
Well, one way would be to take the passages with time texts associated with them seriously.
There is no time text in, say, I Corinthians 15, there are in Matt. 24, etc.
Of course, this was all noted by Ex-apologist himself. Ex-apologist doesn't agree with Craig, yet he uses Craig to refute me. Strange.
So, when the text says that something is going to happen soon, we assume it will happen soon. if it does not, why assume what it talks about will happen soon?
If Craig does not use this interpretive tool, then how does he get around all the time texts that Ex-apologist points out?
"Are we really to think that Paul, writing in the AD 50s, took the return of Christ and the attendant resurrection to be something different than the return predicted by Jesus and anticipated by the early church (Mk. 13)?"
Since when do questions substitute for arguments, anyway?
In Mark 13 1-30 Jesus does predict His return, doesn't he? He says,
"30 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened."
See, Jesus "predicted" his return, and he said that the generation he was speaking to would witness this return.
How would the Jewish hearers have understood this passage:
"At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory."
Would those Jews, who knew the Old Testament very well mind you, think they meant that Jesus would be surfing clouds to earth? Or would they remember passages like this:
1 An oracle concerning Egypt: See, the LORD rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt. The idols of Egypt tremble before him,
and the hearts of the Egyptian melt within them.
4 Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds his name is the LORD— and rejoice before him.
2 Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
How about when they heard things like this:
Mark 13: 24"But in those days, following that distress, "'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
Would they remember other passages in the Old Testament where stars and heavenly bodies were used to represent authorities and the judgment of authorities?
Chilton comments (Paradise Restored, ch. 11):
...[T]hese heavenly lights are used to speak of earthly authorities and governors; and when God threatens to come against them in judgment, the same collapsing-universe terminology is used to describe it. Prophesying the fall of Babylon to the Medes in 539 B.C., Isaiah wrote:
Behold, the Day of the LORD is coming,
Cruel, with fury and burning anger,
To make the land a desolation;
And He will exterminate its sinners from it.
For the stars of heaven and their constellations
Will not flash forth with their light;
The sun will be dark when it rises,
And the moon will not shed its light. (Isa. 13:9-10)
Significantly, Isaiah later prophesied the fall of Edom in terms of de-creation:
And all the host of heaven will wear away,
And the sky will be rolled up like a scroll;
All their hosts will also wither away
As a leaf withers from the vine,
Or as one withers from the fig tree. (Isa. 34:4)
Isaiah's contemporary, the prophet Amos, foretold the doom of Samaria (722 B.C.) in much the same way:
"And it will come about in that day,"
Declares the Lord GOD,
"That I shall make the sun go down at noon
And make the earth dark in broad daylight." (Amos 8:9)
Another example is from the prophet Ezekiel, who predicted the destruction of Egypt. God said this through Ezekiel:
"And when I extinguish you,
I will cover the heavens, and darken their stars;
I will cover the sun with a cloud,
And the moon shall not give its light.
All the shining lights in the heavens
I will darken over you
And will set darkness on your land,"
Declares the Lord GOD. (Ezek. 32:7-8)
It must be stressed that none of these events literally took place. God did not intend anyone to place a literalist construction on these statements. Poetically, however, all these things did happen: as far as these wicked nations were concerned, "the lights went out." This is simply figurative language, which would not surprise us at all if we were more familiar with the Bible and appreciative of its literary character."
So, we note the Jesus tells us when he's coming by the purposeful use of time texts:
But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. (Mat 26:63-64)
You see, the Old Testament Jews knew what Jesus was getting at. They understood, though Ex-apologist does not. They read the words as they were intended to be understood by them. Jesus wasn't using 21st century terminology, Ex-apologist.
And so this is why we see this reaction from the High Priest. He spoke very familiar words to the High Priest, and the High Priest knew exactly what Jesus was insinuating. And for that reason, the Priest cried, "Blasphemy!"
"Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy." (Mat 26:64-65)
Now why would that be, Ex-apologist? Could it be that a Jew, familiar with the Old Testament, would have remembered these passages:
Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. (Psalm 97:2)
Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled. O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness , that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee? (Jer 4:13-14)
The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. (Nah 1:3)
That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. (Zep 1:15-17)
Let's also note that Jesus said he would come "sitting at the right hand of power." If the "coming on clouds" is taken literaly, why not this? Maybe Jesus will surf clouds next to a big hand? How about this prophecy?
'The Lord said to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet." (Matt. 22:44)
"God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel." (Acts 5:31)
Back to Jesus' claim that the High Priest would see him coming on the clouds. Why did the high Priest shout "Blasphemy!"?? He, and everyone else, knew precisely what Jesus was getting at. In the Old Testament it is The Lord who comes upon the clouds.
Why those Jews, at that time? Why where they judged?
As Jesus tells the Jews in Matthew 23 (interestingly right before he talks about the destruction of the temple in Matt 24),
"35 that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel the righteous unto the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom ye slew between the sanctuary and the altar."
And so we see that all the blood of the prophets, whom the Jews had constantly put to death, was going to come on them Who's "them?" Maybe "this generation?" What do I know, my views absurd. I mean, my view is that Jesus is using judgment language (i.e., riding on the clouds) to indict the Jews for killing the prophets, for being an unfaithful covenant bride, and for murdering the Lord of Glory himself. I've neatly tied everything together, showing the Bible to be consistent on this matter. But my view is "absurd" and Ex-apologist's view, where Jesus surfs clouds to earth throwing lightning bolts (or something), is not absurd.
Lastly, you conclude,
"Also, you mentioned the Book of Revelation as John's place where he has his full say about the eschaton. If you want to identify the Book of Revelation with John's predictions of the eschaton (leaving to the side the fact that few NT scholars will side with you about Johannine authorship of the Book of Revelation), then, as I said in my post, the author identifies the beast with Nero, which lands the orthodox Christian with yet another failed apocalyptic prediction in the 70s AD."
1. Who's the "majority" here? The majority of orthodox scholars see it that John did indeed author Revelation.
2. At any rate, at the end of the day, your argument from authority doesn't mean squat, so let's drop it.
3. Yeah, I think the beast (which comes from the sea) was Nero. And? Where's your argument? Looks like a fulfilled prophecy from my angle.
Your post didn't prove anything. You wrote:
"thus clearly indicating that the end was immanent"
And that's my position. But you must mean "end" as in "destruction of the physical heavens and earth" but where was that assumption argued for? Anyway, where does it say that the "beast" comes at "the end" of earth's history? In fact, the words "the end" are not mentioned in Revelation 13. So who knows where you're getting this stuff from.