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Re-registering the coming of the Son of man

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers which are in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with much power and glory. 27 And then he will send the angels and will gather together [his] elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the heavens.

Gustavo Martin’s excellent (though rather technical) Biblica essay on ‘Procedural Register in the Olivet Discourse’ has prompted me to look again at the place of the ‘Son of man’ section in Jesus’ prediction of future events in Mark 13.

Martin’s main argument is that there is a pronounced shift of ‘register’ (that is, a ‘functional variety of language’) between 5b-23 and 24-27 which he takes as evidence that the time frame is dislocated at this juncture. The first part of the discourse can be shown on functional-grammatical grounds to be Jesus’ direct response to the disciples’ question in 13:4 about when the temple will be destroyed: ‘This unusual register, a combination of paraenesis and procedural styles, is used by the Markan Jesus to discuss road signs in the near future of his audience, together with the required reaction to these signs’ (464). In other words, Jesus repeatedly tells his disciples what to do when they see certain things happening in the build up to the desecration and destruction of the temple.

When we come to the paragraph about the Son of man, however, the functional register changes. All the grammatical elements that characterized the preceding section as Jesus’ direct response to the disciples’ question about the temple have disappeared: the imperatives, second person address, references back to the terms of the question, the language of temporal road signs, and all mention of deceivers and opponents – indeed, of any human action whatsoever. So Martin disagrees with Wright, France and Hatina that this section also has reference to the destruction of the temple: rather, it opens up a ‘new temporal horizon in the speech, its only connection with the previous material being that it is God who ultimately drives the events depicted in both’ (473).

The change of register is apparent. The question is whether it signifies a change of temporal horizon. Martin acknowledges that Jesus repeats ‘in those days’ (en ekeinais tais hēmerais) from verse 19, but does not explain how this obvious temporal connection is somehow overruled by the change of register. The adversative (‘But…’) indicates a change of something, but not necessarily of time frame; and the words ‘after that tribulation’ only mean ‘after that tribulation’. For good measure Matthew adds ‘immediately’ (eutheōs) here, and it is very difficult to see how this is supposed to mean anything other than during that time frame and directly following on from the tribulation.

It seems to me that any change of register is sufficiently accounted for by the fact that at this point Jesus switches from the series of pragmatic warnings to provide a different type of statement, in the language (or ‘register’) of Old Testament prophecy, about the outcome or consequence of the events described. The significance of the destruction of Jerusalem for the disciples, indeed for the world, is captured in the imagery of cosmic upheaval, which in prophetic or apocalyptic language denotes large-scale geopolitical transition; and in the symbolic narrative of the Son of man. Of course we no longer have the urgent situational imperatives – not because the speech has lurched abruptly into a remote and indeterminate time frame but because we have a very different way of looking at the coherent sequence of historical events envisaged.

Daniel 7 describes the judgment and destruction of the pagan oppressor (nominally, at least, the Greeks represented by Antiochus Epiphanes), which is followed by the coming of the Son of man figure with the clouds of heaven to the throne of God to receive ‘dominion and glory and kingdom’ (7:11-14). The destruction of Jerusalem does not feature in this scenario, but it is clear from the iterations of this story in the later chapters of Daniel that apostate Israel has colluded with the oppressor and suffers catastrophic judgment as a result.

With regard to Martin’s discussion, a couple of further points may be made. First, it appears that the thrones of divine judgment are set up on earth (Dan. 7:9): there would be no need for thrones to be ‘placed’ in heaven where God already reigns, and the explicit addition of wheels suggests a terrestrial location. There is no journey of the Son of man figure either to or from heaven. The point is that God has come to earth in order to judge the nations that oppose Israel and deliver his holy ones from their afflictions. The Son of man represents the suffering righteous in Israel who are brought before the same throne to receive the kingdom. This is all a very earthly scenario. It depicts the historical vindication of national Israel against the imperial powers on the basis of the faithful suffering of the saints of the Most High.

Secondly, the argument that the Daniel passage has effectively been re-written ‘in order to apply it to the Son of Man’s future coming to earth, to vindicate and gather the elect’ (476) is unpersuasive. Whatever the exact connotation of the reference to the clouds of heaven in the various versions of Daniel 7, Mark 13:26 is only a compressed allusion to this passage, and it would be hazardous to attach too much significance either to the change of preposition or to the position of the phrase.

Jesus has certainly adapted the imagery to fit his own purposes – not least because his interest is in the impending judgment on Jerusalem rather than the subsequent judgment of the pagan aggressor. It seems to me that he is making a broad and suggestive point about the public vindication of those who remain faithful through the tribulation that will accompany the wrath of God against Jerusalem. Dramatically, this is broken down into two stages. The vindication of the Son of man figure that Daniel describes is re-enacted in the vindication of Jesus himself, who will later tell the high priest that he will ‘see’ (Martin is right to stress the element of ‘coming to understand’ in this seeing) ‘the Son of man seated at the right hand of the power and coming with the the clouds of heaven’ (Mk. 14:62). Then this Son of man will gather those whom he has chosen (tous eklektous) specifically to suffer and be vindicated with him in order that they might share in his glory. Paul has a similar argument in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, where the clouds have drifted symbolically in order to signify the inclusion of the community (the dead and the living) in the vindication that Jesus has received first.

This reading preserves the coherence of the eschatological narrative: the outcome of the impending destruction of Jerusalem will be the public vindication (‘they will see’) first of Jesus and then of those who have also taken up their cross to follow him down the narrow road leading to life. There is a shift in register, but not for the purpose of inserting a massive temporal disjunction between the destruction of Jerusalem and the vindication that this will mean for the prophetic community. All this will take place within a generation. Jesus cannot tell his disciples when these things will begin, so they must be diligent at all times (13:32-37). But once the road signs begin to appear – as soon as leaves begin to appear on the branch – they will know that the end is near, that they will soon be vindicated along with the Son of man.

Comments

Andrew,

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. I really appreciate it.

Here are my thoughts in response to yours.

Regarding the shift in v. 24. You write

Martin acknowledges that Jesus repeats ‘in those days’ (en ekeinais tais hēmerais) from verse 19, but does not explain how this obvious temporal connection is somehow overruled by the change of register. The adversative (‘But…’) indicates a change of something, but not necessarily of time frame; and the words ‘after that tribulation’ only mean ‘after that tribulation’. For good measure Matthew adds ‘immediately’ (eutheōs) here, and it is very difficult to see how this is supposed to mean anything other thanduring that time frame and directly following on from the tribulation

The obvious temporal connection? I am surprised by your style here. The meaning and referent of this phrase is hardly obvious, as evidenced by the many interpretations in the literature over the last 100 years+ Here as in the Septuagint, this rather formulaic phrase can refer to a number of things, and need not necessarily refer to the same events as before. In the paper I point to the adversative “but” which begins the new paragraph and sets the new setting, and the preposition meta, after. However, my case for the two horizons rest on far more than two particles. Since you agree that this section is crafted in very different style or register, I will not repeat again the arguments that show that. I will highlight, instead, how Mark uses a different register to describe a new temporal horizon, completely different from the first. More on this below.

Further, I am surprised you mix, in your quote above, material from Matthew 24. Matthew has reshaped the Markan account substantially in light of his own needs. I believe my analysis and comparison with Matthew 24 shows that for Matthew, the fall of Jerusalem is no longer of interest, since he writes years after 70 A.D. He has chosen, therefore, to highlight the parousia (his term not Mark´s), which he inserts in the disciples´question, and to eliminate much of Mark´s procedural language in Mark 13:5b-23. We must keep the two passages separate, however. We are looking at Mark and trying to understand his shaping of the speech in light of his audience´s /readership´s needs.

On verses 26-27. The passage is entirely positive, and the purpose of the Son of Man´s coming is salvific, to gather His elect to Himself. Nothing here about temple´s destruction or judgment of enemies or sinners. As I pointed out in my article, the transitivity patters in Mark, especially in Mark 13 are interesting. In the main section of the speech, the disciples are placed, grammatically speaking, on the receiving end of the violent actions of persecutors, rulers, etc. These acts of violence are reminiscent of those suffered by the Son of Man in the three passion predictions, culminating in the detailed list of 10:33-34. The disciples in vv. 5b-23 are merely patient sufferers, just as the Son of Man in the three passion predictions, especially the final one. In v. 26 however, the Son of Man appears in the only ergative (highly transitive, with an agent carrying out an action that extends to an object) clause with the Son of man as subject in the entire gospel. The Son of Man´s gathering has direct beneficiaries, not the disciples only, but His elect from the four corners of the earth. This section is profoundly encouraging for any Christian audience or readership.

Readings of Daniel 7. I agree with you that Mark is merely using the Daniel passage in his own way, not quoting it. That is clear. I addressed the issue in order to respond to Wright´s (and after him France´s and Hatina´s) claims regarding the direction of the Son of Man´s movement (not to earth but to God´s throne, as in Daniel, so they claim), and the purpose of that movement. I believe I have shown that in the Markan passage, as in the rest of the coming Son of Man N.T. passages, the Son of man is coming to earth in order to gather His elect. The NT authors, including Mark, have altered the structure of the clause in Daniel´s Aramaic, precisely in order to highlight that the coming is downward to earth. This rewriting of the clause to emphasize the manner of coming is done not by Mark only but by Paul, the author of the Apocalypse and other NT Writers, the Apostolic Fathers, etc. All of these early Christian writers understood the coming of the Son of Man to be a yet future parousia of Jesus, in order to save and deliver, finally and completely, His people.

If the entire speech is about the destruction of the temple, then why go to such lengths to create two separate registers? Why finish the first section so sharply, pointing back to the disciples question about signs leading up to the temple´s demise by saying: “I have now told you all things?” Why are the disciples no longer addressed in vv. 24-27, and no longer told to watch and be prepared for what is coming, if indeed it’s the same event? How do you explain the clear distinction Mark makes between the commands to blepete (watch out), included in the main section, the section addressing the question about the temple, and the commands to remain alert (blepete-agroupneite, gregoreite, gregoreite) which are required in the context of the other event, since its time is not known?

You fail to engage completely with my reading of the final section, interpretive key to the speech. How do you deal with vv. 28-37, in which Mark is showing us how the speech ought to be understood?. The final section clearly differentiates that event of which the time is known, i.e. signs leading up to it are provided, exactly as the disciples requested, from that event about which the time is most emphatically not known, and which requires, therefore, permanent vigilance and alertness. The parable used to illustrate the second event, the story of the lord of the house who goes away on a journey and orders his servants to watch, is used by the Markan Jesus to instruct His disciples: “So remain alert, therefore, for you do not know when the lord of the house comes.” The reference to the coming of the Son of Man in v. 26 is clear here.

My article has shown that this final section has two distinct subsections, each containing a parable or story. In the first (vv. 28-31), the Markan Jesus is picking up again the procedural style, with the “when” clauses and associated commands, as well as the language of signs and their proper interpretation, to clearly connect with the first section of the speech (vv. 5b-23), which addresses the question of the disciples, the destruction of the temple, certainly to be fulfilled in the lifespan of “this generation”(v. 30). The second subsection begins thus “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows.” This leads to the parable of the lord of the house, whose future coming at an unknown hour, not only the disciples, but “everyone” (v. 37) ought to expect and remain alert for. This second section point to the second horizon, lacking the procedural register, to verses 24-27, the coming of the Son of Man. My reading of Mark 13 shows the detailed cohesiveness of the entire speech, and makes this final section particularly clear and intelligible.

In those days…

Gustavo, I take your point that ‘in those days’ is formulaic. But having heard Jesus twice make reference to ‘those days’ (Mk. 13:17, 19) and then speak of the shortening of the ‘days’ for the sake of the ‘elect whom he chose’ (you rightly highlight the emphasis), it seems rather perverse to argue that he has in view an entirely different time frame when he says, ‘But in those days, after that tribulation…’, and then speaks of an event that will culminate in the gathering of the elect from the ends of the earth. Surely the reference to the elect in verse 27 has in view the intention of God in shortening the days of tribulation for the sake of the elect? The ‘elect’ of verse 27 are not different from the ‘elect’ of verse 20, who are precisely the disciples who have been chosen by Jesus to follow him and suffer with him.

Matthew and the parousia

I don’t see such a sharp distinction as you do between the destruction of the temple and the parousia in Matthew 24. The narrative of Matthew 24:4-28 is not substantially different to Mark’s; it still centres on a catastrophic event for Israel; and Matthew tightly connects the appearance of the sign of the Son of man with that procedural material. I see Matthew, therefore, as strongly supporting the argument about Mark 13:24-27.

Judgment and salvation

The passage is entirely positive, and the purpose of the Son of Man’s coming is salvific, to gather His elect to Himself. Nothing here about temple’s destruction or judgment of enemies or sinners.

I would agree with this. As I pointed out, in Daniel 7 the coming of one like a son of man follows the judgment. It is a saving event, moreover, in that the suffering disciples are thereby included in the coming on the clouds, having been gathered by the angels from the four winds.

Why is the shift in ‘register’ temporal?

What I didn’t grasp from your essay was how the shift in register in itself – and to my mind in contradiction to the explicit temporal indicators in verse 24 – is supposed to signal a fundamental change of time frame. You lost me on the point about transitivity: I don’t see how that implies a significant temporal disjunction. At most it suggests that the collective deliverance and vindication described in verses 24-27 is not the same as the events foreseen in 5b-23, but I would agree with that. The corporate Son of man (the disciples) suffers passively as the singular Son of man (Jesus) suffered – you bring that point out very well. But because Jesus has priority in this narrative, he actively delivers them and includes them in his own vindication after the judgment on Jerusalem.

The direction of coming and the inclusion of the disciples

The NT authors, including Mark, have altered the structure of the clause in Daniel’s Aramaic, precisely in order to highlight that the coming is downward to earth.

I found this particularly interesting. To stick with Mark, I am not persuaded, in the first place, that the structure of the clause has been so clearly altered to the extent that verse 26 taken alone must be read as a coming to earth from heaven, particularly when Daniel 7 appears to have the thrones placed on the earth (you ignored this point, but I think it is important). In that case, it could be that verses 26 and 27 should be read as describing in symbolic language two separate events: first Jesus comes to the throne of God in clouds to receive the kingdom (the slight change in wording may simply reflect the fact that Jesus/Mark has reconstructed the scene for his own purpose); then (tote again), having received the kingdom, he sends out his angels to gather his chosen followers in order that they may have a share in his kingdom. However, it may be that verse 26 describes a journey made from heaven by the Son of man, who has already been vindicated and therefore comes ‘with much power and glory’ in clouds (thus giving weight to your remarks about the change in wording, and perhaps with theophanic overtones) to deliver the disciples and bring them with him to the right hand of God, from where they will reign with him. Either way, I see no reason to separate this event from the procedural/parenetic material that culminates in the destruction of the temple.

The significance of watching and waiting

How do you explain the clear distinction Mark makes between the commands to blepete (watch out), included in the main section, the section addressing the question about the temple, and the commands to remain alert (blepete-agroupneite, gregoreite, gregoreite) which are required in the context of the other event, since its time is not known?

I suggested in my post (I didn’t overlook the final section completely) that the uncertainty referred to in 32-37 has to do with when the first road sign will appear, for which grēgorteō, with its connotations of being alert or awake, is appropriate. This is the note that the discourse finishes on. Once the road signs are apparent, however, the command is to watch and interpret what is happening because it is now the time to act in accordance with the instructions that Jesus has given.

I think you have a problem distributing verses 28-31 and 32-37 in the way that you do. Perhaps I’m being too simplistic, but when Mark has Jesus say ‘this generation will not pass away before all these things take place’ and then say (there is not even the strong ‘But’ here) that ‘concerning that day or that hour no one knows’, I find it very difficult to think that he is consciously differentiating between two time frames. It will be a long wait before the first road sign appears on the horizon, before the first leaves appear on the branch (I think that the parables here are making the same point), but once they appear, the disciples can be certain that the events he has described will unroll quickly.

 

Let me address those points in approximate order.

1. “In those days”.  I really do not make that much of this phrase.  There is no need to.  You need to address also “after,” and the clause initial “But” which most commentators and other exegetes see as indicating a new setting.  But my argument does not even rest on those two particles.   Whats really missing from vv. 24-27 is the “you subject.”  In vv 5b-23 Jesus is addressing, answering in detail and explicitly the question of His disciples about the destruction of the temple.    If vv. 24-27 was material still addressing the temple, the “you” subject would surely continue, Jesus would still be answering the question, as would all the features that I have identified as “procedural register.”  That is, everything that makes the material relevant, immediate in a crescendo of impact for the discicples, leading up to vv. 14 ff, and ending which Jesus´colophon: “I have told you all things, ” which points back anaphorically to the question of the disciples (“all theser things.”)

2. Matthew 24.   You say that you do not see a sharp distinction between temple material and parousia.  But what I am asking my readers to do is to compare Matthew with his source (or one of them), Mark 13.   Matthew has intentionally done away with almost all the procedural material in Mark, taking out from his version everything that made the answer to the disciples question immediate, no crescendo to the answer and inctructions to flee Judea etc.  please refer to my list of differences.  Matthew has, instead, emphasized the “parousia,” by inserting the term into the question, and adding far more detail about the coming of Jesus.  My point is that for Matthew the events of 70AD are already in the past, and he does not need to emphasize them any longer, as does Mark.  Matthew´s use of his sources is telling, as is usually the case.

3. Judgment and salvation.  I think the key point here is that NT Wright and his followers need to ask themselves how could the destruction of the Jewish temple be such a defining, and positively encouraging event for first century Christians.  The destruction of the temple is at best marginal in the entire NT.   Of course, Wright argues that when the temple was destroyed, people understood that He is indeed the Messiah.   The NT, however, makes it clear that it is the resurrection of Jesus that vindicates Him.  This is a side issue, as far as my paper.  I recommend Stein´s review of Wright on this issue, available here http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/44/44-2/44-2-PP207-218_JETS.pdf

4. “Why is the shift in register temporal?”   So you ask.   The “procedural register” used by Mark in Mark 13 is not temporal in itself.   The features that make up this register include: “When” clauses, “you” suject, imperatives associated to these clauses by means of “when x do y” constructions, the crescendo effect of growing intensity and relevance etc.  These features are used by the Markan Jesus to depict, in strict and direct answer to the question of the disciples, the roadsigns that will lead up to the destruction of the temple, and the various attitudes required of them in the context of those signs. The procedural register ends in v. 23 in a powerful colophon: “But as for you, watch out.  I have told you all things.”

The material in vv. 24-27 lacks the “you” subject, as well as everything else that Mark has used to emphasize impact and relevance for the you subject.   It no longer adddresses the question of the disciples, nor is it communicated as part of the answer, as something immediate or requiring any action on their part whatsoeaver.  And the actions/ attitudes required of His audience was in fact THE POINT of the answer in vv. 5b-23!  This material, therefore, does not address the question and opens a new temporal horizon in the speech, certainly not depecting events in the immediate future of the audience.

If this was not clear enough, Mark has made the two temporal horizons abundantly clear for us in what I call the “interpretive key” to the speech (vv. 28-37), which has two clearly differentiated sub sections, each with its own parable, its own language type (one having the procedural register, one not).

Horizon 1.   The Markan Jesus addresses the first horizon, the answer to the disciples question about the temple, picking up again the procedural register, the language of signs leading up to an event, the proper interpretation of these in terms of required behavior.  Compare the following two verses

v. 14: “But when you see….”(then do x, y, z).   V. 29.  “When you see these things happening, then know…”

The “these things happening of v. 29 points back again, anaphorically, to the question of the disciples.   It is “these things,” the complex event leading up to thye destruction of the temple, that will be fulfilled, says Jesus, within “this generation.”

Horizon 2.  The new subsection begining at v. 32 is clear: It lacks all the features of procedural style, it includes its own parable to illustrate a point opposite to the previous one, namely, that about this second horizon/event, NO one knows the time.  There are no signs and no way of knowing.  Therefore, in contrast to the first horizon, the required attitude is that of the servants who await the coming of the lord of the house, an attitude of constant alertnness and vigilance.   The connection of the coming lord (KURIOS) of the house with the coming Son of Man is hardly accidental.

Gustavo, sorry to have taken so long to reply to your comments - it’s been a rather chaotic few weeks.

1. I don’t understand how you can be so dismissive of ‘in those days’: en ekeinais tais hēmerais sounds rather emphatic to me. You didn’t address the point I made about the reference to ‘those days’ in Mark 13:17 and 19 and the connection made between the shortening of the ‘days’ and the salvation of the ‘elect:

But having heard Jesus twice make reference to ‘those days’ (Mk. 13:17, 19) and then speak of the shortening of the ‘days’ for the sake of the ‘elect whom he chose’ (you rightly highlight the emphasis), it seems rather perverse to argue that he has in view an entirely different time frame when he says, ‘But in those days, after that tribulation…’, and then speaks of an event that will culminate in the gathering of the elect from the ends of the earth. Surely the reference to the elect in verse 27 has in view the intention of God in shortening the days of tribulation for the sake of the elect? The ‘elect’ of verse 27 are not different from the ‘elect’ of verse 20, who are precisely the disciples who have been chosen by Jesus to follow him and suffer with him.

That seems to me highly significant. ‘After’ only means ‘after’: it does not imply a different context. The ‘But’ is important but does not in itself indicate a new setting – if commentators reach that conclusion, it is because they have other reasons for thinking that Jesus switches in Mark 13:24 to an entirely different temporal setting. In fact, it seems to me that the ‘But’ contrasts the uncertainties and insecurities of the situation faced by the disciples as it is described in the preceding verses with the certainty of the vindication of the Son of man.

Can the change from ‘you’ to ‘they’ really bear the weight of meaning that you attach to it? It certainly does not require a significant temporal shift. In Mark 13:26 who are ‘they’? It may just mean ‘people’ in general, but the obvious referent would be those who proclaim false Christs and false prophets (13:21-22), which are contrasted (again the ‘But’) with the revelation that Jesus truly is the ‘Son of man’ who receives the kingdom. For Matthew, who may, as you suggest, have a broader perspective, it is the ‘tribes of the land or earth’ that mourn on seeing the sign of the Son of man. This is what I wrote in The Coming of the Son of Man on this allusion:

It is possible that Jesus is using this passage in a quite precise manner. In the Septuagint Zechariah 12:12 reads: ‘the land shall mourn according to tribes’. The ‘land’ (hē gē) is Israel, the ‘tribes’ (phulas) are the families of Jerusalem: the houses of David, Nathan, Levi, and Shimei are listed. Jesus likewise speaks of the ‘tribes of the land’ (hai phulai tēs gēs), and it could be argued that he is thinking here only of the tribes of Israel, and perhaps specifically of the people of Jerusalem. The focus, then, would be on the vindication of the Son of man before those who failed to recognise the time of their ‘visitation’ (Lk.19:44) and who condemned the Christ to death. The vindication, of course, is powerfully underlined – and in a sense brought about – by the destruction of the city and the end of the temple system. The phrase hai phulai tēs gēs, however, refers consistently in the Old Testament to the nations of the earth (Gen.12:3; 28:14; Ps. 71:17; Ezek. 20:32; Amos 3:2; Zech.14:17). We should perhaps see in this shift in usage a deliberate universalisation of the narrower Jewish motif. But if this is the case, there is still no reason to think that in the process the basic meaning has changed. The mourning, therefore, is not at the prospect of judgment but over the ill-treatment of the messiah, who was ‘delivered over to the Gentiles’ and in the end killed by them. The ‘tribes of the earth’ will recognise the significance of Christ’s suffering – perhaps because they have seen it replicated in the suffering of his followers – and, as a result, they too will ‘see’ the coming of the Son of man.

My point is that both grammar and allusion keep the vision of the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven within the story about the destruction of Jerusalem.

2. Again, I don’t see the same significance in the contrast between Mark and Matthew. There is still procedural material in Matthew (why do you say there are no instructions to flee Judea?). If it is the case that his reconstruction of the Olivet discourse post-dates AD 70, we might expect some shift of focus from practical response to theological, christological or soteriological significance; but this does not affect the argument that Matthew believed that the tribes of the earth would come to understand (eg. through the preaching of the apostles to the nations) this event as the vindication of Jesus as the Son of man.

It no longer adddresses the question of the disciples, nor is it communicated as part of the answer, as something immediate or requiring any action on their part whatsoever. And the actions/ attitudes required of His audience was in fact THE POINT of the answer in vv. 5b-23!

But this does not require a temporal disjunction. Leading up to the event it makes sense that Jesus emphasizes the practical response of the disciples: he is teaching them how to stay focused and endure the suffering that will come. But in Mark 13:24-27 he brings out the ‘theological’ significance of the event - or perhaps better, he explains to them why it is worth staying focused and persevering, because when this happens they will ‘see’ the vindication that is both Jesus’ and theirs.

3. I might agree that as an explicit theme the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple is marginal, but judgment on Israel and on Jerusalem is anything but marginal. From John the Baptist onwards it seems to me that this is the foundational premise of New Testament thought. In view of that, and in view of the reliance on Old Testament prophetic language, I don’t see how we can escape the conclusion that the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple was the fulfilment of the widespread expectation that God would judge and punish his people according to the flesh. Don’t forget that in Matthew the Olivet discourse is preceded by a whole chapter in which Jesus vehemently condemns the leaders of the Jews, the scribes and the Pharisees, concluding with the lament:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ (Matt. 23:37-39)

This must surely set up chapter 24 as an argument about judgment on a corrupt city culminating in a ‘seeing’ of Jesus.

My argument would be that the significance of the resurrection is that it anticipates the concrete vindication of the Son of man. Not everything is fulfilled in the resurrection. If that were the case, there would be no need to invoke for the future the imagery of Daniel 7, which portrays the vindication and empowerment of a suffering community of the faithful in the figure of ‘one like a son of man’, who comes on the clouds of heavens to receive the kingdom from the throne of God.

Well, we have probably exhausted this discussion.  You are still not addressing my thoroughly consistent reading of the concluding section, vv. 28-37 (“interpretive key”) which makes all of the features of what I call procedural register throughout the speech (hotan clauses with associated behavior/imperatives etc) coherent.  

In those days.  Well, you make way too much of this.  I didn´t make much ot “after” or “but”, actually, and I said so:  My case does not rest on those particles.   In those days is a thoroughly formulaic phrase as in the LXX.  How does Mark use it?  well, see 1:9, 8.1, for example.  He uses them as literary transition to introduce new episodes, and to attach any concrete temporal reference to them is unwarranted, it seems to me.  What I believe you need to see is the force of “but as for you, you watch out, I have told you all things,” of the previous verse.  This wraps up powerfully the previous section and serves as a colophon and climactic point to Jesus´answer to the disciples´ question.

The point of my article is that all that made the main section (5b-23) immediate, relevant in a crescendo fasion etc. (hotal clauses, you subject, imperatives associated to the when clauses, the watch out! commands etc) is missing from 24-27.   The style/register is picked up again in the interpretive key in a way that makes the Markan Jesus´ distinction  of the two horizons clear.

You speak of “the obvious” referent of “they” in v. 26.  150 years of scholarship have not seen that as obvious at all.   What I suggest, with Pryke, Taylor and many others, is that this is another instance of Mark´s use of the impersonal instead of the passive.  The subject is simply they, people, the world etc.

Matthew 24.  yes Matthew does diminish substantially the Markan “procedural” elements, especially the when clauses in the verses preceding the reference to the desolation.  But this is only a point about redactional differences pointing to the differing rhetorical needs.

Idk if this will get a reply. But in the trial if the opsesthe seeing is perceiving or coming to understand not a literal seeing (from now on in Matthew), what does that mean in the seeing in the Olivet Discourse with the different verb for seeing?

It’s the same verb:

And then they will see (opsontai: 3rd pl. fut. ind. of horaō) the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. (Mk. 13:26)

And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see (opsesthe: 2nd pl. fut. ind. of horaō) the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mk. 14:62)

Daniel 7:13 LXX has a different verb for seeing (etheōroun), but what he sees (one like a son of man coming upon the clouds of heaven) comes to him in “visions (horamati) of the night”.

Ok. So both are about perceiving but not a literal seeing?

Yes, but it’s the context that decides. More here.

Thanks! Just read through that post. That makes a lot more sense with the trial of Jesus specifically, especially in Matthew and Luke where both have from now on. I read an excellent exegetical commentary from Charles L Quarles (I think is traditional evangelical) that from now on means from now on mentions RT France and Donald Hagner that that specific trial account is about the Sanhedrin having revelations that who Jesus said he was is true. In Matthew and Luke Jesus doesn’t literally go up in that moment. The context of perceiving or understanding makes much more sense in Matthew specifically that from now on the will perceive or understand since Jesus wasn’t dumb and knew good and well that he was about to be crucified so they literally wouldn’t see him at the right hand and coming at that moment, but would perceive or understand he was who he said he was as the one at the right hand and coming judge. Awesome posts!