Parousia- Is it just me? Has anyone else noticed this?

by upside/down 25 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • upside/down

    Thanks for the research and analysis.

    I still don't see the apostles, in any way shape or form, asking the question the way modern interpreters (WTS) indicate because it doesn't logically fit the discussion Jesus and them were having (unless the apostles were partially clairvoyant sp?). Come on, why would the apostles ask such an ackwardly stated question? These were simple Jewish, blue collar type guys. I just don't see them asking that loaded and deep of a question- it doesn't fit. The question as some translate into English (Presence & concl of the sys of things) would only be appropriate if the apostles knew the context of what they were asking (which they didn't). In other words they would have had to understood that Jesus would at some undisclosed time in the future have an invisible presence while the Gentile nations still ruled the earth and would continue to do so for and undisclosed period ( a so-called generation?) of time till the great trib started? This is way too far of a stretch. This concept wasn't even conceived till recently in history. And still doesn't fit with what is actually taking place. Time has run out (for the Dub explanation anyway).

    They were simply asking when the end would come, just like someone (anyone, not just a Dub) would ask at any time in history. A concept of "the end coming" seems to have existed as long as man. We're always anticipating and afraid of an "end". I don't know if we're hard wired that way or if organized religion has just used this concept as a tool of fear since man started dominating man. It's very effective. And no doubt an "end" will indeed come at some point (even if it's just our individual death).

    It's not often I feel I have an original observation regarding scripture- but this is one I came up with on my own, no one else "led" me to it.

    Let me know if you have more thoughts on this and.... THANK YOU!

    u/d Cool

  • Greenpalmtreestillmine


    So, then, are you saying you disagree with the NWT translation's use of "Presence" and "System of things" rather than "Coming" and "End of the age" as other translations have it?

  • upside/down

    Yes, but not from a scholarly dissection of the text. Rather just looking at it like a common schmuck. In the context of a real conversation. It just doesn't "feel" or sound like a natural question, does it? Who asks that kind of question? Especially since the answer had no relevance to the apostle's as it would be FAR into the future, which they should have known if they understood things the way the WTS explains it.

    I'm not saying I'm right- I'm just saying it seems very far fetched and improbable that that is the orignal "thought". And with the WTS obsession with "the orginal meaning" of things, you have to wonder how did this slip through. And as has been mentioned, could it be concocted to fit their doomsday doctrine- which of course is no longer relevant as time has run out for thier chronologies.

    just a thought,


  • Leolaia

    Well, from a point of view of what conversation and everyday speaking involves, there is much in the gospels that would seem to be forced and unnatural -- because these are not reports of actual conversations and discourses but rather adapt traditional sayings material into an artificial dialogic and narrative frame. The book by Koester I mentioned earlier gives some great examples of how sayings that originally circulated independently were combined into dialogues for stylistic effect, and gospels vary between each other in what narrative context these conversations purportedly occurred.

    What makes Matthew 24:3 sound awkward to me is that Jesus is already present with them so why would would they ask him when he will be present or become present? Indeed, when you examine the Greek, this is the very first occurrence of parousia in the gospel; there is no prior context establishing what this word is supposed to mean. The same goes with asking about the "end of the world" (which the NWT translates as the vague-sounding "conclusion of the system of things"). The disciples seem to just assume that the destruction of the Temple (which is relevant to what Jesus had just said in the context) is somehow connected with parousia and the "end". This is awkward for conversation, but it serves the author's literary goals -- which was to address concerns that Christians in his own day had. BTW, Jesus had already referred to the "end of the world" in Matthew 13:39-40, 49, so technically his disciples could have wanted to know when this was to be, but nowhere in this passage did Jesus connect it with the destruction of the Temple -- so the disciples' connection of the two in 24:3 is unmotivated by the prior context. Rather, the question is phrased in this way to set up Jesus' eschatological discourse that follows, so he can explicitly address these concerns. It is a better introduction to the discourse (which itself was derived from Mark) than the older one supplied by Mark, since clearly the passage of time has shown that the parts of the Markan eschatological discourse that addressed the parousia and the end of the world could no longer be viewed as part of the same period of distress during which the Temple was destroyed.

    The question as some translate into English (Presence & concl of the sys of things) would only be appropriate if the apostles knew the context of what they were asking (which they didn't). In other words they would have had to understood that Jesus would at some undisclosed time in the future have an invisible presence while the Gentile nations still ruled the earth and would continue to do so for and undisclosed period ( a so-called generation?) of time till the great trib started? This is way too far of a stretch.

    Well, within the Watchtower interpretation of the text this would certainly be a problem, but it is not a problem of the text itself which has no such concept of an "invisible" presence (the text claims the opposite, 24:30), or the passage of hundreds of years of Gentile rule, or a future "generation" after that. The author is writing simply of his own day, a generation that was alive in his own day (cf. Matthew 16:28: "Some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom"), a tribulation that was occurring in his own day (involving war and persecution by Romans and in synagogues, cf. v. 9-13, 15-21; 23:34), and a coming of the Son of Man that was to be "just around the corner"....

  • Justin

    I think the question, using the text as it stands, is whether or not the translation of parousia as "presence" is legitimate. If we focus on another word - semeion or "sign" ('What will be the semeion of your parousia' (Matt. 24:3) - we can see that it is really irrelevant whether parousia is here translated either "presence" or "coming." Why? Because semeion does not occur again until verse 30, which reads: "And then shall appear the sign [semeion] of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." (KJV) There is no presence of the Son of man during all the preceeding events - the great wars, famines, earthquakes, persecutions, and preaching work. In other words, all the events which are supposed to prove an invisible presence according to JW belief do not in fact do so, and the only sign given is the actual coming of Jesus in glory. Because this parousia is said to occur "Immediately after the tribulation of those days" - referring to the "great tribulation" upon Jerusalem (verse 29) - one could infer that that event would be a sign of an impending parousia, but it is not called the sign. If one were to read Matthew 24 in the NWT, even with parousia being translated as "presence," one would not be lead to believe in an invisible presence if one were not already familiar with JW teaching.

  • Valis

    You know those JesuCialis and JehoViagra ads have warnings about Parousia that lasts more than 4 hours at a time...


    District overbeer

  • Leolaia

    Justin....Yes, you are right that the sémeion in Matthew 24:30 has as an antecedent v. 3, and the events mentioned in v. 5-8 precede the sign and do not themselves comprise a "composite sign" (as argued by the WTS). The sémeion is closely proximate with the celestial events described in v. 29 and yet is distinguished by the tote in the beginning of v. 30. The original Markan text, which does not refer to a "sign" of the parousia but only of the destruction of the Temple, does not mention a sémeion in the discourse itself (thus the scope of the "sign" may well be the whole eschatological series), whereas Luke 21:11 refers to the cosmic upheaval as the sémeia megala "great signs".

    The apocalyptic section of the Didache also is an early witness of the Matthean tradition, and there a three-fold sign is given: "Then all humankind will come to the fiery test, and many will fall away and perish, but those who endure in their faith will be saved by the accursed one himself. And then there will appear the signs of the truth: first the sign of an extension in heaven, then the sign of the sound of a trumpet, and third, the resurrection of the dead, but not of all, rather as it has been said, the Lord will come, and all the saints with him" (Didache 16:5-7). Interestingly, in this connection, Matthew 24:30 refers to the "sign of the Son of Man in heaven," and next refers to the trumpet (v. 31), and then to the "gathering of his chosen from the four winds," that is, the resurrection (v. 31).

    The meaning of "extension" in Didache 16:6 is obscure; it could refer to an opening in the heavens, but more likely it is an allusion to the cross -- especially since the Latin Didascalia words it as signum extensionis ligni "sign of the extension of the wood" (Didascalia 49:8), and other early apocalyptic depictions of this event refer to an appearance of the cross at Christ's parousia: "So shall I come on the clouds of heaven with a great host in my glory, with my cross going before my face will I come in my glory, shining seven times greater than the sun" (Apocalyse of Peter 1:5, Ethiopic), "With the wings of the clouds carrying me in splendor and the sign of the cross before me will I come down to the earth" (Epistula Apostolorum, 16), "When the Christ comes, he will come in the manner of a covey of doves with the crown of doves surrounding him. He will walk upon the heaven's vaults with the sign of the cross leading him" (Apocalypse of Elijah 3:2). It is impossible to say what the heavenly sign was for the author of Matthew, but the cross interpretation appears to have been a rather early one -- judging by the expression in the Didache (cf. also the Gospel of Peter 10:39 and SibOr 6.26-28, which suggest that the cross ascended to heaven following the resurrection).

  • Valis

    Leo...or they could call you....the cure for anyone w/a hard on for biblcal philanderings...

  • Pole


    All the WT hogwash is built on Greek vocabulary, morphology and etymology (the latter being essential to their interpretation of parousia as "presence"). Still Jesus and his disciples were not supposed to speak Greek...


    I have noticed a tendency in the WTS' use of Greek grammar and lexicography to generally prefer the etymological or earliest-attested meaning and to insist (without any clear rationale given) that this meaning is the one relevant to the biblical text.

    Oh yes, there is some rationale. And it's not always the earliest attested meaning. They basically look at the etymology whenever they can get away with a ridiculous interpretation that suits their needs.

    The case of parousia is an interesting one because this verb embraces several different event structures, the basic stative sense (of being "present") and the common sense involving a change of state (of "becoming present," that is, coming and arriving). The WTS insists again on the etymological meaning even though the verb was easily capable of both meanings.

    Here is one example:

    ***Rbi8 p. 1576 5B Christ?s Presence (Parousia) ***

    The Greek noun pa·rou·si´a literally means a ?being alongside,? the expression being drawn from the preposition pa·ra´ (alongside) and ou·si´a (a ?being?).

    The Polish verb "przybyć" literally means "to be" (być) "alongside" (przy). When you put the two morphemes together, however, they mean "come", or "arrive" and never to "be alongside". However, this is exactly the kind of fallacy that WTS try to commit when manipulating with the meaning of pa-rou-si'a.

    The historical meaning of individual morphemes may have nothing to do with the semantic intentions of the contemporary user of a word that is made up of those morphemes.

    Watchtower linguistics.


  • upside/down

    Now that's what I call a discussion- Thank you soooo much!

    Very reasonable and coherent points debated and understood.


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