Reviews - What do customers think about Jerusalem and Parousia: Jesus' Eschatological Discourse in Matthew's Gospel?
Eschatology in Matthew and the Olivet Discourse Jun 22, 2006
Jeff Gibbs is a professor of New Testament at Concordia Seminary (Saint Louis). After serving nearly ten years as a parish pastor, he earned his Ph.D. at Union Theological Seminary (Virginia) under Jack Dean Kingsbury. As a student of Kingsbury, Gibbs employs the "narrative-critical" or "literary-critical" when approaching a Biblical text. That is to say, he treats the sacred text as one would a refined piece of literature--looking for structure, rising action, falling action, "character" development, and the like within the story. In "Jerusalem and the Parousia," Gibbs applies the narrative-critical approach to one of Jesus' most puzzling discourses in the Gospel of Matthew: the Olivet Discourse (aka the Eschatological Discourse) as found in Matthew 24:1-26:2.
"Jerusalem and the Parousia" is divided as follows: Chapter 1 presents Gibb's methodology--narrative-criticism--and his main scholarly assumptions. Chapters 2 through 5 trace the themes of eschatology (which asks, "What is history's goal? Who is in control of history? How does the present relate to the final goal of history )?" and apocalyptic eschatology (how will history come to its final consummation) through Matthew's entire Gospel. Chapter 2 Covers eschatology in 1:1-4:16. Chapter 3 covers eschatology in 4:17-16:20. Chapter 4 examines eschatological questions in 16:21-23:39. Chapter 5 studies eschatology in 26:3-28:20. As Gibbs covers these chapters, he always has his eye toward the Eschatological Discourse of 24:1-26:2 and answers grammatical and theological questions in these various sections that are important for understanding his final chapter.
The final chapter is the longest and deals with Jesus' eschatological teachings on the Mount of Olives. Gibbs begins by pointing out the importance of examining how Jesus' discourse begins. The disciples speak to Jesus concerning the beauty of the Jerusalem Temple to which Jesus replies that the Temple will be utterly destroyed. The disciples ask Jesus a question that shows a misunderstanding on their part, "when will these things be [Temple destruction] and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?" The disciples assume that the day the Jerusalem Temple is destroyed and the Day of Christ's Return is in fact the same day. Jesus' discourse shows that these two days are not, in fact the same day. Christ first tells the disciples how they will know when the Temple will be destroyed and what they should do when they see these signs(24:4-24:35); Christ then tells the disciples that there will be no signs preparing one for the Day of His Return, but rather it will come suddenly(24:36-25:46).
"Jerusalem and the Parousia" greatly strengthened my understanding of both Jesus Olivet Discourse in Matthew and also eschatology in general. Gibbs addressed the most difficult passages of Matthew's Gospel and especially the ones that relate to the Kingdom of God, Jesus' being at the right hand of God, and "this generation." His main argument concerning the Eschatological Discourse is also well argued and convincing.
The negative aspects of this book are few, but revolve around its writing style. "Jerusalem and the Parousia" is a slightly altered version of Gibb's doctoral dissertation. As such, the main point, sub-points, and minor points are meticulously argued and defended; there are lengthy analyses of the Greek grammar and vocabulary; and Gibbs interacts frequently with other authors/scholarship/schools of thought that deal with Matthew's Gospel, Greek grammar, and eschatology. Also, an index (topical and/or Scriptural references) would have been helpful. THis book can be a difficult read and somewhat confusing at times, but the reader who takes the time and effort necessary to read "Jerusalem and the Parousia" will certainly benefit. Recommended for pastors and Biblical teachers, especially those who have a Greek background. Recommended.