Re: TOTE in Matt. 24:23

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Sep 01 1995 - 12:57:16 EDT

At 10:40 AM 9/1/95, Bruce Terry wrote:
>I've been working on a reply to Jan Haugland's Tueday's reply to a post of
>mine, but have run on a snag that I would appreciate some feedback on.
>Jan complained that I cannot treat Matt. 24:23-28 as referring to the second
>coming because it begins with TOTE "then"; I take it that he means "then" in
>the sense of "at that time" and not "next in order/time" and I am inclinded to
>agree with him on this meaning at this place.
>The problem is that checking on the meaning of TOTE in the lexicons I discover
>that Thayers and Louw & Nida treat Matt. 24:23 as an example of the meaning
>"next in order/time" rather than "at that time." BAG does not list this
>passage, but treats the parallel in Mark 13:21 in the same way--as subsequent
>rather than simultaneuos.
>It looks to me like Jesus is saying that if at the time of the tribulation in
>vv. 15-22 false Christs and false prophets should arrive, they should not be
>believed. I doubt that he is saying that they should not believe false
>Christs and false prophets once the tribulation is finished, although that is
>how I understand the lexicons to be taking it. Historically (i.e. relying on
>Josephus), the former case was the situation, unless this is a veiled
>reference to Bar Kokhba.
>What do you think? Does TOTE mean "at that time" or "next in order/time" in
>Matt. 24:23? Can all three major English lexicons be wrong?

Bruce, I am one who thinks that thirty thousand Frenchmen CAN be wrong,
although I would also agree with Aristotle that one ought not to reject the
majority opinion lightly. I think that TOTE does indeed mean "at that time"
in Mt 24:23, and that the paragraph (the unit, at any rate, of vss. 23-28)
is Jesus' comment on the crisis of the agony of Judea and Jerusalem that
came in 70.

Let me add, by way of explanation, that I believe (and I realize others
don't share this view) that Matthew is here redacting Mark's earlier
version--but that although Mark's text envisions the crisis of 69-70 as the
pre-parousial (can I use that adjective?) TRIBULATION of apocalyptic
thinking (and remember, it is not just the agony of Jerusalem in those
years but also the assassination of Nero and the chaos in Rome ensuing with
three emperors in rapid succession before Vespasian succeeded in seizing
power), Matthew seems to be thinking more specifically of the crisis in
Judea in 70. And I would suppose that Matthew has lived through that and
knows it now as a past event. So I think his TOTE in 24:23 does in fact
refer to the Jerusalem crisis.

More problematic, however, is the phrasing of 24:29, EUQEWS META THN QLICIN
TWN hMERWN EKEINWN for the interpretation of the sequence. Mt seems to have
taken over the "immediately after that tribulation" from Mark (or a common
source?), and it is evident that Matthew, although he does seem to envision
an indefinite delay of the Parousia, nevertheless is not looking for a very
long wait. I think there are several pointers to a delay of the Parousia in
Matthew, but here in the Synoptic Apocalypse, he is following the text of
Mark pretty closely, although, as I've tried to argue previously, I think
that his rewriting of the disciples' question draws a distinction between
the destruction of the temple and the Parousia that is by no means evident
in Mark's version.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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