Re: Syn. Apoc. (Irrealis, Truth, and Eagles)

From: Bruce Terry (
Date: Mon Sep 04 1995 - 12:20:59 EDT

On Tue, 29 Aug 1995, Jan Haugland wrote (responding to my post):

>> B: vv. 4-14 Warnings about troubles that are NOT signs of Christ's advent
>Since we agree that these are NOT signs of anything, but in fact non-signs that
>Jesus warns against being mislead by, they can't possibly apply to this coming.
>You should remove the "B" above.

Negation is one of those difficult things in language, referring as it does to
both irrealis and lack of truth value. This is not irrealis: the signs were
real and so will be the end time. However, the supposed relationship between
those two suffers from a lack of truth value. Thus to say that troubles are
not signs of Christ's advent does not imply that they are not signs of
anything nor indeed that they are non-signs. To discuss a topic in terms of
what it is not is still a discussion of that topic. I retain "B" above.

>> A: vv. 15-22 Troubles at the desolation of Jerusalem
>> B: vv. 23-28 Advent of Christ NOT at that time; rather, it will be as
>> obvious as lightning and vultures
>You have a problem here. v23 starts with "then", gr "tote" which means, well,
>"then". Jesus is warning against false prophets and such during the Jewish War.
>Read Josephus for a confirmation that these really came!

I fail to see the problem here. TOTE, like "then," can mean either "at that
time" or "next in order." Here it means "at that time," IMHO. (Compare our
discussion on this question last week.) That is, at that time false Christs
and false prophets would proclaim that these were the days of the PAROUSIA,
but there is a truth value problem again. The PAROUSIA will not be a hidden
event, easy to be missed, but will be very obvious, like lightning brightening
the whole sky or vultures circling a dead body.

>As for vultures, these can also mean "eagles". The "carcass", the Jews, were to
>be found and overpowered by the Roman army wherever they found them. The Roman
>army used an eagle as it's symbol, so this would be a very obvious picture to
>people in the 1st century.

The above understanding, found also in a number of commentaries, treats a
meaning of the word AETOI but misses the context of the whole paragraph in
which it is found. The reasoning is something like the famous "Why fire
engines are always rushing":

The word AETOI can mean "eagles." Eagles were found on the standards of the
Roman army. The Roman army destroyed Jerusalem. Therefore, Jesus is here
talking about the destruction of Jerusalem.

This kind of reasoning happens when one focuses on word studies instead of on

Bruce Terry E-MAIL:
Box 8426, ACU Station Phone: 915/674-3759
Abilene, Texas 79699 Fax: 915/674-3769

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