Re: Matt 24:34 - hN GENEA

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (
Date: Sat Jan 29 2000 - 01:01:28 EST


Natural language is not the same as Euclid's Geometry. Natural Language
is vague. This is both a liability and and asset. This passage is
difficult for those who assume that,

#1 Matthew has given a faithful and accurate report of Jesus words


#2 That Jesus didn't utter nonsense statements or false statements

For the bulk of NT Scholars who deny both #1 and #2 this is not a
difficult passage.

The attempts that have been made down through history to make sense out
of this difficult passage have focused on two broad approaches. One is
to find some less than obvious reference for hH GENEA hAUTH. The other
is to limit the scope of PANTA TAUTA.

There is certainly some vagueness in hH GENEA hAUTH so some diversity
of opinion on this may be justified. On the other hand PANTA TAUTA is
even more vague, I am tempted to say a great deal more vague. I would
suspect that solutions to this problem that focus on the referent of
PANTA TAUTA have a higher probability of success simply because it is a
far more semantically flexible word group than hH GENEA hAUTH.

Based on the sources I have, it appears that the textual history of this
verse shows little or no tampering by scribes to "clean up" our problem.
This is a point worth noting because there were always some scribes that
felt the need to remove difficulties. If you find no attempts to remove
a difficulty then you might be tempted to conclude that the difficulty
is one that did not present itself early on in the history of the NT

However we have comments on this passage as early as Origen and
Chrysostom (c.f. H.A.W. Meyer, Matthew p426). So fairly early on this
difficulty was noticed and attempts were made to solve it.

It is not hard for me to accept the idea that Jesus said things that we
simply don't understand. For that reason I don't lay awake at night
fretting over texts like this one. When asked, I admit that I don't know
what it means. Furthermore, the solutions currently being proposed
appear to be inadequate. For a good review of the options on this see
Leon Morris' Matthew (Pillar).


Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

---------- >From: >To: Biblical Greek <> >Subject: Matt 24:34 - hN GENEA >Date: Fri, Jan 28, 2000, 6:08 PM >

> Matthew 24:34 reads: > > AMHN LEGW hUMIN hOTI OU MH PARELQHi hH GENEA hAUTH hEWS AN PANTA TAUTA GENHTAI > > Commentaries approach hH GENEA in different ways. To some, it refers to the > generation to which the disciples of Jesus belonged because He was speaking > to them at the time (with the destruction of Jerusalem in view) or it refers > to whatever generation would see PANTA TAUTA (e.g., Hendricksen says it > refers to all Jews). A.T. Robertson (Word Pictures) seems to skirt the issue > > Are these ALL nice opinions, each of which is equally supportable by the > text, or is there something about the words, grammar, or structure of the > Greek text that points the reader to one conclusion and away from any other? > Can one adamantly say that the verse must mean such and such and cannot mean > anything else? Might one conclude that the verse (and Jesus' intent) is to > be mystical and that the verse is not decipherable except, perhaps, within > some broader context (whatever that turns out to be)? > > Roger Hutchinson

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