Re: Matt 24:34 - hH GENEA - enough already!

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Jan 30 2000 - 07:16:56 EST

At 4:51 AM -0500 1/30/00, gfsomsel <> wrote:
>In a message dated 1/28/2000 9:11:20 PM Central Daylight Time,
> writes:
><< Matthew 24:34 reads:
> 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)?
> >>
>IMO this passage must have been composed after 70 A.D. since the early church
>saw fit to put these words in its master's mouth so that a temporal sense
>could also have been intended. This is, however, outside the purview of

I think, in fact, that the lexicographical possibilities for understanding
hH GENEA have been explored fairly thoroughly (if not exhausted) already
and the discussion, although focused upon which of the alternative meanings
is more probable in the context of Matt 24:34, has really shifted away from
the legitimate concerns of B-Greek into a hermeneutical discussion that has
more to do with the presuppositions one brings to bear upon the Biblical
text when interpreting it than with the phrasing of the Greek text or the
grammatical alternatives for understanding it. One thing about the
discussion that I have found troubling in the discussion is precisely an
apparently implicit determination on the part of some contributors to show,
"the word means this ... and therefore the passage says this ... and
therefore there's no reason why everyone else shouldn't agree with the way
I read this passage and this word." No doubt everyone wants to be right and
wants to be thought right by others, but my own observation has been that
even after the arguments for and against any particular viewpoint have been
laid out and the opinions of the "learned authorities" have been mentioned,
the most that has been gained by the discussion is awareness (1) that
viewpoints on such a question as what hH GENEA hAUTH can or may mean are
considerably at odds with each other, and (2) that the differences of
viewpoints, though partly governed by different ways of reading the Greek
word or text, are also dependent on considerable measure upon differences
of hermeneutical assumptions regarding the Biblical text--how it came into
being, when it was written, by whom, for whom, etc. But these are precisely
the assumptions and questions concerning which, although we may make our
own view known, as "Polycarp66" has done with "IMO this passage must have
been composed after 70 A.D. since ...", we are LEAST likely to come to any
consensus on B-Greek and MORE likely to become embroiled in questions of
faith and theology. That is the reason why we have urged list-members to
remain focused on legitimate possibilities of understanding the Greek text
and the language of the Greek text itself. All of us are capable of
converting hH GENEA hAUTH into "this generation" in English or an
equivalent phrase in another target language. The discussion turned, in
fact, pretty quickly away from the question of what the Greek means to the
question of what "this generation" or the equivalent may mean--which is to
say, the discussion has gotten away from the Greek as such and into
hermeneutics. And that is, as noted above, "outside the purview of b-greek."

Carl W. Conrad
Co-Chair, B-Greek List
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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