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Matt 24:34. "by no means"

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Since 2009 there has been a great deal of discussion around the concept of an "overlapping generation" in connection with Jesus words at Matt. 24:34.

I don't see anything particularly difficult about the idea myself. 

I mean, you have a two stage relay. Start point: 1914 CE on one end. Finish point: the "great tribulation" on the other end. The track between is the stream of time.

As it is impossible for one team of runners to span the distance from the start, 1914 CE, to the finish, the "great tribulation", there are two teams of "anointed" Christians. Starting the race, those who saw the year 1914 eventually meet up with those (born later) who will see the outbreak of the great tribulation. The baton is passed and the race completed by the second group.

The entire group are seen as the (anointed) generation of the last days in Jesus prophecy. Not really rocket science is it?

But, in all the discussion around this, I see a phrase in Jesus words at Matt 24:34 I find intriguing. He said that "this generation will by no means pass away"  (NWT)

Other translations render this differently, many saying simply "will not pass" or words to that effect. Why does the NWT render it in this particular manner?

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33 minutes ago, Eoin Joyce said:

Why does the NWT render it in this particular manner?

 

Because it's a double negative. In Greek, a double negative emphasizes the negation (in most cases), rather than the way it works in many modern languages where (formally, at least) it creates a positive.

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51 minutes ago, Eoin Joyce said:

Why does the NWT render it in this particular manner?

In my opinion this is because it is taken into consideration one small word of the original text. Let me explain.

The original text reads:  "ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη ἕως ἂν πάντα ταῦτα γένηται."If you want only to convey the message that the generation will not pass you could simply say " ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐ παρέλθῃ ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη ἕως ἂν πάντα ταῦτα γένηται". That small word μὴ gives more emphasis and certainty to what is described. The translation thus becoming not simply "will not pass" but more something like " most certainly will not pass" or as the NWT renders it "by no means...etc".

You can see the original text and the key word highlighted in the photo below. It's from the Codex Sinaiticus. (Matthäus, 23:39 - 24:35  Archiv: BL  Folio: 213b  Schreiber: A)

JWInsider is correct that there is a double negative in the syntax. The 2 words giving it are οὐ and μὴ (no and not respectively in free translation).

Just to be clear. The meaning is always the same whether μὴ is taken into consideration or not. The more faithful rendition of the verse is the one NWT gives because it follows more closely the wording of the text and in this particular case conveys these extra layers of informatino too.

ct.jpg

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58 minutes ago, Eoin Joyce said:

I mean, you have a two stage relay.

Really? Why do you believe that a "two-stage relay" is an appropriate analogy. As long as we are using a slippery definition of the word "generation" why not a "four-stage relay"?

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2 hours ago, JW Insider said:

why not a "four-stage relay"?

That's a bit too loose because you are introducing a new concept here. You can have as many stages as you like in your race, but that's not the one I am looking at.

Actually, there are at least 10 teams in this race. But for the purpose of the illustration, (which is to illustrate the proposition we have been presented with), only 2 count because only 2 teams can span the full course with one interchange.

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2 hours ago, ThePraeceptor said:

Just to be clear.

Getting there.

Now is this construction just for the sake of emphasis? Or could it be construed in an additional sense? The English expression, by no means, seems to convey more than just an emphasis that something will or will not take place. Would that be true of the Greek expression?

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My view, for what it's worth, is that this particular translation ("by no means") is just one way to state the emphasis. I believe that ThePraeceptor called it a little more accurately when he used the term "most certainly will not pass." 

In other words, in Greek, it does not necessarily carry the same literal idea that can be hinted at in the English expression "by no means."

In English, it can seem to be the equivalent, in this context, of saying: "You should not expect any attempts, or circumstances, or methods, or ways, or means to make this prediction fail." But in Greek, at best, it's a way of saying: "Do you think this prediction might fail? No way!!" [Matching a colloquial expression that creates an emphatic "No."]

Of course, depending on the immediate context, it might still imply that first idea. But it is just as likely that it was a stylistic preference where the common term for "no" or "not" is worded with slightly more definiteness. I say that because there are other examples in the style of Jesus' words where Jesus intentionally comes across with a not-too-subtle "sureness" or speaks with "authority" with such expressions. (Also, it's fairly common in the Greek Scriptures to use this same "οὐ μὴ" expression where the emphasis doesn't seem to be much needed, or doesn't seem to add much emphasis anyway.) In this case, the emphasis on the fact that this prophecy cannot fail is re-stated in the next verse: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away."

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4 hours ago, Eoin Joyce said:

Would that be true of the Greek expression?

JWInsider nailed it. I couldn't explained it better. The only thing that this expression conveys is emphasis, certainty. There is nothing else implied by the text. Of course if you want to overthink things and use some fantasy you can ascribe more than one meanings or intentions to the frase but that would not be consisten with the contex. There is nothing cryptic here. Just plain old grammar and syntax. To arrive to other conclusions in this verse equals "most certainly" to take too many liberties with the translation. ;)

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2 hours ago, JW Insider said:

it's fairly common in the Greek Scriptures to use this same "οὐ μὴ" expression

Correct! A very good example of this is Luke 6:37 where the same expression of the original is translated in the same way in the NWT. (I color coded the words so as to make cleares what is translated into what)

"και μη κρινετε και ου μη κριθητε " (Nestle-Aland)

"Moreover, stop judging, and you will by no means be judged" (NWT)

Strong gives

    Hello guest!
to the ου μη expression making it more easy to understand that it's used for emphasis.

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Thanks @JWInsider and @ThePraeceptor for very helpful input.

For me, the expression by no means, and it's context, seems to imply a condition.

For example, either the generation may look as if it will pass away, hence the emphatic reassurance it will by no means pass away... or,

the generation will by no means pass away in that, at the time of reference, the generation will be so evidently present that it will be ummistakeable, i.e. not a dwindling remnant.

4 hours ago, ThePraeceptor said:

you want to overthink things and use some fantasy

I don't think I want to do that at all. But, point taken, and your reassurance that the Greek is a mere emphasis without further implication is useful and I shall bear it in mind when considering the context of the many other instances of this device.  

"That day and hour", of course, remains...... unknown. :)

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3 hours ago, Eoin Joyce said:

the generation will by no means pass away in that, at the time of reference, the generation will be so evidently present that it will be ummistakeable, i.e. not a dwindling remnant.

That's exactly what the level of emphasis already implies here! Even if we cannot always pick up that level of emphasis out of the expression [οὐ μὴ] alone, it alerts us to the idea that there is a "confident assertion" being proposed, and the next verse tells us that the emphasis was indeed intended to instill extra confidence in the prediction about the generation not passing away. (In this case, the confidence is that under no circumstances will this generation have died off before the stones of the Temple area are thrown down.) That level of confidence appears in the next verse. I'll choose Luke's version below for comparison, because sometimes if an additional meaning is appropriate, it shows up in the other gospel accounts:

(Luke 21:31-33) 31 Likewise also you, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all things happen. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.

Of course I also used Luke's version to show that the arrival of Kingdom of God has clearly not already happened during the generation, or at the beginning of the generation, as our doctrine requires, but arrives after these things have occurred.

There are some similar constructions of the idea that probably give the exact sense of Matthew 24:34:

(Matthew 10:23) . . . for truly I say to you, you will by no means [οὐ μὴ] complete the circuit of the cities of Israel until the Son of man arrives.

(Matthew 16:27-28) 27 For the Son of man is to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will repay each one according to his behavior. 28 Truly I say to you that there are some of those standing here who will not taste death at all [οὐ μὴ] until first they see the Son of man coming in his Kingdom.”

(Mark 9:1) . . .“Truly I say to you that there are some of those standing here who will not taste death at all [οὐ μὴ] until first they see the Kingdom of God already having come in power.”

(Luke 9:27) 27 But I tell you truly, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death at all [οὐ μὴ] until first they see the Kingdom of God.”

A couple of these verses were referencing the fact that some of the apostles were given a direct visionary experience or revelation of that Kingdom of God, and a couple of them were in direct reference to the time when "no stone would be left on top of another, and not be thrown down." While the Temple destruction was not the final judgment, it was treated as another vision or revelation of that same final judgment which could now immediately follow at any time after the judgment on the Jewish system of things.

All the Bible contradictions that derive from the Watch Tower's traditional view about the parousia (since before 1879) can easily be resolved by understanding that Jesus' "presence" begins at the end of this generation. It is the only solution that works for both the judgment on the Jewish system of things and the final judgment on the world-wide Gentile system of things. 1914 is therefore superfluous, in addition to directly contradicting Jesus' words about the times and seasons being in the Father's jurisdiction.

It also resolves the idea of the "generation" perfectly, because Jesus refers to the fact that the stones of the Temple would indeed come crashing down within the lifespans of many of those who heard him predict it. It would not be just a dwindling remnant. And of course Jesus was right, it wasn't just a dwindling remnant. These things were predicted around 33 CE and occurred between 66 and 70 CE, only 33 to 36 years into the future. By no means did that generation pass away within 36 years; many lived to see it. No one had to come up with some means of making it work with a two-phase generation, or by some other meaning imposed upon the term.

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3 hours ago, Eoin Joyce said:

Thanks @JWInsider and @ThePraeceptor for very helpful input.

For me, the expression by no means, and it's context, seems to imply a condition.

For example, either the generation may look as if it will pass away, hence the emphatic reassurance it will by no means pass away... or,

the generation will by no means pass away in that, at the time of reference, the generation will be so evidently present that it will be ummistakeable, i.e. not a dwindling remnant.

I don't think I want to do that at all. But, point taken, and your reassurance that the Greek is a mere emphasis without further implication is useful and I shall bear it in mind when considering the context of the many other instances of this device.  

"That day and hour", of course, remains...... unknown. :)

To me, the phrase "by no means" means "unless [a] happens then [b ] won't happen". In the Maori Bible, the expression uses "e Kore rawa [never] tenei [this] whakatupuranga [generation] e pahemo [to die], kia puta katoa [all be through] ra ano [until] enei mea [these things] "

So, it might be rendered:

This generation will never die, until all these things are through.

It's interesting...

 

 

 

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On 10/4/2016 at 3:40 PM, Eoin Joyce said:

Since 2009 there has been a great deal of discussion around the concept of an "overlapping generation" in connection with Jesus words at Matt. 24:34.

I don't see anything particularly difficult about the idea myself.

I think we ran out of room on the "God's Kingdom Rules" thread. I have tried to add a response there, but nothing happens when I click the "Submit Reply" button. This thread, however, also gets to the heart of the "two-group overlapping generation" problem which has come up in some ways on several of the other chronology-related threads. I know that this teaching is a problem for many others and evidently it is not a problem for you. So your reasoning should be worth exploring.

I feel that the Glen Baxter illustration you have shared is more than appropriate. For any who missed it, it's been described like this:

Two 18th- or 19th-century white men in fur coats — one with flames creeping up his neck — talking to an American Indian holding a sign that reads, “White man’s head on fire”. And there is a caption at the bottom that says, “Quite good, Running Elk. Your work on the apostrophe is coming along. But there is still much to learn.”

For me, the words of Jesus are very clear that looking for signs and portents to determine how close the "end" might be is an unchristian activity. Yes, it happened even in the first century but Jesus always warned against it. (Acts 1:7,8) In other words, the passionate and fiery determination to prove from signs and portents that we are within one lifespan of the time of the end of this system is dangerous. It's playing with fire. We were warned against it by Jesus himself.

So various Bible Students and Jehovah's Witnesses have come along many times through the years and pointed out the danger. But the Watchtower's traditional power structure always had a blind spot when it came to the idea that someone outside of the traditional power structure was capable of pointing out a flaw or a danger. The placating and patronizing attitude toward several members of the Writing Department and Service Department and Gilead Lecturers and Aid Book researchers was amazingly similar to this reaction in the Baxter illustration. Even a couple members of the Governing Body as individuals had pointed out the emergency situation to the Governing Body themselves. An emergency situation was pointed out, and the response showed that they had completely missed the nature of the emergency. One of the responses in the 1981 "Kingdom Come" book was amazingly analogous to "Your work on the apostrophe is coming along. But there is still much to learn."

*** kc p. 188 Appendix to Chapter 14 ***
But there are a number of major problems with this interpretation:

That entire Appendix in the 1981 book has already been thoroughly debunked as a complete non-response to the actual issue at hand. It implicitly admitted to seeing progress in the ability of members outside the power structure to communicate their ideas a little bit better. ("apostrophe") But it responded by showing an inability to understand two-way communication outside of the traditional prejudices. 

I don't think you agree that continually pointing out that we are always within one lifetime of the "end" of this system is dangerous. However, in another thread you did admit that the problem with false prophecy is the problem of lulling people into a false sense of their own safety:

On 9/25/2016 at 11:28 AM, Eoin Joyce said:

But by the same token, I see no contradiction in applying the term "false prophecy" to any teachings or pronouncements from any source that serve to lull the people and their leaders with soothing assurances . . .

This is no doubt related to the same reason that Jesus warned against looking for signs and trying to divine the times and seasons when the point was that only motivation should be our "love of God and a strong desire to do his will." The Proclaimers book speaks of this lulling of people away from the proper motivation as follows:

*** jv chap. 6 p. 62 A Time of Testing (1914-1918) ***
Disappointed expectations as to the return of the Lord Jesus had in the 19th century caused many followers of William Miller and various Adventist groups to lose faith. But what about the Bible Students associated with Russell? Had some been attracted by the thought of their own early salvation rather than love for God and a strong desire to do his will?

 

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On 10/4/2016 at 3:40 PM, Eoin Joyce said:

Since 2009 there has been a great deal of discussion around the concept of an "overlapping generation" in connection with Jesus words at Matt. 24:34.

I don't see anything particularly difficult about the idea myself. 

I mean, you have a two stage relay. Start point: 1914 CE on one end. Finish point: the "great tribulation" on the other end. The track between is the stream of time.

As it is impossible for one team of runners to span the distance from the start, 1914 CE, to the finish, the "great tribulation", there are two teams of "anointed" Christians. Starting the race, those who saw the year 1914 eventually meet up with those (born later) who will see the outbreak of the great tribulation. The baton is passed and the race completed by the second group.

The entire group are seen as the (anointed) generation of the last days in Jesus prophecy. Not really rocket science is it?

I don't see anything difficult about the idea either. It is about as difficult to understand as someone claiming that "one equals two." In fact that equation pretty much sums it up. That's not rocket science at all.

On the other hand, there really is a difficulty is in understanding the contortions that one might have to go through to explain why they really believe that "one equals two." This is an embarrassment that requires people to suspend their powers of reason, which is dangerous for Christians who would follow the Biblical counsel and advice:

(Romans 12:1) 12 Therefore, I appeal to you by the compassions of God, brothers, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason.

(1 Peter 3:15) . . .make a defense before everyone who demands of you a reason. . .

(Acts 19:8) . . .Entering the synagogue, for three months he spoke with boldness, giving talks and reasoning persuasively about the Kingdom of God.

(James 3:17) But the wisdom from above is . . .  reasonable, . . .

Otherwise, it would be possible for someone to fool us into thinking that the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ is already here, according to the apostle Paul.

(2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2) . . .However, brothers, concerning the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you 2 not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be alarmed either by an inspired statement or by a spoken message or by a letter appearing to be from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here. . .

Isn't that exactly what happened under Russell's and Rutherford's stewardship?

If we are not careful to do our utmost to handle the word of truth aright, isn't it possible for someone to subvert our faith by saying that the resurrection already occurred?

(2 Timothy 2:15-18) . . .Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of the truth aright. 16 But reject empty speeches that violate what is holy, for they will lead to more and more ungodliness, 17 and their word will spread like gangrene. Hy·me·naeʹus and Phi·leʹtus are among them. 18 These men have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred, and they are subverting the faith of some.

Isn't that exactly what happened under Russell's and Rutherford's stewardship when they taught that the resurrection had already occurred in 1878 and then 1918, respectively? Didn't Rutherford and other Bible students potentially violate what was holy by saying that Russell, as a spirit, was communicating with them after he died? Didn't a more recent Watchtower potentially violate what was holy by trying to show that the resurrection had already occurred (between 1918 and 1935) by claiming that the spirits (men or women who had died and were resurrected as spirits) had communicated doctrinal matters to the Watch Tower Society prior to 1935?

*** w07 1/1 p. 28 par. 11 “The First Resurrection”—Now Under Way! ***
What, then, can we deduce from the fact that one of the 24 elders identifies the great crowd to John? It seems that resurrected ones of the 24-elders group may be involved in the communicating of divine truths today. Why is that important? Because the correct identity of the great crowd was revealed to God’s anointed servants on earth in 1935. If one of the 24 elders was used to convey that important truth, he would have had to be resurrected to heaven by 1935 at the latest. That would indicate that the first resurrection began sometime between 1914 and 1935.

We know that spiritism violates what is holy. Spiritism is communicating or attempting to communicate with spirits. So this might seem to be strong language, but this indicates just how important the point is from a Biblical perspective. When Rutherford published a book in 1917 that said that Russell was still communicating in order to run every aspect of the work that the Watch Tower was doing, was this in any way correct? Was it a deviation from the truth?

Of course, we claim that the first resurrection has already occurred, and continues to occur, including the resurrection of Paul himself, the very person who warned us about how serious a matter this was. So, as of 2007, we effectively say that it is OK to involve ourselves in this kind of spiritism today, or at least it was around the year 1935. But the same article also showed that the entire idea was still undetermined and at best any attempt to determine an exact time of the "first resurrection" prior to the "great tribulation" was only an attempt to pinpoint "an interesting possibility."

*** w07 1/1 p. 28 par. 12 “The First Resurrection”—Now Under Way! ***
Could it, then, be reasoned that since Jesus was enthroned in the fall of 1914, the resurrection of his faithful anointed followers began three and a half years later, in the spring of 1918? That is an interesting possibility. Although this cannot be directly confirmed in the Bible, it is not out of harmony with other scriptures that indicate that the first resurrection got under way soon after Christ’s presence began.

And notice, even here, how it is only through "circular reasoning" that this deduction made, because it relies on the identification of 1914 as the beginning of Christ's presence. And this brings us right back to the quotation from 2 Thess 2:1,2 already mentioned above: "concerning the presence . . . not to be quickly shaken from your reason . . . to the effect that the Lord's day is already here." The 2007 Watchtower also used some additional reasoning that is not only weak, it creates direct contradictions with different doctrinal ways in which we utilize the same phrase, "to the presence of the Lord." I'll provide details later if you are not already aware.

At the very least, we should use our reasoning to make sure that we have this doctrine right, correct?

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3 hours ago, JW Insider said:

I don't see anything particularly difficult about the idea myself.

This is you quoting me.

What is the problem here?

We have a a relay race. 4 stages (in the modern concept) This applies only to ANOINTED CHRISTIANS.

Ist stage= 1st Century Christians; 2nd stage=true Christians, after the Apostle John, down to the 19th Century (you tell me who they were, if you can); 3rd stage=those true Christians leading up to and past 1914CE; 4th stage=those born after 1914CE but who overlap the lives of those who actually saw 1914CE, and who will personaly see the Great Tribulation.

What is the problem?? It took 30secs for me to write this down!!

3 hours ago, JW Insider said:

"two-group overlapping generation" problem

Whose problem is this? The concept is remarkably simple. Who could possibly find it a problem???

3 hours ago, JW Insider said:

For me, the words of Jesus are very clear that looking for signs and portents to determine how close the "end" might be is an unchristian activity. Yes, it happened even in the first century but Jesus always warned against it.

Well, there was, of course, no sign for the "wicked and adulterous generation" (save the sign of Jonah). But that's not us is it? 

Matt 24:43: “But know one thing: If the householder had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have kept awake and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 On this account, you too prove yourselves ready, because the Son of man is coming at an hour that you do not think to be it"

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33 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

At the very least, we should use our reasoning to make sure that we have this doctrine right, correct?

Agreed entirely

(Your latest post came in after my last response.)

Well, up till now I respect you at your word so  I can see you have a problem with the 607BCE date for the destruction of Jerusalem, From that comes an issue with the Gentile Times ending in 1914CE, and a whole load of other issues on chronology. But, I thought from other posts chronology was not something that particularly concerns you?

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3 minutes ago, Eoin Joyce said:

Who could possibly find it a problem???

ALL of us have a problem explaining it reasonably to others. As you are already well aware, this is not just my own view, it is the view of many others in the world-wide Christian congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses. I don't have any problem understanding why we say it, and how we got to this point. But I would have a problem explaining it reasonably to others as a true doctrine. As far as many Witnesses are concerned, it is a false doctrine, but one we have to put up with because we have nothing better to replace it with at the moment.

I understand very well that you disagree, and that you have no problem believing it yourself. But it looks like you also have a problem explaining it reasonably. Your relay-race illustration seems very problematic. But I understand that we don't all reason in the same way and I am willing to understand your reasoning, if I can. I will try, I promise.

To try to keep my posts shorter I won't start on the relay-race illustration until the next post. I'll use the rest of this one to respond to a quick aside that you brought up:

5 minutes ago, Eoin Joyce said:

I can see you have a problem with the 607BCE date for the destruction of Jerusalem, From that comes an issue with the Gentile Times ending in 1914CE, and a whole load of other issues on chronology. But, I thought chronology was not something you particula\rly have any interest

I have no interest in promoting anything to do with chronology. It has nothing to do with Christianity or our ability to serve as Jehovah's Witnesses. In a congregational setting, I see no reason to upset the foundation that the faith of so many is still built upon. Many people can see that it is a sandy foundation, but many JWs really are still serving for the idea that "the end will come in their lifetime" and think that they have nothing else to fall back upon. For now, their faith and motivation for service is not built fully upon love for Jehovah and for our neighbor, and especially those related to us in the faith. When and if the time comes and the brothers see fit to make any corrections to the current doctrine, if they deem it necessary, then the only way that the brothers will accept it without feeling "lost" (with nothing to fall back upon) is if such a correction comes from the Governing Body themselves. We know that any change would be easily accepted if it comes from the mouth of the Governing Body, because, this is already evidenced by most in the congregation, who have already accepted the "two-group overlapping generation" explanation without complaint. And probably most don't really even think about it. Of course, that's part of the problem as to why so many are flustered with the problem of trying to defend it or explain it reasonably.

My interest is in defending the Bible against "strongly entrenched" ideas has resulted in a lot of comments on this forum related to chronology. This is because chronology is used as a way to denigrate parts of the Bible. I think that is what was happening around 1975 with phrases like:

*** w68 8/15 pp. 500-501 par. 35 Why Are You Looking Forward to 1975? ***
This is not the time to be toying with the words of Jesus that “concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.”

We are again teaching that the end must come in our lifetime. It very well may. We hope and pray that it does. But trying to find signs and evidence that it will (or must) is a contradiction to the words and spirit of Jesus' words, Paul's words, Peter's words, James' words, etc. Jesus said we needed to always be on the watch, precisely because we won't get a sign, and he was speaking to anointed disciples when he said this. It reflects in our motivation for service. It can take away from purely Christian motivations.

 

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46 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

ALL of us have a problem.....

 

46 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

it is the view of many others......

 

46 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

As far as many Witnesses......

Look, there is something wrong here, The law of diminishing returns it LOOKS like, but not necessarily.

I don''t personally know anyone (so far) who has a problem with this issue, (any more than I actually knew anyone who had a problem with the 1975 thing). However, I am not so naive to think that there are not those who do have a problem with these matters. Presumably, you are one, and you seem to know many others who do.

46 minutes ago, JW Insider said:

I have no interest in promoting anything to do with chronology.

That's good because I don't either so let's leave it out of this discussion.

Where do we go from here? Let's have the relay illustration???

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13 hours ago, Eoin Joyce said:

Look, there is something wrong here, The law of diminishing returns it LOOKS like, but not necessarily.

No contradictions. ALL of us have a problem with the explanation if even the Governing Body cannot produce a reasonable explanation. And many of us must realize that we have this problem, based on the online evidence that very few Witnesses even try to come up with any ideas in defense of the doctrine when either an outsider or an insider questions it. As far as I can tell there is no evidence that Witnesses have become involved in trying to defend this idea Scripturally. Yet, I know of about a dozen brothers from around the world who have been active on various forums to Scripturally defend our stance on war, neutrality, hellfire, eternal soul, trinity, etc.

I have never seen anyone besides Brother Splane even try to explain it. Also I am still surprised that relatively few seem to even know about it. A pioneer sister from our congregation was here a few months ago with her husband. He asked about it, and she seemed to say that either she did not know about it, or feigned a lack of knowledge for her husband's sake. I said I'm sure that this is a topic we'll be getting more information about, and quickly moved on to another topic. But you are right that very few complain, just like 1975. I think that's because relatively few even worry about ever having to explain it.

These are mostly relative terms (i.e., "many," "few") that only have meaning when compared to our own expectations or historical comparisons with previous experiences and attitudes concerned with various topics of "new light." The only term that is not relative is when I claim that we "ALL" have a problem explaining it reasonably. If your explanation proves to be reasonable, then you would be about the first (outside of Brother Splane) who has even made an attempt, as far as I can tell.

13 hours ago, Eoin Joyce said:

Let's have the relay illustration???

Yes. But as a baseline let's just repeat the basic idea:

*** kr chap. 1 pp. 11-12 pars. 16-19 “Let Your Kingdom Come” ***
16 “This generation.” Did Jesus have in mind unbelievers? No. . . . Therefore, when Jesus spoke of “this generation,” he had in mind his anointed followers.
17 “Will by no means pass away until all these things happen.” How will those words prove true? To answer that, we need to know two things: the meaning both of “generation” and of “all these things.” The term “generation” often refers to people of varying ages whose lives overlap during a particular period of time. A generation is not overly long, and it comes to an end. (Ex. 1:6) . . .
18 . . .  The generation consists of two overlapping groups of anointed ones—the first is made up of anointed ones who saw the beginning of the fulfillment of the sign in 1914 and the second, anointed ones who for a time were contemporaries of the first group. At least some of those in the second group will live to see the beginning of the coming tribulation. The two groups form one generation because their lives as anointed Christians overlapped for a time.
19 . . .  We also see that the anointed ones who are still alive and part of “this generation” are getting on in years; yet, they will not all die off before the great tribulation begins.

The same details, stated another way, are included in the 2014 Watchtower article. Also, they perfectly match the "JW Broadcasting" videos:

*** w14 1/15 p. 31 pars. 15-16 “Let Your Kingdom Come”—But When? ***
We understand that in mentioning “this generation,” Jesus was referring to two groups of anointed Christians. The first group was on hand in 1914, and they readily discerned the sign of Christ’s presence in that year. Those who made up this group were not merely alive in 1914, but they were spirit-anointed as sons of God in or before that year.—Rom. 8:14-17.
16 The second group included in “this generation” are anointed contemporaries of the first group. They were not simply alive during the lifetime of those in the first group, but they were anointed with holy spirit during the time that those of the first group were still on earth. Thus, not every anointed person today is included in “this generation” of whom Jesus spoke. Today, those in this second group are themselves advancing in years.

When the idea was first introduced on October 3, 2009, not all of these ideas were explicit, but the basic idea was there:

*** w10 6/15 p. 5 United in Love—Annual Meeting Report ***
Brother Barr . . . referred to . . . “This generation . . .”  . . .  “Jesus evidently meant that the lives of the anointed ones who were on hand when the sign began to be evident in 1914 would overlap with the lives of other anointed ones who would see the start of the great tribulation.” We do not know the exact length of “this generation,” but it includes these two groups whose lives overlap. Even though the anointed vary in age, those in the two groups constituting the generation are contemporaries during part of the last days. How comforting it is to know that the younger anointed contemporaries of those older anointed ones who discerned the sign when it became evident beginning in 1914 will not die off before the great tribulation starts!

So, off to the races . . . .

The relay-race analogy is not mentioned in the publications (yet). I can't yet see how it's appropriate, which is why when you first mentioned the two-stage relay, I asked the following:

On 10/4/2016 at 4:42 PM, JW Insider said:

Really? Why do you believe that a "two-stage relay" is an appropriate analogy. As long as we are using a slippery definition of the word "generation" why not a "four-stage relay"?

The idea was that the extension of the generation currently requires two life-spans because the first group has already died, or at least is already assumed to have died. What happens if the second group dies? What would happen if the third group dies? The argument against this, of course, is that this won't happen because the whole point of the teaching is that the second group is already getting older and the great tribulation will get here before that second group dies out. As we get closer and closer to that point, however, we are in the same danger again of believing we know when the end must occur, which contradicts what Jesus said in the verse you quoted above: "because the Son of man is coming at an hour that you do not think to be it."

You made some statements in response to my question where you stated that there are at least 10 teams in the race. I wasn't sure exactly what you meant about the 10 teams, but then you went back to focusing on just two teams with one interchange.

On 10/4/2016 at 6:59 PM, Eoin Joyce said:

That's a bit too loose because you are introducing a new concept here. You can have as many stages as you like in your race, but that's not the one I am looking at.

Actually, there are at least 10 teams in this race. But for the purpose of the illustration, (which is to illustrate the proposition we have been presented with), only 2 count because only 2 teams can span the full course with one interchange.

Then just as I was thinking about how this does or doesn't fit the illustration, you added some other details that could be confusing:

14 hours ago, Eoin Joyce said:

We have a a relay race. 4 stages (in the modern concept) This applies only to ANOINTED CHRISTIANS.

Ist stage= 1st Century Christians; 2nd stage=true Christians, after the Apostle John, down to the 19th Century (you tell me who they were, if you can); 3rd stage=those true Christians leading up to and past 1914CE; 4th stage=those born after 1914CE but who overlap the lives of those who actually saw 1914CE, and who will personaly see the Great Tribulation.

You appear to be tying the words of Matthew 24 into one long relay-race, with 4 stages as follows:

  1. from say around 33 C.E. to probably a time around 99 C.E.
  2. from after 99 C.E. to, I'm guessing, some point past 1879 C.E.
  3. from that point, past 1879, until a point after 1914, probably nearly reaching until the 1990's
  4. from that point, in or just after the 1990's until the great tribulation.

Sorry to do have to do this, but before I can really comment, I need to know if this is what you meant. I'm curious about why stage #1 and stage #2 are now considered important. Is #2 considered a group similar to the groups mentioned in the WT and kr? Why is #2 the only one that doesn't match to physical human lifespans? Did I understand your reference to the 19th century correctly, that #2 and #3 somehow overlap in the 1800's?

Also, do you believe that there is a specific time when the "interchange" happens, or do you think that this "interchange" is ongoing for as long as any two groups overlap? For example, one or more persons in group #3 may have died in 1916 and some new Bible students who became members of the anointed after 1914 therefore only qualified to be in group #4, and could have therefore overlapped with at least one person from group #3 who died in 1916?

If that last scenario is possible then you probably would accept that persons in group #4 may have actually started dying over 100 years ago. Otherwise, the interchange would more likely be the single point in time when the last qualified individual person in the previous group (team?) is still alive at the same time that all the qualified persons in the subsequent team are alive. And therefore, we could potentially wait for the last individual survivor out of all those who are qualified in team #4 before at least one of them reaches the great tribulation. (Of course it could also happen at any time before the last survivor passes off the earthly scene.)

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