Original Research

‘This generation’ in Matthew 24:34 as a timeless, spiritual generation akin to Genesis 3:15

Philip La Grange Du Toit
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 39, No 1 | a1850 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v39i1.1850 | © 2018 Philip La Grange Du Toit | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 March 2018 | Published: 15 August 2018


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Abstract

In this article, the phrase ‘this generation’ [ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη] in Matthew 24:34 is read in terms of the larger category to which it is argued to belong, namely the two respective timeless, spiritual generations akin to Genesis 3:15: the one that bears the right fruit and belongs to God’s kingdom and the other one that bears the wrong fruit and belongs to the kingdom of the devil (the serpent). Such a connotation is especially traced in the three occurrences of the expression γεννήματα ἐχιδνῶν [offspring or generation of vipers] in the gospel (Mt 3:7; 12:34; 23:33) and other generational language within the gospel that differentiates these two generations. The same connotations are argued to lie behind the generational language in the other gospels too. Such an understanding of ‘this generation’ would solve the eschatological problems that are often attached to prevalent interpretations thereof and would alleviate much of the charges of anti-Judaism levelled against the gospels.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The two main areas where this research challenges traditional discourses are (1) on the traditional interpretation that Jesus would envision his contemporary generation to witness his second coming and (2) that generational language in Matthew would be confined to a group of people being time-bound or being defined by racial and/or ethnic affiliation. On an interdisciplinary level, this has implications for (1) the perception of eschatology in Systematic Theology or Biblical Theology, especially in terms of the way in which a distinction is often drawn between Paul and Jesus’ eschatology and (2) the perception of ethnicity or race in the New Testament, which has to do with identity formation and overlaps with both Systematic Theology and Sociology. In other words, Jesus would critique prevalent perceptions of identity by critiquing them on a spiritual level.

Keywords

Matthew; This Generation; Ethnicity; Anti-Judaism

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