Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More on the varieties of preterists (from PretCosmos response)

I posted this morning in response to an inqury in a full preterist forum/email list run by full preterist Dave Green regarding the disagreements/different positions of 'partial-preterists' on varied passages. The original post by 'bskeptic':
[title: Partial preterist confusion by bskeptic]
I'm interested in the level of disagreement between partial preterists. Some examples: 
(1) Some of them will have a "switch" or "transition" at Matthew 24:36 to the subject of a future 2nd Coming. Other partial preterists would disagree. 
(2) For those who "switch", they can still disagree about the meaning of Matthew 24:27. (For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.) 
(3) Related to the first example, I would guess that 1 Thess 5 is a matter of disagreement. 
(4) Matthew 13 and Matthew 16:27 can also be differently understood by partial preterists I think. 
Are there more examples of where partial preterists disagree about whether something is "AD70" or future 2nd Coming? 
Is there any disagreement about Acts 1:11? Or 2 Peter etc.?

I realize my original answer (below) is incomplete on a number of the passages brought up here, but I attempted to address the more major views in (orthodox) preterist circles:

Going back to basic definitions, 'partial preterist', as pertaining to all of the major prophetic and apocalyptic portions of NT scripture, encompasses almost everyone in scholarly circles. There are only a few full futurist scholars (some older dispensationalist and more liberal scholars who view the gospel products, and particularly the Olivet discourse, as late 1st century or 2nd century products). And I'm not sure we have any full preterist scholars (there are some with seminary training but I do not believe there are any with doctoral (or greater) level accomplishments from a recognized institution).
The main breakdowns are:
1. On the Olivet Discourse
- Scholarly Majority View
The large majority of scholars place the division between the prophecy of destruction of the temple and the framing of that event with the apocalyptic consummation (Son of Man, judgment, implicit resurrection, NH/NE, etc.) prior to the cosmological signs. The majority is represented in recent Marcan commentaries by Lane (NIC), Gundry, Marcus (AB), Yarbro Collins (Herm), Evans (WBC), Geoffrey (FoBC), Garland (NIVAC), Ferguson (Let's Study), Edwards (PNTC), Cole (TNTC), Barclay (DSB), Brooks (NAC), Stein (BEC), Hendrickson (NTC), McKenna (CC), Hughes (PTW), and Hortado (NIBC), among many others. An even longer list could be produced for Matthew, but you get the idea. One should note that all of these men and their commentaries are well regarded and I'm not sure any of them could be labeled a dispensationalist. Maybe 85-90% of the scholars fall in this camp.
- Scholarly Minority View(s)
A small group regards the cosmological and Son of Man passages of the Olivet Discourse as pertaining to a type of 'coming' in the 1st century AD. Scholars representing this perspective are R. T. France (pertaining to most of the discourse; Mark (NIGTC), Matthew (NIC)) and Hatina, and G. B. Caird and N. T. Wright (pertains to all of the discourse, e.g. Matt. 24-25). It should be noted that France and Wright were both disciples of Caird. While scholarly advocates of this position can be counted on one hand, this is a legitimate minority view given the quality advocates, particularly Caird. Maybe 5% of the scholars fall in this camp. (The remainder are in other varieties and breakdowns.)
2. On the Book of Revelation
- Scholarly Majority View
There is close to complete agreement in the scholarship concerning both the date and target of the Apocalypse. The list of scholars and commentaries that advocate a later date of composition and Babylon as Rome is almost too many to count. As a sampling, scholars in agreement on these points include Caird, France, Beale, Bauckham, Collins, Yarbro Collins, Sweet, Swete, Beckwith, Charles, Rowland, Poellet, Witherington, Mounce, Osborne, Boring, Boxall (supports pre-70, post-Nero date), Johnson, Keener, Blount, Ladd, Morris, (Bruce) Metzger, and on and on. These positions are represented by probably 95+% of scholars today.
- Scholarly Minority Views 
There are a view scholars who have advocated different approaches, including most notably Ford (AB), who advocates an origin of the Apocalypse with John the Baptist. In previous centuries (notably the19th), there were many who argued for a pre-70 AD composition and some even a Jerusalem-centric (the city, not the spiritual people) judgment, but this view is almost non-existent among modern scholars given discoveries of more apocalyptic 2TJ texts and an enhanced understanding of the genre in the 20th century.
There have been some on the Reformed fringe who have advocated for the minority view on the Olivet and a pre-70 AD composition and Jerusalem centered focus in the Apocalypse. Many of these men are either current or former advocates of Theonomy and Reconstructionism (e.g. North, Gentry, DeMar, Jordan) or of the Federal Vision movement (Leithart, Wilson, Jordan again). Among these Leithart is probably the only one that approaches the status of 'scholar', but its a fringe perspective not in learned/academic interaction with the leading brains in the seminaries and academies (most of these men are pastors and not academicians/scholars). Of course, many in the full preterist camp, often reacting to dispensationalist excesses, latch onto works by the opposite fringe and often progress further ('more consistently') into full preterism.
Among scholars the Pauline passages are generally regarded as Apocalyptic, as (early) Paul language and sense of urgency is in tune with one informed by the genre (including elements also appealed to in the Olivet, though lacking the Jerusalem focused prophetic).
I hope that helps. Let me know if you need clarification or more references.

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