"Near" (was: Re: Matthew 4:17 'near')

Jeffrey B. Gibson jgibson000 at mailhost.chi.ameritech.net
Sat Dec 4 09:37:28 EST 1999

Steven Craig Miller wrote:

> To: Joe A. Friberg,
> << You are right that the extension to intimacy is not a long jump. If
> it
> is made, what does that do to the near vs. here contrast? >>
> Both "near" and "here" are relative points of orientation. For
> example, it
> is possible to view the whole world as "here," and only that which is
> outside the world as "there."

It strikes me that all that has been, and is being, said on the matter
of whether NHGIKEN was summed up nicely some time ago by my teacher,
George Caird in his (and L.D. Hurst's) _New Testament Theology_, pp.
32ff. To tease you into reading it, I quote a relevant section:

     The clause HNGIKEN hH BASILEIA TON THEON taken by itself is
     ambiguous: it can mean either "the Kingdom of God has arrived"
     or "the Kingdom of God is imminent". But the ambiguity arises
     because the concept of nearness, spatial or temporal, involves
     in any language a varying degree of distance, which cannot be
     indefinitely extended, but which may diminish to vanishing
     point. In the ritual of the Temple, "to bring near" is a
     technical term for laying an offer on the altar, not dumping
     it on the mount of olives. When Judas "drew near" to kiss
     Jesus (Luke 22:47) and the centurion "drew near" to arrest
     Paul (Acts 21:33), they could hardly have got closer. And when
     the thieves "drew near" the household, the householder is
     worried not because they happen to be in the neighbourhood,
     but because they are digging through the wall. Similarly, in
     temporal usage, HNGIKEN may mean "is coming shortly" (James
     5:8); 1 Pet 4:7); but it is also used as a synonym for PARESTI
     and means "has arrived (Lam 4:18 LXX). The REB correctly
     translates Matt 26:48f. as "the hour has come ... the traitor
     is upon us, and Luke 21:8 as "many will come in my name,
     saying 'I am he' and 'the Day is upon us'"; in each case the
     arrival of the person and the arrival of the crisis coincide.
     Luke carefully distinguishes the present and perfect tenses of
     the verb; his readers are to be sure that the destruction of
     Jerusalem has come, but that, at a later  date, their
     liberation is coming (Luke 21:20, 28).

Hope this helps.


Jeffrey B. Gibson
7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
Chicago, Illinois 60626
e-mail jgibson000 at ameritech.net

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