[B-Greek] Matthew 24:34

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Tue Jun 17 15:38:34 EDT 2003

> >The Greek says:
> 	   (should be:PARELQHi hH GENEA hAUTH)
> >I was surprised to find conjunctive, and "an" particle, instead of
> >future (according to the versions I've read) It'd be interesting for
> >me what is your proposal for literal translation as well.
> >
> >I think that the particle "AN" makes the meaning little different
> >from defining *historical* points of beginning and end (for ex. the
> >sec. half of the I-st c.). Perhaps Jesus of Nazareth speaks rather of
> >period of continuance, e.g. less than 30 yrs, not mentioning the
> >historical point of beginning? Which would mean that we could only
> >get from here an idea of *how much time* those events would take, but
> >in now way *when* exactly they'd begin and, respectively, end ?
> "Truly I tell you, this GENEA will not pass until all these things have
> taken place."
> The real question is precisely what hH GENEA hAUTH was intended to  mean.
> Here's what NET note on it says:
> =====
> "This is one of the hardest verses in the gospels to interpret. Various
> views exist for what generation means. (1) Some take it as meaning "race"
> and thus as an assurance that the Jewish race (nation) will not pass away.
> But it is very questionable that the Greek term v (GENEA ) can have this
> meaning. Two other options are possible. (2) Generation might mean "this
> type of generation" and refer to the generation of wicked humanity. Then
> the point is that humanity will not perish, because God will redeem it. Or
> (3) generation may refer to "the generation that sees the signs
> of the end"
> (v. 30), who will also see the end itself. In other words, once the
> movement to the return of Christ starts, all the events connected with it
> happen very quickly, in rapid succession. "

Other options are also possible, and I would not subscribe to any of the
ones mentioned in this note.
In trying to keep to a discussion of the Greek text, there are several
questions I would consider relevant:

1. What does GENEA mean?
It is much broader than the English "generation", and basically means "a
group of people connected by a common characteristic". More information is
available in the archives under GENEA. What it refers to can only be
inferred from context. Idiomatic translations often translate the word in
other contexts as "people" and let the context define what group of people
is being referred to.

2. What is the significance of the word order?
In my understanding of Greek word order, hH GENEA hAUTH does not mean "THIS
genea" (hAUTH hH GENEA) where there would be a contrast between this
particular genea and another genea. Rather, it refers to a certain "genea"
(group of people) which has been talked about in the previous context. A
demonstrative which follows the head noun is not contrastive or emphatic,
but simply anaphoric, i.e. this known group of people.

3. What is the meaning of hEWS?
This word does not always correspond to English "until". If we say in
English: "This genea will not pass away until X has happened", the
implication is that then it WILL pass away. It seems to me that the meaning
of hEWS here is more like "while". While all these things WILL happen, this
GENEA will not pass away during that difficult time - as might have been
expected. Rather, this GENEA will continue to exist, event though all these
things will indeed happen. hEWS basically means "during a period up to a
certain point", but there is no clear implication from the word in itself as
to what might happen after that point.

Iver Larsen

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