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ON THE MEANING OF THE WORD TENEA
ALL THESE THINGS SHALL COME UPON THIS GENERATION.
Matt. xxiii, 36.
<< VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, THIS GENERATION SHALL NOT PASS, TILL ALL THESE THINGS BE FULFILLED."
Matt. xxiv, 34.
To the Editor of the Investigator.
In a discussion on millennarian questions, at which I happened to be present some few months ago, the prophecy in the twenty-fourth chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, and its parallels in the thirteenth of St. Mark's and twenty-first of St. Luke's Gospels, naturally came under our consideration. Of the parties engaged in the argument, they who interpreted the coming of the Son of man mentioned in the thirtieth verse of His second and personal advent contended, that "the tribulation of those days," immediately after which was appear the sign of His coming, was an expression not to be restricted to the tribulation at and preceding the destruction of Jerusalem; but that from the parallel passage in St. Luke it seemed meant to include all the subsequent distresses of the dispersion, so largely and strikingly described long before by Moses, and to continue even as long as Jerusalem shall be trodden "down of the gentiles, and until
"the times of the gentiles be fulfilled."+
To this interpretation the usual and well known objection was made, derived from the thirty-fourth verse, which it is considered necessarily limits the events spoken of in the preceding verses to to the period during which the men of that generation were in existence."This generation (yevɛa) shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."
On mention being made of Mede's translation of yɛvea, as a race or nation of common origin," (a translation sanctioned by most of the Greek lexicographers,) it was asserted by one, whose opinions were entitled to great respect on all questions of Greek criticism, that the translation was not allowable;
-that, turning from lexicons to the original Greek authors, no unambiguous passage, he was persuaded, could be adduced that authorized it;-that in such a passage as that brought forward by Mr. Begg‡ and others from Herodotus, (Þově pev γενεῃ γενεος δε βασίληιε,) the true rendering being "A Phrygian by birth," was any thing but an
* Deut. xxix, 61, &c.
+ Luke xxi, 24.
‡ See also Mr. Begg's "Connected View of some of the Scriptural Evidences of
INVESTIGATOR, No. III.
authority;-and that, from the examination of many passages in which the word occurs, he had come to the conclusion, that when used of a body of men collectively, as in St. Matthew, yɛvɛa must mean the generation of men then existing.
In consequence of this assertion,
I have looked into such of the Greek authors as I happen to have by me, and satisfied myself, that unambiguous passages, such as my friend required, are to be found authorizing Mede's version of the word. And as the subject is one both of difficulty and importance, it will probably be not uninteresting to your readers to have the authorities placed before them.
On such passages as the following I do not lay much stress ; because, though yɛvɛa should be rendered race in them, it is nevertheless in the sense of a progeny or posterity, with an express reference, (in the genitive case, or otherwise) to the original ancestor,—such a reference as is not expressed in the Evangelists.
JOSEPHUS, A. J. 1, 10. ̔Ο Θεος και παιδα αυτῳ γενήσεσ θαι εξαγγελλει και πολλην εξ εκείνω γενεάν.
A numerous race.
HESIOD, E κаι H, 281. Τυδε τ' αμαυροτερη γενεη μετοπισθε λελειπται.]
SEPTUAGINT.—Joshua xxii, 27. Των γενεων όμων μεθ ̓ ἡμας.
Our generations after us.
The race, or progeny of the perjurer is left to more obscurity.
But in the passages, which I shall now bring forward, the word yɛvɛa is used as a race, independent of any express and necessary reference to the original ancestor; and with the genitive, where it occurs, of the the individuals constituting the γενεα οι race.
SOPHOCLES, Ajax 190. Τας ασωτε Σισυφιδαν γενεας.
EURIPIDES, Hecuba 470.
The race of the Titans.
to afflict another race, or family ; opposed to that of the Plisthenidæ.
ILIAD, 4, 191.
Κρείσσων δ' αυτε Διος γενεη ποταμοιο family.
PINDAR, Nem. vi, 54. παλαιφατος γενεα, (without a genitive,) an anciently celebrated
In a sense very similar EURIPIDES The race, or descendant of Jove is says, Inλuv yevɛav, for the female θηλυν γενεαν, superior to a river.
HOMER, Iliad, E, 265. [οπα Ζευς Της γαρ τοι γενεης ἧς Τρωι περ ευρυΔωχ' υἱος ποινην Γανυμήδεος·
Of that breed, or race, of horses.
the REDEEMER'S SPEEDY PERSONAL RETURN," &c. P. 149. And "Letters to a Minister of the Gospel on Matt. xxiii, xxiv, xxv, pp. 32-49.
By these passages Mede's translation seems warranted. We may surely say Ιεδαιων γενεα for the race of the Jews, as properly as Tıravwv or Σισυφιδαν γενεα for the race of the Titans or Sisyphide. The adjectives πονηρα, μοιχαλις, απιςος, διετραμμενη, &c., may be applied to γενεα in this sense, as well as raλaiparos, or aσwτоs, and the demonstrative pronoun avτŋ, as well as the article Tηs, used demonstratively by Homer, or aλλŋ, by Æschylus.
The rendering contended for being admissible, it seems to me, that in most passages where it is used in the New Testament, it is a translation preferable to that of generation. And indeed our translators may have intended the word generation in that sense; for according to Johnson one meaning of generation is,
a race, a family."a-For instance; when our Lord speaks of the Jews as γενεα πονηρα, μοιχαλις, απιsoς, or διετραμμένη, can we suppose that he meant those epithets to be applied distinctively to the Jews then alive, when he himself declared that they were but the inheritors of their fathers' vices? In truth the whole previous history of their nation shews, that the Jews of Christ's time were but γεννηματα εχιδνων, the viperous offspring of vipers: witnessing by their conduct, that they were the true sons of ancestors that had killed the prophets. They did but fill up the Stiffmeasure of their fathers. necked and uncircumcised in heart Holy Ghost; as their fathers did, and ears, they did always resist the so did they. (Matt. xxiii, 31,-33. Acts vii, 51.)
But it is to Matt. xxiv, 34, and that which is no doubt its parallel, Matt. xxiii, 36, (and which, as illustrative of the former passage, claims special notice,) that this paper particularly refers. C. xxiv, 34, Ov un παρελθῃ ἡ γενεα αύτη έως αν παντα ταυτα γενηται. C. xxiii, 36, Αμην λεγω ὑμῖν ἥξει ταυτα παντα επι την γε νεαν ταυτην. Νow even if we adopt the most restricted view of the judgments predicted, and explain them simply of the destruction of Jerusasalem and the calamities immediately preceding it, (a view to which the whole context appears to me to offer insuperable objections,) even on this supposition, can the word yɛvɛa in the xxiiid chapter be construed as the generation then living ? In other words, could the miseries. of the siege and destruction of Jerusalem be said to have fallen on the generation of Christ's contemporaries? This is a question involving chronology. We know that from
a In one passage, Phil. ii. 15, they have in fact translated the word, nation; ινα γενησθε τεκνα Θε8 ανωμητα εν μεσω γενεας σκολιας και διεςραμμένης.
the time of the prediction to the beginning of the Jewish war and the massacres at Cæsarea and Alexandria was 34 years: to the destructo the destruction of Jerusalem, 37. Now a generation is reckoned by Diodorus and others at 30 years; by Herodotus, at 33 :—which latter computation is given by Clemens Alexandrinus also, and has been considered tolerably correct by modern writers, who have commented on it. On either of these computations the generation contemporary with Christ had passed away before even the Jewish war began. We have a further measure of the duration of a generation in the Sacred Writ itself. In Deut. i, 35, we read that " the "Lord sware, not one of the men "of this evil generation shall see "that good land save Caleb and Joshua only. And ii, 14:-" The space in which we came from "Kadesh-Barnea till we were come "" over the brook Zered was 38 years, until all the generation of "the men of war (all from 20 years "old and upwards, Numb. xiv, 29,) were wasted out from the host, as "the Lord sware unto them." Let it be allowed that the divine judgment was visible in this complete extinction of the whole body of adults in 38 years: still it assists to furnish a criterion. And if for further satisfaction on the subject, we apply the laws of mortality, as laid down by Ulpian in Italy within a century and a half after the destruction of Jerusalem, b and make the necessary allowance for the comparatively unfavourable circumstances of the Jewish people, we can scarce suppose that more than 1 in 4, or 1 in 5 of the adult Jews at the time of the prediction were alive at the time
of the fulfilment. And could they then be called the same generation? Should we now-a-days say the revolution of 1790 and the revolution of 1830 happened to one and the same generation of Frenchmen?
I will only add a word in reply to an objection raised from the word Tapeλon to the interpretation of γενεα advocated. "Is it meant, it has been said, "that the Jewish race having continued till the time of the second advent shall then pass away?" a supposition contrary to the belief of most who espouse what are called millennarian views. Let Matt. v, 18, be compared with the passage in question. Iwra έv na kepaιa Ιωτα ἑν η μια κεραια ου μη παρελθη απο το νομε έως αν παντα γενηται. It is surely not implied by the waρɛλ0ŋ, and the έws, that the law should ever pass away unfulfilled.
I am Sir,
b See Edinb. Rev. No. 97, pp. 25, 26.
P.S. From an old book before me I see that many of the Fathers also, disapproving of the usual interpretation, construed yeven as CC a race :" Jerome applying it as the race of men" generally: Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius, and, I believe, Origen of " the race of the faithful ;' the latter interpretation corresponding with the γενεα δικαια, γενεα των viwv σε, γενεα των ζητεντων τον θεον, of the Psalmist, and the yɛVOÇ ekλekγενος εκλεκ TOV of St. Peter. The Fathers of that age could scarcely have been so ignorant of what was to most of them their native language, as to advocate an inadmissible meaning of a word in it; and, as is known, some of them were no friends to millennarian views.
ON THE ADVENT AND KINGDOM OF CHRIST,
AND THE EVENTS CONNECTED THEREWITH.
Having proved, as I trust, in my last paper, that the manifestation of the kingdom of God is yet future, I proceed now to inquire into the place or scene of that manifestation. This, I do not hesitate to say, will be on earth; and that Palestine, or the Holy Land, (particularly the region of Mount Zion,) will be the spot where Christ and his risen saints will more especially be revealed.
I. First, in regard to the Land in general, let us consider the terms of the covenant made with Abraham and the patriarchs—that very covenant of grace, under which the christian church is now walking. God repeatedly promised to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, personally and respectively, as also to their seed, that he would give them the land in which they were strangers. It is to the repetition of these promises and their amplification that I presume St. Paul refers, when he speaks of the covenants of promise' in the plural: b and certainly he refers to these in the Epistle to the Galatians, c when he insists that the promise to Abraham and his seed continues in full force under the Gospel; not allowing that the covenant afterwards made with Moses had any power to do away or alter these.
The Place of Manifestation.
The question then arises, has this promise been fulfilled to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Some will reply,
a Genesis xiii, 15,;
e chap. iii, 16—19.
Yes; their posterity possessed it, ' and thus the Patriarchs themselves may be said to have enjoyed the land' but this reply will neither suit the terms of the covenant, nor the faithfulness of God, who declares, that not one jot or tittle shall fail of all that he hath spoken. I must repeat and beg particular attention to the circumstance, that the promise to each of the three patriarchs is—
to THEE will I give it AND to thy seed;" which, if words can plainly express a thing, does clearly imply, that there must be a special fulfilment of the promise to them, as well as to their posterity. They all indeed dwelt in the land, but not as proprietors; for, excepting a burial place, they had no possesion of it at all, but were strangers and pilgrims.' This very fact St. Paul instances in order to prove, that they sought a country, yet died without receiving the promises. d And St. Stephen notices also, that though "God promised to give the land to "Abraham for a possession, and to “his seed after him, yet, that he
gave him none inheritance in it— no not so much as to set his foot on." e It is unwarrantable therefore to say of them, that the promise was fulfilled; when these two places of Scripture so clearly contend, that it was not.
2. Secondly, in regard to the seed; though I grant that Abraham's pos
xvii, 8; xxvi, 3; xxviii, 13; Exod. vi, 34.
b Ephes. ii, 12.