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Lesson #14

Crisis,
the Olivet Discourse
(Mark 13: 1-37)
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Lesson #13 offered an Excursus on the Roman Empire at
the time of Marks Gospel. In it we learned that the
Roman Empire of A.D. 64-70 experienced tremendous
turbulence:

The Great Fire of Rome burned a large portion of the city on 18 July A.D.
64, and the Emperor Nero blamed the destruction on Romes Christians;

Consequently, Nero (A.D. 54-68) launched the first state-sponsored
persecution against the Church, A.D. 64-68. Both Peter and Paul were
martyred during this time, along with a great multitude of others;

Nero committed suicide on 9 June A.D. 68;

Civil war broke out, and four Emperors followed in quick succession, three
of whom were assassinated or committed suicide; and

In A.D. 66 the Great Jewish Revolt began in Palestine, resulting in the
destruction of the Temple on 29/30 July A.D. 70, the death of 1.2 million
Jews by the end of the revolt, and the Diaspora that lasted nearly 2,000
years.




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This extraordinarily tumultuous time formed the historical
and cultural context from which the Gospel according to
Mark emerged, shaping our authors narrative, rhetorical
and stylistic strategies, as well as the portrayal of his
characters and his sequencing of events in the story.

Understanding this greatly informs our reading of Marks
version of the Olivet Discourse in 13: 1-37, the subject of
our next lesson.






















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In the Olivet Discourse (13: 1-37) Jesus speaks of a time
of great tribulation; the destruction of the Temple; the
coming of the Son of Man (the parousiva, parousia, =
in classical Greek, the physical arrival of a person who is
not currently present, e.g., Jesus 2
nd
Coming); and
the end times.

Traditionally read as eschatological prophecy, the Olivet
Discourse draws heavily upon the Book of Daniel for its
imagery (the Son of Man coming on the clouds; the
desolating abomination standing where he should
not), and it applies that imagery to the events that are
unfolding in the Roman Empire at the time of the
Gospels composition.


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Mark builds Jesus Olivet
Discourse (13: 1-37) on a simple
4-part structure:

1. Question asked (1-4)
2. Question answered, Part 1 (5-23)
3. Question answered, Part 2 (24-31)
4. What to do in the meantime (32-37).






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6 Crisis, the Olivet Discourse

Mark builds Jesus Olivet Discourse (13: 1-37)
on a simple 4-part structure:

1. Question asked (1-4)
2. Question answered, Part 1 (5-23)
3. Question answered, Part 2 (24-31)
4. What to do in the meantime (32-37).















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Holy cow!













To understand the
magnitude of Jesus
comment in 13: 2and
his disciples reaction to
itwe need a solid
understanding of the
Temple in Jerusalem.





8 Triumphal Entry













King Solomon began building the 1
st

Temple in Jerusalem in the 4
th
year of his
reign, 966 B.C. (1 Kings 6: 1). He
completed it in seven years, and he
dedicated it in 959 B.C. (1 Kings 6: 38).

Solomons Temple wasnt large, only 30
meters/90 feet long by 10 meters/30 feet
wide and 10 meters/30 feet high. But it
was the most beautiful building on earth,
a Fraberge Egg, a glistening gem.

Solomons Temple stood in Jerusalem for
380 years, until 14 August 586 B.C., when
the Babylonians sacked, looted and
destroyed it and Jerusalem (2 Kings 25: 8-
9).

There are no extant images of the 1
st

Temple, only written descriptions of it.

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Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon attacked
Jerusalem for the first time in 605 B.C.,
again in 597 and a third and final time in
588 B.C., resulting in a 2-year siege of the
city. Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians on 14
August 586 B.C., and the survivors were
taken captive to Babylon.

There they stayed until 539 B.C. when Cyrus
the Great, King of Persia conquered Babylon
and allowed all the captive people (not just
the Jews) to go home to rebuild their cities,
temples and infrastructures, the rebuilding
financed by Persia.

The first wave of Jews returned in 538 B.C.
and they began rebuilding the Temple,
completing it on 12 March 516 B.C. (Ezra 6:
15).

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This 2
nd
Temple was a big
disappointment, however, for it fell
far short of Solomons 1
st
Temple.
Indeed, we read in Ezra:

Many of the priests, Levites, and heads of
ancestral houses, who were old enough to
have seen the former house, cried out in
sorrow as they watched the foundation of
the present house being laid. Many others,
however, lifted up their voices in shouts of
joy. No one could distinguish the sound of
the joyful shouting from the sound of those
who were weeping . . ..
(3: 12-13)
The old timers who had seen
Solomons Temple wept!

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This 2
nd
Temple stood for 497 years, from
51619 B.C., when Herod the Great began
a massive renovation project designed to
bring 1,000,000 people to Jerusalem
three times each year on Passover,
Pentecost and Tabernaclesstimulating
the economy and generating significant
tax revenue for Rome.

Herod expanded to Temple platform to
37 acres in size, enough to accommodate
nearly 400,000 people; he built a
complex network of water cisterns
throughout Jerusalem to channel spring
water, store rain water and move the
stored water to accommodate the large
crowds; and he built accompanying
infrastructure to support his project.

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Importantly, during Herods
construction projects the 2
nd

Temple continued functioning
uninterrupted. Herod did not
build a new 3
rd
Temple; rather, he
greatly renovated the existing 2
nd

Temple.

This renovated 2
nd
Temple is the
one Jesus knew, and it is the one
he addresses in the Olivet
Discourse.

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Palm Sunday
road
Mount of Olives
Temple Platform
Temple
14 Triumphal Entry
Jesus and his
disciples are
walking up the
Mt. of Olives.
X












The Temple in Jesus day, as he would have seen it from the Mt. of Olives.
(1.50 scale model of 1
st
-century Jerusalem, Israel Museum.)
Photography by Ana Maria Vargas
15 Triumphal Entry
470 meters/ 513 yards
(Eastern Wall)
280 meters/ 306 yards
(Southern Wall)
150,00 m2/ 37 acres
(Platform Area)
30 meters/
9 stories















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Temple Model
(1.50 scale model of 1
st
-century Jerusalem, Israel Museum.)

24 meters/8 stories
Gold Trim
Excavations at the Western
Wall from 1993-1997
exposed the Herodian
street that paralleled the
wall. This is the pavement
that Jesus would have
walked upon!

The stones at the far end
fell from the Temple when
it was destroyed in A.D. 70.
They remain where they
fell nearly 2,000 years ago.











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Photography by Ana Maria Vargas



Detail of the fallen
stones, many still
charred from the
intense fire.











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19 Crisis, the Olivet Discourse

Mark builds Jesus Olivet Discourse (13: 1-37)
on a simple 4-part structure:

1. Question asked (1-4)
2. Question answered, Part 1 (5-23)
3. Question answered, Part 2 (24-31)
4. What to do in the meantime (32-37).















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When will all this happen?

Here are the signs:
1. In general (5-8)
2. In particularto you (9-11)
3. In particularto others (12-13)
4. And then things will get WORSE!
(14-23)











The desolating abomination is referred to in Daniel 9:27, 11: 31, 12:11; in 1
Maccabees 1:54, 6:7; and in the synoptic Gospels in the Olivet Discourse. In Daniel
and 1 Maccabees it refers to an image of Antiochus IV Epiphanes set up in the Temple
in 167 B.C., during the Maccabean revolt.
















22 Crisis, the Olivet Discourse

Mark builds Jesus Olivet Discourse (13: 1-37)
on a simple 4-part structure:

1. Question asked (1-4)
2. Question answered, Part 1 (5-23)
3. Question answered, Part 2 (24-31)
4. What to do in the meantime (32-37).















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After the Tribulation

The sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken
(24-25).

Then they will see the Son of Man
coming in the clouds with great power
and glory (26).















24 Crisis, the Olivet Discourse

Mark builds Jesus Olivet Discourse (13: 1-37)
on a simple 4-part structure:

1. Question asked (1-4)
2. Question answered, Part 1 (5-23)
3. Question answered, Part 2 (24-31)
4. What to do in the meantime (32-37).











William Blake. The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Watercolor, brush and
gray wash, pen and black ink over graphite), c. 1803-1805.
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art.














Jesus said, Amen, I say to you,
this generation will not pass
away until all these things have
taken place (13: 30).

In light of Jesus own words,
contemporary events in the
Roman Empire and the lived
experience of Christians during
the composition of the Gospels,
virtually everyone in the 1
st

generation of the Church
believed that Jesus would return
in their lifetime.
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By the late 80s and early 90s, we
witness the remnants of 1
st

generation, and it is during these
final days that the Book of
Revelation emerges, the
masterpiece in a long line of
Apocalyptic, end-time
literature.

But thats a topic for
another day!
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1. When did Jesus expect the end to come?
2. What is the desolating abomination Jesus refers
to in Mark 13: 14?
3. What set of events will precede Jesus coming?
4. When Jesus returns what signs will accompany
him?
5. What should his disciples (you and I) do in the
meantime?






Copyright 2014 by William C. Creasy
All rights reserved. No part of this courseaudio, video,
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