Kommentar über sämmtliche Schriften des Neuen
Commentary on the Complete Text of the
completed and revised by Ebrard and Wiesinger
1796 – September 4, 1839)
intend to represent his coming as contemporaneous with the destruction of
Jerusalem and the overthrow of the Jewish polity"
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regards the contents of the discourse, a great difficulty lies in its
placing in apparent juxtaposition circumstances which, according to the
history, are separated by wide intervals. Obvious descriptions of the
approaching overthrow of Jerusalem and the Jewish polity are blended with no
less evident representations of the second coming of the Lord to his
kingdom. . . We do not hesitate to adopt the simple interpretation, and the
only one consistent with the text, that Jesus did intend to represent his
coming as contemporaneous with the destruction of Jerusalem and the
overthrow of the Jewish polity." (Vol.
ii, pp. 221, 222.)
'It is precisely for
this reason, viewing the Saviour's reply to his disciples as designed to be
intelligible, that in this portion of the prediction, I can find no direct
reference to the day of judgment, only as the whole event of the coming to
destroy Jerusalem is symbolical of that great and final coming to take
vengeance on the ungodly." (P. 312.)
"The word Parousia (presence) is
the ordinary expression
for the second coming of the Lord. — With the classic authors parousia
commonly signifies presence; it has the same meaning sometimes in the N".
T., in the writings of Paul (2 Cor. 10: 10; Phil. 1 : 26 ; 2 : 12 ; 2 Thess.
2:9); in other cases it is used in the sense of advent, and once (2 Pet. 1 :
16) the incarnation of the Redeemer as applied to his first coming." (Vol.
ii. p. 228.)
"Genea (generation) is not used in the sense of nation in any one passage,
either in the New Testament or of profane writers."
"Certainly the proceeding of the
older interpreters who thought Paul spoke in the plural only
conversationally, without really meaning to say that they themselves, he and
his readers, might be still living at the occurrence of that catastrophe, is
decidedly to be rejected."
"At all events, the note
is not to be mistaken, ' Let him that readaeth understand,'—a clear token on
behalf of the true origin, the ancient historical efficiency, of the first
Gospels ; especially a testimony that they must have appeared before the
destruction of Jerusalem."
"Lastly, The circumstances in
regard to the Gospel of John are particularly calculated to place its
genuineness beyond dispute; for John the Evangelist lived much longer than
any of the other apostles. So far as we know, none of the others were alive
after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus,
the Roman emperor, in the year 70
A.d. John, however, survived it nearly thirty years, dying about the
close of the first century, under the reign of the emperor Domitian. Hence,
many Christians who had heard of our Lord's farewell words to him (John xxi.
22, 23), believed that John would not die, an idea which the Evangelist
himself declares erroneous. This beloved disciple of our Lord, during the
latter part of his life, as we know from testimonies on which perfect
reliance may be placed, lived at Ephesus, in Asia Minor, where the Apostle
Paul had founded a flourishing church. The importance of this church, about
the year 64 or 75 A.d., is
evinced by Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians; and subsequently it was very
much enlarged. It was in this subsequent period that John wrote his Gospel.
This is clear, first, from a comparison of the Gospel with the
Revelation. This last work was written by John at an earlier period, before
the destruction of Jerusalem. John's style in
this prophetic composition is not so thoroughly easy as we find it at a
later period in the Gospel, which he must have written after longer
intercourse with native Greeks. Again, John plainly had the three
other Gospels before him when he wrote; for he omits all which they had
described with sufficient minuteness, e. g., the institution of the
holy supper, and only relates that which was new respecting the life of his
Lord and Master. Hence, these must have been already composed, and also so
gener• ally diffused, that John could presume them universally known in the
church." (Vol. 1, p. lv)
WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID
"THE expositions of this prophecy with which we have
met in recent commentators, add little of importance to its elucidation ;
they contribute rather, in some respects, to obscure and perplex it. Thus
Olshausen, though presenting in the main a very just and impressive view of
the import of its two great predictions — of judgment on the Jews, and of
Christ's second coming — falls into the singular error of regarding it as
representing that the overthrow of Jerusalem and the second advent of Christ
would be contemporaneous.
"As regards the contents of the discourse, a great
difficulty lies in its placing in apparent juxtaposition circumstances
which, according to the history, are separated by wide intervals. Obvious
descriptions of the approaching overthrow of Jerusalem and the Jewish polity
are blended with no less evident representations of the second coming of the
Lord to his kingdom. . . We do not hesitate to adopt the simple
interpretation, and the only one consistent with the text, that Jesus did
intend to represent his coming as contemporaneous with the destruction of
Jerusalem and the overthrow of the Jewish polity." — Com.,vol. ii, pp. 221,
This statement surprises us ; as there not only is
nothing in the prophecy to justify it, but it is an impeachment of the
accuracy of the prediction. As Christ's coming was not in fact to take place
at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, nor till many centuries after,
how can a representation that they were to be contemporaneous consist with
truth ? Why would not such a contradiction to the Divine purpose form as
decisive a proof of the error of the prophecy, as an equal contradiction to
the Divine designs and to fact in respect to any other events? And what
motive can be supposed to have prompted such a false exhibition of the
relations of the two events in time, which, on its being demonstrated by the
fall of Jerusalem without the personal advent of the Son of man, would have
convicted the prophecy of error in the judgment of all careful readers,
divested it of authority, and debarred it from the faith of the church? The
supposition is thus in every respect untenable. "
(Matt. xxiv) of the Destruction of Jerusalem, and of His Second Coming
"Certain expositors have referred, in
this connection, to the sentiment of the modern poet, who says : " the
history is represented the destruction of Jerusalem as the first act in this
judgment, which is supposed to be immediately followed (ver. 29) by a
renovation of the world through the medium of Christianity,—a renovation
which is to go on until the last revelation from heaven takes place (Kern,
Dorner, Olshansen). But this is only to commit the absurdity of importing
into the passage a poetical judgment, such as is quite foreign to the real
judgment of the New Testament. No less objectionable is Bengel's idea,
revived by Hengstenberg and Olshausen, about the perspective nature of the
prophetic vision,—an idea which could only have been vindicated from the
reproach of imputing a false vision, i.e., an optical delusion, to Jesus if
the latter had failed to specify a definite time by means of a statement so
very precise as that contained in ver. 29, or had not added the solemn
declaration of ver. 34. Dorner, Wittichen, rightly decide against this view.
As a last shift, Olshausen has recourse to the idea that some condition or
other is to be understood : " All those things will happen, unless men avert
the anger of God by sincere repentance,"—a reservation which, in a
prediction of so extremely definite a character, would most certainly have
been expressly mentioned, even although no doubt can be said to exist as to
the conditional nature of the Old Testament prophecies (Berthcan in the
Jahrb. f. D. Theol. 1859, p. 335 ff.). IE, as Olshansen thinks, it was the
wish of the Lord that His second advent should always be looked upon as a
possible, nay, as a probable thing,— and if it was/or this reason that He
spoke as Matthew represents Him to have done, then it would follow that He
made use of false means for the purpose of attaining a moral end,—a thing
even more inconceivable in His case than theoretical error, which latter
Strauss does not hesitate to impute." (p. 431-434)
"The Greek word aión, seems to signify
age here, as it often does in the New Testament, and according to its
most proper signification." Clarke, Wakefield, Boothroyd, Simpson,
Lindsey, Mardon, Acton, agree. So do Locke, Hammond, Le Clerc,
Beausobre, Lenfant, Dodridge, Paulus, Kenrick and Olshausen." (in Matt.
E. De Pressence
"It would be useless to attempt to catalogue the works
which have accumulated during the last fifty years in Germany—that
fatherland of modern theology. We will only cite the most characteristic.
Let us point first to the vast treasures of exegesis—De Wette's exegetical
manuals, so full and so exact; the graphic commentaries of Olshausen and
Tholuck; the great works of Lücke on the "Writings of St. John," and of
Bleek on the "Epistle to the Hebrews," and many other monuments of learning,
so solid and so reliable that they furnish inexhaustible resources to the
student of the primitive age of the Church."
The Early Years of Christianity
Dr. Edward Robinson
"Another form of the same general view is that presented by Olshausen. He
too refers the verses of Matthew under consideration directly to the final
coming of Christ; but seeks to avoid the difficulty above stated, by an
explanation derived from the alleged nature of prophecy. He adopts the
theory broached by Hengstenberg, that inasmuch as the vision of future
things was presented solely to the mental or spiritual eye of the prophet,
he thus saw them all at one glance as present realilirs, with equal
vividness and without any distinction of order or time,—like the figures of
a great painting without perspective or other marks of distance or relative
position. ' The facts and realities are distinctly perceived ; but not their
distance from the period, nor the intervals by which they are separated from
each other.' Hence our Lord, in submitting himself to the laws of prophetic
vision, was led to speak of his last coming in immediate connexion with his
coming for the destruction of Jerusalem : because in vision the two were
presented together to his spiritual eye, without note of any interval of
time.— Not to dwell here upon the fact, that this whole theory of prophecy
is fanciful hypothesis, and appears to have been since abandoned by its
author ; it is enough to remark, that this explanation admits, after all,
the same fundamental error, viz. that our Lord did mistakenly announce his
final coming as immediately to follow the overthrow of the Holy City.
Indeed, the difficulty is even greater here, if possible, than before ;
because, according to the former view, the error may be charged upon the
report of the evangelists; while here it can only be referred to our Lord
himself." (p. 544)
" A fair exegesis of this passage can hardly fail to recognize the fact
that the apostle here as well as elsewhere (1 Thess. 4: 17; 1 Cor. 15: 51),
speaks of the coming of the Lord as rapidly approaching." Most modern German
commentators defend this reference. Olshausen, DeWette, Philippi, Meyer, and
others, think no other view in the least tenable ; and Dr. Lange, while
careful to guard against extreme theories on this point, denies the
reference to eternal blessedness, and admits that the Parousia is intended.
The opinion gains ground among Anglo-Saxon exegetes."
Hermann Olshausen (August 21, 1796 –
September 4, 1839) was a German theologian.
Olshausen was born at Oldeslohe in Holstein. He was educated at the
universities of Kiel (1814) and Berlin (1816), where he was influenced by
Schleiermacher and Neander. In 1817 he was awarded the prize at the festival
of the Reformation for an essay, Melanchthons Charakteristik aus seinen
Briefen dargestellt (1818). This essay brought him to the notice of the
Prussian Minister of Public Worship, and in 1820 he became Privatdozent at
Berlin. In 1821, he became professor extraordinarius at the University of
Königsberg, and in 1827 professor. In 1834, he became professor at the
University of Erlangen.
Olshausen's department was New Testament exegesis; his Kommentar über
sämmtliche Schriften des Neuen Testaments (Commentary on the complete text
of the New Testament; completed and revised by Ebrard and Wiesinger) began
to appear at Königsberg in 1830, and was translated into English in 4
volumes (Edinburgh, 1847-1849). He had prepared for it by his other works,
Die Echtheit der vier kanonischen Evangelien, aus der Geschichte der zwei
ersten Jahrhunderte erwiesen (The veracity of the four canonical Gospels
demonstrated from the history of the first two centuries, 1823), Ein Wort
über tieferen Schriftsinn (1824) and Die biblische Schriftauslegung (1825).
In the latter two works, he presents his method of exegesis, and rejects the
doctrine of verbal inspiration.
He was a brother of politician Theodor Olshausen and orientalist Justus
* This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public
domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh ed.).
Cambridge University Press.
* Wikisource-logo.svg "Olshausen, Hermann". New International Encyclopedia.