Preparing for My Debate With Kent Hovind on the Rapture
For more than a year, a supporter of American Vision has been trying to set up a debate between Kent Hovind and me on the rapture. I didn’t think it would come to pass since Mr. Hovind is busy and has concentrated his time and efforts on creation issues. But it seems that he has changed his position on the rapture, going from a pretrib position to pre-wrath.
I learned that he had written a book on the topic: What On Earth is About to Happen … For Heaven’s Sake? It’s a comprehensive study of his position. I’ve been working my way through it. I don’t take anything for granted.
Anyone I debate deserves respect and that means studying Kent Hovind’s position to make sure I represent it properly. I also learn from such study because it forces me to investigate my own work.
In the process of my preparation and publicity of the debate, someone asked if I would debate Alan Kurschner. I’ve seen his name, and I know that he has responded to some of my material over the years, but have not read much of his work. I found this article especially interesting: “Preterist Gary DeMar Promoting Fake Exegesis.”
He took issue with the following comment of mine:
There are numerous examples of flawed starting points when it comes to the topic of eschatology. “This generation” becomes “this race” or “the generation that sees these signs.” In the first case, the Greek word for “race” (genos) is not used in Matthew 24:34. Jesus uses the Greek word genea.
There’s nothing fake about what I wrote. Jesus does use genea and not genos. Mr. Kurschner then makes this comment:
At the outset I am not defending the “race” interpretation. I don’t think it is the correct interpretation here. My point here instead is to correct DeMar’s ignorant claim that genea never means “race” within its semantic range.
He then offers the following from “[t]he most authorative [sic] Koine Greek Lexicon,” A Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature Third Edition (BDAG).
γενεά, ᾶς, ἡ (Hom.+; ins, pap, LXX, En; TestSol C 13:7; TestJob, Test12Patr; GrBar 10:3; Philo, Joseph., SibOr, Just., Tat.) a term relating to the product of the act of generating and with special ref. to kinship, frequently used of familial connections and ancestry. Gener. those descended fr. a common ancestor, a ‘clan’ (Pind., P. 10, 42 the Hyperboreans are a ἱερὰ γενεά [holy race]; Diod. S. 18, 56, 7; Jos., Ant. 17, 220), then
- those exhibiting common characteristics or interests, race, kind as in Lk 16:8 εἰς την γ[ενεαν] την ἑαυτῶν [in their generation] the people of the world [αἰῶνος] are more prudent in relation to their own kind [γενεαν] than are those who lay claim to the light (difft. GBeasley-Murray, A Commentary on Mk 13, ’57, 99–102).
Then there’s this from Mr. Kurschner:
So DeMar is wrong on that front. Then in the same article, DeMar concludes his discussion by citing all the instances of the term in the Gospels. And get this. The one single instance that BDAG cites as meaning “race” in Luke 16:8, DeMar leaves out! Talk about fake exegesis! He mistakenly has Luke 18:8 instead of Luke 16:8, either he did this on purpose or he is sloppy by copying and pasting from his source that contains the error.
Actually, I am not wrong. I disagree with the authors of BDAG as do a number of Bible translations.
Yes, it was a copying error. It’s not the only time I’ve made such a mistake, and unfortunately, it won’t be the last. I certainly didn’t do it on purpose (better to leave it out) since I deal with Luke 16:8 in other places (see below). That’s a point to keep in mind. One article does not make an argument.
To be honest, like Mr. Kurschner I do not believe genea in Luke 16:8 should be translated as “race.” It doesn’t fit the context.
In his book Jesus v. Jerusalem, published by American Vision, Joel McDurmon writes the following:
Then Jesus gives an explanatory note: “the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light” (16:8). While I normally stick with the ESV, it incorrectly translates aion here as “world” instead of “age.” Most of the other modern translations get it right. It could more simply and more accurately be translated, “the sons of this age are more shrewd in their own generation than the sons of light.” He is clearly referring to the “age” which was coming to a close … and the children of that generation.1
Jesus v. Jerusalem: A Commentary on Luke 9:51–20:26, Jesus’ Lawsuit Against Israel is the best book that expounds on the fact that Jerusalem “was responsible for ‘all the righteous blood shed upon earth’ and that she was ‘the city that kills the prophets’ (Matt. 23:35, 37).” It was that generation that was judged not a “race” or “kind of people.”
“Age,” referring to a period of time, is closer in meaning (parallel) to “generation,” also a period of time, than “kind” or “race” in the same way that the two uses of “sons” are parallel.
Also, look at the translation problem in the BDAG quotation that Mr. Kurschner references above: “people of the world.” This, too, is problematic since the Greek word is αἰῶνος (aiōnos), not kosmos, and yet BDAG translates it as “world.” This is typical in some translations. For example, the KJV translates aiōnos (αἰῶνος) as “world” in Matthew 24:3.
You can see how the repeated expressions of judgment on that generation are found in Luke’s gospel as well as the book of Acts: 13:34-35; 17:22-37; 19:41-44; 21:5-36; Acts 2:40 (cp. Phil. 2:15). “Generation” is the best translation. Even Mr. Kurschner agrees.
The thing of it is, I have dealt with Luke 16:8 in other places and mention the fact that genea is sometimes translated as “race” or “kind.” For example, quoting Jack Lewis:
The meaning of generation (genea) is crucial to the interpretation of the entire chapter. While Scofield, following Jerome, contended that it meant the Jewish race, there is only one possible case in the New Testament (Luke 16:8) where the lexicon suggests that genea means race. There is a distinction between genos (race) and genea (generation). Others have argued that genea means the final generation; that is, once the signs have started, all these happenings would transpire in one generation (cf. 23:36). But elsewhere in Matthew genea means the people alive at one time and usually at the time of Jesus (1:17; 11:16; 12:39, 41, 45; 23:36; Mark 8:38; Luke 11:50f.; 17:25), and it doubtlessly means the same here.”2
In a footnote, I added the following:
The New American Standard translates genea in Luke 16:8 as “kind,” but “generation” is equally valid. The King James Version, the New King James, and American Standard Version, and Young’s Literal Translation translate genea as “generation.”
In the margin, the NASB adds, “Lit. generation.” There was no need for me to spend time making these points since the New Testament consistently translates genea as “generation” and not “race.” This is especially true in the gospels (Matt. 1:17). It seems that futurists (Kurschner is an advocate for the pre-wrath rapture view) have to find just one verse that they can use to upset the exegetical applecart of preterists.
In the same outline, I included this:
The following is Charles Ryrie’s comment on Matthew 24:34 from his Study Bible: “this generation. No one living when Jesus spoke these words lived to see ‘all these things’ come to pass. However, the Greek word can mean ‘race’ or ‘family’ which makes good sense here; i.e., the Jewish race will be preserved, in spite of terrible persecution, until the Lord comes.” Stanley Toussaint, a dispensationalist, dismisses Ryrie’s line of argument: “A second interpretation, held by a number of futurists, affirms that the noun γενεά means race, that is, the Jewish race. Bauer, Arndt, and Gingrich give ‘clan’ as a primary meaning, but they list only Luke 16:8 as an illustration in the New Testament. It is difficult for dispensational premillennialists to take this view because this would imply that Israel would cease to exist as a nation after the Lord’s return: ‘This race of Israel will not pass away until the Second Advent.’ But Israel must continue after the Second Advent into the millennium in order to fulfill the promises God made to that nation.”3
Even the dispensational Darby Translation translates genea as “generation” in Luke 16:8:
And the lord praised the unrighteous steward because he had done prudently. For the sons of this world are, for their own generation, more prudent than the sons of light.
There are others: American Standard, English Revised, Webster’s Bible Translation, Weymouth New Testament.
I’m glad that Mr. Kurschner brought this material to my attention. I wished I had known sooner so I could change Luke 18:8 to 16:8 on page 173 (2020 printing) of Wars and Rumors of Wars. In the next edition of Wars, I’ll include this material since Mr. Kurschner believes it’s significant.
- Emphasis added. [↩]
- Jack P. Lewis, The Gospel According to Matthew (Sweet Publishing, 1976), 2:128. This quotation is found in my 100-page outline on Matthew 24:1-34 that I’ve made available at American Vision over the years: “The Olivet Discourse in Outline: Biblical and Historical Parallels that Point to a Pre-A.D. 70 Fulfillment.” [↩]
- Stanley D. Toussaint, “A Critique of the Preterist View of the Olivet Discourse,” Bibliotheca Sacra (October-December 2004), 483–484. [↩]