Kenneth Gentry: Confused, Confusing and Desperate–
My Second Response to his Fourth Article
As with Gentry’s first three articles I am copying and pasting the entirety of his article so that the reader can see all that he says. I have deleted ads for his books and irrelevant verbiage that is not germane to his article.
This is my second response to his fourth article.
ANOTHER CONFUSED DISCIPLE (Matt 24:3) Part 4
AD 70, Matthew 24, Olivet Discourse November 20, 2020
PMW 2020-101 by Kenneth L Gentry, Jr.
As with Gentry’s first three articles I am copying and pasting the entirety of his article so that the reader and see all that he says. I have deleted ads for his books and irrelevant verbiage that is not germaine to his article.
This is my Second response to his fourth article.
A little later Preston once again recognizes the issue is the destruction of the temple: “We are concerned here about Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the temple” (p. 3 ¶2). And: “Jesus did predict the destruction of the temple” (p. 3 ¶ 3). But immediately after rightly noting that “Jesus foretold the destruction of the temple” (p. 6 ¶2), in the very next paragraph he wrongly asks: “upon what basis would the disciples have EVER linked the fall of Jerusalem and the temple with the end of the Christian Age?” (p. 6 ¶3).
And remarkably, several times later he correctly limits the disciples’ questions regarding the prophecy of the temple’s destruction (e.g., p. 8¶1, 30 ¶6, 35 ¶2). But then he stumbles again elsewhere: “were the disciples wrong to connect the fall of Jerusalem with the end of the age” (p. 9 ¶4)? And he speaks of “the question of whether the disciples were confused to link the destruction of Jerusalem with the end of the age” (p. 12 ¶3).
False restriction– Would Gentry’s hermeneutic lead to IO?? Now, let me state very clearly that Gentry does NOT espouse the horrid, ungodly, Israel Only doctrine. (That is the view that God did not love anyone but Israel and never saved anyone but Israel). So, let’s be clear on that, he categorically rejects that doctrine- as I do. Nonetheless, his restrictive, atomistic hermeneutic lends support to that view. Here is why.
Gentry argues that since in Matthew 24:2-3, the focus is on the temple, and that even though in previous passages the destruction of the city is mentioned, (but not the temple), that this demands that the destruction of the city and the destruction of the temple are two totally distinct, separate, unrelated events. Thus, Gentry’s hermeneutic is “mention of the temple means temple ONLY.” If that hermeneutic is correct then we must also conclude the following:
Any text that mentions the destruction of the city, but does not mention the temple, is a prediction of the destruction of the city, and NOT the temple. If not, why not?
Let’s apply Gentry’s atomistic hermeneutic to other texts and subjects.
In Hebrews 9:15 it tells us that Christ died to obtain the remission of sins that were committed “under the first covenant”- i.e. under the Law of Moses. Well, if mention of only the temple means “Temple Only, Not the City”, then the Israel Only crowd would have every right to argue– and that it is precisely what they DO argue, that since Hebrews says Jesus died for the sins under the first covenant, that this excludes those who sinned before the first covenant, and that also excludes those who came after the first covenant– i.e. you and me!
Would Gentry accept the consistent application of his own hermeneutic of Temple means Temple Only? No! He would categorically, emphatically and vehemently reject that hermeneutic! Why? Well he would tell us that other passages prove that Christ died for “the whole world” (1 John 2:2). In other words, Gentry would insist that you have to take a holistic approach, and I absolutely concur. And when we take that holistic approach, we discover that Jesus was not predicting the destruction of only the temple and the temple only, but rather the judgment of “the land, the city and the people” as Gentry has himself argued. And don’t forget Gentry’s own words cited above, in which he rejects that temple only view.
So, the reader needs to know that Gentry is making a false accusation against me, in claiming that I surreptitiously accept his restrictive hermeneutic, but that I cover up my true conviction. False! I did not and do not limit the disciples’ questions to the temple, or the city! As noted above, Gentry is projecting his false ideas onto my writings, claiming that somehow I know that the issue was exclusively the temple and not the city. And yet, I supposedly pull a “sleight of hand” (clearly to deceive my readers!) to convince the readers that the apostles’ concern was more than just the temple.
Did Jesus limit the coming judgment to the temple? See again Matthew 23:37. Gentry admits that in Matthew 23: “Jesus weeps over Jerusalem, and declares that its temple will be destroyed stone by stone. Regarding these actions and statements the disciples ask, ‘When shall these things be?” (Dominion, 2009, 161).
So, Gentry conflates the destruction of the city with the fate of the temple. In this singular quote Gentry destroys his “temple but not city” claims! That is, unless he wants to claim that Matthew 23 predicted one destruction of city and temple, but then, Matthew 24:2-3 entails another occasion, another time, when only the temple will be destroyed. Needless to say, that would truly violate the entire history of the church’s interpretation and stand at odds with the vast majority of scholarly consensus! No one that I am aware of has ever suggested such a thing! Needless to say, the reality is that Gentry does not make such a claim (that I know of) either. Thus, his own words negate his “temple but not city” atomistic hermeneutic.
Gentry knows that the apostles asked about Jerusalem’s judgment– not just the Temple– “That Matthew 24:4-33 fulfills Jerusalem’s destruction is both intellectually reasonable and exegetically necessary. Even futurists must admit to some preteristic elements in the discourse.” He then cites some Dispensationalists– Paul Enns, Tim LaHaye, Louis A. Barbieiri, John Walvoord, Thomas D. Ice and others generally hold regarding Matthew 24:1-2: These words found their fulfillment in AD 70 when Titus destroyed Jerusalem.” (Dominion, 2009, 260).
Gentry tries to argue from the Greek that verses 1-2 deal exclusively with the temple. But how could Matthew 24:4f be dealing with the fate of the temple only when as Gentry claims, “Matthew 24:4-33 fulfills Jerusalem’s destruction?”- which he admits was predicted in v. 2? If Matthew 24:2-3 is exclusively about the temple, and if, as Gentry admits, Matthew 24:4f is Jesus’ answer to those verses, then Gentry has just fatally contradicted himself. That is, unless he wants to argue that verses 2-3 really are about just the temple, but that in verses 4f Jesus ignores that limited subject to speak of what was, in Gentry’s mind, a totally secondary, unrelated subject.
Now, since Gentry argues that Matthew 24:2-3 is strictly about the temple’s demise, and yet, that v. 4-33 speak of the destruction of Jerusalem, logic demands that verses 4-33 are about another judgment that would actually include Jerusalem and not be about “the temple but not the city.” In fact, utilizing Gentry’s atomistic hermeneutic, since the temple is not specifically mentioned in v. 4-33 we might be forced to conclude that those verses have nothing to do with the temple’s coming demise. That would mean, as suggested above that we would have another example of a brand new theological claim from Gentry! I have already noted that no commentator that I have ever read agrees with Gentry’s atomistic hermeneutic. And as far as I know, no commentator in the history of Christianity has ever proposed that Matthew 24:2-3 are exclusively about the temple, but that in v. 4-33 Jesus discussed a different catastrophe to come on Jerusalem, a destruction distinct from the impending dissolution of the temple. So, where is Gentry’s universal consensus of most scholars?
Notice now, another tidbit from Gentry that falsifies his “temple only” construct.
According to Matthew 24:30 the Jews of ‘this generation’ (Matthew 23:36; 24:34) would see a sign that the Son of Man is in heaven: ‘Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven.’ The sign that the Son of Man is in heaven is the smoking rubble of Jerusalem, which he prophesies beforehand (Matthew 24:2, 15-21; Cf. Acts 2:16-22, 36-40) (Gentry, Dominion, 281). (My emphasis, DKP).
Do you see that Gentry is claiming that in Matthew 24:2 Jesus was anticipating the destruction of Jerusalem- not just the temple- and that he said that destruction of the city would be the fulfilment of Matthew 24:2!: “The sign that the Son of Man is in heaven is the smoking rubble of Jerusalem, which he prophesies beforehand (Matthew 24:2…). But this cannot be true in Gentry’s hermeneutic!
If the destruction of Jerusalem (the CITY- not the temple) was “the sign that the Son of Man is in heaven,” would that not mean, applying Gentry’s restrictive hermeneutic, that the destruction of the temple (not the temple) was not a sign of Christ’s parousia, as the apostles asked about? And yet, we have Gentry saying this:
The change of the age is finalized and sealed at the destruction of Jerusalem; allusions to the A.D. 70 transition abound: ‘Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God present with power ‘(Mark 9:1) (Kenneth L. Gentry and Thomas Ice, THE GREAT TRIBULATION PAST OR FUTURE?, Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1999), 63. (emphasis added).
Folks, Gentry’s confusion reigns here! Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple (supposedly the temple only) and the apostles (supposedly confused as they could be) linked that coming catastrophe with the end of the age (supposedly the end of the current Christian age). (Lots of suppositions going on here!) But hang on!
Gentry says the destruction of the CITY signaled the changing of the age– which means that the end of the age came in AD 70. That means that the age that the temple represented ended at that time– just as I set forth in my book! It also means that the apostles were NOT CONFUSED to conflate the end of the age with the destruction of the temple!
So, Gentry tell us, correctly, that the apostles connected the destruction of the temple with the end of the age – the age that the temple actually represented. And — in Gentry’s own words- the change of the age was in AD 70 at the destruction of the temple – not at the end of the Christian age. Once again, we have Gentry versus Gentry:
On the one hand the apostles were confused to connect the destruction of the temple with the end of the age.
On the other hand, the apostles were NOT confused to make that connection since the end of the age did come in AD 70 with the destruction of the city.
But then, Gentry tells us that the apostles confusedly linked the destruction of the temple with the end of the current Christian age! Well, which was it? Did the apostles correctly link the destruction of the temple with the end of the age which the temple represented, i. e. the age of Moses and the Law? Or did they look beyond THAT end of the age, and connect the fall of the temple to the end of the Christian age– which had no connection whatsoever with that temple?
Thus, Gentry’s claim that the apostles were thinking of the end of time and the end of the current Christian age, has no merit! It is specious to the core. Gentry has – once again – impaled himself on his own keyboard.
Thus, the apostles were not nearly as confused about the connection between the end of the age and the destruction of the temple as Gentry would have us believe!
Consider: Employing Gentry’s atomistic hermeneutic to his quote above means that the end of the age came in AD 70 with the catastrophic destruction of the city -but not the temple. Remember that Gentry’s hermeneutic on Matthew 24:2-3 says that because only the temple is mentioned there, that the city, the people and the land is not included in Jesus’ prediction of coming destruction. If that is true there, then since Gentry says that the end of the age was at the destruction of Jerusalem, then the temple is excluded. It means that he destruction of the temple actually had nothing to do with the the end of the age. Do you see Gentry’s desperation? You should! Gentry’s false dichotomization is a gross abuse of hermeneutic, exegesis and logic.
The issue before us is the disciples’ questions that they ask regarding the destruction of the temple. Not the destruction of Jerusalem. But there is more of this error in his book, for Preston even presents:
An enumerated error
On pp. 90–91 Preston presents a summary wherein he carefully numbers his evidence attempting to prove that the disciples were not confused about the coming destruction of the temple:
“So, what does all this mean?
1.) It means that we have emphatic OT prophecies of the end of the age and coming of the Lord that posit fulfillment at the time of the destruction of the Old Covenant World….
2.) We have Jesus citing one of the central OT prophecies of the end of the age resurrection which unambiguously places the consummation at the time of Israel’s national destruction (i.e., Daniel 12).
3.) Not only does Jesus cite that OT prophecy, but in three pericopes and parables prior to Matthew 24 Jesus predicted the impending destruction of Jerusalem at the coming of the Lord.
4.) When Jesus told the parable of the end of the age, and cited Daniel 12, he then asked his disciples if they understood what he had taught them, and they affirmed that they did understand.”
But again notice: not one of his numbered issues mentions the destruction of the temple. And that is the issue confusing the disciples. According to the “consensus among commentators” (p. 33), their questions to Jesus in Matthew 24:3 assume the temple will last until the end of time (i.e., until the parousia which brings about “the end of the age”). 
Logical Fallacy– Do you see how critical, how foundational Gentry’s “Temple Not City” argument is? Without this argument his four articles are entirely falsified. Without this argument his upcoming book is negated before ever reaching the press. If Gentry cannot prove that his “temple not city” hermeneutic is valid and true, his claims go up in flames.
Let me remind the reader, at the risk of redundancy, no scholar that I am aware of would make such a distinction! Gentry did not cite– and almost undoubtedly cannot cite– any scholar that makes such a distinction between Jesus’ prediction of the city and the temple. And that means, since he cannot do that, he is outside the boundaries of orthodoxy. He is outside the great consensus of history and church scholarship.
Notice how Gentry makes a massive blunder. He says, “not one of his numbered issues mentions the destruction of the temple.” This is simply false, false to the core. Why would Gentry make such a claim when I cite Daniel 9 in my book as a prophecy of the destruction of the city and the temple? And don’t forget that Gentry agrees with that application of Daniel 9.
To catch the power of the next quote from Gentry, the reader must pay careful attention:
And at v. 21 he warns his disciples Israel’s religious leaders– even her ‘chief priests’ (which included past and present high priests of God’s temple)– will kill him. Not only so, but we must note something quite remarkable here. In Matthew Jesus never mentions Jerusalem until he states that he is going there to be killed by its leaders. This becomes even more significant in that Matthew himself never mentions Jesus’ several visits to Jerusalem until he shows him entering it to die (21:1f). Yet we know from John’s Gospel that the Lord did visit there often, even very early in his ministry (John 2:23; 5:1; 7:25; 10:22-23; 12:12-14). But Matthew (and Mark) bypasses that information as he builds his case against Jerusalem and Israel. As a consequence of the religious leaders killing him, he teaches in 16:28 that some of his followers will live to see him ‘coming in his kingdom’ (Mark reads that they will ‘see the kingdom of God after it has come with power,’ Mark 9:1). In that only ‘some of those standing here’ will live to see it, this must point to AD 70 destruction of the temple which occurs forty years later.” (Gentry– Olivet Made Easy, commenting on Matthew 16, 2010, p. 14).
Similarly, take note of his comments on Matthew 8:11:
In fact, the dark clouds of the ‘day of the Lord’ in AD 70 hang over much of the New Testament. God is preparing to punish His people Israel, remove the temple system, and re-orient redemptive history from one people and land to all peoples through the earth (Matthew 8:10-11– 21:43) (Gentry– Dominion, 2009, 342).
Okay, so, in the first quote, Gentry tells us that Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew until Jesus mentions that he is going there to be killed. And although John mentions several trips to the city, “But Matthew (and Mark) bypasses that information as he builds his case against Jerusalem and Israel.”
Hmmm, so Matthew and Mark do not mention Jerusalem until we are informed of Jesus traveling there to die. But the reason that those two synoptic writers do not mention Jerusalem and the nation is because Jesus was building his case against the city. No, wait! There is much more! Jesus was actually building his case against the temple because:
As a consequence of the religious leaders killing him, he teaches in 16:28 that some of his followers will live to see him ‘coming in his kingdom’ (Mark reads that they will ‘see the kingdom of God after it has come with power,’ Mark 9:1). In that only ‘some of those standing here’ will live to see it, this must point to AD 70 destruction of the temple which occurs forty years later (Gentry– Olivet Made Easy, commenting on Matthew 16:28, 2010, p. 14).
So, although the temple is not mentioned in Mark 9:1, it is predictive of the AD 70 judgment of the people, the city and the temple! And even though neither the city or the temple is mentioned in Matthew 8:11, according to Gentry, that text speaks of “God is preparing to punish His people Israel, remove the temple system, and re-orient redemptive history from one people and land to all peoples through the earth.”
How in the name of reason can Gentry argue on Matthew 24:2-3 that the lack of any mention of the land, the city and the people means that the temple and the temple only is in view, and yet, argue from these other texts that do not mention the city, the people, or even the temple, that they foretold the destruction of the land, the city, the people and the temple. By including those elements in his comments on those other passages, Gentry has undeniably falsified his “temple but not city” hermeneutic in Matthew 24:2-3.
So now I will consider a few additional problems with Preston’s argument, by exposing:
Three unfounded surmises (sic– no period, no comma, no colon– Typo_
Regarding three key surmises stated elsewhere by Preston, I would note that his line of reasoning runs into several dozen problems. Due to space and time limitations, however, I will cite just three issues that he raises, then present a few of the problems I have with his arguments.
Issue #1: The disciples’ knowledge of OT prophecies of God’s judgment.
Preston holds that the disciples would have had “knowledge of the Old Testament prophets which foretold the destruction of Jerusalem at the coming of the Lord” (p. 91). Thus, they should not have been confused at Jesus’ prophecy. (I will overlook his missing the point one more time when he refers to Jerusalem and not the temple.)
Issue #2: The disciples’ knowledge of rabbinic predictions of the temple’s destruction.
On the next page Preston writes: “We can safely assume that the apostles were well aware of the rabbinic predictions of the coming destruction” (p. 92).
Issue #3: The disciples’ prophetic training in the synagogues and temple.
Preston asks: “if the ancient rabbis believed — and taught — that the OT, and very specifically Daniel 9, foretold the AD 70 destruction, are we to suppose that the apostles were blithely ignorant of that? Had they never heard that in the synagogues or the temple?” (p. 163).
My several responses
First, regarding Issue 1 and the disciples’ knowledge of the prophets:
This is a weak argument. Did not the disciples miss the prophets’ teaching on the death and resurrection of Christ? We read in the New Testament that his death, burial, and resurrection were “according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3, 4), which “written of Him” (Matt. 26:64), and were spoken of him by “the prophets” (Luke 24:25–27). What happened to their “knowledge of the Old Testament prophets”?
Besides could not dispensationalists (sic) argue that they have much knowledge of the prophets? Knowledge of the prophets and holding a proper understanding of the prophets are two different issues.
It is a fact that the rabbis did not understand the concept of the suffering Messiah. Isaiah 53 was a great perplexity among the ancients. But, in my book, I adduce the names of ancient rabbis who understood very clearly from the Tanakh that Jerusalem and the temple were to be destroyed in the last days. So, it is not enough for Gentry to repeatedly argue that since the rabbis and apostles did not understand Jesus’ teaching about his impending death, that they could not have understood anything about Jerusalem’s fate. That simply overlooks (conveniently) that they did know that the prophets foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, as I document in my book. Thus, Gentry’s argument is apples and oranges. He is grasping at straws and is guilty of misdirection.
Second, regarding Issue 1 and the disciples’ knowledge of the prophets:
The disciples even had stronger teaching regarding Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection than offered in the prophets. This is due to Jesus himself personally and directly teaching this several times during his three and a half year ministry to them (Matt. 16:21; 20:17–18; 28:6a; Mark 16:10–11). Yet his teaching on this point was lost on the disciples — for the disciples did not believe he would be resurrected from the dead (Mark 16:7–13; John 20:8–9)!
Well, once again, Gentry appeals to the acknowledged confusion and ignorance of the apostles in regard to his passion. But, again, he fails, refuses, to tell his readers that the way– the only way– that we know of their confusion is because the texts tell us so!
Thus, my challenge is extended once again: Gentry, or anyone else, must bring forth the text that clearly teaches, as do those texts about their confusion concerning his passion, that they did not understand his teaching about the end of the age. The reader of Gentry’s articles should take very careful note that he does not even try to produce such a text! He simply argues that since the apostles were so often confused about Jesus’ passion, that they MUST have been confused about eschatology. There is no logical connection or justification for that argument.
Third, regarding Issue 1 and the disciples’ knowledge of the prophets:
Preston himself informs us “that the OT prophets did not fully understand either the time or the nature of what they predicted” (p. 56). If the prophets did not fully understand what they themselves predicted, is it not possible that the disciples just might not have fully understood these things — especially prior to the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost?
This is especially a strong possibility since we see the disciples misunderstanding Jesus himself so many different times (see examples in PMW 2019-002). Preston is certainly aware that the disciples were often confused, for he states “I have demonstrated that in virtually all other occasions, the only way that we know the disciples were mistaken is because the Gospel writers tell us so” (p. 80). His mention of “virtually all other occasions” shows that he is aware that there are a good number of them.
This is nothing but deflection. Jesus – before the outpouring of the Spirit – said they were living in the time fore told by the prophets (Matthew 13:17f). He then told the parables of the end of the age so that they would understand. And he personally instructed them about the meaning of Daniel 12, which was about the impending destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.
As we will see, the Jews of the first century understood from Daniel 2, 7, and chapter 9 that the time for the Messiah was the first century. Thus, while it is assuredly true that even the prophets did not fully understand their own prophecies (see Daniel 12:9f) that does not mean that there was total 100% ignorance of the prophecies. And it assuredly does not mean that Jesus’ apostles, being directly instructed by Jesus about the application of the end of the age prophecy of Daniel 12, did not understand.
Fourth, regarding Issue 1 and the disciples’ knowledge of the prophets:
Preston is well aware that Jews back in the first century did not have their own personal copies of Scripture (handwritten copies were very expensive to produce and therefore very rare). The disciples simply did not carry around their personal “Prophecy Knowledge Study Scrolls” in which they could look up Bible prophecies for themselves. And they certainly would not have had biblical scrolls with penciled-in corrections by Hyper-preterists.
I must confess that some of Gentry’s “arguments” nearly cost me a keyboard! A mouth full of coffee is not a good thing when you read something that is so stunningly bad! Is Gentry ignorant of the breadth and scope of the Jewish knowledge of the Tanakh and the scope of their memorization of the OT in the first century? Let me briefly illustrate how grossly Gentry has sought to impose on the apostles some horrible ignorance, not to mention “sinful dullness.” Not only that, he evidently wants to take advantage of the general ignorance of modern readers about the incredible knowledge of the ancients Jews when it came to having the scriptures in their memory.
David Lincicum, in his Paul and the Early Jewish Encounter with Deuteronomy, shares that while there was no “compulsory and universal education” system in ancient Israel that approaches what we westerners might think of, nonetheless, to disparage and minimize the knowledge of the ancients is simply misguided. Lincicum gives several examples of rabbis that could recite the book of Esther, even the entire Pentateuch. One of them even claimed to be able to recite the entire Old Testament! Lincicum suggests that Paul had the entirety of Deuteronomy committed to memory. (David Lincicum, Paul and the Early Jewish Encounter with Deuteronomy, (Grand Rapids; Baker, 2013), 50+).
Gentry might respond by saying, “Well, those were professional scholars, and not the ‘everyday man.’” But this does not help. Every boy in Israel was expected to commit the Decalogue and Pentateuch to memory! The Mishnah, obviously dated after Paul, but reflecting long standing practices, said: “At five years old (one is fit) for the Scripture, at ten years old for the Mishnah, at thirteen for the commandments, at fifteen for the Talmud.” The reality is that the ancient Jews would put modern Bible students to shame when it came to memorization of the Scriptures.
According to even the book of Acts (15:21), the prophets were read in the synagogue every Sabbath. Thus, from the very earliest of times, the young men of Israel were exposed to the prophets. Yet, Gentry would have us to believe that since they did not have their own handy “Prophecy Knowledge Study Scrolls” that they would not know anything about the prophets! Gentry is clearly ignoring, or hiding, that historical situation from his readers in order to maintain his claim concerning the “sinful dullness” and ignorance of the apostles. Given this ostensible ignorance of the prophets, how can Gentry claim:
1. That the apostles were perfectly aware that the Tanakh foretold the destruction of Jerusalem (Daniel 9) – Yet, they had no clue about the coming destruction of the temple?
2. How can he argue that the apostles believed – supposedly based on OT prophecies – that the temple would never be destroyed? Evidently, per Gentry, the apostles knew of the OT prophecies that (supposedly) said the temple would never be destroyed (there are no such OT prophecies!!!) Did they get that supposed knowledge from their “Prophecy Knowledge Study Scrolls”? And yet, they were supposedly unaware of OT prophecies of the temple’s destruction. No, wait! They knew that Daniel 9 predicted that destruction! So they did know of the predictions of the temple’s demise, but then again, they didn’t! More confusion, more desperation from Gentry.
3. How can Gentry claim, with any degree of believability, that the apostles knew and agreed with Philo or the Sibylline Oracles, but they did not have a clue that the OT prophets spoke of the coming judgment on the temple?
Another Logical fallacy– As I have noted repeatedly and do so in the book, the Apostles did not understand what Jesus said about his Passion– but they emphatically declared that they DID understand what he said about the end of the age. Gentry just keeps glossing right over this critical fact. His argument is that since they were ignorant of one subject, they were therefore ignorant of others. That is simply a bad argument and is a major logical fallacy.
(Ad for Gentry’s book here, is deleted for space considerations).
Fifth, regarding Issue 2 and the disciples’ awareness of rabbinic teaching:
Why does he think that we may “safely assume” the disciples were aware of what some rabbis taught about the destruction of the temple? The rabbis certainly did not all teach the same thing or always in agreement with one another. In fact, much of the Mishnah and the Talmud records debates between the various rabbis regarding many issues. Were these fishermen rabbinic scholars? Were they up on all the debates of the many rabbis?
After all, we cannot even “safely assume” that the learned Jewish philosopher Philo, who wrote large, studied volumes on Scripture, was aware of this prophetic interpretation promoted by some of the rabbis. Apparently, on Preston’s analysis, this noted, first-century biblical scholar himself was “blithely ignorant” (p. 163) of this position among some rabbis, for he speaks of the eternal nature of the temple:
The temple has for its revenues not only portions of land, but also other possessions of much greater extent and importance, which will never be destroyed or diminished; for as long as the race of mankind shall last, the revenues likewise of the temple will always be preserved, being coeval in their duration with the universal world” (Spec. Laws 1:76).
And does not the writer of book 5 of the Sibylline Oracles mention the pre-AD 70 Jewish belief that the temple was indestructible? There we read:
“When I saw the second Temple cast headlong, / soaked in fire by an impious hand, the ever-flourishing, watchful Temple of God / made by holy people and hoped / by their soul and body to be always imperishable” (Sib. Or. 5:399–402).
Thus, Jewish scholar Gedaliah Alon (The Jews in their Land in the Talmudic Age, 49) points out that: “there was a strong belief among the people that the Temple was eternal, as indestructible as the nation itself.”
More Logical Fallacies: – Gentry seems to think that because Philo, the Sibylline Oracles, etc. believed that the temple would endure forever, that this somehow proves that the apostles believed the same thing. Do we not have the right to ask: “Why does he (Gentry) think that we may “safely assume” that the disciples were aware of what Philo, or the Oracles, taught about the endurance of the temple– yet they were ignorant of the Old Testament prophecies of that coming destruction? Would the apostles have been more knowledgeable about Philo and the Oracles than they were of the Tanakh? How would Gentry prove that? Did they carry around their handy “Philo and the Sibylline Oracles Knowledge Study Scrolls”?
Gentry assures us that the apostles did not know about the OT prophecies of the temple’s destruction. Oh, wait, he knows that the apostles knew about Daniel 9 and its prediction of the destruction of the city and the temple. He even tells us that Jesus made it very clear that Daniel spoke of that coming AD 70 destruction. Did the apostles understand that “very clear” instruction about Daniel prophesying the destruction of the “city and sanctuary”? So, they understood that even though they did not have a handy “Prophecy Knowledge Study Scrolls” or anything similar.
But then, Gentry wants to convince us that the apostles did NOT understand the OT prophecies of that coming destruction– but they did understand Philo and the Sibyllyine Oracles! The question therefore is why would they know about Philo, and others such as the Oracles than Daniel 9? Gentry has placed himself in the rather embarrassing position of claiming that the apostles would have known more about Philo and the Oracles than they did their own prophetic books, much of which they had committed to memory from childhood! Those prophets – not Philo or the Oracles – were read in the synagogues every Sabbath.
Gentry assumes– without offering any proof at all – that the apostles believed in the same thing as Philo. But, they knew of BC 586 did they not, meaning that they knew from history that the temple was not eternal? And they knew of Daniel 9, did they not– which Gentry applies to AD 70 ? And they knew of Daniel 12– which Jesus had applied to the end of the age, and which Gentry applies to AD 70, did they not? Speaking of Philo, would Gentry claim that since Philo sought to join Greek philosophy with the Torah, that the apostles believed in that as well?
Stay tuned! In the meantime, order a copy of the book that is at the center of this controversy: Watching for the Parousia: Were Jesus’ Apostles Confused?