No Stone Upon Another: Studies in the Significance of the Fall of Jerusalem in the Synoptic Gospels

Lloyd Gaston



(On the idea that the disciples expected the world to end)
“an injunction to flight implies a crisis within history and not the end.” (p. 28)



David E. Blair
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. For information regarding Jesus and the early Church on the topic of Jerusalem and its Temple, this book is indispensable. That being said, it also presents some major challenges to any potential reader. The author quotes all his secondary German sources in the original language. Therefore, expect frequent paragraph length quotes in German. Also, in shorter snippets, you will find substantial amounts of untranslated Biblical Hebrew and Greek, and occasionally Aramaic equivalents for the Hebrew. These are so quoted because idiomatic translations into English are difficult. Therefore, if you are not literate in these Biblical languages, keep your Hebrew-English and Greek-English dictionaries handy. If one must translate the German, it creates greater problems because of the length of the quotes. And yet, if you have none of the languages but are knowledgeable in New Testament studies, early Church history, and work on the historical Jesus, I urge you to read this book as there is still much to be gained here. And, advanced students of the topics covered in this book will probably find a great deal of interest and value in these pages.

If your are fully literate in all the necessary languages, still expect to spend substantial time with this work. It is an extremely dense monograph filled with challenging exegesis of the appropriate materials from the New and Old Testament along with other contemporary ancient sources including the Dead Sea Scrolls. The text runs to over four hundred eighty pages plus an exhaustive secondary source bibliography of pre-nineteen seventies material. Almost, every scholarly opinion from previous works is engaged and debated. However, there are few points of contact between this book and the works of S. G. F. Brandon and Robert Eisler. If this book is correct, then Brandon and Eisler are wrong along with their later day heir, Robert H. Eiseman. Also, included is an ancient source index and an “index auctorum” both of which along with the bibliography contain a great deal of information worthy of further study.

This book is divided into four “chapters” which are realistically topical section headings as well as an important introduction which clearly defines the problems the book will be concerned with and the questions that need to asked of the materials considered. The first section of the book is a form criticism and functional analysis of Mark chapter thirteen. Gaston opts for a Neronian or post Neronian Roman setting for the Gospel. He finds chapter thirteen to be an exhortation in the form of a farewell speech with apocalyptic elements. These elements are usually subordinated by the word “for” and where they are not Gaston argues that they should be, and therefore, subordinate as well. Gaston finds an eschatological text in this chapter of Mark which is of course a minority position. The second “chapter” deals with Jesus and the Temple. During the ministry of Jesus on Earth, the author finds that Jesus was absolutely indifferent to the Temple by in large and totally disinterested in its cult. The early Church was also not engaged with the Temple or its cult. For example, they may have taught there but nowhere in the N.T. does an apostle, disciple, or Jesus offer sacrifice at the Temple.

Section three deals with “The Fall of Jerusalem as a Political Event in Luke-Acts.” Following B. H. Streeter and Vincent Taylor the author opts for Proto-Luke as a distinct, early, and identifiable written document integrated into these N.T. books. Ultimately, the early Jerusalem Church is seen offering redemption to Israel through Jesus Christ while predicting destruction of Israel at some future date in the event of its rejection of salvation through Jesus. The final section deals with the Gospel of Mark as an eschatological interpretation of the coming fall of Jerusalem. Many topics of interest are covered therein, but I found Gaston’s work on early Christian prophets compelling. I have truly been unable to scratch but the surface of the contents of this book in this review. Whether you agree or not with the author’s conclusions, he argues his points with precision and brilliance. The quality of the exegesis offered is first rate and original in many ways. Unfortunately, this book is unavailable except in the used market and then at about two hundred dollars. However, it can be found in most major seminary library collections. This is a must read for any serious student of the early Church.

Dr. Lloyd Gaston studied at Dartmouth College and earned his B.A. cum laude with distinction in Philosophy, 1952. He was ordained in the United Presbyterian Church, USA, in 1961, and served as Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Hamburg, New Jersey, till 1963. From 1963 to 1973 he taught at the Department of Religion, Macalester College. During this time he earned his D. theol. summa cum laude at the University of Basel, Switzerland, in his major field, New Testament. Further studies followed at Ulpan Ezion, Jerusalem, in 1970. In 1973 he was also Visiting Professor of New Testament at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. From 1973 to 1978 Dr. Gaston was Associate Professor of New Testament and from 1978 to his retirement in 1996 Professor of New Testament, Vancouver School of Theology. In his long teaching career Prof. Gaston served in a number of organizations and on many committees, among them Society of Biblical Studies, Societas Novi Testamenti Studiorum, Phi Beta Kappa, Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, Canadian Professors for Peace in the Middle East. He published a number of books, among them No Stone on Another, Studies in the Significance of the Fall of Jerusalem in the Synoptic Gospels and Paul and the Torah, as well as many articles and papers.

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