Balabanski, Vicky. "Chapter Five: Matthew 24: Eschatological Expectation after the Jewish War." Eschatology in the Making: Mark, Matthew, and the Didache. Cambridge: University Press, 1997, 135-179.
Balabanski observes that Matthew's eschatological material in chapters 24-25 appears to be a significant expansion of the material that many assume to be adapted from Mark (Balabanski 1997, 135). In addition to Matthew 24-25, some scholars consider chapter 23 to be part of the same discourse, though some separate it because of a different stated setting and audience.
Balabanski finds a parallel move in Matthew 13, where Jesus leaves the crowds who don't understand him well, in order to teach his disciples, who grasp the message somewhat better. For this reason, Balabanski takes Matthew 23 to be a part of the topic of chapters 24-25, with a slight shift in hearers but not in the message (Balabanski 1997, 137). The scope of the passage then suggests that a true view of eschatology is tied to ethical teaching and appears in distinction to the vies and practices of the "outsiders" such as the scribes and Pharisees (Balabanski 1997, 138).
Having identified Matthew 23-25 as eschatological in nature, Balabanski notes that by sheer volume Matthew has a greater emphasis on eschatology than do the other Synoptics (Balabanski 1997, 139). She then proceeds to step through features of Matthew's eschatological vision as described by G. Bornkamm. The message of John the Baptist, the Sermon on the Mount, and much of the parabolic and other teaching of Jesus point to a preparation for the end of the world.
The purpose of Matthew's eschatology may be made clear by a brief conclusion of parables found in Matthew 13:51-52. Here, the wise householder brings old and new things out of his storehouse (Balabanski 1997, 143). This could well suggest that wise teachers, those who follow Jesus' view of the kingdom of heaven, bring ideas out wisely and at the appropriate times. Some ideas are not fitting for some occasions and will keep. Some need to b brought out and applied immediately (Balabanski 1997, 144).
The kingdom of heaven, in Matthew, is seen as both present and future in nature. There have been apocalyptic signs which indicate God's kingdom is here. Yet there is still a future hope. Balabanski and others find a possible shift in thought, that at first Christians saw the kingdom primarily as future, but then later considered it to be already realized (Balabanski 1997, 148). In Christian thought as well as some Jewish sthought Balabanski finds the idea of God's kingdom infiltrating aspects of this world, not working a miraculous rescue to those in trouble, but enabling them to deal with their troubles (Balabanski 1997, 151).
Another significant question pertaining to eschatology is that of chronology. Balabanski asks if we can discern a sequence of events in Matthew 24 (Balabanski 1997, 153). Matthew clearly expects false prophets to be present at the time of the end. Balabanski recognizes that there could certainly have been false prophets and miracle workers in the Matthean community's experience (Balabanski 1997, 154). There is also mention of a tie of trouble, a mission to Gentiles, then the end. Because "the end" is mentioed in the middle of Matthew 24, before other signs, Balabanski considers that there may be two separate sequences present, running at the same time. She draws a timeline of sorts, noting that the Matthean community is in the middle of the course of events, and interpreting the coming Jewish War of 66-70 as the end (Balabanski 1997, 156ff). Balabanski ultimately concludes that the two sequences can be harmonized and that material in Matthew's account but not in Mark's came either as an explanation to the Markan account or from some other tradition available to Matthew but not to Mark.
Balabanski's two-tradition cncept is novel. However, she does note that other works, such as Revelation, use multiple ocncurrent chronologies. She also cites 19th century commentator J.P. Lange, who identified three cycles of events progressing concurrently in Matthew 24 (Balabanski 1997, 166-167). Balabanski suggests that the concurrent cycles in Revelation may well serve a literary fun ction of delay and suspense, leading the hearer more clearly to the concept of patient endurance in light of Jesus' eventual promised return (Balabanski 1997, 169).
Balabanski observes that the vivid eschatological hope in Matthew suggests an earlier composition in comparison to Mark. However, rather than suggest an earlier date and a lack of dependence on Mark, she suggests we find a more nuanced understanding of the nature of an eschatological hope (Balabanski 1997, 175). She suggests that while Jewish eschatological writings reflecting on the war of 66-70 view the destruction as punishment for sin, Matthew sees it as God's way of delivering the kingdom tho those who are worthy (Balabanski 1997, 178). This would explain the maintenance of a vivid hope over time.