I have a question regarding Matthew 24.  Christ refers to the coming tribulation of AD 70 as greater than any in history.  My question is how that was greater than the tribulations of the 20th century like the Second World War (particularly the Holocaust).  I’m a Christian and I just don’t know how to answer this objection.  Thank you.


I suppose that, just like the question of who is the greatest (for example, who is the greatest basketball player of all time or the greatest president) is always debatable.  Of course, it is also debatable which is the worst thing ever to happen to the Jews.  I believe it is worth noting that in context, Jesus is talking about the worst thing ever to happen to the Jews here.

Let me argue that the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 is the greatest tragedy to come on the Jews in all history (admitting that this is debatable, of course).  It was at this time that several tens of thousands of Jews were killed, as recorded by Josephus.  At this time, virtually the entire Jewish leadership was killed.  Also, the temple was destroyed, never to be rebuilt again.  There is a sense in which Judaism itself came to an end with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.  At this time, not only did temple worship end, but the Sanhedrin were eliminated as a force in Judaism.  Although Jerusalem was partially reinhabited by Jews afterward, the walls were never rebuilt by the Jews, and the final destruction of the city and complete and final sending away of the Jews after the Bar-Kokhba rebellion happened soon after.  After this terrible event, animal sacrifice came to an end, and in many ways the Mosaic covenant did as well at the same time.  This event was prophesied in the Old Testament, unlike the Holocaust.  If we look as sheer numbers, the Holocaust perpetrated under Hitler is a positively horrific event–to rival the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.  If we count sheer loss of life, of course, it vastly outweighs the destruction of Jerusalem.  However, as a momentous event in the history of the Jews, the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 ranks higher in spiritual implication.

John Oakes

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