I know this is a difficult and controversial verse, and I don’t think I have anything new to add to the discussion — how’s that for garnering excitement to read the rest of the blog? But there are a couple things that are interesting.
Jesus has been discussing the destruction of the temple and his second return. In vv 34-35 he says, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away (οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ) until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away (οὐ μὴ παρέλθωσιν)”( ESV).
First of all, most translations give up at trying to translate the emphatic οὐ μὴ plus aorist subjunctive, and I understand why. It is hard to do without over-translating or messing with English style. Jesus is saying that this generation will, in no way, pass away before “all these things” happen. The NIV has “certainly not pass away”; the rest skip the emphatic negation. That’s too bad. There can be no doubt of the emphasis Jesus is placing on his prophecy, and this emphasis makes the lack of apparent fulfillment even more problematic. And why would translations claiming to be “literal” and “reflecting the Greek structures” omit translating this construction?
The second οὐ μὴ plus aorist subjunctive construction, however, does receive some emphasis in the NET, “my words will never pass away” (also NIV and NLT). Now, the οὐ μή construction does not in and of itself mean “never”; it is just a strengthened negation. But in this context, it makes good sense.