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1075Re: A simple explanation of the millennium

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  • e_s_c_h_a_t_o_n
    Sep 21, 2009
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      I think the whole idea of chiliasm and its relation to the Apocalypse needs careful examination. As you may know, Eusebius identified Papias as the one who brought chiliasm into the church (Church History, Book III, Chapter XXXIX.12—The Writings of Papias.) Eusebius disagrees with Irenaeus as to whether Papias knew the apostle John personally. He says Papias misunderstood the apostolic accounts which were meant to be understood "mystically." It seems a strange accusation to put on someone who says the creation week represents the Gospel.

      You have seen the reaction to my post. Everyone assumes I was saying the thousand years was literal. Maybe that is the same assumption made about Papias by later writers. Unfortunately we don't have his original books, but have to judge by the opinion of those who came later. You can see the influence of Papias on Irenaeus (Book V Chapter XXXIII.). Compare that to the later writings of Victorinus (On the Creation of the World). Victorinus speaks of the events in the life of Christ as being related to the creation week.

      Irenaeus believed the scriptures need a Christian key handled by reliable Christian interpreters (Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church, Karlfried Froehlich). This is a different idea than that of the historical/literal or historical/critical ideas today. It seems unlikely that the book of Revelation was written with the hermeneutical principles of the 18th or 19th century in mind.

      An outline of Revelation based on the creation/consummation idea, as I put forward in my book, is similar to the "parallel" outline of William Hendriksen (More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation) with a few exceptions.

      It may be that Irenaeus was changing his mind about some things. In my own opinion ideas about prophecy were resorting back to a more "Jewish" view during the late second and early third century. For instance compare the interpretations of Revelation 17:10 by Hippolytus at the beginning of the third century, and Victorinus near the beginning of the fourth century.

      ...And 6, 000 years must needs be accomplished, in order that the
      Sabbath may come, the rest, the holy day "on which God rested
      from all His works." For the Sabbath is the type and emblem of
      the future kingdom of the saints, when they "shall reign with
      Christ," when He comes from heaven, as John says in his
      Apocalypse: for "a day with the Lord is as a thousand years."
      Since, then, in six days God made all things, it follows that 6, 000
      years must be fulfilled. And they are not yet fulfilled, as John says:
      "five are fallen; one is," that is, the sixth; "the other is not yet
      come." The Interpretation by Hippolytus of Daniel

      The time must be understood in which the written Apocalypse
      was published, since then reigned Cæsar Domitian; but before
      him had been Titus his brother, and Vespasian, Otho, Vitellius,
      and Galba. These are the five who have fallen. One remains,
      under whom the Apocalypse was written—Domitian, to wit.
      "The other has not yet come," speaks of Nerva; "and when he is
      come, he will be for a short time," for he did not complete the
      period of two years. – Victorinus, Commentary on the
      Apocalypse of the Blessed John

      It may be that Hippolytus reflects an earlier tradition.

      Alan Fuller,
      Author of The Gospel Prophecy: The Bible as Allegory
      Available at Amazon.com or my web page
      I am not affiliated with any seminary or other educational institution.

      --- In revelation-list@yahoogroups.com, "Georg S. Adamsen" <georg@...> wrote:
      > An interesting quote. I, for one, am in need of more information. It is very
      > common to see Irenaeus labelled as a premillennialist (or chiliast). Do you
      > think that your quote proves this label to be wrongly chosen? I am aware
      > that Bacq has argued quite persuasively in his 1978 book that Heresies Book
      > 5 is not disparate as scholars thought previously. Some scholars have argued
      > – if my memory is correct – that Irenaeus developed (or changed) some of his
      > views, as he wrote the five books (which were, by the way, probably
      > "published" book by book when he has finished them).
      > It would be really interesting if Irenaeus is not, by and large, a
      > premillennial, if not for other reasons, then for historical reasons. If you
      > have some references to both primary and secondary literature, that would be
      > helpful!
      > Dr. Georg S. Adamsen
      > Denmark
      > PS: I kindly ask all list members to sign their posts with name, place and
      > institution, if any
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