Constructing Antichrist

Constructing Antichrist: Paul, Biblical Commentary, and the Development of Doctrine in the Early Middle Ages

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 303
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  • Book Info
    Constructing Antichrist
    Book Description:

    Constructing Antichrist engages readers with the question: what does Paul have to do with the Antichrist? Integrating new scholarship in apocalypticism and the history of exegesis, this book is the first longitudinal study of the role of Paul in apocalyptic thought

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1613-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-ix)
    (pp. x-xi)
    (pp. xii-xxiv)
  6. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION: Constructing Antichrist
    (pp. 1-27)

    History makes strange bedfellows. This book suggests that two figures—one historical and one mythical, one who stands at the beginning of Christianity and the other who stands at its imagined end—are intimately related in the history of theology. It assumes, rather than argues, that Antichrist has a history, that the figure of Antichrist does not spring fully formed from the pages of Scripture. Rather, he is a figure whose profile and significance took shape over nearly a millennium of reflection on a variety of hints and clues scattered throughout the Scriptures and traditions of Christian faith. Some clues...

  7. CHAPTER 2 THE MAN OF SIN: Apocalyptic Realism in the Early Church, 200–400
    (pp. 28-81)

    The early medieval tradition of commentary upon 2 Thessalonians found its authoritative sources in the late patristic period, when a number of Christian intellectuals took up the method of commentary in their attempts to clarify the doctrinal claims of the Church. The fourth and early fifth centuries saw the fervor for apocalyptic speculation wax and wane with the turn of each generation. Such movement of thought produced diversity of interpretation in commentaries on 2 Thessalonians, which were vehicles for the digesting of opinion and the construction of doctrine. This chapter documents and describes the apocalyptic realism of four patristic authors...

  8. CHAPTER 3 MEMBERS OF THE ENEMY BODY: The Spiritual Exegesis of 2 Thessalonians
    (pp. 82-114)

    In the last chapter, I provided a sketch of the variety of patristic commentary on 2 Thessalonians from the Roman exegesis of Ambrosiaster and Pelagius to Theodore’s Antiochene interpretation to the erudite and cosmopolitan exegetical summary of Jerome. All testify to the enduring appeal of “eschatological exegesis,” or what I have called apocalyptic realism. The imminence of the event is seldom emphasized; nevertheless, all four commentators remain convinced that the primary (and perhaps, the sole) referent of 2 Thessalonians’ “Man of Sin, Son of Perdition” is the Antichrist, the individual opponent to Christ at the end of time. The context...

    (pp. 115-177)

    A late-seventh-century crypt in Poitiers bears a dire inscription that portends the End: “Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the End. Every day, everything becomes worse and worse, for the end is drawing near.”¹ The motif is not new or even uniquely Christian—the notion that the world’s decline is a portent of a calamitous collapse is found at least as early as Sallust. But in the centuries after the death of Gregory the Great, as Germanic and later Viking invasions terrorize the Continent and the British Isles, as the Muslim conquest of Spain threatens to overflow into Europe, signs...

  10. CHAPTER 5 SEEING THE ADVERSARY AFRESH: Paul and Antichrist in Early Scholastic Exegesis, 1000–1160
    (pp. 178-238)

    The year 1000 came and went without the apocalyptic denouement. And yet the years after 1000 saw the release of tremendous energy expressed in various social movements such as the Peace of God, the Truce of God, and the “Gregorian Reform.” Seeking a cause for such broad-based social momentum is perhaps unwise, and many have demonstrated that there are social, environmental, and economic factors that contribute to this fundamental but complex change in medieval social and intellectual life.¹ But one cannot dismiss apocalypticism’s role among these other factors in fueling reformist enthusiasm across the spectrum of religious opinion.² If the...

    (pp. 239-250)

    It should be no surprise to any student of early medieval literature, and especially of early medieval exegesis, that the fruit of medieval thinking was a synthesis of earlier patristic authorities. What I have studied across eight centuries is the emergence of an early medieval exegetical tradition. Early medieval exegetes constructed a reading of 2 Thessalonians that united and synthesized opposed positions, and thus arrived at a complex new understanding of the presence and absence, the immanence and imminence, of the apocalyptic Adversary. But such a synthesis was not simply the product of some medieval deference to authority or predisposition...

    (pp. 251-270)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 271-278)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 279-280)