Articles

The Olivet Discourse, Part 1

Significant controversy surrounds the interpretation of the Olivet Discourse of Jesus, given in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Some believe that almost the entire discourse is about the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, while others think that almost the entire discourse is about a future tribulation that will be experienced by Jewish people in the last seven years before the Lord returns. I believe, along with many interpreters throughout the ages, that the Olivet Discourse contains prophetic speech about two different events separated by a gap of time

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Apocalyptic spirituality in the early Middle Ages: hope for escaping the fire of doomsday through a pre-conflagration rapture

The collapse of the Western portion of the Roman Empire in the fifth century had a profound impact on the eschatology of early medieval Christians. The eschatological optimism that followed the con- version of Constantine in the previous century gave way to increasing focus on the destruction of the present world and speculation about the cataclysmic events associated with it as they are revealed in the Bible.

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Learning from Patristic Theology

“Learning from Patristic Christology” was published in 2010 as an essay in The Contemporary Church and the Early Church edited by Paul Hartog. The essay is a personal narrative of how learning Christian history has helped my faith and more specifically, truths I learned about Christ’s divinity and humanity. It also shows from theologians, credal statements, and conciliar decisions of the early church, that the teaching that the Son is eternally begotten of the Father was an essential component of early Christianity.

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Arnobius against the Predestined One

This essay explores an episode of the fifth-century Semi-Pelagian controversy over the roles of the divine will and human freedom in salvation.

In the Psalms commentary of Arnobius the Younger, several passages show that he is agitated over an accusation against him that he does not give a proper place to grace in the economy of salvation. Defending himself, Arnobius affirms that grace precedes free will, but asserts that the will is still free to accept or reject Christ.

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The Transformation of Fulgentius of Ruspe in the Carolingian Age

This essay explains how Fulgentius, the bishop of Ruspe in North Africa (d. 533), underwent a transformation in the writing of a certain Carolingian author, Prudentius of Troyes (d. 861). This happened when Prudentius attributed to Fulgentius the bishop literary works of another author by the same name, “Fulgentius the Mythographer.”

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I Will Show Wonders in the Heaven Above

Early in their history they believed that Christ was coming very soon, and used to meet every night at midnight in preparation for His return. After the comets of 1742 and 1743 appeared, they stopped their nightly “watch meetings” and came to believe that, while Jesus did not come in bodily form, He sent the Holy Spirit on them in a special way in order to make them a restored end-time church.

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Patristic Commentaries on Revelation

This article is designed to help scholars locate twenty-one commentaries on the Book of Revelation from the third through eighth centuries, which to a large extent are inaccessible to American biblical scholars.

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Patristic Commentaries on Revelation, an update

In March of 2003 I delivered a paper entitled “Ancient Commentaries on the Book of Revelation: A Bibliographical Guide” in which I gave bibliographical information on thirty commentaries on the Apocalypse written between the third and tenth centuries. At that time only two of those thirty texts had been translated into English. A revision of that paper published as “Patristic Commentaries on Revelation” in a 2008 issue of Kerux journal showed that of the twenty-one commentaries on Revelation written between the third and eighth centuries only three at the time had been translated into English. In that paper and article I challenged readers to undertake a translation project focusing on these commentaries. “If just one of these commentaries were translated and published each year,” I wrote, “this entire patristic treasury of Revelation commentaries could be available to English-speaking scholars within twenty years.

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The Tractoria of Prudentius of Troyes (d. 861)

When the doctrine of predestination, the relationship of grace to free will, and the extent of Christ’s atonement became topics of debate in the mid-ninth century, Gottschalk of Orbais was not alone in asserting the inability of the human will to choose good apart from special enabling grace, God’s predestination of the elect to salvation and the reprobate to merited punishment, and the shedding of Christ’s blood for all believers. Remigius of Lyons, Florus of Lyons, Lupus of Fierrières, and Prudentius of Troyes similarly promoted such strict Augustinian tenets as the faith of the Church. This article briefly introduces the life and writings of Prudentius, and provides a translation of his Tractoria, which contains four chapters that succinctly illustrate his doctrine of grace.

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Predestination in the Century Before Gottschalk, Part 1

Gottschalk: A Solitary Voice?
In the mid-ninth century, a wandering monk named Gottschalk of Orbais (d. 868) sparked a controversy over divine predestination that shook both church and state in central Europe. Gottschalk taught that the will of humans is bound and is freed only through grace, predestination, and particular redemption.

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Predestination in the Century Before Gottschalk, Part II

The Preaching of Predestination
Part II of this series continues its challenge of a prevailing notion which says that the century before Gottschalk, a ninth-century monk condemned and imprisoned for his strong predestinarian views, was replete with Semi-Pelagian teaching. Part I demonstrated that Semi-Pelagian doctrine that exalted human freedom and articulated divine predestination as simply God’s foreknowledge of human choices, did exist in Carolingian literature between the years 740 and 840. But it also provided evidence that theology extolling the free and sovereign grace of God in salvation from start to finish abounded in that time as well.

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Millennialism and the Early Church Councils: Was Chiliasm Condemned at Constantinople?

In the area of millennial studies, the number of positions on the interpretation of the thousand years of Revelation 20:1-8 seems to be expanding. A few decades ago, a theological discussion of the major viewpoints regarding the millennium consisted of usually two or three positions, premillennialism, amillennialism, and sometimes postmillennialism.

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Download a French translation of the article by Claude Miranda [pen name Menahem Macina], used by permission.


NERO ANTICHRIST: Patristic Evidence of the Use of Nero’s Name in Calculating the Number of the Beast (Rev 13:18)

In Revelation 13:18 John says that the number of the beast is that of a man. For almost two centuries a multitude of scholars have suggested that the “man” was the Roman emperor Nero. Although according to certain authors the Nero identification is “the most widely accepted” interpretation, one of it main problems is the lack of substantiation for it in patristic literature. This paper introduces a fifth-century chronicle from North African Christianity, entitled Liber Genealogus or Book of Genealogy, that has bearing on the question of whether or not early Christians used Nero’s name in their calculations of the number of the beast. It will provide a translation of the relevant portion, contextualize and explain the passage, bring it into dialogue with a statement from Irenaeus, and discuss its implications for biblical studies.

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Mark 13.32 and Christ’s Supposed Ignorance: Four Patristic Solutions

Referring to the time of His Second Coming, Jesus is recorded as saying, “But of that day or hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Mark 13:32, NASB. The word alone is italicized because it was supplied by the translator). The church fathers spilled much ink explaining this statement of the Lord, most often because of its import regarding Christology.

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Gottschalk of Orbais: A Medieval Predestinarian

Seven hundred years before Calvin wrote his Institutes, a medieval monk from Saxony named Gottschalk articulated and defended the doctrine of salvation through the sovereign grace of God. This article will introduce the person of Gottschalk and present his views on the bondage of the human will, the gracious enablement of God necessary for a person to perform salutary acts, predestination and election, and Christ’s atonement. Gottschalk’s positions on these subjects will be illustrated from his own writings, most of which were discovered and edited in the twentieth century2 and recently translated by Victor Genke, an accomplished linguist and historian who resides in Russia, and myself.

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Tongues in the Church Fathers

The purpose of this article is to show how early Christian interpreters of the Bible understood the gift of tongues. After briefly describing a modern erroneous notion of tongues, a dossier of citations from early Christian writers, some in English translation here for the first time, will be provided. These citations, along with two accounts of alleged tongues miracles from the early church, will show that ancient Christians understood that the biblical gift of tongues was a miracle involving intelligible human languages.

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The Interpretation of Tongues in the Middle Ages

 

Many Christians today, especially those familiar with the charismatic movement, understand “the gift of tongues” as ecstatic speech: sounds and syllables believed to be uttered by a Christian under the direction of the Holy Spirit. The meaning of these sounds and syllables, however, is completely unintelligible to both the speaker and most hearers. Comprehension of such an utterance, granted to at least one hearer, requires an additional direct intervention of the Holy Spirit.
This second gift of an immediate understanding of glossolalic utterance is often referred to as “the gift of interpretation of tongues.”

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A Rapture Citation in the Fourteenth Century

Is the doctrine of the pretribulation rapture a nineteenth century theological invention as is sometimes alleged? The purpose of this article is to introduce and discuss a portion of a fourteenth-century text, entitled The History of Brother Dolcino, as it relates to this contemporary question about the history of the doctrine of the pretribulation rapture.

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