The Early Church and the End of the World

In four chapters, Francis X. Gumerlock has undertaken the task of translating a number of ancient and medieval commentators on biblical prophecy that heretofore have been unavailable in English. “The Olivet Discourse in Ancient and Medieval Christianity” (Ch. 6) translates and discusses patristic and medieval interpretations of Matthew 24, showing that many in early church history interpreted the first part of the Olivet Discourse as having been fulfilled in events related to the Roman-Judean War of 68-70 AD. These include the signs of false Messiahs, wars, famines, earthquakes, persecution, a universal preaching of the gospel, the abomination of desolation, the flight to the mountains, and the great tribulation. This runs counter to the claim by some that partial preterist interpretations of the Olivet Discourse are an invention of modern liberalism.

“The Date of Revelation in the Early Church” (Ch. 7) indicates that considerable variety about the date of the Apocalypse existed in the early church. Some early Christian writers held to early dates during the reigns of Claudius and Nero, while others held to later dates during the reigns of Domitian and Trajan. Hence, there was not a patristic consensus for a Domitianic date, as some claim.the early church and end of the world

“More External Evidence for an Early Date of Revelation” (Ch. 8) translates selections from several early medieval Latin commentaries on Revelation, those of Apringius of Beja, Beatus of Liebana, and the Irish Reference Bible. This chapter adds to the research of Kenneth Gentry and A.T. Robinson, who previously investigated the Latin witnesses for an early date of Revelation. It shows that this view was well known among biblical commentators on the Apocalypse from the sixth through eight centuries.

Finally, “Blood, Fire, and Vapor of Smoke” demonstrates that at least three Syrian and three Greek commentators on Acts 2:19-21 wrote that Peter’s prophecy of blood, fire, and vapor of smoke was fulfilled in the first century.

These studies and English translations fill a significant gap in historiography related to Christian prophecy. Not holding a preterist view himself, but doing the work of historian and translator, Gumerlock’s chapters show that partial preterist views of Matthew 24 and Acts 2:19-21, and early date traditions related to Revelation, were prevalent in ancient and medieval Christianity.

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