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Praeterism - Are Its Claims Valid?


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#1 Fortigurn

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 05:56 AM

The entire foundation of the Praeterist interpretation is that certain key prophecies were written specifically for the first generation of Christians, in order to instruct them, warn them, and give them confidence in Godís prophetic word.

The Praeterist interpretation therefore suffers if it cannot be demonstrated that the earliest Christians understood these prophecies in the way that the Praeterist claims they were intended to.

The Praeterist argues:
  • That these prophecies were to be fulfilled completely in the first century

  • That for this reason they were written in language immediately accessible to the believers of the first century

  • That the true understanding of these prophecies is to be reached by interpreting them in the manner which would have been most natural to the earliest Christian expositors, to whom the prophecies were specifically addressed


#2 Fortigurn

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 05:56 AM

If this argument is true, then we should find:
  • That the writings of the earliest Christian expositors will provide us with guidance for the correct interpretation of the prophecies

  • That the expositions of the earliest Christians demonstrate that they held the Praeterist interpretation
We ought therefore to find that the earliest Christians understood the following prophecies to have been completely fulfilled in the first century:
  • Daniel 2
  • Daniel 7
  • Daniel 9
  • The Olivet prophecy
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:3-9
  • Revelation (to at least chapter 20)


#3 Fortigurn

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 05:57 AM

The Praeterist insists that the language of these prophecies was chosen specifically with the first generation of Christians in mind. The Praeterist interprets these symbols in a manner which they claim would have been perfectly natural and comprehensible to the earliest Christians.

If this is truly the case, then we ought to find the earliest interpretations to be consistent with the Praeterist understanding. Indeed, evidence of such an understanding by the earliest Christians is to be expected if the Praeterist case is true.

But is this what we find when we examine the earliest Christian expositions of these passages? It is not. A close reading of the earliest Christian expositors reveals that none of them understood these prophecies to have been fulfilled in the first century, with the exception of Daniel 9. This undermines significantly the Praeterist case.

The Praeterist claims that contemporary expositors do not understand these prophecies because they were written with the early Christians in mind, and that contemporary expositors lack the mindset shared by the earliest Christians.

#4 Fortigurn

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 05:57 AM

If the Praeterist interpretation were true, then we would expect to find that the earliest expositors of these prophecies understood them as the Praeterist does. We would expect to find that the earlier the commentator, the more Praeterist would be his view.

We would expect to find clear evidence that these prophecies were first understood according to a Praeterist interpretation, and that the later commentaries would become increasingly less Praeterist, as a result of later expositors living in an environment increasingly removed from the original context in which the prophecies were intended to be read.

But in fact, what we find is the complete opposite. We find that the earliest expositors and commentaries do not reflect the Praeterist position. They reflect the Historicist position. Not only that, but we find that it is the Praeterist view which emerges very late, not the Historicist position.

In fact, we find that modern Praeterists are compelled to appeal to expositors and commentaries which were written centuries after the earliest Christian commentaries, and we find also that a complete Praeterist exposition does not appear until the late 16th century.

This is the absolute opposite of what the Praeterist insists we should find, and it is encumbent upon the Praeterist to explain this anomaly in his claims.




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