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The Early Fathers - Praeterists Or Futurists?


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#21 Fortigurn

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 08:52 PM

Praeterism

Historicism

Futurism

   

Daniel 7

· The little horn existed in the 1st century:

o   [None]

Daniel 7

· The little horn rises shortly after the fall of the Roman empire:

110-165

Justin Martyr

180

Irenaeus

185

Tertullian

200

Hippolytus

300

Victorinus

306

Lactantius

330

Eusebius

c. 347

Cyril

c. 350

Aphrahat

389

Chrysostom

401

Sulpicius Severus

340-420

Jerome

354-430

Augustine

393-457

Theodoretus

400’s

Paulus Orosius

450

Isidore of Pelusium

Daniel 7

· The little horn rises at another time:

o   [None]

All Futurists deny that the little horn rose shortly after the time that Rome was divided.

This places them in opposition to every early Patristic author who wrote on the subject.



#22 Fortigurn

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 09:07 PM

Praeterism

Historicism

Futurism

   

Daniel 7

· Identity of the little horn:

o   The emperor Nero

· [None]

o   The emperor Vespasian:

· [None]

These are two of the most common Praeterist suggestions for the identity of the little horn.

Although some of the Early Fathers considered that the little horn, the man of sin or the beast of Revelation 13 to be Nero, they did not consider that the Nero of the 1st century was the fulfillment of these passages.

On the contrary, they believed that it would be a resurrected Nero of the future who would return from the grave to carry out the role of AntiChrist, fulfilling these prophecies some time after the 1st century.

This view is entirely contradictory to the Praeterist view, and is believed by no Praeterist.

Daniel 7

· The little horn is the Papacy:

o   [None]

· The little horn is the Catholic Church:

o   [None]


Historicists have traditionally held that the little horn is either the Papacy or the Roman Catholic Church.

None of the early Christians could have identified the little horn specifically as either the Roman Catholic Church or the papacy as the fulfillment of the little horn, since neither of them existed until comparatively late (4th-6th centuries).

However, most of the Early Fathers believed he would be an apostate Christian:

180

Irenaeus

185

Tertullian

200

Hippolytus

300

Victorinus

306-373

Ephraem

315-386

Cyril

389

Chrysotom

340-397

Ambrose

340-420

Jerome

354-430

Augustine

393-457

Theodoretus

520

Andreas

c. 550

Primasius

In addition, many believed that he would be an apostate Christian who would attempt to rise above all others and secure a position of leadership over all other Christians, as well as persecuting the true Christians (Irenaeus, 185 AD, Hippolytus, 200 AD, Cyprian, 315-386 AD, Theodoretus, 393-457 AD).

Daniel 7

· The suggestions among Futurists as to the identity of the man of sin are too great to list here – there is no common position.

It is acknowledged that, like many Futurists, most of the Early Fathers believed he would be a single individual, rather than a man belonging to the head of a succession of apostates (as the Historicist interpretation holds):

180

Irenaeus

185

Tertullian

200

Hippolytus

300

Victorinus

306

Lactantius

330

Eusebius

c. 347

Cyril

340-420

Jerome

354-430

Augustine

393-457

Theodoretus

520

Andreas

Futurists are often seen making the entirely unqualified claim that ‘The Early Fathers held to a Futurist view of Daniel 7’, simply on the basis that the Early Fathers believed that the little horn would be a single individual.

This is a misrepresentation of the facts.

The Early Fathers did believe that the little horn was a single individual. But their understanding of the time at which the little horn would rise, the identity of the 10 horns and the three horns, were almost always directly opposed to modern Futurist views.

Futurist speculation that the little horn is the leader of a modern world power, a charismatic ecumenical leader, or a prominent member of the EU or the UN, find no support in the earliest Christian expositions of this passage.



#23 Fortigurn

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 09:17 PM

Praeterism

Historicism

Futurism

 

Daniel 8

· The little horn is Antiochus Epiphanes:

200

Hippolytus

c. 350

Aphrahat

306-373

Ephraem

340-420

Jerome

c.430

Polychronius

Daniel 8

· The little horn is Antiochus Epiphanes:

200

Hippolytus

c. 350

Aphrahat

306-373

Ephraem

340-420

Jerome

c.430

Polychronius

Daniel 8

· The little horn is a future AntiChrist:

180

Irenaeus

Most of the Early Fathers saw Antiochus Epiphanes only as a type of the later AntiChrist.



#24 Fortigurn

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 09:18 PM

Praeterism

Historicism

Futurism

 

Daniel 8

· The abomination of desolation was placed by Antiochus Epiphanes:

200

Hippolytus

c. 350

Aphrahat

306-373

Ephraem

340-420

Jerome

c.430

Polychronius

Daniel 8

· The abomination of desolation was placed by Antiochus Epiphanes:

200

Hippolytus

c. 350

Aphrahat

306-373

Ephraem

340-420

Jerome

c.430

Polychronius

Daniel 8

· The abomination of desolation will be placed by a future AntiChrist:

o   [None]



#25 Fortigurn

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 09:18 PM

Praeterism

Historicism

Futurism

 

Daniel 8

· The temple is the temple in Jerusalem during the time of Antiochus Epiphanes:

200

Hippolytus

c. 350

Aphrahat

306-373

Ephraem

340-420

Jerome

c.430

Polychronius

Daniel 8

· The temple is the temple in Jerusalem during the time of Antiochus Epiphanes:

200

Hippolytus

c. 350

Aphrahat

306-373

Ephraem

340-420

Jerome

c.430

Polychronius

Daniel 8

· The temple is a future temple in Jerusalem built by the Jews:

o   [None]



#26 Fortigurn

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 09:28 PM

Praeterism

Historicism

Futurism

 

Daniel 9

· All the weeks were fulfilled by the 1st century:

185

Tertullian

c.194

Clement

c.230

Africanus

330

Eusebius

c.347

Cyril of Jerusalem

373

Athanasius

340-420

Jerome

354-430

Augustine

c.430

Polychronius

Daniel 9

· All the weeks were fulfilled by the 1st century:

185

Tertullian

c.194

Clement

c.230

Africanus

330

Eusebius

c.347

Cyril

373

Athanasius

401

Sulpicius Severus

354-430

Augustine

c.430

Polychronius

Daniel 9

· The 70th week is still future:

180

Irenaeus

200

Hippolytus



These two commentators represent the only Patristic witness to the separation of the 70th week from the other 69.



#27 Fortigurn

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 09:30 PM

Praeterism

Historicism

Futurism

 

The Olivet Prophecy

· The entire prophecy was completely fulfilled in 1st century, including a typological ‘coming’ of Christ:

o   [None]

Praeterists will appeal to the Early Fathers who understood the first part of the Olivet prophecy to have been fulfilled in the 1st century.

They will often neglect to mention, however, that the same men still held that the second half of the prophecy remained to be fulfilled at Christ’s return, and that even those of the Early Fathers who saw a typological ‘coming’ of Christ in AD 70, still held to a literal return of Christ in the future, as a fulfillment of the second part of the Olivet prophecy.

None of the Early Fathers held that the entire prophecy had been completely fulfilled in the 1st century, in the way that Praeterists believe it to have been fulfilled.

The Olivet Prophecy

· The first part of the prophecy was fulfilled in 1st century, the second will be fulfilled at the return of Christ:

185

Tertullian

c. 194

Clement

c.230

Origen

306

Lactantius

330

Eusebius

373

Athanasius

385 (d.)

Gregory of Nyssa

407

John Chrysostom

340-420

Jerome

354-430

Augustine

438-533

Remigius

Some of the Early Fathers saw a typological ‘coming’ of Christ in AD 70. However, these same men still held to a literal return of Christ in the future, as a fulfillment of the second part of the Olivet prophecy.

The Olivet Prophecy

· The entire prophecy is still future, to be fulfilled at the coming of Antichrist and the return of Christ):

o   [None]

Some Futurists will accept a ‘primary fulfillment’ of the Olivet prophecy in the 1st century, but insist on a complete ‘secondary fulfillment’ of the entire prophecy in the future.

None of the Early Fathers held this view either, though some of the Early Fathers were unsure as to whether certain of the events in the Olivet prophecy were past or future.

Jerome was uncertain in this way, but still did not believe in a ‘double fulfillment’:

’That, "Let him that readeth understand," is said to call us to the mystic understanding of the place. What we read in Daniel is this; "And in the midst of the week the sacrifice and the oblation shall be taken away, and in the temple shall be the abomination of desolations until the consummation of the time, and consummation shall be given upon the desolate."’

Or it may be understood of the statue of Caesar, which Pilate set up in the temple; or of the equestrian statue of Adrian, which stood to the present time in the very Holy of Holies.

For, according to the Old Scripture, an idol is called 'abomination;' "of desolation" is added, because the idol was set up in the desolated and deserted temple.’

‘Or otherwise; This may be understood of the false prophets. At the time of the Jewish captivity, there were many leaders who declared themselves to be Christs, so that while the Romans were actually besieging them, there were three factions within.

But it is better taken as we expounded it above, of the end of the world.’

Jerome (340-420), as quoted by Thomas Aquinas, 'Golden Chain', 1224-1274

Despite being unsure as to whether certain of the events in the Olivet prophecy were past or future, Jerome did not believe in a ‘double fulfillment’ of the prophecy – he says it is either/or’, not ‘both’.



#28 Fortigurn

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 09:33 PM

Praeterism

Historicism

Futurism

 

The Olivet Prophecy

· The Temple is the Temple of Herod in Jerusalem, destroyed in the 1st century:

c. 194

Clement

c.230

Origen

306

Lactantius

330

Eusebius

373

Athanasius

385 (d.)

Gregory of Nyssa

401

Sulpicius Severus

407

John Chrysostom

340-420

Jerome

354-430

Augustine

438-533

Remigius

The Olivet Prophecy

· The Temple is the Temple of Herod in Jerusalem, destroyed in the 1st century:

c. 194

Clement

c.230

Origen

306

Lactantius

330

Eusebius

373

Athanasius

385 (d.)

Gregory of Nyssa

401

Sulpicius Severus

407

John Chrysostom

340-420

Jerome

354-430

Augustine

438-533

Remigius

The Olivet Prophecy

· The Temple is a future temple to be built by the Jews just prior to Christ’s return:

180

Irenaeus

200

Hippolytus

315-386

Cyril

Some Futurists appeal to the ‘Epistle of Barnabas’, which they claim speaks of a temple rebuilt by the Jews as a fulfillment of the Olivet prophecy:

‘Furthermore he says again, "Lo, they who destroyed this temple shall themselves build it.”’

Epistle of Barnabas, chapter 16, section 3, 80-160 AD

However, in this particular passage ‘Barnabas’ does not quote from the Olivet prophecy.

Furthermore, ‘Barnabas’ does not speak of this event as yet future, but says that it is happening in his own day:

That is happening now. For owing to the war it was destroyed by the enemy; at present even the servants of the enemy will build it up again.’

Epistle of Barnabas, chapter 16, section 4, 80-160 AD

Barnabas’ reference to a temple in Jerusalem being rebuilt in his own day, but after the destruction of AD 70, is considered by most textual scholars to be a reference to the campaign of the Jewish leader Bar Kochba, who led a rebellion against Rome, and tried to have the Temple rebuilt (129-132 AD).

Some Futurists claim that Jerome was a Futurist who understood the temple to be ‘the church’, quoting his words here
:

When we see such a thing stand in the holy place, that is in the Church and pretend that it is God, we must flee from Judea to the mountains…’

Jerome, ‘Homily’, 340-420

But in fact, Jerome was simply applying by allegory to Christians, a prophecy he already believed had been literally fulfilled in 1st century Israel. The rest of the quote is as follows:

‘… that is, departing from the letter of the law which kills, and from Jewish distortions of the law, we must draw near to the eternal mountains where God shines wondrously.

Jerome, ‘Homily’, 340-420



#29 Fortigurn

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 09:34 PM

Praeterism

Historicism

Futurism

 

The Olivet Prophecy

· The ‘abomination of desolation’ is a quote from Daniel 9, and was fulfilled when the Roman armies took Jerusalem and stood in the Temple:

c. 194

Clement

c.230

Origen

306

Lactantius

330

Eusebius

373

Athanasius

385 (d.)

Gregory of Nyssa

407

John Chrysostom

340-420

Jerome

354-430

Augustine

438-533

Remigius

The Olivet Prophecy

· The ‘abomination of desolation’ is a quote from Daniel 9, and was fulfilled when the Roman armies took Jerusalem and stood in the Temple:

c. 194

Clement

c.230

Origen

306

Lactantius

330

Eusebius

373

Athanasius

385 (d.)

Gregory of Nyssa

407

John Chrysostom

340-420

Jerome

354-430

Augustine

438-533

Remigius

The Olivet Prophecy

· The ‘abomination of desolation’ is a quote from Daniel 8, 9 and 11, and refers to something which will stand in a future temple in Jerusalem to be built by the Jews:

180

Irenaeus

200

Hippolytus

315-386

Cyril

The Futurist position therefore has some support among the early expositors, but is greatly outnumbered by a view which is held by Praeterism and Historicism.

Nevertheless, Futurists are often seen making the entirely unqualified claim that ‘The Early Fathers held to a Futurist view of the Olivet prophecy’, simply on the basis of these three Early Fathers.

This is a misrepresentation of the facts.



#30 Fortigurn

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 09:37 PM

Praeterism

Historicism

Futurism

 

2 Thessalonians 2

· Identity of the man of sin:

o   The emperor Nero or Vespasian

· [None]

o   Annas or Caiphas the High Priest:

· [None]

o   Simon Magus:

· [None]

o   Herod:

· [None]

2 Thessalonians 2

· The man of sin is the papacy:

o   [None]

Since the office of the papacy (the universal primacy of the bishop of Rome), did not exist before the 5th century, it could not have been referred to by the earliest Christian expositors as an exposition of the passage.

None of the early Christians could have identified the fact that the position of the man of sin would be held by a succession of men filing the bishopric of Rome, especially since the passage does not speak explicitly of a position of office, but rather a ‘man of sin’.

Most of the Early Fathers believed he would be a single individual, and a Christian apostate who would attempt to rise above all others and secure a position of leadership over all other Christians shortly after the fall of the
Roman empire.

The exposition of Theodoretus is especially noteworthy:

‘What the Apostle calls the Temple of God are the churches in which this impious wretch will occupy the first rank, the first place, striving to get himself accepted as God.’

Theodoretus, note on 2 Thessalonians 2, chapter 2, 393-457


But the Historicist interpretation still finds very early support in the interpretation given Gregory I, the bishop of
Rome, when the bishop of Constantinople attempted to claim the spiritual headship of all Christians:

‘Is it not the case that, when Antichrist comes and calls himself God, it will be very frivolous, and yet exceedingly pernicious?

[…]

Now I confidently say that whosoever calls himself, or desires to be called, Universal Priest, is in his elation the precursor of Antichrist, because he proudly puts himself above all others.’

Gregory I, Epistle XXXIII, to Mauricius Augustus, 540-604

‘But in this pride of his [John, the Bishop of Constantinople] what else is denoted than that the times of Antichrist are already near at hand?

Gregory I, Epistle XXI, to Constantina Augusta, 540-604

2 Thessalonians 2

· The suggestions among Futurists as to the identity of the man of sin are too great to list here – there is no common position.

Likewise, the Early Fathers were far from in agreement on the identity of the man of sin.

Hippolytus (200 AD), Ambrose (349-397 AD), and Theodoretus (393-457 AD), and Andreas (520 AD), all suggested he would come from the tribe of Dan. Jerome (340-420 AD), suggested that he would profess the Jewish religion to win over the Jews.

Pseudo-Ambrose (300s AD), Ephraem (306-373 AD), Chrysostom (389 AD), Jerome (340-420 AD), and Theodoretus (393-457 AD), suggested that he would be either a man possessed by ‘Satan’, or ‘Satan’ himself.

Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386 AD), said AntiChrist would pretend to be Christ, and Hippolytus (200 AD), said he would offer to raise up a kingdom for the Jews, but neither of these views were widely held.

None of this provides any real support for contemporary Futurist exposition.

It is acknowledged that, like many Futurists, most of the Early Fathers did believe he would be a single individual, and a Christian apostate:

185

Tertullian

200

Hippolytus

300

Victorinus

306-373

Ephraem

315-386

Cyril

389

Chrysotom

340-397

Ambrose

340-420

Jerome

354-430

Augustine

393-457

Theodoretus

520

Andreas

c. 550

Primasius

But their understanding of the identity of the man of sin, the time at which he would rise, the temple in which he would sit, and the circumstance which was restraining him, were almost always directly opposed to modern Futurist views.


Futurist speculation that the man of sin is the leader of a modern world power, a charismatic ecumenical leader, or a prominent member of the EU or the UN, find no support in the earliest Christian expositions of this passage.



#31 Fortigurn

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 09:39 PM

Praeterism

Historicism

Futurism

 

2 Thessalonians 2

· The man of sin came in the 1st century:

o   [None]

2 Thessalonians 2

· The man of sin comes when Rome falls:

180

Irenaeus

185

Tertullian

200

Hippolytus

300

Victorinus

306-373

Ephraem

315-386

Cyril

389

Chrysotom

340-397

Ambrose

340-420

Jerome

393-457

Theodoretus

438-533

Remigius

520

Andreas

c. 550

Primasius

2 Thessalonians 2

· The man of sin come at another time:

354-430

Augustine


All Futurists deny that the man of sin came around the time that
Rome was divided.

Augustine is the only Patristic writer who expresses uncertainty regarding the timing of the man of sin, and simply says he does not know if the interpretation placing rising of the man of sin around the time of the fall of
Rome is correct.

He suggests no other time.



#32 Fortigurn

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 09:41 PM

Praeterism

Historicism

Futurism

 

2 Thessalonians 2

· The Temple is Herod’s in Jerusalem:

o   [None]


None of the Early Fathers held that the
Temple in 2 Thessalonians 2 was the Temple of Herod.

All of them considered the prophecy of this passage to be yet future.

2 Thessalonians 2

· The Temple is the body of Christians:

185

Tertullian

300

Victorinus

306-373

Ephraem

389

Chrysotom

340-397

Ambrose

340-420

Jerome

354-430

Augustine

393-457

Theodoretus

520

Andreas

c. 550

Primasius

2 Thessalonians 2

· Future Jewish Temple rebuilt in Jerusalem:

180

Irenaeus

200

Hippolytus

306

Lactantius

306-373

Ephraem

315-386

Cyril

The Futurist position therefore has some support among the early expositors, but is greatly outnumbered by a view which is held by Historicism.

Nevertheless, Futurists are often seen making the entirely unqualified claim that ‘The Early Fathers held to a Futurist view of the ‘man of sin’ prophecy of 2 Thessalonians 2’, simply on the basis of these five Early Fathers.

This is a misrepresentation of the facts.



#33 Fortigurn

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Posted 26 December 2004 - 09:44 PM

Praeterism

Historicism

Futurism

 

Revelation

· The events in chapter 4 to 21 were all fulfilled in the 1st century, concluding at or shortly after AD 70:

o   [None]


None of the Early Fathers held that so much of Revelation had been fulfilled.

The earliest proto-Praeterist interpretation of any part of Revelation is not mentioned until the 6th century, when Andreas (520 AD), records that some Christians interpret chapters 6-7 as referring to the sufferings of the Jews during AD 70. Andreas himself disputed this view.

Revelation

· The events in chapter 4 to 21 are gradually fulfilled from 1st century to the return of Christ:

180

Irenaeus

185

Tertullian

200

Hippolytus

300

Victorinus

306

Lactantius

380

Tychonius

340-420

Jerome

354-430

Augustine

520

Andreas

c. 550

Primasius

Revelation

· All of the events in chapters 4 to 20 are yet future, and will be fulfilled in 3.5 to 7 years before Christ’s return:

o   [None]

The Futurist interpretation requires that the Revelation provide no prophetic guidance regarding events between the time that it was written, and a time shortly before the return of Christ (typically 3.5 to 7 years).

None of the Early Fathers held to this position, all of them believing that the events of the book were already being fulfilled in their day, and would continue to be fulfilled until their conclusion at the return of Christ.

Many of the Early Fathers (especially those prior to Augustine in the 5th century), also believed that the Revelation spoke of events of the Kingdom age, up to the end of the 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth.






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