Although there existed no real millennial text prior to late Jewish and early Christian texts, there exists an overabundance of resources that heavily draw on millennial texts. This article deals with the “Apocrypha” or the Hebrew Bible, which is wrought with apocalyptic literature. Similar literature is also to be found in Mesopotamian scriptures, a string of texts known as the “Akkadian Prophecies”. Ancient Zoroastrian texts, predating both Jewish and Christian counterparts, too seem to have substantial pre-millennial texts, similar in subjective elements such as an unhappy end of time with subsequent salvation, resurrection, personified angels etc. The common factors between these texts are: they commonly draw on general crisis contexts and most immediate and obvious hurdles in projecting the evils of the world; secondly, the geographical origins of these texts were unified by the common factor of their unequivocal resistance to Hellenic expansionism, something that figures prominently in the subjective interpretation of these texts.
John J. Collins
The category of “apocalyptic literature” was invented by the German New Testament scholar Friedrich Lücke in 1832 in the context of an introduction to the Book of Revelation. Lücke identified a small number of Jewish apocalyptic writings (Daniel, 1 Enoch, 4 Ezra, and the Sibylline Oracles) and also discussed some Christian apocalypses such as the Ascension of Isaiah. With the resurgence of interest in biblical theology after World War I, interest in the non-canonical literature subsided. A new wave of interest in this material arose in the 1960s, stimulated in part by the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls. As yet, there has been relatively little sociological study of ancient apocalypticism, arguably because the data are inadequate. Perhaps the most urgent desideratum, however, is that the progress made in this area be brought to bear on the study of eschatology in the Hebrew Bible and especially in early Christianity. This article discusses apocalyptic eschatology in the ancient world. It considers the origins of apocalypticism, Zoroastrianism and apocalypticism, apocalyptic writings as a development of biblical prophecy, and wisdom and apocalypticism.
Michael A. Knibb
The beliefs of the movement that lies behind the scrolls were influenced by the eschatological ideas of the early Enochic writings and by the Book of Daniel, and although the movement does not seem to have produced many apocalypses, eschatology and messianism formed a significant part of its thought-world. But the movement was concerned above all with the proper observance of the Torah. It seems likely that the development of dualism and to some extent of eschatology was a way of coping with the fact that their interpretation of the Torah was not accepted by the leaders. The discussion also holds that the eschatological and messianic beliefs of the Dead Sea Scrolls represent a development of traditions already contained in the Hebrew Bible and form part of the spectrum of beliefs that were common to Jews of the period.
L. W. Hurtado
In recent decades, there has been an intensively renewed interest in the origins and development of ‘Christology’, religious practices as well as ideas/beliefs, and earliest ‘devotion’. Scholars have explored in what ways Jesus-devotion may have drawn upon Jewish tradition and how it may have represented something innovative. In particular, there are questions about the means by which early believers, shaped by Jewish tradition, with its concern for the uniqueness of God, may have accommodated devotion to Jesus as in some way bearing divine significance. The Qumran texts comprise a major and unique cache of material giving access to Second Temple Jewish religious tradition, and are, thus, integral in all of this investigation. This article describes ancient Jewish monotheism, principal angels, and the origins of ‘High’ Christology.
Paul was at home in the three worlds of the title of this chapter, which formed a complex and variegated whole. Paul presents us with a range of his Jewish credentials, including that he is ‘a Hebrew born of Hebrews’ and a Pharisee. We have no reason to doubt that he was born in Tarsus and received some education in Jerusalem (Acts 22: 3). A number of dimensions of Paul’s theology can be seen to have come from his Jewish framework of thought, even as he reworks that thought in the light of his new experience in Christ. Dimensions of Paul’s language and thought can also be seen to reflect the all-pervasive Graeco-Roman culture of the day, in which Paul was thoroughly at home. He had received some elements of Hellenistic education and was both a citizen of Tarsus and a Roman citizen. All three contexts are important when we are interpreting Paul’s letters, and we would be wrong to ask if any one context dominated his thought. He was ideally suited then to take a Jewish Gospel to the Graeco-Roman world.
J. Warren Smith
This article offers a nuanced account of the fourth-century Trinitarian controversies. It shows how the fundamentally exegetical controversies began with Arius' insistence on the unique divine prerogatives of the Father and continued with decades of debate over the appropriateness of the word homoousios, which had been rejected by third-century synods in Antioch because of concerns about modalism. It argues that the doctrine of the Trinity that emerged in the years leading up to the Council of Constantinople in 381 was not so much a philosophical dispute as it was a conflict over the interpretation of Scripture.