Eschatology in the Early Church Fathers

Brian Daley

in The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology

Published in print December 2007 |
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

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Early Christian theology developed in a climate of strong, although fluid, eschatological expectations. The degree to which Jesus' own preaching was dominated by themes of the imminent end of human history is still hotly debated, but it is unquestionable that both his own disciples and the authors of the New Testament canon lived in a religious world animated by Jewish apocalyptic images and the hopes they implied. This article discusses patristic eschatology, not simply the use made of the apocalyptic genre by early Christian authors, but their sense of constantly living in history's final age, of facing, amid persecutions and natural disasters, the end of society and the more immediate end of individual human life. It examines Christian apocalyptic in the second century, along with early Christian homiletics, the Greek apologists, gnostic Christianity and the Orthodox response, gnostic literature, Irenaeus, Tertullian and Hippolytus, Alexandrian theology in the third century, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, fourth- and fifth-century eschatology, and later apocalypticism.

Keywords: Christianity; theology; apocalypticism; homiletics; Greek apologists; Clement of Alexandria; Origen; gnostic literature; Irenaeus

Article.  8417 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Christianity

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