Cosmology and Eschatology

Robert John Russell

in The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology

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

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In traditional Christianity, eschatology was treated quite literally, limited to the topic of last things (general resurrection, last judgment, heaven and hell, the end of the world, etc.) and consigned to the end of dogmatics. Beginning with the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, eschatology was frequently reinterpreted in terms of philosophical, ethical, social, political, economic, and historical categories with little attention to traditional issues. In 1906, however, with Albert Schweitzer's stunning work The Quest of the Historical Jesus, eschatology was exposed as foundational to Jesus's understanding of his mission and to early Christian faith and praxis. This article explores the relation between eschatology and scientific cosmology. It begins by summarizing the importance of eschatology to contemporary Christian theology. It then provides an overview of scientific cosmology, whose predictions of “freeze or fry” severely challenge those versions of Christian eschatology which are based on the bodily resurrection of Jesus and the transformation of the universe into the new creation. The article outlines several recent approaches to this challenge and offers some suggestions for future research in both theology and science.

Keywords: Christianity; cosmology; theology; universe; freeze or fry; resurrection; Jesus; creation; science

Article.  8209 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Christianity ; Religion and Science

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