Apocalypticism in Western History and Culture, by Bernard McGinn (ed.)

By Bernard McGinn (ed.)

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The last days of the faithful Body of Christ will be characterized by persecution, in Tyconius's view, such as the Donatist faithful had been undergoing for almost a century. 39), but it will also reveal the current activity of Christ in his church. 9). The "first resurrection" (Rev. 3; Lib. reg. 243-45; Commentary on Luke, fro 83; see n. 5 below) and which reappears in Ambrose (In Ps. 20), as well as in Augustine. So, for Tyconius, the blessings of the thousand-year reign with Christ are already available in a spiritual form for his faithful.

Ca. 450), bishop of Ravenna, also occasionally echoes the old Latin theme that the world has grown weak with age (Serm. 3) and that his own era was "the end of time" (Serm. 3). Peter's outlook on his age, however, is considerably more optimistic than that of most Latin Christian writers at the turn of the fifth century. Like Maximus, he finds in the prospect of history's end hope and consolation for believers (Serm. 5). The reign ofTheodosius and the decades that followed were also the time of the first flowering of an expressly Christian Latin poetry: the product of highly educated Christian writers seeking, perhaps in response to Julian's exclusion of Christians from the cultural mainstream, to find themes from the Christian Bible in which the language and forms of classical poetry and rhetoric could achieve a new and edifying evangelical content, free of the moral dangers of the old mythology.

Elsewhere, however, Justin hints that the prophets' expectation of this time of peace and plenty is in some sense already realized in the peaceable community of the church (Dial 110). Strong as it was, his millenarian hope seems to have been capable of various interpretations. The other main representative of millenarian hope in the late second century was Irenaeus ofLyons (d. after 198). Like Justin, Irenaeus also insists that Christian faith includes the expectation of a real resurrection of the body and a real transformation of the present cosmos, at least as the penultimate chapter in the story of salvation; a primary interest in his theology, of course, is to counteract the dismissal of both body and cosmos by contemporary Gnostic teachers as irrelevant to human welfare (see chapter 11 below).

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