Apocalyptic Thought in Early Christianity

2 publishers
, 2009
ISBN: 9781441253712


This volume explores how early Christian understandings of apocalyptic writings and teachings are reflected in the theology, social practices, and institutions of the early church. Experts on patristic and Byzantine Christianity present substantial samplings of biblical interpretation, theology, and visual art from first-millennium Christianity, especially from the East, to demonstrate the depth and variety of meaning early believers found in Daniel, Revelation, and related writings.

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Key Features

  • Illustrates the understanding of apocalyptic text to the early church
  • Offers a variety of early church text
  • Analyzes the importance of Daniel and Revelation to the early church


  • “‘I Know Your Works’: Grace and Judgment in the Apocalypse,” by Theodore Stylianopoulos
  • “Apocalyptic Themes in the Monumental and Minor Art of Early Christianity,” by John Herrmann and Annewies van den Hoek
  • “Turning Points in Early Christian Apocalypse Exegesis,” by Bernard McGinn
  • “‘Faithful and True’: Early Christian Apocalyptic and the Person of Christ,” by Brian E. Daley
  • “Pseudo-Hippolytus’s In sanctum Pascha: A Mystery Apocalypse,” by Dragoş-Andrei Giulea
  • “The Divine Face and the Angels of the Face: Jewish Apocalyptic Themes in Early Christology and Pneumatology,” by Bogdan G. Bucur
  • “Hippolytus and Cyril of Jerusalem on the Antichrist: When Did an Antichrist Theology First Emerge in Early Christian Baptismal Catechesis?,” by J.A. Cerrato
  • “Expectations of the End in Early Syriac Christianity,” by Ute Possekel
  • “Heavenly Mysteries: Themes from Apocalyptic Literature in the Macarian Homilies and Selected Other Fourth-Century Ascetical Writers,” by Hieromonk Alexander Golitzin
  • “Eschatological Horizons in the Cappadocian Fathers,” by John A. McGuckin
  • “Christ’s Descent to the Underworld in Ancient Ritual and Legend,” by Georgia Frank
  • “The Early Christian Daniel Apocalyptica,” by Lorenzo DiTommaso
  • “Temple and Angel: Apocalyptic Themes in the Theology of St. John Damascene,” by Elijah Nicolas Mueller
  • “Images of the Second Coming and the Fate of the Soul in Middle Byzantine Art,” by Nancy Patterson Ševčenko


  • Bogdan G. Bucur
  • J.A. Cerrato
  • Brian E. Daley
  • Lorenzo DiTommaso
  • Georgia Frank
  • Dragos-Andrei Giulea
  • Alexander Golitzin
  • John Herrmann
  • Annewies van den Hoek
  • Bernard McGinn
  • John A. McGuckin
  • Elijah Nicolas Mueller
  • Ute Possekel
  • Nancy Patterson Ševcenko
  • Theodore Stylianopoulos

Praise for the Print Edition

The 15 contributing authors represent the cream of contemporary scholars in apocalyptic, and their essays reflect a broad, deep, and impeccable scholarship that often breaks new ground.

David E. Aune, Walter Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins, University of Notre Dame

This wonderful volume illustrates the prevalence of apocalyptic themes in early Christianity from the book of Revelation to the Byzantine period. The essays range over a vast amount of material, including not only the church fathers but also apocryphal writings and early Christian art. Much of this material is known only to experts and is here made available to a broader readership. This is a first-rate contribution to the history of both apocalypticism and early Christianity.

John J. Collins, Holmes Professor of Old Testament, Yale University

A much-needed, comprehensive, and rich study of the Apocalypse as it was read and imaged by early Christian thinkers and artists. This volume will be welcomed by anyone who wants to learn about the complex interpretations of the Bible’s last—and most puzzling—book.

—Robin Jensen, Luce Chancellor’s Professor of the History of Christian Art and Worship, Vanderbilt University

In contemporary theology, the category of the ‘apocalyptic’ has enjoyed revived interest through the works of thinkers such as Nathan Kerr and Louis Martyn. Such explorations invite an investigation into the Christian roots of this approach—an investigation gratefully provided in this volume. . . . The contributors of the 14 chapters cover a great deal of territory. . . . An excellent collection worth owning for anyone interested in patristic hermeneutics or contemporary conversations around the ‘apocalyptic.’

Religious Studies Review

This book offers a breadth of perspectives on apocalyptic thought in early Christianity. . . . [It] provides an excellent introduction to the interpretation of Revelation and the transformation of broader Jewish apocalyptic themes in early Christianity. The indebtedness of Christianity to Jewish apocalyptic thought is made abundantly clear.

Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Product Details

About Robert J. Daly

Robert J. Daly is an emeritus professor at Boston College and chair of the Pappas Patristic Institute’s board. He is the author, editor, or translator of many scholarly books and articles on the early development of doctrine, patristics, biblical theology, biblical ethics, and liturgical worship.


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