19 January 2014

Review: Revelation and the First Century: Preterist Interpretations of the Apocalypse in Early Christianity - Francis X. Gumerlock


Revelation and the First Century

What a great book! Very similar to the edition the author co-wrote with Gray DeMar (The Early Church And The End Of The World) but with much more content and more recent translated documents.

In a nutshell, this book has one goal - to close the mouths of those who speak as if preteristic understandings were totally absent in all of church history. As the author states in the introduction:
One common criticism against preterist interpretations of the book of Revelation is their alleged lack of representation in Christian history. Oponents of preterist interpretations of Revelation say that such views did not exist in ancient Christianity but were introduced into Christianity in the 1600s by the Jesuit names Luis Alcasar, sometimes spelled Alcazar. This, of course, implies that such interpretations are novel. For Christians, "novel" tends to mean that such interpretations are un-orthodox and not in agreement with the ancient faith handed down to us by the apostles. 
What I find really shocking about this, is that many of today's dispensational teachers stand on this understanding too. Yet they seem to be oblivious that their brand of dispensational prophetic scheme has no history in the church until the early 1800's.

Of course, this book shows conclusively that the skeptics wrong as the author uncovers quote after quote from what seems like every century in church history, showing that there were plenty of preteristic interpretations on most all of the major pieces and parts of Revelation. Maybe the dispensationalists can try to do the same for their case.

The author deals with issues like the dating of the book of Revelation, the great tribulation, the identity of the four horsemen, the 144,000, the various seals, the two witnesses, the number of the beast, the kings, the forty-two months, and more. He also looks at Matthew 24, the budding fig tree, Daniel's seventieth week, and more.

While he is not attempting to prove that a solid, consistent preteristic view is necessarily prominent in Church history, he does show, contrary to what the skeptics claim, that many key parts that have been labeled as always related to our future, have in fact been viewed by many in history as pertaining to the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem and surrounding events of the first century.

 Both this book and the aforementioned book with Demar are great additions for reference by any that have an interest is eschatological understandings, especially preteristic ones.