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Review article

The Advent Hope in Early Christianity

Paul J. Landa ; Loma Linda University, CA, SAD

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page 57-88

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This essay has sought to show the fate of the advent hope as the early Christian church emerged and spread into the Greco-Roman world, expressing its faith in modes of thought that successively were shaped by Jewish, Greek, and finally Latin insights. The use of these modes was accompanied by a lessening of the eschatological expectation, owing to the fact of its delay and to changing social and political circumstances. Thus the imminently awaited advent of the late first and early second centuries gradually gave way to a “doctrine” of the advent—one of the essential components of the “history of salvation.” This essential doctrine was in turn spiritualized away by those who insisted on promoting a type of “realized eschatology,” more in character with the superior religious gnosis represented by Christianity (to Hellenistic minds).
Changing conditions brought a revival of the earlier expectancy, only to have it fulfilled in a totally unexpected manner: The kingdom of God supposedly was initiated by the advent of the Christian emperor Constantine. The victory of the Christian church came to be viewed as a close approximation of the coming of God’s reign. Nevertheless, even the citizens of the City of God still felt themselves very much earthbound, and the hope of the parousia — now once again an “essential” Christian doctrine—remained very much alive in their thinking about the future, even as it cast a long beam of light on their present lives and conduct.


Advent-Hope, Early-Christianity, Eschatology

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