Reading Joachim of Fiore today, it may be initially difficult to discern the fascination that the Calabrian holy man had for his contemporaries and for so many subsequent readers. Joachim's three major works, the Exposition on the Apocalypse, the Book of Concordance, and the Ten-Stringed Psaltery, are lengthy, repetitious, and difficult for those not well acquainted with his intricate exegesis and symbolism. His occasional treatises, some of considerable length, do not always display the fundamental characteristics of his thought as clearly as does the trilogy on which he labored for almost twenty years. 1 One might be tempted to regard the Calabrian as an important figure for the history of apocalyptic theory but not as a cogent representative of apocalyptic spirituality. Such a judgment, however, does not stand up to a careful reading of Joachim's surviving works in full.
Joachim was born about 12135 in Calabria, the son of a notary of the resplendent Sicilian court. 2 Educated to follow in his father's footsteps, after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land he dedicated his life to the pursuit of God. For a time he lived as a hermit on Mt. Etna, then was a wandering preacher in his native Calabria before being ordained and entering the Benedictine monastery of Corazzo. Joachim soon became abbot, and