Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Feast of Saint Abraham: Medieval Millenarians and the Jews

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Feast of Saint Abraham: Medieval Millenarians and the Jews

Article excerpt

The Feast of Saint Abraham: Medieval Millenarians and the Jews. By Robert E. Lerner. [The Middle Ages Series.] (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 2001. Pp. viii, 186. $35.00.)

In this intriguing study Robert Lerner describes what he sees as a Joachite tradition concerning the role of the Jews in an apocalyptic future time. He begins in the twelfth century with Joachim of Fiore and ends in the fifteenth with Nicholas of Buldesdorf. Along the way he pays particular attention to the thirteenth-century Franciscans (especially Peter John Olivi), John of Rupescissa, Frederick of Brunswick, and Francesc Eiximenis.

According to Lerner, Joachim went well beyond the common medieval view that in the period after Antichrist the Jews would be converted to Christianity. Instead he anticipated a third age of history marked by "a mutually beneficial union of Christians and Jews." The Holy Spirit would offer clarification of both the Old and New Testaments. The new people profiting from this clarification would be, in Lerner's words, "neither Jew nor Gentile but `spiritual."'

We are then shown how the various authors considered by Lerner fit into what is in some ways a linear progression. While all anticipated a new age that would involve Jewish-Christian reconciliation, neither Joachim nor Olivi showed much interest in delineating a particular messianic figure who would play a major role in its inception. Rupescissa connected the new age with such a person; then Frederick of Brunswick wrote himself into the scenario as a John the Baptist heralding that person; and finally Nicholas of Buldesdorf completed the process by suggesting that he himself was the messianic figure. …

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