Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Ancient -- Novitas Christiana: Die Idee Des Fortschritts in der Alten Kirche Bis Eusebius by Wolfram Kinzig

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Ancient -- Novitas Christiana: Die Idee Des Fortschritts in der Alten Kirche Bis Eusebius by Wolfram Kinzig

Article excerpt

Novitas Christiana: Die Idee des Fortschritts in der Alten Kirche bis Eusebius. By Wolfram Kinzig.

Forschungen zur Kirchen- und Dogmengeschichte, Band 58.

(Goettingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht. 1994. Pp. 702. DM 198,-.)

While there is a vast literature on the concept of progress, the author in his Habilitationsschrift from Heidelberg maintains that most of the scholarship on the subject is defective because there has not been a deep and thorough study of the early Christian notion of progress. This work proposes to fill that Lacuna. He defines progress as an advance of mankind for the better, whatever the cause. He begins by exploring the literature on the subject dating from the past two centuries. Thoughts of progress were rare in pagan antiquity, nor were they, as defined here, to be found in Scripture. While it is clear that Jesus' coming was something new, Kinzig feels that the thought of progress remained foreign to Jewish-Christian thought through the end of the first century.

Christian apologists were torn between two tendencies. The thought of emphasizing Christian newness was tempered, if not sometimes extinguished, by the need, in view of ancient presuppositions, to stress the antiquity of Christianity. This was done by underlining Christianity's continuity with Judaism. The fading of eschatological expectation in the second century led to the need for theorizng about the continued existence of Christianity in time. The basic framework for doing this was that of two covenants of God with his people, with the second constituting progress over the first.

At this point, starting with Irenaeus, Kinzig begins his detailed analysis of the idea of salvation history as progress. The Montanists raised the possibility of ongoing revelation. …

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