Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

What Are They Saying about New Testament Apocalyptic?

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

What Are They Saying about New Testament Apocalyptic?

Article excerpt

What Are They Saying About New Testament Apocalyptic? By Scott M. Lewis. New York/Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 2004. vi + 115 pp. $12.95 (paper).

Scott Lewis's book provides a very good introduction to New Testament apocalyptic. The author identifies three bodies of literature in the New Testament where apocalyptic material is found: the gospels, the Pauline corpus, and the Book of Revelation. The volume consists of five chapters. In each chapter, Lewis provides a survey of the major scholars in the field and of the principal schools of thought.

In the introduction, Lewis situates the renewed interest in apocalyptic literature in the context of the new millennium. Although many people concentrate on the cataclysmic dimension of such books as Revelation, the author reminds the reader of the genres message of hope and renewal. Lewis then defines three key terms: "apocalypse," which refers to a particular literary genre, "apocalyptic eschatology," which indicates "a particular religious perspective and thought structure that may or may not be expressed in the form of an apocalypse" (p. 4), and "apocalypticism," meaning "a sociological ideology reflecting views found in an apocalyptic eschatology" (p. 4).

The first chapter, entitled "The Mother of All Theology," examines the various definitions of the apocalyptic genre as well as the nature of the eschatology associated with the genre. Lewis begins with the work of Albert Schweitzer and surveys such scholars as Ernst Kasemann, H. H. Rowley, D. S. Russell, Paul Hanson, Christopher Rowland, John J. Collins, Adela Yarbro Collins, M. Eugene Boring, and many others.

In chapter 2, Lewis explores the question of the authenticity of the apocalyptic sayings of Jesus. Two schools of thought oppose each other. The first, headed by E. P. Sanders, claims that, as a Jew, Jesus shared the eschatological hopes of Judaism and defends the genuine character of the apocalyptic sayings in the gospels. The other school of thought, represented by Markus Borg and the Jesus Seminar, claims that the apocalyptic sayings are attributed to the early church in the light of the Easter experience and the destruction of the temple in 70. …

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