"Amen. Come, Lord Jesus" ( Apoc. 22:20). The significance of these closing words of the New Testament for later Christian spirituality is the subject of this volume. Biblical scholars of the past generation have emphasized the importance of apocalyptic beliefs for the origins of Christianity, and the studies of patristic experts and medievalists have shown that expectations of the imminent end of the current age and the return of the Lord did not die out in the second century.
The relation of apocalyptic traditions to religious, social and political change during the centuries between A. D. 200 and 1500 were extraordinarily complex. This selection of texts does not try to illustrate the full range of transformations that apocalypticism underwent during the patristic and medieval periods. Its purpose is rather to show how apocalyptic beliefs continued to serve as the basis for distinctive forms of piety over these centuries.
Although they speak to particular times and situations, the texts translated here, many for the first time available in English, are part of a continuous tradition. The Seventh Book of the Divine Institutes of Lactantius was written at the time of Constantine's recognition of the Church. It is both a summary of early Christian beliefs about the Antichrist and the millennial age, as well as a witness to the changes brought about in Christian apocalypticism through contact with other religions. The monk Adso, whose treatise dates from the middle of the bleak tenth century, provides a classic account of Antichrist's career and shows how the Roman empire and her ruler had