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The Destruction of the Temple and the End of the World
On his website Andrew Perriman explores the connection between the fall of the temple and the so called "End of the World" anticipated by some first century believers. While Andrew does not endorse full Preterism or this website, his writing can be a valuable tool for exploring understanding of first century prophetic fulfillment.
by Andrew Perriman
The question of whether the early Christians were disappointed in their expectations regarding some calamitous end-of-the-world event crops up repeatedly both in academic and popular theologizing and continues to be a major factor in the modern discrediting of the New Testament. Sitting in Brussels airport the other day waiting for my friend Wes to arrive from Glasgow, I resumed my slow intermittent reading of Karen Armstrong’s book The Bible: The Biography (see also ‘A biography of the Bible and the loss of peace’) and arrived at this paragraph:
The Jesus movement was becoming controversial even before the disaster of 70. Christians, like all the other Jewish groups, were shocked to the core when they saw Herod’s magnificent shrine reduced to a pile of burnt, stinking masonry. They may have dreamed of replacing Herod’s temple but nobody had envisaged life without a temple at all. But the Christians also saw its destruction as an apokalypsis, a ‘revelation’ or ‘unveiling’ of a reality that had been there all along but had not been seen clearly before – namely that Judaism was finished. The temple ruins symbolized its tragic demise and were a sign that the end was approaching. God would now pull down the rest of the defunct world order and establish the kingdom. (64-65)
What she gets right – although she doesn’t provide any evidence for it – is that the early Christian movement would have seen the destruction of the temple as a sign that Judaism was finished. The significance of this world-shattering event in the theologically interpreted narrative of the New Testament is almost entirely overlooked by mainstream evangelicalism.
But there are a number of things, in my view, that Armstrong still gets wrong.