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Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Millennial Thought in Early Christianity [Paperback]

By Charles E. Hill (Author)
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Item description for Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Millennial Thought in Early Christianity by Charles E. Hill...

Regnum Caelorum is a groundbreaking book that explores the largely overlooked connection in early Christian thought between understandings of the millennium and the intermediate state of the soul after death. Charles Hill traces Christian views of the soul's fate in Jewish texts, the New Testament, and in early Christian writers through the mid-third century A.D. His findings lead to a provocative new assessment of the development of Christian eschatology that corrects many misconceptions of earlier scholarly research. This second edition updates and substantially expands Hill's highly respected original work published by Oxford.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Millennial Thought in Early Christianity by Charles E. Hill has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Choice - 12/01/2001 page 700

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Pages   344
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.22" Width: 6.14" Height: 0.91"
Weight:   1.16 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 17, 2001
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  0802846343  
ISBN13  9780802846341  

Availability  126 units.
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More About Charles E. Hill

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Charles E. Hill (Ph.D. Cambridge University) is Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. His other books include Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Future Hope in Early Christianity and The Johannine Corpus in the Early Church, both published by Oxford University Press, and From the Lost Teaching of Polycarp: Identifying Irenaeus' Apostolic Presbyter and the Author of ad Diognetum published by J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck).
Michael J. Kruger (Ph.D. University of Edinburgh) is Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC and is the author of the Gospel of the Savior: An Analysis of P.Oxy. 840 and its Place in the Gospel Traditions of Early Christianity (Brill, 2005) and co-author of Gospel Fragments (Oxford, 2009).

Charles E. Hill was born in 1956 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Professor of New Testament Reformed Theological Seminary Orlando North.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Eschatology
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology

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Reviews - What do customers think about Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Millennial Thought in Early Christianity?

The Heavens Above and the Earth Below  Dec 13, 2006
There is a common misconception among some Christians that early Church's eschatology was universally premillennial and only gradually did this premillennialism (or chiliasm) fall out of favor with the credit (or blame) usually given to Origen and Augustine. This claim, often put forward by those clinging to the dispensationalist eschatology, overlooks the fact that the earliest Church Fathers have no trace of chiliasm in the eschatalogical passages of their writings. It is only in the second century that chiiasm appears and goes on to be the more widely held position - although never universally so - and then fades again in popularity. The questions then become: Where did chiliasm originate? Why did it become so widespread? What led to its demise?

In Regnum Caelorum, Charles E. Hill explores these question and in the process arrives at some ground breaking conclusions on the connection between the rise of chiliasm and the disemination of certain beliefs in the nature of the intermediate state between the believer's earthly passing and resurrection popularized by two pseudopigraphical Jewish apocalyptic writings that had attained some status within the fledgling Christian community. These two writings - II Baruch and IV Ezra - intimately linked the belief that souls would remain in Hades until the establishment of the millennial kingdom and not go to heaven as believed by others.

Hill begins by noting that during the height of chiliasm, its most ardent defenders did state that there were true believers in Christ who did not hold the chiliast position. One of the most famous was St. Irenaeus of Lyon who believed that Christians not holding to a chiliast position were troubled because they - wrongly in his mind - believed the souls of the faithful departed would go to heaven and a subsequent return to an earthly millennial kingdom would be a step back from the glories of the beatific vision. Instead, St. Irenaeus asserted that their souls would remain in Hades - located in the bowels of the earth - unitl Christ returns and not in heaven (with an exception made for the martyrs) and so such concerns were baseless.

With a possible link in Irenaeus of chiliasm and an intermediate state in Hades, Hill then examines other chiliasts for further evidence of a similar connection. Papias, a well known figure of the early second century Church whose writings we now only have in fragements quoted by St. Irenaeus and others, held eschatalogical views that were dependant upon the pseudopigraphical II Baruch. Since II Baruch ties in chiliasm and the view of an intermediate state in Hades, it is likely that Papias held a similar outlook and it was through Papias' influence that St. Irenaeus came to the a similar position.

Turning to a chiliast between St. Justin Martyr, a chiliast whose writings appeared between Papias and St. Irenaeus, Hill finds a similar connection between chiliasm and Hades as an intermediate state. There is some dispute as to the consistency in his writings on both matters, but where his he assert chiliasm, the subterranean intermediate state assertion also appears. Hill then turns to other Christian chiliasts throughout the ante-Nicene period and finds that, with one exception, all of them also hold to the belief in a subterranean intermediate state in Hades (with some but not all making an exception for the martyrs). The one exception is late - St. Methodius of Olympus at the turn of the fourth century - and was reacting to criticism by Origen by attempting to fuse elements of chiliast and non-chiliast eschatologies. Thus a strong correspondence of the two beliefs is established.

Having established a link within chiliasm - possibly through Papias - to the eschatalogical views expressed in Jewish pseudopigraphia, Hill takes a look at Jewish eschatalogical speculation in the peiod. There was a great deal of messianic fervor within Judaism prior to the time of Christ and this heightened after the shock of the Roman destruction of the Temple in Jersualem. From that date until the Roman's crushing the Bar Kochba revolt (~130 A.D.), an intense period of apocalyptic speculation occurred in Phariseeic circles and it was during this period that II Baruch and IV Ezra - the only Jewish books to link chiliasm and the subterranean intermediate state - were from this period. The interaction of early Christians with Jews during this period certainly would have familiarized them with such expectations and Papias, St. Justin Martyr, and the author of the Epistle of Barnabas all demonstrate a dependancy on one or both of these documents. It was through this influence that we see that such beliefs entered into the Christian consciousness at the turn of the second century A.D. Hill further notes that the entry of such beliefs is marked by some gnostic writers reacting to the chiliast belief and in so confirming its linkage to the belief in a subterranean intermediate state.

Hill then begins to examine the writings of non-chiliasts in the ante-Nicene Church. First examining the writings of the first century Apostolic Fathers, he demonstrates both the lack of chiliastic beliefs and a of belief in a subterranean intermediate state. In fact, there is strong evidence of a contrary belief in a heavenly intermediate state. This pattern is also reflected in the writings of non-chiliast Christians, Christian pseudopigraphia, and Christian martyrologies of the second century.

Hill then tackles the issue of the Montanists. The excesses of the Montanist movement (and its subsequent censure by the Church) are often credited with the decline of chiliasm on the assumption that Montanists were largely chiliasts. However, Hill points out that the patristic critics of Montanism - including many who ardently opposed chiliasm - did not bring up any such link. The misconception may result from the fact that Tertullian, by far the best known figure to embrace Montanism, was also a chiliast but he was a chiliast long before he was a Montanist. In fact, the description of Montanist beliefs we find in the Church Fathers indicates a variety of eschatalogical positions. There is no doubt, however, that an erroneous link between the two became established later.

The author then turns to the period when the tide begins to turn against chiliasm. He shows this change in fortunes corresponds to an eschatalogical shift to a position that increasingly looked heavenword. In the third century, the chiliast position would fall out of favor by this trend and the accompanying criticism of the theologians of the Alexandrian school who recoiled at the earthly emphasis of the chiliast eschatology.

Having established a strong connection between views on the intermediate state and position on chiliasm (chiliasm/subterranean intermediate state vs. non-chiliasm/heavenly intermediate state), Hill looks to the eschatalogical passages of the New Testament to see whether a millennial view can be clearly articulated or at least hinted at by a view of the intermediate state of the faithful departed. In demonstrating no advocacy of a chiliast position in the Epistles and the Gospels, he also points out the many references to a heavenly abode for the faithful departed. This is still further evidence that these writings were not advocating a chiliast view. With this in mind, he then tackles the Book of Revelation and shows how the imagery is best understood in the context of a Christian community that had no understanding of chiliasm. He points out how the imagery deviates greatly from that normally associated with a chiliast view and concludes that later chiliast readings were not in keeping with the original intent and were likely the result of imposing a chiliastic matrix derived from Jewish pseudopigraphia upon the text.

Hill then closes the book by tying together some loose ends from earlier chapters. He gives a summary of his findings and points out how in the revival of chiliasm in elements of the radical reformation, the same issue of a retreat from the heavenly abode was confronted and was solved by introducing the idea of soul sleep. Although not mentioned, one could also point out that contemporary dispensationalists evade this issue by dividing the people of God into God's earthly people (believing Jews) and heavenly people (Christians) and the millennium is only for the former. Hill then returns to the statement of St. Irenaeus that good Christians disagreed on this issue and from earlier studies concludes who he may have had in mind. The author also points to the evidence supporting the belief that chiliasm was not something St. Irenaeus inherited from St. Polycarp but departed from earlier beliefs to an alternate eschatology that he believed was better able to combat gnosticism. He then gives an exegesis of Revelation 20 using the writings of ante-Nicene non-chiliasts and concludes with some final remarks on New Testament Eschatology.

In its thoroughness in studying the eschatological views of the early Church, Regnum Caelorum puts to rest the idea that the earliest Christian eschatology was universally premillennial. In so doing, the linkage of millennial views with corresponding outlooks on the intermediate state links the chiliast eschatology with views that are objectively rejected by the New Testament texts. For anyone interested in the development of eschatology in the early Church, it is absolutely essential reading.
Every Bible Teacher & Pastor needs to study this book  Feb 15, 2006
Wow!! This book is packed with stunning research. It carefully examines the development of the roots of the doctrine of soul sleep (Intermediate State) and it's connection to a literal reading of Revelations. Detailed and objective discussion organized in a more sophisticated fashion, Hill has written a book I am already recommending. I found this book on a recommended reading list by a teacher I'm taking to upgrade my biblical knowledge. (My teacher was the Evangelical Theological Society President in the recent past). So his recommended list was something I went out and purchased. Of all the books he recommended, this one is the best, because it provides detailed source research with comments on the findings. The conclusions are stunning and if you teach eschatology, you GOTTA read this book carefully.

A few examples? He discusses Clement of Rome, the guy who wrote Corinth maybe twenty years after Paul wrote 2nd Corinthians. He evaluates Papias, Iraeneus, Hermas, and a host of others.

He examines the Apostolic Fathers and other extremely early Church Fathers or those writings from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd centuries. All available material. There's really not a printed document from the first three centuries in Christian literature that deals with Millenial thought patterns in any shape that he doesn't include in this research. He does not cover tomb notations or other archeological material. Only books and writings...but he does comment that he believes those other material sources would NOT alter his findings.

He shows who followed what trains of thought. How an effort in the late second century to oppose gnosticism resulted in a new theological problem...and that problem was addressed by developing a new theological view...which eventually was developed later on into a view on an intermediate state for believers who die and must wait for a literal millenium. He also shows that the earliest fathers probably did NOT hold to this view and what they did hold to.

It has impacted me in a huge way. Hope you get it and read it too.

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