(Minor Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 or Revelation
Oswald T. Allis
John A. Broadus
Wilhelm De Wette
Charles Homer Giblin
Johann von Hug
J, F, and Brown
Jean Le Clerc
Jack P. Lewis
Sir Isaac Newton
Dr. John Owen
William W. Patton
Rudolph E. Stier
(Major Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 or Revelation
John L. Bray
Dr. John Brown
Francis X. Gumerlock
J. Marcellus Kik
Ovid Need, Jr
Milton S. Terry
(Virtually No Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 & Revelation in 1st
C. - Types Only ; Also Included are "Higher Critics" Not Associated With Any
Alan Patrick Boyd
John N. Darby
Charles G. Finney
J.P. Green Sr.
John N.D. Kelly
Dr. John Smith
George Fox |
Margaret Fell (Fox) |
PRETERIST UNIVERSALISM |
MODERN PRETERISM |
"For example, Billy Graham and Barbara Streisand -- two people on different
ends of the spiritual spectrum"
Frank X. Gumerlock
Frank X. Gumerlock currently teaches Latin in
Broomfield, Colorado and is secretary of the Colorado Classics
Gumerlock, Francis X. “Nero Antichrist: Patristic Evidence for
the Use of Nero’s Naming in Calculating the Number of the
Beast,” Westminster Theological Journal 68, no. 2 (2006):
in the First Century Preterist Interpretations of the Apocalypse
in Early Christianity FXG's book "Revelation in the First
Century: Preterist Interpretations of the Apocalypse in Early
Christianity" 4.99 on Sribd- well worth it for all.
The Early Church and the End of the World
"Since the futurist perspective
has been promoted as an early church reality by so many for so
long, few people today actually question it. The Early
Church and the "End of the World" is the first book to
question the prevailing futurist view by a careful study of the
historical record. It will show that some of the earliest
writers, most likely writing before the destruction of Jerusalem
in A.D. 70, were referring to the judgment coming of Jesus, an
event that the gospel writers tell us was to take place before
that first-century generation passed away (Matt. 24:34). Adding
to the confirmation of this view are the writings of the
church’s first historian,
of Caesarea (c. 260–341), whose Ecclesiastical
History is a window on the first few centuries of the
church. " ($6.95) |
Was the Preterist Interpretation of Revelation
Invented by the Jesuits?
"As Frank Gumerlock and others have shown with the advent of
translated works that have never been in English, there is a long
history of Christians going back long before either Ribera or
Alcasar who interpreted parts of Revelation in a preteristic way."
"Once last point about
being the founder of the preterist school of interpretation
needs to be made. Frank X. Gumerlock, writing in his book
Revelation and the First Century, states that “Luis
Alcasar’s commentary on Revelation, published in 1614, was not
the first to take a preterist approach to the main body of the
Apocalypse (Chs. 6–19). [John] Henten wrote his comments almost
a century before the publication of Alcasar’s commentary.” In
1545, Henten made these comments on the date of Revelation: And
first it seems to us that John, this apostle and evangelist who
is called the Theologian, was exiled onto Patmos by Nero at the
very same time in which he killed the blessed apostles of Christ
Peter and Paul. . . . [and] that the Apocalypse was written on
Patmos before the destruction of Jerusalem." According to
Gumerlock, Henten (1499–1566), or Hentenius as he is also known,
“held that Chapters 6–11 of Revelation referred to the
abrogation of Judaism, and Chapters 12–19 referred to the
destruction of Roman paganism.”
Gumerlock, Revelation and the First Century, 42."
The claim has
been made by a number of prophecy writers that the early church was
predominately premillennial on millennial issues and exclusively
futuristic on almost everything else. This means that early Christian
writers who commented on prophetic passages like the Olivet Discourse
(Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) believed and wrote that the biblical
authors were always referring to events in the distant future just
before the return of Christ. While these claims have been made with
certainty, there has always been a lack of clear historical
documentation to back them up. Sometimes the historical record has been
stretched and exaggerated to fit an already developed theory. But since
the futurist perspective has been promoted as an early church reality by
so many for so long, few people today actually question it. The
Early Church and the "End of the World" is the first book to
question the prevailing futurist view by a careful study of the
The Early Church and the "End of the World" asks this fundamental
question: What did the earliest of the early Christian writers actually
believe about prophetic events? We can only answer this question by
actually studying what they wrote. Unfortunately, we do not have a
complete record of the period. To make our historical investigation even
more difficult, there are translation issues. Many of the works of those
who wrote soon after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and beyond
booklet seeks to remedy some of these problems. Thomas Ice, in his
chapter on the history of preterism in The End Times Controversy,
makes some bold historical claims that cannot be supported when the
historical record is actually analyzed. The early church was not
monolithic in its views of Bible prophecy. There was no unanimous
acceptance of either premillennialism or a distant futurism.
The Early Church and the "End of the World" will show that some of
the earliest writers, most likely writing before the destruction of
Jerusalem in A.D. 70, were referring to the judgment coming of Jesus, an
event that the gospel writers tell us was to take place before that
first-century generation passed away (Matt. 24:34). Adding to the
confirmation of this view are the writings of the church’s first
historian, Eusebius Pampilus of Caesarea (c. 260–341), whose
Ecclesiastical History is a window on the first few centuries
of the church.
Francis X. Gumerlock has undertaken the task of translating a number
of ancient and medieval commentators who have written on Matthew 24.
He shows that many early and medieval writers believed that these
prophecies had already been fulfilled before the “end” of
Jerusalem, that is, before its destruction by the Romans in A.D. 70.
(Booklet, 83 pages with extensive footnotes)
THE DAY AND THE HOUR
Christianity's Perennial Fascination with Predicting the End of the
Francis X. Gumerlock, 2000
Christianity has always been perennially fascinated, obsessed at
times, with predicting the end of the world. Francis Gumerlock has
chronicled two millennia's worth of predictions of the end. Unlike any
other book in print, The Day and the Hour includes 20
easy-to-read tables that consisely summarize major themes such as: First
Century Antichrist Suspects; Who Were the Two Witnesses?; God & Magog
Candidates; and many more.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- New Jerusalem Descends into Turkey A.D. 50-335
- Babylon is Falling and the Whole World With It A.D. 350-496
- Apocalyptic Panic in the Dark Ages A.D. 500-999
- Medieval Millennial Madness 1000-1197
- Assisi, Italy-Touched by an Angel! 1200-1297
- The Abomination of Desolation in the Holy Place 1300-1399
- The Taborites Flee to the Mountains 1400-1516
- The Two Witnesses Appear in Munster, Germany 1517-1548
- Cosmic Comets and Noteworthy Novas 1550-1599
- Soothsayers of the Seventeenth Century 1600-1635
- Palestine or Bust! 1636-1650
- Move Over for King Jesus! 1651-1659
- And His Number is 1666? 1660-1699
- Baptism of Fire in the Last Days 1700-1749
- Wars and Rumors of War 1750-1799
- Christ Returns to the Heavenly Sanctuary 1800-1849
- The Latter Day Glory Providentially Postponed 1850-1899
- Will the Real Antichrist Please Stand Up 1900-1947
- A Fig Tree Buds in the Middle East 1948-1985
- Rapture Fever in the Late Twentieth Century 1986-1999
- Earth Takes a Sabbatical 2000-3836
MARK 13:32 AND CHRIST'S SUPPOSED IGNORANCE: FOUR PATRISTIC SOLUTIONS
Trinity Journal, Fall 2007 by Gumerlock, Francis X
I. THE PROBLEM OF CHRIST'S SUPPOSED IGNORANCE1
Referring to the time of his second coming, Jesus is recorded as saying,
"But of that day or hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven,
nor the Son, but the Father alone" (Mark 13:32, NASB; the word alone is
italicized because it was supplied by the translator). The church
fathers spilled much ink explaining this statement of the Lord, most
often because of its import regarding Christology.2 Since the passage
allegedly presents Christ as ignorant, the Arians of the early church,
who denied that the Son was consubstantial with the Father, used it as a
proof-text for their belief in a less-than-divine Son of God.3 On the
other hand, those who held to Nicene orthodoxy and believed that Jesus
was fully God and possessed all the attributes of divinity, including
omniscience, responded to the Arians with Col 2:3, "In him are all the
treasures of wisdom and knowledge." The adherents of Nicene orthodoxy,
besides asserting Christ's omniscience, also had to make sense out of
Mark 13:32, which seemed to teach that Jesus was ignorant of at least
one detail concerning the future, i.e., the time of his return. To solve
the theological dilemma of the omniscient Son of God not knowing the
time of his own second coming, the church fathers proposed a variety of
explanations. This article presents and evaluates four of their
solutions-the philological solution of Basil of Caesarea, two "figures
of speech" solutions offered by Augustine of Hippo and Gregory of Tours
respectively, and the anthropological solution of Athanasius of
II. THE PHILOLOGICAL SOLUTION
In the fourth century, Basil of Caesarea (d. 379) offered a philological
solution to the problem. He argued that the Greek words in Mark 13:32 do
not teach that the Son was ignorant. He noted that a literal,
word-for-word translation of the verse reads, "But of that day or hour
no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, if not (ei me)
the Father." From this philology, Basil reasoned that Jesus was in
effect saying: If I were not one with the Father, even I would not know
the time of my second coming. Basil commented,
But the saying of Mark . . . we understand in this way: that no one
knows, neither the angels of God, but not even the Son would have known,
unless the Father had known, that is, the cause of the Son's knowledge
is from the Father.4
According to this interpretation, Mark 13:32 is not a statement about
the Lord's ignorance, but the exact opposite. It is a statement about
Christ's divinity and omniscience.
Basil's argument has several positive qualities. First, it is based on
the Greek text itself. Ei me in Greek can mean "if not."5 In fact, the
words ei and me are often translated "if" and "not", as in the NASB and
NIV translations of John 9:33 which both read: "If this man were not
from God, He could do nothing" (italics mine). Basil's interpretation
also entirely erases the problem of Christ's supposed ignorance.
On the other hand, Basil's interpretation has the problem of the words
Pater monos (the Father alone) in the synoptic parallel of Matt 24:36:
"But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels of heaven,
nor the Son, but the Father alone." Basil explains this by saying that
the phrase the Father alone is used in contradistinction from the
angels, not in contradistinction from the Son.6 In other words,
according to Basil, the contrast in the passage is not: Humans, angels,
and the Son do not know; the Father does know. Rather, it is: Humans and
angels do not know; the Son and Father do know. Although Basil's
understanding of the passage springs from the language of the biblical
text itself, to me it seems like he is forcing a theological
presupposition into a biblical text for polemical reasons, rather than
accepting the "natural reading" of the text.
III. TWO "FIGURES OF SPEECH" SOLUTIONS
A. Augustine: To Know is to Reveal
Several patristic authors attempted to solve the problem of Christ's
supposed ignorance by saying that Jesus was speaking figuratively when
he said that the Son did not know the time of the second coming.
Augustine of Hippo (d. 430), for example, wrote that many times in
Scripture the statement "God knows" means "God reveals." When it says in
Mark 13:32 that the Son does not know the day or hour, according to
Augustine, it really means that the Son does not reveal the day or hour.
For support, Augustine gave the example of Gen 22:12, where God said to
Abraham after his test of obedience in sacrificing Isaac: "Now I know
that you fear me." In reality, Augustine argued, the omniscient God did
not increase in knowledge. It was a figurative way of saying, "Now it is
revealed that you fear me." Augustine cited Deut 13:3 as another
biblical example of this kind of figure of speech. Here Moses said that
God would test the love of his people by means of false prophets. He
wrote: "For the Lord your God is testing you that he may know whether
you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul."
According to Augustine, the phrase "that he may know" does not mean that
God would increase in knowledge once the Israelites were tested, but
that at that time it would be revealed whether the children of Israel
These cross-references help lend weight to Augustine's interpretation.
Furthermore, Augustine's interpretation coincides well with the context
in which Mark 13:32 is found. The main point of the section of the
Olivet Discourse in which the passage is found is to warn humans to be
ready at all times, because the day and hour has not been revealed.
Jesus's words about people being taken unaware in the deluge of Noah,
and Christ's parables of the faithful servant, the ten virgins, and the
talents, all teach this (cf. Matt 24:37-25:30).
Augustine's view also has problems. If his definition of "not knowing"
as "not revealing" is applied throughout the whole verse, the meaning of
the passage significantly changes from what Augustine claimed it meant.
For, the Scripture passage not only says that the Son does not know the
day or the hour of his coming; it also says that humans and angels do
not know. When, therefore, the definition of "not knowing" as "not
revealing" is applied throughout the verse, the meaning becomes: But of
that day or hour, no one, e.g., prophet has revealed, neither have the
angels in heaven revealed it, nor has the Son revealed it, but only the
Father will reveal it in his good time. While this interpretation is
consistent with NT theology as a whole, that is, with other passages
that speak of Christ's coming as a thief in the night and of its time
being concealed by the Father's authority (1 Thess 5:2; Rev 3:3; Acts
1:7), I have doubts about whether Augustine's reading of the passage is
really what Jesus meant when he preached it.
B. Gregory of Tours: The "Son" is Metaphoric of the Church
Another "figure of speech" interpretation is found in the writing of
Gregory of Tours (d. 594). He said that the words "son" and "father" in
Mark 13:32 are not speaking of persons of the Trinity, but are figures
of the church and Christ. Since these words do not represent the Father
and Son, in his view the passage would read without the words "Father"
and "Son" capitalized: "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither
the angels in heaven, nor the son, but only the father." For Gregory,
the church, made up of the adopted children of Christ and designated by
the word "son," does not know the time of the Lord's second coming.
Designated by the word "father" is Jesus, the Lord and presiding judge
at the Last Judgment; and he does know its time.8
For support, Gregory and others cited biblical cross-references in which
the relationship between Christ and his people is presented figuratively
as one of father and children. For example, in John 13:33, Jesus said:
"Little children, I am with you a little while longer." Similarly, in
Heb 2:13, Christ says, "Behold, I and the children whom God has given
One strength of Gregory's interpretation is that in the Olivet Discourse
Jesus used other relationships to symbolically represent his
relationship with his followers, figures like bridegroom/ virgin (Matt
25:1-13), master/servant (Matt 25:14-30), and thief/servant (Matt
24:43-51). Therefore, it would be rhetorically consistent for Jesus also
to employ father/son relational imagery in the discourse. Second, while
today we often capitalize the first letter of Father and Son if we are
speaking of the persons of the Trinity, and use lower case letters if we
employ the terms father and son as common nouns, the original
manuscripts of the Greek NT were probably written in all majuscules or
capital letters. Therefore, there is nothing in the orthography that
demands that the persons of the Trinity be understood in the passage or
that prohibits one from understanding the son and father in the passage
as common nouns. This interpretation also entirely removes the
christological problem of the Son's supposed ignorance.10 Jesus, who is
represented in the passage under the figure of the father, does know the
day and hour of the eschaton. The only question that remains is whether
this is what Jesus had in mind when he was delivering the Olivet
IV. THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL SOLUTION OF ATHANASIUS
Athanasius of Alexandria (d. 373) proposed still another solution to the
problem of Christ's supposed ignorance. For him, Mark 13:32 does not
detract from the Son's consubstantial omniscience, it simply speaks of
the limited knowledge of Christ's humanity. He writes that Jesus
made this [statement] as mose other declarations as man by reason of the
flesh. For this as before is not the Word's deficiency, but of diat
human nature whose property it is to be ignorant. . . . For it is proper
to die Word to know what was made, nor be ignorant either of the
beginning or of the end of these. . . . Certainly when he says in the
Gospel concerning Himself in His human character, "Father, the hour is
come, glorify Thy Son," it is plain that He knows also the hour of the
end of all things, as the Word, though as man He is ignorant of it, for
ignorance is proper to man. . . . for since He was made man, He is not
ashamed, because of the flesh which is ignorant to say, "I know not,"
that He may show that knowing as God, He is but ignorant according to
Similarly, Gregory of Nazianzus (d. 390) wrote about Christ that
"everyone must see that He knows as God, and knows not as Man. . . . [W]e
are to understand the ignorance in the most reverent sense, by
attributing it to the Manhood, and not to the Godhead."12
And later that century, Rufinus the Syrian (c. 399) anathematized anyone
who would interpret Mark 13:32 "in accordance with the blasphemy of the
Arians, rather than understand that the passage concerns the
dispensation of His assumed flesh."13
The main strength of Athanasius's anthropological interpretation is that
it harmonizes with Luke's Gospel, which assigns to Christ a growth in
wisdom. Since the Gospel writer claims that the Christ-child "grew in
wisdom and stature" (Luke 2:52), it is inferred that Christ was ignorant
of certain things.
Another strength of the anthropological solution is that, by assigning
the ignorance to Christ's human nature, one can still retain Christ's
full divinity. For, as the creeds state, the incarnation is not an
exchange of deity for humanity, but a joining of deity with humanity in
one person.14 With the anthropological solution one can have true
divinity and true humanity with all of their properties intact without a
theory of kenosis in which the Son loses the divine attribute of
omniscience. The two natures of Christ with all of the properties can be
However, this solution, which assigns ignorance to Christ's human mind,
is also beset with weakness. The main weakness is the difficulty of
stating the position in a manner that avoids the error of the Nestorians
condemned at the ecumenical council of Ephesus in 431 - that of too
greatly separating the natures of Christ. Two-nature Christology which
joins all of the properties of divinity and all of the properties of
humanity engenders these questions: When full divinity and perfect
humanity are joined in one person, how are the attributes of each nature
communicated or shared by the one person? What effect does the unity of
Christ's person have on each nature? In answer to these questions the
Eutychians erroneously blended Christ's two natures in such a way that
their Christ was one person, but neither fully divine nor fully human.
The Nestorians articulated a two-nature Christology that erred in the
other extreme. By assigning certain acts to Christ's humanity and
certain acts to his divinity, they weakened the unity of his person and
were accused of creating two persons, a human Jesus and a divine Son
joined together through indwelling or participation.15
When Athanasius and Gregory stated Christ's ignorance, it was in the
polemical context of the Arian controversy. But when theologians like
Theodore of Mopsuestia (d. 428), Theodoret of Cyrus (d. 466), and
Leporius of Gaul (fl. c. 430) asserted that Jesus was ignorant of the
day and the hour of his return, they were accused of Nestorianism. The
reason for their censure was that they allegedly taught that Jesus could
only know as much as the divine nature would communicate to him at
specific times. They saw Jesus as receiving divine knowledge
incrementally from the Word, as if the latter were dwelling in the
former.16 To their opponents this implied that Jesus was not the
God-man, but only a man participating in divinity.
The orthodox position, articulated in reaction to Nestorianism, was that
because of the unity of the two natures in the incarnation, the Lord's
human mind was fully enriched with the fullness of divine knowledge. For
example, Fulgentius of Ruspe (d. 533) wrote that because of the
hypostatic union, the human soul of Christ possesses "the full knowledge
of the infinite divinity," since the Scripture says that was given the
Spirit without measure.17 That same century, Pope Vigilius wrote against
the Nestorians on Christ's supposed ignorance of the day and the hour:
If anyone says that the one Jesus Christ who is both true Son of God and
true Son of man did not know the future or die day of the Last Judgment
and that He could only know as much as the divinity, dwelling in Him as
in another, revealed to Him, anathema sit.18
Thus, viewing Jesus as an ignorant man, knowing only as much as the
divine nature would permit him to know at a given time, was judged in
the early christological debates to be Nestorian. Instead of the two
natures united in one person, it hinted at a mere man sharing in
divinity. It nullified not only Paul's statement that in Christ were
"all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col 2:3), but also Jesus'
own words: "Everything which the Father has is mine" (John 16:15). In
addition, the opponents of Nestorianism reasoned that if the Father had
committed to the Son of Man all of the details of the Last Judgment
(John 5:22-27), including the knowledge of the thoughts, words, and
actions of every human that ever lived, certainly the knowledge of the
time of the appointed judgment was entrusted to him.
Shortly after the reaction of the orthodox against Nestorian views of
Christ's ignorance, a sect called the Agnotae arose within the
monophysite community in Egypt. Asserting ignorance in Christ based in
large part upon Mark 13:32, the Agnotae met with similar reactions by
the orthodox.19 In the West, Gregory the Great (d. 604) responded
[T]he Only-begotten, being incarnate and made for us a perfect man, knew
indeed in the nature of His humanity the day and the hour of the
judgment, but still it was not from the nature of His humanity tiiat He
knew it. What then He knew in it [his human nature] He knew not from it,
because God, made man, knew the day and the hour of the judgment through
the power of His Deity. . . .The day, then, and the hour of the judgment
He knows as God and man, but for this reason, that God is man. It is
moreover a tiling quite manifest, that whoso is not a Nestorian cannot
in any wise be an Agnoite. (italics mine)20
John of Damascus (d. c. 750), representing Eastern orthodoxy, wrote
similarly: "One must know that the Word assumed the ignorant and
subjected nature," but "thanks to the identity of the hypostasis and the
indissoluble union, the Lord's soul was enriched with the knowledge of
things to come. . . ."21
Some contemporary theologians like N. T. Wright believe these later
anti-Nestorian, anti-Agnotae articulations have lost sight of the Lord's
true humanity.22 On the other hand, theologians who value these
affirmations are faced with the challenge of articulating the true
humanity of Christ-the fact that he "grew in wisdom" (Luke 2:52) and
"learned obedience" (Heb 5:8)-without falling into the condemned
Nestorian tenet that has Christ's human nature receiving divine
knowledge in increments. This is no easy task, but it can be done. As we
have seen, Athanasius and Gregory of Nazianzus affirmed the
anthropological solution to Mark 13:32 before the Nestorian heresy
arose, and Gregory the Great and John of Damascus articulated it, albeit
in a guarded form, afterward.23
V. EXEGETICAL OPTIONS FROM PATRISTIC SOURCES
The anthropological solution to the problem of Christ's supposed
ignorance, advocated by Athanasius and others in the early church, is
probably the most popular today. But unless it is articulated very
carefully, one's explanation can easily convey that the Lord's human
mind received divine knowledge gradually, a belief condemned as
Nestorian by sixth-century theologians. Fortunately, the anthropological
interpretation was not the only solution that early Christian
interpreters proposed. Patristic exegetes offered a variety of
perspectives on Mark 13:32 from which today's pastors and theologians
Focusing on the Greek words that can be translated if not the Father,
Basil of Caesarea offered a philological interpretation. The phrase "nor
the Son, if not the Father," he argued, meant that even the Son would
not have known the day or hour, if it were not for his substantial union
with the Father. Other patristic writers solved the problem of Christ's
supposed ignorance in Mark 13:32 by saying that Jesus was using a figure
of speech. Augustine of Hippo interpreted the Son's not knowing the day
or the hour to mean that the Son had not revealed the time of his second
coming. Gregory of Tours, on the other hand, held that the Son and
Father in the passage do not refer to the persons of the Trinity, but to
the church and Christ. The "son" or church does not know the time of the
second coming, but Christ under the figure of "father" does in fact
I am fully convinced that on the day when our faith becomes sight the
problem of the Son not knowing the day and hour will be permanently
solved. But for the church militant on this side of glory, laboring
diligently to understand God's inspired Word, the church fathers provide
at least four reasonable alternatives.
1 An early draft of this article was delivered as a paper at the 55th
Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Atlanta in
2 Some of the Fathers used the passage to teach the folly of predicting
the time of Christ's second coming. See my The Day and the Hour:
Christianity's Perennial Fascination With Predicting the End of the
World (Powder Springs, Ga.: American Vision, 2000), 26, 31, 40, 86, 88.
3 Arius of Alexandria, Thalia, fragments; in R. P. H. Hanson, The Search
for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy, 318-381
(Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1988), 107, 448, 453, 558; Rowan Williams,
Arius: Heresy and Tradition (London: Darton, Longman, and Todd, 1987),
100-103; and Robert C. Gregg and Dennis E. Groh, Early Arianism-A View
of Salvation (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981), 7-10. See also Altercation
Between Heraclianus and Germinius, Bishop of Sirmium (PLS 1:347);
Anonymous Arian, Opus imperfectum in Matthaeum (Homily 50 on Matt 24),
in Franz Mali, Das "Opus imperfectum in Matthaeum" (Wien: Tyrolia,
1991), 299; and PG 56:921.
4 Basil of Caesarea, Letter 236 to Amphilochius (FC 28:168); Homily
Concerning the End of the World, preserved in Coptic in E. A. Wallis
Budge, Coptic Homilies in the Dialect of Upper Egypt (London: Longmans,
5 Euthymius Zigabenus in the twelfth century adopted this solution.
Euthymius Zigabenus, Commentary on Matthew, On Matt 24:36: "But it is
more fitting that it [Matt 24:36] be interpreted in this manner: Nor
does the Son know unless the Father should clearly know. Since the
Father indeed knows, certainly also the Son knows. 'For I,' he said,
'and the Father are one' (John 10:30)" (PG 129:623). More contemporary,
the Greek scholar and archbishop of Dublin, Richard Trench (d. 1886)
(cited in John Ankerberg and John Weldon, One World: Biblical Prophecy
and the New World Order [Chicago: Moody, 1991], 127) and Sidney Collett
(All About the Bible [New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1934]) held this
6 Basil, Letter 236 (FC 28:167). Earlier in the letter (FC 28:165),
Basil points out that the word "alone" is not always used in Scripture
in such an absolute manner that it excludes every person. For Jesus also
said, "No one is good but God alone" (Mark 10:18), but he did not
thereby exclude himself as good.
7 Augustine, On Eighty-three Diverse Questions, 60. Cited in The Gospel
of Matthew With Patristic Commentaries (trans. Charles S. Kraszewski;
Studies in Bible and Early Christianity 40; Lewiston, N.Y.: Mellen,
1999), 355; Annotations on the Psalms, On Psalms 6 and 37 (NPNF 8:15,
91); Sermon 97.1. The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the
21st Century (trans. Edmund Hill; Sermons II/4 (94A-147A) on the New
Testament; Brooklyn, N.Y.: New City, 1992), 36; On the Trinity, 1.12 (FC
8 Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks, Prologue (PL 71:162-3).
9 Isho'dad of Merv (c. 850), Commentary on Matthew, On Matt 24:36, also
knew of this interpretation (Margaret Dunlop Gibson, ed. and trans., The
Commentaries of Isho'dad of Merv, Vol. 1 [Horae Semeticae 5; Cambridge:
University Press, 1911], 95). Isho'dad referred to a certain Timotheus
as one who held this interpretation He writes, "Timotheus says that our
Lord does not here call Himself the Son, but believers, who are many
times calls sons . . . and He calls Himself the Father, he says he is
the Father of the world to come, and Him hath God as Father sealed; and
Children, yet a little while I am with you; and Behold I and the
children whom the Lord hath given Me. Therefore because the name of the
Father falls on both the Father and the Son; on the Father, on the one
hand, by nature, on the Son, on the other hand, by Providence; because
of this, our Lord here used the equality of the name with His disciples;
for so many times also, as in the parables, He uses the equality of the
10 Because of these strengths, Gregory's interpretation received
honorable mention in later biblical commentaries, such as those of
Rhabanus Maurus (d. 856), Ralph of Laon (d. 1136), Alexander of Hales
(d. 1245), and Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274). Rhabanus Maurus, Commentary on
Matthew, On Matt 24:36 (CCCM 174A637); Ralph of Laon, Glossa Ordinaria,
On Matt 24:36 (PL 114:162); Alexander of Hales, Quaestiones Disputatae 'Antequam
esset frater,' Question 42: De Scientia Christi, 33 (Bibliotecha
Franciscana Scholastica 19-21; Quaracchi: Typographia Collegii S.
Bonaventurae, 1960), 724; Thomas Aquinas, Light of Faith: The Compendium
of Theology (Manchester, N.H.: Sophia Institute Press, 1993), 320;
Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected Out of the Works
of the Father by St. Thomas Aquinas, Vol. 1: St. Matthew (trans. John
Henry Newman; London: Saint Austin, 1999), 833; Summa Theologica, Third
Part, Question 10, Article 2 (ed. Robert M. Hutchins; Great Books of the
Western World 20: Thomas Aquinas: II [Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica,
11 Athanasius, Four Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse 3.43 (NPNF2
12 Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 30.15 (NPNF2 7:315).
13 Rufinus the Syrian, Libellus de Fide, 4 (ed. E. Schwartz; Acta
Conciliorum Oecumenicorum, 1.5; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1924), 4-5.
14 See especially the definition of the Council of Chalcedon (451): John
H. Leith, ed., Creeds of the Churches (rev. ed.; Atlanta: John Knox,
15 Cyril of Alexandria led the battle for the condemnation of Nestorius
at the Council of Ephesus in 431. The fourth of his twelve anathemas
reads, "If anyone takes the words found in the writings of the Gospels
and of the aposdes, whether they are said of Christ by the saints or of
Christ by himself, and distributes them between two persons or
hypostases, attributing some of them as to a man, properly understood in
contrast to the Word of God, and the rest to the Word of God the Father
exclusively, on the grounds that they are proper to God alone: let him
be anathema" (cited in John F. Clarkson, John H. Edwards, William J.
Kelly, and John J. Welch, trans., The Church Teaches [St. Louis: Herder,
1955], 168). On Nestorian views of the joining of Christ's two natures,
see the anathemas of the Council of Constantinople of 553 in J. Neuner
and J. Dupuis, eds., The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of
the Catholic Church (rev. ed.; New York: Alba House, 1982), 159.
16 On Theodore and Theodoret's views, see NPNF^sup 2^ 4:417, n. 10. In a
tract correcting his errors, Leporius anathematized his former opinion
that "our Lord Jesus Christ was ignorant according to His humanity" (Leporius,
Libellus Emendationis, 10 [PL 31:1229]).
17 Fulgentius of Ruspe, Letter U to Ferrandus, 29-30 (FC 95:539-41).
18 Pope Vigilius, Constitutum I. Cited in Neuner and Dupuis, Christian
19 The leader of the Agnotae sect was a deacon at Alexandria named
Themistius, who also called himself Calonymus. Theodore of Alexandria
wrote Against Themistius answering his four arguments intended to prove
ignorance in Christ; and Sophronius, patriarch of Jerusalem, pronounced
an anathema against Themistius. see Photius Bibliotheca, 108 (http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/photius_03bibliotheca.htm
and NPNF2 13:45, n. 7).
20 Gregory the Great, Epistle 39 to Eulogius (NPNF^sup 2^ 13:48).
21 Cited in John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought
(Washington, DC: Corpus, 1969), 168-69.
22 N. T. Wright, Vie Challenge of]esus (Downers Grove: InterVarsiry,
23 In contemporary evangelicalism, Millard Erickson (The Word Became
Flesh [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991], 555-60) and Wayne Grudem (Systematic
Theology [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994], 558-61) hold to a form of me
anthropological interpretation. They say that while all knowledge
resided in Christ by virtue of his divinity, he was not "conscious" of
all that he knew. For a survey of evangelical views, see Ronald T.
Clutter, "Omniscient But Not Knowing: A Selective Historical Survey in
Interpretation" (Paper presented at the 55th Annual Meeting of the
Evangelical Theological Society, Atlanta, November 2003).
FRANCIS X. GUMERLOCK*
* Francis X. Gumerlock currently teaches Latin in Broomfield, Colorado
and is secretary of the Colorado Classics Association.
Copyright Trinity International University Fall 2007
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights
WHAT OTHER HAVE SAID
Reading in Christian Communities: Essays on Interpretation in the
Early Church (review)
Journal of Early Christian Studies - Volume 11, Number 3, Fall 2003, pp.
437-439 The Johns
Hopkins University Press Francis X. Gumerlock - Reading in
Christian Communities: Essays on Interpretation in the Early Church
Yet, Another Pre-Darby Rapture Statement
By Tommy Ice
In the eight years that I have been working as Executive Director
of the Pre-Trib Research Center, there have been three major
discoveries of writings teaching some form of a pretribulational
rapture. The most recent find has been brought forth from an
unexpected source that I will reveal to you in this article.
Why Is This Important?
Since many non-pretribulationists often formulate a historical
argument against those teaching the pre-trib rapture, it is important to
know that some did teach a rapture before the tribulation and distinct
from the second coming. Rapture critic Gary DeMar says, "All attempts to
find a pretrib Rapture any earlier than around 1830 do not stand up to
historical scrutiny." Of
course, J. N. Darby himself first discovered pretribulationism from his
own biblical studies during December 1826 and January 1827.
But there are those who preceded Darby, as I have written about in the
past. Critics of the rapture, like DeMar ask, "why didn't anyone see
this prior to the nineteenth century if the pretrib Rapture 'is taught
clearly?'" The belief by
DeMar is that since pretribulationism, he believes, is not found earlier
throughout church history, then that means its not found in the Bible. I
disagree. Whether something is in the Bible depends upon whether it is
in the Bible. It has nothing to do with how many people did or did not
observe it in the Bible. Nevertheless, I will look at the historical
Pre-Darby Rapture Occurrences
As I noted earlier, I think that at least three instances of
pre-Darby pretribulationism have surfaced in the last eight years. The
first is the statement by Pseudo-Ephraem, as brought to our attention by
Grant Jeffrey. This rapture statement is as follows:
Why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and
prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that he may
draw us from the confusion, which overwhelms all the world? . . . For
all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation
that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion
that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins.
This sermon was written between a.d. 374-627, well before the
nineteenth century. Dr. Robert Gundry of Westmont College, a leading
posttribulationist, wrote a critique of our Pseudo-Ephraem findings.
I answered his objections in our book The Return,
thus, demonstrating further why a pretrib understanding of Pseudo-Ephraem
Next came the discovery of Morgan Edwards who wrote about his pretrib
beliefs in 1744 and later published them in 1788.
Edwards taught the following:
II. The distance between the first and second resurrection will be
somewhat more than a thousand years.
I say, somewhat more-, because the dead saints will be raised,
and the living changed at Christ's "appearing in the air" (I Thes. iv.
17); and this will be about three years and a half before the
millennium, as we shall see hereafter: but will he and they
abide in the air all that time? No: they will ascend to paradise, or to
some one of those many "mansions in the father's house" (John xiv. 2),
and disappear during the foresaid period of time. The design of
this retreat and disappearing will be to judge the risen and changed
saints; for "now the time is come that judgment must begin," and that
will be "at the house of God" (I Pet. iv. 17) . . . (p. 7; The spelling
of all Edwards quotes have been modernized.)
What has Edwards said? Edwards clearly separates the rapture from the
second coming by three and a half years. He uses modern pretrib rapture
verses (1 Thess. 4:17 and John 14:2) to describe the rapture. He, like
modern pretribulationists, links the time in heaven, during the
tribulation, with the "bema" judgment of believers.
The only difference, at least as far as the above statements go,
between current pretribulationism and Edwards is the time interval of
three and a half years instead of seven. This does not mean that he is a
midtribulationist, since it appears that he thought the totality of the
tribulation was three and a half, not seven years.
Brother Dolcino and The Rapture
At the recent meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society on
November 14-16, 2001 in Colorado Springs, Francis X. Gumerlock presented
a paper entitled "Before Darby: Expanding the Historical Boundaries of
Pretribulationism." Gumerlock argues that someone named Brother Dolcino
and his sect called the Apostolic Brethren taught a pretrib rapture
around a.d. 1304.
Gumerlock found this material in a text called The History of Brother
The History of Brother Dolcino was composed in 1316 by an
anonymous notary of the diocese of Vercelli in northern Italy. This
short Latin treatise gives a firsthand account of the deeds and beliefs
of a religious order called the Apostolic Brethren. Under the leadership
of Brother Dolcino, the Apostolic Brethrne flourished in the author's
diocese between the years 1300 and 1307.
The text was recopied in 1551, and in the 1600's was used as source
material for two other ecclesiastical histories of the area. The
treatise was later printed in the 1740's in the 25-volume Rerum
And it was most recently edited in 1907 with the reprint of this
multi-volume set, where it contains fourteen pages of Volume Nine.
Gumerlock provides the following history of Brother Dolcino and the
Apostolic Brethren movement:
In 1260, Gerard Sagarello founded the Apostolic Brethren after his
application for membership with the Franciscans was rejected.
Like the Franciscans, the Apostolic Brethren were committed to radical
poverty and itinerant preaching of the Gospel.
However, at that time the founding of new religious orders was strictly
forbidden by the pope and several church councils. Consequently, the
Apostolic Brethren were objects of persecution, and in 1300 their
leader, Gerard, was burned at the stake. Brother Dolcino, who had been a
member of the Apostolic Brethren for a number of years, took over
leadership of the order in that year. At one point under his leadership,
the Apostolic Brethren had grown to about 4,000 members.
The persecuted order under Dolcino's leadership withdrew to the
mountainous areas of northern Italy, near Novara and Vercelli. But the
size of the order and their need for daily sustenance, resulted in
clashes with local authorities. In 1306, a bull was drawn up by Pope
Clement V, and a crusade was launched against them. In 1307, over 400
members of the Apostolic Brethren were slaughtered by papal forces.
Dolcino was captured, mutilated, and burned at the stake.
The reason Gumerlock believes that Brother Dolcino and the Apostolic
Brethren taught pretribulationism is found the following statement:
"Again, [Dolcino believed and preached and taught] that within those
three years Dolcino himself and his followers will preach the coming of
the Antichrist. And that the Antichrist was coming into this world
within the bounds of the said three and a half years; and after he had
come, then he [Dolcino] and his followers would be transferred into
Paradise, in which are Enoch and Elijah. And in this way they will
be preserved unharmed from the persecution of Antichrist. And
that then Enoch and Elijah themselves would descend on the earth for the
purpose of preaching [against] Antichrist. Then they would be killed by
him or by his servants, and thus Antichrist would reign for a long
time. But when the Antichrist is dead, Dolcino himself, who then
would be the holy pope, and his perserved followers, will descend on
the earth, and will preach the right faith of Christ to all, and
will convert those who will be living then to the true faith of Jesus
Gumerlock clearly believes that this is a pretrib rapture statement
as he concludes:
For this fourteenth-century text, The History of Brother Dolcino,
shows us that some Christians in the middle ages held a view of the
rapture that had basic elements of what we call today a pretribulation
rapture. These include a significant gap of time between the rapture of
the saints and their subsequent descent to earth, and the purpose of the
rapture related to escaping end-time tribulation. And on this basis, I
submit my case for expanding the historical boundaries of
Even more amazing than Gumerlock's discover itself is the fact that
Gumerlock is very much opposed to pretribulationism and most likely even
Further, the entity that published Gumerlock's book The Day and the
Hour is American Vision, which is directed by rapture opponent Gary
DeMar. I noted above that DeMar said, "All attempts to find a pretrib
Rapture any earlier than around 1830 do not stand up to historical
scrutiny." In fact
DeMar not only published Gumerlock's book, he wrote a glowing foreword
to it. Yet Gumerlock says about Brother Dolcino in The Day and the
Hour that, "The Dolcinites held to a pre-tribulation rapture theory
similar to that in modern dispensationalism."
Either DeMar doesn't really believe the research of Gumerlock in The
Day and the Hour, or he doesn't know much about the true history of
the rapture. Either way, DeMar's statement about 1830 has been weighed
and found wanting by one of his own colleagues. Gumerlock hits the nail
on the head when he says, "Especially in need of rethinking are those
views which place the origin of the teaching, or its initial recovery,
within the last two hundred years."
I couldn't have said it better myself. Maranatha!
 Gary DeMar, End
Times Fiction: A Biblical Consideration of the Left Behind
Theology, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001), p. 19.
 Thomas Ice, "Is The
Pre-Trib Rapture A Satanic Deception?" Pre-Trib Perspectives,
(Vol. II, No. 1; March 1995), p. 2. Single copies of back issues of
Pre-Trib Perspectives can be obtained by writing The Pre-Trib
Research Center, P O Box 14111, Arlington, Texas 76094.
 DeMar, End Times
Fiction, p. 23.
 Pseudo-Ephraem, On
the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World, section 2,
translated by Cameron Rhoades, produced by The Pre-Trib Research Center.
See Timothy J. Demy and Thomas D. Ice, "The Rapture and an Early
Medieval Citation, Bibliotheca Sacra, (Vol. 152, No. 607;
July-September 1995), pp. 306-17. Reprinted in Thomas Ice and Timothy J.
Demy, The Return: Understanding Christ's Second Coming and the End
Times (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999), pp. 55-66.
 Bob Gundry, First
the Antichrist: Why Christ Won't Come Before The Antichrist Does
(Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1997), pp. 161-88.
 Ice and Demy, The
Return, pp. 67-73.
 Morgan Edwards, Two
Academical Exercised on Subjects Bearing the following Titles;
Millennium, Last-Novelties (Philadelphia: self-published, 1788). See
Thomas Ice, "Morgan Edwards: Another Pre-Darby Rapturist," Pre-Trib
Perspectives (Vol. II, No. 4; Sept/Oct 1995), pp. 1-3.
 Francis X. Gumerlock,
The Day and the Hour: A Chronicle of Christianity's Perennial
Fascination with Predicting the End of the World (Powder Springs,
GA: American Vision, 2000), p. 80.
 Anonymous, Historia
Fratris Dulcini, 1316.
 Dolcino wrote three
circular letters, but these are no longer extant. Historia Fratris
Dulcini is in Codice Ambrosiano-H. 80. It was edited in 1551, and
was utilized in the 1600's in several other ecclesiastical histories of
the area of Vercelli and Novara. The date of 1316 is confirmed in R.
Kestenberg-Gladstein, "The Third Reich: A Fifteenth-Century Polemic
Against Joachism, and Its Background" in Delno West, ed., Joachim of
Fiore in Christian Thought, Vol 2 (New York: Burt Franklin & Co.,
1975), 599, no. 49. Eugenio Anagnine describes the Historia as a
"opera stesa probabilmente da un contemporaneo di Biella (1304-7)." See
Eugenio Anagnine, Dolcino (Firenze: La Nuova Italia, 1964), p. 1.
 L.A. Muratori, ed.,
Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, Old Series, Vol. 9 (Italy,
1723-1751), p. 436.
 Francis X.
Gumerlock, "Before Darby: Expanding the Historical Boundaries of
Pretribulationism," A paper presented at the 53rd Annual
Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Colorado Springs,
November 14-16, 2001, p. 2.
 Many followers of
the eschatology of Joachim of Fiore (d. 1202) expected a last-days
reform of the Church to occur in 1260, a year that corresponds with the
1260 days mentioned in Revelation 11:2 and 13:5.
 A contemporary of
the Apostolic Brethren, Salimbene, in his Chronicle, gives an
account of the order under the leadership of Gerard Sagarello. See
The Chronicle of Salimbene de Adam, Joseph L. Baird, Giuseppe
Baglivi, and John Robert Kane, eds. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and
Studies 40 (Binghamton, NY: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies,
1986). Members of the order wore woolen mantels and sandals and went
about northern Italy and other countries preaching "Penitenz-agite," a
colloquialism for "Paenitentiam agite!," the Gospel injunction to
 There are quite a
number of books and articles in Italian on Dolcino and the Apostolic
Brethren, but very few in English. Comprehensive treatments in English
include Antonio Gallenga, A Historical Memoir of Fra Dolcino and His
Times (London: Longman, Green, and Longman, 1853); and John William
Siedzik, Fra Dolcino and the Apostolic Brethren, Master's thesis
(University of California, 1952), which is available from that
university on microfilm.
 Gumerlock, "Before
Darby," p. 3.
translation of the Latin text in Gumerlock, "Before Darby," p. 3.
 Gumerlock, "Before
Darby," p. 6.
 See Gumerlock,
The Day and the Hour, pp. 1-3, where he describes his journey away
 DeMar, End Times
Fiction, p. 19.
 Gumerlock, The
Day and the Hour, p. 80.
 Gumerlock, "Before
Darby," p. 6.
What do YOU think ?
Submit Your Comments For Posting Here
Comment Box Disabled For Security
Date: 01 Sep 2011
I tried unsuccesfully to send the following message to Prof. Gumerlock.
I make a try again on tnis Blog, hoping that this message will be
deliverd to him.
Thanks in advance.
Dear Prof. Gumerlock
I was so delighted by the reading of your wonderful article -
"Millennialism and the Early Church Councils: Was Chiliasm Condemned at
Constantinople?” (2004) - that I allowed myself to translate it in
French for my colleagues and readers.
See : "Le Millénarisme et les Conciles de l’Eglise primitive: Le
Chiliasme a-t-il été condamné à Constantinople ?" par Francis X.
Gumerlock, online version:
Please, let me know your first reaction.
About myself have a glance at the page (in French, alas!) devoted to my
modest person: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menahem_Macina
Menahem R. Macina