Classification Method at PreteristArchive.com

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Now, instead of using the Transition Text Theory as a means of distinguishing between Historical Preterism and Modern Preterism, our method classes the views according to the presence or absence of a Double-Fulfillment Theory.


CLASSIFICATION UPDATE

For twenty years, the purpose of PreteristArchive.com has been to promote fulfilled prophecy by posting books and articles examining fulfilled eschatology.   The need to clearly define precisely what form of preterism was represented by an article or book became an immediate necessity.  Proper scholarship demands the accurate identification of the theological view in question, and so a classification system was established.

The initial method of classification rested upon the distinction between full preterism and every other form of preterist eschatology.  This method was determined to be insufficient due to the over-representation of the demographically small view of full preterism as being simply classed as preterism, with all the numerous forms of historical and modern preterism being classed as partial preterism.  Though that system worked well for highlighting full preterism, it was hardly useful in defining the various systems of fulfilled eschatology which did not stray into heterodoxy.

Ten years ago, the classification system used to distinguish between forms of preterism was updated.   According to the 2007 method, partial preterism was broken down into two major views – Historical Preterism and Modern Preterism.   Each of these partial fulfillment views believed that Bible prophecy focuses on both the first century generation as well as the final generation of Earth’s history. What distinguished them from each was where a “transition text” was placed in the Olivet Discourse of Matthew:


2007 Classifications: Click for Full Size

Historical Preterism placed a transition mid way through Matthew 24, whereas proponents of Modern Preterism saw that chapter entirely fulfilled in the events of the first century.   Over the last decade, however, it has become clear that this is not a solid system of classification because of one simple reason: theories of double fulfillment.

There were many would-be Modern Preterists who claimed that the Olivet Discourse was fulfilled in the last days of first century Jerusalem, but only in a secondary sense, with ultimate fulfillment being found in the last days of the world in a  primary sense.

It became obvious that this approach was not really preterist eschatology at all, as it ascribes past fulfillment in only an inferior sense.  And so, with the new website providing an opportunity to set this problem straight, a new method has been developed.

Now, instead of using the Transition Text Theory as a means of distinguishing between Historical Preterism and Modern Preterism, our method classes the views according to the presence or absence of a Double-Fulfillment Theory.

Under the new method, what separates the views is whether AD70 is seen as the “Major” (primary) or “Minor” (secondary) sense of fulfillment.

Modern Preterism is now the classification for those views which hold first century fulfillment as being the primary focal point of a prophecy’s interpretation.    Theologians who embrace this viewpoint are bold, in that they declare outright fulfillment of prophecies in events of the past instead of relying upon double fulfillment (as most do — even to this day!).    One can be a Modern Preterist and still believe that, in some typological fashion, events of the past will be mirrored by events of the future because this makes the application of prophecies to the future secondary in consideration to primary fulfillment in the past.

Historical Preterism is now the classification for those views which hold first century fulfillment as being the secondary focal point of a prophecy’s interpretation.   This method, which appears highly inconsistent on its face, has enjoyed wide popularity throughout the Christian era.  Though few Christians would deny that AD70 was contemplated by Bible prophecy, most would restrict past fulfillment to a secondary sense in consideration to primary fulfillment in the future.


CLASSIFICATION OF CATEGORIES


JEWISH SOURCES – Comments from Josephus, the Talmud, Midrashim, and Apocalyptic Literature. Contemporary Jewish literature is also collected under the classification. Though many early Christians were Jewish, they are classified under “Early Church Fathers”.


DSS AND ANCIENT DISCOVERIES – The Dead Sea Scrolls are documents unearthed from the Judean Wilderness that date from roughly the second century B.C. to A.D.68.   Category also includes additional items of discovery from archeology, epigraphy, papyrology and numismatics.


EARLY CHURCH (EC) – A) Views espoused by all Christian sources during the first thousand years of church history, during which the only systematizing being done was in Catholic and Orthodox circles. B) This class includes all the earliest church fathers, historians and pseudepigraphic writers, dating back to the writings of the New Testament. C) Sources could be considered “Historicist” or “Futurist” but very rarely “Preterist” in any developed way (Eusebius would be the most likely to be considered Preterist) (Broadest in Years, Broadest in Doctrine – First Thousand Years of Church History – Pret-related comments color-coded with “Historical Preterism” due to similarities)


HISTORICAL PRETERISM (HP) – A) Umbrella term covering all those who believe that only a slight amount of Bible prophecy was totally fulfilled in the early centuries of the Christian era.  Determined by looking at whether authors find primary application to the future using the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24/25 and the Apocalypse of John.  B) This class has roots dating back to the first century, such as in the writings of Barnabus and Clement of Rome, and finds greater development in the writings of Justin Martyr and Eusebius. The Catholic and Orthodox churches maintained HP through the Middle Ages. . C) Teaches that some of the Bible’s “end times” prophecies were fulfilled by AD70 in a secondary sense but that the substantial portion of prophetic fulfillment is yet to be revealed at the “last day.”


MODERN PRETERISM (MP) – A) Umbrella term covering all those who believe that the majority of Bible prophecy was totally fulfilled in the early centuries of the Christian era. Determined by looking at whether authors find primary application to the past using the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24/25 and the Apocalypse of John. Differs from Full Preterism in that it does not make the Parousia, the General Judgment, nor the General Resurrection events solely of the past. B) According to known literature, this class emerged during the Reformation or Counter Reformation and can be seen in a fully developed form at the beginning of the 17th century in the writings of the Jesuit Alcasar — although many believe that the “Preterist Assumption” seen throughout church history reveals the ancient and medieval equivalents of the Modern Preterist view. (perhaps systematized the most consistently in 310 by Eusebius in “Theophany”). C) Teaches that the bulk of “end times” prophecy has sole application to ancient Israel, but some regard the “last day” — sometimes that “end” being personal, not global, in nature.


FULL PRETERISM – A) Umbrella term covering all those who believe that all Bible prophecy was fulfilled by the fall of Jerusalem in AD70.   B) According the known literature, this class emerged out of Preterist Universalism in the 19th century, with the first known work being the product of Robert Townley in 1845.  C) Teaches that all “end times” prophecies had sole application to ancient Israel, but that the consequences of that fulfillment are enduring in the New Covenant Age.


FUTURIST – A) Umbrella term covering all systems of nonfulfillment-based theology, including most contemporary forms of Historicism and Premillennialism, and some Postmillennialism. B) This class, though represented by authors throughout the centuries, wasn’t systematized until the Reformation era. C) Generally believes that a scant amount of prophecies may have been fulfilled in the first century, but even then only in a secondary sense.  Dispensationalism specifically believes that “the rapture” might be any moment now, leading to the Great Tribulation and ultimately ushering in the Millennial Age.


This is a new category, intended to highlight the large amount of work being done by nonsectarian scholars.  These studies take on a number of names, including inaugurated eschatology, realized eschatology, higher criticism, kingdom of God studies, historical Jesus studies, historical Paul studies, the missional church view, and many others.