I am aiming to publish this article. Therefore, I’ve taken the majority of this article down. If you read this entry, keep in mind it may “sound” choppy due to eliminating the majority of my argument. I am wanting to maintain my introduction and conclusions for multiple reasons. First, I’d like to whet the appetite of those engaging eschatological language, persecution, and biblical theology. Second, for those desiring to pursue kingdom of God studies or sources for the Thessalonian epistles, I’ve maintained by bibliography to assist those researching. Finally, I desire readership and limiting the paper to the introduction and conclusion makes readership more feasible.
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Introduction: The Need for Changing Eschatological Language
Some elements of the future eschaton are making headway into the present era. Evaluating modern consensus, eschatology reveals hermeneutical and theological presuppositions in attempting to describe the already/not-yet tension. Problematic to the discussion resides in determining what elements are future and what elements are present. Are some elements fulfilled now, implying no substantial change/modification will happen later? Furthermore, if nascent elements appear now, is there progressive development throughout the present era, if any?
Jörg Frey provides a helpful overview of the historical development of eschatological language. The landscape of scholarship demonstrates eschatological doctrine, but Philipp Heinrich Friedlieb, a classical Lutheran dogmatician, introduces “Eschatology” to designate the “last things”. In 1644, he published a work with Eschatologia as part of a book title. This title was first used as a systematic description of “death, the resurrection of the dead, the last judgment, the end or dissolution of the world, about hell or eternal death, and finally, about eternal life.” By strictly limiting few future-referent elements to this title, it is no wonder the subsequent history of eschatological interpretation has vacillated; it is difficult to include all necessary theological categories under the single umbrella “eschatology.”