Saturday, March 6, 2010

Brian Daley:
The Hope of the Early Church: A Handbook of Patristic Eschatology
Η Ελπίδα της Πρώιμης Εκκλησίας: Εγχειρίδιο Πατρολογικής Εσχατολογίας


[Η Ελπίδα της Πρώιμης Εκκλησίας:
Εγχειρίδιο Πατρολογικής Εσχατολογίας
Cambridge University Press/Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1991/2003,
[Google Books]


A note on abbreviations
1Visions of a new day: early Semitic Christianity and Christian apocalyptic5
2Making history intelligible: eschatology and the apologists20
3Regaining the light: eschatology in the Gnostic crisis (150-200)25
4Senectus Mundi: eschatology in the West, 200-25033
5A school for souls: Alexandrian eschatology and its critics (185-300)44
6The dawn of the final conflict: Latin eschatology in the Great Persecution (303-313)65
7Facing death in freedom: Eastern eschatology in the age of Nicaea (325-400)69
8Redemptio Totius Corporis: Latin eschatology in the fourth century93
9Grace present and future: Greek eschatology in the fifth century105
10Signs of a Church triumphant: Latin eschatology in the fifth century124
11Apokatastasis and apocalyptic: Eastern eschatology after Chalcedon168
12The end of all flesh: eschatology in the sixth-century West205
Epilogue: a common hope216

Bible reviews / Βιβλιοκριτικές:
* The Journal of Ecclesiastical History (2005), 56: Cambridge University Press, Review, p./σ. 123:
The hope of the early Church. A handbook of patristic eschatology. By Brian E. Daley. Pp. xiv+303. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2003. £17.99 ( paper). 1 56563 737 2 JEH (56) 2005; DOI: 10.1017/S0022046904282185
This is a paperback reprint of the 1991 hardcover edition of the same title published by Cambridge University Press (reviewed this JOURNAL xliii [1992], 141). Minor corrections were made to the text, and the bibliographies at the end, arranged by topic, have been helpfully expanded and updated to the year 2002. The word ‘handbook’ in the subtitle aptly describes the book’s nature as a summary of the eschatological thought of scores of authors and movements considered chronologically up to Gregory the Great and John of Damascus. Given its ambitious scope, it is a masterful compilation made from a vast, complex and daunting array of materials in several ancient languages. The reader is not simply introduced to this or that peculiarity of an author, nor presented with a mere set of tabulations on a small number of eschatological topics, but is made familiar with each author’s eschatological thought, in its religious-historical context, and in some cases, with its significant repercussions. The longer sections on Origen and Augustine are particularly appreciated. In the preface, Daley writes that he believes ‘that the hope of people in our own age can be nourished and inflamed by an informed acquaintance with the hopes of earlier generations’. An ‘informed acquaintance ’ of the hopes of the early Church is surely achievable with the help of his book. If this study of the Church’s hope leaves any hope of this reader unfulfilled, it is that the author might yet be encouraged to undertake a complete, updated revision of his superb book on the future at some point in the future. In the meantime, it is wonderful to have this book in print again, and at a price which makes it easy to recommend to students.

* Numen, Vol./Τομ. 39, Fasc./Δεσμ. 2 (Dec./Δεκ., 1992), Brill, Review, pp./σσ. 265-267:

BRIAN E. DALEY, The Hope of the Early Church. A Handbook of Patristic Eschatology-Cambridge, New York, Melbourne: Cambridge University Press 1991 (xiv + 300 p.) ISBN 0-521-35258-4 £30.00 (hardback)
Eschatology, religious teachings about last things, has occupied a more or less central place throughout the development of Christian doctrine. The discussion typically vacillates, however, on issues of the nearness or remoteness of these last things, and whether they will occur within history or constitute historical signs of a post- or hyper-historical reality. Brian Daley has compiled a "historically ordered handbook on [this] one aspect of early Christian thought" (xii) from the writings of the Apostolic Fathers in the second century through those of Gregory the Great in the sixth, the formative patristic period of doctrinal history. Daley assembles his survey of Christian eschatological thought without much reference to the cultural and social contexts in which it was produced and operated, a restriction that he acknowledges and accepts (xii). His  recognition of cultural context is limited to the conventional correlation of apocalyptic thought with times of socio-political  upheaval and the recession of eschatological concern to times of relative stability (e.g., 7-9, 76, 101, 120, 124, 168, 205). And, despite the wealth of scholarship on the social life of the early Christianities that has appeared over the last decade, Daley repeats the romanticized view, first formulated by Christianity's critics in the patristic age itself (e.g., Min. Fel. 5.4, 8.4), that the social base of the Christian Church seems to have been uneducated "ordinary" people (33) rather than the more representative demographic distribution that is increasingly being identified by historians.
Although Daley includes the less familiar Syriac, Coptic and Armenian materials in his theological history along with the Latin and Greek sources, he limits his survey of the "whole development of ancient Christian eschatological hope" (xi) to that of "orthodox Christian doctrine" (216). Thus, discussion of the eschatological positions of such "heretical" thinkers as Marcion, Valentinus, Basilides, and those represented by the Nag Hammadi corpus are confined to a short synopsis of gnostic views (25-8); and Mani is not even mentioned. It is regrettable that Daley does not attend more to situating patristic eschatological images and ideas even in their intellectual contexts, since this brief but insightful section on gnosticism allows the author to illuminate the emphases by Irenaeus and Tertullian on bodily resurrection, for example, from the context of their polemics against the docetic Christology of gnostic thought. And, Daley's focus on thought over practice allows him to neglect the sort of material evidence for early Christian cultures collected, for example, by Graydon F. Snyder (Ante Pacem, Archaeological Evidence of Church Life Before Constantine, Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1985), which suggests that many pre-Constantinian Christians-those in Rome, for example-did not hold eschatology to be central at all, at least not any eschatological position surveyed by Daley.
Daley's understanding of eschatology is finally less historical than doctrinal, an "attempt to foresee the fulfillment of creation's purpose" (2). When eschatological discourse is defined and framed from a doctrinal perspective, however, it comes perilously close to being transformed into a determinate view of the future, negating, thereby, the very point of temporal possibility made by this discourse (thus, 220, 224). Yet, Daley's survey of this single idea from the patristic period does document the richness of religious data from this period which has yet to be been mined by historians of religion-the works of Peter Brown remaining a notable exception. Perhaps Daley, with his evident mastery of this complex material, might be persuaded to embark on such a study?
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