Andrew Perriman, who administers opensourcetheology.net, has recently written a book on New Testament “apocalyptic” texts called The Coming of the Son of Man. Unfortunately, it isn’t available in the states yet, but the OST site has a pretty good summary of the arguments in the book, which Perriman graciously linked for me in an email last night.
The OST stuff is pretty heavy in terms of theological terminology, but I’m hoping the book will be a little more lay-friendly.
It is a difficult thing for twenty-first century minds to grasp the style of writing that was popular in the culture that gave rise to the apocalyptic texts in the New Testament, and equally difficult for us to appreciate the way biblical prophecy tends to weave its way through multiple events instead of pointing to a single, definitive point in time. But it appears to me that Perriman’s book is going to provide a very nice, generous approach to understanding what was going on.
Of increasing importance to me these days is this: while some people seem to be waiting on an apocalypse, it seems more fitting to me to understand that – like the Christians who wrote these things in the First Century – we, too, live in apocalyptic times. As such, the primary question in my mind is not “when will the end come?” – though that question is also validated in these texts – but “what does it mean, in the here and now, to testify to the Kingship of Jesus amidst the apocalyptic?”
We live in a world where men and kingdoms vie to assert their own dominion over creation, but the apocalyptic texts challenge us to declare that Jesus is Lord, even in the chaos of the struggles of nations and other cataclysmic events. Instead of passively waiting on the end, it seems to me that we are being challenged to declare that Jesus reigns, even in the face of persecution.