BOOKS: BIBLICAL STUDIES (1500BC-AD70) / EARLY CHRISTIAN PRETERISM (AD50-1000) / FREE ONLINE BOOKS (AD1000-2008)
AD70 Dispensationalism: According to
that view, AD70 was the end of 'this age' and the start of the 'age to come'.
Those who lived before AD70 could only 'see in part' and such, lacking
the resurrection and redemptive blessings which supposedly came only
Herod's Temple in Jerusalem
fell. Accordingly, AD70 was not only the end of Old
Testament Judaism, but it was also the end of the revelation of
Christianity as seen in the New Testament.
AD70 Dispensationalism: According to that view, AD70 was the end of 'this age' and the start of the 'age to come'. Those who lived before AD70 could only 'see in part' and such, lacking the resurrection and redemptive blessings which supposedly came only when Herod's Temple in Jerusalem fell. Accordingly, AD70 was not only the end of Old Testament Judaism, but it was also the end of the revelation of Christianity as seen in the New Testament.
material is being archived for balanced representation of all preterist views,
but is classified under the theological term hyper (as in beyond
the acceptable range of tolerable doctrines) at this website. The
classification of all full preterism as Hyper Preterism (HyP) is built
upon well over a decade of intense research at PreteristArchive.com, and
the convictions of
the website curator (a
former full preterist pastor). The HyP
theology of final resurrection and consummation in the fall of Jerusalem, with its dispensational line in AD70
(end of old age, start of new age), has never been known among authors
through nearly 20 centuries of Christianity leading up
to 1845, when the earliest known full preterist book was written.
Even though there may be many secondary points of agreement between
Historical/Modern Preterism and Hyper Preterism, their premises are undeniably and
THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED AS "HYPER PRETERIST"
"Full preterist" material is being archived for balanced representation of all preterist views, but is classified under the theological term hyper (as in beyond the acceptable range of tolerable doctrines) at this website. The classification of all full preterism as Hyper Preterism (HyP) is built upon well over a decade of intense research at PreteristArchive.com, and the convictions of the website curator (a former full preterist pastor). The HyP theology of final resurrection and consummation in the fall of Jerusalem, with its dispensational line in AD70 (end of old age, start of new age), has never been known among authors through nearly 20 centuries of Christianity leading up to 1845, when the earliest known full preterist book was written. Even though there may be many secondary points of agreement between Historical/Modern Preterism and Hyper Preterism, their premises are undeniably and fundamentally different.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED AS "HYPER PRETERIST"
SOME DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES OF SYSTEMATIZED HYPER PRETERISM
It is important to keep in mind that many ideas and doctrines full preterism appeals to - such as the complete end of the Old Covenant world in AD70 - are by no means distinctive to that view. Many non HyPs believe this as well, so one need not embrace the Hyper Preterist system in order to endorse this view. Following are exceptional doctrines which, so far as I've seen, are only taught by adherents of Hyper Preterism.:
DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY STANDARD FULL PRETERISM
DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY VARIOUS FORMS
Identifying Babylon in the New Testament
By Terry Siverd
In part I (The Living Presence, March `92), we attempted to ascertain the meaning of Peter's phrase, "She who is in Babylon...sends greetings..." (I Peter 5:13). We believe that Peter's symbolic reference to Jerusalem as "Babylon" is in keeping with the sitz im leben (life situation) that confronted Christians living in the last days of the Jewish dispensation, in the years just prior to Jerusalem's destruction in A.D.70. Peter and his apostolic companions had witnessed firsthand the continuing of the once glorious city of David. Jerusalem was the Jewish capital which for centuries represented the very heart and center of God's workings with and blessing upon the nation of Israel. However, in the decades preceding the A.D. 70 cataclysm, Jerusalem became the very epitome of wickedness and ungodliness. Max King's phrase, "Jerusalem's end-time spiritual decadence", 1 is a good description of the sad state of affairs facing Jerusalem in the shadow of the judgment of A.D.70. Jesus spoke to apostate Israel with some very stern words, "fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers...how shall you escape the sentence of hell...behold, your house is being left to you desolate" (Matthew 23:32,33b & 38). Wedged in the midst of this prophetic denunciation, making it obviously clear to whom the utterance was addressed, is the Lord's lament, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem..." (Matthew 23:37).
Peter's Babylon Equals John's Babylon
As we also saw in Part I, Peter lived in Jerusalem. It was his main sphere of operation. He was a pillar of the Jerusalem church (Galatians 2:9). Peter wrote two epistles in the latter days of the Jewish aeon (I Peter 1:20) claiming "the end of all things" was at hand (I Peter 4:7). We believe this "end" parallels precisely the "days of vengeance" spoken of by Jesus (Luke 21:22). Both ends find their fulfillment in the A.D.70 judgment. It seems very logical to us to surmise that Peter wrote from Jerusalem to those scattered from Jerusalem (I Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 3:; Acts 8:1f; 11:19). It is Jerusalem then that answers to "Babylon" in Peter's closing salutation (1 Peter 5:13). Furthermore, we have attempted to show that Peter's "Babylon" is one and the same with John's. As with Peter, John also was a pillar of the Jerusalem church (Galatians 2:9). However, whereas Peter makes only a passing reference to Jerusalem's disgraceful status (calling her Babylon), John is guided by the Holy Spirit to go into great detail. Balyeat writes, "The latter half of Revelation is without a doubt focused in on the destruction of The Great City--Babylon. In fact, when one realizes that the second half of Revelation is really a repetition of the first half,...it can be said that the whole of Revelation is about the destructive tribulation of Babylon." 2 If both Peter and John engage the epithet, Babylon, in a symbolic fashion, it seems imperative to conclude that they are addressing the same city. To conclude otherwise only opens the door for all kinds of confusion. If Peter and John were contemporaries (which they surely were), writing to a common audience (with slight variations), one can only imagine the chaos that would prevail if they both employed the same symbolic term, "Babylon," to describe two different cities. This is especially the case in view of the fact that we now realize their writings readily became encyclical documents, i.e. their writings were shared and circulated among the Body at large (cf. Colossians 4:16; Ephesians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:27). Such was the common fate (thanks to the providence of God) of most all of our New Testament gospels and letters. Some commentators skirt this logic by interpreting Peter's "Babylon" in a literal sense, while they contend John spoke in symbolic terms. We think any effort to place Peter in literal Babylon goes beyond what is revealed in Scripture. Still others, seeing the need for the common identification of both Peter and John's "Babylons," have opted for Rome. Our goal in these two essays is to present Biblical evidence that shows Jerusalem to be the equivalent to "Babylon." 3
Why The Fuss?
Just as surely as we have written these essays some will raise the question, "Why all the fuss over Babylon's identity?" Many perceive any attempt to discover Babylon's true identity as being nothing short of idle speculation. This same group has all but given up on ever understanding John's Apocalypse. In word and deed, not a few have denied the revelation of Jesus Christ. How dare anyone presume to remove The Revelation from God's Word. God himself deemed it a revelation, not a concealing!! On this score, Vanderwaal's words need to be heeded prayerfully, "we may not shrug our shoulders and say, let the theologians figure it out." 4 The identification of Babylon is important to the proper understanding of God's overall redemptive actions. The contents of the book of Revelation were intended to be comprehended and understood (Revelation 1:3; 22:9,18). Has Jehovah God left us to grope in the dark? Absolutely not! That is the reason we possess the written word. It is a revealing. We must confess, however, that by virtue of the fact that such a study encompasses some of the "hard sayings" of the New Testament, we must be very careful in our exegesis. As the apostle Peter himself noted, things hard to understand are often distorted by the untaught and unstable (2 Peter 3:16).
A Matter Of Relevancy
Joseph Balyeat has penned some thought-provoking words on the issue of the relevancy of studying last things in general and Babylon's identity in particular. He writes, "because of ill-conceived eschatology, the light of the world has been put under a bushel." 5 He argues that we should not be surprised to chart the age of dispensationalism coinciding with the triumph of humanism. Balyeat asks, "Why babble on about Babylon?". He responds by saying, "because proving that the Babylon of Revelation is behind us in history...will be the final nail in the coffin of Christian pessimism." 6 He further notes, "If we can prove that what we thought was future is really the past, it will free us up to deal with the present." 7 Balyeat's observations are legitimate and encouraging. He asks, "If Babylon and the Great Tribulation, the Beast and Armageddon are all behind us in history, what does that do to your pessimistic view of the future?" 8
An Ordinary Book?!
Finally, one more thought, by way of introduction. Is it possible that when it comes to understanding Revelation many should confess, "We have met the enemy and he is us"? We err greatly when we displace Revelation from the rest of Scripture. One writer has said it well, "the interpretive problems of Revelation do not, therefore, spring from the book itself, but they result from separating Revelation from the general theme of prophecy, the gospels and the epistles." 9 Vanderwaal, likewise, underscores the mistaken notion that Revelation is a special genre of Scripture that needs its own rules for interpretation. He states, "perhaps the most unusual thing about Revelation is that it is an ordinary Bible book." 10 As always, the very best hermeneutic one can employ is to let Scripture interpret Scripture. The Apocalypse will never be understood properly if it is examined separate and apart from the balance of the Biblical canon. We hope to put together an essay in a future edition of this journal that will expand even further on this idea under the title, "Old Testament echoes in Revelation 17-18." To understand the identity of Babylon one must go back to the ancient writings contained in the volume we frequently refer to as the Old Testament.
Evidences Favoring "Babylon" Being Jerusalem
Below are several pieces of evidence that point to the true identity of "Babylon" as none other than apostate Jerusalem. These evidences are impressive from an individual point of view, but when studied collectively, they provide rather convincing testimony showing Jerusalem to be John's "Babylon."
(1) The Temporal Demands Of The Text
One cannot read The Revelation without picking up on a strong sense of urgency and imminency. (See especially Revelation 1:1,3,7; 22:6,7,10,12,20 and also 6:11; 10:6; 12:12 and 18:10). Gentry assesses the upshot of these many time statements when he expresses that the harlot Babylon must be viewed as something "in the apostle John's near future and our distant past." 11 Others, too, have readily grasped the import of this line of argumentation. Chilton cautions, "we must remember the historical context of the Revelation and the preterist demands it makes upon its interpreters....St. John has set our hermeneutical boundaries firmly within his own contemporary situation, in the first century." 12 Russell candidly observes that "Rome, heathen or Christian, lies altogether outside the apocalyptic field of view, which is restricted to `things shortly to come to pass.' To wander into all ages and countries in the interpretation of these visions is absolutely forbidden by the express and fundamental limitations laid down in the book itself." 13 Another writer poses a question that strikes at the heart of this issue, "how could a major treatise of an `at hand' end-time event be more suited to something that transpired beyond 70 A.D.? 14 Quite simply, it cannot! The temporal demands of the book of Revelation are met perfectly in the A.D.70 event. That calamity signaled the end of Jerusalem (the harlot Babylon).
(2) Historical Confirmation
If Revelation is viewed as a proclamation of judgment on Rome (as is so often the case among commentators) then one must ask if the historical records coincide. Vanderwaal's research causes him to conclude, "Rome was never destroyed in the same way that `Babylon'...is destroyed in the visions of John." 15 Similarly, Beeson asks, "does any historian know of any plagues that were visited on the Babylon of the Euphrates river within the first century or at any period of time thereafter? Did God call Christians out of this Babylon?" 16 On the other hand, Josephus chronicles in depth the destruction of Jerusalem and his writings clearly parallel John's Revelation oracle. Someone has well noted, "the gospels match Revelation which matches history." 17 This is only true when "Babylon" equals Jerusalem!
(3) The Great City
John repeatedly refers to "Babylon" as "the great city." Cf. Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:5,18; 18:2,10,16,18,19 & 21. In addition to these verses, Revelation 11:8 mentions "the great city" where our Lord was crucified. "Is it merely coincidence that both Jerusalem and `Babylon' are referred to as `the great city` in Revelation?" 18 In Jeremiah 22:8 Jerusalem is also characterized as "this great city." Throughout Old and New Testament Scripture Jerusalem is the focal city. For example, Matthew 5:35; 16:21; 23:37--24:34; Luke 13:33; 21:20; 24:47; Acts 1:4-5; 2:1ff; 8:1, etc. Indeed, as someone has calculated, Jerusalem is mentioned some 600+ times. Other cities receive notice but none are given such attention as Jerusalem. 19 We wholeheartedly agree with Balyeat when he writes, "it would require incredible tunnel vision for anyone to propose that the Great City of the last book of the Bible was anything other than the great city spoken of throughout the rest of the Bible--Jerusalem, Jerusalem...." 20 Consistency demands that Jerusalem be unequivocally identified as "the great city" of Holy Scripture.
(4) The New Jerusalem
In John's Revelation there is an unmistakable contrast between the harlot and the virgin bride (Revelation 17:2-5; 21:1f.). This strong contrast paves the way for the claim that "in the Apocalypse there are two cities, and only two...each is the antithesis of the other...these two contrasted cities are the new Jerusalem and Babylon the Great." 21 To speak of a new Jerusalem implies an old Jerusalem! Only prejudice forbids such a conclusion. "The Old Judaistic Jerusalem with all her apostasies must have been removed in order for the New Jerusalem, the church or the kingdom of Christ--to have come into world-wide sway." 22 John's words regarding the new Jerusalem flow out of his discourse addressing the demise of the old Jerusalem, "Babylon." One must not forget that "John's apocalypse is but an enlargement of our Lord's eschatological sermon on the mount of Olives." 23
(5) The Mother Of Harlots
Such an infamous handle, "mother of harlots," fits only Jerusalem. After all, did she not adulterate her covenant relationship as Jehovah's wife? Not only did she kill the prophets (Matthew 23:34-37), but she murdered the very son of God, the Christ (Acts 2:36; 7:51-52). Can a city be found that has done worse? Ogden rightly queries, "how could Rome have been the mother of harlots and abominations when she was only a baby contrasted with Jerusalem?" He answers by noting that "the whoredoms and abomination of no other city can compare to those of Israel in God's sight because He was married to her. Rome does not come close to filling the demands of the description given in of this great harlot city." 24 Long before, Isaiah cried over apostate Judah and Jerusalem with the words, "how is the faithful city become a harlot!" (Isaiah 1:21). Since that time she had become even more execrable! Sadly, Israel fell to such depths that the name "mother of harlots" fit her well. 25
(6) The Strong Covenantal Language
This point is closely connected with the previous one. More and more scholars are beginning to see the covenantal concept. Russell states the case in an emphatic way by noting, "Rome was not capable of violating the covenant of her God, of being false to her divine Husband, for she never was the married wife of Jehovah." 26 The recognition of John's Revelation as an oracle of covenantal wrath will do wonders to bring about the proper understanding of the Apocalypse. Leonard highlights this thought writing, "viewed as a covenant document--or more correctly, perhaps, as a document amplifying the consequences of the violation of the covenant--the Revelation takes on a renewed significance in terms of the tragic events of its own time." 27 Such strong covenantal language would not be directed against anyone outside of the covenant. Did any city boast of greater covenantal ties than Jerusalem?
(7) The Specific Portrait in Revelation 17-18
On this point J.E.Leonard does a masterful job in showing that "Babylon" must be Jerusalem simply based on the descriptions provided in Revelation 17-18. For example, she "was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls..." (Revelation 17:4a). Leonard shows that these are obvious references to Jerusalem. Cf. Luke 21:5; Matthew 23:16-17 and Exodus 28. He proceeds to list eight other specific qualifiers that all point, not to Rome, but to Jerusalem. 28 As mentioned earlier, we hope to develop this section in a future essay. Such details as those enumerated by John in Revelation 17-18 provide a series of signposts that all point to Jerusalem. Ogden aptly concludes, "the fulness of the characteristics revealed can only fit Jerusalem." 29
(8) The Similarity Between Revelation 18:24 and Matthew 23:34f
Can any single point be more persuasive than a comparative study of Revelation 18:24 with Matthew 23:34f? In "Babylon" was found the blood of prophets and saints (and God's dear Son). Chilton is right on target in asserting, "This language cannot be used of Rome or any other city. Only Jerusalem was guilty of `all the righteous blood shed on the earth.'" 30 The same shameful characterization that John ascribed to "Babylon" is applied to Jerusalem by Jesus in Matthew 23:34f and Luke 11:49f. Jesus proclaimed, "it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem" (Luke 13:33f cf. Acts 7:52f). Truly, this appears conclusive in identifying "Babylon" as Jerusalem.
(9) The Olivet Discourse Parallels
Finally, can anyone rightly deny that there are impressive parallels found between the Olivet Discourse recorded in the synoptic gospels (Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 17; 21) and John's Revelation? One parallel among several is seen in comparing Matthew 24:16 with Revelation 18:4. Both passages admonish fleeing and coming out from among. 31 John provides an expanded version of the Lord's Olivet prophecy. If such is true, and I believe that it is, then one must ask, "Is Rome a major player in Matthew 24?" She is not. Neither is she the centerpiece of John's Revelation concerning the Lord's Day (i.e., Day of the Lord). It is our contention that both (Matthew 24 and parallels and Revelation) focus on the fall of Jerusalem.
We have attempted to present a consistent interpretation of "Babylon" in the eschatology of Scripture. Both Peter and John recognized Jerusalem as wicked and ripe for judgment (1 Peter 4:7,17; Revelation 18:10,20). This idea was rooted in the prophetic parables spoken by Jesus (e.g., Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43; 21:33ff; 22:1ff). The Holy Spirit was sent to bring to remembrance such prior words of instruction and to further reveal or disclose things to come (John 14:26; 16:13). Thus, we find John's Revelation filled with details pertaining to the covenantal judgment parables and prophecies of Christ. This is simply as one should expect. In the words of C. Vanderwaal: "When we approach the Bible in faith as a unified revelation in which the covenant is a dominant theme from beginning to end, we cannot help but conclude that the current exegesis of the book of Revelation is off the mark. The hermeneutical key that will open up new perspectives and insights is the realization that the book of Revelation follows in the tradition of Christ, the prophets and the apostles by speaking out against `Jerusalem' and covenant apostasy." 32
1 Max R. King, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ, page 227
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