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Ambrose, Pseudo
Baruch, Pseudo
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Clement, Pseudo
King Jesus
Apostle John
Justin Martyr
Apostle Paul
Apostle Peter
Maurus Rabanus
St. Symeon

(Minor Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 or Revelation in Past)

Joseph Addison
Oswald T. Allis
Thomas Aquinas
Karl Auberlen
Albert Barnes
Karl Barth
G.K. Beale
John Bengel
Wilhelm Bousset
John A. Broadus

David Brown
"Haddington Brown"
F.F. Bruce

Augustin Calmut
John Calvin
B.H. Carroll
Johannes Cocceius
Vern Crisler
Thomas Dekker
Wilhelm De Wette
Philip Doddridge
Isaak Dorner
Dutch Annotators
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E.B. Elliott
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Geneva Bible
Charles Homer Giblin
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Hank Hanegraaff
Matthew Henry
G.A. Henty
George Holford
Johann von Hug
William Hurte
J, F, and Brown
B.W. Johnson
John Jortin
Benjamin Keach
K.F. Keil
Henry Kett
Richard Knatchbull
Johann Lange

Cornelius Lapide
Nathaniel Lardner
Jean Le Clerc
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Jack P. Lewis
Abiel Livermore
John Locke
Martin Luther

James MacDonald
James MacKnight
Dave MacPherson
Keith Mathison
Philip Mauro
Thomas Manton
Heinrich Meyer
J.D. Michaelis
Johann Neander
Sir Isaac Newton
Thomas Newton
Stafford North
Dr. John Owen
 Blaise Pascal
William W. Patton
Arthur Pink

Thomas Pyle
Maurus Rabanus
St. Remigius

Anne Rice
Kim Riddlebarger
J.C. Robertson
Edward Robinson
Andrew Sandlin
Johann Schabalie
Philip Schaff
Thomas Scott
C.J. Seraiah
Daniel Smith
Dr. John Smith
C.H. Spurgeon

Rudolph E. Stier
A.H. Strong
St. Symeon
Friedrich Tholuck
George Townsend
James Ussher
Wm. Warburton
Benjamin Warfield

Noah Webster
John Wesley
B.F. Westcott
William Whiston
Herman Witsius
N.T. Wright

John Wycliffe
Richard Wynne
C.F.J. Zullig

(Major Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 or Revelation in Past)

Firmin Abauzit
Jay Adams
Luis Alcazar
Greg Bahnsen
Beausobre, L'Enfant
Jacques Bousset
John L. Bray
David Brewster
Dr. John Brown
Thomas Brown
Newcombe Cappe
David Chilton
Adam Clarke

Henry Cowles
Ephraim Currier
R.W. Dale
Gary DeMar
P.S. Desprez
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Heneage Elsley
F.W. Farrar
Samuel Frost
Kenneth Gentry
Steve Gregg
Hugo Grotius
Francis X. Gumerlock
Henry Hammond
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Adolph Hausrath
Thomas Hayne
J.G. Herder
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J. Marcellus Kik
Samuel Lee
Peter Leithart
John Lightfoot
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Ovid Need, Jr
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N.A. Nisbett
Gary North
Randall Otto
Zachary Pearce
Andrew Perriman
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Ernst Renan
Gregory Sharpe
Fr. Spadafora
R.C. Sproul
Moses Stuart
Milton S. Terry
Herbert Thorndike
C. Vanderwaal
Foy Wallace
Israel P. Warren
Chas Wellbeloved
J.J. Wetstein
Richard Weymouth
Daniel Whitby
George Wilkins
E.P. Woodward

(Virtually No Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 & Revelation in 1st C. - Types Only ; Also Included are "Higher Critics" Not Associated With Any Particular Eschatology)

Henry Alford
G.C. Berkower
Alan Patrick Boyd
John Bradford
Wm. Burkitt
George Caird
Conybeare/ Howson
John Crossan
John N. Darby
C.H. Dodd
E.B. Elliott
G.S. Faber
Jerry Falwell
Charles G. Finney
J.P. Green Sr.
Murray Harris
Thomas Ice

Benjamin Jowett
John N.D. Kelly

Hal Lindsey
John MacArthur
William Miller
Robert Mounce

Eduard Reuss

J.A.T. Robinson
George Rosenmuller
D.S. Russell
George Sandison
C.I. Scofield
Dr. John Smith

Norman Snaith
Thomas Torrance
Jack/Rex VanImpe
John Walvoord

Quakers : George Fox | Margaret Fell (Fox) | Isaac Penington


"For example, Billy Graham and Barbara Streisand -- two people on different ends of the spiritual spectrum"


Frank X. Gumerlock

Frank X. Gumerlock currently teaches Latin in Broomfield, Colorado and is secretary of the Colorado Classics Association.

Gumerlock, Francis X. “Nero Antichrist: Patristic Evidence for the Use of Nero’s Naming in Calculating the Number of the Beast,” Westminster Theological Journal 68, no. 2 (2006): 347-360.

 Revelation in the First Century Preterist Interpretations of the Apocalypse in Early Christianity FXG's book "Revelation in the First Century: Preterist Interpretations of the Apocalypse in Early Christianity" 4.99 on Sribd- well worth it for all.

The Early Church and the End of the World

"Since the futurist perspective has been promoted as an early church reality by so many for so long, few people today actually question it. The Early Church and the "End of the World" is the first book to question the prevailing futurist view by a careful study of the historical record.  It will show that some of the earliest writers, most likely writing before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, were referring to the judgment coming of Jesus, an event that the gospel writers tell us was to take place before that first-century generation passed away (Matt. 24:34). Adding to the confirmation of this view are the writings of the church’s first historian, Eusebius Pampilus of Caesarea (c. 260–341), whose Ecclesiastical History is a window on the first few centuries of the church. " ($6.95) | Book Review

  • 3/4/13: Gary DeMar - Was the Preterist Interpretation of Revelation Invented by the Jesuits? "As Frank Gumerlock and others have shown with the advent of translated works that have never been in English, there is a long history of Christians going back long before either Ribera or Alcasar who interpreted parts of Revelation in a preteristic way."

    • "Once last point about Alcasar being the founder of the preterist school of interpretation needs to be made. Frank X. Gumerlock, writing in his book Revelation and the First Century, states that “Luis Alcasar’s commentary on Revelation, published in 1614, was not the first to take a preterist approach to the main body of the Apocalypse (Chs. 6–19). [John] Henten wrote his comments almost a century before the publication of Alcasar’s commentary.”[7] In 1545, Henten made these comments on the date of Revelation: And first it seems to us that John, this apostle and evangelist who is called the Theologian, was exiled onto Patmos by Nero at the very same time in which he killed the blessed apostles of Christ Peter and Paul. . . . [and] that the Apocalypse was written on Patmos before the destruction of Jerusalem." According to Gumerlock, Henten (1499–1566), or Hentenius as he is also known, “held that Chapters 6–11 of Revelation referred to the abrogation of Judaism, and Chapters 12–19 referred to the destruction of Roman paganism.” Gumerlock, Revelation and the First Century, 42."


The claim has been made by a number of prophecy writers that the early church was predominately premillennial on millennial issues and exclusively futuristic on almost everything else. This means that early Christian writers who commented on prophetic passages like the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) believed and wrote that the biblical authors were always referring to events in the distant future just before the return of Christ. While these claims have been made with certainty, there has always been a lack of clear historical documentation to back them up. Sometimes the historical record has been stretched and exaggerated to fit an already developed theory. But since the futurist perspective has been promoted as an early church reality by so many for so long, few people today actually question it. The Early Church and the "End of the World" is the first book to question the prevailing futurist view by a careful study of the historical record.

The Early Church and the "End of the World" asks this fundamental question: What did the earliest of the early Christian writers actually believe about prophetic events? We can only answer this question by actually studying what they wrote. Unfortunately, we do not have a complete record of the period. To make our historical investigation even more difficult, there are translation issues. Many of the works of those who wrote soon after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and beyond remain untranslated.

This booklet seeks to remedy some of these problems. Thomas Ice, in his chapter on the history of preterism in The End Times Controversy, makes some bold historical claims that cannot be supported when the historical record is actually analyzed. The early church was not monolithic in its views of Bible prophecy. There was no unanimous acceptance of either premillennialism or a distant futurism.

The Early Church and the "End of the World" will show that some of the earliest writers, most likely writing before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, were referring to the judgment coming of Jesus, an event that the gospel writers tell us was to take place before that first-century generation passed away (Matt. 24:34). Adding to the confirmation of this view are the writings of the church’s first historian, Eusebius Pampilus of Caesarea (c. 260–341), whose Ecclesiastical History is a window on the first few centuries of the church.

In addition, Francis X. Gumerlock has undertaken the task of translating a number of ancient and medieval commentators who have written on Matthew 24. He shows that many early and medieval writers believed that these prophecies  had already been fulfilled before the “end” of Jerusalem, that is, before its destruction by the Romans in A.D. 70. (Booklet, 83 pages with extensive footnotes)


Christianity's Perennial Fascination with Predicting the End of the World

Francis X. Gumerlock, 2000

Christianity has always been perennially fascinated, obsessed at times, with predicting the end of the world. Francis Gumerlock has chronicled two millennia's worth of predictions of the end. Unlike any other book in print, The Day and the Hour includes 20 easy-to-read tables that consisely summarize major themes such as: First Century Antichrist Suspects; Who Were the Two Witnesses?; God & Magog Candidates; and many more.



  1. New Jerusalem Descends into Turkey A.D. 50-335
  2. Babylon is Falling and the Whole World With It A.D. 350-496
  3. Apocalyptic Panic in the Dark Ages A.D. 500-999
  4. Medieval Millennial Madness 1000-1197
  5. Assisi, Italy-Touched by an Angel! 1200-1297
  6. The Abomination of Desolation in the Holy Place 1300-1399
  7. The Taborites Flee to the Mountains 1400-1516
  8. The Two Witnesses Appear in Munster, Germany 1517-1548
  9. Cosmic Comets and Noteworthy Novas 1550-1599
  10. Soothsayers of the Seventeenth Century 1600-1635
  11. Palestine or Bust! 1636-1650
  12. Move Over for King Jesus! 1651-1659
  13. And His Number is 1666? 1660-1699
  14. Baptism of Fire in the Last Days 1700-1749
  15. Wars and Rumors of War 1750-1799
  16. Christ Returns to the Heavenly Sanctuary 1800-1849
  17. The Latter Day Glory Providentially Postponed 1850-1899
  18. Will the Real Antichrist Please Stand Up 1900-1947
  19. A Fig Tree Buds in the Middle East 1948-1985
  20. Rapture Fever in the Late Twentieth Century 1986-1999
  21. Earth Takes a Sabbatical 2000-3836
Select Bibliography

Trinity Journal, Fall 2007 by Gumerlock, Francis X

Referring to the time of his second coming, Jesus is recorded as saying, "But of that day or hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone" (Mark 13:32, NASB; the word alone is italicized because it was supplied by the translator). The church fathers spilled much ink explaining this statement of the Lord, most often because of its import regarding Christology.2 Since the passage allegedly presents Christ as ignorant, the Arians of the early church, who denied that the Son was consubstantial with the Father, used it as a proof-text for their belief in a less-than-divine Son of God.3 On the other hand, those who held to Nicene orthodoxy and believed that Jesus was fully God and possessed all the attributes of divinity, including omniscience, responded to the Arians with Col 2:3, "In him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." The adherents of Nicene orthodoxy, besides asserting Christ's omniscience, also had to make sense out of Mark 13:32, which seemed to teach that Jesus was ignorant of at least one detail concerning the future, i.e., the time of his return. To solve the theological dilemma of the omniscient Son of God not knowing the time of his own second coming, the church fathers proposed a variety of explanations. This article presents and evaluates four of their solutions-the philological solution of Basil of Caesarea, two "figures of speech" solutions offered by Augustine of Hippo and Gregory of Tours respectively, and the anthropological solution of Athanasius of Alexandria.


In the fourth century, Basil of Caesarea (d. 379) offered a philological solution to the problem. He argued that the Greek words in Mark 13:32 do not teach that the Son was ignorant. He noted that a literal, word-for-word translation of the verse reads, "But of that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, if not (ei me) the Father." From this philology, Basil reasoned that Jesus was in effect saying: If I were not one with the Father, even I would not know the time of my second coming. Basil commented,

But the saying of Mark . . . we understand in this way: that no one knows, neither the angels of God, but not even the Son would have known, unless the Father had known, that is, the cause of the Son's knowledge is from the Father.4

According to this interpretation, Mark 13:32 is not a statement about the Lord's ignorance, but the exact opposite. It is a statement about Christ's divinity and omniscience.

Basil's argument has several positive qualities. First, it is based on the Greek text itself. Ei me in Greek can mean "if not."5 In fact, the words ei and me are often translated "if" and "not", as in the NASB and NIV translations of John 9:33 which both read: "If this man were not from God, He could do nothing" (italics mine). Basil's interpretation also entirely erases the problem of Christ's supposed ignorance.

On the other hand, Basil's interpretation has the problem of the words Pater monos (the Father alone) in the synoptic parallel of Matt 24:36: "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." Basil explains this by saying that the phrase the Father alone is used in contradistinction from the angels, not in contradistinction from the Son.6 In other words, according to Basil, the contrast in the passage is not: Humans, angels, and the Son do not know; the Father does know. Rather, it is: Humans and angels do not know; the Son and Father do know. Although Basil's understanding of the passage springs from the language of the biblical text itself, to me it seems like he is forcing a theological presupposition into a biblical text for polemical reasons, rather than accepting the "natural reading" of the text.


A. Augustine: To Know is to Reveal

Several patristic authors attempted to solve the problem of Christ's supposed ignorance by saying that Jesus was speaking figuratively when he said that the Son did not know the time of the second coming. Augustine of Hippo (d. 430), for example, wrote that many times in Scripture the statement "God knows" means "God reveals." When it says in Mark 13:32 that the Son does not know the day or hour, according to Augustine, it really means that the Son does not reveal the day or hour.

For support, Augustine gave the example of Gen 22:12, where God said to Abraham after his test of obedience in sacrificing Isaac: "Now I know that you fear me." In reality, Augustine argued, the omniscient God did not increase in knowledge. It was a figurative way of saying, "Now it is revealed that you fear me." Augustine cited Deut 13:3 as another biblical example of this kind of figure of speech. Here Moses said that God would test the love of his people by means of false prophets. He wrote: "For the Lord your God is testing you that he may know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul." According to Augustine, the phrase "that he may know" does not mean that God would increase in knowledge once the Israelites were tested, but that at that time it would be revealed whether the children of Israel loved God.7

These cross-references help lend weight to Augustine's interpretation. Furthermore, Augustine's interpretation coincides well with the context in which Mark 13:32 is found. The main point of the section of the Olivet Discourse in which the passage is found is to warn humans to be ready at all times, because the day and hour has not been revealed. Jesus's words about people being taken unaware in the deluge of Noah, and Christ's parables of the faithful servant, the ten virgins, and the talents, all teach this (cf. Matt 24:37-25:30).

Augustine's view also has problems. If his definition of "not knowing" as "not revealing" is applied throughout the whole verse, the meaning of the passage significantly changes from what Augustine claimed it meant. For, the Scripture passage not only says that the Son does not know the day or the hour of his coming; it also says that humans and angels do not know. When, therefore, the definition of "not knowing" as "not revealing" is applied throughout the verse, the meaning becomes: But of that day or hour, no one, e.g., prophet has revealed, neither have the angels in heaven revealed it, nor has the Son revealed it, but only the Father will reveal it in his good time. While this interpretation is consistent with NT theology as a whole, that is, with other passages that speak of Christ's coming as a thief in the night and of its time being concealed by the Father's authority (1 Thess 5:2; Rev 3:3; Acts 1:7), I have doubts about whether Augustine's reading of the passage is really what Jesus meant when he preached it.

B. Gregory of Tours: The "Son" is Metaphoric of the Church

Another "figure of speech" interpretation is found in the writing of Gregory of Tours (d. 594). He said that the words "son" and "father" in Mark 13:32 are not speaking of persons of the Trinity, but are figures of the church and Christ. Since these words do not represent the Father and Son, in his view the passage would read without the words "Father" and "Son" capitalized: "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the son, but only the father." For Gregory, the church, made up of the adopted children of Christ and designated by the word "son," does not know the time of the Lord's second coming. Designated by the word "father" is Jesus, the Lord and presiding judge at the Last Judgment; and he does know its time.8

For support, Gregory and others cited biblical cross-references in which the relationship between Christ and his people is presented figuratively as one of father and children. For example, in John 13:33, Jesus said: "Little children, I am with you a little while longer." Similarly, in Heb 2:13, Christ says, "Behold, I and the children whom God has given me."9

One strength of Gregory's interpretation is that in the Olivet Discourse Jesus used other relationships to symbolically represent his relationship with his followers, figures like bridegroom/ virgin (Matt 25:1-13), master/servant (Matt 25:14-30), and thief/servant (Matt 24:43-51). Therefore, it would be rhetorically consistent for Jesus also to employ father/son relational imagery in the discourse. Second, while today we often capitalize the first letter of Father and Son if we are speaking of the persons of the Trinity, and use lower case letters if we employ the terms father and son as common nouns, the original manuscripts of the Greek NT were probably written in all majuscules or capital letters. Therefore, there is nothing in the orthography that demands that the persons of the Trinity be understood in the passage or that prohibits one from understanding the son and father in the passage as common nouns. This interpretation also entirely removes the christological problem of the Son's supposed ignorance.10 Jesus, who is represented in the passage under the figure of the father, does know the day and hour of the eschaton. The only question that remains is whether this is what Jesus had in mind when he was delivering the Olivet Discourse.


Athanasius of Alexandria (d. 373) proposed still another solution to the problem of Christ's supposed ignorance. For him, Mark 13:32 does not detract from the Son's consubstantial omniscience, it simply speaks of the limited knowledge of Christ's humanity. He writes that Jesus

made this [statement] as mose other declarations as man by reason of the flesh. For this as before is not the Word's deficiency, but of diat human nature whose property it is to be ignorant. . . . For it is proper to die Word to know what was made, nor be ignorant either of the beginning or of the end of these. . . . Certainly when he says in the Gospel concerning Himself in His human character, "Father, the hour is come, glorify Thy Son," it is plain that He knows also the hour of the end of all things, as the Word, though as man He is ignorant of it, for ignorance is proper to man. . . . for since He was made man, He is not ashamed, because of the flesh which is ignorant to say, "I know not," that He may show that knowing as God, He is but ignorant according to the flesh.11

Similarly, Gregory of Nazianzus (d. 390) wrote about Christ that "everyone must see that He knows as God, and knows not as Man. . . . [W]e are to understand the ignorance in the most reverent sense, by attributing it to the Manhood, and not to the Godhead."12

And later that century, Rufinus the Syrian (c. 399) anathematized anyone who would interpret Mark 13:32 "in accordance with the blasphemy of the Arians, rather than understand that the passage concerns the dispensation of His assumed flesh."13

The main strength of Athanasius's anthropological interpretation is that it harmonizes with Luke's Gospel, which assigns to Christ a growth in wisdom. Since the Gospel writer claims that the Christ-child "grew in wisdom and stature" (Luke 2:52), it is inferred that Christ was ignorant of certain things.

Another strength of the anthropological solution is that, by assigning the ignorance to Christ's human nature, one can still retain Christ's full divinity. For, as the creeds state, the incarnation is not an exchange of deity for humanity, but a joining of deity with humanity in one person.14 With the anthropological solution one can have true divinity and true humanity with all of their properties intact without a theory of kenosis in which the Son loses the divine attribute of omniscience. The two natures of Christ with all of the properties can be maintained.

However, this solution, which assigns ignorance to Christ's human mind, is also beset with weakness. The main weakness is the difficulty of stating the position in a manner that avoids the error of the Nestorians condemned at the ecumenical council of Ephesus in 431 - that of too greatly separating the natures of Christ. Two-nature Christology which joins all of the properties of divinity and all of the properties of humanity engenders these questions: When full divinity and perfect humanity are joined in one person, how are the attributes of each nature communicated or shared by the one person? What effect does the unity of Christ's person have on each nature? In answer to these questions the Eutychians erroneously blended Christ's two natures in such a way that their Christ was one person, but neither fully divine nor fully human. The Nestorians articulated a two-nature Christology that erred in the other extreme. By assigning certain acts to Christ's humanity and certain acts to his divinity, they weakened the unity of his person and were accused of creating two persons, a human Jesus and a divine Son joined together through indwelling or participation.15

When Athanasius and Gregory stated Christ's ignorance, it was in the polemical context of the Arian controversy. But when theologians like Theodore of Mopsuestia (d. 428), Theodoret of Cyrus (d. 466), and Leporius of Gaul (fl. c. 430) asserted that Jesus was ignorant of the day and the hour of his return, they were accused of Nestorianism. The reason for their censure was that they allegedly taught that Jesus could only know as much as the divine nature would communicate to him at specific times. They saw Jesus as receiving divine knowledge incrementally from the Word, as if the latter were dwelling in the former.16 To their opponents this implied that Jesus was not the God-man, but only a man participating in divinity.

The orthodox position, articulated in reaction to Nestorianism, was that because of the unity of the two natures in the incarnation, the Lord's human mind was fully enriched with the fullness of divine knowledge. For example, Fulgentius of Ruspe (d. 533) wrote that because of the hypostatic union, the human soul of Christ possesses "the full knowledge of the infinite divinity," since the Scripture says that was given the Spirit without measure.17 That same century, Pope Vigilius wrote against the Nestorians on Christ's supposed ignorance of the day and the hour:

If anyone says that the one Jesus Christ who is both true Son of God and true Son of man did not know the future or die day of the Last Judgment and that He could only know as much as the divinity, dwelling in Him as in another, revealed to Him, anathema sit.18

Thus, viewing Jesus as an ignorant man, knowing only as much as the divine nature would permit him to know at a given time, was judged in the early christological debates to be Nestorian. Instead of the two natures united in one person, it hinted at a mere man sharing in divinity. It nullified not only Paul's statement that in Christ were "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col 2:3), but also Jesus' own words: "Everything which the Father has is mine" (John 16:15). In addition, the opponents of Nestorianism reasoned that if the Father had committed to the Son of Man all of the details of the Last Judgment (John 5:22-27), including the knowledge of the thoughts, words, and actions of every human that ever lived, certainly the knowledge of the time of the appointed judgment was entrusted to him.

Shortly after the reaction of the orthodox against Nestorian views of Christ's ignorance, a sect called the Agnotae arose within the monophysite community in Egypt. Asserting ignorance in Christ based in large part upon Mark 13:32, the Agnotae met with similar reactions by the orthodox.19 In the West, Gregory the Great (d. 604) responded saying:

[T]he Only-begotten, being incarnate and made for us a perfect man, knew indeed in the nature of His humanity the day and the hour of the judgment, but still it was not from the nature of His humanity tiiat He knew it. What then He knew in it [his human nature] He knew not from it, because God, made man, knew the day and the hour of the judgment through the power of His Deity. . . .The day, then, and the hour of the judgment He knows as God and man, but for this reason, that God is man. It is moreover a tiling quite manifest, that whoso is not a Nestorian cannot in any wise be an Agnoite. (italics mine)20

John of Damascus (d. c. 750), representing Eastern orthodoxy, wrote similarly: "One must know that the Word assumed the ignorant and subjected nature," but "thanks to the identity of the hypostasis and the indissoluble union, the Lord's soul was enriched with the knowledge of things to come. . . ."21

Some contemporary theologians like N. T. Wright believe these later anti-Nestorian, anti-Agnotae articulations have lost sight of the Lord's true humanity.22 On the other hand, theologians who value these affirmations are faced with the challenge of articulating the true humanity of Christ-the fact that he "grew in wisdom" (Luke 2:52) and "learned obedience" (Heb 5:8)-without falling into the condemned Nestorian tenet that has Christ's human nature receiving divine knowledge in increments. This is no easy task, but it can be done. As we have seen, Athanasius and Gregory of Nazianzus affirmed the anthropological solution to Mark 13:32 before the Nestorian heresy arose, and Gregory the Great and John of Damascus articulated it, albeit in a guarded form, afterward.23


The anthropological solution to the problem of Christ's supposed ignorance, advocated by Athanasius and others in the early church, is probably the most popular today. But unless it is articulated very carefully, one's explanation can easily convey that the Lord's human mind received divine knowledge gradually, a belief condemned as Nestorian by sixth-century theologians. Fortunately, the anthropological interpretation was not the only solution that early Christian interpreters proposed. Patristic exegetes offered a variety of perspectives on Mark 13:32 from which today's pastors and theologians may glean.

Focusing on the Greek words that can be translated if not the Father, Basil of Caesarea offered a philological interpretation. The phrase "nor the Son, if not the Father," he argued, meant that even the Son would not have known the day or hour, if it were not for his substantial union with the Father. Other patristic writers solved the problem of Christ's supposed ignorance in Mark 13:32 by saying that Jesus was using a figure of speech. Augustine of Hippo interpreted the Son's not knowing the day or the hour to mean that the Son had not revealed the time of his second coming. Gregory of Tours, on the other hand, held that the Son and Father in the passage do not refer to the persons of the Trinity, but to the church and Christ. The "son" or church does not know the time of the second coming, but Christ under the figure of "father" does in fact know.

I am fully convinced that on the day when our faith becomes sight the problem of the Son not knowing the day and hour will be permanently solved. But for the church militant on this side of glory, laboring diligently to understand God's inspired Word, the church fathers provide at least four reasonable alternatives.

1 An early draft of this article was delivered as a paper at the 55th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Atlanta in November 2003.

2 Some of the Fathers used the passage to teach the folly of predicting the time of Christ's second coming. See my The Day and the Hour: Christianity's Perennial Fascination With Predicting the End of the World (Powder Springs, Ga.: American Vision, 2000), 26, 31, 40, 86, 88.

3 Arius of Alexandria, Thalia, fragments; in R. P. H. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy, 318-381 (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1988), 107, 448, 453, 558; Rowan Williams, Arius: Heresy and Tradition (London: Darton, Longman, and Todd, 1987), 100-103; and Robert C. Gregg and Dennis E. Groh, Early Arianism-A View of Salvation (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981), 7-10. See also Altercation Between Heraclianus and Germinius, Bishop of Sirmium (PLS 1:347); Anonymous Arian, Opus imperfectum in Matthaeum (Homily 50 on Matt 24), in Franz Mali, Das "Opus imperfectum in Matthaeum" (Wien: Tyrolia, 1991), 299; and PG 56:921.

4 Basil of Caesarea, Letter 236 to Amphilochius (FC 28:168); Homily Concerning the End of the World, preserved in Coptic in E. A. Wallis Budge, Coptic Homilies in the Dialect of Upper Egypt (London: Longmans, 1910), 249.

5 Euthymius Zigabenus in the twelfth century adopted this solution. Euthymius Zigabenus, Commentary on Matthew, On Matt 24:36: "But it is more fitting that it [Matt 24:36] be interpreted in this manner: Nor does the Son know unless the Father should clearly know. Since the Father indeed knows, certainly also the Son knows. 'For I,' he said, 'and the Father are one' (John 10:30)" (PG 129:623). More contemporary, the Greek scholar and archbishop of Dublin, Richard Trench (d. 1886) (cited in John Ankerberg and John Weldon, One World: Biblical Prophecy and the New World Order [Chicago: Moody, 1991], 127) and Sidney Collett (All About the Bible [New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1934]) held this view.

6 Basil, Letter 236 (FC 28:167). Earlier in the letter (FC 28:165), Basil points out that the word "alone" is not always used in Scripture in such an absolute manner that it excludes every person. For Jesus also said, "No one is good but God alone" (Mark 10:18), but he did not thereby exclude himself as good.

7 Augustine, On Eighty-three Diverse Questions, 60. Cited in The Gospel of Matthew With Patristic Commentaries (trans. Charles S. Kraszewski; Studies in Bible and Early Christianity 40; Lewiston, N.Y.: Mellen, 1999), 355; Annotations on the Psalms, On Psalms 6 and 37 (NPNF 8:15, 91); Sermon 97.1. The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century (trans. Edmund Hill; Sermons II/4 (94A-147A) on the New Testament; Brooklyn, N.Y.: New City, 1992), 36; On the Trinity, 1.12 (FC 45:35).

8 Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks, Prologue (PL 71:162-3).

9 Isho'dad of Merv (c. 850), Commentary on Matthew, On Matt 24:36, also knew of this interpretation (Margaret Dunlop Gibson, ed. and trans., The Commentaries of Isho'dad of Merv, Vol. 1 [Horae Semeticae 5; Cambridge: University Press, 1911], 95). Isho'dad referred to a certain Timotheus as one who held this interpretation He writes, "Timotheus says that our Lord does not here call Himself the Son, but believers, who are many times calls sons . . . and He calls Himself the Father, he says he is the Father of the world to come, and Him hath God as Father sealed; and Children, yet a little while I am with you; and Behold I and the children whom the Lord hath given Me. Therefore because the name of the Father falls on both the Father and the Son; on the Father, on the one hand, by nature, on the Son, on the other hand, by Providence; because of this, our Lord here used the equality of the name with His disciples; for so many times also, as in the parables, He uses the equality of the names."

10 Because of these strengths, Gregory's interpretation received honorable mention in later biblical commentaries, such as those of Rhabanus Maurus (d. 856), Ralph of Laon (d. 1136), Alexander of Hales (d. 1245), and Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274). Rhabanus Maurus, Commentary on Matthew, On Matt 24:36 (CCCM 174A637); Ralph of Laon, Glossa Ordinaria, On Matt 24:36 (PL 114:162); Alexander of Hales, Quaestiones Disputatae 'Antequam esset frater,' Question 42: De Scientia Christi, 33 (Bibliotecha Franciscana Scholastica 19-21; Quaracchi: Typographia Collegii S. Bonaventurae, 1960), 724; Thomas Aquinas, Light of Faith: The Compendium of Theology (Manchester, N.H.: Sophia Institute Press, 1993), 320; Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected Out of the Works of the Father by St. Thomas Aquinas, Vol. 1: St. Matthew (trans. John Henry Newman; London: Saint Austin, 1999), 833; Summa Theologica, Third Part, Question 10, Article 2 (ed. Robert M. Hutchins; Great Books of the Western World 20: Thomas Aquinas: II [Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1952]), 769.

11 Athanasius, Four Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse 3.43 (NPNF2 4:417).

12 Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 30.15 (NPNF2 7:315).

13 Rufinus the Syrian, Libellus de Fide, 4 (ed. E. Schwartz; Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum, 1.5; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1924), 4-5.

14 See especially the definition of the Council of Chalcedon (451): John H. Leith, ed., Creeds of the Churches (rev. ed.; Atlanta: John Knox, 1973), 36.

15 Cyril of Alexandria led the battle for the condemnation of Nestorius at the Council of Ephesus in 431. The fourth of his twelve anathemas reads, "If anyone takes the words found in the writings of the Gospels and of the aposdes, whether they are said of Christ by the saints or of Christ by himself, and distributes them between two persons or hypostases, attributing some of them as to a man, properly understood in contrast to the Word of God, and the rest to the Word of God the Father exclusively, on the grounds that they are proper to God alone: let him be anathema" (cited in John F. Clarkson, John H. Edwards, William J. Kelly, and John J. Welch, trans., The Church Teaches [St. Louis: Herder, 1955], 168). On Nestorian views of the joining of Christ's two natures, see the anathemas of the Council of Constantinople of 553 in J. Neuner and J. Dupuis, eds., The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church (rev. ed.; New York: Alba House, 1982), 159.

16 On Theodore and Theodoret's views, see NPNF^sup 2^ 4:417, n. 10. In a tract correcting his errors, Leporius anathematized his former opinion that "our Lord Jesus Christ was ignorant according to His humanity" (Leporius, Libellus Emendationis, 10 [PL 31:1229]).

17 Fulgentius of Ruspe, Letter U to Ferrandus, 29-30 (FC 95:539-41).

18 Pope Vigilius, Constitutum I. Cited in Neuner and Dupuis, Christian Faith, 157.

19 The leader of the Agnotae sect was a deacon at Alexandria named Themistius, who also called himself Calonymus. Theodore of Alexandria wrote Against Themistius answering his four arguments intended to prove ignorance in Christ; and Sophronius, patriarch of Jerusalem, pronounced an anathema against Themistius. see Photius Bibliotheca, 108 ( and NPNF2 13:45, n. 7).

20 Gregory the Great, Epistle 39 to Eulogius (NPNF^sup 2^ 13:48).

21 Cited in John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought (Washington, DC: Corpus, 1969), 168-69.

22 N. T. Wright, Vie Challenge of]esus (Downers Grove: InterVarsiry, 1999), 123-24.

23 In contemporary evangelicalism, Millard Erickson (The Word Became Flesh [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991], 555-60) and Wayne Grudem (Systematic Theology [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994], 558-61) hold to a form of me anthropological interpretation. They say that while all knowledge resided in Christ by virtue of his divinity, he was not "conscious" of all that he knew. For a survey of evangelical views, see Ronald T. Clutter, "Omniscient But Not Knowing: A Selective Historical Survey in Interpretation" (Paper presented at the 55th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Atlanta, November 2003).


* Francis X. Gumerlock currently teaches Latin in Broomfield, Colorado and is secretary of the Colorado Classics Association.

Copyright Trinity International University Fall 2007
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved



Reading in Christian Communities: Essays on Interpretation in the Early Church (review)
Journal of Early Christian Studies - Volume 11, Number 3, Fall 2003, pp. 437-439 The Johns Hopkins University Press  Francis X. Gumerlock - Reading in Christian Communities: Essays on Interpretation in the Early Church


Yet, Another Pre-Darby Rapture Statement
By Tommy Ice

In the eight years that I have been working as Executive Director of the Pre-Trib Research Center, there have been three major discoveries of writings teaching some form of a pretribulational rapture. The most recent find has been brought forth from an unexpected source that I will reveal to you in this article.

Why Is This Important?

Since many non-pretribulationists often formulate a historical argument against those teaching the pre-trib rapture, it is important to know that some did teach a rapture before the tribulation and distinct from the second coming. Rapture critic Gary DeMar says, "All attempts to find a pretrib Rapture any earlier than around 1830 do not stand up to historical scrutiny."[1] Of course, J. N. Darby himself first discovered pretribulationism from his own biblical studies during December 1826 and January 1827.[2] But there are those who preceded Darby, as I have written about in the past. Critics of the rapture, like DeMar ask, "why didn't anyone see this prior to the nineteenth century if the pretrib Rapture 'is taught clearly?'"[3] The belief by DeMar is that since pretribulationism, he believes, is not found earlier throughout church history, then that means its not found in the Bible. I disagree. Whether something is in the Bible depends upon whether it is in the Bible. It has nothing to do with how many people did or did not observe it in the Bible. Nevertheless, I will look at the historical evidence.

Pre-Darby Rapture Occurrences

As I noted earlier, I think that at least three instances of pre-Darby pretribulationism have surfaced in the last eight years. The first is the statement by Pseudo-Ephraem, as brought to our attention by Grant Jeffrey. This rapture statement is as follows:

Why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that he may draw us from the confusion, which overwhelms all the world? . . . For all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins.[4]

This sermon was written between a.d. 374-627, well before the nineteenth century. Dr. Robert Gundry of Westmont College, a leading posttribulationist, wrote a critique of our Pseudo-Ephraem findings.[5] I answered his objections in our book The Return,[6] thus, demonstrating further why a pretrib understanding of Pseudo-Ephraem stands.

Next came the discovery of Morgan Edwards who wrote about his pretrib beliefs in 1744 and later published them in 1788.[7] Edwards taught the following:

II. The distance between the first and second resurrection will be somewhat more than a thousand years.

I say, somewhat more-, because the dead saints will be raised, and the living changed at Christ's "appearing in the air" (I Thes. iv. 17); and this will be about three years and a half before the millennium, as we shall see hereafter: but will he and they abide in the air all that time? No: they will ascend to paradise, or to some one of those many "mansions in the father's house" (John xiv. 2), and disappear during the foresaid period of time. The design of this retreat and disappearing will be to judge the risen and changed saints; for "now the time is come that judgment must begin," and that will be "at the house of God" (I Pet. iv. 17) . . . (p. 7; The spelling of all Edwards quotes have been modernized.)


What has Edwards said? Edwards clearly separates the rapture from the second coming by three and a half years. He uses modern pretrib rapture verses (1 Thess. 4:17 and John 14:2) to describe the rapture. He, like modern pretribulationists, links the time in heaven, during the tribulation, with the "bema" judgment of believers.

The only difference, at least as far as the above statements go, between current pretribulationism and Edwards is the time interval of three and a half years instead of seven. This does not mean that he is a midtribulationist, since it appears that he thought the totality of the tribulation was three and a half, not seven years.

Brother Dolcino and The Rapture

At the recent meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society on November 14-16, 2001 in Colorado Springs, Francis X. Gumerlock presented a paper entitled "Before Darby: Expanding the Historical Boundaries of Pretribulationism." Gumerlock argues that someone named Brother Dolcino and his sect called the Apostolic Brethren taught a pretrib rapture around a.d. 1304.[8] Gumerlock found this material in a text called The History of Brother Dolcino.[9] Gumerlock explains:

The History of Brother Dolcino was composed in 1316 by an anonymous notary of the diocese of Vercelli in northern Italy. This short Latin treatise gives a firsthand account of the deeds and beliefs of a religious order called the Apostolic Brethren. Under the leadership of Brother Dolcino, the Apostolic Brethrne flourished in the author's diocese between the years 1300 and 1307.[10] The text was recopied in 1551, and in the 1600's was used as source material for two other ecclesiastical histories of the area. The treatise was later printed in the 1740's in the 25-volume Rerum Italicarum Scriptores.[11] And it was most recently edited in 1907 with the reprint of this multi-volume set, where it contains fourteen pages of Volume Nine.[12]


Gumerlock provides the following history of Brother Dolcino and the Apostolic Brethren movement:


In 1260, Gerard Sagarello founded the Apostolic Brethren after his application for membership with the Franciscans was rejected.[13] Like the Franciscans, the Apostolic Brethren were committed to radical poverty and itinerant preaching of the Gospel.[14] However, at that time the founding of new religious orders was strictly forbidden by the pope and several church councils. Consequently, the Apostolic Brethren were objects of persecution, and in 1300 their leader, Gerard, was burned at the stake. Brother Dolcino, who had been a member of the Apostolic Brethren for a number of years, took over leadership of the order in that year. At one point under his leadership, the Apostolic Brethren had grown to about 4,000 members.[15]

The persecuted order under Dolcino's leadership withdrew to the mountainous areas of northern Italy, near Novara and Vercelli. But the size of the order and their need for daily sustenance, resulted in clashes with local authorities. In 1306, a bull was drawn up by Pope Clement V, and a crusade was launched against them. In 1307, over 400 members of the Apostolic Brethren were slaughtered by papal forces. Dolcino was captured, mutilated, and burned at the stake.[16]


The reason Gumerlock believes that Brother Dolcino and the Apostolic Brethren taught pretribulationism is found the following statement:


"Again, [Dolcino believed and preached and taught] that within those three years Dolcino himself and his followers will preach the coming of the Antichrist. And that the Antichrist was coming into this world within the bounds of the said three and a half years; and after he had come, then he [Dolcino] and his followers would be transferred into Paradise, in which are Enoch and Elijah. And in this way they will be preserved unharmed from the persecution of Antichrist. And that then Enoch and Elijah themselves would descend on the earth for the purpose of preaching [against] Antichrist. Then they would be killed by him or by his servants, and thus Antichrist would reign for a long time. But when the Antichrist is dead, Dolcino himself, who then would be the holy pope, and his perserved followers, will descend on the earth, and will preach the right faith of Christ to all, and will convert those who will be living then to the true faith of Jesus Christ."[17]

Gumerlock clearly believes that this is a pretrib rapture statement as he concludes:

For this fourteenth-century text, The History of Brother Dolcino, shows us that some Christians in the middle ages held a view of the rapture that had basic elements of what we call today a pretribulation rapture. These include a significant gap of time between the rapture of the saints and their subsequent descent to earth, and the purpose of the rapture related to escaping end-time tribulation. And on this basis, I submit my case for expanding the historical boundaries of pretribulationism.[18]


Even more amazing than Gumerlock's discover itself is the fact that Gumerlock is very much opposed to pretribulationism and most likely even premillennialism.[19] Further, the entity that published Gumerlock's book The Day and the Hour is American Vision, which is directed by rapture opponent Gary DeMar. I noted above that DeMar said, "All attempts to find a pretrib Rapture any earlier than around 1830 do not stand up to historical scrutiny."[20] In fact DeMar not only published Gumerlock's book, he wrote a glowing foreword to it. Yet Gumerlock says about Brother Dolcino in The Day and the Hour that, "The Dolcinites held to a pre-tribulation rapture theory similar to that in modern dispensationalism."[21] Either DeMar doesn't really believe the research of Gumerlock in The Day and the Hour, or he doesn't know much about the true history of the rapture. Either way, DeMar's statement about 1830 has been weighed and found wanting by one of his own colleagues. Gumerlock hits the nail on the head when he says, "Especially in need of rethinking are those views which place the origin of the teaching, or its initial recovery, within the last two hundred years."[22] I couldn't have said it better myself. Maranatha!





[1] Gary DeMar, End Times Fiction: A Biblical Consideration of the Left Behind Theology, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001), p. 19.

[2] Thomas Ice, "Is The Pre-Trib Rapture A Satanic Deception?" Pre-Trib Perspectives, (Vol. II, No. 1; March 1995), p. 2. Single copies of back issues of Pre-Trib Perspectives can be obtained by writing The Pre-Trib Research Center, P O Box 14111, Arlington, Texas 76094.

[3] DeMar, End Times Fiction, p. 23.

[4] Pseudo-Ephraem, On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World, section 2, translated by Cameron Rhoades, produced by The Pre-Trib Research Center. See Timothy J. Demy and Thomas D. Ice, "The Rapture and an Early Medieval Citation, Bibliotheca Sacra, (Vol. 152, No. 607; July-September 1995), pp. 306-17. Reprinted in Thomas Ice and Timothy J. Demy, The Return: Understanding Christ's Second Coming and the End Times (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999), pp. 55-66.

[5] Bob Gundry, First the Antichrist: Why Christ Won't Come Before The Antichrist Does (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1997), pp. 161-88.

[6] Ice and Demy, The Return, pp. 67-73.

[7] Morgan Edwards, Two Academical Exercised on Subjects Bearing the following Titles; Millennium, Last-Novelties (Philadelphia: self-published, 1788). See Thomas Ice, "Morgan Edwards: Another Pre-Darby Rapturist," Pre-Trib Perspectives (Vol. II, No. 4; Sept/Oct 1995), pp. 1-3.

[8] Francis X. Gumerlock, The Day and the Hour: A Chronicle of Christianity's Perennial Fascination with Predicting the End of the World (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2000), p. 80.

[9] Anonymous, Historia Fratris Dulcini, 1316.

[10] Dolcino wrote three circular letters, but these are no longer extant. Historia Fratris Dulcini is in Codice Ambrosiano-H. 80. It was edited in 1551, and was utilized in the 1600's in several other ecclesiastical histories of the area of Vercelli and Novara. The date of 1316 is confirmed in R. Kestenberg-Gladstein, "The Third Reich: A Fifteenth-Century Polemic Against Joachism, and Its Background" in Delno West, ed., Joachim of Fiore in Christian Thought, Vol 2 (New York: Burt Franklin & Co., 1975), 599, no. 49. Eugenio Anagnine describes the Historia as a "opera stesa probabilmente da un contemporaneo di Biella (1304-7)." See Eugenio Anagnine, Dolcino (Firenze: La Nuova Italia, 1964), p. 1.

[11] L.A. Muratori, ed., Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, Old Series, Vol. 9 (Italy, 1723-1751), p. 436.

[12] Francis X. Gumerlock, "Before Darby: Expanding the Historical Boundaries of Pretribulationism," A paper presented at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Colorado Springs, November 14-16, 2001, p. 2.

[13] Many followers of the eschatology of Joachim of Fiore (d. 1202) expected a last-days reform of the Church to occur in 1260, a year that corresponds with the 1260 days mentioned in Revelation 11:2 and 13:5.

[14] A contemporary of the Apostolic Brethren, Salimbene, in his Chronicle, gives an account of the order under the leadership of Gerard Sagarello. See The Chronicle of Salimbene de Adam, Joseph L. Baird, Giuseppe Baglivi, and John Robert Kane, eds. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 40 (Binghamton, NY: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1986). Members of the order wore woolen mantels and sandals and went about northern Italy and other countries preaching "Penitenz-agite," a colloquialism for "Paenitentiam agite!," the Gospel injunction to repent.

[15] There are quite a number of books and articles in Italian on Dolcino and the Apostolic Brethren, but very few in English. Comprehensive treatments in English include Antonio Gallenga, A Historical Memoir of Fra Dolcino and His Times (London: Longman, Green, and Longman, 1853); and John William Siedzik, Fra Dolcino and the Apostolic Brethren, Master's thesis (University of California, 1952), which is available from that university on microfilm.

[16] Gumerlock, "Before Darby," p. 3.

[17] Gumerlock's translation of the Latin text in Gumerlock, "Before Darby," p. 3.

[18] Gumerlock, "Before Darby," p. 6.

[19] See Gumerlock, The Day and the Hour, pp. 1-3, where he describes his journey away from dispensationalism.

[20] DeMar, End Times Fiction, p. 19.

[21] Gumerlock, The Day and the Hour, p. 80.

[22] Gumerlock, "Before Darby," p. 6.


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Date: 01 Sep 2011
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Dear Sir,

I tried unsuccesfully to send the following message to Prof. Gumerlock.
I make a try again on tnis Blog, hoping that this message will be deliverd to him.
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Dear Prof. Gumerlock

I was so delighted by the reading of your wonderful article - "Millennialism and the Early Church Councils: Was Chiliasm Condemned at Constantinople?” (2004) - that I allowed myself to translate it in French for my colleagues and readers.

See : "Le Millénarisme et les Conciles de l’Eglise primitive: Le Chiliasme a-t-il été condamné à Constantinople ?" par Francis X. Gumerlock, online version:

Please, let me know your first reaction.

About myself have a glance at the page (in French, alas!) devoted to my modest person:

Respectfully yours

Menahem R. Macina

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