Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Religion, Church History PhD

First Advisor

P. Gerard Damsteegt

Second Advisor

John Reeve

Third Advisor

John V. Matthews

Abstract

Problem

In an age of biblical idealism dominated with allegorical hermeneutics, the works of Joachim of Fiore (1135-1202) created a shift in biblical exegesis, directly impacting the development of both Catholic and Protestant eschatology. Although a clear interest has been expressed concerning the influence of Joachim of Fiore on the eschatology of the late Middle Ages, very few scholars have attempted to explore the antecedents of Joachim’s ideas, specifically his historical-continuous interpretation of Daniel and Revelation and the application of the year-day principle. The purpose of this study is to explore the origins of Joachim’s eschatological views and to suggest the sources or literary traditions that might have influenced him in developing a systematically historical scheme for interpreting the book of Revelation.

Method

This dissertation attempts to highlight and evaluate similarities between Joachim’s biblical historicism and early medieval and Early Church eschatological sources. This is achieved in two steps. The first step is to accurately depict Joachim’s method of prophetic interpretation. The second step is to systematically compare Joachim’s method of interpretation with the sources antecedent and contemporary to Joachim. Included is an analysis and evaluation of commentaries on Revelation from the Latin, Byzantine, and Near-Eastern Christian sources, as well an examination of sources from the medieval Jewish tradition.

Results

The analysis of the eschatological commentaries antecedent to Joachim of Fiore reveals that besides a number of unique features, Joachim’s hermeneutical framework primarily combines: (1) the historical periodization of Church history characteristic of the expositors in the Latin High Middle Ages, in the early Byzantine period, and Near-Eastern Christian exegesis, (2) Latin medieval tradition of Revelation exegesis dominated by the recapitulation principle and, (3) a Near-Eastern Christian (Armenian, Syrian, and Coptic) and Jewish system of prophetic interpretation using the “year-day” principle, coupled with the expectation of the future Sabbatical period, sometimes referred to as the millennium.

Conclusions

Joachim’s system of interpretation does not have a direct antecedent but instead has several sources. The historicist method of biblical interpretation, although rare in early Latin Middle Ages, appears to revive in the High Middle Ages. Biblical historicism was s particularly prominent approach to the book of Revelation in the Byzantine and Near-Eastern Christian tradition. Potentially surprising are several similarities between Joachim and Near-Eastern Christian expositors. This seems to be a neglected area in the field of Joachite studies, as very few contemporary scholars have linked Joachim’s historical-chronological ideas with the Near-Eastern commentaries of the book of Revelation.

Subject Area

Joachim, of Fiore, approximately 1132-1202; Bible. Daniel--Hermeneutics--History of doctrines; Bible. Revelation--Hermeneutics--History of doctrines; Eschatology--History of doctrines

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