Bible Review 12:5, October 1996

The Eschatological Jesus

Did he believe the end was near?

By Dale C. Allison Jr.

Albert Schweitzer, after reviewing the 19th century’s quest for the historical Jesus, believed that honest scholars must choose between two alternatives, between what he called thoroughgoing eschatologya and thoroughgoing skepticism. By this he meant that either Jesus lived in the same imaginative world as early Jewish apocalypses,b like 1 Enoch and 2 Baruch, or that we know next to nothing about him.1

Since Schweitzer, most critical scholars have embraced the eschatological option. They have believed that Jesus expected God to put an end to the normal course of things by raising the dead, judging the world and transforming the earth so that the divine will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. These critical scholars have also believed that for Jesus this eschatological metamorphosis was near to hand.

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