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Millennial Fever In 1000 AD?


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#1 Fortigurn

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Posted 31 August 2003 - 11:11 AM

There is a common story that the approach of the year 1000 AD brought widespread panic and fear throughout Christendom.

Thousands of people believed, the story goes, that Christ's return was imminent. There were apparently signs and wonders which were thought to herald the end of the world.

But did this really happen? Were Christians really expecting Christ's return in the year 1000, and were they expecting it on the basis of the '7,000 year plan' so oft referred to in millennial speculation?

The reality appears to be dramatically different to the story we have been told.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

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target="_blank">Apologetics

#2 Fortigurn

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Posted 31 August 2003 - 11:13 AM

Between 950 and 996 AD, there are on record only about seven indicators that anyone was expecting the return of Christ around 1000 AD. That's not really a lot to go on, to put it mildly. Only seven indications that anyone was expecting the return of Christ around 1000 AD? Hardly worldwide panic.

Indeed, of these seven indicators, half of them are directly attributed to the fall of the Carolingian dynasty (the Holy Roman Empire), between 987 and 996. Around 950, the monk Adso of Montier-en-Der had predicted that AntiChrist would arise when the Carolingians fell, and so when the empire began to disintegrate, apocalyptic expectations rose.

But the real point here is that the hard evidence we have on record is that apocalyptic expectations around 1000 AD were related directly to the fall of the Carolingian empire as a fulfillment of Adso's prediction, and not due to the date. The evidence we have that anyone was expecting the return of Christ during 1000 AD is almost non-existent.

Aelfric (Abbot of Eynhsham), is the only indisputable expositor on record as having expected the return of Christ during 1000 AD (an expectation he promoted in numerous sermons).

But fascinatingly enough, we find that not only is he a single voice - alone in apocalyptic expectations of his day - but that his views were resisted soundly by the established order of expositors and preachers.

Thus:

'When I was a young man, I heard a sermon about the end of the world preached before people in the cathedral of Paris. According to this, as soon as the number of a thousand years was completed, the Antichrist would come and the Last Judgment would follow in a brief time. I opposed this sermon with what force I could from the passages in the Gospels, the Apocalypse and the Book of Daniel.'

Abbot of Fleury (945-1054), French abbot, Apologetic Work


It is noteworthy that this is the only record of such a belief being preached during this time.

The only other movement around this time which could be called 'apocalyptic' is the Pax Dei movement, which definitely had apocalyptic expectations. But these expectations were based not on the fact that the date was 1000 AD, but rather on the fact that apocalpytic was the source of their polemic.

A lay movement emerging around 975 AD, it attempted to call men to peace and brotherhood, as a means of mitigating the social distress resulting from the fall of the old order.

It lasted from around 975 to 1040, and although some of its members had various apocalpytic expectations, it did not arise as a result of the nearness of the millennial epoch, but for socio-political reasons.

Indeed, the principle reason for apolcalpytic expecation among the Pax Dei movement was the various troubling events which had occurred during the fall of the Carolingian dynasty (social unrest, political upheaval, an eclipse and the appearance of Halley's Comet). Their expectations of the return of Christ had to do with these 'signs of the times', and not with the date.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#3 Fortigurn

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Posted 31 August 2003 - 11:13 AM

The principal apocalpytic commentary of the day was produced by Ademar of Chabannes. In this work he listed a number of events which he considered to be heralds of the return of Christ.

These events include:

- Signs in heaven (eclipses and the appearance of comets)

- Droughts, famines, and plagues

- Storms and rains of blood

Making a record of various allegedly supernatural events of this kind which had supposedly occurred (here he relied on word of mouth reports), Ademar listed these events and placed next to them passages from the Olivet Prophecy, from Revelation, and from various extra-Biblical commentaries on prophecy (such as the Sybilline Oracles, and the commenataries of Beda, Adso, Gregory I and Pseudo-Methodius), which he considered to have been fulfilled by these events.

Of greatest significance is that this work - the premier apocalyptic of the millennial era, which was read by many of his day - did not mention the passing of the 1,000th year in the least, and made no reference to the millennial passage of Revelation. Further, Ademar's list of 'signs' consisted of events which had occurred from 1009-1010 AD, rather than prior to 1000 AD.

It does not appear that he gave the passing of the 1,000th year any particular mention at all, and certainly he did not predicate his apocalyptic expectations on the date, but rather on what he considered to be 'signs of the times'. This is significant, because his is the principal apocalpytic commentary of the day, and certainly the most wide read.

Indeed, of those apocalyptic commentators who lived during this time, the complete lack of interest in the 1 000th year is unavoidably notable. No one appears to have been expecting it to bring either Christ or AntiChrist, and the earliest dates we have for predictions of the return of Christ from around this era actually anticipated his return in 1033 AD or later.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#4 Fortigurn

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Posted 31 August 2003 - 11:14 AM

What do we have?

- Catholic bishop Adso of Montier-en-Der, in 950 AD, who anticipated the coming of AntiChrist (not the return of Christ), on the event of the fall of the Carolingian empire (not the coming of the year 1000 AD)

- Catholic Archbishop Arnulf of Orleans, in 991 AD, who insisted that AntiChrist had already come, and that he was the Catholic papacy, but who did not anticipate the soon return of Christ

- Anticipations of Christ's return no sooner than 1033 AD

When we consider the popular claims (found in many history books), that the years leading up to 1000 AD were full of panic and distress, that the established Church was preaching fire, brimstone, and the impending doom of the world, that people were actively encouraged by the clergy to sign over their property and surrender their earthly possessions to the Church - and that thousands were embittered by the Church's later refusal to return their belongings when apocalpytic expectations were disappointed - we have to wonder why there are no contemporary records of these stupendous events.

There aren't even any near contemporary records of events even remotely similar to this popular myth.

To put it simply, that isn't much on which to build a case for widespread apocalyptic expectations of the first millennium AD due to the date. The evidence just doesn't exist.
Miserere mei Deus,
Secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum
dele iniquitatem meam.

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">I am a Christadelphian. Click here to see my confession of faith.
______________________________________________________________________
‘John Wesley once received a note which said, “The Lord has told me to tell you that He doesn’t need your book-learning, your Greek, and your Hebrew.”

Wesley answered “Thank you, sir. Your letter was superfluous, however, as I already knew the Lord has no need for my ‘book-learning,’ as you put it. However—although the Lord has not directed me to say so—on my own responsibility I would like to say to you that the Lord does not need your ignorance, either.”

Osborne & Woodward, ‘Handbook for Bible study’, pp. 13-14 (1979)

______________________________________________________________________
target="_blank">Apologetics

#5 Evangelion

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Posted 31 August 2003 - 11:22 AM

:popcorn:
In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas
Imago
Credo




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