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  • Author: H.A. Kennedy
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Download Kennedy, H. A. - St. Paul's Conceptions of Last Things

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H.A. Kennedy

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Don't like thinking for yourself? Don't know Greek? If yes to either of the previous two, this resource is probably not for you. This is a Greek intensive resource for serious Bible students, seminary professors, etc. The Greek and Hebrew are intact and properly transcribed in the resource itself but the table of contents below may not display Greek properly in your browser.

The Princeton Theological Review 3:483-487. [1905]
St. Paul’s Conception of the Last Things
H.A.A. Kennedy

In choosing for the subject of his Cunningham Lectures “St. Paul’s Conceptions of the Last Things,” the author of this work has endeavored to supply a real need. Even in German theological literature, where monographs on the various aspects of Pauline teaching are most abundant, it can hardly be said that a satisfactory discussion of the topic exists. Kabisch’s book is too one-sidedly physical in its interpretation of the apostle’s fundamental conceptions, and the smaller treatise of Teichmann, besides confining itself to the Resurrection and the Judgment, is too much dominated by the idea of development in St. Paul’s eschatological thought to give a fair presentation of the facts.

In English,the book of Charles, taking in the whole field of Old and New Testament eschatology, by reason of its comprehensiveness, offers no more than a brief and sketchy outline of the apostle’s positions. But Dr. Kennedy not only has prepared a timely book, he has also prepared what may, on the whole, be called a good book. We do not mean by this that there are not in his discussion several points, some of them important, in regard to which we feel bound to differ from the conclusions reached. To some extent even the basis on which the discussion is carried on evokes dissent. We are made to feel that the author does not share our belief in the inspiration of the apostle to the extent of regarding him an infallible teacher. Thus we are told that “the inspiration of the apostle is an equipment of the Spirit for the work he has immediately to do,” and in the same connection that “one of the fundamental truths of God’s operation in history is a gradual change in the mental perspective of nations and individuals” (pp. 27-28). We are asked to admit “the possibility of very considerable variation as to details in the apostle’s conceptions at different times, for the simple reason that neither in Judaism nor in primitive Christian circles does there seem to have been any rigid eschatological system” (p.163).

On the other hand, while holding this laxer view of inspiration in the abstract, and professing readiness, if need be, to draw, or at least not a priori to reject, its consequences, the author, it must be said to his credit, makes a very restrained and discreet use of the liberty he thus vindicates for himself. He does not delight, as so many modern writers do, in involving the apostle in the greatest possible number of inconsistencies. In most cases he finds that the contradictions do not in reality exist. Illustrative of this attitude is his manner of dealing with the assertion that the doctrine of universal judgment was simply a portion of the popular religious consciousness of the time which the apostle had retained, without endeavoring to adjust it to his profounder and more spiritual conceptions. First, we are reminded that “this is a supposition which even the soberest and most restrained Christian thought ought not to reject a priori,” because “the very highest endowment of a human soul with the Divine Spirit can never turn the consciousness into an isolated automaton.”
We are almost immediately reassured, however, on learning that “in St. Paul’s case, as in that of all the New Testament writers, we must be content to form our estimate of his conceptions solely from the evidence which we possess” (p.277). The only instance where the danger of the toned-down theory of inspiration shows itself in concrete form is found in the remarks of p. 280, to the effect that the imprisonment epistles represent a vaguer and more simplified outlook into the future than the earlier epistles, an outlook summed up in the simple term elpij. It is suggested that Paul, “as he sought to fathom the treasures of wisdom and knowledge which were hidden in Christ, felt less confidence even in the prophetic forecasts which had been a stable element in his eschatological thought. Perhaps he grew more and more to distrust the use of earthly imagery and pictures drawn from human experience to body forth the circumstances of a life belonging to another order.” When on the basis of this the question is put, “Will not the Christian Church act wisely in following the example of her great spiritual teacher?” we cannot help feeling that the injunction must fail to move the reader, because the example of a teacher who loses confidence in his own previous teaching is apt to lose its constraining power.

The author nowhere makes an explicit avowal of his attitude with reference to the genuineness of the epistles. It appears, however, that he recognizes not merely the imprisonment epistles but also 2 Thessalonians as genuine. Only the data from the pastoral epistles are conspicuously absent from his discussion. This might seem to indicate that there was doubt in his mind if not as to the genuineness of these documents, at least as to the advisability of introducing their statements as Pauline in the present state of the controversy. The latter objection, however, would seem to bear equally much against the inclusion of 2 Thessalonians in the sphere of investigation.

Table of Contents:
Chapter I
The Place of Eschatology in St Paul's Religious Thought
Prominence of Eschatology in all religious systems
Importance of the Last Things for St Paul and primitive Christianity
Eschatological implications of his Christian thought, as exemplified:
(a) In his doctrine of Justification
( B) In his doctrine of the Life in the Spirit
Limits of the present discussion, as determined:
(a) By general characteristics of New Testament Eschatology
( B) By unsystematic nature of St Paul's conceptions of the Last Things

Chapter II
Formative Influences in St Paul's Conceptions of the Last Things
Fundamental conceptions in St Paul's eschatological thought
Tendency of eschatological ideas to cling firmly to tradition
Even greatest thinkers powerfully affected by traditional influences
I. Influence of Old Testament on Pauline Eschatology:
In Old Testament, chiefly an eschatology of the nation
Predominating elements and influence in prophetic conceptions of the End
Book of Daniel
Remarkable kinship of St Paul with the prophetic spirit
St Paul's relation to Old Testament teleology
The Day of the Lord and the Parousia
The “man of lawlessness” in Daniel
Late development of Old Testament eschatology of the individual
Preparation for doctrine of Resurrection in the craving for unbroken union with God
Possibility of Old Testament influence on St Paul through eschatology of Jesus
Unmistakable traces of his intimate acquaintance with LXX.
II. Influence of Judaism on Pauline Eschatology:
Pharisaic training
Jewish apocalyptic literature
Origin and general characteristics of Apocalyptic
Development towards Resurrection-idea
Categories in Jewish eschatology familiar to St Paul
Developed doctrine of Divine Retribution the distinguishing mark between Old Testament and Jewish eschatology
This led to-
(a) Transformation of old idea of Sheol
( B) Doctrine of Resurrection
Examples of transformation of Sheol in Jewish Apocalypses
Existence of nationalistic and transcendental eschatologies side by side
Recapitulation of facts leading up to idea of Resurrection
Divergence in Judaistic writers as to scope of Resurrection
III. Influence of St Paul's Christian Experience upon his Eschatology:
His Conversion
Attempted psychological explanations
Evidence of Epistles
Evidence of Acts
St Paul's inferences from his experience
Bearing of phenomena of his conversion on his eschatological conceptions
His notion of δόξα as related to exalted Christ
Limits and character of his eschatology probably explained by dominating influence of Christian experience
IV. The Christian tradition of the Eschatology of Jesus:
Close kinship in use of prophetic imagery
Remarkable parallelism-
(a) As to basis of Future Life
( B) As to nature of Future Life

Additional Note To Chapter II
The Pauline Eschatology and Hellenism
The Jews and Hellenism
The Wisdom of Solomon
The supposed relationship between Wisdom and St Paul
Hellenic influence and the Pauline antithesis between Flesh and Spirit
The antithesis due to religious experience
Points of contact between St Paul and Hellenism

Chapter III
St Paul's Conceptions of Life and Death
Erroneous assumption that St Paul's use of terms is identical with ours
Old Testament conception of Death as paralysis of the entire personality
Horror heightened by religious cast of Hebrew thought
Idea of connection between sin and death
Transformation of notion of state after death
Relation of St Paul's view of death to that of Old Testament
His view synthetic
His shrinking from death as an experience charged with the issues of sin
His idea of destruction (ἀπώλεια)
Old Testament background of his conception of Life
Relation of Life to the Divine activity
Life in later Jewish literature
Dominant position of idea of life in Pauline thought
St Paul's conception of the basis of the new life
Relation of indwelling Spirit to factors of human consciousness
St Paul's view regulated by Old Testament thought
His use of πνεῦμα
Summary of his conception of Life

Chapter IV
St Paul's Conceptions of the Parousia and the Judgment
Remarkable prominence of Parousia-expectation in New Testament
Evidence from Pauline Epistles
The evidence partly explained by special circumstances
Synoptic tradition of Jesus' eschatology of high importance for St Paul
Statements of Jesus concerning His Parousia
Demand of early Christians for perfected Kingdom of God
Powerful effect of prophetic pictures of future
The Day of the Lord (1) in the Old Testament
(2) in apocalyptic literature
Influence of prophetic delineations on St Paul in language and thought
His forecasts affected by contemporary history
Details of his conception of the Parousia
Lack of pictorial embellishments
The Judgment in St Paul
Relation to teaching of Jesus
A universal Judgment
Comparative reticence as to Judgment probably due to his conception of salvation
Difficulty of adjusting the two conceptions
The paradox inherent in Christian experience
Lack of detail in his conception of Judgment
Especially, a judgment of the living, and of believers
The process chiefly viewed as a revelation of the depths of character
The “man of lawlessness”
Genesis of the Antichrist-idea: Bousset's hypothesis
The hypothesis examined
Hints as to development of idea up to St Paul
Factors of importance in his conception
The restraint of the final outburst of wickedness
Caution in estimating St Paul's view of nearness of Parousia
Value of Parousia-belief

Chapter V
St Paul's Conception of the Resurrection
Elaborate treatment of Resurrection by St Paul
Greek prejudices against the doctrine
Early familiarity of the apostle with the idea
His craving for life would set it in the forefront
His first experience of Christ decisive for this conception
Resurrection the pledge of eternal life for the complete personality
This due especially to his impression of the “spiritual body” of the risen Christ
His conception of resurrection based on Resurrection of Christ, and regulated by His teaching
Resurrection of Christ in relation to His cosmic position
Resurrection of supreme importance for St Paul as crowning stage in development of the Christian man
Effect of Divine πνεῦμα upon the nature of the individual
The great resurrection-passage, 1 Corinthians xv.:
Parallels to the Corinthian perplexity
The analogy employed
“Not the body which is to be dost thou sow”
The variety of σώματα
Objections to a “spiritual” organism
“Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption”
The natural and the spiritual “body”
His attitude towards the transformation
The origins of ψυχή and πνεῦμα
The earthly and the heavenly life
The “spiritual body” of St Paul and the requirements of thought
The transformation of the living
Has St Paul's conception of resurrection undergone a change?
The evidence of 2 Corinthians v. 1 ff. examined
St Paul and an Intermediate State
Real meaning of 2 Corinthians v. 1 ff. = yearning to survive to Parousia, and so escape pang of dissolution
An alternative exegesis
Corroborative arguments
Philippians i. 23
Resurrection of believers almost exclusively before his mind
St Paul and a general resurrection
ἀποκάλυψις and ἀποκαλύπτειν
Possible traces of growth in Pauline conception

Chapter VI
St Paul's Conception of the Consummation of the Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God and the teaching of Jesus
Divergence of definitions
The eschatological element in Jesus' conception
Value of the theocratic idea for St Paul
His use of βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ
Presence of the conception in other guises
Synonyms in St Paul for the Kingdom of God
Future condition of believers
The likeness of Christ and its cosmic significance
The Second Adam and the renewed humanity
The “heritage of the saints in light”
The “glory” of God
Prominent place of “glory” and kindred ideas in Christian terminology
Pauline use of “glory”
Future condition of unbelievers
Has he the notion of universal salvation?
Investigation of 1 Corinthians xv. 21-22 and Romans v. 19 ff.
St Paul's reserve as to the state of the lost
The nature of “destruction”
Its duration
The Consummation of all things
Does St Paul teach a Millennium?
The abolishing of “rules,” “dominions,” and “powers”
No cosmic dualism in St Paul
Vanquishing of Death
Summing-up of all things in Christ
Renewal of the universe
Subordination of the Son to the Father

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