Re: [asa] A theology question (imminent return of Christ) Adams takes N.T. Wright to task

From: Schwarzwald <>
Date: Wed Oct 22 2008 - 22:38:59 EDT


Indeed - these things (like anything controversial) get debated ad nauseum.
Arguments and data are important, but simply having someone who disagrees
with NT Wright on some issues, however strongly, isn't itself something to
comment on. Though from my own reading of his books, NT Wright does make a
pretty powerful case for his understandings.

On Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 10:05 PM, David Opderbeck <>wrote:

> Well, Wright could be wrong. I'm sure he's not totally right. But I'm
> also pretty sure he's not totally wrong. Just another aspect of the Bible
> and theology that make them so rich and engaging.
> On Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 7:51 PM, Edward T. Babinski <>wrote:
>> Dave,
>> You wrote that the verses Bernie cited, 2 Peter 3:1-13, were "probably
>> metaphorical language. Check out NT Wright's 'Surprised by Hope.'"
>> To which I say, check out "The Stars Will Fall" by British theologian
>> Edward Adams. His work is an extensive examination of the subject and
>> throughout it takes Wright to task for his "metaphorical language"
>> assumption. For instance on pg.230 "Despite Wright's demurral, then, we can
>> be quite confident in concluding that the author of 2 Peter envisions the
>> catastrophic destruction of the present cosmos."
>> Just read the online review of Adams' book by another theologian,
>> DiTommaso, as published on the website of the Review of Biblical Literature
>> "This fine monograph by Edward Adams examines the motif of cosmic
>> catastrophe in ancient apocalyptic literature and related writings. It takes
>> as its point of departure N. T. Wright's view that the language of cosmic
>> disaster in the early Jewish apocalyptic texts serves as a metaphor for
>> expected sociopolitical change...
>> For Adams, the literary evidence fails to support this [Wright's]
>> position.
>> Instead, the major New Testament passages that contain the language of
>> catastrophe refer to the anticipation for some form of cosmic destruction, a
>> notion also in step with the Jewish apocalyptic literature of the era.
>> Specifically, Adams argues that Mark 13:2427 (+ par.) plausibly may be read
>> as anticipating cosmic destruction, that this destruction is definitely
>> envisioned in Heb 12:2528 and 2 Pet 3:513, and that the data of Rev
>> 6:1217 "either prefigure or initiate the passing away of the present heaven
>> and earth" of 21:1.
>> Adams notes, "Old Testament usage is not necessarily determinative for New
>> Testament usage" (51). More important is the subject of the next chapter,
>> Adams finds in Jewish apocalyptic and related literature conclusive
>> evidence for a belief in the end of the created world in 1 Enoch,
>> Pseudo-Sophocles frag. 2, Jubilees, 1QH xi [olim iii] 1936, the Testament
>> of Moses, the Testament of Job, Pseudo-Philo's L.A.B., 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch, the
>> Apocalypse of Zephaniah, 2 Enoch, and the Sibylline Oracles
>> (3.7592; 4; 5.179285, 435531). While the logic of these texts does not
>> demand that the world be sundered into absolute nothingness, there is a
>> general sense that cosmic destruction will be followed by cosmic
>> re-creation.
>> Chapter 3 examines parallel ideas in the classical literature. From his
>> survey of the relevant literature, Adams concludes that notions of universal
>> destruction were part of the larger Greco-Roman tradition, despite important
>> differences with the Jewish texts. Moreover, while Platonic and Aristotelian
>> circles favored the indestructibility of the universe, Stoic and Epicurean
>> doctrines incorporated ideas of cosmic demise.
>> The book's next four chapters discuss the aforementioned New Testament
>> passages that contain the language of cosmic catastrophe. The fourth chapter
>> addresses Mark 13:2427 (+ par.). Adams approaches the passage with the
>> requisite attention to its larger context, that is, the eschatological
>> discourse of Mark 13. He contends that the imagery, motifs, and sequence of
>> events in Mark 13:2427 are better understood as part of a process leading
>> to cosmic destruction, all the more so in light of the evidence of the
>> Jewish apocalyptic literature.
>> Chapters 5 and 6 discuss Heb 12:2528 and 2 Pet 3:513. For the author of
>> Hebrews, 12:2528 represents the enunciation of his earlier assertion that
>> creation will perish (1:1012). As for the author of 2 Peter, he clearly
>> envisions an end by fire. In chapter 7 Adams argues that the catastrophic
>> events of Rev 6:1217 either adumbrate the new heaven and earth of 21:1 or
>> represent the beginning of the process that culminates in it, depending on
>> one's view of the sequence that is assumed by 20:110.
>> This is a clearly argued, well-written book that treats the sources fairly
>> and intelligently. It should prove highly valuable to those interested in
>> New Testament eschatology as well as scholars of early Jewish and Christian
>> apocalypticism.
> --
> David W. Opderbeck
> Associate Professor of Law
> Seton Hall University Law School
> Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

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Received on Wed Oct 22 22:39:08 2008

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