Modern science informs us about the end of the universe: “game over” is the message which lies ahead of our world. Christian theology, on the other hand, sees in the end not the cessation of all life, but rather an invitation to play again, in God’s presence. Is there a way to articulate together such vastly different claims?
Eschatology is a theological topic which merits being considered from several different angles. This book seeks to do this by gathering contributions from esteemed and fresh voices from the fields of biblical exegesis, history, systematic theology, philosophy, and ethics.
How can we make sense, today, of Jesus’ (and the New Testament’s) eschatological message? How did he, his early disciples, and the Christian tradition, envision the “end” of the world? Is there a way for us to articulate together what modern science tells us about the end of the universe with the biblical and Christian claims about God who judges and who will wipe every tear?
Eschatology has been at the heart of Christian theology for 100 years in the West. What should we do with this legacy? Are there ways to move our reflection forward, in our century? Scholars and other interested readers will find here a wealth of insights.
It is quite the fine collection, consisting of essays in English, German and French. The table of contents aren’t available online at the DeGruyter website so I wanted to include them here for the sake of fullness:
A quick read through the contents gives potential readers a taste of the richness of the volume. There has not been anything done, on this scale, on this subject, at this level of scholarly expertise, in living memory. The interaction possible between reader and volume is nearly limitless. And what I mean by that is that readers are provided intellectual fodder that will provoke thought for a good while.
Many of the essays are simply spectacular. Tietz’s, for instance, is simply brilliant. Wolters, too, utterly stunning. And Ziegler’s is one of the finest essays on ‘the Christian life’ I have ever read.
The editorial introductory essay is, similarly, a stellar execution. Chalamet and Detweiller, et al, have in it given readers a lot to think about. They also offer summaries of each of the essays (at the end of the volume) which handily allows readers to locate essays of particular interest for first readings and then others of lesser interest (and this of course differs from person to person) for reading later.
As brilliant and incisive and informative as the volume is, however, there is a minor problem that should be addressed in future editions: the English essays written by non-native English speakers need a closer editorial look.
English is a language bespattered with nuance. And that nuance is often outside the experience of scholars whose native language is French or German or Danish or whatever. When writers write in a language not their own (natively) it’s always best to have those works gone through by a native speaker. This is true, by the way, of English natives who write in other languages as well. If I were to write an essay in German (heaven forfend) I would insist a native speaker go through it so that errors of grammar could be avoided.
Not to belabor the point, a few instances of improper grammar can be offered here:
P. 294- It might be worth noting that the question of “why then the evil?” can have three different aspects: Why is suffering distributed so arbitrary?
A native English speaker will use ‘arbitrarily’ rather than ‘arbitrary’. Arbitrary is the right word, but the wrong form of the word.
P. 295- Any position which recalls a higher plan of God or wich explains the benefit which one can reap of suffering, for example by becoming more mature, belongs to this type.
‘Wich’ should of course be ‘which’. The form is correct in the first and third instance in the sentence, but erroneous in the second.
P. 296- Sometimes, human beings are ruined by the evil they had to bear. Then it is impossible and cynic to try to make evil less evil.
Native English speakers (and readers) will recognize the problem here immediately: ‘cynic’ is the right word in the wrong form. ‘Cynical’ is the form needed.
Suffice it to say, then, that this exceptionally brilliant volume is not lessened in usefulness by these and other linguistic missteps. But allowing a native English speaker to work through the English essays in future editions will provide a quite easy fix to many of the tiny errors which are found here and there.
This collection of essays is the sort of work that should find a place on every theologian’s shelf. The subject, eschatology, is central to Christian theology. The essays approach the topic from such a wide variety of perspectives that no one who picks up this volume will fail to learn a lot. I know I did. And I promise, you will as well.