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2006 | 4(220) | 535-575

Article title

Millenarianists and Judaisers - Eschatology and Jewish Mission in 17th and 18th Century Protestant German


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The positive interest in Jews and Judaism among German Protestant Christians of the 17th and 18th centuries originated in a millenarian discourse which attributed the people of Israel a pivotal part in the soon expected eschatological events. According to the Biblical evidence Israel would convert to the Christian faith and would return to its original dignity. The program of the Jewish mission participated in this positive view of Israel. However some of the 'philo-Semitic' millenarians did not support this program. Yet quite a number of them sought a syncretist union of Christians and Jews or even converted to Judaism. The main reason for this differences, was the type of millenarianism one adhered to. Post-millenarianists expected the return of Christ to take place towards the end of the Millennium. They, therefore, envisaged a gradual transition from the present age to that paradisiac one, the latter might even have had already begun. The new blessed state of the Church and the conversion of Israel would come true gradually as well. In this process man's actions would play an eminent role - so one could contribute to salvation by converting the Jews or supporting missionary efforts. Pre-millenarianists awaited the Second Parousia to precede and induce the Millennium. This event would bring about radical changes and a prompt insight into the 'Evangelium Aeternum' for mankind. The Jews, therefore, would recognise Christ as their true saviour and convert to a revived Christianity - as most of the Christians would have to as well. It was therefore against God's salvation plan to lead astray the Jews into joining one of the 'Babylonian' Churches. Rather one should call them up to do penance for their sins and wait for the Messiah, whom they would recognise in Christ. Almost all the thirteen 'individual cases' examined in this study attest to this typological equation: post-millenarianists supported or took an active part in the Jewish mission; pre-millenarianists were reluctant or opposed to any Jewish mission.







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  • L. Greisiger, Martin Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg, Bundesrepublik Deutshland


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