Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Inconclusive Eschatology of Minucius Felix [A.D. 200]

Minucius Felix was an early Latin apologist. He work Octavius was written sometime in the late Second or early Third century, and seems to have been heavily influenced by Tertullian. The eschatology of Octavius is quite sketchy. Felix defends the doctrine of the resurrection in Chap. XXXIV, as well as the destruction of the earth by fire and the eternal punishment of the wicked, yet makes no mention of a millennium. In fact, the purest reading of Minucius Felix suggests that the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked takes place at the same time, thus denying a literal millennium.
"See, therefore, how for our consolation all nature suggests a future resurrection. The sun sinks down and arises, the stars pass away and return, the flowers die and revive again, after their wintry decay the shrubs resume their leaves, seeds do not flourish again unless they are rotted: thus the body in the sepulchre is like the trees which in winter hide their verdure with a deceptive dryness. Why are you in haste for it to revive and return, while the winter is still raw? We must wait also for the spring-time of the body. And I am not ignorant that many, in the consciousness of what they deserve, rather desire than believe that they shall be nothing after death; for they would prefer to be altogether extinguished, rather than to be restored for the purpose of punishment. And their error also is enhanced, both by the liberty granted them in this life, and by God’s very great patience, whose judgment, the more tardy it is, is so much the more just." (Octavius - Chap. XXXIV. - Argument: Moreover, it Is Not at All to Be Wondered at if this World Is to Be Consumed by Fire, Since Everything Which Has a Beginning Has Also an End. And the Ancient Philosophers Are Not Averse from the Opinion of the Probable Burning up of the World. Yet it Is Evident That God, Having Made Man from Nothing, Can Raise Him up from Death into Life. And All Nature Suggests a Future Resurrection)

Minucius Felix makes no mention of a tribulation, antichrist, or even a Second Advent. So while he leans slightly toward an amillennial view of the resurrection, there is simply not enough information in the writings of Minucius Felix to draw a conclusion concerning his eschatology.

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