The figure of Antichrist has gripped the Christian imagination for two thousand years. But Antichrist does not spring fully from the pages of Scripture. Rather, he emerges over a millennium of reflection on hints and clues scattered throughout Scripture and Christian tradition. In particular, the image of Antichrist is tied in a vital way to the man medieval Christians knew simply as 'the Apostle'—St. Paul.
Constructing Antichrist engages readers with the question: what does Paul have to do with the Antichrist? Integrating new scholarship in apocalypticism and the history of exegesis, this book is the first longitudinal study of the role of Paul in apocalyptic thought. Readers will gain new appreciation for the theological weight of medieval exegesis generally and for the persistence of apocalypticism in the medieval Christian imagination as it dared to envision the Adversary.
The author argues that the western doctrines of Antichrist and the Last Days are entwined with the development of medieval New Testament exegesis. The Second Letter to the Thessalonians—a brief and much-debated apocalyptic text in the New Testament—is the most important locus for doctrinal speculation about Antichrist and the coming End. The author carefully examines commentaries on 2 Thessalonians from the fourth to the twelfth centuries and finds that they provide the 'architecture' for the developing doctrine of Antichrist as it is portrayed in later medieval art and literature. By the twelfth century, this tradition of reflection distills from the various early interpretations a classic, synthetic understanding of Antichrist and the End that forms an authoritative consensus for centuries.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kevin L. Hughes is Assistant Professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University. The author of numerous books and articles, his most recent publications include Church History: Faith Handed On and a translation of Second Thessalonians: Two Early Medieval Apocalyptic Commentaries.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK:
"The Second Letter to the Thessalonians was crucial in the construction of the figure of the Antichrist. While scholars have recognized its importance, its interpretation has never received such an intense, systematic, and thorough treatment.... This book will soon become and is likely long to remain the authoritative treatment on its topic in any language."—Kevin Madigan, Harvard Divinity School
"Kevin L. Hughes's Constructing Antichrist makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the growth and development of the idea of Antichrist from late Antiquity to the high Middle Ages....[T]his book contains a wealth of information on the early medieval exegetical traditions of Antichrist....Anyone interested in early medieval exegesis in general, and the theme of Antichrist in particular, will learn a great deal from it." — Lawrence Besserman, TMR
"[A] readable... history of the exegesis and theological reflection on the 2 Thessalonians' formulation of the figure of the Antichrist from Paul through the Western developments into the eleventh century." — Jeffrey Gros, Religious Studies Review"
"In six clearly written chapters the author leads the reader on a fascinating investigation of the apocalyptic imagination concerning the Antichrist beginning with St. Paul himself, continuing through the early Middle Ages.... [A] very important book.... This is a book for every theology library. It could be used with great profit in upper division undergraduate courses in both the history of theology as well as the history of exegesis." — Michael W. Blastic, Horizons
" Constructing Antichrist comprehensively examines early medieval exegesis of Second Thessalonians, especially its second chapter, in which references to "the Son of
""Kevin L. Hughes’s Constructing Antichrist makes a signiﬁcant contribu- tion to our understanding of the growth and development of the idea of Antichrist from late Antiquity to the high Middle Ages.... [T]his book contains a wealth of information on the early medieval exegetical tra- ditions of Antichrist.... Anyone interested in early medieval exegesis in general, and the theme of Antichrist in particular, will learn a great deal from it." - TMR"