Irenaeus and Jewish Apocalyptic Traditions

Irenaeus and Jewish Apocalyptic Traditions

Lydia Gore-Jones
St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College
 
Abstract: In Book 5 of his Against Heresies (Adversus Haereses), Irenaeus envisions an eschaton that coheres with the beginning of creation and serves God’s purpose of perfecting man in His divine dispensation. For this argument, Irenaeus cites extra-biblical traditions about end times. His depiction of the earthly Messianic Kingdom demonstrates striking similarities to the eschatological visions in the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch (2 Baruch), a Jewish apocalypse written around the end of the first century, thus indicating shared traditions. In this regard, Irenaeus is rather unique among early Church Fathers. While others show influences of the strand of Jewish apocalyptic tradition that features heavenly journeys, spiritual ascents and angelic theoria, Irenaeus, on the other hand, shows to be heir to the strand of Jewish apocalyptic tradition that envisions an end with the blessing of union with God that is materially abundant, concretely earthy, upon this world created by God from the beginning.