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Naming the AntichristThe History of an American Obsession$
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Robert C. Fuller

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780195109795

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195109795.001.0001

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Antichrist: The History of an Idea

Antichrist: The History of an Idea

(p.14) One Antichrist: The History of an Idea
Naming the Antichrist

Robert C. Fuller

Oxford University Press

The New Testament letters known as 1, 2, and 3 John rank among the shortest and most obscure of all the books in the Bible. Their conviction that the end of the world was near and that Christians must fend off the feared Antichrist soon earned them an authoritative place in Christian thought. The author was alert to the anxieties aroused by the expectation that Christ would return at any moment to pronounce this final judgment. It was imperative that someone define Christian faith clearly so that believers might be careful not to stray accidentally into heresy and thereby cost themselves eternal salvation. In particular, these letters condemn the beliefs and spirituality espoused by a relatively affluent group of Christians who were accused of being false prophets empowered by “the spirit of the antichrist.” This chapter traces how the symbol of Antichrist emerged as central to this apocalyptic tradition and how it was elaborated upon from the earliest days of Christianity through the Middle Ages.

Keywords:   Antichrist, New Testament, Christ, final judgment, Bible, Christianity, Christians, eternal salvation, heresy, false prophets

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