Was Jesus a Failed Apocalyptic Prophet?

I just finished reading Dale Allison’s book, Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet. I also ran into some skeptics online that claimed the same thing, that is, Jesus preached and believed that God would soon (as, in his lifetime) supernaturally intervene in the world, bringing the resurrection of the dead and the final judgment to pass. I don’t know what to make of all of this. The NT does seem to lists a few verses that indicate the end is nigh. What say ye all?

Jesus is not a failed anything. Those to whom you refer have personal opinions and nothing more. But, upon what, exactly, are their opinions based? Is Bart Ehrman involved anywhere in this? If so, he is apparently no longer Christian, seeming to have lost his faith in Christ’s divinity.

Of course I believe that Jesus was not a failed prophet. Just want to get that out there. Allison bases his arguments on the Jesus tradition (as he calls it) which is basically his reading of the New Testament plus studies in millenarian cults, which he claims bear many resemblances to the early Christian movement. Actually, the idea that Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet was common during the 20th century. It is still a pretty common idea among scholars but it has been challenged as of late.

As for Bart Erhman, no, he is not related to Allison’s work, though he did write a book about Jesus as a failed apocalyptic prophet. I’m not sure what relevance his religious beliefs have on his arguments. They are right or wrong on their own merits.

One’s religious beliefs color, or flavor their viewpoint. They establish or place one’s point of view, and in the case of the God-man, failing to understand the very substance of Christ places one at a distinct disadvantage regarding the apprehension of our Lord’s mission of self-sacrifice.

The Jesus Seminar did much the same, while purging Christ of divinity. Understood from a purely human standpoint, He does indeed appear to have failed in some regard - consider Cleophas and the other disciple on the road to Emmaus. Yet, consider some of the other revolutionaries in the scriptures: Theudas and Judas the Galilean. Both were types of apocalyptic figures, with followers of undetermined number. Both were well known to the political and religious figures of Jesus’ time; both were killed and their movements faded into such obscurity that they are known today essentially because of these footnotes in the scriptures.

Any modern who places Christ in the same category as these others seems, to me, to utterly lack comprehension of our Lord’s reason for taking flesh. Miss the Incarnation, miss the mission. Christ’s movement was not scattered, it was collected into His Body. He was certainly apocalyptic, but that is but a songle facetof a man who had two natures.

The men who hold these opinions have convinced themselves that they correctly perceive the Person of Christ. I believe that their categorizing of the Messiah reveals the depth of their misunderstanding. It is late/early, and I hope that I am expressing myself clearly, but these men have formulated opinions, but those opinions run counter to history.

The point is conceded. However, I still think we need to consider their arguments on their own merits, regardless of their particular religious beliefs. Dale Allison professes to be a Protestant Christian, though I don’t know whether he believes in Christ’s divinity or not.

I’ve been up all night and need to get some sleep so I’ll respond to the rest of your thoughtful post later today.

I think that the standard which must be applied is that of reasonableness and historicity. Have these authors reasonably arrived at their conclusions, and are their thoughts well supported by the history of the subject matter?

Protestantism is an extremely broad category, but the dominating influence is that of personal opinion, i.e. the rejection of authority outside of the self. I find that a terribly weak foundation if one is seeking the truth.

Their writings strike me as being markedly similar in substance to the recorded words of the crowds which surrounded our Lord (John 7:12):

And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.”

Tip for the OP. You might want to think about the thread title because it gives the appearance of agreement with this heretical nonsense.


There is a certain correctness to the assumption, I think. If I recall, even the post-ascension apostles were expecting Jesus’ imminent return to earth and the last judgment, but that was due to, perhaps, their failed understanding of Jesus’ words (How many times did he chastise them to not understanding him?).

Or, on the other hand, perhaps his words were deliberately vague.(?)

That being said, the idea that he is a “failed” eschatological prophet is an incorrect conclusion. He was a successful messiah.

Jesus is the Son of God who was born to suffer and die for the salvation of mankind.

He completed His mission & rose from the dead, appearing to His disciples & apostles, then was taken up to heaven.

Jesus was not a failure!!! :frowning:

In the spiritual realm, who would incite men to hold the idea that Jesus had somehow failed?

A few things:

(1) Stop reading books that obviously make you question your faith, or at least lead you to turn to others to help answer objections you weren’t prepared to read. The fact that there are scholars who have no supernatural faith doesn’t imply you need to analyze all of their arguments in minute detail just to make sure they’re not onto something. This is especially true if it is beyond your state of life to be looking into such things, i.e., if you’re not a scholar yourself. These books are purposely written with the manifest purpose of sowing doubt and undermining Christianity. Leave them alone, and don’t rely on presumption or on pride by thinking you’re exempt from protecting your faith. If you’re just itching to find out what they’re saying, this is evidence of the vice of curiosity, which is an inordinate desire for useless or profane knowledge.

(2) If you’d like a 5 1/2 hour, popular-level audio treatment of this and other related topics, check out Brant Pitre’s MP3s here: store.catholicproductions.com/products/jesus-and-the-end-times-a-catholic-view-of-the-last-days?variant=16683286593. Dr. Pitre specifically deals with this blasphemous “failed apocalyptic prophet” garbage in, I think, the very first talk.

Jesus is God, the*** INFINITE***.

Interestingly, the Jesus Seminar is one group that sought a non-apocalyptic Jesus. Not, of course, because they believe He is God. :frowning:

Good point. One of the millenarian groups that Allison mentions in his book turned out to have around 30 members. I’m not impressed. If Jesus were merely a failed prophet, one must ask why God would allow his movement to become the largest religion in the world.

I don’t really know. Allison believes the “failed” prophecies of Jesus were interpreted literally by Jesus and his followers. His reason for this? Most of the millenarian groups he studied took their end time scenario literally. But that ignores how ancient Jews understood their own prophecies. NT Wright makes a strong case that Jesus and his followers used apocalyptic language metaphorically. But as one poster has pointed out, I’m no scholar here.

Well, it is probably too late to change it. Thanks for the tip, though. :slight_smile:

I agree He was a successful messiah. I’m not sure what to make of his apocalyptic language, though. I believe NT Wright is on to something when he says it was mostly metaphorical or had to do with the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.

AMEN! :slight_smile:

The Devil.

All good points. But I will point out that it didn’t make me lose faith or have some kind of crisis of faith. I know that many scholars would do anything to turn Christianity into just another “world religion,” with a human founder and a natural destiny. No thanks. :frowning:

Thanks for the link.

Amen to that! :slight_smile:

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