Georgios P. Patronos, History and Eschatology in the Kingdom of God, Domos Publications, Athens, 2002.
Prof. Patronos’ study on the Kingdom of God, recently revised (2002) by the writer himself, is focused in three basic directions: In the course of research initially in the area of Protestant theology, secondly in Roman-Catholic theology, and finally in Eastern Orthodox Theology. More specifically, after the shift of the theological research in the West from the historicity of the biographical elements of Jesus’ life, found in the narrations of N. T., to the message of its content, a new era was inaugurated in the beginning of the 20th c, during which research focused in the meaning and reality of the Kingdom of God that constitutes the aim of the eschatological journey of man. The Roman-Catholic view on this question has been generally moderate, with no elations and is animated by a conservative spirit, mainly expressed by J.Bonsirven,F.Gils,J.Schildenberger. Protestant theology as being more progressive, has expressed the deeper reflections with regard to the question, and at the same time confronted with the biggest impasses. Particularly, the 18th and 19th c could be characterized as a clearly anti-eschatological era in the area of interpretation. There were two dominant tendencies regarding the perception of the Kingdom of God. The first one saw the Kingdom as “realized eschatology”, whereas the second as “future” and “consistent” eschatology. Its representatives and pioneers at the same time wereWeiss,Ritschl andSchleiermacher. Especially Schleiermacher saw the Kingdom as a communal eschatological entity. Nowadays, the main representative of the above-mentioned views and tendencies, and specifically of the intense anti-eschatological spirit, isRudolfBultmannwhose characteristic motto is “demystification”. Succinctly, prof. Patronos attempts to give a short report of current tendencies, such as the “Theology of Hope” that is grounded on the Resurrection in the N.T.
The focus of the writer’s research was undoubtedly to its biggest extent dedicated in the Orthodox perception of the Kingdom of God and the eschata. It is underlined that the orthodox presence in research had been negligible or non-existent in the past. This is why the Patristic Tradition that extensively dealt with the question of the Kingdom became the focal point. The Fathers of the Church “saw” the Kingdom through a triune, christocentric and ecclesiological perspective. It is essential that they all converge in the triadological nature of the Kingdom of God. The characteristics of the undivided Holy Trinity are also bequeathed in the Kingdom of God to which the evil forces are opponent. The history of the Kingdom is separated in two periods: the historical one (completion in the present) and the completion in the eschata. These two periods are functionally related and even though the eschatology of the N.T. is bipolar, dualism and opposition were never the case in Orthodox Theology. On the contrary, the historical present is in absolute harmony with the future, with the end of time and the world on earth. The Kingdom of God is the ultimate gift of God to humanity. The renewal of humanity has already begun when Crucified Christ as new Adam (and firstborn) inaugurated the new humanity, and will be completed in eschata. In order the faithful to relish this ultimate gift, they should be members of the Church, where participation in the holy sacraments is the foretaste of eschata, (Baptism is the introductive sacramet and Eucharist the fulfilling one), and ecclesiastic art is consistent with the doctrine concerning the eschata. In the Church the Holy Spirit dowers everything with his sanctifying power and grants grace and knowledge. This is where each aspect of its existence, even monasticism-anchoritism, is connected unbreakably with eschata because of its mystagogic nature.