Puritan Eschatology, the name on the spine of a collection of essays on the subject (although see the citation above), edited by Peter Toon, is a book I pulled off the shelf in my wanderings of the stacks at the SFU library. I recognized Toon’s name from his book on Heaven and Hell which I read in my research for Is There Anything Good About Hell?

At 153 pages, it is a short book, and without appendices, only 129. As a lover of history, I find in-depth explorations of theological or doctrinal issues within an historical context to be fascinating, and so it was enjoyable in this regard. For instance, I am somewhat familiar with Thomas Goodwin and his theology, but did not know that among the Puritans (along with Twisse) he was a strong millenarian who both preached and wrote extensively on the subject (p62-65).

The most interesting of the essays, to me, was the one by B. S. Capp, an author unknown to me, titled “Extreme Millenarianism,” which largely outlined the eschatological doctrine and political views of the Fifth Monarchy men, and how they interacted (and fought with) others around the time of Cromwell and his Protectorate.

A couple other fascinating notes were that there were several authors and theologians who posited more than one millennium, and that millenarianism was strongly linked, even at this stage, with a view that the Jews would experience a turning to the Lord with many believing that Romans 11 refers to ethnic Jews (as I do.)

Other tidbits:

  • Meade taught John Milton (p56)
  • The Fifth Monarchists turned against Cromwell and called him the Beast
  • Sabbatai Sevi/Zevi (1626-1676) was a self-proclaimed Jewish Messiah (Sabbatai Zevi – Wikipedia)
  • Quakerism began in this period, with Fox’s enlightenment in 1647 (p92-94).
  • Quakers were Christologically-oriented Pelagians (p96).

As a relatively quick read, the book is interesting and useful if you have an interest in historical theology and especially the era of the Puritans. I will share some gleanings in another post.

Book info:

Puritans, The Millenium and the Future of Israel: Puritan Eschatology 1600 to 1660. Ed. Peter Toon. James Clarke & Co. Ltd. Cambridge & London, 1970.


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