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  • L'Anticristo, Volume I: Il nemico dei tempi finali: Testi dal II al IV secolo
  • Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte
L'Anticristo, Volume I: Il nemico dei tempi finali: Testi dal II al IV secolo. Edited by Gian Luca Potestà and Marco Rizzi. [Scrittori Greci e Latini. Fondazione Lorenzo Valla.] (Milan: Arnaldo Mondadori Editore. 2005. Pp. xxxviii, 582. €27,00. ISBN 88-04-54478-3.)

This excellent publication is the first volume in a series of three. It presents the most important texts on Antichrist from the second, third, and fourth centuries. It is announced that volume two will deal with texts from the fifth to the twelfth centuries, and the final volume will present the prime sources on Antichrist from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries. Potestà and Rizzi have written a general introduction in which they treat the conceptual framework in which the concept of Antichrist originated. The bulk of the volume consists of patristic texts in Greek or Latin with an Italian translation and annotations. The texts are presented in four parts. The authors rightly choose to consider the work of Irenaeus as the moment in which Antichrist came to be considered as the one and only eschatological opponent of Jesus Christ. Part One ("Antichrist before Antichrist") deals with references to Antichrist in the period before Irenaeus: 1 and 2 John, Polycarp's Philippians, and—a remarkable choice—Celsus' The True Word.This last text does not mention Antichrist, but does give an interesting perspective on developing Christian thoughts in the second half of the second century. Part Two ("The Invention of Antichrist") consists of texts by Irenaeus (relevant sections from Against Heretics) and Tertullian (Prescription against Heretics, Against Marcion, the Resurrection of the Flesh). By this choice the editors of the volume point out the importance of the last decades of the second century for the growth of the Christian Antichrist myth. Part Three is entirely dedicated to Hippolytus, and offers the texts of his On Christ and Antichrist, relevant sections from the Commentary on Daniel, and the Benediction of Moses. It is here that an "antichristology," as the authors call it, comes into existence. Part Four ("The Enemy of the Last Days in the 3rd and 4th Century") presents texts from Origen (Against Celsus, Commentary on the Gospel of John, and Latin fragments of his Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew), Cyprian (Letters, To Fortunatus), Victorinus of Pettau (parts of his Commentary on Revelation), Commodianus (Instructions, Carmen Apologeticum), and Lactantius (sections from the Divine Institutes). The authors/editors of this volume have made a fine selection of early Christian texts on Antichrist. Of course, they have had to make a selection, and the texts they have chosen are indeed the [End Page 125] most important witnesses to the development of the concept of Antichrist. Other sources might have been included, but the most important texts are readily available in this volume. This is the most important point of the series: for the first time the prime witnesses for the tradition of Antichrist in the early Church are collected and presented in one volume. Every single author is presented by a brief, but accurate introduction. The translations are annotated and the comments are helpful. It is certainly to be hoped that the series will become available in an English version as well in order to find a larger readership. One personal regret of this reviewer is that his name is cited by the authors in a somewhat exotic version.

Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte
Protestantse Theologische Universiteit Kampen


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