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The Ascension Of Isaiah And The Road To Gnosticism

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Chapter Summary

This chapter seeks to point forward to some of the issues which arise in the developing apocalyptic tradition by outlining apocalyptic trends in emerging Christian theology. It discusses the Ascension of Isaiah as a possible background to 1 Peter and the fluid transition to Gnosticism. The Ascension of Isaiah is an important testimony to early Christian apocalypticism with several distinctive features. Concentration on the eschatological characteristics of apocalypticism has not prevented commentators from noting the similarities which exist between the apocalyptic literature and Gnostic texts. The concern of the apocalyptist is, first and foremost, with the world above and the descent of the Beloved, and there is little concern for the future of the world below. In both apocalypticism and Gnosticism one can find writers seeking to make sense of existence by reference to the world beyond and by means of an all-embracing explanatory revelation.

Keywords: Ascension of Isaiah; early Christian apocalypticism; Gnosticism



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