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Athens Or Jerusalem? From Eschatological Hopes To Cultural Memory

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Chapter Summary

This chapter probes the transformation of perceptions and images of Jerusalem with the waning of early Christian eschatology. While the historian should beware of slipping from ancient images to modern conceptions, a better understanding of the mental mechanisms ruling the neutralization of eschatological hopes might shed some light on aspects of present predicament, and of the passage from Jerusalem as the latter-day battlefield between Satan and Christ to the 'etymological' conception of Jerusalem as the City of Peace. While the faith in Jesus Christ was born in Jerusalem, it very soon reached new and distant horizons. The first direct contact between Athens and Jerusalem in Christianity is of course Paul's speech to the Athenians on the Areopagus, just after his meeting with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, as reported in Acts (17:19-31), a text written by Luke, a few decades after Paul's death.

Keywords: Acts; Athens; Christian; cultural memory; eschatological hopes; Jerusalem; Jesus Christ; Paul



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