Abstract

Thietland's Commentary on Second Thessalonians:

Digressions on the Antichrist and the End of the Millennium

by

Steven R. Cartwright

Western Michigan University

This paper outlines and analyzes the Exposition on Second Thessalonians by Thietland, second abbot of Einsiedeln, written in the mid-tenth century. Previously unpublished, the exposition contains an interesting discussion of the Antichrist and of the anticipated end of the Millennium. Much of the discussion is drawn from Augustine's City of God, though most interesting parts, including Thietland's assertion that the devil will be loosed at the end of the Millennium, dated from Christ's Passion, are independent of Augustine, and even contradict statements made by the Bishop of Hippo. Thietland's most controversial statements are contained in a digression from the text of Second Thessalonians, in which the abbot expounds portions of Apocalypse 20 to provide a more comprehensive picture of the Antichrist's expected career. His apparent intention is to suppress contemporary predictions by apocalyptic prophets that the end was imminent, while still maintaining his expectation that the teachings of St. Paul and the Apocalypse would be literally fulfilled.

Thietland's commentary is important because it was written about the same time as the Treatise on the Origin and Time of the Antichrist by Adso of Montier-en-Der, and provides an additional witness to the apocalyptic expectations of the tenth century. In addition, the clerical prediction of the millennium is significant in light of past scholarship on the tenth century that has emphasized the Church's attempts to suppress such prophecies as popular religious hysteria. Thietland's commentary thus offers further primary evidence for the ongoing discussion of millennial anticipations and a different perspective.


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