Origins of Futurism and Preterism

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Extract from E.B. Elliott's Horae Apocalypticae, 1844:

"The Futurist Scheme, as I have elsewhere said, was first, or nearly first, propounded about the year 1590 by the Jesuit Ribera; as the fittest one whereby to turn aside the Protestant application of the Apocalyptic prophecy from the Church of Rome. In England and Ireland of late years it has been brought into vogue chiefly by Mr. Maitland and Mr. Burgh; followed by Mr. Newman, in some of the Oxford Tracts on Antichrist. Its general characteristic is to view the whole Apocalypse, at least from after the Epistles from the Seven Churches, as a representation of the events of the consummation and second advent, all still future; the Israel depicted in it being literal Israel; the days in the chronological periods literal days; and the Antichrist, or Apocalyptic Beast under his last head, a personal infidel Antichrist, to reign and triumph over the saints for just 3 1/2 years, until Christ's coming shall destroy him; of which advent, moreover, the symbols of the 6th seal in particular are supposed to be a clear and decisive prefiguration. [*] Thus, while agreeing fully with the Preterists on the day-day principle, and partly their view of the time to which the main part of the Apocalypse relates, and the person of power answering to the symbol of the Apocalyptic Beast: the one assigning all to the long distant past, the other to the yet distant future. And here is in fact a great advantage that they have over the Preterists, that instead of being in any measure chained down by the facts of history, they can draw on the unlimited powers of fancy, wherewith to devise in the dreamy future whatever may seem to them to fit the sacred prophecy.

With regard to the Preterist Scheme, on the review of which under its two chief and most accredited forms we are now first about to enter, it may be remembered that I stated it to have had its origin with the Jesuit Alcasar; that it was subsequently with variations adopted and improved (after Grotius and Hammond) by Bossuet, the great champion of the Romanists; then afterwards by Hernnschneider, Eichhorn, and others of the German critical and generally infidel school of the last half-century, with their several variations; finally still with new points of difference, by Professor Moses Stuart of the United States of America."

[*--I disagree with Mr. Elliott on the sixth seal; I believe it to be a description of events surrounding Christ's return, as I look at the seals of Revelation as being judgments throughout this Church Age.]

An excellent online essay on this same subject can be found at: