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Dale Allison ‘The End of the Ages Has Come’ (1985), writing twenty five years before Pitre(2005), seeks to show, amongst other things, that the ‘New Testament contains texts in which the death of Jesus is interpreted as belonging to the great tribulation and in which his resurrection is set forth as marking the onset of the general resurrection of the dead’1.

Before analysing the New Testament, he seeks, in Chapter Two, to examine aspects of Jewish eschatology for tribulation themes. He does this by asking a number of questions.

  • When will the tribulation come?

  • Who will suffer?

  • How long will the tribulation last?

The following table seeks to tabulate his results and conclusions

When will the tribulation come?
The Tribulation in Present Testament of Moses, esp ch 8,9 ‘The author of the book thought that his time, the time of Antiochus, the time of Taxo, stood immediately before the appearance of God;s kingdom throughout all creation, when there would be no more Satan. The woes presently experienced were thought to be the woes, the last woes, and soon to be followed by renewal.’2
1 QH III,7-10 The essenes ‘understood their own sufferings to signal the advent of the tribulation upon the new age.’3
4 Ezra 5:1-13,50-55; 6:21-24 ‘the time for divine visitation has come, the seer and his readers know themselves to be suffering the tribulation that must come before the Messiah’s advent.’4
m.Sota 9:15 ‘the pangs of the Messiah are here more than a prospect; they have revealed themselves in contemporary circumstances’5
The Great Tribulation is yet to come 1 Enoch 91-105 ‘So although the present (the seventh week, by the author’s reckoning) may be miserable for those who fear God, it is in truth the wicked who should wail and weep, for the eighth week are coming when sinners will suffer God’s judgement in the great tribulation.’6
Syriac Baruch (ca 100AD) ‘the messianic woes are also future yet imminent’
Apocalypse of Abraham ‘If Israel has suffered and suffers, and if the heathen are now in command, the end, which is fastly approaching, will see the heavy hand of divine chastisement pass from the people of God to the nations.’7
T. Levi 4:1, Adam and Eve 29:7, b. Sanh. 98B and b.Sabb. 118a ‘In these passages we run across instances where the prospect of a great tribulation, is not a prominent tenet, or conspicuous belief that draws much attention but, rather, somehting taken over from tradition and mentioned only in passing.’8
The great Tribulation is past Jubilees 23:31 ‘The author of Jubilees, then, encouraged in his optimism by good turns of fortune, could well have hoped that tribulation belonged tot he past and that God was ushering in a new time.’9
Who will Suffer?
The Saints Suffer Daniel 7:21-22, Jub 23:1-31, As. Mos. 9:1-7, etc ‘the trend of these texts, from various times and places, is clear. The righteous will be tested and suffer affliction at the end. The Most High will not spare the faithful until the turning point.’10
The Wicked Suffer Syriac Baruch, 4 Ezra 9:7-8, Apoc. Abraham 29, 1 Enoch 91-105, ‘Woes are always and exclusively directed against the nations that sin against God.’11
The saints may suffer Liv. Pro. Dan. 21,Melkita 16:25.
How long will the tribulation last? A week, 7 years, Daniel 12Rabbinic Sources: No estimation

1QM 40 Years

1 Enoch 91-105, Sib. Or. III 532-51, Liv Po. Hab 14, etc: No explicit duration

‘Our survey uncovers no agreement. The length of the great tribulation was variously estimated—from a few years to more than forty; and most texts simply do not broach the subject.’12

Allison examination has revealed great diversity on the topic of the tribulation Jewish Texts.

‘The results of this chapter serve to accent the variegated nature of Jewish eschatological expectation as is attested in the ancient literature.’13 Some texts treat the tribulation as a ‘central theme’, for some a ‘marginal conviction’, and other a ‘conspicuously absent belief.’

Allisons conclusions which stress diversity can be compared with that of Pitre.

1EAHS 3 Emphais my own

2EAHS 8

3EAHS 11

4EAHS 13

5EAHS 14

6EAHS 16

7EAHS 17

8EAHS 17

9EAHS 19

10EAHS 20

11EAHS 21

12EAHS 23-24

13EAHS 25

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Some quotes from historical Jesus scholars makingt a link between Jesus’ death and the time of tribulation. For those interested Pitre offers the most in depth analysis.

‘A time of unheard of affliction must precede the coming of the Kingdom. Out of these woes the Messiah will be brought to birth. That was a view prevalent far and wide: in no other wise could the events of the last time be imagined.’

Albert Schweitzer 1

‘Any attempt to sketch out what Jesus expected in the future will have to start from his conviction that his mission was the prelude to the coming of the eschatological times of distress.’ 2

Jeremias

‘Just as the tribulation precedes the kingdom, so Jesus is to die and then know resurrection. The parallel is not fortuitous—

Dale Allison 3

‘Jesus not only expected the final tribulation to happen imminently, but by the time he reached Jersualem had also concluded that he would have to face the same tribulation’4

James D.G. Dunn


‘The ‘messianic woes’ tradition indicated that this suffering and vindication would be climatic, unique, the one-off moment when Israel’s history and world history would turn their great corner at last, when YHWH’s kingdom would come and his will be done on earth as it was in heaven. The central symbolic act by which Jesus gave meaning to his approaching death suggests strongly that this moment had come’

N.T. Wright5


1 Schweitzer, Albert, and Walter Lowrie. The Mystery of the Kingdom of God: The Secret of Jesus’ Messiahship and Passion. London: A. & C. Black, 1925. 219

2Jeremias, Joachim. New Testament Theology. London: SCM, 1971.  127

3Allison, Dale C. End of the Ages Has Come: Early Interpretation of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. Fortress P.,U.S, 1985, 139

4 Dunn, James D.G. Christianity in the Making Vol 1: Jesus Remembered. William B Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2003. 808

5Wright, N. T. Jesus and the Victory of God. Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1997. 597

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