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Albert Barnes
Venerable Bede
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and Talmud
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Kett's History
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Melito of Sardis
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N. Nisbett
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Bishop Pierce

Arthur Pink
Maurus Rabanus
St. Remigius
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Eduard W.E. Reuss
John Robinson
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Theodore Robinson
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C.H. Spurgeon
Dr. T.P. Stafford
William Stevens
Rudolph Stier
A.H. Strong
Moses Stuart
Milton Terry
Thomas Torrance
Touttee's Cyril



John Walvoord
William Warburton
Benjamin Warfield
Noah Webster
John Wesley
Richard Weymouth
William Whiston
N.T. Wright

J.N. Darby
Jerry Falwell
Dr. W.B. Godbey
Thomas Ice
Johann P. Lange
Hal Lindsey
John MacArthur
Gary North
Dr. E. Robinson
C.I. Scofield
Rudolph E. Stier
Moses Stuart
Jack/Rex VanImpe
John Walvoord

Christ's Deity/Return
Salvation Incomplete
Scripture Inerrancy
Date of Matthew

John A.T. Robinson

Anglican bishop | New Testament scholar

Redating the New Testament (1976) | Jesus and His Coming (1967) | The Body (1952) | A.T. Robinson Remembered | J.S. Spong

Preterist Commentaries By Preterists

(On Christ's Second Coming)
"The parousia is clearly understood, not as a separate catastrophic occurrence, but as a separate pervasion of the daily life of the disciples and the Church.  The coming is an abiding presence." [Jesus and His Coming (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1967), p .176]

(On Revelation 11:1 ; Early Date of Revelation)
"It is indeed generally agreed that this passage must bespeak a pre-70 situation. . . . There seems therefore no reason why the oracle should not have been uttered by a Christian prophet as the doom of the city drew nigh." (Redating the New Testament pp.. 240-242).

"It was at this point that I began to ask myself just why any of the books of the New Testament needed to be put after the fall of Jerusalem in 70. As one began to look at them, and in particular the epistle to the Hebrews, Acts and the Apocalypse, was it not strange that this cataclysmic event was never once mentioned or apparently hinted at (as a past fact)? (Redating, p. 10).

"One of the oddest facts about the New Testament is that what on any showing would appear to be the single most datable and climactic event of the periodBE the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70BE is never once mentioned as a past fact. . . . [T]he silence is nevertheless as significant as the silence for Sherlock Holmes of the dog that did not bark". (Ibid., p. 13.)

(On the Forty Years and That Generation)
"I believe that John represents in date, as theology, not only the omega but also the alpha of New Testament development. He bestrides the period like a colossus and marks out its span, the span that lies between two dramatic moments in Jerusalem which boldly we may date with unusual precision. The first was when, on 9 April 30, 'early on the Sunday morning, while it was still dark,' one man 'saw and believed' (Jno. 20:1-9). And the second was when, on 26 September 70, 'the dawn of the eight day of the month Gorpiaeus broke upon Jerusalem in flames.' Over those forty years, I believe, all the books of the New Testament came to completion, and during most of that period, if we are right, the Johannine literature was in the process of maturation." (p. 311)

(On the consequences of the needed re-dating of the New Testament books)
"the rewriting of many introductions to - and, ultimately, theologies of - the New Testament."


"Coming - presence" (Parousia) of Christ should not be seen as future events, but as a symbolical mythological presentation of "...what must happen, and is happening already, whenever the Christ comes in love and power, whenever are to be traced the signs of His presence, wherever to be seen the marks of His cross. `Judgement DAY' is a dramatized idealized picture of everyday" (His in the end... Clarke, London, 1950 Pg. 69). Again I will quote the words of Robinson. "...Did Jesus ever use language which suggested that He would return to earth from heaven? A critical examination of the data leads him to answer `NO'. Jesus' sayings on the subject really express the twin themes of vindication and visitation. e.g. His reply to the high priest's question whether or not He was the Messiah (Mark 14:62+): `1 am: and you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power: and coming with the clouds of heaven'. In Math 26:64 and Lk.22:69 a word or phrase meaning from now on' or 'hereafter' is inserted before `you will see"' (Jesus and His coming - S.C.M., London 1957).



"Robinson, the reknown late Bishop from England begins this book, "I thought I would see how far one could get with the hypothesis that the whole of the New Testament was written before 70." That, of course, was the year in which the Roman army sacked and burned the Temple of Jerusalem. As it turns out, Robinson got much further than he ever expected, and that on a journey made more impressive by his lack of any predisposition toward a "conservative" point of view.

His conclusion is that there is no compelling evidence - indeed, little evidence of any kind - that anything in the New Testament canon reflects knowledge of the Temple's destruction. Furthermore, other considerations point consistently toward early dates and away from the common assumption (a prejudice with a seriously circular foundation) that a majority of early church authors wrote in the very late First or early-to-middle Second Century under assumed names. Whether or not one agrees with every word of Robinson's analysis, he makes his case well and should help all New Testament students rethink the presuppositions that underlie much of what is currently written about First Century Christianity." (Redating the New Testament at Presence Books)

"In the field of eschatological studies, no topic seems thornier than that of the resurrection, regardless of the particulars of one's perspective. A great deal of misunderstanding about the resurrection in "preterist" circles stems from our tendency to see the concept of "body" largely in dualistic terms that do not reflect Paul's way of thinking. This is especially true of Paul's discussions of resurrection, and a recovery of the Hebrew understanding of body will go a long way toward a proper understanding of resurrection in first-century corporate terms. To this end, John A.T. Robinson's 1952 classic The Body: a study in Pauline theology is a valuable contribution to the literature surrounding Transmillennial=AE thought as much as his book, Redating the New Testament. "One could say without exaggeration that the concept of the body forms the keystone of Paul's theology," contends the author. Robinson's own eschatology does not embrace complete fulfillment, yet this quality reprint of this classic book in Pauline studies provides the serious student a missing piece of the puzzle of Pauline eschatology." (The Body at Presence Books)

Robinson, A.T. Remembered

By the Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong
Bishop of Newark

One of the great mentors of my life was an English bishop and New Testament scholar named John Albert Thomas Robinson. He burst into public awareness in the United Kingdom in the late fifties when he testified before a commission seeking to ban the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover. For a bishop to favor Lady Chatterley titillated the English media who love juxtaposing religion with sexual expose. People were not aware at this time that this Bishop of Woolwich was also a serious student and a prolific, if not yet well known, writer.

In 1962 a back ailment required that John Robinson be confined to bed for a number of months. His fertile and imaginative mind was freed from other distractions and he wrote a little book called Honest to God that appeared on the bookstands in 1963. It made the controversy about Lady Chatterley's Lover look pale by comparison. This book forced people to recognize that the language of traditional religion was not a language that people believed today whether they continued to use it or not. An advance story in London's SUNDAY OBSERVER trumpeted the headline, "Bishop says the God up there or out there will have to go." Thus, the Church was launched into what came to be known as the "Honest to God Debate," and John A. T. Robinson became a household word in the English-speaking world.

That little book sold more copies than any religious book since Pilgrim's Progress. It was translated into dozens of languages. It was discussed, not just in religious circles, but in pubs, on golf courses and over bridge tables. It brought religion out of the churches and planted it firmly on Main Street.

One would think that the leaders of the churches would have welcomed such an initiative, but that would be to misunderstand the nature of institutional religion. The religious establishment, instead, recoiled defensively. Every would-be theologian rushed into print to denounce this book. Calls were issued for Bishop Robinson's resignation or for him to be deposed for heresy. A book of reactions to Honest to God was published to keep the waves rolling. It revealed just how deeply John Robinson had touched the hot buttons of religious fear that the traditional defenders of the faith struggle to conceal.

The echoes of this debate reached my ears in my small-town parish in Tarboro, North Carolina. I did not rush to read the book. Reviews indicated that it quoted extensively from Rudolf Bultmann, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Paul Tillich. I was quite familiar with these thinkers and so I dismissed the book as a popularizing effort of no great significance. Nonetheless I placed the book on my reading schedule, and finally got to it in 1965.

I remember the day I first opened this book. Vacationing on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I sat on the beach one afternoon with Honest to God. I did not put it down until I had read it through three times. I knew from that moment that my life would never be the same.

John Robinson made me aware that my childhood understanding of God would not live in my world. He forced me to face the fact that the words of both the Bible and the Creeds sound strange to post-modern people and that my faith had to grow or it had to be abandoned. I began on that day the long, tortuous and, to this moment, not yet completed process of rethinking all of the symbols of my religious past so that I could continue to claim them with integrity. I also pledged myself never again to use pious clich s that I clearly no longer believed.

This book drove me first back to the Bible. I knew that the Noah story, or the splitting of the Red Sea story, could not be literally true, to say nothing of the stories of Jesus turning water into wine, walking on water and ascending to the heaven of a Ptolemaic universe that had ceased to exist with Copernicus. My church had prepared me poorly, I discovered, to live as a believer in a post-Copernican world, to say nothing of a world shaped by such giants as Newton, Darwin, Freud or Einstein. The Church still lived in a World of miracle and magic, where reward and punishment were meted out by God according to human deserving.

Seven years later, in 1972, this internal struggle emerged externally in the form of my first book which was deeply shaped by the "Worldly Holiness" chapter in Honest to God. My publisher entitled my book Honest Prayer, hoping, I am sure, to be pulled into the Honest to God energy that was still abroad. In 1973 I first met John Robinson. This larger-than- life man came to speak in Richmond on the 10th anniversary of the publication of Honest to God. He was very British, displaying little emotion. After the session I was introduced to him. I thanked him for what his writing had meant to me. I presented him with a copy of Honest Prayer. We talked for a while and then we each returned to our respective lives. Five years later in 1978 John and I met again at the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Bishops of the world. I was now one of those bishops and John, who had returned to Cambridge to teach New Testament, was present as a consultant. Both of us, bored by the speeches, decided to leave early and walk through the woods of Kent to discuss the New Testament. We came across a country pub and stopped to share "a pint." We even engaged in the pub game of "bowls," but all the while still discussing the New Testament. It was such a pleasant experience that we decided to repeat it each day. So while the bishops were debating, John and I probed the gospel tradition and I learned from his incisive mind.

In those years John and I both continued to write books which addressed the theme of bringing the church into dialogue with today's reality. I read everything he wrote. John Robinson's echoes were heard in me every time I spoke and certainly every time I wrote. When one reviewer referred to me as the American Bishop Robinson, I was deeply touched. After Lambeth, John and I began to correspond. I yearned to bring him to lecture to our diocesan family, and finally he agreed. Six months before his scheduled appearance, however, John wrote that he had received a cancer diagnosis and had only a few months to live. He sent me a copy of the sermon he preached at Clare College, Cambridge, the Sunday after he received the diagnosis. I was deeply touched by it, though it made me aware of how lonely I would be without this kindred spirit. John died in the early months of 1983. In my grief I was pleased to be asked to write the American tribute to him published in THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY. Someone else had recognized how important he was to me.

I did not have either John's intellectual training or his Cambridge PhD. Yet after his death, in a real sense I was the only other bishop who was addressing publicly the issues he had raised. That fall of 1983 I published a book entitled Into the Whirlwind: The Future of the Church. It marked a watershed moment for me from which there was no turning back. It was not that it was a great book, but reading it today I discover that the seeds of every book I have written since were present in its pages.

In 1988 Living in Sin? came out. That book was for me the kind of birth to the wider public that the debate on Lady Chatterley's Lover had been for John Robinson. Because of that book and the controversy it sparked, I increasingly found myself occupying the space in which John Robinson once stood and bearing the hostility he received. Now I was the most controversial bishop in the Anglican Communion. My vocation clearly was to transform Christianity so that it could be lived out appropriately today. Each new book fueled this growing flame. Invitations to lecture began to come in from across America, as well as from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. To be a bishop leading this debate became the heart of my vocation. Hence, I worked long hours lest I violate either the integrity of my office or of my scholarship. I could not walk away from the role for which everything in life had equipped me. I have lived this role with vigor, yearning more than once to have had John's counsel.

This past summer I returned once again to the United Kingdom on a lecture tour. I had speaking engagements in Yorkshire, Aberystwyth, Cardiff, Sheffield, Leeds, Milton Keynes, London and Leicester. There were also breaks to allow us to visit family and friends. In one of these downtimes I came face to face with John Robinson once again.

We went to visit two friends, formerly of St. Peter's, Morristown, who now live in a tiny, secluded village in Herefordshire. To our amazement their next-door neighbor was John Robinson's only brother, Edward. We spent an evening with him reminiscing about John's career and his influence. My tour ended at a conference in Leicester for an organization called "The Sea of Faith," where I debated the radical English theologian Don Cupitt. To my joy a member of this conference was Ruth Robinson, John's widow. Once again we spent an evening remembering John Robinson. It was as if grace had touched me twice. The theological child of John A. T. Robinson had been welcomed home. I have now lived and worked twelve years beyond the life span of my mentor. I have picked up and addressed some issues that never surfaced for him. It has sometimes been a lonely journey. Today I can see the horizon of my career and wonder who the next John Robinson will be.

There will always be the "John Robinson" role present in the life of the Church. It will be welcomed by some, feared and hated by others. But that role is always the means by which growth and the renewal of the church is accomplished. I have been privileged to walk, however ineptly, in these footsteps.



(1) The Old Testament Background
1. Form and Matter
2. The One and the Many
3. Body and Soul
4. Boundary of Self
(2) The Pauline Usage
(i) The Concept of the Flesh
(ii) The Concept of the Body

The Human Situation
The Process of Redemption
(1) Self-Identification
(2) Victory over evil
(3) Reproduced through baptism

(1) The Extension of the Incarnation
(2) The Origin of the Doctrine of the Body of Christ
(3) The One and the Many
(4) Christ, the Church and God
(5) The Old Body and the New
Dictionary of Key Greek Terms
Index of Biblical References
Index of Names

Contents, Redating the New Testament (1976)

I Dates and Data
II. The Significance of 70
III. The Pauline Epistles
IV. Acts and the Synoptic Gospels
V. The Epistle of James
VI The Petrine Epistles and Jude
VII. The Epistle to the Hebrews
VIII. The Book of Revelation
IX. The Gospel and Epistles of John
X. A Post-Apostolic Postscript
XI. Conclusions and Corollaries

Any Comments or Quotes on this Topic ?

What do YOU think ?

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30 Nov 2003


Spong's silence about Robinson's later works, particularly on the dating of the New Testament is, to quote Robinson "...nevertheless as significant as the silence for Sherlock Holmes of the dog that did not bark." Whether Robinson was correct or not is not the issue. The wonder is that one who claimed to be so close to Robinson never mentions his later works. In his latter years Robinson was, of course, pushing against the edges as he had so wondrously done in "Honest To God." Yet now it was the edges of "accepted" scholarship, not the edges of "orthodoxy" against which Robinson was pushing. 'Tis strange, indeed, that the good Bishop Spong was silent about this "pushing."



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