The Beginning of Christian Zionist Prophesying in 1791


The Jesuit priest Manuel de Lacunza y Díaz (1731-1801), was born in Santiago de Chile and died in Imola, Italy. He wrote a book under the pseudonym Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra, posthumously published: La venida del Mesías en gloria y magestad. Observaciones de Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra, hebreo-cristiano: dirigidas al sacerdote cristófilo.

In 1791 he completed this famous work, which he began around 1775. Lacunza’s work had a great impact on the ferment of prophetic studies at the beginning of the nineteenth century, since his work spoke about the premillennial advent of Christ, and was studied by the British millenarians. His work was key to the introduction of futurism in the field of prophetic apocalypticism in the early nineteenth century.

The English version was translated by Edward Irving: The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty. By Juan Josaphat Ben-Ezra, a Converted Jew, 2 vols. (London: L. B. Seeley and Son, 1827).  John Nelson Darby popularized the views of Irving and Lacunza, which reinterpreted prophesy of the Bible centered around the people and nation of Israel.  This move lead directly to the publication by Oxford University Press of the Scofield Bible in 1909, with a major revision in 1917, and to the Balfour Declaration the same year of 1917 where a Zionist Christian pledged Palestine to Lord Rothschild upon defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I.

Since futurism took root in the Protestant church nearly two centuries ago, we first need to have an overview of its development before the nineteenth century, when Lacunza’s work became widely known in Latin America and Europe.

We are living at the end of the twentieth century and on the threshold of the third millennium, when futurism, the prevailing school of interpretation of the apocalyptic prophecies of Daniel and Revelation, plays a significant role in today’s eschatological views. Two centuries ago, however, the historicist school of interpretation was common to both amillennialism and premillennialism, since Roman Catholic futurism concerning the appearance of a future antichrist had not yet made an impact upon the Protestant prophetic interpretation, and almost all Protestant expositors of the prophecies of the books of Daniel and Revelation in the Reformation and post-Reformation era belonged to the historical school of interpretation, known as the Protestant school of interpretation.

Furthermore, it has been found that futurism was not the original approach held by the early church, nor by the church of the Middle Ages and the Reformation. Research shows that the early Fathers were not futurists in the modern meaning of the word. In a certain sense, the early church Fathers had futurist views because for them everything was future.

The early Christians were convinced that the final age of history had arrived; the new age had already dawned … read full article here

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