Fortress Press

When the Son of Man Didn't Come: A Constructive Proposal on the Delay of the Parousia

When the Son of Man Didn't Come

A Constructive Proposal on the Delay of the Parousia

Christopher M. Hays (Author)


The delay of the Parousia—the second coming of Christ—has vexed Christians since the final decades of the first century. This volume offers a critical, constructive, and interdisciplinary solution to that dilemma. The argument is grounded in Christian tradition while remaining fully engaged with the critical insights and methodological approaches of twenty-first-century scholars. The authors argue that the deferral of Christ’s prophesied return follows logically from the conditional nature of ancient predictive prophecy: Jesus has not come again because God’s people have not yet responded sufficiently to Christ’s call for holy and godly action. God, in patient mercy, remains committed to cooperating with humans to bring about the consummation of history with Jesus’ return.

Collaboratively written by an interdisciplinary and ecumenical team of scholars, the argument draws on expertise in biblical studies, systematics, and historical theology to fuse critical biblical exegesis with a powerful theological paradigm that generates an apophatic and constructive Christian eschatology. The authors, however, have done more than tackle a daunting theological problem: as the group traverses issues from higher criticism through doctrine and into liturgy and ethics, they present an innovative approach for how to do Christian theology in the twenty-first-century academy.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506425474
  • eBook ISBN 9781451469639
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 240
  • Publication Date July 1, 2017


"This is an outstanding book. It skillfully combines not only biblical studies and Christian theology, but also liturgy and hermeneutics to show that the delay of the Parousia, far from being an embarrassment, enlivens the hope of the Church. The authors are well-read, clear, incisive, and refreshingly collaborative. This well thought out book deserves a wide readership, and I commend it very warmly."

Anthony C. Thiselton | emeritus, University of Nottingham

"When the Son of Man Didn’t Come is intriguingly ecumenical, with Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox voices, and draws on a correspondingly wide range of theological scholarship—biblical, patristic, and systematic. An important contribution to a topic that is very much alive in all the churches."

John Barton | emeritus, University of Oxford

"This pellucid book shows the fruitfulness of combining historical-critical and theological approaches to Scripture. The authors grant that Jesus spoke of an imminent consummation of the kingdom that did not happen. But they point out that throughout scripture, God reserves to himself the decision about when to fulfill prophecies; and God does so—without negating his eternity—by cooperating with his often wayward people. It is therefore just like the biblical God to grant his people further time to repent and to develop their new covenantal relationship with him. There can hardly be a more important topic for Christian scholars today, and this book brings to bear cutting-edge historical-critical scholarship and high-level theology to persuasively locate the solution in the mercy that characterizes God's historical dealings with his people."

Matthew Levering | Mundelein Seminary

"A tour de force of collaborative scholarship, When the Son of Man Didn’t Come confronts the 'delay of the Parousia' by engaging with equal seriousness the findings of critical biblical scholarship and the dogmatic convictions of Nicene Christianity. Highlighting the conditional character of biblical prophecy, the authors show that God's promises function to activate rather than vitiate human agency, so that eschatological deferral, far from constituting an embarrassment for the church, confirms the graciousness of the Triune God as the One who has determined not to bring in the kingdom without us."

Ian A. McFarland | University of Cambridge

"In this major new collaborative study, the authors, all experts in their fields, address the historical and theological problem of the delay of the Parousia, treating it with the intellectual rigor it deserves. The 'Constructive Proposal' they offer neither plays down the seriousness of the problem nor casts aside biblical authority. This book is a must-read for those with a serious interest in biblical eschatology."

Edward Adams | King’s College London

"It is an extraordinary achievement to open fresh perspectives on a long debated historical and theological problem, as this book does. Working closely together, this interdisciplinary and ecumenical group of young scholars succeeds in showing that the delay of the final coming of Christ is entirely consistent with the way ancient prophecy works and with the operations of the God that Christians worship. From the firm basis of a historical-critical study which takes admirable account of the latest scholarship, they develop in a highly original way a series of theological issues which interact mutually with the topic. A striking chapter on method offers a model of collaborative practices of authorship for others to follow. This book is essential reading for scholars and all Christian readers who want to say, intelligibly, maranatha – Lord, come!"

Paul S. Fiddes | University of Oxford