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Anti-apocalyptic Thought in Medieval and Early Modern Mendicant Evangelism and Eschatology

Franciscan historiography has demonstrated that an apocalyptic mentality played a significant role in motivating friars to evangelize the New World. In fact, historians have been able to show that since the middle ages, the Lesser Brothers are easily seduced by apocalyptic theories. This is undeniable. Less understood, however, are mendicant expressions of anti-apocalypticism while theorizing about the discoveries of the New World. These eschatological opinions range from thoughts about God’s need to delay of the end for evangelism to the toning down of radical apocalyptic thoughts of their mendicant brothers. This paper proposes that there are numerous examples from the writings of Franciscan, Dominican and other mendicant orders that present ideas in opposition to an imminent apocalyptic end and that such opposition to apocalyptic thinking is well rooted in the history of mendicant eschatology.

Catherine Scine, Flagler College