Byzantine “Cup Coins” and Millennial Apocalypticism

Early Christians believed that after six “divine days” of 1000 years each, the prophecied Millennial Kingdom would establish itself in Christ’s name and reign for ten centuries. At that time, Jesus would return to judge the living and the dead, as John wrote in Revelation 20:1-3.

According to the belief of some early Christians, if the six “divine days” began with Adam circa 5500 BC, then the Millennial Kingdom began about the same time that Constantine the Great established Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, and moved its capital to Constantinople.

In apparent fulfillment of the prophesy, the Byzantine Empire held sway for roughly a thousand years, from the fifth century until the sack of Constantinople in 1453.

Thus, Byzantine emperors of the High Middle Ages were expecting Christ to return just beyond the end of the first millennium. Wary of offending Him, they made sure that His portrait on the coinage was larger and more pronounced than their own. Also, the scyphate, or cup shape, literally places Jesus on a higher plane than the emperor on the coin.

After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, years turned into decades with no appearance of Christ. When Christian excitement surrounding Jesus’ imminent return faded away by the end of the century, coinage with Jesus’ depiction disappeared from mintage.

Major disappointment and confusion felt by many devout Christians at this time gave rise to a new interpretation of the end times known as Amillenialism. This is the belief that the millennial reign of Christ is to be interpreted figuratively, not literally.

#Byzantine #Cup #Coins #Millennial #Apocalypticism

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