"Comfort, O comfort my people," says your God. (Isaiah 40:1)
"From this passage we learn what we ought chiefly to seek in the prophets, namely, to encourage the hopes of godly persons by exhibiting the sweetness of divine grace, that they may not faint under the weight of afflictions, but may boldly persevere in calling on God." - John Calvin
"...apocalyptic ideas and expectations during the early modern period exercised the European social imagination quite literally from Moscow to Mexico City, from Scotland to the Yemen. They would shape the world in profound and enduring ways.
"The early modern period was not the first time that the apocalypse penetrated the Western intellect and redefined it. That had happened once before during the Intertestamental years (c. 150 BCE–200 CE). In antiquity apocalyptic expectations permanently transformed the religious landscape and, eventually, the political landscape as well. Between 1500 and 1800 they created modernity. During that second great encounter with the apocalypse, such expectations played a central role in the emergence of secular culture—arguably the signal achievement of the postmedieval West. There exists no small irony here. A deeply religious set of ideas proved instrumental in enabling people to see their world through prisms other than those provided by religion. Secular categories, initially, arose less from the rejection of religion than through the dynamics and tensions within religion itself."
Arthur H. Williamson. Apocalypse then: prophecy and the making of the modern world. London: Praeger, 2008, pp. 1-2.
Robert Wolf offers a good summary of how spending time in the past ("an alien clime") is critical for creative thinking in the present:
"The important feature of presuppositions to be remarked on here is that they tend to be unconscious. The presuppositions we make we are apt to be unaware of; if a problem is wrongly posed because of such an unconscious assumption, the possibility of successful resolution of the problems is greatly reduced without bringing that assumption to light. Even more radically, the wrong problem itself may be posed because of such a presupposition. In such a situation, no amount of technical precision applied to the solution of the problem will be of any use. Indeed the more ingenuity brought to bear, the more harm done in creating the illusion that progress is being made. In such a situation, realization that a pseudo-problem is being investigated is the first step toward worthwhile philosophizing. Here is where I suggest that examination of philosophical work in an alien clime, such as the medieval period, can serve to open up the reality of alternative questions."
Robert G. Wolf, "The Philosophical Uses of Medieval Philosophy," Essays in Medieval Studies, vol. 1 (1984): 103.
For a few reasons this (extremely) concise description of one way of accounting for the "Rise of Modern Europe" struck me as interesting, one reason being the confident characterization of modern political theory as rooted in natural law. That may have been somewhat controversial in the early 1970s, when it was written, but my guess is one would be perceived as trying pick a fight by stating it that way in a mainstream academic journal today....
From Walter F. Bense, “Paris Theologians on War and Peace, 1521-1529,” in Church History, 41(2):168.
"The period from 1521 to 1529 marks the transition from the suppression of the personal Protestantism of Luther to the emergence of political Protestantism as a force to be reckoned with. Unavoidably, perhaps, this transition brought with it a change in the general attitude toward war and peace, indeed, in the self-understanding of Europe. The medieval model of a Christendom united under the cross and the papacy, ideally at peace within and at war only with the infidel, was becoming obsolete. Having entered upon its period of dominance with the simultaneous proclamation of the Peace of God and the First Crusade by Pope Urban II in 1095, it may be said to expire with the Peace of Cambrai of 1529. The modern model, of a community of independent states whose autonomy is grounded in natural law and whose bond of union is vaguely cultural rather than specifically religious, is already reflected in Luther's 1529 treatise, On War Against the Turk. The short-range effect of the transformation of 1521/29 was the desacralization of the Turkish war and the redirection of the crusading spirit against the Protestants. The long-range effect would seem to have been the rise of modern Europe-out of the throes of the Wars of Religion-as a system of more or less secular and national states."