"Apocalyptic literature was created to speak in a powerful way and with a dramatic seriousness that would match the sense of hopelessness and terror that can easily grip a generation in the midst of a profound crisis..."
Trouble is, this has more often led to misunderstanding, going all the way back to the earliest church. This shouldn't shock us says Abraham. After all,
"... it is well-nigh impossible to keep the eager sense of delight and hope that correlates with the experience of the coming of God's rule here and now (in Jesus of Nazareth) from welling up into premature anticipation. This is especially so when one sense that all of creation is in travail to realize its ultimate divine destiny and that the powers of evil are liable to break out repeatedly in a last-ditch effort to thwart the purposes of God... it would be amazing if the early church did not at times move in this direction."
Why 'amazing'? Because as he's argued earlier in the book (relevant quotes of which I've already posted),
"The intellectual challenge posed by the events surrounding Jesus was staggering in the extreme. On the one hand the church had the oral traditions about Jesus transmitted by disciples, who were convinced that Jesus was the supreme agent of God sent to redeem Israel and the world. On the other hand it had the ancient tradition s of prophecy that provided the conceptual tools out of which it sought to make intelligible sense of Jesus' ministry and of the disciples' experiences of the Holy Spirit. The traditions that articulated the hopes of Israel were varied and complex; particular patterns of divine action and promise were clearly discernible. Yet the word of prophecy was not itself a simple blueprint for God's action in history and at the end of time. As [Ben F.] Meyer has suggested, prophetic knowledge is not precise determinate knowledge... Hence the correlation between prophetic word and event is ambiguous."
So putting ourselves into the first-century shoes of the eyewitnesses of Jesus' miracles, power, and resurrection along with the early church experience of the outpouring and working of the Holy Spirit,
"... it would be incredible if some did not fully grasp what was going on and hastily identified the events currently happening with those that lay as yet in the mind and hands of God. Such events as the resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Spirit would have been enough to send most minds saturated in the hopes and promises of Israel into believing that the end of the world could well be just around the next corner of history."Abraham quotes G.B. Caird to rephrase his point:
"It is perhaps plausible that the early Christians were so deeply conscious of having experienced Christ, in his resurrection, and in the coming of the Spirit, the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises that occasionally, especially in times of apocalyptic crisis, they felt the frontiers of the future close in upon them."
The Logic of Evangelism, p. 35-37