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apocalypse(əpŏk`əlĭps) [Gr.,=uncovering], genre represented in early Jewish and in Christian literature in which the secrets of the heavenly world or of the world to come are revealed by angelic mediation within a narrative framework. The genre seems to have arisen in Palestine in the 3d cent. B.C., perhaps as a protest against an oppressive and dominant establishment, either Gentile or apostate Jewish. The writing is characterized by otherworldly journeys, visions, animal imagery derived from the common fund of ancient Middle Eastern mythological imagery, and number symbolism. Apocalyptic eschatology is marked by the conviction that God will intervene decisively in the present evil age and vindicate his suffering elect over their oppressors, raising the dead, consigning the wicked to eternal destruction, and establishing a new creation. In the Bible, apocalyptic elements are present in the books of Ezekiel, Isaiah, Joel, Zechariah, and Daniel. The collection known as the PseudepigraphaPseudepigrapha
[Gr.,=things falsely ascribed], a collection of early Jewish and some Jewish-Christian writings composed between c.200 B.C. and c.A.D. 200, not found in the Bible or rabbinic writings.
..... Click the link for more information. contains a number of early Jewish apocalypses, including 1 Enoch, 4 Ezra, and 2 Baruch. In the New Testament the book of RevelationRevelation
, the last book of the New Testament. It was written c.A.D. 95 on Patmos Island off the coast of Asia Minor by an exile named John, in the wake of local persecution by the Emperor Domitian (A.D. 81–96).
..... Click the link for more information. is often called the Apocalypse.
See C. Rowland, The Open Heaven (1982); E. Weber, Apocalypses (1999).
Apocalypse(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
The term "apocalypse" refers to the end of time. One of the biggest differences between the Eastern thought of, for example, Hinduism and Buddhism and the Western thought of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is the concept of time. Followers of Western, monotheistic religions tend to view time as linear, with a beginning and end, and often have a difficult time even imagining another way of thinking. It just seems obvious, under such a frame of reference, that everything started at some time in the past and will end at some time in the future. In religions arising out of Eastern thought, however, time is circular, repeating itself endlessly. For most of humankind's existence, linear thinking was not even an option.
When thinking in terms of a beginning and an end, however, the mind immediately jumps to how the end will come and what happens next. The study of the end of time is called eschatology. When visions of the end were experienced and written down, usually in intricate symbolism that only the initiated would understand, the writing was called apocalyptic writing. One notable book in this tradition is the book of Revelation in the Christian New Testament, often called the Apocalypse of Saint John. But there were many, many more books like this that didn't pass muster for the final biblical cut.
An early instance of apocalyptic writing appears in Persian Zoroastrianism. Zoroaster, called Zarathustra by the Greeks, lived in 550 BCE, though some sources place him as early as 1000 BCE. A good case can be made that the religion he founded was the first monotheistic religion. Although most people assume Judaism takes this honor, until the Babylonian captivity, when Jews first experienced Persian religion, their writing was filled with sentences such as, "Jehovah is a mighty God, and a great God above all gods" (Psalm 95:3). The phrase "all gods" suggests that Judaism was not yet monotheistic.
The principal concept of Zoroastrian apocalyptic writing is dualism. A battle between good and evil is being carried out on planet Earth. The good god, Ahura Mazda, is using humankind to bait Ahriman, the evil god, into the world. Ahriman will tempt humans, who, by resisting, will wear him down so that he can eventually be destroyed. History will end at the last judgment, and a new, purified Earth will be formed. Humans will be rewarded with Paradise, an ideal heavenly realm with a divine court abiding over the blessed, or hell, which is not eternal but will purify the wicked along with Earth. Just before this happens, Zoroaster will return as a prophet conceived by a virgin with his own seed, which has been stored in a mountain lake. A prophet will then appear in this way every thousand years until the final restoration of the world, three thousand years later.
When the Jews returned from the Babylonian/Persian captivity, their writings showed evidence of the kind of apocalyptic literature they encountered there. The later prophets of Judaism, beginning with Daniel, wrote with "good against evil" and "light against dark" imagery. The Dead Sea Scrolls left by the Essene community make it clear that apocalyptic theology was a potent force in their struggle against Roman oppression.
It may well have been a sense of apocalyptic curiosity that prompted some Zoroastrian priests, called "Magi" or "Wise Men," to make the long journey to Bethlehem. They had seen an astrological event in the heavens that signaled the birth of the "King of the Jews."
The Qur'an of Islam continues the tradition of monotheistic apocalyptic writing:
Then, on the Day of Judgment, he will cover them with shame, and say, "Where are my partners concerning whom ye used to dispute with the godly?" ... To those who do good, there is good in this world, and the Home of the righteous, gardens of Eternity which they will enter: beneath them flow pleasant rivers: they will have all that they wish: thus doth Allah reward the righteous, (namely) those whose lives the angels take in a state of purity, saying (to them), "peace be on you; enter ye the Garden, because of (the good) which ye did (in the world)." (16:27-32)
Apocalyptic literature of all monotheistic religions shares a sense of linear time, a fiery judgment delivered from the mouth of God or his messenger, rewards for the blessed, and punishment for the wicked. Believers look forward to the next life and a cessation of the bitterness of this one, with the hope of hearing something like: "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.... Whoever is thirsty, let him come" (Revelation 22:14, 17).
the Book of Revelation of the apostle John the Evangelist; a book of the New Testament, the oldest Christian work of literature that has been preserved.
The Apocalypse was written in the middle of A.D. 68 and early 69 (soon after the death of the Roman emperor Nero) by a Jew who became a Christian. According to the tradition of the church, the apostle John the Evangelist is author of the Apocalypse. The Apocalypse followed from the Prophetical Books of the Old Testament and has partially borrowed from the latter. In its content it drastically differs from other writings of the New Testament. The Apocalypse describes, through a series of fantastic visions that the author claims are “revelations” he received from god, the future of the world and of mankind: the allegedly impending struggle between the “heavenly host” and Antichrist, the “end of the world,” the “last judgment,” and the “thousand-year kingdom of God” on earth. The Apocalypse reflects the dissatisfaction and the rebellious sentiments of the Israelite people, who lived under the yoke of Rome and who hoped for an early end of the Roman Empire. But the Apocalypse expresses for the first time the ideas of long suffering and humility and calls for passively awaiting the outcome of the struggle between the divine forces and Antichrist, in the hope for god’s retribution—the “thousand-year kingdom of God.” The chiliastic sentiments (waiting for the thousand-year kingdom) expressed in the Apocalypse became very widespread in Christian sectarianism. For many centuries the reactionary forces of the church and the sects used the Apocalypse, with its mystical and terrifying scenes, as an ideological weapon to influence the minds of believers.
REFERENCESEngels, F. “Bruno Baueripervonachal’noekhristianstvo.” K. Marx and F. Engels. Soch. 2nd ed., vol. 19.
Engels, F. “Kniga otkroveniia.” Ibid., vol. 21.
Engels, F. “Kistoriipervonachal’novokhristianstva.’ Ibid., vol. 22.
Robertson, A. Proiskhozhdenie khristianstva. Moscow, 1959. (Translated from English.)
Rowley, H. H. Relevance of Apocalyptic. London-Redhill .
E. M. BARTOSHEVICH