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the branch of theology or biblical exegesis concerned with the end of the world
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the religious doctrine of the final destiny of the world and mankind. Individual eschatology, or the doctrine of life after death of the individual human soul, should be distinguished from universal eschatology, which is concerned with the purpose of the cosmos and history, with their end, and with that which comes after their end.

Ancient Egypt played an important part in the development of individual eschatology, and universal eschatology owes much to Judaism, which focuses on a mystical interpretation of history as a rational process directed by the will of a personal god: history, directed by god, must overcome itself in the coming of the “new heaven and new earth.” Individual eschatology becomes a part of universal eschatology, for the coming of “the age to come” will be the time of the resurrection of the righteous.

Christian eschatology grew out of a Judaic eschatology freed of national aspirations and supplemented by classical, Egyptian, and Zoroastrian eschatological motifs. It proceeded from the belief that the eschatological era had already begun with Jesus Christ (the Messiah). With his first coming, history comes to an end only “invisibly” and continues to last, albeit in the shadow of the end; his second coming (when the Messiah is to judge the living and the dead) will make the end a visible reality.

New Testament eschatology expressed itself in complex symbols and parables, eschewing clarity; nevertheless, the medieval consciousness created a detailed picture of the afterworld, as reflected in countless apocryphal stories and “visions.” On the level of graphically apprehended myths, eschatological motifs are often shared by different religions, such as Islam and Catholicism. With the onset of the age of capitalism, some of the functions, motifs, and themes of eschatology were taken over by the ideology of utopia.


Dieterich, A. Nekyia. Leipzig, 1893.
Bultmann, R. History and Eschatology. Edinburgh, 1957.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The economic model introduced by Paul rests on the eschatalogical conviction of the new life through resurrection, because only this kind of experience provides a pledge that human labour will not be in vain, and renders the believers able to excel in good works (1 Cor.
Since the appearance in the early 16th--century of Sir Thomas More's Latin dialogue Utopia, there have been more Platonic and eschatalogical than utopian works in Italian.
A Great Expectation: Eschatalogical Thought in English Protestantism to 1660.
The threat of coming judgement (2:1; 11:2) iS far more than a moral shell emptied of eschatalogical content--it remains a real one and betrays a sectarian communal identity (note the address to the community as `paroikoi' in the Prescript) conscious of its separation from the world (a tone, one ought to observe in passing, quite different from what one finds in the Pastoral Epistles).
But the death of Marxism should have made him suspicious of such eschatalogical thinking, however hedged and restrained it might be.
On the other hand, does our eschatalogical hope demand that we envision and work for an undifferentiated new humanity?
Clarke Garrett's conclusion is right on target: "political events became eschatalogical events, and dangers and misfortunes became simply the chastisements a fallen world must undergo before it could be regenerated at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ" (13).
An eschatalogical concept held as an article of faith for 1,800
Believing that the purity of the church was only an eschatalogical prospect, Augustine insisted on maintaining a distinction between the ideal of a virginal church and the present ecclesial reality.(67)
In proceeding in the traditional order from creation to reconciliation and eschatalogical consummation, Pannenberg has to insert time and again sections which deal with the process of the divine economy from the perspective of its conclusion.