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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
This is understood in contradistinction to "eschatological realism" as the major theological position within the WCC today - as personified by the present general secretary.
argues that the blessed in heaven continue in the "eschatological project of offering and accepting forgiveness," of healing the rifts that endure in the communion of saints "not as sin but as the effects of sin" that mark their identities as perpetrators and victims (168).
Christians thus understand themselves to be a community of those redeemed by the "eschatological saving event of Jesus Christ." (15) Because of his work, the kingdom of God has come near, has broken into our reality.
The dominant currents of twentieth century New Testament scholarship combined historical skepticism and an eschatological thesis, Borg observed, but this interpretation, besides crediting the wrong texts and misinterpreting others, made Jesus seem strange and irrelevant.
Concerned more with generational responsibility than an eschatological obsession with decline, the discourse on "youth" and the "Rising Generation" encompassed social and political training that extended beyond jeremiads.
McNicol's book offers an analysis of the eschatological discourses in the synoptic gospels (Matthew 24; Luke 21; Mark 13) from the point of view of the Two Gospel (or Griesbach) hypothesis.
He covers rediscovering the Essenes in the story of Christian origins, the community of the new covenant, the anointed prophet, the eschatological teacher, and beyond the Essenes.
The essays consider the eschatological and soteriological themes that run through his writing and how, as a Marxist, he engaged them with an eye toward earthly existence.