What Is Apocalyptic Literature? The Evolutionary Overview
Apocalyptic literature is a type of literature in JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY, and GNOSTICISM. An apocalyptic guide known as an apocalypse. The finest recognized apocalypse is the NEW TESTAMENT guide of REVELATION.
The phrase “apocalyptic” comes from a Greek phrase which means “to uncover,” thus “to reveal something that is hidden.” The second which means is an effective indication of what apocalyptic literature does. Apocalyptic literature gives information to which people in any other case wouldn’t have entry. It usually claims that its information comes from one—or each—of two sources. One supply is a imaginative and prescient that an individual on Earth has of the non secular realm. A very good instance is the second half of the guide of DANIEL within the Hebrew BIBLE (Daniel 7–12). A second supply for apocalyptic information is a journey into HEAVEN. Beginning in chapter 4, the writer of the New Testament guide of Revelation is mainly taking a guided tour of the non secular realm.
Whether they see visions or journey to heaven, those that are privileged to have these experiences want assist in understanding what they encounter. That is as a result of what they encounter combines pure options in uncommon and obscure methods. For instance, Daniel sees a ram with horns of various sizes and a goat with one horn. The goat defeats the ram, loses its horn, and positive factors 4 extra horns. Just a little horn grows out of one of many 4 horns. Then it disrupts the SACRIFICES to “the prince of the host” (Daniel 8.1–14). Daniel says that the ANGEL Gabriel helped him perceive this imaginative and prescient (Daniel 8.15–17). Indeed, the authors of apocalyptic literature typically declare that non secular intermediaries, equivalent to angels, helped them perceive what they encountered.
Many Jewish and Christian apocalypses present a particular take a look at the course of world historical past. They typically speak about intervals of historical past, and so they affiliate these intervals with incredible symbols, such because the horns in Daniel 8. They additionally envision a time when the current world of struggling and distress will probably be reworked or obliterated and a brand new world of pleasure and bliss will take its place. From such apocalyptic expectations, Jewish people within the late Second Temple interval (200 B.C.E.–70 C.E.) started to hope for a MESSIAH.
Gnostic apocalypses are considerably completely different. That is due to the way in which Gnostics consider the world and SALVATION. Like Christians, Gnostics envision a liberation from the current existence. But they don’t join that liberation with the course of historical past. They envision it as a liberating of components of sunshine and goodness which might be combined up with darkness and evil. Gnostic apocalypses, then, have a tendency to speak not about historical past however about metaphysics. They describe the hidden world past the world wherein we stay, and so they describe what occurs to the liberated soul.
Almost all apocalypses are “pseudonymous.” That signifies that, though they declare to be written by well-known people prior to now, they don’t seem to be so. The guide of Daniel is one instance. Although Daniel claims to stay through the Babylonian exile, his guide’s content material makes it clear that it was really written in regards to the time of the Maccabean revolt (167–164 B.C.E.). Many apocalypses outside the Bible declare to be written by such well-known ﬁgures as ADAM, Enoch, NOAH, ABRAHAM, MOSES, or, among the many Gnostics, PETER, PAUL, and James. The New Testament guide of Revelation is an exception. Its writer really identiﬁ es himself as John. Scholars debate whether or not this John had any relation to the apostle John.
The prophecies that apocalypses comprise are very useful in exhibiting after they had been written. Apocalypses typically describe in very ﬁgurative language the latest historical past of the people amongst whom the author of the apocalypse lived. The guide of Daniel gives a great instance. The ram in Daniel Eight might be the Persian Empire, made up of Persians and Medes (the 2 horns). The goat might be Alexander the Great. Alexander’s empire cut up into 4 components (the 4 horns). From one of many horns, the Seleucids, got here Antiochus IV. In 167 B.C.E. Antiochus outlawed conventional Jewish sacriﬁ ces and constructed an ALTAR to ZEUS within the Temple (“the abomination that desolates” of Daniel 9.27).
That sparked the Maccabean revolt. Daniel’s imaginative and prescient predicts this abomination will final only one,150 days. Indeed, after about three and a half years the Maccabeans expelled the Seleucids and rededicated the temple. That occasion is widely known within the Jewish competition of HANUKKAH.
Some students speculate that apocalyptic literature has roots in ZOROASTRIANISM. Zoroastrianism was the ofﬁcial faith of the Persians, who freed the Jewish people from exile in Babylon. It envisions a ﬁnal battle wherein good defeats evil. Apocalyptic literature additionally has its roots within the visions of historic prophets. A very good instance is ISAIAH’s imaginative and prescient of GOD’s heavenly throne (Isaiah 6).
The earliest apocalypse could also be as outdated because the 300s B.C.E. But most Jewish apocalypses addressed the unsure time from the Maccabean revolt to the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. Apocalyptic considering assured people whose political fortunes had been unsure that God was on their facet. After 70 C.E. rabbinical Judaism largely rejected apocalyptic considering.
Apocalyptic considering additionally appealed to a unique motion that grew out of late Second Temple Judaism: Christianity. The GOSPELS of Matthew, Mark, and Luke ascribe a minor apocalypse to Jesus himself (Mark 13.5–37 and parallel passages). It appears to refer to the siege of JERUSALEM and the destruction of the Temple. The New Testament guide of Revelation is just one of a number of apocalypses that the earliest Christians used. Ancient Gnostics additionally wrote apocalyptic literature. Three of them—the apocalypses of Peter, Paul, and James—had been discovered among the many Nag Hammadi Codices in 1945.
At the tip of the 20th century apocalyptic literature nonetheless exercised its fascination. It did so in a number of methods.
Many fundamentalist Christians adopted a standpoint generally known as “dispensationalism”. They divided historical past into a number of “dispensations” and skim biblical prophecies, particularly the guide of Revelation, as predicting present occasions. Some latest widespread literature has made a lot of the RAPTURE, an apocalyptic motif.
Apocalyptic concepts and pictures usually are not, nevertheless, restricted to these Christians. A well-liked guide about indigenous Americans, Black Elk Speaks, data an amazing imaginative and prescient that resembles historic apocalyptic literature in lots of respects. Science ﬁction additionally develops apocalyptic themes.