Apocalyptic Eschatology in the Ancient World

John J. Collins

in The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology

Published in print December 2007 |
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

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The category of “apocalyptic literature” was invented by the German New Testament scholar Friedrich Lücke in 1832 in the context of an introduction to the Book of Revelation. Lücke identified a small number of Jewish apocalyptic writings (Daniel, 1 Enoch, 4 Ezra, and the Sibylline Oracles) and also discussed some Christian apocalypses such as the Ascension of Isaiah. With the resurgence of interest in biblical theology after World War I, interest in the non-canonical literature subsided. A new wave of interest in this material arose in the 1960s, stimulated in part by the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls. As yet, there has been relatively little sociological study of ancient apocalypticism, arguably because the data are inadequate. Perhaps the most urgent desideratum, however, is that the progress made in this area be brought to bear on the study of eschatology in the Hebrew Bible and especially in early Christianity. This article discusses apocalyptic eschatology in the ancient world. It considers the origins of apocalypticism, Zoroastrianism and apocalypticism, apocalyptic writings as a development of biblical prophecy, and wisdom and apocalypticism.

Keywords: New Testament; ancient world; apocalypticism; Zoroastrianism; biblical prophecy; wisdom; apocalypses; Dead Sea Scrolls

Article.  7659 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Religion in the Ancient World

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