Eschatology

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Four horsemen of the apocalypse, as depicted in the Apocalypse work by Albrecht Durer Durer Revelation Four Riders.jpg
Four horsemen of the apocalypse, as depicted in the Apocalypse work by Albrecht Dürer

Eschatology /ˌɛskəˈtɒləi/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ) is a part of theology concerned with the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity. This concept is commonly referred to as the "end of the world" or "end times". [1]

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The word arises from the Greek ἔσχατος eschatos meaning "last" and -logy meaning "the study of", and first appeared in English around 1844. [2] The Oxford English Dictionary defines eschatology as "the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind". [3]

In the context of mysticism, the term refers metaphorically to the end of ordinary reality and to reunion with the Divine. Many[ quantify ] religions treat eschatology as a future event prophesied in sacred texts or in folklore.

Most[ quantify ] modern eschatology and apocalypticism, both religious and secular, involves the violent disruption or destruction of the world; Christian and Jewish eschatologies view the end times as the consummation or perfection of God's creation of the world, [4] [ self-published source? ] albeit with violent overtures, such as the Great Tribulation. For example, according to some ancient Hebrew worldviews, reality unfolds along a linear path (or rather, a spiral path, with cyclical components that nonetheless have a linear trajectory); the world began with God and is ultimately headed toward God's final goal for creation, the world to come. [5]

Eschatologies vary as to their degree of optimism or pessimism about the future. In some eschatologies, conditions are better for some and worse for others, e.g. "heaven and hell". They also vary as to time frames. Groups claiming imminent eschatology are also referred to as doomsday cults.

Religion

Bahá'í

In Bahá'í belief, creation has neither a beginning nor an end; [6] Bahá'ís regard the eschatologies of other religions as symbolic. In Bahá'í belief, human time is marked by a series of progressive revelations in which successive messengers or prophets come from God. [7] The coming of each of these messengers is seen as the day of judgment to the adherents of the previous religion, who may choose to accept the new messenger and enter the "heaven" of belief, or denounce the new messenger and enter the "hell" of denial. In this view, the terms "heaven" and "hell" become symbolic terms for a person's spiritual progress and their nearness to or distance from God. [7] In Bahá'í belief, the coming of Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892), the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, signals the fulfilment of previous eschatological expectations of Islam, Christianity and other major religions. [8]

Buddhism

Christianity

Christian eschatology is the study concerned with the ultimate destiny of the individual soul and of the entire created order, based primarily upon biblical texts within the Old and New Testaments.

Christian eschatological research looks to study and discuss matters such as the nature of the Divine and the divine nature of Jesus Christ, death and the afterlife, Heaven and Hell, the Second Coming of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead, the Rapture, the Tribulation, Millennialism, the end of the world, the Last Judgment, and the New Heaven and New Earth in the world to come.

Eschatological passages occur in many places in the Bible, in both the Old and the New Testaments. In the Old Testament, apocalyptic eschatology can be found notably in Isaiah 24–27, Isaiah 56–66, Joel, Zechariah 9–14 as well as in the closing chapters of Daniel, and in Ezekiel. [9] In the New Testament, applicable passages include Matthew 24, Mark 13, the parable of "The Sheep and the Goats" and the Book of Revelation — Revelation often occupies a central place in Christian eschatology.

The Second Coming of Christ is the central event in Christian eschatology within the broader context of the fullness of the Kingdom of God. Most Christians believe that death and suffering will continue to exist until Christ's return. There are, however, various views concerning the order and significance of other eschatological events.

The Book of Revelation stands at the core of much of Christian eschatology. The study of Revelation is usually divided into four interpretative methodologies or hermeneutics:

Messianic Judaism

Hinduism

The Vaishnavite tradition links contemporary Hindu eschatology to the figure of Kalki, the tenth and last avatar of Vishnu. Before the age draws to a close Kalki will reincarnate as Shiva and simultaneously dissolve and regenerate the universe.

Most Hindus believe that the current period is the Kali Yuga, the last of four Yuga that make up the current age. Each period has seen successive degeneration in the moral order, to the point that in the Kali Yuga quarrel and hypocrisy are the norm. In Hinduism, time is cyclic, consisting of cycles or "kalpas". Each kalpa lasts for 4.32 billion years and is followed by a pralaya of equal length, which together makes one full day and night of Brahma's 100 360-year lifespan, who lives for 311 trillion, 40 billion years. The cycle of birth, growth, decay, and renewal at the individual level finds its echo in the cosmic order, yet is affected by vagaries of divine intervention in Vaishnavite belief.

Some Shaivites hold the view that Shiva is incessantly destroying and creating the world.[ citation needed ]

Islam

The sayings of the Prophet Muhammad regarding the Signs of the Day of Judgement document Islamic eschatology.

Diagram of "Plain of Assembly"(Ard al-Hashr) on the Day of Judgment, from autograph manuscript of Futuhat al-Makkiyya by Sufi mystic and philosopher Ibn Arabi, ca. 1238. Shown are the 'Arsh (Throne of God), pulpits for the righteous (al-Aminun), seven rows of angels, Gabriel (al-Ruh), A'raf (the Barrier), the Pond of Abundance, al-Maqam al-Mahmud (the Praiseworthy Station; where the prophet Muhammad will stand to intercede for the faithful), Mizan (the Scale), As-Sirat (the Bridge), Jahannam (Hell) and Marj al-Jannat (Meadow of Paradise). Ibn arabi judgement day.svg
Diagram of "Plain of Assembly"(Ard al-Hashr) on the Day of Judgment, from autograph manuscript of Futuhat al-Makkiyya by Sufi mystic and philosopher Ibn Arabi, ca. 1238. Shown are the 'Arsh (Throne of God), pulpits for the righteous (al-Aminun), seven rows of angels, Gabriel (al-Ruh), A'raf (the Barrier), the Pond of Abundance, al-Maqam al-Mahmud (the Praiseworthy Station; where the prophet Muhammad will stand to intercede for the faithful), Mizan (the Scale), As-Sirāt (the Bridge), Jahannam (Hell) and Marj al-Jannat (Meadow of Paradise).

The Prophet's sayings on the subject have been traditionally divided[ by whom? ] into Major and Minor Signs. He spoke about several Minor Signs of the approach of the Day of Judgment, including:

Regarding the Major Signs, a Companion of the Prophet narrated: "Once we were sitting together and talking amongst ourselves when the Prophet appeared. He asked us what it was we were discussing. We said it was the Day of Judgment. He said: 'It will not be called until ten signs have appeared: Smoke(Ad Dukhan), Dajjal (the Antichrist), the creature (that will wound the people), the rising of the sun in the West, the Second Coming of Jesus, the emergence of Gog and Magog, and three sinkings (or cavings in of the earth): one in the East, another in the West and a third in the Arabian Peninsula.'" (note: the previous events were not listed[ by whom? ] in the chronological order of appearance)[ citation needed ]

Judaism

Jewish eschatology discusses events that will happen in the end of days, according to the Hebrew Bible and Jewish thought. This includes the ingathering of the exiled diaspora, the coming of the Jewish Messiah, afterlife, and the revival of the dead Tzadikim.

Judaism usually refers to the end times as the "end of days" (aḥarit ha-yamim, אחרית הימים), a phrase that appears several times in the Tanakh. The idea of a messianic age has a prominent place in Jewish thought and is incorporated as part of the end of days.

Judaism addresses the end times in the Book of Daniel and in numerous other prophetic passages in the Hebrew scriptures, and also in the Talmud, particularly Tractate Avodah Zarah.

Old Norse religion

Taoism

Zoroastrianism

Frashokereti is the Zoroastrian doctrine of a final renovation of the universe when evil will be destroyed, and everything else will then be in perfect unity with God (Ahura Mazda). The doctrinal premises are:

  1. Good will eventually prevail over evil.
  2. Creation, initially perfectly good, was subsequently corrupted by evil.
  3. The world will ultimately be restored to the perfection it had at the time of creation.
  4. The "salvation for the individual depended on the sum of [that person's] thoughts, words and deeds, and there could be no intervention, whether compassionate or capricious, by any divine being to alter this". Thus each human bears the responsibility for the fate of his own soul, and simultaneously shares in the responsibility for the fate of the world. [18]

Analogies in science and philosophy

Futures studies and transhumanism

Researchers in futures studies and transhumanists investigate how the accelerating rate of scientific progress may lead to a "technological singularity" in the future that would profoundly and unpredictably change the course of human history, and result in Homo sapiens no longer being the dominant life form on Earth. [19] [20] [ improper synthesis? ]

Astronomy

A diagram showing the life cycle of the Sun Solar Life Cycle.svg
A diagram showing the life cycle of the Sun

Occasionally the term "physical eschatology" is applied to the long-term predictions of astrophysics. [21] [22] The Sun will turn into a red giant in approximately 6 billion years. Life on Earth will become impossible due to a rise in temperature long before the planet is actually swallowed up by the Sun. [23] Even later, the Sun will become a white dwarf.

See also

Related Research Articles

Armageddon According to the Book of Revelation, the site of a battle during the end times

According to the Book of Revelation in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, Armageddon is the prophesied location of a gathering of armies for a battle during the end times, variously interpreted as either a literal or a symbolic location. The term is also used in a generic sense to refer to any end of the world scenario. In Islamic theology, the Armageddon is also mentioned in Hadith as the Greatest Armageddon or Al-Malhama Al-Kubra.

Christian eschatology, a major branch of study within Christian theology, deals with "last things". Such eschatology - the word derives from two Greek roots meaning "last" (ἔσχατος) and "study" (-λογία) - involves the study of "end things", whether of the end of an individual life, of the end of the age, of the end of the world or of the nature of the Kingdom of God. Broadly speaking, Christian eschatology focuses on the ultimate destiny of individual souls and of the entire created order, based primarily upon biblical texts within the Old and New Testaments.

Islamic eschatology Islamic theology concerning life after death and the "Day of Judgment"

Islamic eschatology is the aspect of Islamic theology incorporating the afterlife and the end of the world, with special emphasis in the Qur'an on the inevitability of resurrection, the final judgment, and the eternal division of the righteous and the wicked, which take place on the Day of Resurrection or Day of Judgement. In Islamic eschatology, the Day of Judgement is characterized by the annihilation of all life, which will then be followed by the resurrection and judgment by God. Multiple verses in the Qur'an mention the Last Judgment.

Messiah Saviour or liberator of a group of people, most commonly in the Abrahamic religions

In Abrahamic religions, a messiah or messias is a saviour or liberator of a group of people. The concepts of mashiach, messianism, and of a Messianic Age originated in Judaism, and in the Hebrew Bible; a mashiach (messiah) is a king or High Priest traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil. Messiahs were not exclusively Jewish: the Book of Isaiah refers to Cyrus the Great, king of the Achaemenid Empire, as a messiah for his decree to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple.

Millennialism or chiliasm is a belief advanced by some religious denominations that a Golden Age or Paradise will occur on Earth prior to the final judgment and future eternal state of the "World to Come".

Prophet Person claiming to speak for a divine being

In religion, a prophet is an individual who is regarded as being in contact with a divine being and is said to speak on that entity's behalf, serving as an intermediary with humanity by delivering messages or teachings from the supernatural source to other people. The message that the prophet conveys is called a prophecy.

Revelation The revealing or disclosing of some form of truth or knowledge through communication with a deity or other supernatural entity

In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing of some form of truth or knowledge through communication with a deity or other supernatural entity or entities.

Second Coming Belief regarding the return of Jesus after his ascension

The Second Coming is a Christian, Islamic, Baháʼí and Messianic Jewish belief regarding the return of Jesus after his ascension to heaven about two thousand years ago. The idea is based on messianic prophecies and is part of most Christian eschatologies.

In Christian eschatology, the Great Tribulation is a period mentioned by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse as a sign that would occur in the time of the end.

Last Judgment Part of the eschatological world view of the Abrahamic religions and in the Frashokereti of Zoroastrianism

The Last Judgment or The Day of the Lord is part of the eschatological world view of the Abrahamic religions and in the Frashokereti of Zoroastrianism.

The end time is a future described variously in the eschatologies of several world religions, which teach that world events will reach a climax.

Christianity and other religions Christianitys relationship with other world religions, and the differences and similarities.

Christianity and other religions documents Christianity's relationship with other world religions, and the differences and similarities.

Apocalyptic literature is a genre of prophetical writing that developed in post-Exilic Jewish culture and was popular among millennialist early Christians. Apocalypse is a Greek word meaning "revelation", "an unveiling or unfolding of things not previously known and which could not be known apart from the unveiling".

Apocalypticism Religious belief in an imminent end of the world

Apocalypticism is the religious belief that there will be an apocalypse, a term which originally referred to a revelation, but now it usually refers to the belief that the end of the world is imminent, even within one's own lifetime. This belief is usually accompanied by the idea that civilization will soon come to a tumultuous end due to some sort of catastrophic global event. These views and movements often focus on cryptic revelations about a sudden, dramatic, and cataclysmic intervention of God in history; the judgment of all men; the salvation of the faithful elect; and the eventual rule of the elect with God in a renewed heaven and earth. Arising initially in Zoroastrianism, apocalypticism was developed more fully in Judaic, Christian, and Islamic eschatological speculation.

New Jerusalem Ezekiels prophetic vision of a city centered on the rebuilt Holy Temple

In the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible, New Jerusalem is Ezekiel's prophetic vision of a city centered on the rebuilt Holy Temple, the Third Temple, to be established in Jerusalem, which would be the capital of the Messianic Kingdom, the meeting place of the twelve tribes of Israel, during the Messianic era. The prophecy is recorded by Ezekiel as having been received on Yom Kippur of the year 3372 of the Hebrew calendar.

Covenant in the Baháʼí Faith refers to two separate binding agreements between God and man. A Covenant in the religious sense is a binding agreement made between God and man wherein a certain behaviour is required of man and in return God guarantees certain blessings. The concept of a covenant has been found in various religious scriptures including numerous covenant references in the Bible. In the Baháʼí Faith there is a distinction between a Greater Covenant which is made between every messenger from God and his followers concerning the next dispensation, and a Lesser Covenant that concerns successorship of authority within the religion after the messenger dies.

Progressive revelation is a core teaching in the Baháʼí Faith that suggests that religious truth is revealed by God progressively and cyclically over time through a series of divine Messengers, and that the teachings are tailored to suit the needs of the time and place of their appearance. Thus, the Baháʼí teachings recognize the divine origin of several world religions as different stages in the history of one religion, while believing that the revelation of Baháʼu'lláh is the most recent, and therefore the most relevant to modern society.

Continuous revelation or continuing revelation is a theological belief or position that God continues to reveal divine principles or commandments to humanity.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to theology:

Prophets and messengers in Islam Individuals who Muslims believe were sent by God to various communities in order to serve as examples of ideal human behavior and to spread Gods message on Earth

Prophets in Islam are individuals who were sent by God to various communities in order to serve as examples of ideal human behavior and to spread God's message on Earth. Some prophets are categorized as messengers, those who transmit divine revelation through the intercession of an angel. Muslims believe that many prophets existed, including many not mentioned in the Quran. The Quran states: "There is a Messenger for every community". Belief in the Islamic prophets is one of the six articles of the Islamic faith.

References

  1. "BBC - Religions - Christianity: End Times". BBC Online . 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2017-11-10.
  2. Dictionary – Definition of Eschatology. Webster's Online Dictionary.
  3. "Eschatology, n.", def. a, Oxford English Dictionary . Retrieved 2016-05-18.
  4. Williams, Sean (2009). The Big Picture. Making Sense Out of Life and Religion. Lulu.com. p.  91. ISBN   9780578015231.[ self-published source ]
  5. Sofroniou, Andreas (2017). p. 77.
  6. Smith, Peter (2008). An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith. Cambridge University Press. p.  112. ISBN   0-521-86251-5.
  7. 1 2 Smith, Peter (2000). "Eschatology". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp.  133–134. ISBN   1-85168-184-1.
  8. Buck, Christopher (2004). "The Eschatology of Globalization: The Multiple Messiahship of Bahá'u'lláh Revisited (pp. 143–178)". In Sharon, Moshe (ed.). Studies in Modern Religions, Religious Movements and the Bābī-Bahā'ī Faiths. Boston: Brill. ISBN   9004139044.
  9. Bauckham, R. J. (1996). "Apocalyptic". In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible Dictionary (3rd ed., p. 53). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  10. Tyndale, William, Parable of the Wicked Mammon, c. 1526, (facsimile copy of later printing, no ISBN number, Benediction Classics, 2008)at pages 4-5
  11. Luther, Martin, "Sermon for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity; Matthew 24:15-28", Church Postil, 1525
  12. J. H. Merle D'aubigne's History of the Reformation of the Sixteen Century, book vi, chapter xii, p. 215.
  13. Calvin, John, "Lecture Fifty-Second", Commentary on Daniel, Volume
  14. "Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible: Matthew: Matthew Chapter 24". www.sacred-texts.com.
  15. All Roads Lead to Rome, by Michael de Semlyen. Dorchestor House Publications, p. 205. 1991
  16. Gregg, Steven (1997). Revelation: Four Views. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishing. p. 34. ISBN   978-0840721280.
  17. Begley, Wayne E. The Garden of the Taj Mahal: A Case Study of Mughal Architectural Planning and Symbolism, in: Wescoat, James L.; Wolschke-Bulmahn, Joachim (1996). Mughal Gardens: Sources, Places, Representations, and Prospects Dumbarton Oaks, Washington D.C., ISBN   0884022358. pp. 229-231.
  18. Boyce, Mary (1979), Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, pp. 27–29, ISBN   978-0-415-23902-8 .
  19. Sandberg, Anders. An overview of models of technological singularity
  20. "h+ Magazine | Covering technological, scientific, and cultural trends that are changing human beings in fundamental ways". Hplusmagazine.com. Archived from the original on 2010-12-23. Retrieved 2011-09-09.
  21. Ćirković, Milan M. "Resource letter: PEs-1: physical eschatology." American Journal of Physics 71.2 (2003): 122–133.
  22. Baum, Seth D. "Is humanity doomed? Insights from astrobiology." Sustainability 2.2 (2010): 591–603.
  23. Zeilik, M.A.; Gregory, S.A. (1998). Introductory Astronomy & Astrophysics (4th ed.). Saunders College Publishing. p. 322. ISBN   0-03-006228-4.

Further reading