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Primary Sources:  The writings and imagery that have formed and fueled apocalyptic belief for over two millennia
Apocalyptic Literature in Judaism and Early  Christianity
A summary of some key examples of Apocalypse literature during this period, and where the Apocalypse of John (Revelation) fits into this early history.
First Enoch
This is an early Jewish apocalyptic text (about 250 BCE) which was written by an anonymous Jew who wrote under the name of Enoch. It borrowed images from Greek mythology which were to resonate through apocalyptic literature down to the Book of Revelation. These images included Satan, Hades, the fallen angels and the conflict of good and evil.
Book of Daniel (Excerpts)
The only true apocalypse in the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Daniel is believed to have been written soon after the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem by erecting a statue of Zeus. The Book of Daniel is set four centuries earlier during the Babylonian captivity and tells the story of Daniel, a Jew in exile during this time, who receives revelatory visions. In chapter 2, exerpted here, Daniel's vision gives him a key to interpret a dream of the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar which foretells the rise and fall of four kingdoms, beginning with the downfall of Babylon itself. In chapter 7, Daniel himself becomes the dreamer, receiving cryptic visions of beasts and heavenly creatures in battle. Chapter 11 offers a complicated prophecy of a final dramatic battle between "the king of the north" and "the king of the south."
The Essenes War Scroll
The final end time battle between the forces of good and evil was envisioned by the Essenes in their War Scroll. The Essenes were an apocalyptic Jewish sect of the second century BCE; their War Scroll was discovered in 1947 among the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Nag Hammadi.
The Revelation to John (Apocalypse)
With vivid imagery of judgment and damnation, redemption and deliverance, Revelation--the last book of the New Testament-- presents the final cosmic confrontation between Satan and the forces of evil, and God and the forces of good. This imagined struggle between good and evil has not only shaped historical events--from the Crusades to the Third Reich--it has shaped the collective consciousness of the West for nearly twenty centuries.
Mark 13 -- The Little Apocalypse
This chapter of the Gospel of Mark is known as the "Little Apocalypse" because it includes Jesus' descriptions of the signs of the coming of the end times, and his warning to his followers that they will suffer tribulation and persecution before the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of God.
Letter on the Origin and Time of the Antichrist
This treatise was written about 950 by the monk Adso of Montier-En-Der at the request of Queen Gerbera of France; she wanted clarification on the rise and life of the Antichrist. Adso wrote his answer to her in the form of a saint's life. It is an important document in the history of apocalypticism because it summarizes the traditional stories of the Antichrist in an accessible and popular way. It also helped establish the idea of the "Last World Emperor," who will unite Christianity and defeat the Muslims before the Antichrist arises.
Joachim of Fiore's Overlapping Ages  (Chart)
In this chart, Joachim illustrates his theory of the three overlapping eras of history. The first era, the time of the Father, was the age of the Old Testament. The second is the time of Christ, in which Joachim believed he was living. The third and final era would be the age of the Spirit, a monastic era of contemplation, which would come after the crisis precipitated by the reign of the Antichrist.
Scivias -- Vision Seven: The Devil  (With Images)
Hildegard (1098-1179) was a Benedictine abbess who documented her allegorical visions and apocalyptic prophecies in text and illuminations. Her most famous work, written over the course of ten years (1141-51). is Scivias (short for "Scito vias Domini," "know the ways of the Lord,"). In this excerpt, Hildegard describes her vision of the devil embodied as a monstrous worm. After her description, she interprets some of the key images.
A City Upon a Hill
The Puritan leader John Winthrop was the first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. As he sailed towards the New World on the "Arbella" in the spring of 1630, he composed a sermon in which he exhorted the colonists to form a community based on the Christian values of love and kindness, in order to fulfill their divinely ordered destiny to build "a Citty upon a Hill" in New England.
William Miller's  Advertisement  (Reproduction)
This 1842 flyer advertised a tent meeting in which William Miller and another preacher would debate the date on which the world would end. Miller had come up with a new key to unlocking the meaning of the Book of Revelation; his discovery pointed to the actual date for the end of the world.
Mein Kampf
Adolf Hitler's personal manifesto, Mein Kampf, conveys Hitler's apocalyptic language. In this excerpt, Hitler seems to paraphrase the Book of Daniel, when, instead of the Beast, he says "the Jews will one day devour the other nations and become lords of the earth."
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