Defining Apocalyptic Literature

What is Apocalyptic Literature? The problem western pop-Christianity has re-defined apocalyptic to refer only to “the end of the world as we know it.” Some students want to read Revelation as if it was in the same genre as The Book of Eli or The Road. Those two films are excellent examples of the modern genre of post-apocalyptic. Some disaster has happened which has nearly wiped out most of the world forcing a tiny community of surviving humans to struggles against extinction.Apocalyptic Literature

But that is not at all what the genre of apocalyptic was in the Second Temple Period. From about 250 B.C. to about A.D. 250, the genre of apocalyptic flourished. Both Jews and Christians wrote apocalypses in order to deal with the rapidly changing world. These books look at the recent past and current events using spectacular imagery in order to
provide hope for the future. In this sense, a story like The Book of Eli functions the same way since despite the almost universal evil in the world, there is some hope a the end of the story that humans will survive and create an ideal community.

David Noel Freedman once said apocalyptic is “born of crisis – from the start it was underground literature, the consolation of the persecuted” (Journal for Theology and Church 6 [1979]: 173). Christian and Jewish apocalyptic reflects a crisis of faith. The world is evil and most people are living ignorantly in the darkness. Evil is oppressing the small minority of righteous. Yet this literature always ends with the hope of God’s justice. The righteous will be rewarded and the evil oppressors will be condemned.

In the introduction to his recent collection of essays on apocalyptic literature, John Collins sketches recent attempts to define apocalyptic, settling on “a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial insofar as it involves another supernatural world” (Apocalypse, Prophecy and Pseudepigraphy, 4). This definition preserves both the revelatory aspect of apocalyptic, but also some eschatology which many think is the whole purpose of apocalyptic.

But can apocalyptic be a kind of protest literature? Do the visions of Daniel, the quintessential apocalyptic book in the Hebrew Bible, offer protest against the empire (whether Babylon, Persia, the Greeks or later the Romans)? If apocalyptic was popular during the Hasmonean dynasty and the advent of the Romans, how did books like 1 Enoch offer both comfort and protest against “the evil powers of this world”?


39 thoughts on “Defining Apocalyptic Literature

  1. I’ve always liked Mitch Redding’s definition—”Apocalyptic literature is crisis literature.” This is, obviously, akin to the definition above and I think is a succinct and accurate description.

  2. I see how easy it would be to look at apocalyptic as a form of protesting against the current government. I can imagine this type of literature becoming banned by empires for this very reason. Perhaps there have been many more works of this apocalyptic type that were never published or were destroyed by the empires which they were about. The Hasmoneans were unique in the sense that they were sort of under the Seleucids, yet had a large amount of freedom after their successful rebellion. This line of thought also makes me wonder what line of progression changed the term apocalyptic from what we are discussing to the modern view of an end of the world. I would suspect the misinterpretation of Revelation as the standard for apocalyptic literature to be a key part in the transition. Revelation appears to be more of a final culmination of past apocalyptic works in the idea that apocalyptic works seek the removal of oppression. With time they are only replaced by new oppressive governments. Each Apocalyptic story that has come true can be seen as the end of its own small story. Revelation is the end of the entire story and the entirety of the world as we know it. The fact that many stories today look to “the end of the world” as apocalyptic shows that society has come to learn that though there are small apocalyptic victories they are not fulfilling. World ending apocalypses seek to end this cycle of little victories. Without a belief in God this often ends in the doom of humanity or a sort of restart from scratch for humanity. With God this ends as in revelation with a final and just kingdom.

    • I enjoy the perspective that you have in understanding apocalyptic literature and how it would be seen from the outside as rabble rousing. Apocalyptic literature is hard to understand up front partially for the safety of the reader. It protects the people who have these writings because the literature more or less focuses on the ideals of these evil rulers instead of just stating who is being a bad ruler. So, if a Christian is reading Revelations out loud, someone listening would not hear Nero’s name spoken, but the Christian who is reading would have Nero’s name, possibly coming to mind. I wonder if this was an intention God had when He revealed Revelations to John.

  3. I do think that the apocalyptic literature was a huge protest towards mighty powers such as the Romans, Persians, and Greeks etc, within the Second Temple Period. It’s been mentioned profoundly that the powers of Rome, the Greeks and Persians were historically strong and powerful and had huge influence throughout their respected reigns (Tomasino, 69, 103). And because of the autonomy of these groups, and even groups of people such as the Hasmoneans, the pride of these groups would have immensely high. Therefore; when, apocalyptic literature came out such as the kind that came about within 1 Enoch, such as in 1 Enoch 1- 10, this may have been seen as protest to these types of powers. This may have been seen as protest because the oppressed people knew that God was stronger than the powers oppressing them and they knew God would eventually come to deliver them from harm, which also would have been comforting as well.

  4. I believe that apocalyptic literature definitely is for future hope for Judah. The Jews had to have been getting tired of their immoral rulers and longing for God to finally step in and rescue them. The Hasmonean dynasty had the potential for being their rescue from the issue of corrupt leaders, but they too ended up being power hungry kings. I wonder if because of this failure, part of the mindset of the apocalyptic literature was that only God alone can save the righteous remnant from the corrupt rulers of the world. Plus it is always exciting to get insight into new, secret knowledge.

  5. Out of personal preference, I prefer an American satirical game that founded itself on the idea of a post-apocalyptic world brought on by a nuclear war. You can have a lot of fun with the ‘end of the world’ in an ironic kind of way, but I believe that Daniel’s writings go beyond just defying against the government. It is entirely possible, however, because God has been known to protest against corrupt governments, churches, and people hovering over his people in one way or another. Blowing them up, or sending a prophet.
    I think that apocalyptic literature was founded on the basis of warning(at least, I believed when I was younger), but also the message of hope these intimidating writings and visions can carry. Not all is what it seems on the surface, especially if you interpret things literally for what they are.
    So perhaps Daniel was calling it early, history does tend to repeat itself but prophecy remains constant to the situation. However it could easily have been more, or less, than that.

  6. There is probably a sociology paper to be written on why Americans have embraced the Zombie Apocalypse at this particular time in American history.

  7. I enjoy looking at the subject of apocalyptic literature, even though when I try to say the word, I feel like I am potentially speaking in tongues. The contrast of doom and hope puzzles the heart and minds of the righteous who are facing great challenges, but at the core of apocalyptic literature is the hope that God will follow through. As you stated, “both Jews and Christians wrote apocalypes in order to deal with the rapidly changing world.” Because even though Gondor will be overrun by Orcs, the farmers on horseback will save them all, because there is a stronger force behind them. In modern times, it is not hard to look at situations and think of doom and destruction for the righteous. The themes that are displayed in Daniel and in Revelation are ideas meant for their day, but carry an overarching theme of when fires burn from evil men, God will put out the flames with their blood. Any superpower government has the ability of being the evil tyranny in apocalyptic literature. Political propaganda will always embrace the idea of an overlord superpower that is pulling the strings. The truth is out there, but it does not end on such a morbid note. Understanding the One who is, has been, and is yet to come brings a victorious hope. In many ways apocalyptic literature is the theological novacaine for the pains and struggles that pool together in striving to understand a God that loves us and still allows evil to rome the earth.

  8. Apocalyptic literature could easily be seen by some as a type of “protest” against an empire, government, rulers, and so on due to its content and common themes. Things such as a small band of “good” individuals reside in a world that has been taken over by some form of evil or “dark forces”, and they experience a “quest” or “journey” to either survive and or reach a new or safe destination where they can once again live in peace, etc. The book of Daniel, while not entirely “protest” in its nature, could possibly have included elements of it. Daniel used startling and vivid imagery to describe forces of power, such as general, kingdoms and empires. Daniel, as one can safely assume any person who has common sense and logic, knows that when given vast power, individuals often become mad and lose a sense of reality, continuously lusting after more and more power, never having enough. In Daniel 7, he uses words like “terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong” (Daniel 7:7). This type of power most often leads those in power to expect those lower in status than them to be completely subservient. If they choose to oppose a leader, they face impossible decisions: reject God by obeying wicked and evil commands they are ordered to do, or face fear-inducing deaths, such as being thrown into a furnace or cast into a den of lions. Whether or not Daniel intended aspects of his writing to be “protesting” in nature, what is more important to remember that books such as Daniel and Revelation were given to us to be warnings, warnings that if heeded, can ultimately affect our salvation. Also, these books, particularly Daniel, serve as a reminder to us that no matter what, God is faithful, and what he says will come to be true.

    • Hey Saxon, I think that the approach you took to apocalyptic literature and what Daniel and his friends went through was a very unique but accurate description of what it would have been like during those times. I think that when Daniel was giving the interpretations of his dreams that had come from God he was very confident in God’s power. I also agree very strongly with you that when people are given a large amount of power and might, they start to lose sight of reality and they begin to think of themselves much more highly than they ought to. And as believers we need to always remember to stay humble and to keep God at the forefront of our lives.

  9. I think it is very interesting how you pointed out the huge difference between how we view the topic of the apocalypse today, and how it was viewed hundreds of years ago. I think that in our modern day culture we have very easy lives that usually carry very little risk. And therefore we like to fantasize about the future and what terrible things might happen to us. (That’s why we make movies such as the Book of Eli). However, the way we view the apocalyptic genre today is very different from how they viewed it in biblical times. Back then they used this type of literature as a way to declare that in the end God will always be victorious and will have final judgement on the earth. Today we see the apocalypse as the terrible thing that ends us all, but a long time ago they say it as a form of hope. And with this in mind I think that as Christians today we really need to focus more on the hope that lies behind the end of times and what that means for all believers, instead of seeing the end as a terrible even that we just can’t get away from.

  10. Yes it is true when thinking of the word Apocalypse it is very true many people living in the world today would think of a movie they have seen about a future world. In fact my mind I must confess goes immediately to the divergent series I read in high school. But when it comes to us as Christians we should have a different mindset and view. Since the coming of Christ is a real life event that is not based on a non fiction futuristic story. But also with us being in the modern times and the most popular view of apocalypse being different from what it should mean based on the bible becomes. Why not use a different term that this generation can understand? but since this will most likely not happen and we will continue to use the same word the question becomes how do we make the bible, the return of Christ, the rapture real to those abound us? we must! and we can! if we try and relate to current situations instead of using this word Apocalypse we can relate it into our evangelism with a story or seaway into dropping the Jesus bomb and of course lead it into talking about the return of Christ or asking the very question, what will happen to you in the future what will happen when you die? what do you think the future will look like? With this very word we have the tools we need to relate to a generation who desperately needs to know, understand, and believe in Gods word.

  11. The word “Apocalypse” is actually quite an equivocal and confusing one. It can mean “the destruction of the world”, as most dictionaries put it, but it can also focus on the restoration of the world–meaning the righteous will be rewarded and the evil in the world will be punished. The word certainly becomes a lot more clear when we compare and contrast it to the word “eschatology”. Eschatology is an integral part of Christian theology, and it deals with the final state or condition of our universe. An apocalypse, on the other hand, is not a theological term, and it is most accurately defined as a genre of literature. Authors of apocalyptic literature typically write about how the world is going to come to an end, and the experiences that may surround this event. There is, however, a place for this type of literature within the Christian religion. The book of revelation, for example, is considered an apocalyptic book, and this was certainly not a rare thing to write during Biblical times. Many people find a lot of comfort in apocalyptic literature, especially if they are currently struggling with persecution and suffering. But there is an arrogant side to this kind of writing. For example, if a certain people group was suffering under the rule of a heinous emperor, someone might feel rather inspired to write an apocalyptic book that shows how, in the end, all will be destroyed–including the empire that they are suffering under. This would instill hope in the people, and it would indeed be a kind of protest that would allow the people to feel internally free from the rule of the empire.

  12. People are always trying to make sense of the world and how quickly culture and morals change, so it’s no surprise that books like The Book of Eli would be written to gain a better understanding of what is happening or going to happen. People are looking for hope within confusing, and sometimes even fearful, times. These books of apocalyptic literature such as Revelation and Daniel are indeed books of protest. They are protesting against the sinful world in which we dwell, waiting for a better, redeemed state of life. Those who are Christians know that there will be a time when Jesus will come back and finish the process of redemption that he had started for the world with his death. Verses such as Revelation 21:1-5 and Isaiah 65:25 show a restoration to how the world originally was and should be. Even if he doesn’t come back in their lifetime, Christians have hope knowing that they will be delivered from the bondage of this world at death and enter the new life with Christ. This then would show that Revelation and Daniel were both books that looked forward to a time when these things are fulfilled, and thus show that they are also books of protest against the empire of the day. As Christians now look at the world and wish for Christ’s return, the Jews also awaited a deliverance of the ungodly lifestyles that were being practiced around them by other empires. This would then make sense why other apocalyptic literature like 1 Enoch would cause hope because it pointed towards a future that was not under the rule of man, but that of God’s.

  13. I think that when you look at apocalyptic literature today we tend to think of movies the mad max or shows like the walking dead. Pop culture has turned apocalyptic literature into the world has sunk into lawlessness and humanity has gone back t living in tribes. We have adapted a genre of literature designed to help people who are suffering make sense of their world to a modern language or visual style to help us today make sense of our world. Biblically books like revelation were written to reach a people that were lost or needed to be counseled. Revelation gives us a look into the world that the Jewish people were living in using language that they may have understood.

  14. Apocalyptic literature I see as being a nationalistic way of sticking it to the man back in the day. It was their way of being unified under great persecution and oppression knowing that one day they will have the last say. They needed something to tangibly read, hold onto and lift their spirits during these times. Along with scripture, the apocrypha such as 1 Enoch served that purpose. It’s hard for us 21st century readers to understand it in this light considering what we know to be apocalyptic genre today. Knowing that this is what Revelation and Part of Daniel was meant to be helps us as readers appreciate the text more than just an obscure prediction of what the end times might look like. If only we were able to understand better the imagery being used, we might be able to get a better application out of it.

  15. Based in today’s class, I was reminded again that the book of Revelation was apocalyptic literature, or some scholars would say that when they read Revelation, they are doing eschatology, studying the end times. According to the end times, the believers win, and the non – believers get judged and go to hell for 1000 years and beyond.

    During the apocalypse, there will be a rapture. During the rapture, God will sweep us up, and we will meet him in the sky, and then he will bind Satan for 1000 years and throw him into the fire or as Greek would say, Haidas. Then, we will stand before the Great White Throne and give an account of what we did while we were on Earth and if it glorified Him. Then, some people would say we get a crown with the number of deeds we did. I don’t know how much of that is true.

    The Catholics, however, do not believe that once we go to heaven due to the rapture and then he comes back to Earth for the third time and judges the world because only the non – believers will be here to suffer and to establish his Kingdom. They believe that the rapture and God’s third coming will be at the same time.

    • “. During the rapture, God will sweep us up, and we will meet him in the sky, and then he will bind Satan for 1000 years…”

      Did you realize none of this in the book of Revelation?

  16. What popped out for me in this blog was the statement of ” Christians and Jewish apocalyptic reflects a crisis of faith.” Right away, this brought the fact that in our present time is what we have been dealing with. You can drive around your neighborhood and see almost in every corner of the block a church (exaggerating, but almost true), and the internal struggles of their own apocalyptic interpretation. Most often, when a crisis happens such as the “coronavirus,” the first thing people do is react with the apocalyptic response. As if what was mentioned in the book of Revelations is unveiling with plagues or pestilence end of the days’ effectiveness and reaction. The nature of apocalyptic approach, we need to consider the facts and the truth according Biblical scriptures and as well of what’s going on in our present day. One thing I cannot shake off is the fact that Dr. Long brought this issue up, “crisis of faith.” In all honesty, I can see this happening today. In what ways, should we comfort one another? When people react to apocalyptic events with such fear? There are too many interpretations of protest literature when using apocalyptic, that even today not many are alert or even care its happening or not. Some have use it to gain members in their church, or use the fear of the end is coming to gain finances etc. I say, most likely it has a protest approach of apocalyptic literature.

  17. It makes sense that apocalyptic literature was flourishing during an ancient time when everything was rapidly changing. Powers were rising and falling across the world, many people were enslaved or oppressed, and people wrote in response to what was going on around them. If everyone was living harmoniously together and things were perfect, there probably wouldn’t be much desire to write about the end times, because everything would seem just fine the way it is. But when there’s lots of conflict and turmoil amongst different people groups, it makes sense that they would look ahead to what the endgame would be, especially if they’re religious and believe that judgement will eventually come upon evil things. They would also have hope that when the evil are judged, the good will be rewarded or saved as well. This is basically what we see in apocalyptic literature. It is an opportunity for these people to speak up against the oppression they’re experiencing without directly bashing their rulers. It can be more vague and generalized statements about things that could happen as a result of the evil being done in that time. In this way, I think apocalyptic literature can sometimes also become protest literature. I don’t think it could be exclusively considered protest literature, since that isn’t necessarily the entire intent and purpose for it, but I think they can share similar qualities in some instances.

  18. Apocalyptic literature was most likely a radical type of writing from the time frame as it was probably way out there in terms of people being able to understand it. There was so much happening that was out of the ordinary for the current people and then the apocalyptic literature was coming out, they were probably scared for what was to come. Usually an apocalypse would happen after something substantial started. In this case, an empire was being protested. There’s a little bit of the same issue in our current day. We read Revelation as what’s to come and think that our current events are the events that are taking place in Revelation. Because of these events we, as Christians, really need to understand the book of Revelation. It has a lot to offer and it talks a lot about the future. If we can have a better understanding of the book, we start to become a little more comforted. We know that Jesus is on our side and that an apocalypse is not going to hurt us Christians. In that sense, it’s like the early day believers when they were reading 1 Enoch for comfort.

  19. In the current situation we face with the coronavirus (COVID-19) the word “Apocalypse” is right on the tip of the tongue for many people. Some even consider the fact that we may be in the end times. I have heard it said lately from Christians that we are in the Tribulation, going into the Tribulation, or, as it has been said since Christ’s Ascension, that Christ’s return will happen very soon. Either way, the depiction individuals have of the Apocalypse is largely due to popular culture defined by Cold War era literature that imagined a world destroyed by a nuclear war which led to an extremely small human population.
    The Apocalyptic world that people of our time imagine is far different than those of the time of Daniel or the time of John when he wrote Revelation. To the believer, the focus is not on physical death and destruction, but spiritual death and destruction. Daniel shares several accounts of the persecution and abuse that the individuals who still desired to follow God had in a land where the deity was the ruler. This, to them, was a form of Apocalypse that modern readers cannot completely understand. John writes in Revelation about the spiritual and moral corruption that would take place in the end times – in the final Apocalypse – but yet shows a world not of destruction because of their own accord, but one that had completely forsaken God (Rev. 9:20-21).
    The words that are told to Daniel and John, however, are very different and reflect different Dispensations. Daniel is told “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance” (Daniel 12:13), while John has a discourse with an angel who informs him that “the time is near” (Rev. 22:10). Both of these books, however, end with encouragement to the readers to live godly lives to show the Lord to those who have yet to know him (Daniel 12:10; Rev. 22:14-17).

  20. Apocalypse speech is common in today’s society and is often referenced in entertainment or through the media during a pandemic outbreak. Apocalyptical literature can be read in two different ways: with hope or with fear. Writers in the Bible who wrote this type of literature (Daniel, John, and the author of Hebrews) wrote for various reasons. Whether it was to warn or to give hope and clarity about the future, it is up to the reader and scholars to speculate. To say that the authors were writing in a lens of protest is an interesting view. Daniel writes about hope for the believers and for them to not fear this time of distress that is near (Daniel 12:1). During the COVID-19 pandemic Christian believers should also have the same approach of hope and assurance of life after death. It is interesting to see how both Daniel and John write about the fall of Babylon, but I believe that they were referencing different falls. Daniel writes about the “fall of Babylon” in a way of exile being over for Judah, but also alludes to the end times of the earth. John, on the other hand, writes about the “fall of Babylon” which could be a metaphor for people of great wealth, pride, and power because he speaks broader than the Babylonian empire, but of the “home for demons” (Revelation 18). Overall, this apocalyptical literature should give believers hope for the end times, rather than fear.

  21. Apocalyptic literature within the Bible has always been kind of confusing for me, as it probably is with most people. I am sure a large part of that is because of how culture defines apocalyptic literature today. We always think about the apocalypse and how it is the end of the world. It is hard to imagine it meaning anything other than that, but it really did for people living during the disciples lives. For them, it was not necessarily looking to the end of the world, but rather them looking to the future with hope that God would deliver them.
    Nowadays, the Apocalypse and Eschatology mean the same thing, there is no distinction. But in order to fully understand what the author of Revelation is writing, we need to understand the difference. Eschatology was how they viewed the end times, and apocalypse was just a style of writing that they used. Krietzer says that there is debate on the amount of overlap between the two, and many people will now say “apocalyptic eschatology” (Krietzer, 55-56). It is important to understand the aspect of hope for the future when reading Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature in order to completely understand what the author is saying.

  22. I am thankful for this blog post, for the definition and understanding of the meaning of apocalyptic literature in the Bible is something that has been difficult for me to grasp over my years at Grace Christian University. Apocalyptic literature is a common term that you hear during Bible classes, but it is something that I feel is not always easily defined. Therefore, this blog post was helpful and enlightening for me.

    Jobes (2011) defines apocalyptic as “A belief about history ending in divine judgment that will destroy the wicked and vindicate the oppressed righteous. Christianity is not the only religion with apocalyptic beliefs” (p. 451). This definition highlights the fact that apocalyptic literature will be literature in the Bible about an ending of divine judgement from God. It is interesting and important to note that Christianity is not the only religion or worldview that has apocalyptic thinking. Apocalyptic literature in the Bible is one area of apocalyptic literature, but other religions have apocalyptic literature as well. Obviously, we are discussing the apocalyptic literature in the New Testament, and even Old Testament, of the Bible, but I thought that it would be important to highlight that note about other religions when breaking down this definition from our course textbook.

    Having Easter just passed yesterday, it is interesting that I chose this blog post to study and comment on, for a comment in the blog post directly relates to the heart of the gospel and what is celebrated on Easter day. According to the blog post, apocalyptic literature always concludes with a substantial and meaningful dose of hope from God, despite the sinful and evil nature of this world. That is what is so beautiful and meaningful in regards to the gospel and the meaning of Easter. Christ’s death on the cross allows for this literature to be hopeful, despite the concept that without that death and resurrection, evil and ignorance would be at the heart and center, as well as the conclusion, of apocalyptic literature.

    In the list of questions for the blog post, it is asked if apocalyptic literature could be viewed as protest literature. After a litte Google research, I learned that protest literature involves an objection to or rejection of socio-political philosophies. If I am grasping this idea and question correctly, I would deem apocalyptic literature to be protest literature because it goes against the philosophies of this world. Apocalyptic literature concludes with God offering hope to remove us from the evils of this world, where society favors personal success, riches, fame, etc. as the main form of satisfaction and hope for humans.

    Jobes, Karen H.. Letters to the Church (p. 451). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.

  23. Apocalyptic writing is something that I have just recently became fascinated with reading. I used to not read books like Daniel and Revelation as often because I did not like reading the eschatological themes, but now, I think that there is a lot that can be learned from them and they are very important. Something that I took from this article that I do not think I have really thought about much when it comes to apocalyptic writing is that some of it could be perceived as protest literature. I could understand this if the apocalyptic writing talked about a particular nation being destroyed that was “evil” in the eyes of the author during the time that the book was written. However, some passages, such as Revelation 20:1-6, which talks about how Satan will be bound for a thousand years, I do not see being a protest to anything. There are many other examples, especially in Revelation that make me think that most, if not all, of the apocalyptic writing that is found in the Bible is not just a protest to someone or something. In regards to some people believing that eschatology that is found in the Bible, such as in Revelation, is like the “end of the world” fiction that we see today in movies and books, I think that there may be some similarities, but for the most part, there are a lot of differences. I think that people need to make sure that they do not get false assumptions of what apocalyptic literature in the Bible is from what they see in movies.

  24. I would have to align with the suggestion that apocalyptic literature may sometimes serve as a form of protest. I initially understood apocalyptic literature to be just as you first described, much like a popular movie about the end of the world. The only previous book that I would have considered to be apocalyptic in the Bible would have been Revelation. But as I gain more information about apocalyptic literature from your class, our reading, and your blog posts, I can see how this literature would be impactful in a time under the rule of the Romans, Greeks, and other powerful forces during the Intertestamental Period; Tomasino discusses the struggle of the Jews against such forces in our textbook, Judaism Before Jesus (2003). I’m not sure if the book of Daniel exists with the intent of protesting, but it is certainly possible. In class we talked about how apocalyptic literature can be much more subtle than we often think of it. It can provide hope to those in less than ideal circumstances, especially to those under the rule of wicked empires. But it can also be somewhat of a rebellious form of literature, demonstrating a belief that the unjust powers of the time will eventually fall and hope exists that justice will prevail; this is what Daniel does: offer hope to believers in the midst of the rule of a ruthless empire. Even today, apocalyptic literature may serve a useful purpose during the COVID-19 pandemic and I have heard some Christians discuss the matter in this type of way. One could view this crisis through a lens of hope, believing that God’s justice will prevail in the end.

  25. The difference between apocalyptic literature during the second temple period and modern apocalyptic literature is quite interesting. The blog says apocalyptic books “look at the recent past and current events using spectacular imagery in order to provide hope for the future.” According to this description, Second Temple apocalyptic literature was a means of providing hope. In modern post-apocalyptic literature, a small group of people is left after some disaster, and they must figure out how to survive with the limited resources that remain. I would even describe modern apocalyptic literature as dystopian, it is part of a future gone wrong and not an ideal scenario you would want to find yourself in. To think of apocalyptic literature as something good, that provides hope for the future seems backward. I still, in some ways, struggle with understanding how apocalyptic can be good. The blog says that “[apocalyptic] literature always ends with the hope of God’s justice,” this is the statement that has best helped me start to wrap my mind around how apocalyptic literature could refer to something other than a dystopian society. God’s justice is good, even if it does seem like it will destroy much of the world. And in a world that seems full of evil and bad things, you would be waiting for God’s judgment to come and restore the world and his design for creation. Apocalyptic literature can also be viewed as a form of protest too if in it you are hoping for the destruction of society in order to restore God’s kingdom. It is a protest because, in it, you say that society is bad and ultimately needs to be judged by God to see if there is any good in it.

  26. I like the perspective that was taken, I have never viewed apocalyptic literature as a protest type of literature. Though I can see how easy it is to assume that both go hand in hand given the political oppression that the Lord’s people were facing. There are multiple reasons to protest the government officials during the Second Temple Period; as we talked about in class there are some empires that held a cultural strong hold over the Jewish people, ex. Rome, Greeks and the Persians. So it’s not surprising to me that it gives a protest feel to it, but I think it also shines some light on the situation at hand as well. There is a lot going on and it seems as though apocalyptic literature gives them a reassurance that the Lord is going to provide a way out that they have been yearning for.

    I think there is a huge difference between modern apocalyptic literature and that of the Second Temple Period. Most modern apocalyptic literature implements fear, destruction and annihilation; that’s a personal opinion but most of the tv shows and books that are about apocalyptic things always have the same plot. (that being zombies eating people, huge viruses wiped out everyone and is slowly eating their skin, don’t go outside, etc). In modern apocalyptic literature there isn’t much hope or a glimpse of relief. Whereas in Scripture the apocalyptic literature implements fear and destruction but in a different type of way; see this type of fear and destruction is the justice and wrath of God coming upon the people for reason(s). But following the wrath, God always uses it to teach the people things that they can use to become closer to Him or better themselves morally / spiritually; this type of apocalyptic literature offers hope and or a sense of relief.

  27. Apocalyptic literature has always confused me greatly. Revelation has always been a book that has dauted and overwhelmed me, so the idea of looking at it in depth is a little uncomfortable. In general I always find myself getting lost or caught up in the details of apocalyptic literature. Although I wonder how much of this is in my head, because Daniel is one of my favorite books in the Bible so maybe I do like apocalyptic literature…. Anyhoo, in the modern since I always seem to associate apocalyptic literature with dystopian literature, even though I know there is a clear difference I don’t prefer either of them. I think this is part of the reason that I have had little interest in studying Revelation. As Long, (2017) pointed out “The problem western pop-Christianity has re-defined apocalyptic to refer only to ‘the end of the world as we know it’”, because I think this is the definition of Revelation I have always had in my head I tended to steer clear. Even throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I had no desire to freak out about the end times with my mother. That being the case, I think the modern definition of apocalyptic has really ruined me to the study of any apocalyptic Biblical. I think understanding Revelation in terms of protest literature against evil will really help my perspective as we dive into this study.

  28. As someone whose job is to read a lot of current children and young adult literature, this was a very helpful post in understanding how Biblical apocalyptic literature is defined. There is no doubt that “end of the world” and dystopian books are one of the most popular literature genres right now. The students at my school are always looking for the latest series to devour! So of course, when we see Revelation defined as apocalyptical literature, it is natural to envision it as a doom and gloom warning for what is to come. However, to read that this apocalyptic genre was not only a popular form of literature at that time, but had a message of hope in God’s justice, shows how it is not simply doom and gloom, but is truly a message of the hope we can find in God’s love and justice.
    In The ESV Study Bible’s introduction to Revelation, it states that this form of literature was divided into two “immutable camps” (Johnson, 2008, p. 2454): the holy minority who were waiting for God’s deliverance, and their persecutors who were ultimately destined for wrath, beyond the hope of redemption (p. 2454). As a result, I can see how this genre could be considered a form of protest literature against persecutors. For those who were the persecuted, these writings would bring some sense of hope that in the end their persecutors would be punished for their actions. If I was living under extreme oppression, I imagine such writings would bring some sense of comfort that all hope is not lost, and justice will be served eventually? One other thing I found interesting when reading the opening of Revelation was the fact that typical Jewish apocalyptic literature was written anonymously, with the authors attributing their writing to prominent figures of the Old Testament. It seems strange that they would write as if these individuals were the ones sharing the message. But if the general theme was showing a clear divide between those waiting on God’s deliverance and the oppressors, perhaps attributing to Moses or Abraham would bring underline that hope of God’s justice?
    Johnson, D.E. (2008). Revelation. In The ESV Study Bible. Crossway Bibles.

  29. Throughout the two years in which I have taken Bible classes Apocalyptic Literature was only brought up a few times. Each time it was more of just a breief overview, rather than the act of us diving deeper to understand the true nature of the genre. I find it very interesting to think of how western pop-Chrisitanity has influenced apocalyptic to be perceived as almost the exact opposite of what it really is. With this knowledge, it shows how some may have a hard time understanding the true meaning, especially is they have only been surrounded by the modern definition of the genre. Thinking of apocalyptic as hope requires one to abandon the things they have been pushed into knowing and embrace the idea of something new. This can be difficult for many people. Going further and viewing apocalyptic as a type of “protest” that offers hope to the people suffering persecution adds a deeper meaning and understanding to the definition of the genre. All this is not to say that the modern day adaptations of apocalyptic literature (turned into movies) is wrong or bad. It just offers us a different perspective and understanding of how the genre is meant to be represented in the Bible.

  30. Jewish Apocalypticism is often a misunderstood literary genre, as its original meaning and application are often lost between the cultural divides of Second Temple Judaism, the New Testament, and the modern world. When most contemporary people hear the term “apocalypse”, they think of the world ending and ceasing to function how we know it, yet, this is an incomplete picture, not properly portraying the Biblical author’s intentions for Apocalyptic literature. Within the Jewish framework, an apocalypse was seen as the revealing of secret knowledge, usually by an angelic or spiritual being. Furthermore, apocalypses were not necessarily completely negative, as while they are often accompanied by destruction and distress, it is followed by God’s justice reigning and establishing a new world, no longer accompanying injustice and sin.
    This positive aspect of Apocalypses is often lost for modern readers, yet, for the ancient reader, this was one of the most significant aspects of the genre, as it provided hope during times of hopelessness and oppression. A more correct understanding of the apocalyptic genre will inevitably also help with the interpretation of the Biblical texts, as the book of Revelation is highly influenced by this apocalyptic style, yet is often misunderstood by modern audiences who often assume exclusively futurist perspectives. John, when writing the book, was dispelling information that would be directly applicable to the seven churches of Asia Minor. However, this does not necessarily mean that hyper-preterist interpretations are correct either, as John’s revelation would give reassurance to the seven churches because of God’s future actions that would rectify the sin and evil of this present world. Yet, this radical change was not envisioned for a world 2,000 years from their own, but a reality that would happen relatively soon. Either way, a proper understanding of Jewish apocalyptic literature is a necessary step in the interpretation and discernment of certain biblical texts such as Daniel and Revelation.

  31. Within reading this, we can see that apocalyptic literature is a genre that has been re-defined as the following: “the end of the world as we know it”. This re-defining is one that has taken place within the western pop-Christianity culture. However, this was genre that was quite popular in the Second Temple Period. “Apocalyptic literature was a popular form of Jewish literature from 250 B.C. to about A.D. 250. Christians adopted the form and produced many Christian apocalypses” (Long, 50). During this time, both the Christians and Jews were writing apocalypses as way to deal with what was happening in the rapidly changing world. Though this was the case during the Second Period Temple time, today the idea of the apocalyptic genre has changes. “Some students want to read Revelation as if it was in the same genre as The Book of Eli or The Road.” (Long, 2017). The way that those people are reading the book of Revelation is a great example of what the modern genre of post-apocalyptic looks like. As that is what The Book of Eli and The Road are, they are films in which exemplify what the modern genre of apocalyptic is.
    Another thing that is mentioned within this post, is information about the apocalyptic genre that can be learned from respectable resources. One being from David Noel Freedman. David says that apocalyptic is “born of crisis – from the start it was underground literature, the consolation of the persecuted” (Journal for Theology and Church 6 [1979]: 173). Expanding on this point, it is said that “both Christian and Jewish apocalyptic reflects a crisis of faith” (Long, 50). If we continue reading the post, we see that the world is a evil place and many people are living ignorantly in the darkness. “Evil is oppressing the small minority of righteous. Yet this literature always end with the hope of God’s justice. The righteous will be rewarded and the evil oppressors will be condemned” (Long, 2017). This point is looking into the idea of how apocalyptic literature is a genre of which is looking at the crisis and what will happen in the midst and after this major crisis.

  32. I think that the answer to the question of if apocalyptic literature can be a kind of protest is a yes. Apocalyptic literature is often based on events that have not happened and most likely will never occur. However, if you view apocalyptic literature as a symbol of America and its political climate, it is easier to see how this form of literature can be viewed as a kind of protest. “Both Jews and Christians wrote apocalypses in order to deal with the rapidly changing world. These books look at the recent past and current events using spectacular imagery in order to
    provide hope for the future” (Long, 8). Around the time the Jews and Christians were writing apocalyptic literature, they were dealing with constant change in their culture as well as fights between conflicting groups. Apocalyptic literature became the outlet for understanding what was happening in culture.

    Although it often seems unrealistic, apocalyptic literature represents what people feel when they are experiencing change: it feels like the beginning of the end of all we know. However, not all apocalyptic literature is far-fetched, some are realistic. Take the book The Stand by Stephen King as an example. The Stand was written in 1978 and it is about a influenza pandemic that is fatal. In 1970, there was an outbreak of influenza that led to a vaccination. It is possible that Stephen King’s book was influenced by this. It is easy to draw similarities from this book and apply it to the world now. In 2020, COVID-19 was a huge outbreak that occurred, and it is still an issue today, although it does not seem to be as prevalent. All of this shows that apocalyptic literature could be a form of protest against the rapid change in culture or it may be influenced by culture.

  33. I’ve always thought that apocalyptic literature has a lot of gnostic influences. It’s got the ‘revealing of hidden knowledge’ aspect, as well as a bit of an anti-reality/pro-spiritual kind of thing going on. Apocalyptic literature is also in that odd in-between of discerning how much they thought would actually happen and how much they added to keep the story interesting.

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