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APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE. Some characteristics. “APOCALYPSIS” means revelation or unveiling of what was hidden before.

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  2. Some characteristics • “APOCALYPSIS” means revelation or unveiling of what was hidden before. • “An apocalypse is a literary report of an amazing, often fearful, violent vision that reveals truths about past, present, and/or future times in highly symbolic and poetical terms.” • The writer may represent himself as being transported into a heavenly realm, or the vision may be unveiled—and even interpreted—by an angelic messenger.

  3. Apocalyptic exhortations are aimed at chastening and reforming their hearers with promises of rewards and punishment in the coming "end times.“ • Apocalyptic literature may also have been seen as a form of prophecy using a new idiom. • Such literature often included extreme and vivid polarized contrasts, e.g. descriptions of hell and also the holy city Jerusalem, demons and angelic beings. • Highly symbolic, including special numbers, e.g. 7, 10, 12 and multiples. • From about 200 BC onward for several centuries.

  4. OT Examples • Daniel 7-12, e.g. • 1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying on his bed. He wrote down the substance of his dream.  2 Daniel said: "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea. 3 Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea. • 4 "The first was like a lion, and it had the wings of an eagle. I watched until its wings were torn off and it was lifted from the ground so that it stood on two feet like a man, and the heart of a man was given to it. • 5 "And there before me was a second beast, which looked like a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, 'Get up and eat your fill of flesh!'

  5. Ezekiel1, 2, 38-39 4 I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, 5 and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, 6 but each of them had four faces and four wings. 7 Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. 8 Under their wings on their four sides they had the hands of a man. All four of them had faces and wings, 9 and their wings touched one another. Each one went straight ahead; they did not turn as they moved. Other OT passages: Zechariah 2, 4, Isaiah 24 etc and Joel 3.

  6. NT Examples • Matt 24-25 and Mark 13: 15"So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,'[b] spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. 18Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 19How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. 22If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. 24For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. 25See, I have told you ahead of time.

  7. Other NT passages: 1Thessalonians 4 and 2 Thes 2: "The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."

  8. How should we read Apocalyptic passages?

  9. APPROACHES TO REVELATION PRETERIST • Everything in Revelation is fulfilled in the first century, under Roman persecution. • +: Made sense to first readers • +: Takes seriously the historical allusions • -: Ignores predictive elements of book • -: Relevance to later generations played down

  10. HISTORICIST • Revelation covers all of Church history to the end. • Each of 7 churches represents a phase in history; rest of book represents all of history • +: Takes seriously that God will alter history • -: Leads to many different historical interpretations; no agreement • Only applied to Western Church history; ignores East

  11. FUTURIST • Sees Ch 2-3 as applied to Early Church and Ch 4-22 only to the final generation, i.e. End Times around Second Coming • Tends to be literal in interpretation • +: takes prophetic element seriously • -: Makes book irrelevant to most of Church history; only for first and last generation

  12. IDEALIST • Sees book as a set of principles showing victorious Christ over defeated Satan • A book of comfort, not a history • +: Applies to all generations of Christians • +: provides comfort and warning for all • -: No regard for history and prophecy • -: Can be misused to teach any viewpoint by taking Scripture ‘out of context’

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