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Christian apocalypticism seems to be running rampant in contemporary Western culture. Christians and curious others spend millions of dollars each year for the next book by John Hagee, Tim LaHaye or the like. Preachers all around the globe warn of a divine judgment to befall the entire planet in the near, very near future. Lovely little old ladies worry desperately about the signs of things to come. Even in the microcosm of culture known as topix, echoes of “burn in hell”, “judgment day is coming” and “one day you’ll see, but then it’ll be too late” ooze through the religious, political and even the sci/tec threads like an overflowing sewer. Torturous, grueling and sometimes graphically described images of pain and torment are projected upon those who dare to question the legitimacy of the bearer of this “news” of divine judgment.

So, exactly what is christian apocalypticism, where did it come from and why does it seem pervasive in our culture? Let’s start by looking at the roots of apocalypticism.

Around the turn of the second century BCE, in a geographical locale known as Judea, later to become Palestine, there existed the Temple/State culture of the Jews. This old traditional culture was being influenced by a more dominant Hellenistic City/State culture following on the boot-heels of Alexander the Great. Some economically minded and influential Judeans were attracted to the potentials of assimilating into this wide-reaching and successful culture. More traditional, Torah observant Jews, saw this as not only an affront to their society, but to their heritage, to their lineage and most importantly, to their god.

c. 198 BCE, Judea became a province of the Seleucid kingdom of Syria. The Seleucids pressed their Hellenistic influence on their territories. The king Antiochus Epiphanes invaded Jerusalem, the religious center of the Temple/State. During one of his visits, he defiled and ravaged the Temple, “Taking all this, he went back to his own country, after he had spoken with great arrogance and shed much blood.” (I Mac. 1:24) “Two years later, the king sent the Mysian commander to the cities of Judah, and he came to Jerusalem with a strong force. He spoke to them deceitfully in peaceful terms, and won their trust. Then he attacked the city suddenly, in a great onslaught, and destroyed many of the people in Israel. He plundered the city and set fire to it, demolished its houses and its surrounding walls, took captive the women and children, and seized the cattle.” (I Mac. 1:29-32)

Antiochus issued a decree that “all should be one people, each abandoning his particular customs” (I Mac. 41b-42a) Observance of Torah was outlawed under penalty of death, those caught with a Torah scroll were executed and circumcision was forbidden. “Women who had had their children circumcised were put to death, in keeping with the decree, with the babies hung from their necks; their families also and those who had circumcised them were killed.” (I Mac. 1:60-61)

The classical belief of the Jews was that all was of God. If they were obedient to God, through Torah, they would prosper and succeed. If they were disobedient to God, through Torah, they would fail and suffer. This was their traditional teaching passed down through scripture. The fall of Israel in 722 BCE and their own destruction in 587 at the hands of the Babylonians was understood through the eyes of destruction due to disobedience. This “theodicy” or “defense of God's goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil” wasn’t panning out as expected. They were not being punished because they were being disobedient; they were being punished because they WERE being obedient. This is where mythology meets face to face with reality.

From this altered state of reality emerged a sectarian world-view and literary genre known today as apocalypticism, from the Greek verb ‘apocalyptein’ meaning “uncover” or “reveal”. The noun is ‘apocalypsis’ and hence the English word apocalypse.

In an apocalyptic writing, (an apocalypse, revealing or revelation) insights into the past, present and future are “revealed” to a seer of a vision. These visions will oven be revealed by a divine being. The imagery of the vision can be impossible for the seer to understand, so the divine being will provide clarification. The seers of these pseudonymous writings are often former heroes of ancient Israel. Cosmic events of the future for the long-dead seer more accurately relay earthly trials and events of the author’s own time. Typically the end points of the future predictions correlate with the present time of the author/audience.

One early such apocalypse is known as I Enoch. Enoch was the son of Jared, the father of Methuselah and great-grandfather of Noah. Hebrew legend told that Enoch had not died, but was taken up to heaven by God. Enoch was the seer of the visions in I Enoch.

Chapters 1-36 of I Enoch are known as “The Book of the Watchers” and describe visions of heaven before the flood of Noah. It draws from a small passage of scripture in Genesis 6 regarding the ben elohim or sons of God and the nephilim. The sons of God are described as stars and angels who rebelled against God and did the horizontal nasty with earth women, because, as we all know, earth women are really, really hot!!

The leader of this cosmic rebellion was known as Semyaz and Azaz’el. This is the character that would later be used to create the christian Satan. As a result of this extra-terrestrial vaginal invasion, these rebels are tossed out of heaven and into a pit under the earth. The offspring of these divine creatures grew to be giants who dominated humanity and provided them with tools with which brought war and destruction. (Think Prometheus) Therefore, God imprisoned these evil forces and sent the flood to destroy this corrupted world. (I always found it strange that God chose to destroy all of mankind instead of just destroying the evil forces, rather than simply imprisoning them) Anyway… I Enoch was redacted and modified over the next few centuries, likely to reflect paradigm shifts in the culture.

This literary genre was common from the second century BCE into the second century CE, thriving at times of intense persecution. Several writings are available today in translated form. The biblical canon contains two such writings, but those only scratch the surface of apocalyptic writing. New Testament authors were apocalypticists, but not the only apocalypticists. A portion of the book of Daniel contains apocalyptic visions written against Antiochus Epiphanes and those who were swayed by its influence. The Apocalypse of John was written against the Roman Empire and those who were swayed by its influence.

One of the primary literary devices of apocalyptic writing is abstract imagery, often very convoluted and difficult to understand, but it would have been clearly understood by the audience of the author’s culture. One of the advantages of apocalyptic interpreters is the ability to transfer or project current people, events or circumstances on to those otherwise unclear scenarios.

The problem with apocalyptic thought is that it is a complete and utter failure. The Maccabeans successfully ousted the Seleucids to establish their kingdom of God but the corruption within their own culture brought in the Roman empire to settle a dispute that, well, didn’t really work out well at all for the Temple/State culture of the Judeans. Later the Roman Empire wasn’t defeated by the Army of God; the Army of God was squashed like a friggin bug under the heel of the overwhelming might of the Roman empire.

Ever since the earliest days of christianity, these apocalyptic judgments have been looming “just around the corner”. One can go to any point in christian history and find someone, somewhere crying “The End is Near!” Yet society continues to grow, sometimes faster than others, cultures continue to change and evolve and the apocalypticists continue their warnings of impending doom.

As christianity continues to be demythologized by science, history, cosmology, archaeology, biology, geology, paleontology and every other -ology imaginable, except perhaps cosmetology, those who feel the most marginalized, the most embarrassed and those left standing in their own feces of ignorance, will be the ones who cry the loudest.

As we learn more and more about this wonderful world we share, the only thing that is doomed is apocalyptic thought.

I must admit a little astonishment in that with all the plugs you have been giving yourself not more have come to your party.

Odd.

THE DRIFTER wrote:
I must admit a little astonishment in that with all the plugs you have been giving yourself not more have come to your party.
Odd.


Perhaps you missed the parts of his many posts where he URGED people to check things out for themselves?

Unlike the fundies who say "It's in the bible and that makes it true and it's true because it's in the bible"?

Odd.

THE DRIFTER wrote:
I must admit a little astonishment in that with all the plugs you have been giving yourself not more have come to your party.
Odd.


Dont like the truth do you?

Great thread X, cant wait to get this one going.

THE DRIFTER wrote:
I must admit a little astonishment in that with all the plugs you have been giving yourself not more have come to your party.
Odd.


Not really, christians don't typically want to know the truth about their religion.

The truth, just like the truth that hit the ancient Jews in the face in the second century BCE, often destroys the myth.

The myth is what brings many christians their sense of security.

I do appreciate you reading along and commenting, any opinions on the thesis or conclusions?

If you see ANYTHING historically that is wrong, I would appreciate public correction, with historical support, of course.

Skitz wrote:
Great thread X, cant wait to get this one going.


Thanks Skitz, we'll have to see, but don't hold your breath.

Christians typically flee from history like cowards from a fight.

Xcntrik InVidor wrote:
<quoted text>
...If you see ANYTHING historically that is wrong, I would appreciate public correction, with historical support, of course.


Good luck with that.

Have you ever seen anything substantive come from his direction?

I rest my case.

Excellent work, per usual. The work is not in finding the pertinent information, but in arranging it in a cogent and concise form. I believe this hits the mark.

I believe the current spate of apoclyp....epchil....apakol....end-times stuff might be traced to, as you mention, LaHaye, etc, with a lil' Y2k mixed in. It permeates the culture and thus we now have the 2012-ers jumping into the fray. I wonder if the vast majority were really honest (or aware?) about their first inkling of this "imminence" it would rightly track right back to the doom-sellers.

Christian believers - always good for another buck.

Great info as always X.

Xcntrik InVidor wrote:
<quoted text>
Not really, christians don't typically want to know the truth about their religion.
The truth, just like the truth that hit the ancient Jews in the face in the second century BCE, often destroys the myth.
The myth is what brings many christians their sense of security.
I do appreciate you reading along and commenting, any opinions on the thesis or conclusions?
If you see ANYTHING historically that is wrong, I would appreciate public correction, with historical support, of course.


What truth do you want them to see?

Xcntrik InVidor wrote:
Christian apocalypticism seems to be running rampant in contemporary Western culture. Christians and curious others spend millions of dollars each year for the next book by John Hagee, Tim LaHaye or the like. Preachers all around the globe warn of a divine judgment to befall the entire planet in the near, very near future. Lovely little old ladies worry desperately about the signs of things to come. Even in the microcosm of culture known as topix, echoes of “burn in hell”, “judgment day is coming” and “one day you’ll see, but then it’ll be too late” ooze through the religious, political and even the sci/tec threads like an overflowing sewer. Torturous, grueling and sometimes graphically described images of pain and torment are projected upon those who dare to question the legitimacy of the bearer of this “news” of divine judgment.
So, exactly what is christian apocalypticism, where did it come from and why does it seem pervasive in our culture? Let’s start by looking at the roots of apocalypticism.
Around the turn of the second century BCE, in a geographical locale known as Judea, later to become Palestine, there existed the Temple/State culture of the Jews. This old traditional culture was being influenced by a more dominant Hellenistic City/State culture following on the boot-heels of Alexander the Great. Some economically minded and influential Judeans were attracted to the potentials of assimilating into this wide-reaching and successful culture. More traditional, Torah observant Jews, saw this as not only an affront to their society, but to their heritage, to their lineage and most importantly, to their god.


What website did you get your info from?

Maverick wrote:
<quoted text>
What website did you get your info from?
I wonder what that's supposed to signify?

HipGnosis wrote:
<quoted text>I wonder what that's supposed to signify?


It doesn't signify anything.

I just asked where the info came from.

Maverick wrote:
<quoted text>
What website did you get your info from?


Thanks for the review, Mav.

I didn't get any of this information from a website, although I'm sure much of it is out there in various forms. It's a culmination of numerous historical and biblical scholarly literary resources over an extended period of time.

The specific reason that I asked for your review is that I do not want to misrepresent any information, including that pertaining to Judaism. As christian apocalypticism has it's roots in Jewish apocalypticism, I wanted to get your input.

Anything you see that may be wrong historically I want corrected, here publicly. I'm trying to relay the correct information. I'll simply ask that you provide verifiable and credible substantiation.

Since you mention websites, I'll include links for the English translations, commentaries and resources for I Maccabees and I Enoch at www.EarlyJewishWritings.com .

1 Maccabees
http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/1maccabees...

1 Enoch
http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/1enoch.htm...
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