Bible on Eschatology

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Bible on Eschatology

  1. 1. BIBLE ON ESCHATOLOGY
  2. 2. • Eschatology: – The term eschatology: • Means "the science or teachings concerning the last things." • Derived from the Greek eschatos ("last") and eschata ("the last things"), the term does not seem to have been in use in English before the nineteenth century, but since then it has become a major concept, especially in Christian theology.
  3. 3. – Most religions entertain ideas, teachings, or mythologies concerning the beginnings of things: the gods, the world, the human race. [See Cosmogony and Cosmology.] – Parallel to these are accounts of the end of things, which do not necessarily deal with the absolute and final end or with the consummation of all things. – The end may be conceived positively, as the kingdom of God, a "new heaven and a new earth," and the like, or negatively, for instance as the "twilight of the gods." – Sometimes these accounts refer to events expected to take place in a more or less distant future. There is considerable overlap with messianism, which may, therefore, be considered as one form of eschatology. [See Messianism and Millenarianism.]
  4. 4. – An important distinction has to be drawn between individual and general, or cosmic, eschatology. • Individual eschatology deals with the fate of the individual person, that is, the fate of the soul after death. This may be seen in terms of the judgment of the dead, the transmigration of the soul to other existences, or an afterlife in some spiritual realm. • Cosmic eschatology envisages more general transformations or the end of the present world. The eschatological consummation can be conceived as restorative in character, for example as the Endzeit that restores the lost perfection of a primordial Urzeit, or as more utopian, that is, the transformation and inauguration of a state of perfection the like of which never existed before.
  5. 5. • Jewish Religion: – In the Hebrew Bible the terms aharit ("end") and aharit yamim ("end of days") originally referred to a more or less distant future and not to the cosmic and final end of days, that is, of history. – Nevertheless, in due course eschatological ideas and beliefs developed, especially as a result of disappointment with the moral failings of the Jewish kings, who theoretically were "the Lord's anointed" of the House of David.
  6. 6. – In addition, a series of misfortunes led to the further development of these ideas: • The incursions and devastations by enemy armies; the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in 587/6 BCE; • The Babylonian exile; • The failure of the "return to Zion" to usher in the expected golden age so rhapsodically prophesied by the "Second Isaiah"; • The persecutions (e.g., under the Seleucid rulers and reflected in the Book of Daniel); • The disappointments suffered under the Hasmonean kings; Roman rule and oppression; • And finally the second destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE, which, after the failure of subsequent revolts, initiated a long period of exile, tribulation, and "waiting for redemption."
  7. 7. – The predictions of the Old Testament prophets regarding the restoration of a golden age, which could be perceived as the renewal of an idealized past or the inauguration of a utopian future, subsequently merged with Persian and Hellenistic influences and ideas. – Prophecy gave way to apocalypse, and eschatological and messianic ideas of diverse kinds developed. As a result, alternative and even mutually exclusive ideas and beliefs existed side by side; only at a much later stage did theologians try to harmonize these in a consistent system.
  8. 8. – Thus there were hopes and expectations concerning a worldly, glorious, national restoration under a Davidic king or victorious military leader, or through miraculous intervention from above. The ideal redeemer would be either a scion of the House of David or a supernatural celestial being referred to as the "Son of man." – Significantly, Jesus, who seems to have avoided the term messiah, possibly because of its political overtones, and preferred the appellation Son of man, nevertheless was subsequently identified by the early church as the Messiah ("the Lord's anointed"; in Greek, christos, hence Christ) and was provided with a genealogy (see Mt. 1) that legitimated this claim through his descent from David.
  9. 9. – Redemption could thus mean a better and more peaceful world (the wolf lying down with the lamb) or the utter end and annihilation of this age, the ushering in, amid catastrophe and judgment, of a "new heaven and a new earth," as in the later Christian beliefs concerning a last judgment, Armageddon, and so on. – The doctrine of the resurrection of the dead played a major role in the eschatological beliefs held by the Pharisees and was also shared by Jesus. The chaotic welter of these ideas is visible not only in the so-called apocryphal books of the Old Testament, many of which are apocalypses (i. e., compositions recounting the revelations concerning the final events allegedly granted to certain visionaries), but also in the New Testament.
  10. 10. • Christianity: – The message and teachings of the "historical Jesus" (as distinct from those of the Christ of the early church) are considered by most historians as beyond recovery. There has been, however, a wide scholarly consensus, especially at the turn of the century, that Jesus can be interpreted correctly only in terms of the eschatological beliefs and expectations current in the Judaism of his time. – The Qumran sect (also known as the Dead Sea sect) was perhaps one of the most eschatologically radical groups at the time. In other words, he preached and expected the end of this world and age, and its replacement in the immediate future, after judgment, by the "kingdom of God." – Early Christianity was thus presented as an eschatological message of judgment and salvation that, after the crucifixion and resurrection, emphasized the expectation of the imminent Second Coming.
  11. 11. • Kingdom of God: – The prophets of the Old Testament, in speaking of the Kingdom of God, announced in clear terms a greater and more excellent kingdom to come, which would be universal and include the Gentiles (e.g., Is. 49:6) and would last forever (e.g., Dan. 2:44). The kingdom thus referred to was not a new political empire but the Kingdom of God founded by Christ, although even the Apostles were slow to understand this (Acts 1:6). – In the New Testament the term "Kingdom of God," although used frequently (Matthew uses the phrase "Kingdom of Heaven"), is a very complex idea. Usually the word has one of three meanings: the internal, invisible Kingdom; the social and visible Kingdom; or the final, triumphant Kingdom of God.
  12. 12. – The internal Kingdom of God is the reign of God in the hearts of men by His grace. It comes unawares and is within the souls of men (Luke 17:21), and consists not "in food and drink, but in justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17). – The visible Kingdom of God is the Catholic Church founded by Christ. It is for all men, contains even sinners, who will someday be cast out, grows from small beginnings (Matt. 13), and is a gift of God's love (Luke 12:32). – The final Kingdom of God is the triumphant reign of God and His Christ. When Our Lord shall return in glory at the end of the world, the Kingdom shall reach consummation (Rev. 19:11-16).
  13. 13. – Christ instructed His followers to pray for God's reign to be perfect and complete (Matt. 6:10). Then, at the time of the resurrection of the dead, when the Kingdom is perfect, Christ will deliver it over to God the Father, and God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:24, 28).
  14. 14. • Second Coming of Christ: – The Parousia, or second coming of Christ, frequently mentioned in the Gospels, notably in Matthew 10:21-24; 16:27; Mark 8:38; 13:26; and Luke 9:26; 21:27. Christ gave His followers no indication of when He would come again, but many of the early Christians, associating the events mentioned in the above passages with Christ's references to the establishment of His earthly kingdom (the Church) and the destruction of Jerusalem, firmly expected the second coming within their own lifetime – Though Christ left us completely ignorant of the time of His second coming, we know from Scripture some of the signs which will precede the Parousia. They include: the preaching of the Gospel throughout the world; a great apostasy; the return of Enoch and Elijah (in some form); the conversion of the Jews; the coming of Antichrist; the darkening of the sun and the moon and the falling of stars from the heavens; the purging of the world in a universal conflagration.
  15. 15. • Heaven: – Originally, merely the sky, later the term used to designate the abode of God and the blessed. …The many Biblical uses of heaven (or, after the Hebrew, the plural, heavens) in the first sense are sufficiently clear and really need no comment, except, perhaps, to remark that the words "heaven and earth" are a stereotyped expression designating the whole visible universe (Gen. 1:1; etc.). – The notion of heaven as the abode of God and the blessed is not really fully developed in the Old Testament. It is only in the New Testament that the entirely spiritual concept of heaven receives adequate expression, especially in Revelation (Rev. 21), but even here the doctrine is expressed in concrete, figurative language, which must be interpreted in the light of concepts current in the time when the New Testament was written.
  16. 16. – In Heaven those who save their souls will be forever united to God in perfect bliss and satisfaction. The greatest joy in heaven will result from knowing and loving God in the beatific vision (which see), but there will also be lesser, secondary joys resulting from companionship with Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and all the angels and saints. The joy of the saints in heaven will be eternal; they will never lose heaven. – Not everyone, however, will have an equal share of heavenly bliss, for each person's capability for happiness will depend on the degree of sanctifying grace he has at the moment of his death.
  17. 17. – There could be no evil or sin of any kind in heaven, for God Himself will so completely satisfy everyone that sin will have no attraction.
  18. 18. Bibliography • “ESCHATOLOGY, Encyclopedia of Religion, Vol.5, p.148 - p.150. • “Kingdom of God”- “Second Coming of Christ”- “Heaven”, in Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, Welcome to the Catholic Church on CD-ROM of Harmony Media Inc.

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