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Eschatology (lit. 'study of the last') is a part of theology and philosophy concerned with what are believed to be the final events in the history of the world, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world. While in mysticism the phrase refers metaphorically to the end of ordinary reality and reunion with the Divine, in many traditional religions it is taught as an actual future event prophesied in sacred texts or folklore. More broadly, eschatology may encompass related concepts such as the Messiah or Messianic Age, the end time, and the end of days.

The Latin word aeon, (from the Greek aion) meaning "century" (connotation "age"), may be translated as "end of the age (or historical period)" instead of "end of the world". The time distinction also has theological significance; while the end of time in mystical traditions relates to escaping confinement in the "given" reality, some religions believe and fear it to be the literal destruction of the planet (or of all living things) – with the human race surviving in some new form, ending the current "age" of existence.

Most modern eschatology and apocalypticism, both religious and secular, involves the violent disruption or destruction of the world, whereas Christian and Jewish eschatologies view the end times as the consummation or perfection of God's creation of the world. For example, according to ancient Hebrew belief, life takes a linear (and not cyclical) path; the world began with God and is constantly headed toward God’s final goal for creation.

The word eschatology is from the Greek , Eschatos meaning "last" and -logy meaning "the study of", first used in English around 1550.

Eschatology in Philosophy

Eschatology has also been a belief shared, sometimes theorized on, by philosophers. Saint Augustine stressed the allegorical method of interpretation. He was greatly influenced by Origen. He was followed by Ibn al-Nafis and Hegel with their philosophy of history, and, some (such as the author Albert Camus in 'The Rebel') have argued, Karl Marx. Theodicy has gathered together most Enlightenment thinkers, among whom are Kant and Rousseau.

More recently, many involved in futures studies and transhumanism have noted the accelerating rate of scientific progress and anticipate a technological singularity in the 21st century that would profoundly and unpredictably change the course of human history.

Eschatology in various Religions

For the eschatological beliefs of various religions, see: End Times.

Judaism and Christianity in the making

Judaism addresses the End times in the Book of Daniel and in the Talmud, particularly Tractate Avodah Zarah. For Christianity, in addition to the Old Testament Book of Daniel, see New Testament Book of Revelation.

Islamic eschatology

Islamic eschatology is documented in the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, regarding the Signs of the Day of Judgment. The Prophet's sayings on the subject have been traditionally divided into Major and Minor Signs. He spoke about several Minor Signs of the approach of the Day of Judgment, including:
  • Abu Hurairah reported that Muhammad said: "If you survive for a time you would certainly see people who would have whips in their hands like the tail of an ox. They would get up in the morning under the wrath of God and they would go into the evening with the anger of God."
  • Abu Hurairah narrated that God's Apostle said, "When honesty is lost, then wait for the Day of Judgment." It was asked, "How will honesty be lost, O Apostle of God?" He said, "When authority is given to those who do not deserve it, then wait for the Day of Judgment."
  • 'Umar ibn al-Khattāb, in a long narration, relating to the questions of the angel Gabriel, reported: "Inform me when the Day of Judgment will be." He [the Prophet Muhammad] remarked: "The one who is being asked knows no more than the inquirer." He [the inquirer] said: "Tell me about its indications." He [the Prophet Muhammad] said: "That the slave-girl gives birth to her mistress and master, and that you would find barefooted, destitute shepherds of goats vying with one another in the construction of magnificent buildings."
  • "Before the Day of Judgment there will be great liars, so beware of them."
  • "When the most wicked member of a tribe becomes its ruler, and the most worthless member of a community becomes its leader, and a man is respected through fear of the evil he may do, and leadership is given to people who are unworthy of it, expect the Day of Judgment."

Regarding the Major Signs, a Companion of the Prophet narrated: "Once we were sitting together and talking amongst ourselves when the Prophet appeared. He asked us what it was we were discussing. We said it was the Day of Judgment. He said: "It will not be called until ten signs have appeared: Smoke, Dajjal [the Antichrist], the creature (that will wound the people), the rising of the sun in the West, the Second Coming of Jesus, the emergence of Gog and Magog, and three sinkings (or cavings in of the earth): one in the East, another in the West and a third in the Arabian Peninsula."

Hindu eschatology

Contemporary Hindu eschatology is linked in the Vaishnavite tradition to the figure of Kalki, or the tenth and last avatar of Vishnu before the age draws to a close, and Shiva simultaneously dissolves and regenerates the universe.

Most Hindus acknowledge as part of their cosmology that we are living in the Kali Yuga (literally "age of darkness"), the last of four periods (Yuga) that make up the current age. Each period has seen a successive degeneration in the moral order and character of human beings, to the point that in the Kali Yuga where quarrel and hypocrisy are prevalent. Often, the invocation of Kali Yuga denotes a certain helplessness in the face of the horrors and suffering of the human condition and a nostalgia for a golden past or a future salvation.

However, Hindu conceptions of time, like those found in other non-Western traditions, are cyclical in that one age may end but another will always begin. As such, the cycle of birth, growth, decay, death, and renewal at the individual level finds its echo in the cosmic order of all things, yet affected by the vagaries of the comings and goings of divine interventions in the Vaishnavite belief.

Most Hindus believe that Shiva will destroy the world at the end of the kalpa. Some Shaivites hold the view that he is incessantly destroying and creating the world.

Bahá'í eschatology

In Bahá'í belief, creation does not have a beginning nor end, and instead views the eschatology of other religions as being symbolic. In Bahá'í belief, human time is marked by a series of progressive revelation where successive messengers or prophets come from God. The coming of these messengers is seen as a day of judgement to the adherents of the previous religion, who may choose to accept the new messenger and enter the 'heaven' of belief, or denounce the new messenger and enter the 'hell' of denial. In this view the terms heaven and hell are seen as symbolic terms for the person's spiritual progress and their nearness to or distance from God. In Bahá'í belief, the coming of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, signals the fulfilment of previous eschatological expectations of Islam, Christianity and other major religions.

See also

External links

Selected bibliography

General (alphabetical by author)

  • The Prophecy That Is Shaping History: New Research on Ezekiel's Vision of the End. (2003)[1169] Jon Ruthven, PhD.
  • The Invisible War (1965) by Donald Grey Barnhouse; Zondervan Publishing House (Ministry Resources Library).
  • How to Recognize the Antichrist (1975) by Arthur E. Bloomfield; Bethany Fellowship
  • The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow (1983) by Constance Cumbey; Huntington House Inc.
  • Number in Scripture (1967) by Ethelbert W. Bullinger; Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49501 Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 67-26498; ISBN 0-8254-2204-3
  • A Planned Deception: The Staging of A New Age 'Messiah' (1985) by Constance Cumbey; Pointe Publishers, Inc.
  • Hidden Prophecies in the Psalms (1986) by J.R. Church; Prophecy Publications, Oklahoma City, OK 73153; ISBN 0-941241-00-9
  • Gorbachev: Has the Real Antichrist Come? (1988) by Robert W. Faid; Victory House Publishers.
  • The Man The False Prophet and The Harlot, subtitled The Name of the Antichrist Finally Revealed (1991) by Dr. Anthony M. Giliberti; Published by This Is The Generation Library of Congress Catalog Number 90-93451 ISBN 0-9628419-0-0.
  • Have A Nice Doomsday - Why Millions Of Americans Are Looking Forward To The End Of The World by Nicholas Guyatt. ISBN 9780091910877
  • Send This Message to My Church: Christ's Words to the Seven Churches of Revelation (1984) by Terence Kelshaw; Thomas Nelson Publishers.
  • The Truth About Armageddon (1982) by William Sanford Lasor; Harper & Row Publishers.
  • A Survey of Bible Prophecy (1951) by R. Ludwigson; (1973, 1975; The Zondervan Corporation).
  • Thy Kingdom Come: The Eschatology of the Kingdom (2009) by Harold L. Patterson; Xulon Press, ISBN 978-1-60791-229-3. 484 Pages.

'Code'-type books

  • The Bible Code (1997) by Michael Drosnin; Published by Simon & Schuster, 1230 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. ISBN 0-684-81079-4.
  • Bible Code II: The Countdown (2002) by Michael Drosnin; One Honest Man, Inc. Published by Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0R1, England.

The Book of Daniel compared to the Book of Revelation

  • Daniel and Revelation subtitled A Study of Two Extraordinary Visions (1978) by James M. Efird; Judson Press, Valley Forge, PA 19481 ISBN 0-8170-0797-0
  • Daniel's Prophecy of the 70 Weeks (1940, 1969) by Alva J. McClain; Academie Books/Zondervan House.

Dispensationalist school of thought (listed alphabetically by author)

  • A Cup of Trembling (1995) by Dave Hunt; Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97402; ISBN 1-56507-334-7.
  • Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist (1990) by Dave Hunt; Harvest House Publishers Library of Congress Cataloging in Publishing Data; ISBN 0-89081-831-2.
  • How Close Are We? (1993) by Dave Hunt; Harvest House Publishers. (NOTE: The author has a new, updated book titled When will Jesus Come?.
  • Peace, Prosperity, and the Coming Holocaust (1983) by Dave Hunt; Harvest House Publishers.
  • Whatever Happened to Heaven? (1988) by Dave Hunt; Harvest House Publishers. ISBN 0-89081-698-0 (pbk.)
  • Not Wrath but Rapture! by H.A. Ironside; NO DATE; published by Loizeaux Brothers, Inc.
  • Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis Revised (1974) by John F. Walvoord; Zondervan Publishing House, 1415 Lake Drive, S.E., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506; ISBN 0-310-53921-8
  • Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth (1972) by Hal Lindsey with C.C. Carlson; Zondervan House.
  • The Late, Great Planet Earth (1970) by Hal Lindsey with C.C. Carlson; Zondervan House.
  • The Liberation of Planet Earth (1974) by Hal Lindsey; The Zondervan Corporation.
  • There's a New World Coming (1973) by Hal Lindsey; Vision House.
  • The Rapture (1983) by Hal Lindsey; The Aorist Corporation Bantam Books.
  • The Terminal Generation (1976) by Hal Lindsey with C.C. Carlson; Fleming Revell.
  • The Revelation Record (1985) by Henry M. Morris; Tyndale House Inc. and Creation Life Publishers.
  • Things to Come (1958) by J. Dwight Pentecost; Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506.
  • The World's Collision (1956) by Charles E. Pont; W.A. Wilde, Boston.
  • Dispensationalism Today (1965) by Charles C. Ryrie; The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.
  • Israelmarker In Prophecy (1962) by John F. Walvoord; Zondervan Publishing House.
  • The Church in Prophecy (1964) by John F. Walvoord; Zondervan Publishing House.
  • The Millennial Kingdom (1959) by John F. Walvoord; Dunham Publishing Co. Academie Books published by Zondervan Publishing House, 1415 Lake Drive. S.E., Grand Rapids Michigan 49506. (NOTE: See Millennium on Wikipedia).
  • The Nations in Prophecy (1967) by John F. Walvoord; Zondervan Publishing House. (NOTE: this book may have been combined with other similar titles by Walvoord into one new volume).
  • The Return of the Lord (1955) by John F. Walvoord; Zondervan Publishing House Library of Congress Cat. #77-106423.
  • The Rapture Question (1974) by John F. Walvoord (Revised & Enlarged); The Zondervan Corporation.

Post-Tribulation school of thought

  • The Church and the Tribulation (subtitled: A Biblical Examination of Post-tribulationism) (1973) by Robert H. Gundry; Zondervan Corporation.
  • The Tribulation People (1975) by Arthur Katterjohn with Mark Faculer; Publisher - Creation House.
  • Lord, When? (1976) by Arthur Katterjohn with Mark Faculer; Publisher - Creation House (Can be used independently or in conjunction with The Tribulation People by the same authors.
  • The Incredible Cover-Up (1975) by Dave MacPherson; by Logos Internation.
  • Christians Will Go Through the Tribulation (1978) by Jim McKeever; Alpha Omega Publishing Company.
  • Now You Can Understand the Book of Revelation (1980) by Jim McKeever; Omega Publications.
  • City of Revelation subtitled A Book of Forgotten Wisdom (1972) by John Michell; Ballantine Books (first printing: 11/73 Library of Congress Cat. No. 72-88116 SBN 345-23607-6-150. (NOTE: this book contains information on Gematria, a mathematical science).
  • The Secret Book of Revelation (subtitled: The Last Book of the Bible) ©1979; by Gilles
  • Quispel, Collins St. James Place, Comdon, 1979.
  • The Pre-Wrath Rapture of The Church (1990) by Marvin Rosenthal; Thomas Nelson, Inc. ISBN 0-8407-3160-4.

Amillenial school of thought

  • 1994? (1992) by Harold Camping;; Published by Vantage Press, Inc., 516 West 34th Street, NY, NY 10001. ISBN 0-533-10368-1; Library of Congress Cat. Number is Unknown.
  • Christ Will Come Again: Hope for the Second Coming of Jesus by Stephen Travis. 2004 Toronto: Clements Publishing. ISBN 1-894667-33-6
  • In God's Time: The Bible and the Future by Craig C. Hill. 2002 Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. ISBN 0-802860-90-7
  • Shock Wave 2000! subtitled The Harold Camping 1994 Debacle; (1994) by Robert Sungenis, Scott Temple, and David Allen Lewis; New Leaf Press, Inc., P.O. Box 311, Green Forest AR 72638; ISBN 0-89221-269-1; Library of Congress: 94-67493.


  1. Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row, P., & Society of Biblical Literature, Harper's Bible Dictionary, San Francisco: HarperCollins Publishers, 1985, ISBN, s.v. "eschatology"
  2. [1]
  3. Dr. Abu Shadi Al-Roubi, Ibnul-Nafees As a Philosopher, Encyclopedia of Islamic World.
  4. "The Law of Accelerating Returns"
  5. Muslim
  6. Sunan Imam Ahmed
  7. Bukhari
  8. Bukhari
  9. Muslim
  10. Bukhari
  11. Bukhari

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