Apocalypse in Literature


apocalypse (əpŏk´əlĬps) [Gr.,=uncovering], genre represented in early Jewish and in Christian literature in which the secrets of the heavenly world or of the world to come are revealed by angelic mediation within a narrative framework. The genre seems to have arisen in Palestine in the 3d cent. BC, perhaps as a protest against an oppressive and dominant establishment, either Gentile or apostate Jewish. The writing is characterized by otherworldly journeys, visions, animal imagery derived from the common fund of ancient Middle Eastern mythological imagery, and number symbolism. Apocalyptic eschatology is marked by the conviction that God will intervene decisively in the present evil age and vindicate his suffering elect over their oppressors, raising the dead, consigning the wicked to eternal destruction, and establishing a new creation. In the Bible, apocalyptic elements are present in the books of Ezekiel, Isaiah, Joel, Zechariah, and Daniel. The collection known as the Pseudepigrapha contains a number of early Jewish apocalypses, including 1 Enoch, 4 Ezra, and 2 Baruch. In the New Testament the book of Revelation is often called the Apocalypse.

See C. Rowland, The Open Heaven (1982); E. Weber, Apocalypses (1999).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Contemporary Apocalyptic Rhetoric
Barry Brummett.
Praeger Publishers, 1991
Phoenix from the Ashes: The Literature of the Remade World
Carl B. Yoke.
Greenwood Press, 1987
Apocalyptic Spirituality: Treatises and Letters of Lactantius, Adso of Montier-En-Der, Joachim of Fiore, the Franciscan Spirituals, Savonarola
Bernard McGinn.
Paulist Press, 1979
The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature
John J. Collins.
William B. Eerdmans, 1998
The Apocalypse in African-American Fiction
Maxine Lavon Montgomery.
University Press of Florida, 1996
The Apocalyptic Vision: A Thematic Exploration of Postwar German Literature
Alan Frank Keele.
J. Porrua Turanzas, 1983
Storm Warnings: Science Fiction Confronts the Future
George E. Slusser; Colin Greenland; Eric S. Rabkin.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1987
Satirical Apocalypse: An Anatomy of Melville's the Confidence-Man
Jonathan A. Cook.
Greenwood Press, 1996
Political Apocalypse: A Study of Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor
Ellis Sandoz.
ISI Books, 2000 (2nd Rev. edition)
A Guide to Apocalyptic Cinema
Charles P. Mitchell.
Greenwood Press, 2001
Rapture Culture: Left behind in Evangelical America
Amy Johnson Frykholm.
Oxford University Press, 2004
Strange Prophecies Anew: Rereading Apocalypse in Blake, H.D., and Ginsberg
Tony Trigilio.
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2000
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