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To understand Jesus and the movement that developed after his death we need to have a handle on a way of thinking that I call messianic apocalyptic eschatology. This is a way of describing a certain expectation and outlook on the world and human history that was characteristic of certain Jewish groups and movements of that time–including Jesus and his first followers. As a phrase it is a “mouthful,” but it three central concepts break down rather nicely.
Let start with the noun, eschatology. It comes from the Greek noun eschaton, meaning “the last,” so it means the teaching or study of the “end times” or “last days.” In other words eschatology purports to tell us how human history will end. The phrase the “end of the world” is more commonly used but in biblical texts what is usually meant is the “end of the age,” that is, the idea that history as we know it will come to a decisive “end,” but that critical termination will be followed by a new “age to come,” in which things will undergo a fundamental transformation–referred to in the Hebrew Bible as the creation of a “new heavens and a new earth.”
Apocalyptic - Word - Apocalypsis - Disclosure - Revelation
Apocalyptic is an adjective from the Greek word apocalypsis which means a “disclosure” or “revelation,” referring to pulling back the veil on the secrets of the cosmos more generally, but as I am using it here, the “hidden things” related to the end of the age. In other words, when and how will the events of the last days unfold? The idea is that the precise timing of the end, and how the events of the last days will unfold, are known and determined only by God. However, God can and does reveal these “secrets” to selected human beings or prophets.
Messianic is another...
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