Apocalyptic Writings and the Dual Meaning of Apocalypse

Apocalyptic Writings and the Dual Meaning of Apocalypse

The word “apocalypse” has become synonymous in common vernacular with destruction, but the literal translation from this Greek word in the Bible means revelation. Plus, an introduction to multiple apocalyptic writings.

Multiple definitions of “apocalypse”

Many people today believe the word “apocalypse” means destruction. In fact, that is how the dictionary defines it, calling it either a “complete final destruction of the world” or “an event involving destruction or damage on an awesome or catastrophic scale.” For example, “an apocalypse of the economy.”

But those definitions come from connecting the events that occur in the book of Revelation in the Bible. It is not the original meaning of the word.

Apocalypse means Revelation

According to Strong’sApokalypsis is a Greek word meaning “an unveiling, uncovering, revealing, revelation. From apokalupto; disclosure.”

The first written form of the New Testament is called the Septuagint, and it was written in Greek.

In the Bible, the book of Revelation has actually been called by several different titles. The original title in the Greek text is Apokalypsis Ionnou or “Revelation of John.”

Another title is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” which is the first line of the first chapter.

Other titles are: “The Revelation of Saint John the Divine,” “The Apocalypse,” “Book of Revelation,” or “Revelation.”

Some people mistakenly refer to the book in the plural sense, calling it “revelations.” However, because the contents of this book are unified, the proper term is “Revelation.”

Apocalyptic writings

While the book of Revelation or apocalypse is the most well-known apocalyptic literature, it is not the only revelatory writing in the Bible or outside of it.

When we talk about “apocalyptic literature,” we are mostly referring to ancient Jewish and Christian writings that share common themes, concerns, and literary devices with the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation, and some other literary devices, according to Oxford.

Outside of the Bible, the most prominent of these apocalyptic writings are: 1 Enoch, 2 and 3 Baruch, 4 Ezra, the Apocalypse of Abraham, the Shepherd of Hermas, and the Apocalypse of Peter.

In addition, there are also the apocalypses of Paul, Thomas, Stephen, 1 James, 2 James, 2 John, and Pseudo-Methodius.

How apocalypse became synonymous with destruction and disaster

In the Bible, the book of Daniel in the Old Testament and the book of Revelation (apocalypse) in the New Testament, both concern eschatology, which refers to matters of the End Times or Final Days events, human history, and of the world itself.

Because the writings of these books describe cataclysms and battles, particularly so in the book of Revelation or apocalypse, the word apocalypse then became synonymous with disasters, destruction, and doom.

Similarly, and for the same reason, the word Armageddon, which refers to the location where the world’s armies will gather at the End Times to battle in the Bible, has evolved as a synonym for describing an all-out battle of all battles.

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