AskDefine | Define eschatology

Dictionary Definition

eschatology n : the branch of theology that is concerned with such final things as death and judgment; heaven and hell; the end of the world

User Contributed Dictionary



Greek έσχατον (éschaton), neuter of έσχατος (éschatos, "the last", "the farthest") + -logy.


  1. System of doctrines concerning final matters, such as death.
  2. The study of the end times — the end of the world, the Second Coming, or the Last Judgment.


system of doctrines concerning final matters, such as death
  • German: Eschatologie
  • Russian: эсхатология
the study of the end times
  • Finnish: eskatologia
  • German: Eschatologie
  • Russian: эсхатология

Extensive Definition

Eschatology (from the Greek , Eschatos meaning "last" and -logy meaning "the study of") is a part of theology and philosophy concerned with 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 Greek word (aeon), 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.
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.


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 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. Artist/futurist Michael E. Arth, for example, speculates about the emergence of a hive-like distributed being that would be self-conscious, integrated into a future version of the Internet, and also able to exhibit any individualized form, or speak any language. This collective intelligence, UNICE: Universal Network of Intelligent Conscious Entities, would connect everyone on the planet before it spreads outward into space.
Judaism addresses the End times in the book of Isaiah. For Christianity, see the Book of Revelation. For the eschatological beliefs of various religions, see: End Times.

Biblical Eschatology

The Bible makes use of what is called apocalyptic eschatology, most notably in the Book of Revelation. Contrary to popular assumption, apocalyptic literature has very little to do with the actual end of existence; rather it aims to discuss the final purpose of creation. It does this through symbolic language, which uses familiar descriptions to explain eschatological truths. This language is not meant to be taken literally. An example of symbolic language in the book of Revelation is when it talks about a beast coming out of the water. In the same chapter it is then explained that the water is symbolic for people. So the beast came out of a "sea of men", basically a socially powerful person who came out of society; it shouldn't be interpreted as a giant monster coming out of the ocean and terrorizing everyone, something that sounds like mythology.
In the Bible, two types of eschatology are apparent: prophetic and apocalyptic. Prophetic eschatology describes Israel’s past experiences and traditions as it looks toward Israel’s future, in an attempt to give hope to the present people. Apocalyptic eschatology does quite the opposite, looking to the end times as a means of bringing about a new, different world that is beyond this one; apocalyptic eschatology has lost all hope in Israel’s present times.

A Limited Selection of Books

General (Alphabetical by author)

"The Invisible War" by Donald Grey Barnhouse ©1965; Zondervan Publishing House (Ministry Resources Library).
"How to Recognize the Antichrist" by Arthur E. Bloomfield ©"1975; Bethany Fellowship "The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow" by Constance Cumbey ©1983; Huntington House Inc.
"Number in Scripture" by Ethelbert W. Bullinger, D.D.; ©1967; 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'" by Constance Cumbey ©1985; Pointe Publishers, Inc.
"Hidden Prophecies in the Psalms" by J.R. Church; ©1986; Prophecy Publications, Oklahoma City, OK 73153; ISBN 0-941241-00-9
"Gorbachev: Has the Real Antichrist Come?" by Robert W. Faid ©1988: Victory House Publishers.
"The Man The False Prophet and The Harlot", subtitled "The Name of the Antichrist Finally Revealed" by Dr. Anthony M. Giliberti ©1991; 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" by Terence Kelshaw ©1984; Thomas Nelson Publishers.
"The Truth About Armageddon" by William Sanford Lasor ©1982; Harper & Row Publishers.
"A Survey of Bible Prophecy" by R. Ludwigson ©1951; (1973, 1975; The Zondervan Corporation).

'Code'-Type Books

“The Bible Code” by Michael Drosnin; ©1997; Published by Simon & Schuster, 1230 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. ISBN 0-684-81079-4.
“Bible Code II: The Countdown” by Michael Drosnin; ©2002 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" by James M. Efird ©1978; Judson Press, Valley Forge, PA 19481 ISBN 0-8170-0797-0
"Daniel's Prophecy of the 70 Weeks" by Alva J. McClain 1940, ©1969; Academie Books/Zondervan House.

Dispensationalism School of Thought (listed alphabetically by author)

"A Cup of Trembling" by Dave Hunt ©1995; Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97402; ISBN 1-56507-334-7.
"Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist" by Dave Hunt ©1990; Harvest House Publishers Library of Congress Cataloging in Publishing Data; ISBN 0-89081-831-2.
"How Close Are We?" by Dave Hunt ©1993 Harvest House Publishers. (NOTE: The author has a new, updated book titled "When will Jesus Come?".
"Peace, Prosperity, and the Coming Holocaust" by Dave Hunt ©1983; Harvest House Publishers.
"Whatever Happened to Heaven?" by Dave Hunt ©1988; 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, by John F. Walvoord ©1974, 1976, 1990; 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" by Hal Lindsey with C.C. Carlson ©1972; Zondervan House.
"The Late, Great Planet Earth" by Hal Lindsey with C.C. Carlson ©1970; Zondervan House.
"The Liberation of Planet Earth" by Hal Lindsey ©1974; The Zondervan Corporation.
"There's a New World Coming" by Hal Lindsey ©1973; Vision House.
"The Rapture" by Hal Lindsey ©1983; The Aorist Corporation Bantam Books.
"The Terminal Generation" by Hal Lindsey with C.C. Carlson ©1976; Fleming Revell.
"The Revelation Record" by Henry M. Morris ©1985; Tyndale House Inc. and Creation Life Publishers.
"Things to Come" by J. Dwight Pentecost ©1958; Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506.
"The World's Collision" by Charles E. Pont ©1956; W.A. Wilde, Boston.
"Dispensationalism Today" by Charles C. Ryrie ©1965; The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.
"Israel In Prophecy" by John F. Walvoord ©1962; Zondervan Publishing House.
"The Church in Prophecy" by John F. Walvoord ©1964; Zondervan Publishing House.
"The Millennial Kingdom" by John F. Walvoord ©1959; by 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" by John F. Walvoord ©1967; 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" by John F. Walvoord ©1955; Zondervan Publishing House Library of Congress Cat. #77-106423.
"The Rapture Question" by John F. Walvoord (Revised & Enlarged) ©1974; The Zondervan Corporation.

Post-Tribulation School of Thought

"The Church and the Tribulation" (subtitled: "A Biblical Examination of Post-tribulationism") by Robert H. Gundry ©1973; Zondervan Corporation.
"The Tribulation People" by Arthur Katterjohn with Mark Faculer ©1975; Publisher - Creation House.
"Lord, When?" by Arthur Katterjohn with Mark Faculer ©1976; Publisher - Creation House (Can be used independently or in conjunction with "The Tribulation People" by the same authors.
"The Incredible Cover-Up" by Dave MacPherson ©1975; by Logos Internation.
"Christians Will Go Through the Tribulation" by Jim McKeever ©1978; Alpha Omega Publishing Company.
"Now You Can Understand the Book of Revelation" by Jim McKeever ©1980; Omega Publications.
"City of Revelation" subtitled "A Book of Forgotten Wisdom" by John Michell ©1972; 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" by Marvin Rosenthal ©1990; Thomas Nelson, Inc. ISBN 0-8407-3160-4.

Amillenial School of Thought

"1994?" by Harold Camping; ©1992; 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"; by Robert Sungenis, Scott Temple, and David Allen Lewis; ©1994 New Leaf Press, Inc., P.O. Box 311, Green Forest AR 72638; ISBN 0-89221-269-1; Library of Congress: 94-67493.

See also

eschatology in Catalan: Escatologia
eschatology in Czech: Eschatologie
eschatology in Danish: Eskatologi
eschatology in German: Eschatologie
eschatology in Modern Greek (1453-): Εσχατολογία
eschatology in Esperanto: Eskatologio
eschatology in Spanish: Escatología (religión)
eschatology in Estonian: Eshatoloogia
eschatology in Finnish: Eskatologia
eschatology in French: Eschatologie
eschatology in Hebrew: אסכטולוגיה
eschatology in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Eschatologia
eschatology in Icelandic: Heimslitafræði
eschatology in Italian: Escatologia
eschatology in Inuktitut: ᓯᓚᐅᕐᖏᖓ/silaurnginga
eschatology in Japanese: 終末論
eschatology in Luxembourgish: Eschatologie
eschatology in Dutch: Eschatologie
eschatology in Norwegian: Eskatologi
eschatology in Polish: Eschatologia
eschatology in Portuguese: Escatologia
eschatology in Romanian: Escatologie
eschatology in Russian: Эсхатология
eschatology in Slovak: Eschatológia
eschatology in Slovenian: Eshatologija
eschatology in Albanian: Eskatologjia
eschatology in Serbian: Есхатологија
eschatology in Swedish: Eskatologi
eschatology in Thai: โลกาวินาศ
eschatology in Turkish: Eskatoloji
eschatology in Ukrainian: Есхатологія
eschatology in Chinese: 末世论

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Buddhology, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, Mariolatry, Mariology, Mercersburg theology, Z, apodosis, apologetics, canonics, catastrophe, ceasing, cessation, coda, conclusion, consummation, crack of doom, crisis theology, culmination, curtain, curtains, day of doom, death, decease, denouement, destination, destiny, dialogical theology, divinity, doctrinalism, doctrinism, dogmatics, doom, doomsday, effect, end, end point, ending, envoi, epilogue, existential theology, expiration, fate, final solution, final twitch, final words, finale, finality, finis, finish, goal, hagiography, hagiology, hierology, izzard, last, last breath, last days, last gasp, last things, last trumpet, last words, latter end, logos Christology, logos theology, natural theology, neoorthodox theology, neoorthodoxy, omega, patristic theology, payoff, period, peroration, phenomenological theology, physicotheology, quietus, rationalism, religion, resolution, resting place, scholastic theology, secularism, soteriology, stoppage, stopping place, swan song, systematics, term, terminal, termination, terminus, the Judgment, theology, trump of doom, windup
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