1. THE ABRAHAMIC ESCHATOLOGICAL ROOT
Abraham is the father of the monotheist beliefs of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.5 According to the Book of Genesis, Abraham was part of the tenth generation from Noah and the 20th from Adam, the first man created by God. A tribal chieftain of the Iron Age, Abraham was urged by God to leave the Chaldean borough Ur Kaśdim and head toward Canaan. In Canaan Abraham made a covenant with God: in exchange of accepting Yahweh as god, he was blessed with lands and countless descendants (Genesis 17:2-9). His name was also changed by God from “Abram” to “Abraham,” which means “father of a multitude of nations” (Genesis 17:5).6 This is how the history of the Abrahamic monotheism began.
Judaism, Christianity and Islam are generically called “Abrahamic religions” due to the crucial role Abraham has in their holy books, but also because for more than 1,300 years they have had their histories and doctrines intertwined and they have shared the following similarities:
(1) Monotheism: praising an exclusive God, known by different names.
(2) The holy texts: they are based on a body of texts considered to be the Word of God, sacred and inerrable, whose purpose is to inform the people about the laws of God in order to get closer to him.
(3) An ethical orientation: a choice between good or wrong, choice that is associated with the obedience or disobedience of God and his divine law.
(4) The duality of human existence: the human being consists of the material body, that dies, and the soul, that is capable of remaining alive after man’s death and carries the person’s essence.
(5) Jerusalem: considered a sacred geographical place.
(6) The prophetic tradition: God is guiding mankind through revelations and prophets. But each religion rejects the revelations claimed by the later ones. Jews reject the Christian and Islamic doctrines because they do not accept the spiritual superiority of the Jewish people and the role of the Jews in God’s global plans. Christians accept and confirm the Hebrew prophets and scriptures, but they consider that Judaism holds only half of the truth, giving the fact that it does not confirm the messianic appearance of Jesus Christ as the Son of God; they reject the Muslim prophets and scriptures as heretical because they pervert Christ’s teachings. Finally, Muslims accept the fact that God revealed himself prior to Islam, but they consider that the truth was perverted by Jews and Christians according to their own interests and understanding. Only the Islamic revelation is the pure one.
(7) A prophetic agent: each religion has at the core of its doctrine an agent (mediator) who communicated the divine message to the people. For Jews, Moses talked with Yahweh and wrote the Torah. For Christians, the life, the teachings, the sacrifice and the resurrection of Jesus Christ are the core of the New Testament. And for Muslims, Muhammad received the revelation of the Quran from Gabriel the Archangel, transmitted by God directly in Arabic.
(8) A vision of the end (eschatology): there will be a future moment when divine intervention will stop the course of history.
Of all the similarities, the eschatological vision is the most important one in the present case. Eschatology is the theological branch that studies mankind’s final events. In other words, eschatology is a field whose object of research is the event of the end of the world and the events related to it. Eschatology is not a special feature of the Abrahamic religions. Any religion that speaks about the end of the world – such as Brahmanism, Buddhism or Zoroastrianism – contains its own eschatology.
Each Abrahamic eschatology was born together with the religion it is a part of, and each of the three religions developed their own eschatological scenario. Judaism and Jewish eschatology appeared first, sometime in the Bronze Age. In the 1st century AD Christianity founded its own eschatology, taking elements from the Jewish doctrine. And six centuries later Islamic eschatology was conceived on the basis of Christian and Jewish ideas. Due to the similarities and the cultural clashes that have taken place over centuries, numerous apocalyptic Christian theories make reference to the nature and the evolution of the other two religions. Therefore, knowing the tenets of the three religions and of their eschatologies is vital for understanding the causes that led to the Christian apocalyptic manifestations.
You might also be interested in:
Judaism, the religion of the Jews, is the oldest of the Abrahamic religions. The origins of Judaism begin with Abraham. Through his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob (Israel), the Jews arise in an almost continuous history (Genesis 11-29), having their genealogy registered in the Torah (the books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). Jewish theology is based on the Jewish scripture (the Tanakh or the Masoretic Text), which ...
The Bible is the holy book that lies at the basis of Christian eschatology and doctrine. The Bible became very much the image of the book it is today in 363 AD at Laodicea, Phrygia. On that occasion the synod sorted all the available religious texts into two categories: the canonical texts, which were accepted by the church and therefore must be obeyed, and the apocryphal texts, which were rejected and ignored. The selection...
Islam admits the divine inspiration of both the Jewish and Christian scriptures and the major religious roles of Moses and Jesus Christ. Yet, the sacred texts are believed to have been wrongly interpreted and distorted by believers (both accidentally and intentionally). Based on this belief, Muslims see in the Quran the revision of the mistakes made by the others, the unaltered “Last Testament” revealed through the final prophet. Muhammad is the...