3.3.1. The Antichrist

3.3.1. The Antichrist

According to the dominant Christian view, toward the end of time mankind will undergo a process of decadent evolution marked by sufferings, pain, wars, earthquakes, floods, fire, diseases, famine, corruption and ultimately the apogee of all evils in the person of the Antichrist, the supreme tyrant. The advent of the Antichrist signifies the culmination of the moral degradation, a mundane state in which the sin will be so strongly rooted in human society that divine intervention will be necessary for the reestablishment of order and the salvation of the world from obliteration.

The Antichrist is a fascinating entity. His tremendous power, his dreadful darkness and the major role he will have in history have inflamed the imagination of the Christian theologians and fueled endless speculations. The Antichrist is probably the most debated apocalyptic entity, for three reasons: his advent in the world precedes the Second Coming of Christ, the fate of the Antichrist is to be defeated by Christ, and the Book of Revelation

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3.3. The signs of the end

3.3. THE SIGNS OF THE END

The Revelation of John, or the Apocalypse of John, is the last and the only entirely prophetic book of the New Testament. Its main theme is the end of the world. Revelation was most likely written around the year 95 AD, when Christianity was heavily persecuted by Roman authorities. The scribe of Revelation is traditionally identified with John the Apostle, while the author of Revelation is undoubtedly Jesus Christ: “What thou seest, write in a book ... I am the first and the last, and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore” (Revelation 1:11, 17-18).

The word “apocalypse” comes from the (Romanized) Greek apokalypsis (apo – “far”; kalyptein – “revelation”), usually translated as “discovery” or “revelation.”25 Thus, the name of the final biblical book denotes its main theme and the purpose of its writing: the mystical description of the future of the Church of Christ and of the entire world (Revelation 1:1). However, in modern culture the word “apocalypse” is synonymous with “catastrophe” or with the end of the world. This is due to the fact that,

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3.2. The central point of Christian eschatology: the Second Coming of Jesus Christ

3.2. THE CENTRAL POINT OF CHRISTIAN ESCHATOLOGY: THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST

Much of the Christian doctrine was conceived during the dark times of the Roman persecution and of the Middle Ages. Therefore, the dominant Christian point of view depicts a human order deeply and hopelessly wrong, decadent, beyond human powers of correction. Yet, the end of the world is not a divine punishment for the sins of humanity, but its salvation from self-destruction and the hope of a better world; it is not an apogee of God’s anger and retribution, but the fulfillment of the love story between God, the Creator, and mankind, his Creation.

According to the Book of Genesis, the existing human order was born out of sin. When Adam and Eve, the primordial people, bit the fruit of knowledge, they disobeyed God’s commandment, they committed a sin and were banished from Paradise to the earth. As a result, the relation between Creator and Creation became disharmonious; the Creation came to experience good and evil, took an unstable nature and started to suffer transformations. The committing of original sin led to the perpetuation of the dual knowledge toward the descendants of the primordial couple and the birth of a world dominated by spiritual and material instability. Good and evil became defining parts of man, every moment of his life being

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2.2. Divine revelation as a theological root

2.2. DIVINE REVELATION AS A THEOLOGICAL ROOT

The divinity, which holds the absolute control over the world, reveals – more or less – to people its plans for the human species. Some religions speak about total extinction; others refuse to mention anything about an end, while others prefer a middle way. In this last case the end is depicted as a dramatic transformation of the world under the watchful eye of the divinity. The end of the world event does not simply happen, out of nowhere, totally unexpected. It has a meaning, being a phase of mankind’s evolution.

The concept of the end of the world can be found in the cultures that contained a myth of universal creation. The myth of the world’s birth and the myth of the world’s death are antagonistic, being built on the ancient pattern of the battle between order and chaos, good and evil, light and darkness, life and death. The two myths, when they are put together, express the idea of temporality, universal duality and ultimately the divine will. Concurrently, they were instruments through which human societies attempted to create a frame for understanding the passing of

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Introduction

INTRODUCTION

If religion is the opium of the masses, then the beliefs about the end of the world are overdoses. The belief in the imminent end of the world is one of the most powerful and radical motivations of the human psyche. It is the overspill of adrenaline of the religious beliefs that combines urgent passions with deep megalomaniac tendencies. Fatalistic beliefs have the ability to generate incredible powers by setting into motion large masses of people and converting their feelings into a collective force. People caught in this kind of phenomena are capable of out of the ordinary things; they can commit the most shocking cruelties or, on the contrary, account for the most exceptional cases of human societies.

The end of the world is a never-ending subject. The obsession of watching the universal clock is a curse that haunts mankind since the dawn of time. For thousands of years the social stage has been populated by fanatics, maniacs and messiahs eager to gain fame and power by publicly proclaiming the imminent end of the world. The return of Jesus Christ, unimaginable catastrophes, Judgment Day, the Antichrist, the Battle of Armageddon – all these have caused thousands of so-called revelations, behavioral deviations, frenzies, crimes, suicides, economic collapses, migrations, wars and riots. No matter how accurate the calculations have been, no matter how widespread or how well-grounded the interpretations might have been, no matter how much faith was invested or how clear were the signs, the actual coming into being of this so much proclaimed end of the world proved to be a rather obstinate affair. When it comes to the attitudes related to the end of the world, history has pretty much seen it all. And yet, the phenomenon of the year 2012 proved that the image of a general end is still very prosperous.

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History of the Apocalypse

HISTORY OF THE APOCALYPSE

by Catalin Negru

FIRST EDITION - EBOOK

Copyright © 2015 Catalin Negru. All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.

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ISBN 978-1-329-66764-8

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