{es - kuh - tahl' - uh - jee}

General Information

Eschatology, a term of Greek derivation meaning literally "discourse about last things," typically refers to the Judeo Christian doctrine of the coming of the kingdom of God and the transformation or transcendence of history.

The distinction between transformation and transcendence reflects the difference between Old Testament messianism, which looked for the coming of the kingdom of God within a historical framework, and New Testament apocalypticism, which expected the total dissolution of the world at the last judgment.

The end of history in Western religions, however, is not a cyclical return to a primordial world outside history as it is in the eschatologies of non Western religions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism. In the Judeo Christian tradition, even the dissolution of history is based in a historical future. The New Testament concept of Parousia ("coming presence") appears to refer to both the present and the continuing Salvation among believers in Jesus Christ and the literal Second Coming of Christ that will bring an evil world to judgment before salvation. The latter view is reflected in Millenarianism, which also teaches an Antichrist.

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Eschatology has been a revived theme among theologians in the 20th century. The "consistent eschatology" of Johannes Weiss and Albert Schweitzer, the "realized eschatology" of C H Dodd and Rudolf Otto; the "dialectic eschatology" of Karl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann, and the "death of God" eschatology of Thomas J J Altizer and other radical theologians may represent the gamut of interpretation of the biblical concept.

T J J Altizer, The Descent into Hell (1970); R K Bultmann, The Presence of Eternity: History and Eschatology (1957); R H Charles, Eschatology: The Doctrine of the Future Life in Israel, Judaism and Christianity (1899 - 1963); M Eliade, Cosmos and History (1959); W H Gloer, ed., Eschatology and the New Testament (1988); D Gowan, Eschatology in the Old Testament (1985); P C Phan, Eternity in Time (1988).


General Information

Eschatology is literally "discourse about the last things," doctrine concerning life after death and the final stage of the world. The origin of this doctrine is almost as old as humanity; archaeological evidence of customs in the Old Stone Age indicates a rudimentary concept of immortality. Even in early stages of religious development, speculation about things to come is not wholly limited to the fate of the individual. Such devastating natural phenomena as floods, conflagrations, cyclones, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions have always suggested the possibility of the end of the world. Higher forms of eschatological thought are the product of a complex social organism and an increased knowledge of natural science. Often myths of astrological origin, the concept of retribution, or the hope of deliverance from present oppressions provided the material or motive for highly developed eschatologies. Prolonged observation of planetary and solar movement made possible the conception of a recurrence, at the end of the present cycle, of the events connected with the origin of the world and a renovation of the world after its destruction.

The development of eschatological speculation, therefore, generally reflects the growth of human intellectual and moral perceptions, the larger social experience of men and women, and their expanding knowledge of nature. The outward forms of the doctrine of eschatology vary, however, according to the characteristics of the environment and of the peoples.

Ancient Explanations

Belief in a life of the spirit, a substance inhabiting the dead body as long as food and drink are furnished, is typical of primitive eschatology. The concept of the future life grew richer as civilization advanced and cosmic forces became objects of worship associated with departed spirits. The belief in judgment after death was introduced when standards of right and wrong were established according to particular tribal customs; the spirits themselves were made subject to the laws of retribution. Through this twofold development the future life was thus made spiritual and assumed a moral character, as in the eschatology of ancient Egypt. In Persia and Israel, the old conception of a shadowy existence in the grave, or in some subterranean realm, in general retained its hold. Escape from such an existence, however, into larger life, with the possibility of moral distinctions among individuals, was provided by the conception of a restoration and reanimation of the old body, thus ensuring personal identity. In other cultures, as in India, the spirit was conceived as entering immediately upon death into another body, to live again and die and become reincarnated in new forms. This concept of transmigration, or metempsychosis, made possible the introduction into the future life of subtle moral distinctions, involving not only punishments and rewards for conduct in a previous stage of existence but also the possibility of rising or falling in the scale of being according to present conduct. In spite of the seemingly perfect justice thus administered on every level of being, the never-ending series of births and deaths of the individual may come to appear as an evil; in which case deliverance may be sought from the infinite wheel of existence in Nirvana. The ancient Greeks arrived at their eschatology by considering the functions of the mind as a purely spiritual essence, independent of the body, and having no beginning or end; this abstract concept of immortality led to the anticipation of a more concrete personal life after death.

The ideas held throughout history concerning the future of the world and of humanity are only imperfectly known today. The belief in a coming destruction of the world by fire or flood is found among groups in the Pacific islands as well as among American aborigines; this belief probably did not originate in astronomical speculation, but was rather engendered by some terrifying earthly experience of the past. The ancient Persians, who adopted the doctrines of their religious teacher Zoroaster, developed the basic idea of the coming destruction of the world by fire into the concept of a great moral ordeal. According to this belief, at the end of the world the worshipers of the lord Mazda will be distinguished from all other people by successfully enduring the ordeal of molten metal, and the good will then be rewarded. This concept is found in the Gathas, the earliest part of the Avesta, the bible of Zoroastrianism. It is not certain that the idea of a resurrection from death goes back to the period represent ed by the Gathas. But the Greek historian Herodotus seems to have heard of such a Persian belief in the 5th century BC, and Theopompus of Chios, the historian of Philip II, king of Macedon, described it as a Mazdayasnian doctrine.

Similarities can be seen between the ancient Greek concepts of heaven and hell and those of Christian doctrine. The Homeric poems and those of Hesiod show how the Greek mind conceived of the future of the soul in Elysium or in Hades. Through the Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries this thought was deepened. That the future of nations and the world also played an important role in Greek and Roman thought is evident from the prophecies of the Sibyls. An eschatological philosophy dominated the epoch ushered in by the conquests of Alexander the Great, and Greco-Roman thought became suffused with Oriental ideas in its speculation upon the future of the world. In a similar manner the Scandinavian idea of the destruction of the earth by fire and its subsequent renovation under higher heavens-to be peopled by the descendants of the surviving pair, Lif and Lifthrasir (as set forth in the Elder Edda) - reflects an early Nordic interpretation of the idea of hell and heaven.

Jewish and Christian Beliefs

In early Israel the "Day of Yahweh" was a coming day of battle that would decide the fate of the people. Although the people looked forward to it as a day of victory, prophets such as Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah feared that it would bring near or complete destruction, associating it with the growing military threat from Assyria. To Jeremiah, this forecast of judgment was the criterion of true prophethood. Later, the books containing their pronouncements were interpolated with prophecies of prosperity, which themselves constituted significant signs of the expansion of eschatological hopes. The Book of Daniel voices the hope that the kingdom of the world will be given to the saints of the Most High, the Jewish people. A celestial representative, probably the archangel Michael, is promised, who, after the destruction of the beast representing the Hellenistic kingdoms of the Middle East, will come with the clouds and receive the empire of the world. No messiah appears in this apocalypse. The first distinct appearance of this deliverer and king is in the Song of Solomon.

After the conquest of Palestine by the Roman general Pompey the Great in 63 BC, the Jews longed for a descendant of the line of David, king of Israel and Judah, who would break the Roman yoke, establish the empire of the Jews, and rule as a righteous king over the subject nations. This desire ultimately led to the rebellion in AD 66-70 that brought about the destruction of Jerusalem. When Jesus Christ proclaimed the coming of the kingdom of heaven, it was natural, therefore, that despite his disavowal, he should be understood by some to be a claimant to the kingship of the Jews. His disciples were convinced that he would return as the Messiah upon the clouds of heaven. It is unlikely, however, that the final judgment and the raising of the dead were ever conceived by an adherent of the Jewish faith as functions of the Messiah.

In Christian doctrine, eschatology has traditionally included the second advent of Christ, or Parousia, the resurrection of the dead, the last judgment, the immortality of the soul, concepts of heaven and hell, and the consummation of the kingdom of God. In the Roman Catholic church, eschatology includes, additionally, the beatific vision, purgatory, and limbo.

Although the great creeds of Christendom affirm the belief in a return to the son of God to judge the living and the dead, and in a resurrection of the just and the unjust, Christianity through the centuries has shown wide variation in its interpretation of eschatology. Conservative belief has usually emphasized a person's destiny after death and the way in which belief in the future life affects one's attitude toward life on earth. Occasionally certain sects have predicted the imminent end of the world.

Islam adopted from Judaism and Christianity the doctrine of a coming judgment, a resurrection of the dead, and everlasting punishments and rewards. Later, contact with Persian thought greatly enriched Islamic eschatology. Especially important was the belief in the reincarnation of some great prophet from the past. Time and again the world of Islam has been stirred by the expectation of Mahdi, the Muslim messiah, to reveal more fully the truth, or to lead the faithful into better social conditions on earth. Iran and Africa have had many such movements.

Current Attitudes

Liberal Christian thought has emphasized the soul and the kingdom of God, more often seeing it as coming on earth in each individual (evidenced by what was believed to be the steady upward progress of humankind) than as an apocalyptic event at the end of time. Twentieth-century theological thought has tended to repudiate what many scholars have felt to be an identification of Christian eschatology with the values of Western civilization. In the second half of the 20th century, eschatology was equated by some theologians with the doctrine of Christian hope, including not only the events of the end of time but also the hope itself and its revolutionizing influence on life in the world. The most eloquent exponent of this eschatology is the German theologian Jürgen Moltmann.

In modern Judaism the return of Israel to its land, the coming of the Messiah, the resurrection of the dead, and everlasting retribution are still expected by the Orthodox, but the more liberal base the religious mission of Israel upon the regeneration of the human race and upon hope for immortal life independent of the resurrection of the body.


Advanced Information

Eschatology is traditionally defined as the doctrine of the "last things" (Gr. eschata), in relation either to human individuals (comprising death, resurrection, judgment, and the afterlife) or to the world. In this latter respect eschatology is sometimes restricted to the absolute end of the world, to the exclusion of much that commonly falls within the scope of the term. This restriction is unwarranted by biblical usage: the Hebrew be'aharit hayyamim (LXX en tais eschatais hemerais, "in the last days") may denote the end of the present order or even, more generally, "hereafter."

The biblical concept of time is not cyclical (in which case eschatology could refer only to the completion of a cycle) or purely linear (in which case eschatology could refer only to the terminal point of the line); it envisions rather a recurring pattern in which divine judgment and redemption interact until this pattern attains its definitive manifestation. Eschatology may therefore denote the consummation of God's purpose whether it coincides with the end of the world (or of history) or not, whether the consummation is totally final or marks a stage in the unfolding pattern of his purpose.

Individual Eschatology in the OT

A shadowy existence after death is contemplated in much of the OT. Jesus indeed showed that immortality was implicit in men and women's relation to God: the God of the fathers "is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him" (Luke 20:38). But this implication was not generally appreciated in OT times. Perhaps in reaction against Canaanite cults of the dead, the OT lays little emphasis on the afterlife. Sheol is an underworld where the dead dwell together as shades; their former status and character are of little account there. The praises of Yahweh, which engaged so much of a pious Israelite's activity on earth, remained unsung in Sheol, which was popularly thought to be outside Yahweh's jurisdiction (Ps. 88:10 - 12; Isa. 38:18). Occasionally a more hopeful note is struck.

According to Pss. 73 and 139 one who walks with God in life cannot be deprived of his presence in death: "If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there!" (Ps. 139:8). While Job and his friends generally discount the possibility of life after death (Job 14:10 - 12) and do not suppose that the comforts of a future existence can compensate for the sufferings of the present, Job asserts, in a moment of triumphant faith, that if not in this life then after death he will see God rise up to vindicate him (Job 19:25 - 27).

The hope of national resurrection finds earlier expression than that of individual resurrection. In Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones, where the divine breath breathes new life into corpses, a national resurrection is in view: "These bones are the whole house of Israel" (Ezek. 37:11). National resurrection may also be promised in Isa. 26:19: "Thy dead shall live, their bodies shall rise." Individual resurrection first becomes explicit in Dan. 12:2.

The persecution of martyrs under Antiochus Epiphanes gave a powerful impetus to the resurrection hope. Henceforth belief in the future resurrection of at least the righteous dead became part of orthodox Judaism, except among the Sadducees, who claimed to champion the oldtime religion against Pharisaic innovations. With this new emphasis goes a sharper distinction between the posthumous fortunes of the righteous and the wicked, in Paradise and Gehenna respectively.

World Eschatology in the OT

The day of Yahweh in early Israel was the day when Yahweh would publicly vindicate himself and his people. It was possibly associated with an autumnal festival which Yahweh's kingship was celebrated. If the "enthronement psalms" (Pss. 93; 95 - 100) provide evidence for this festival, his kingship was commemorated in his work of creation, his seasonal gifts of fertility and harvest, his dealings of mercy and judgment with Israel and other nations. His sovereignty in these spheres would be fully manifested at his coming to "judge the world in righteousness" (Pss. 96:13; 98:9).

In the earliest significant mention of this "day of the Lord" (Amos 5:18 - 20) the Israelites are rebuked for desiring it so eagerly because it will bring not light and joy (as they hope) but darkness and mourning. Since Yahweh is utterly righteous, his intervention to vindicate his cause must involve his judgment on unrighteousness wherever it appears, especially among his own people, who had exceptional opportunities of knowing his will.

Psalmists and prophets recognized that, while Yahweh's kingship was exercised in many ways, the reality which they saw fell short of what they knew to be the ideal. Even in Israel Yahweh's sovereignty was inadequately acknowledged. But one day the tension between ideal and reality would be resolved; on the day of Yahweh his kingship would be universally acknowledged, and the earth would be filled with "the knowledge of the Lord" (Isa. 11:9; Hab. 2:14). His effective recognition as "king over all the earth" is portrayed in terms of a theophany in Zech. 14:3 - 9.

The decline of the Davidic monarchy emphasized the contrast between what was and what ought to be. That monarchy represented the divine kingship on earth, but its capacity to do so worthily was impaired by political disruption, social injustice, and foreign oppression. As the fortunes of David's house sank ever lower, however, there emerged with increasing clarity the figure of a coming Davidic king in whom the promises made to David would be fulfilled and the vanished glories of earlier times would be restored and surpassed (Isa. 9:6 - 7; 11:1 - 10; 32:1 - 8; Mic. 5:2 - 4; Amos 9:11 - 12; Jer. 23:5 - 6; 33:14 - 22).

This hope of a Davidic Messiah, Yahweh's permanent vicegerent, dominates much subsequent Jewish eschatology. In some portrayals of the new age, however, the Davidic ruler is overshadowed by the priesthood, as in Ezekiel's new commonwealth (Ezek. 46:1 - 10) and later in the Dead Sea Scrolls, where the Davidic Messiah is subordinate to the chief priest, who will be head of state in the coming age.

Another form of eschatological hope appears in Daniel. No king reigns in Jerusalem, but the Most High still rules the kingdom of men and successive world emperors attain power by his will and hold it so long as he permits. The epoch of pagan dominion is limited; on its ruins the God of heaven will set up an indestructible kingdom. In Dan. 7:13 this eternal and universal dominion is given at the end time to "one like a son of man," who is associated, if not identified, with "the saints of the Most High" (Dan. 7:18, 22, 27).

NT Eschatology

OT eschatology is forward looking, its dominant notes being hope and promise. These notes are present in the NT, but here the dominant note is fulfillment, fulfillment in Jesus, who by his passion and resurrection has begotten his people anew to a living hope (1 Pet. 1:3), because he has "abolished death and brough life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Tim. 1:10).

Jesus' Galilean preaching, summarized in Mark 1:15 ("The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel"), declares the fulfillemnt of Daniel's vision: "The time came when the saints received the kingdom" (Dan. 7:22). In one sense the kingdom was already present in Jesus' ministry: "If it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Luke 11:20; cf. Matt. 12:28). But in another sense it was yet future. Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "Thy kingdom come" (Luke 11:2). In this sense it would come "with power" (Mark 9:1), an event variously associated with the resurrection of the Son of man or with his advent "with great power and glory" (Mark 13:26).

The expression "the Son of man" figures prominently in Jesus' teaching about the kingdom of God, especially after Peter's confession at Caesarea Philippi (Mark 8:29). It echoes Daniel's "one like a son of man" (Dan. 7:13). In Jesus' teaching he himself is the Son of man. But while he speaks occasionally, in Daniel's terms, of the Son of man as "coming with the clouds of heaven" (Mark 14:62), he more often speaks of the Son of man as destined to suffer, in language reminiscent of the servant of Yahweh in Isa. 52:13 - 53:12. This protrayal of the Son of man in terms of the servant is quite distinctive, in that Jesus undertook to fulfill personally what was written of both. As Daniel's "one like a son of man" receives dominion from the Ancient of Days, so Jesus receives it from his Father. As Daniel's "saints of the Most High" receive dominion, so Jesus shares his dominion with his followers, the "little flock" (Luke 12:32; 22:29 - 30). But its fullness must await the suffering of the Son of man (Luke 17:25).

Sometimes Jesus uses "life" or "eternal life" (the life of the age to come) as a synonym for "the kingdom of God"; to enter the kingdom is to enter into life. This links the kingdom with the new age, when the righteous are brought back from death to enjoy resurrection life.

In the apostolic teaching this eternal life may be enjoyed here and now, although its full flowering awaits a future consummation. The death and resurrection of Christ have introduced a new phase of the kingdom, in which those who believe in him share his risen life already, even while they live on earth in mortal body. There is an indeterminate interval between Christ's resurrection and parousia, and during this interval the age to come overlaps the present age. Christians live spiritually in "this age" while they live temporally in "this age"; through the indwelling Spirit of God they enjoy the resurrection life of "that age" in anticipation.

This outlook has been called "realized eschatology." But the realized eschatology of the NT does not exclude an eschatological consummation to come.

Realized Eschatology

If the eschaton, the "last thing" which is the proper object of eschatological hope, came in the ministry, passion, and triumph of Jesus, then it cannot be the absolute end of time, for time has gone on since then. In the NT the "last thing" is more properly the "last one," the eschatos (cf. Rev. 1:7; 2:8; 22:13). Jesus is himself his people's hope, the Amen to all God's promises.

According to Albert Schweitzer's "consistent eschatology," Jesus, believing himself to be Israel's Messiah, found that the consummation did not come when he expected it (cf. Matt. 10:23) and embraced death in order that his parousia as the Son of man might be forcibly brought to pass. Since the wheel of history would not respond to his hand and turn round to complete its last revolution, he threw himself on it and was broken by it, only to dominate history more decisively by his failure than he could have done by attaining his misconceived ambition. His message, Schweitzer held, was thoroughly eschatological in the sense exemplified by the crudest contemporary apocalypticism. His ethical teaching was designed for the interim between the beginning of his ministry and his manifestation in glory. Later, when his death was seen to have destroyed the eschatological conditions instead of bringing them in, the proclamation of the kingdom was replaced by the teaching of the church.

Schewitzer's interpretation of Jesus's message was largely a reaction against the liberal nineteenth century interpretation, but it was equally one sided and distorted in its selection from the gospel data.

Later Rudolf Otto and C H Dodd propounded a form of realized eschatology. Dodd interpreted Jesus' parables in terms of the challenge to decision which confronted his hearers in his announcement that the kingdom of God had arrived. Dodd viewed the kingdom as coming in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection; to proclaim these events in their proper perspective was to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God. Jesus' future coming did not, at first, come into the picture. His redeeming work constituted the decisive or eschatological manifestation of the power of God operating for the world's salvation; the later concentration on a further "last thing" in the future betokened a relapse into Jewish apocalypticism, which relegated to a merely "preliminary" role those elements of the gospel which were distinctive of Jesus' message.

(As time went on, Dodd made more room for a future consummation: what came to earth with Christ's incarnation was finally decisive for the meaning and purpose of human existence, so that, at the ultimate winding up of history, humankind will encounter God in Christ.)

Joachim Jeremias, who acknowledges indebtedness to Dodd, found that Jesus' parables express an eschatology "in process of realization"; they proclaim that the hour of fulfillment has struck and compel hearers to make up their minds about Jesus' person and mission.

Dodd's pupil, J A T Robinson, interprets Christ's parousia not as a literal event of the future but as a symbolical or mythological presentation of what happens whenever Christ comes in love and power, displaying the signs of his presence and the marks of his cross. Judgment day is a dramatic picture of every day. Robinson denies that Jesus used language implying his return to earth from heaven. His sayings which have been so understood express the twin themes of vindication and visitation, notably his reply to the high priest's question at his trial (Mark 14:62), where the added phrase "from now on" (Luke 22:69) or "hereafter" (Matt. 26:64) is taken to be an authentic part of the reply. The Son of man, condemned by earthly judges, will be vindicated in the divine law court; his consequent visitation of his people in judgment and redemption will take place "from now on" as surely as his vindication.

Instead of realized eschatology, Robinson (following Georges Florovsky) speaks of an "inaugurated eschatology", an eschatology inaugurated by Jesus' death and resurrection, which released and initiated a new phase of the kingdom in which "hereafter" God's redeeming purpose would achieve its fulfillment. To Jesus' ministry before his passion Robinson applies the term "proleptic eschatology" because in that ministry the signs of the age to come were visible in anticipation.


Jesus' use of OT language was creative and cannot be confined to the meaning which that language had in its original context. He probably did point forward to his personal coming to earth, not only to manifest his glory but to share that glory with his people, raised from the dead by his quickening shout. When the consummation to which his people look forward is described as their "hope of glory," it is their participation in Jesus' resurrection glory that is in view; that hope is kept bright within them by his indwelling presence (Col. 1:27) and sealed by the Spirit (Eph. 1:13 - 14, 18 - 21).

There is a tension between the "already" and the "not yet" of the Christian hope, but each is essential to the other. In the language of the seer of Patmos, the Lamb that was slain has by his death won the decisive victory (Rev. 5:5), but its final outworking, in reward and judgment, lies in the future (Rev. 22:12). The fact that we now "see Jesus crowned with glory and honor" is guarantee enough that God "has put all things under his feet" (Heb. 2:8 - 9). His people already share his risen life, and those who reject him are "condemned already" (John 3:18). For the Fourth Evangelist, the judgment of the world coincided with the passion of the incarnate Word (John 12:31); yet a future resurrection to judgment is contemplated as well as a resurrection to life (John 5:29).

Some much canvassed questions, such as the chronological relation of the parousia to the great distress of Mark 13:19, to the manifestation of the man of lawlessness of 2 Thess. 2:3 - 8, or to the millennial reign of Rev. 20, are marginal to the main course of NT eschatological teaching, belonging rather to the detailed exegesis of the passages concerned. The eschatological outlook of the NT is well summed up in the words: "Christ Jesus our hope" (1 Tim. 1:1).

F F Bruce
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)

G R Beasley - Murray, Jesus and the Future and The Coming of God; R H Charles, A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life; O Cullmann, Christ and Time; C H Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom, The Apostolic Preaching and Its Developments, and The Coming of Christ; J E Fison, The Christian Hope; T F Glasson, The Second Advent; J Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus; W G Kummel, Promise and Fulfilment; G E Ladd, The Presence of the Future; R Otto, The Kingdom of God and the Son of Man; H Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom; J A T Robinson, In the End, God. . . and Jesus and His Coming; A Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus; E F Sutcliffe, The OT and the Future Life; G Vos, The Pauline Eschatology.

Realized Eschatology

Advanced Information

This concept should be contrasted with futurist or thoroughgoing eschatology, in which the teaching of Jesus about the kingdom of God is viewed as significantly influenced by Jewish apocalyptic. While continental scholarship has focused on the latter, the Anglo-American tradition has often urged that the futurist aspects of the kingdom be reduced to a bare minimum. Some have dismissed this apocatyptic note as an early Christian accretion, but many NT scholars have viewed the apocalyptic language as symbolic of a profound theological reality. Instead, they argue, Jesus viewed his ministry as inaugurating the kingdom: that is, this eschatological reality was realized within Christ's own ministry.

C. H. Dodd is often identified with realized eschatology because of his epoch-making challenge to the apocalytic interpreters of Jesus. Dodd's chief contribution was published in 1935 (The Parables of the Kingdom), in which he examined various texts that spoke of the kingdom as already present. This does not mean that Jesus merely pointed to the sovereignty of God in human history and labeled this the kingdom, but rather that Jesus viewed the kingdom as arriving in an unparalleled, decisive way. The eschatological power of God had come into effective operation within his present life and was released through his death. Hence in Luke 11:20 we learn that Jesus himself is revealing this new power: "If it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." Luke 17:20ff. is similar in that Jesus seems to deny the observable signs of apocalyptic: "for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you." Dodd particularly stressed the parables of growth (the weeds among wheat, the mustard seed, the sower; see esp. Matt. 13), which find their meaning in a this-wordly event of decisive importance.

To be sure, this alters the entire scheme of futurist eschatology wherein the kingdom ushers in the end. "The eschaton has moved from the future to the present, from the sphere of expectation into that of realized experience" (Parables of the Kingdom, p. 50). For Dodd, this must become a fixed point in interpretation because it is these teachings of Jesus that are explicit and unequivocal. "It represents the ministry of Jesus as 'realized eschatology'; as the impact upon this world of the 'powers of the world to come' in a series of events, unprecedented and unrepeatable, now in actual progress" (ibid., p. 51). Thus when Jesus says, "Blessed are the eyes which see what you see" (Luke 10:23), he is referring to his messianic acts which in themselves are ushering in the eschatological kingdom of God. "It is no longer imminent; it is here" (ibid., p. 49).

It must be said at once that realized eschatology has suffered many criticisms. Scholars have quickly pointed out that Dodd was less than fair in his exegesis of many futurist texts (e.g., Mark 9:1; 13:1ff.; 14:25). Still, in a later response to his critics (The Coming of Christ, 1951) Dodd accepted the futurist sayings but reinterpreted them as predictions of a transcendent age. Norman Perrin for one has successfully shown how Judaism employed no such transcendent concept of the kingdom and that Dodd again has misrepresented the text by applying a foreign Greek category to Jesus' Hebrew teaching.

Most interpreters have argued for a synthesis of realized and futurist components in eschatology. Dodd convincingly demonstrated that Jesus' appearance brought to bear on history an eschatological crisis in the present; however, we would add that history still awaits its consummation in the future, when the kingdom will come in apocalyptic power.

G M Burge
(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)

G. E. Ladd, Crucial Questions About the Kingdom of God; W. G. Kummel, Promise and Fulfillment; G. Lundstrom, The Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus; N. Perrin, The Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus; R. Schnackenburg, God's Rule and Kingdom.


Catholic Information

That branch of systematic theology which deals with the doctrines of the last things (ta eschata). The Greek title is of comparatively recent introduction, but in modern usage it has largely supplanted its Latin equivalent De Novissimis. As the numerous doctrinal subjects belonging to this section of theology will be treated ex professo under their several proper titles, it is proposed in this article merely to take such a view of the whole field as will serve to indicate the place of eschatology in the general framework of religion, explain its subject-matter and the outlines of its content in the various religions of mankind, and illustrate by comparison the superiority of Christian eschatological teaching.

As a preliminary indication of the subject-matter, a distinction may be made between the eschatology of the individual and that of the race and the universe at large. The former, setting out from the doctrine of personal immortality, or at least of survival in some form after death, seeks to ascertain the fate or condition, temporary or eternal, of individual souls, and how far the issues of the future depend on the present life. The latter deals with events like the resurrection and the general judgment, in which, according to Christian Revelation, all men will participate, and with the signs and portents in the moral and physical order that are to precede and accompany those events. Both aspects -- the individual and the universal -- belong to the adequate concept of eschatology; but it is only in Christian teaching that both receive due and proportionate recognition. Jewish eschatology only attained its completion in the teaching of Christ and the Apostles; while in ethnic religion eschatology seldom rose above the individual view, and even then was often so vague, and so little bound up with any adequate notion of Divine justice and of moral retribu- tion, that it barely deserves to be ranked as religious teaching.


Uncivilized societies

Even among uncivilized cultures the universality of religious beliefs, including belief in some kind of existence after death, is very generally admitted by modern anthropologists. Some exceptions, it is true, have been claimed to exist; but on closer scrutiny the evidence for this claim has broken down in so many cases that we are justified in presuming against any exception. Among the uncivilized the truth and purity of eschatological beliefs vary, as a rule, with the purity of the idea of God and of the moral standards that prevail. Some savages seem to limit existence after death to the good (with extinction for the wicked), as the Nicaraguas, or to men of rank, as the Tongas; while the Greenlanders, New Guinea negroes, and others seem to hold the possibility of a second death, in the other world or on the way to it. The next world itself is variously located -- on the earth, in the skies, in the sun or moon -- but most commonly under the earth; while the life led there is conceived either as a dull and shadowy and more or less impotent existence, or as an active continuation in a higher or idealized form of the pursuits and pleasures of earthly life. In most savage religions there is no very high or definite doctrine of moral retribution after death; but it is only in the case of a few of the most degraded cultures, whose condition is admittedly the result of degeneration, that the notion of retribution is claimed to be altogether wanting. Sometimes mere physical prowess, as bravery or skill in the hunt or in war, takes the place of a strictly ethical standard; but, on the other hand, some savage religions contain unexpectedly clear and elevated ideas of many primary moral duties.

Civilized Cultures

Coming to the higher or civilized societies, we shall glance briefly at the eschatology of the Babylonian and Assyrian, Egyptian, Indian, Persian, and Greek religions. Confucianism can hardly be said to have an eschatology, except the very indefinite belief involved in the worship of ancestors, whose happiness was held to depend on the conduct of their living descendants. Islamic eschatology contains nothing distinctive except the glorification of barbaric sensuality.

(a) Babylonian and Assyrian

In the ancient Babylonian religion (with which the Assyrian is substantially identical) eschatology never attained, in the historical period, any high degree of development. Retribution is confined almost, if not quite, entirely to the present life, virtue being rewarded by the Divine bestowal of strength, prosperity, long life, numerous offspring, and the like, and wickedness punished by contrary temporal calamities. Yet the existence of an hereafter is believed in. A kind of semi-material ghost, or shade, or double (ekimmu), survives the death of the body, and when the body is buried (or, less commonly, cremated) the ghost descends to the underworld to join the company of the departed. In the "Lay of Ishtar" this underworld, to which she descended in search of her deceased lover and of the "waters of life", is described in gloomy colours; and the same is true of the other descriptions we possess. It is the "pit", the "land of no return", the "house of darkness", the "place where dust is their bread, and their food is mud"; and it is infested with demons, who, at least in Ishtar's case, are empowered to inflict various chastisements for sins committed in the upper world.

Though Ishtar's case is held by some to be typical in this respect, there is otherwise no clear indication of a doctrine of moral penalties for the wicked, and no promise of rewards for the good. Good and bad are involved in a common dismal fate. The location of the region of the dead is a subject of controversy among Assyriologists, while the suggestion of a brighter hope in the form of a resurrection (or rather of a return to earth) from the dead, which some would infer from the belief in the "waters of life" and from references to Marduk, or Merodach, as "one who brings the dead to life", is an extremely doubtful conjecture. On the whole there is nothing hopeful or satisfying in the eschatology of this ancient religion.

(b) Egyptian

On the other hand, in the Egyptian religion, which for antiquity competes with the Babylonian, we meet with a highly developed and comparatively elevated eschatology. Leaving aside such difficult questions as the relative priority and influence of different, and even conflicting, elements in the Egyptian religion, it will suffice for the present purpose to refer to what is most prominent in Egyptian eschatology taken at its highest and best. In the first place, then, life in its fullness, unending life with 0siris, the sun-god, who journeys daily through the underworld, even identification with the god, with the right to be called by his name, is what the pious Egyptian looked forward to as the ultimate goal after death. The departed are habitually called the "living"; the coffin is the "chest of the living", and the tomb the "lord of life". It is not merely the disembodied spirit, the soul as we understand it, that continues to live, but the soul with certain bodily organs and functions suited to the conditions of the new life. In the elaborate anthropology which underlies Egyptian eschatology, and which we find it hard to understand, several constituents of the human person are distinguished, the most important of which is the Ka, a kind of semi-material double; and to the justified who pass the judgment after death the use of these several constituents, separated by death is restored. This judgment which each undergoes is described in detail in chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead. The examination covers a great variety of personal, social, and religious duties and observances; the deceased must be able to deny his guilt in regard to forty-two great categories of sins, and his heart (the symbol of conscience and morality) must stand the test of being weighed in the balance against the image of Maat, goddess of truth or justice. But the new life that begins after a favourable judgment is not at first any better or more spiritual than life on earth. The justified is still a wayfarer with a long and difficult journey to accomplish before he reaches bliss and security in the fertile fields of Aalu. On this journey he is exposed to a variety of disasters, for the avoidance of which he depends on the use of his revivified powers and on the knowledge he has gained in life of the directions and magical charms recorded in the Book of the Dead, and also, and perhaps most of all, on the aids provided by surviving friends on earth. It is they who secure the preservation of his corpse that he may return and use it, who provide an indestructible tomb as a home or shelter for his Ka, who supply food and drink for his sustenance, offer up prayers and sacrifices for his benefit, and aid his memory by inscribing on the walls of the tomb, or writing on rolls of papyrus enclosed in the wrappings of the mummy, chapters from the Book of the Dead. It does not, indeed, appear that the dead were ever supposed to reach a state in which they were independent of these earthly aids. At any rate they were always considered free to revisit the earthly tomb, and in making the journey to and fro the blessed had the power of transforming themselves at will into various animal-shapes. It was this belief which, at the degenerate stage at which he encountered it, Herodotus mistook for the doctrine of the transmigration of souls. It should be added that the identification of the blessed with Osiris ("Osiris N. N." is a usual form of inscription) did not, at least in the earlier and higher stage of Egyptian religion, imply pantheistic absorption in the deity or the loss of individual personality. Regarding the fate of those who fail in the judgment after death, or succumb in the second probation, Egyptian eschatology is less definite in its teaching. "Second death" and other expressions applied to them might seem to suggest annihilation; but it is sufficiently clear from the evidence as a whole that continued existence in a condition of darkness and misery was believed to be their portion. And as there were degrees in the happiness of the blessed, so also in the punishment of the lost (Book of the Dead, tr. Budge, London, 1901).

(c) Indian

In the Vedic, the earliest historical form of the Indian religion, eschatological belief is simpler and purer than in the Brahministic and Buddhistic forms that succeeded it. Individual immortality is clearly taught. There is a kingdom of the dead under the rule of Yama, with distinct realms for the good and the wicked. The good dwell in a realm of light and share in the feasts of the gods; the wicked are banished to a place of "nethermost darkness". Already, however, in the later Vedas, where these beliefs and developed expression, retribution begins to be ruled more by ceremonial observances than by strictly moral tests. On the other hand, there is no trace as yet of the dreary doctrine of transmigration, but critics profess to discover the germs of later pantheism.

In Brahminism retribution gains in prominence and severity, but becomes hopelessly involved in transmigration, and is made more and more dependent either on sacrificial observances or on theosophical knowledge. Though after death there are numerous heavens and hells for the reward and punishment of every degree of merit and demerit, these are not final states, but only so many preludes to further rebirths in higher or lower forms. Pantheistic absorption in Brahma, the world- soul and only reality, with the consequent extinction of individual personalities - this is the only final solution of the problem of existence, the only salvation to which man may ultimately look forward. But it is a salvation which only a few may hope to reach after the present life, the few who have acquired a perfect knowledge of Brahma. The bulk of men who cannot rise to this high philosophic wisdom may succeed, by means of sacrificial observances, in gaining a temporary heaven, but they are destined to further births and deaths.

Buddhist eschatology still further develops and modifies the philosophical side of the Brahministic doctrine of salvation, and culminates in what is, strictly speaking, the negation of eschatology and of all theology -- a religion without a God, and a lofty moral code without hope of reward or fear of punishment hereafter. Existence itself, or at least individual existence, is the primary evil; and the craving for existence, with the many forms of desire it begets, is the source of all the misery in which life is inextricably involved. Salvation, or the state of Nirvana, is to be attained by the utter extinction of every kind of desire, and this is possible by knowledge -- not the knowledge of God or the soul, as in Brahminism, but the purely philosophical knowledge of the real truth of things. For all who do not reach this state of philosophic enlightenment or who fail to live up to its requirements -- that is to say for the vast bulk of mankind -- there is nothing in prospect save a dreary cycle of deaths and rebirths with intercalated heavens and hells; and in Buddhism this doctrine takes on a still more dread and inexorable character than pre-Buddhistic Brahminism. (See BUDDHISM)

(d) Persian

In the ancient Persian religion (Zoroastrianism, Mazdaism, Parseeism) we meet with what is perhaps, in its better elements, the highest type of ethnic eschatology. But as we know it in the Parsee literature, it contains elements that were probably borrowed from other religions; and as some of this literature is certainly post-Christian, the possibility of Jewish and even Christian ideas having influenced the later eschatological developments is not to be lost sight of. The radical defect of the Persian religion was its dualistic conception of deity. The physical and moral world is the theatre of a perpetual conflict between Ahura Mazda (Ormuzd), the good, and Angra-Mainyu (Ahriman), the evil, principle, co-creators of the universe and of man. Yet the evil principle is not eternal ex parte post; he will finally be vanquished and exterminated. A pure monotheistic Providence promises at times to replace dualism, but never quite succeeds -- the latest effort in this direction being the belief in Zvran Akarana, or Boundless Time as the supreme deity above both Ahriman and Ormuzd. Morality has its sanction not merely in future retribution, but in the present assurance that every good and pious deed is a victory for the cause of Ahura Mazda; but the call to the individual to be active in this cause, though vigorous and definite enough, is never quite free from ritual and ceremonial conditions, and as time goes on becomes more and more complicated by these observances, especially by the laws of purity. Certain elements are holy (fire, earth, water), certain others unholy or impure (dead bodies, the breath, and all that leaves the body, etc.); and to defile oneself or the holy elements by contact with the impure is one of the deadliest sins. Consequently corpses could not be buried or cremated, and were accordingly exposed on platforms erected for the purpose, so that birds of prey might devour them. When the soul leaves the body it has to cross the bridge of Chinvat (or Kinvad), the bridge of the Gatherer, or Accountant. For three days good and evil spirits contend for the possession of the soul, after which the reckoning is taken and the just men is rejoiced by the apparition, in the form of a fair maiden, of his good deeds, words, and thoughts, and passes over safely to a paradise of bliss, while the wicked man is confronted by a hideous apparition of his evil deeds, and is dragged down to hell. If the judgment is neutral the soul is reserved in an intermediate state (so at least in the Pahlavi books) till the decision at the last day. The developed conception of the last days, as it appears in the later literature, has certain remarkable affinities with Jewish Messianic and millennial expectations. A time during which Ahriman will gain the ascendancy is to be followed by two millennial periods, in each of which a great prophet will appear to herald the coming of Soshyant (or Sosioch), the Conqueror and Judge who will raise the dead to life. The resurrection will occupy fifty-seven years and will be followed by the general judgement, the separation of the good from the wicked, and the passing of both through a purgatorial fire gentle for the just, terrible for sinners, but leading to the restoration of all. Next will follow the final combat between the good and the evil spirits, in which the latter will perish, all except Ahriman and the serpent Azhi, whose destruction is reserved to Ahura Mazda and Scraosha, the priest-god. And last of all hell itself will be purged, and the earth renewed by purifying fire.

(e) Greek

Greek eschatology as reflected in the Homeric poems remains at a low level. It is only very vaguely retributive and is altogether cheerless in its outlook. Life on earth, for all its shortcomings, is the highest good for men, and death the worst of evils. Yet death is not extinction. The psyche survives - not the purely spiritual soul of later Greek and Christian thought, but an attenuated, semi-material ghost, or shade, or image, of the earthly man; and the life of this shade in the underworld is a dull, impoverished, almost functionless existence. Nor is there any distinction of fates either by way of happiness or of misery in Hades. The judicial office of Minos is illusory and has nothing to do with earthly conduct; and there is only one allusion to the Furies suggestive of their activity among the dead (Iliad XIX, 258-60). Tartarus, the lower hell, is reserved for a few special rebels against the gods, and the Elysian Fields for a few special favourites chosen by divine caprice.

In later Greek thought touching the future life there are notable advances beyond the Homeric state, but it is doubtful whether the average popular faith ever reached a much higher level. Among early philosophers Anaxagoras contributes to the notion of a purely spiritual soul; but a more directly religious contribution is made by the Eleusinian and Orphic mysteries, to the influence of which in brightening and moralizing the hope of a future life we have the concurrent witness of philosophers, poets, and historians. In the Eleusinian mysteries there seems to have been no definite doctrinal teaching - merely the promise or assurance for the initiated of the fullness of life hereafter. With the Orphic, on the other hand, the divine origin and pre- existence of the soul, for which the body is but a temporary prison, and the doctrine of a retributive transmigration are more or less closely associated. It is hard to see how far the common belief of the people was influenced by these mysteries, but in poetical and philosophical literature their influence is unmistakable. This is seen especially in Pindar among the poets, and in Plato among the philosophers. Pindar has a definite promise of a future life of bliss for the good or the initiated, and not merely for a few, but for all. Even for the wicked who descend to Hades there is hope; having, purged their wickedness they obtain rebirth on earth, and if, during three successive existences, they prove themselves worthy of the boon, they will finally attain to happiness in the Isles of the Blest. Though Plato's teaching is vitiated by the doctrine of pre-existence, metempsychosis, and other serious errors it represents the highest achievement of pagan philosophic speculation on the subject of the future life. The divine dignity, spirituality, and essential immortality of the soul being established, the issues of the future for every soul are made clearly dependent on its moral conduct in the present life in the body. There is a divine judgment after death, a heaven, a hell, and an intermediate state for penance and purification; and rewards and punishments are graduated according to the merits and demerits of each. The incurably wicked are condemned to everlasting punishment in Tartarus; the less wicked or indifferent go also to Tartarus or to the Acherusian Lake, but only for a time; those eminent for goodness go to a happy home, the highest reward of all being for those who have purified themselves by philosophy.

From the foregoing sketch we are able to judge both of the merits and defects of ethnic systems of eschatology. Their merits are perhaps enhanced when they are presented, as above, in isolation from the other features of the religions to which they belonged. Yet their defects are obvious enough; and even those of them that were best and most promising turned out, historically, to be failures. The precious elements of eschatological truth contained in the Egyptian religion were associated with error and superstition, and were unable to save the religion from sinking to the state of utter degeneration in which it is found at the approach of the Christian Era. Similarly, the still richer and more profound eschatologies of the Persian religion, vitiated by dualism and other corrupting influences, failed to realize the promise it contained, and has survived only as a ruin in modern Parseeism. Plato's speculative teaching failed to influence in any notable degree the popular religion of the Greco-Roman world; it failed to convert even the philosophical few; and in the hands of those who did profess to adopt it, Platonism, uncorrected by Christianity ran to seed in Pantheism and other forms of error.


Without going into details either by way of exposition or of criticism, it will be sufficient to point out how Old Testament eschatology compares with ethnic systems, and how notwithstanding its deficiencies in point of clearness and completeness, it was not an unworthy preparation for the fullness of Christian Revelation.

(1) Old Testament eschatology, even in its earliest and most imperfect form, shares in the distinctive character which belongs to Old Testament religion generally. In the first place, as a negative distinction, we note the entire absence of certain erroneous ideas and tendencies that have a large place in ethnic religions. There is no pantheism or dualism no doctrine of pre-existence (Wisdom 8:17-20 does not necessarily imply this doctrine, as has sometimes been contended) or of metempsychosis; nor is there any trace, as might have been expected, of Egyptian ideas or practices. In the next place, on the positive side, the Old Testament stands apart from ethnic religions in its doctrine of God and of man in relation to God. Its doctrine of God is pure and uncompromising monotheism; the universe is ruled by the wisdom, Justice, and omnipotence of the one, true God. And man is created by God in His own image and likeness, and destined to relations of friendship and fellowship with Him. Here we have revealed in clear and definite terms the basal doctrines which are at the root of eschatological truth, and which, once they had taken hold of the life of a people, were bound, even without new additions to the revelation, to safeguard the purity of an inadequate eschatology and to lead in time to richer and higher developments. Such additions and developments occur in Old Testament teaching; but before noticing them it is well to call attention to the two chief defects, or limitations, which attach to the earlier eschatology and continue, by their persistence in popular belief, to hinder more or less the correct understanding and acceptance by the Jewish people as a whole of the highest eschatological utterances of their own inspired teachers.

(2) The first of these defects is the silence of the earlier and of some of the later books on the subject of moral retribution after death, or at least the extreme vagueness of such passages in these books as might be understood to refer to this subject. Death is not extinction; but Sheol, the underworld of the dead, in early Hebrew thought is not very different from the Babylonian Aralu or the Homeric Hades, except that Jahve is God even there. It is a dreary abode in which all that is prized in life, including friendly intercourse with God, comes to an end without any definite promise of renewal. Dishonour incurred in life or in death, clings to a man in Sheol, like the honour he may have won by a virtuous life on earth; but otherwise conditions in Sheol are not represented as retributive, except in the vaguest way. Not that a more definite retribution or the hope of renewal to a life of blessedness is formally denied and excluded; it simply fails to find utterance in earlier Old Testament records. Religion is pre-eminently an affair of this life, and retribution works out here on earth. This idea which to us seems so strange, must, to be fairly appreciated, be taken in conjunction with the national as opposed to the individual viewpoint [see under (3) of this section]; and allowance must also be made for its pedagogic value for a people like the early Hebrews. Christ himself explains why Moses permitted divorce ("by reason of the hardness of your heart", Matthew 19:8); revelation and legislation had to be tempered to the capacity of a singularly practical and unimaginative people, who were more effectively confirmed in the worship and service of God by a vivid sense of His retributive providence here on earth than they would have been but a higher and fuller doctrine of future immortality with its postponement of moral rewards. Nor must we exaggerate the insufficiency of this early point of view. It gave a deep religious value and significance to every event of the present life, and raised morality above the narrow, utilitarian standpoint. Not worldly prosperity as such was the ideal of the pious Israelite, but prosperity bestowed by God as the gracious reward of fidelity in keeping His Commandments. Yet, when all has been said, the inadequacy of this belief for the satisfaction of individual aspirations must be admitted; and this inadequacy was bound to prove itself sooner or later in experience. Even the substitution of the national for the individual standpoint could not indefinitely hinder this result.

(3) The tendency to sink the individual in the nation and to treat the latter as the religious unit was one of the most marked characteristics of Hebrew faith. And this helped very much to support and prolong the other limitation just noticed, according to which retribution was looked for in this life. Deferred and disappointed personal hopes could be solaced by the thought of their present or future realization in the nation. It was only when the national calamities, culminating in the exile, had shattered for a time the people's hope of a glorious theocratic kingdom that the eschatology of the individual became prominent; and with the restoration there was a tendency to revert to the national point of view. It is true of the 0.T. as a whole that the eschatology of the people overshadows that of the individual, though it is true at the same time that, in and through the former, the latter advances to a clear and definite assurance of a personal resurrection from the dead, at least for the children of Israel who are to share, if found worthy, in the glories of the Messianic Age.

It is beyond the scope of this article to attempt to trace the growth or describe the several phases of this national eschatology, which centres in the hope of the establishment of a theocratic and Messianic kingdom on earth (see MESSIAS). However spiritually this idea may be found expressed in Old Testament prophecies, as we read them now in the light of their progressive fulfillment in the New Testament Dispensation, the Jewish people as a whole clung to a material and political interpretation of the kingdom, coupling their own domination as a people with the triumph of God and the worldwide establishment of His rule. There is much, indeed, to account for this in the obscurity of the prophecies themselves. The Messias as a distinct person is not always mentioned in connexion with the inauguration of the kingdom, which leaves room for the expectation of a theophany of Jahve in the character of judge and ruler. But even when the person and place of the Messias are distinctly foreshadowed, the fusion together in prophecy of what we have learned to distinguish as His first and His second coming tends to give to the whole picture of the Messianic kingdom an eschatological character that belongs in reality only to its final stage. It is thus the resurrection of the dead in Isaias, xxvi, 19, and Daniel, xii, 2, is introduced; and many of the descriptions foretelling "the day of the Lord", the judgment on Jews and Gentiles, the renovation of the earth and other phenomena that usher in that day while applicable in a limited sense to contemporary events and to the inauguration of the Christian Era, are much more appropriately understood of the end of the world. It is not, therefore, surprising that the religious hopes of the Jewish nation should have be come so predominantly eschatological, and that the popular imagination, foreshortening the perspective of Divine Revelation, should have learned to look for the establishment on earth of the glorious Kingdom of God, which Christians are assured will be realized only in heaven at the close of the present dispensation.

(4) Passing from these general observations which seem necessary for the true understanding of Old Testament eschatology, a brief reference will be made to the passages which exhibit the growth of a higher and fuller doctrine of immortality. The recognition of individual as opposed to mere corporate responsibility and retribution may be reckoned, at least remotely, as a gain to eschatology, even when retribution is confined chiefly to this life; and this principle is repeatedly recognized in the earliest books. (See Genesis 18:25; Exodus 32:33; Numbers 16:22; Deuteronomy 7:10; 24:16; 2 Kings 24:17; 2 Kings 14:6; Isaiah 3:10 sq.; 33:15 sqq.; Jeremiah 12:1 sq.; 17:5-10; 32:18 sq.; Ezekiel 14:12-20; 18:4, 18 sqq.; Psalms, passim; Proverbs 2:21 sq.; 10:2; 11:19, 31; etc.) It is recognized also in the very terms of the problem dealt with in the Book of Job.

But, coming to higher things, we find in the Psalms and in Job the clear expression of a hope or assurance for the just of a life of blessedness after death. Here is voiced, under Divine inspiration, the innate craving of the righteous soul for everlasting fellowship with God, the protest of a strong and vivid faith against the popular conception of Sheol. Omitting doubtful passages, it is enough to refer to Psalms xv (A.V. xvi), xvi (A.V. xvii), xlviii (A.V. xlix ), and lxxii (A.V. lxxiii). Of these it is not impossible to explain the first two as prayers for deliverance from some imminent danger of death, but the assurance they express is too absolute and universal to admit this interpretation as the most natural. And this assurance becomes still more definite in the other two psalms, by reason of the contrast which death is asserted to introduce between the fates of the just and the impious. The same faith emerges in the Book of Job, first as a hope somewhat questionably expressed, and then as an assured conviction. Despairing of vindication in this life and rebelling against the thought that righteousness should remain finally unrewarded, the sufferer seeks consolation in the hope of a renewal of God's friendship beyond the grave: "O that thou wouldest hide me in Sheol, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me. If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my warfare would I wait, till my release should come" (xiv, 13 sq.). In xvii, 18 - xvii, 9, the expression of this hope is more absolute; and in xix, 23-27, it takes the form of a definite certainty that he will see God, his Redeemer: "But I know that my Redeemer liveth and that he shall stand up at the last upon the earth [dust]; and after this my skin has been destroyed, yet from [al. without] my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself and my eyes shall behold, and not another" (25 - 27). In his risen body he will see God, according to the Vulgate (LXX) reading: "and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth. And I shall be clothed again with my skill, and in my flesh I shall see my God" (25 - 26).

The doctrine of the resurrection finds definite expression in the Prophets; and in Isaiah 26:19: "thy dead shall live, my dead bodies shall rise again. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust" etc.; and Daniel 12:2: "and many of those that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake: some unto everlasting life, and others to everlasting shame and contempt" etc., it is clearly a personal resurrection that is taught -- in Isaias a resurrection of righteous Israelites; in Daniel, of both the righteous and the wicked. The judgment, which in Daniel is connected with the resurrection, is also personal; and the same is true of the judgment of the living (Jews and Gentiles) which in various forms the prophecies connect with the "day of the Lord". Some of the Psalms (e.g. 48) seem to imply a judgment of individuals, good and bad, after death; and the certainty of a future judgment of "every work, whether it be good or evil", is the final solution of the moral enigmas of earthly life offered by Ecclesiastes (xii, 13-14; cf. iii, 17). Coming to the later (deuterocanonical) books of the 0. T. we have clear evidence in II Mach. of Jewish faith not only in the resurrection of the body (vii, 9-14), but in the efficacy of prayers and sacrifices for the dead who have died in godliness (xi, 43 sqq.). And in the second and first centuries B.C., in the Jewish apocryphal literature, new eschatological developments appear, chiefly in the direction of a more definite doctrine of retribution after death. The word Sheol is still most commonly understood of the general abode of the departed awaiting the resurrection, this abode having different divisions for the reward of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked; in reference to the latter, Sheol is sometimes simply equivalent to hell. Gehenna is the name usually applied to the final place of punishment of the wicked after the last judgment, or even immediately after death; while paradise is often used to designate the intermediate abode of the souls of the just and heaven their home of final blessedness. Christ's use of these terms shows that the Jews of His day were sufficiently familiar with their New Testament meanings.


In this article there is no critical discussion of New Testament eschatology nor any attempt to trace the historical developments of Catholic teaching from Scriptural and traditional data; only a brief conspectus is given of the developed Catholic system. For critical and historical details and for the refutation of opposing views the reader is referred to the special articles dealing with the various doctrines. The eschatological summary which speaks of the "four last things" (death, judgment, heaven, and hell) is popular rather than scientific. For systematic treatment it is best to distinguish between (A) individual and (B) universal and cosmic eschatology, including under (A):

death; the particular judgment; heaven, or eternal happiness; purgatory, or the intermediate state; hell, or eternal punishment;

and under (B):

the approach of the end of the world; the resurrection of the body; the general judgment; and the final consummation of all things.

The superiority of Catholic eschatology consists in the fact that, without professing to answer every question that idle curiosity may suggest, it gives a clear, consistent, satisfying statement of all that need at present be known, or can profitably be understood, regarding the eternal issues of life and death for each of us personally, and the final consummation of the cosmos of which we are a part.

(A) Individual Eschatology


Death, which consists in the separation of soul and body, is presented under many aspects in Catholic teaching, but chiefly

as being actually and historically, in the present order of supernatural Providence, the consequence and penalty of Adam's sin (Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12, etc.);

as being the end of man's period of probation, the event which decides his eternal destiny (2 Corinthians 5:10; John 9:4; Luke 12:40; 16:19 sqq.; etc.), though it does not exclude an intermediate state of purification for the imperfect who die in God's grace; and

as being universal, though as to its absolute universality (for those living at the end of the world) there is some room for doubt because of I Thess., iv, 14 sqq.; I Cor., xv, 51; II Tim., iv, 1.

Particular Judgment

That a particular judgment of each soul takes place at death is implied in many passages of the New Testament (Luke 16:22 sqq.; 23:43; Acts 1:25; etc.), and in the teaching of the Council of Florence (Denzinger, Enchiridion, no. 588) regarding the speedy entry of each soul into heaven, purgatory, or hell.


Heaven is the abode of the blessed, where (after the resurrection with glorified bodies) they enjoy, in the company of Christ and the angels, the immediate vision of God face to face, being supernaturally elevated by the light of glory so as to be capable of such a vision. There are infinite degrees of glory corresponding to degrees of merit, but all are unspeakably happy in the eternal possession of God. Only the perfectly pure and holy can enter heaven; but for those who have attained that state, either at death or after a course of purification in purgatory, entry into heaven is not deferred, as has sometimes been erroneously held, till after the General Judgment.


Purgatory is the intermediate state of unknown duration in which those who die imperfect, but not in unrepented mortal sin, undergo a course of penal purification, to qualify for admission into heaven. They share in the communion of saints and are benefited by our prayers and good works (see DEAD, PRAYERS FOR THE). The denial of purgatory by the Reformers introduced a dismal blank in their eschatology and, after the manner of extremes, has led to extreme reactions.


Hell, in Catholic teaching, designates the place or state of men (and angels) who, because of sin, are excluded forever from the Beatific Vision. In this wide sense it applies to the state of those who die with only original sin on their souls (Council of Florence, Denzinger, no. 588), although this is not a state of misery or of subjective punishment of any kind, but merely implies the objective privation of supernatural bliss, which is compatible with a condition of perfect natural happiness. But in the narrower sense in which the name is ordinarily used, hell is the state of those who are punished eternally for unrepented personal mortal sin. Beyond affirming the existence of such a state, with varying degrees of punishment corresponding to degrees of guilt and its eternal or unending duration, Catholic doctrine does not go. It is a terrible and mysterious truth, but it is clearly and emphatically taught by Christ and the Apostles. Rationalists may deny the eternity of hell in spite of the authority of Christ, and professing Christians, who are unwilling to admit it, may try to explain away Christ's words; but it remains as the Divinely revealed solution of the problem of moral evil. (See HELL.) Rival solutions have been sought for in some form of the theory of restitution or, less commonly, in the theory of annihilation or conditional immortality. The restitutionist view, which in its Origenist form was condemned at the Council of Constantinople in 543, and later at the Fifth General Council (see APOCATASTASIS), is the cardinal dogma of modern Universalism, and is favoured more or less by liberal Protestants and Anglicans. Based on an exaggerated optimism for which present experience offers no guarantee, this view assumes the all-conquering efficacy of the ministry of grace in a life of probation after death, and looks forward to the ultimate conversion of all sinners and the voluntary disappearance of moral evil from the universe. Annihilationists, on the other hand, failing to find either in reason or Revelation any grounds for such optimism, and considering immortality itself to be a grace and not the natural attribute of the soul, believe that the finally impenitent will be annihilated or cease to exist -- that God will thus ultimately be compelled to confess the failure of His purpose and power.

(B) Universal and Cosmic Eschatology

The Approach of the End of the World

Notwithstanding Christ's express refusal to specify the time of the end (Mark 13:32; Acts 1:6 sq.), it was a common belief among early Christians that the end of the world was near. This seemed to have some support in certain sayings of Christ in reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, which are set down in the Gospels side by side with prophecies relating to the end (Matthew 24; Luke 21), and in certain passages of the Apostolic writings, which might, not unnaturally, have been so understood (but see 2 Thessalonians 2:2 sqq., where St. Paul corrects this impression). On the other hand, Christ had clearly stated that the Gospel was to be preached to all nations before the end (Matthew 24:14), and St. Paul looked forward to the ultimate conversion of the Jewish people as a remote event to be preceded by the conversion of the Gentiles (Romans 11:25 sqq.). Various others are spoken of as preceding or ushering in the end, as a great apostasy (2 Thessalonians 2:3 sqq.), or falling away from faith or charity (Luke 18:8; 17:26; Matthew 24:12), the reign of Antichrist, and great social calamities and terrifying physical convulsions. Yet the end will come unexpectedly and take the living by surprise.

The Resurrection of the Body

The visible coming (parousia) of Christ in power and glory will be the signal for the rising of the dead (see RESURRECTION). It is Catholic teaching that all the dead who are to be judged will rise, the wicked as well as the Just, and that they will rise with the bodies they had in this life. But nothing is defined as to what is required to constitute this identity of the risen and transformed with the present body. Though not formally defined, it is sufficiently certain that there is to be only one general resurrection, simultaneous for the good and the bad. (See MILLENNIUM.) Regarding the qualities of the risen bodies in the case of the just we have St. Paul's description in 1 Corinthians 15 (cf. Matthew 13:43; Philippians 3:21) as a basis for theological speculation; but in the case of the damned we can only affirm that their bodies will be incorruptible.

The General Judgment

Regarding the general judgment there is nothing of importance to be added here to the graphic description of the event by Christ Himself, who is to be Judge (Matthew 25, etc.). (See JUDGMENT, GENERAL.)

The Consummation of All Things

There is mention also of the physical universe sharing in the general consummation (2 Peter 3:13; Romans 8:19 sqq.; Revelation 21:1 sqq.). The present heaven and earth will be destroyed, and a new heaven and earth take their place. But what, precisely, this process will involve, or what purpose the renovated world will serve is not revealed. It may possibly be part of the glorious Kingdom of Christ of which "there shall be no end". Christ's militant reign is to cease with the accomplishment of His office as Judge (1 Corinthians 15:24 sqq.), but as King of the elect whom He has saved He will reign with them in glory forever.

Publication information Written by P.J. Toner. Transcribed by Michael C. Tinkler. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume V. Published 1909. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York


Jewish Viewpoint Information

The Day of the Lord.

Gen. xlix. 1; comp. Gen. R. xcviii., "the Messianic end" ; Isa. ii. 1; also "the end," Dent. xxxii. 20; Ps. lxxiii. 17; Ben Sira vii. 36, xxviii. 6; comp. "Didache," xvi. 3): The doctrine of the "last things." Jewish eschatology deals primarily and principally with the final destiny of the Jewish nation and the world in general, and only secondarily with the future of the individual; the main concern of Hebrew legislator, prophet, and apocalyptic writer being Israel as the people of God and the victory of His truth and justice on earth. The eschatological view, that is, the expectation of the greater things to come in the future, underlies the whole construction of the history of both Israel and mankind in the Bible. The patriarchal history teems with such prophecies (Gen. xii. 3, 16; xv. 14; xviii. 18; xxii. 18; xxvi. 4); the Mosaic legislation has more or less explicitly in view the relation of Israel to the nations and the final victory of the former (Ex. xix.. 5; Lev. xxvi. 45; Num. xxiii. 10, xxiv. 17-24; Deut. iv. 6; vii. 6 et seq. ; xxviii. 1, 10; xxx. 3 et seq. ; xxxii. 43; xxxiii. 29). But it was chiefly the Prophets who dwelt with great emphasis upon the Day of the Lord as the future Day of Judgment. Originally spoken of as the day when Yhwh as the God of heaven visits the earth with all His terrible powers of devastation (comp. Gen. xix. 24; Ex. ix. 23, xi. 4, xii. 12; Josh. x. 11), the term was employed by the Prophets in an eschatological sense and invested with a double character: on the one hand, as the time of the manifestation of God's punitive powers of justice directed against all that provokes His wrath, and, on the other hand, as the time of the vindication and salvation of the righteous. In the popular mind the Day of the Lord brought disaster only to the enemies of Israel; to His people it brought victory. But this is contradicted by the prophet Amos (iii. 2, v. 20). For Isaiah, likewise, the Day of the Lord brings terror and ruin to Judah and Israel (Isa. ii. 12, x. 3, xxii. 5; comp. Micah i. 3) as well as to other nations (Isa. xiv. 25, xxiv.-xxv.). In the same measure, however, as Israel suffers defeat at the hand of the great world-powers, the Day of the Lord in the prophetic conception becomes a day of wrath for the heathen world and of triumph for Israel. In Zeph. i-iii. it is a universal day of doom for all idolaters, including the inhabitants of Judea, but it ends with the glory of the remnant of Israel, while the assembled heathen powers are annihilated (iii. 8-12). This feature of the final destruction, before the city of Jerusalem, of the heathen world-empires becomes prominent and typical in all later prophecies (Ezek. xxxviii., the defeat of Gog and Magog; Isa. xiii. 6-9, Babel's fall; Zech. xii. 2 et seq., xiv. 1 et seq.; Hag. i. 6; Joel iv. [iii.] 2 et seq.; Isa. lxvi. 15 et seq.), the Day of the Lord being said to come as "a fire which refines the silver" (Mal. iii. 2 et seq., 9; comp. Isa. xxxiii. 14 et seq.). Especially strong is the contrast between the fate which awaits the heathen and the salvation promised Israel in Isa. xxxiv.-xxxv., whereas other prophecies accentuate rather the final conversion of the heathen nations to the belief in the Lord (Isa. ii. 1 et seq., xlix. lxvi. 6-21, Zech. viii. 21 et seq., xiv. 16 et seq.).

Resurrection of the Dead.

In addition to this conception of the Day of the Lord, the Prophets developed the hope of an ideal Messianic future through the reign of a son of the house of David-the golden age of paradisiacal bliss, of which the traditions of all the ancient nations spoke (see Dillmann's commentary to Gen. ii-iii., p. 46). It would come in the form of a world of perfect peace and harmony among all creatures, the angelic state of man before his sin (Isa. xi. 1-10, lxv. 17-25: "new heavens and a new earth"). It was only a step further to predict the visitation of all the kingdoms of the earth, to be followed by the swallowing up of death forever and a resurrection of the dead in Israel, so that all the people of the Lord might witness the glorious salvation (Isa. xxiv. 21-xxv. 8, xxvi. 19). The hope of resurrection had been expressed by Ezekiel only with reference to the Jewish nation as such (Ezek. xxxvii.). Under Persian influence, however, the doctrine of resurrection underwent a change, and was made part of the Day of Judgment; hence in Dan. xii. 2 the resurrection is extended to both the wicked and the righteous: the latter "shall awake to everlasting life," the former "to shame and everlasting horror" (A. V. "contempt").

The Formation of an Eschatological System.

It is certainly incorrect to speak of an eschatological system of the Bible, in which there is no trace of an established belief in the future life. Both Ben Sira and Tobit still adhere to the ancient view of Sheol as the land of the shades (see Sheol). It was the future destiny of the nation which concerned the Prophets and the people; and the hope voiced by prophet, psalmist, and liturgical poet was simply that the Lord as the Only One will establish His kingdom over the whole earth (Ex. xv. 18; Micah ii. 13, iv. 7; Obad. 21; Zech. xiv. 9; Isa. xxiv. 23; Ps. xciii. 1, xcvi. 10, xcvii. 1, xcix. 1). This implied not only the reunion of the twelve tribes (Ezek. xxxvii. 16 et seq.; Zeph. iii. 20), but the conversion of the heathen surviving the divine day of wrath as well as the downfall of the heathen powers (Zeph. iii. 8-9; Zech. xiv. 9-19; Isa. lvi. 6, lxiii. 1-6; Ps. ii. 8-12). It seems that, because of the tribulation which the house of Zerubbabel had to undergo-not, as Dalman ("Die Worte Jesu," p. 243) thinks, "because the Messiah was not an essential part of the national hope"-the expectation of a Messiah from the house of David was kept in the background, and the prophet Elijah, as the forerunner of the great Day of the Lord who would reassemble all the tribes of Israel, was placed in the foreground (Ecclus. [Sirach] xlviii. 10; I Mace. xiv. 41). See Elijah.

The "Kingdom of God."

It is difficult to say how far the Sadducees or the ruling house of Zadok shared in the Messianic hope of the people (see Sadducees). It was the class of the Ḥasidim and their successors, the Essenes, who made a special study of the prophetical writings in order to learn the future destiny of Israel and mankind (Dan. ix. 2; Josephus, "B. J." ii. 8, §§ 6, 12; idem, "Ant." xiii. 5, § 9, where the term εἱμαρμένη is to be taken eschatologically). While announcing the coming events in visions and apocalyptic writings concealed from the multitude (see Apocalyptic Literature), they based their calculations upon unfulfilled prophecies such as Jeremiah's seventy years (Jer. xxv. 11, xxix. 10), and accordingly tried to fix "the end of days" (Dan. ix. 25 et seg.; Enoch, lxxxix. 59). The Talmud reproachingly calls these men, who frequently brought disappointment and wo upon the people, "mahshebe ḳeẓim" (calculators of the [Messianic] ends: Sanh. 97b; comp. 92b, 99a; Ket. 111a; Shab. 138b; 'Eduy. ii. 9-10; for the expression , see Dan. xii. 4, 13; Assumptio Mosis, i. 18, xii. 4; II Esd. iii. 14; Syriac Apoc. Baruch, xxvii. 15; Matt. xiii. 39, xxiv. 3). It can not be denied, however, that these Ḥasidean or apocalyptic writers took a sublime view of the entire history of the world in dividing it into great worldepochs counted either after empires or millenniums, and in seeing its consummation in the establishment of "the kingdom of the Lord," called also, in order to avoid the use of the Sacred Name, ("the kingdom of heaven"). This prophetic goal of human history at once lent to all struggle and suffering of the people of God a higher meaning and purpose, and from this point of view new comfort was offered to the saints in their trials. This is the idea underlying the contrast between the "kingdoms of the powers of the earth" and "the kingdom of God" which is to be delivered over at the end of time to the saints, the people of Israel (Dan. ii. 44; vii. 14, 27). It is, however, utterly erroneous to assert, as do Schürer ("Geschichte," ii. 504 et seq.) and Bousset (" Religion des Judenthums," pp. 202 et seq.), that this kingdom of God meant a political triumph of the Jewish people and the annihilation of all other nations. As may be learned from Tobit xiii. 11 et seq., xiv. 6, quoted by Schürer (l.c. ii. 507), and from the ancient New-Year's liturgy (see also 'Alenu), "the conversion of all creatures to become one single band to do, God's will" is the foremost object of Israel's Messianic hope; only the removal of "the kingdom of violence" must precede the establishment of God's kingdom. This hope for the coming of the kingdom of God is expressed also in the Ḳaddish (comp. Lord's Prayer) and in the eleventh benediction of the "Shemoneh 'Esreh," whereas the destruction of the kingdom of wickedness first found expression in the added (nineteenth) benediction (afterward directed chiefly against obnoxious informers and heretics; see Liturgy), and was in the Hellenistic propaganda literature, the Sibyllines (iii. 47, 767 et al.), emphasized especially with a view to the conversion of the heathen.


In contrasting the future kingdom of God with the kingdom of the heathen powers of the world the apocalyptic writers were undoubtedly influenced by Parsism, which saw the world divided between Ahuramazda and Angro-mainyush, who battle with each other until finally the latter, at the end of the fourth period of the twelve world-millenniums, is defeated by the former after a great crisis in which the bad principle seems to win the upper hand (see Plutarch, "On Isis and Osiris," ch. 47; Bundahis, xxxiv. 1; "Bahman Yasht," i. 5, ii. 22 et seq. ; "S. B. E." v. 149, 193 et seq. ; Stade, "Ueber den Einfluss, des Parsismus auf das Judenthum," 1898, pp. 145 et seq.). The idea of four world-empires succeeding one another and represented by the four metals (Dan. ii., vii.), which also has its parallel in Parsism ("Bahman Yasht," i. 3), and in Hindu, Greek, and Roman traditions ("Laws of Manes," i. 71 et seq. ; Hesiod, "Works and Days," pp. 109 et seq. ; Ovid, "Metamorphoses," i. 89), seems to rest upon an ancient tradition which goes back to Babylonia (see Gunkel's commentary on Genesis, 1902, p. 241). Gunkel finds in the twelve millenniums of Persian belief an astronomical world-year with four seasons, and sees the four Babylonian world-epochs reproduced in the four successive periods of Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses. The four periods occur again in Enoch, lxxxix. et seq. (see Kautzsch, "Pseudepigraphen," p. 294) and Rev. vi. 1; also in Zech. ii. 1 (A. V. i. 18), vi.1; and Dan. viii. 22; and the four undivided animals in the vision of Abraham (Gen. xv. 9) were by the early haggadists (Johanan b. Zakkai, in Gen. R. xliv.; Apoc. Abraham, xv., xxviii.) referred to the four world-empires in an eschatological sense.

A World-Week.

The Perso-Babylonian world-year of twelve millenniums, however, was transformed in Jewish eschatology into a world-week of seven millenniums corresponding with the week of Creation, the verse "A thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday" (Ps. xc. 5 [A. V. 4]) having suggested the idea that the present world of toil ("'olam ha-zeh") is to be followed by a Sabbatical millennium, "the world to come" ("'olam ha-ba'": Tamid vii. 4; R. H. 31a; Sanh. 97a; Ab. R. N. i., ed. Schechter, p. 5; Enoch, xxiii. 1; II Esdras vii. 30, 43; Testament of Abraham, A. xix., B. vii.; Vita Adæ et Evæ, 42; Rev. xx. 1; II Peter iii. 8; Epistle of Barnabas, xv.; Irenæus, v. 28, 3). Of these the six millenniums were again divided, as in Parsism, into three periods: the first 2,000 years devoid of the Law; the next 2,000 years under the rule of the Law; and the last 2,000 years preparing amid struggles and through catastrophes for the rule of the Messiah (Sanh. 97a; 'Ab. Zarah 9a; Midr. Teh. xc. 17); the Messianic era is said to begin 4,291 years after Creation (comp. the 5,500 years after Creation, after the lapse of which the Messiah is expected, in Vita Adæ et Evæ, 42; also Assumptio Mosis, x. 12). On a probably similar calculation, which placed the destruction of the Second Temple at 3828 (Sanh. l.c.), rests also the division of the world into twelve epochs of 400 years, nine and a half of which epochs had passed at the time of the destruction of the Temple (II Esdras xiv. 11; comp. vii. 28). Twelve periods occur also in the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch (xxvii., liii.) and the Apocalypse of Abraham (xxix.); the ten millenniums of Enoch xxi. 6, however, appear to be identical with the ten weeks in ch. xciii., that is, 10 x 700 years. As a matter of course, Biblical chronology was always so construed as to bring the six millenniums into accord with the Messianic expectations of the time; only by special favor would the mystery of the end, known only to God, be revealed to His saints (Dan. xii. 9; II Esd. iv. 37, xi. 44; Syriac Apoc. Baruch, liv. 1, lxxxi. 4; Matt. xxiv. 36; Pes. 54b). The end was believed to be brought about by the merit of a certain number of saints or martyrs (Enoch, xlvii. 4; II Esd. iv. 36; Rev. vii. 4), or by the completion of the number of human souls sent from their heavenly abode to the earth, the number of created souls being fixed (Syriac Apoc. Baruch, xxiii. 4; 'Ab. Zarah 5a; Yeb. 63b). Finally, it was taught that "he who announces the Messianic time based on calculation forfeits his own share in the future" (R. Jose, in Derek Ereẓ R. xi.) and that "the advent of the Messiah is dependent upon general repentance brought about by the prophet Elijah" (Sanh. 97b; Pirḳe R. El. xliii.; Assumptio Mosis, i. 18).

Travail of the Messianic Time.

There prevails a singular harmony among the apocalyptic writings and traditions, especially regarding the successive stages of the eschatological drama. The first of these is the "travail" of the Messianic time (; literally, "the suffering of the Messiah"; comp. Pesiḳ. R. 21, 34; Shab. 118a; Pes. 118a; Sanh. 98b; Mek., Beshallaḥ, Wayassa', 4, 5; or , Matt. xxiv. 8; Mark xiii. 9, taken from Hosea xiii. 13). The idea that the great redemption shall be preceded by great distress, darkness, and moral decline seems to be based on such prophetic passages as Hosea xiii. 13 et seq.; Joel ii. 10 et seq.; Micah vii. 1-6; Zech. xiv. 6 et seq.; Dan. xii. 1. The view itself, however, is not that of the Prophets, whose outlook is altogether optimistic and eudemonistic (Isa. xi. 1-9, lxv. 17-25), but more in accordance with the older non-Jewish belief in a constant decline of the world, from the golden and silver to the brass and iron age, until it ends in a final cataclysm or conflagration, contemplated alike by old Teuton and Greek legend. It was particularly owing to Persian influence that the contrast between this world, in which evil, death, and sin prevail, and the future world, "which is altogether good" (Tamid l.c.), was so strongly emphasized, and the view prevailed that the transition from the one to the other could be brought about only through a great crisis, the signs of decay of a dying world and the birth-throes of a new one to be ushered into existence. Persian eschatology had no difficulty in utilizing old mythological and cosmological material from Babylonia in picturing the distress and disorder of the last days of the world (Bundahis, xxx. 18 et seq.; Plutarch, l.c. 47; Bahman, l.c. ii. 23 et seq., iii. 60); Jewish eschatology had to borrow the same elsewhere or give Biblical terms and passages a new meaning so as to make all terrestrial and celestial powers appear as participants in the final catastrophe. This world, owing to the sin of the first man (II Esd. iv. 30), or through the fall of the angels (Enoch, vi.-xi.), has been laden with curses and is under the sway of the power of evil, and the end will accordingly be a combat of God with these powers of evil either in the heavens above or on earth (Isa. xxiv. 21 et seq., xxv. 7, xxvii. 1; Dan. vii. 11, viii. 9; Book of Jubilees, xxiii. 29; Test. Patr., Asher, 7, Dan. 5; Assumptio Mosis, x. 1; Psalms of Solomon, ii. 25 et seq.; and see Gunkel, "Schöpfung und Chaos," pp. 171-398). The whole world, then, appears as in a state of rebellion before its downfall. A description of these Messianic woes is given in the Book of Jubilees, xx. 11-25; Sibyllines, ii. 154 et seq., iii. 796 et seq.; Enoch, xcix. 4 et seq., c. 1 et seq.; II Esd. v.-vi.; Syriac Apoc. Baruch xxv.-xxvii., xlviii. 31 et seq., lxx.; Matt. xxiv. 6-29; Rev. vi.-ix.; Soá¹­ah ix. 15; Derek Ereẓ Zuá¹­a x.; Sanh. 96b-97a. "A third part of all the world's woes will come in the generation of the Messiah" (Midr. Teh. Ps. ii. 9). In all these passages evil portents are predicted, such as visions of swords, of blood, and of warfare in the sky (Sibyllines, iii. 795; comp. Luke xxi. 21; Josephus, "B. J.", vi. 5, § 3), disorder in the whole celestial system (Enoch,lxxx. 4-7; II Esd. v. 4; comp. Amos viii. 9; Joel ii. 10), in the produce of the earth (Enoch, lxxx. 2; Book of Jubilees, xxiii. 18; II Esd. vi. 22; Sibyllines, iii. 539), and in human progeny (Book of Jubilees, xxiii. 25; Sibyllines, ii. 154 et seq.; II Esd. v. 8, vi. 21). Birds and beasts, trees, stones, and wells will cease to act in harmony with nature (II Esd. v. 6-8, vi. 24).

Particularly prominent among the plagues of the time, of which Baruch xxviii. 2-3 counts twelve, will be "the sword, famine, earthquake, and fire"; according to Book of Jubilees, xxiii. 13, "illness and pain, frost and fever, famine and death, sword and captivity"; but greater than the terror and havoc caused by the elements will be the moral corruptionand perversion, the wickedness and unchastity anticipated in prophetic visions, and the power of evil spirits (Syriac Apoc. Baruch, l.c. and lxx. 2-8; Book of Jubilees, xxiii. 13-19). This view of the prevalence of the spirit of evil and seduction to sin in the last days received special emphasis in the Ḥasidean schools; hence the striking resemblance between the tannaitic and the apocalyptic picture of the time preceding the Messianic advent: "In the last days false prophets [pseudo-Messiahs] and corrupters will increase and sheep be turned into wolves, love into hatred; lawlessness [see Belial] will prevail, causing men to hate, persecute, and deliver up each other; and Satan, 'the world-deceiver' (see Antichrist), will in the guise of the Son of God perform miracles, and as ruler of the earth commit unheard-of crimes" ("Didache," xvi. 3 et seq.; Sibyllines, ii. 165 et seq., iii. 63; Matt. xxiv. 5-12; II Tim. iii. 1 et seq.). The rabbinic description is similar: "The footsteps of the Messiah [, taken from Ps. lxxxix. 52; comp. the term , "the last days of the rule of Esau"="Edom-Rome"; II Esd. vi. 8-10; comp. Gen. R. lxiii.; Yalḳut and Midrash ha-Gadol, ed. Schechter, on Gen. xxv. 26; Pirḳe R. El. xxxii.] are seen in the turning of the schoolhouse into a brothel, the desolation of Galilee and Gaulanitis, the going about of the scribes and saints as despised beggars, the insolence and lawlessness of the people, the disrespect of the younger generation toward the older, and the turning of the rulers to heresy" (Soṭah ix. 15; Derek Ereẓ Zuṭa x.; Sanh. 97b; Cant. R. ii. 13; Ket. 112b; in these passages amoraim of the second and third centuries are often credited with the views of tannaim of the first; comp. also Shab. 118a with Mek., Beshallaḥ, l.c.). Simon ben Yoḥai (comp. Derek Ereẓ Zuṭa x. with Sanh. l.c.) counts seven periods of tribulation preceding the advent of the son of David. The Abraham Apocalypse (xxx.) mentions ten plagues as being prepared for the heathen of the time: (1) distress; (2) conflagration; (3) pestilence among beasts; (4) famine; (5) earthquakes and wars; (6) hail and frost; (7) wild beasts; (8) pestilence and death among men; (9) destruction and flight (comp. Isa. xxvi. 20; Zech. xiv. 5); and (10) noises and rumblings (comp. in the sixth period of Simon b. Yoḥai; comp. Test. Patr., Levi, 17, where also seven periods precede the kingdom of God).

The War of Gog and Magog.

An important part in the eschatological drama is assigned to Israel's final combat with the combined forces of the heathen nations under the leadership of Gog and Magog, barbarian tribes of the North (Ezek. xxxviii-xxxix.; see Gog and Magog). Assembled for a fierce attack upon Israel in the mountains near Jerusalem, they will suffer a terrible and crushing defeat, and Israel's land will thenceforth forever remain the seat of God's kingdom. Whether originally identical or identified only afterward by Biblical interpretation with the battle in the valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel iv. [A.V.iii.] 12; comp. Zech. xiv. 2 and Isa. xxv. 6, where the great warfare against heathen armies is spoken of), the warfare against Gog and Magog formed the indispensable prelude to the Messianic era in every apocalyptic vision (Sibyllines, iii. 319 et seq., 512 et seq., 632 et seq.; v. 101; Rev. xx. 8; Enoch, lvi. 5 et seq., where the place of Gog and Magog is taken by the Parthians and Medes; II Esd. xiii. 5, "a multitude of men without number from the four winds of the earth"; Syriac Apoc. Baruch, LXX. 7-10; Targ. Yer. to Num. xi. 26, xxiv. 17, Ex. xl. 11, Deut. xxxii. 39, and Isa. xxxiii. 25; comp. Num. xxiv. 7 [Septuagint, Γὼγ for "Agag"]; see Eldad and Medad).

R. Eliezer (Mek., Beshallaḥ, l.c.) mentions the Gog and Magog war together with the Messianic woes and the Last Judgment as the three modes of divine chastisement preceding the millennium. R. Akiba assigns both to the Gog and Magog war and to the Last Judgment a duration of twelve months ('Eduy. ii. 10); Lev. R. xix. has seven years instead, in accordance with Ezek. xxxix. 9; Ps. ii. 1-9 is referred to the war of Gog and Magog ('Ab. Zarah 3b; Ber. 7b; Pesiḥ. ix. 79a; Tan., Noah, ed. Buber, 24; Midr. Teh. Ps. ii.).

The destruction of Gog and Magog's army implies not, as falsely stated by Weber ("Altsynagogale Theologie," 1880, p. 369), followed by Bousset ("Religion des Judenthums," p. 222), the extermination of the Gentile world at the close of the Messianic reign, but the annihilation of the heathen powers who oppose the kingdom of God and the establishing of the Messianic reign (see Enoch, lvi.-lvii., according to which the tribes of Israel are gathered and brought to the Holy Land after the destruction of the heathen hosts; Sifre, Deut. 343; and Targ. Yer. to Num. xi. 26).

The Gentiles who submit to the Law are expected to survive (Syriac Apoc. Baruch, lxxii. 4; Apoc. Abraham, xxxi.); and those nations that did not subjugate Israel will be admitted by the Messiah into the kingdom of God (Pesiḥ. R. 1, after Isa. lxvi. 23). The Messiah is called "Hadrach" (Zech. ix. 1), as the one who leads the heathen world to repentance (), though he is tender to Israel and harsh toward the Gentiles (: Cant. R. vii. 5). The loyalty of the latter will be severely tested ('Ab. Zarah 2b et seq.), while during the established reign of the Messiah the probation time of the heathen will have passed over (Yeb. 24b). "A third part of the heathen world alone will survive" (Sibyllines, iii. 544 et seq., v. 103, after Zech. xiii. 8; in Tan., Shofeṭim, ed. Buber, 10, this third part is referred to Israel, which alone, as the descendants of the three patriarchs, will escape the fire of Gehenna). According to Syriac Apoc. Baruch, xl. 1, 2, it is the leader of the Gog and Magog hosts who will alone survive, to be brought bound before the Messiah on Mount Zion and judged and slain. According to II Esd. xiii. 9 et seq., fire will issue forth from the mouth of the Messiah and consume the whole army. This indicates an identification of Gog and Magog with "the wicked one" of Isa. xi. 4, interpreted as the personification of wickedness, Angro - mainyush (see Armilus). In Midrash Wayosha' (Jellinek, "B. H." i. 56) Gog is the leader of the seventy-two nations of the world, minus one (Israel), and makes war against the Most High; he is smitten down by God. Armilus rises as the last enemy of God and Israel.

Gathering of the Exiles.

The great event preparatory to the reign of the Messiah is the gathering of the exiles, "ḳibbuẓgaliyyot." This hope, voiced in Deut. xxx. 3; Isa. xi. 12; Micah iv. 6, vii. 11; Ezek. xxxix. 27; Zech. xi. 10-12 and Isa. xxxv. 8, is made especially impressive by the description in Isa. xxvii. 13 of the return of all the strayed ones from Assyria and Egypt, and by the announcement that "the Gentiles themselves shall carry Israel's sons and daughters on their arms to Jerusalem with presents for the Lord" (Isa. xlix. 22, lx. 4-9, lxvi. 20). It was accordingly dwelt upon as a miraculous act in the synagogal liturgy and song (Shemoneh 'Esreh; Meg. 17a; Cant. xi. 1, xvii. 31), as well as in apocalyptic visions (Apoc. Abraham, xxxi.; II Esd. xiii. 13; Matt. xxiv. 31). God shall bring them back from the East and the West (Baruch, iv. 37, v. 5 et seq.; Ecclus. [Sirach] xxxvi. 13; Tobit xiii. 13); Elijah shall gather them and the Messiah summon them together (Ecclus. [Sirach] xlviii. 10; Sibyllines, ii. 171-187; Cant. xvii. 26; Targ. Yer. to Ex. vi. 18, xl. 9-10, Num. xxiv. 7, Deut. xxx. 4, Jer. xxxiii. 13). In wagons carried by the winds the exiles shall be borne along with a mighty noise (Enoch, lvii. 1 et seq.; Zeb. 116a; Cant. R. and Haggadat Shir ha-Shirim to Cant. iv. 16; Midr. Teh. to Ps. lxxxvii. 6), and a pillar of light shall lead them (Philo, "De Execrationibus," 8-9). The Lost Ten Tribes shall be miraculously brought back across the mighty waters of the River Euphrates (II Esd. xiii. 39-47; Syriac Apoc. Baruch, lxxvii.; Sanh. x. 13; Tan., Miḳḳez and Shelaḥ, i. 203, iii. 79, ed. Buber, after Isa. xi. 15; see Arzareth; Sambation; Ten Tribes).

The Days of the Messiah.

The central place in the eschatological system is, as a matter of course, occupied by the advent of the messiah. Nevertheless the days of the Messiah ("yemot ha-Mashiaḥ"), the time when the prophetic predictions regarding the reign of the descendant of David find their fulfilment, do not form the end of the world's history, but are merely the necessary preparatory stage to the kingdom of God ("malkut shamayim"), which, when once established, will last forever (Dan. vii. 27; Sibyllines, iii. 47 et seq., 767 et seq.; Mek., Beshallaḥ, 'Amaleḳ, end). The Messiah is merely "the chosen one" (Enoch, xlv. 3, xlix. 2, li. 3 et seq.); he causes the people to seek the Lord (Hosea iii. 5; Isa. xi. 9; Zech. xii. 8; Ezek. xxxiv. 24, xxxvii. 24 et seq.), and, as "the Son of God," causes the nations to worship Him (Enoch, cv. 2; II Esd. viii. 28 et seq., xiii. 32-52, xiv. 9, after Ps. ii. 7, lxxxix. 27 et seq.). The time of his kingdom is therefore limited according to some to three generations (Mek., l.c., after Ex. xvii. 16, ); according to others, to 40 or 70, to 365 or 400 years, or to 1,000, 2,000, 4,000, or 7,000 years (Sanh. 99a, 97b; Pesiḥ. R. 1, end; Midr. Teh. xc. 17); the number 400, however, based upon a combination of Gen. xv. 13 and Ps. xc. 15 (see Pesiḥ. R. 1), is supported by II Esd. vii. 28 et seq., where it is positively stated that after his 400 years' reign the Messiah will die to rise again, after the lapse of a week, with the rest of the righteous in the world's regeneration. It is probably to emphasize his human character that the Messiah is frequently called the "Son of Man" (Dan. viii. 13; Enoch, xlvi. 2 et seq., xlviii. 2, lxii. 7; See Man, Son of). For it is in order to fulfil the designs of God for Israel and the whole race of man that he is to appear as the triumphant warrior-king to subjugate the nations (Sibyllines, iii. 653-655), to lead in the war against Gog and Magog (II Esd. xiii. 32; Targ. Yer. to Num. xxiv. 17, 20), to annihilate all the powers of wickedness and idolatry, cleanse the Holy Land and city from all heathen elements, build the new house of the Lord "pure and holy," and become the Redeemer of Israel (Syriac Apoc. Baruch, xxxix. 7 et seq., lxxii. 2; Cant. xvii. 21-30; Targ. Yer. to Gen. xlix. 11, Ex. xl. 9, Num. xi. 16, Isa. x. 27; comp. Philo, "De Præmiis et Pœnis," with reference to Num. xxiv. 7): "he is to redeem the entire creation by chastising the evil-doers and making the nations from all the ends of the world see the glory of God" (II Esd. xiii. 26-38; Cant. xvii. 31). "Free from sin, from desire for wealth or power, a pure, wise, and holy king imbued with the spirit of God, he will lead all to righteousness and holiness (Cant. xvii. 32-43; Sibyllines, iii. 49, v. 414 et seq.; Test. Patr., Levi, 18; Midr. Teh. lxxii. 12; Targ. Yer. to Gen. xlix. 12, and Isa. xi. 2, xli. 1).

Time of Universal Peace.

The Messianic time, accordingly, means first of all the cessation of all subjection of Israel by other powers (, Ber. 34b; Sanh. 91b), while the kingdoms and nations will bring tributes to the Messiah (Pes. 118b; Gen. R. lxxviii.; Tan., Yelamdenu, Shofeṭim; Sibyllines, iii. 350, iv. 145, all based upon Ps. lxxii. 10 and lxviii. 32); furthermore, it will be a time of conversion of the heathen world to monotheism (Tobit xiv. 6; Sibyllines, iii. 616, 624, 716 et seq.; Enoch, xlviii. 4 et seq.; 'Ab. Zarah 24a, after Zeph. iii. 9), though the Holy Land itself will not be inhabited by strangers (Cant. xvii. 28; Sibyllines, v. 264; Book of Jubilees, 1. 5). Both earth and man will be blessed with wondrous fertility and vigor (Enoch, x. 17-19, "They will live until they have a thousand children"; Sibyllines, iii. 620 et seq., 743; Syriac Apoc. Baruch, xxix. 5; comp. Papias' description of the millennium given as coming directly from Jesus, in Irenæus, "Adversus Hæreses," v. 33, 3-4; Ket. 111b; Shab. 30b, "The earth will produce new fruits daily, women will bear children daily, and the land will yield loaves of bread and garments of silk," all with reference to Ps. lxxii. 16; Deut. xxxii. 1; Gen. xlix. 11; comp. Targ. Yer.). The days of the youth of the earth will be renewed; people will again reach the age of 1,000 years (Book of Jubilees, xxx. 27; comp. Isa. lxv. 20); the birth of children will be free from pain (Syriac Apoc. Baruch, lxxiii. 60, after Isa. xiii. 8; Philo, "De Præmiis et Pœnis," 15 et seq.); there will no longer be strife and illness, plague or trouble, but peace, health, and joy (Enoch, x. 16-22; Sibyllines, iii. 371; Syriac Apoc. Baruch, lxxiii. 1-5). All physical ailments and defects will be healed (Gen. R. xcv.; Pesiḥ. R. 42 [ed. Friedmann, p. 177, note]; Midr. Teh. cxlvi. 8; Eccl. R. i. 9, after Isa. xxxv. 6; comp. Matt. xi. 5). A spiritual regeneration will also take place, and Israel's sons and daughters will prophesy (Num. R. xv., after Joel iii. 1 [A. V. ii. 28], a passage which contradicts the statement of Bousset, l.c. p. 229).

Renewal of the Time of Moses.

The Messiah will furthermore win the heathen by the spirit of wisdom and righteousness which rests upon him (Sibyllines, iii. 780; Test. Patr., Levi, 18; Judah, 24; Targ. Yer. to Gen. xlix. 12 and Isa. xli. 1). He will teach the nations the Noachian laws of humanity and make all men disciples of the Lord (Midr. Teh. xxi.). The wonders of the time of Moses will be repeated on a larger scale in the time of the Messiah (Mek., Beshallaḥ, Shirah, 8, after Micah vii. 15; comp. Hosea ii. 17; Targ.; Tan., Bo, ed. Buber, 6). What Moses, the first redeemer, did is typical of what the Messiah as the last redeemer will do (Eccl. R. i. 9). The redemption will be in the same month of Nisan and in the same night (Mek., Bo, 14); the same pillar of cloud will lead Israel (Philo, "De Execrationibus," 8; Targ. Yer. to Isa. xxxv. 10): the same plagues will be sent upon Israel's foes (Tan., Wa'era, ed. Buber, 15; Bo, 6, 19; Midr. Wayosha'; Jellinek, "B. H." i. 45); the redeemer will ride on an ass (Zech. ix. 9; comp. Ex. iv. 20); manna will again be sent down from heaven (Ps. lxxii. 16; comp. Ps. lxxviii. 24; Syriac Apoc. Baruch, xxix. 8); and water rise from beneath by miraculous power (Joel iv. [A. V. iii.] 18; comp. Ps. lxxviii. 15 et seq.; Eccl. R. i. 9). Like Moses, the Messiah will disappear for 90 or 45 days after his appearance (Pesiḥ. R. 15; Pesiḥ. v. 49b, after Hosea v. 15). The same number of people will be redeemed (Sanh. 111a) and the Song of Moses be replaced by another song (Mek., Beshallaḥ, Shirah, 1; Rev. xv. 3). But, like Moses, the Messiah will die (II Esd. l.c.); the opinion that the Messiah will not taste death (Midr. Teh. lxxii. 17) seems to be of later origin, and will be discussed in connection with the account of the Messiah from the tribe of Joseph or Ephraim (see below).

The Cosmic Characters of the Messianic Time.

Jewish theology always insisted on drawing a sharp line between the Messianic days and the final days of God's sole kingdom. Hence the characteristic baraita counting ten world-rulers, beginning with God before Creation, then naming, Nimrod, Joseph, Solomon, Ahab, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Alexander the Great, the Messiah, and ending with God last as He was the first (Pirḳe R. El. xi.; Meg. 11a is incomplete). There are, however, in the personality of the Messiah supernatural elements adopted from the Persian Soshians ("Savior") which lent to the whole Messianic age a specifically cosmic character. An offspring of Zoroaster, born miraculously by a virgin of a seed hidden in a lake for thousands of years, Soshians is, together with a number of associates, six, or seven, or thirty, to bring about the resurrection, slay Angro-mainyush and his hosts of demons, judge the risen dead, giving each his due reward, and finally renew the whole world (Bundahis, xxx.; Windischmann, "Zoroastrische Studien," 1863, pp. 231 et seq.; Böcklen, "Die Verwandtschaft der Jüdischchristlichen mit der Parsischen Eschatologie," 1902, pp. 91 et seq.). Similarly, the Messiah is a being existing from before Creation (Gen. R. i.; Pesiḥ. R. 33; Pirḳe R. El. iii.; Pes. 54a, based on Ps. lxxii. 17), and kept hidden for thousands of years (Enoch, xlvi. 2 et seq., xlviii. 6, lxii. 7; II Esd. xii. 32, xiii, 26; Syriac Apoc. Baruch, xxix.; Midr. Teh. xxi.; Targ. to Micah iv. 8). He comes "from a strange seed" (: Gen. R. xxiii., with reference to Gen. iv. 25; Gen. R. li., with reference to Gen. xix. 34; Gen. R. lxxxv.; Tan., Wayesheb, ed. Buber, 13, with reference to Gen. xxxviii. 29; comp. Matt. i. 3); or from the North (, which may also mean "concealment": Lev. R. ix.; Num. R. xiii., after Isa. xli. 25; comp. John vii. 27).

The Messiah's immortal companions reappear with him (II Esd. xiii. 52, xiv. 9; comp. vi. 26). Derek Ereẓ Zuṭa i. mentions nine immortals (see Kohler, in "J. Q. R." v. 407-419, and comp. the transposed [hidden] righteous ones in Mandäan lore; Brand, "Die Mandäische Religion," 1889, p. 38). They are probably identical with "the righteous who raise the dead in the Messianic time" (Pes. 68a). Prominent among the companions of the Messiah are: (1) Elijah the prophet (see Elijah in Rabbinical Literature), who is expected as high priest to anoint the Messiah (Justin, "Dialogus cum Tryphone," viii., xlix.; comp. Targ. to Ex. xl. 10; John i. 21); to bring about Israel's repentance (Pirḳe R. El. xliii.) and reunion (Targ. Yer. to Deut. xxx. 4; Sibyllines, v. 187 et seq.), and finally the resurrection of the dead (Yer. Shab. i. 5-3c; Sheḳ. iii. 47c; Agadat Shir ha-Shirim, ed. Schechter, to Cant. vii. 14); he will also bring to light again the hidden vessels of Moses' time (Mek., Beshauah, Wayassa', 5; Syriac Apoc. Baruch, vi. 8; comp., however, Num. R. xviii.: "the Messiah will disclose these"); (2) Moses, who will reappear with Elijah (Deut. R. iii.; Targ. Yer. to Ex. xii. 42; comp. Ex. R. xviii. and Luke ix. 30); (3) Jeremiah (II Macc. xv. 14; Matt. xvi. 14); (4) Isaiah (II Esd. ii. 18); (5) Baruch (Syriac Apoc. Baruch, vi. 8, xiii. 3, xxv. 1, xlvi. 2); (6) Ezra (II Esd. xiv. 9); (7) Enoch (Enoch, xc. 31; Evangelium Nicodemi, xxv.), and others (Luke ix. 8; comp. also Septuagint to Job, end). The "four smiths" in the vision of Zech. ii. 3 (i. 20, R. V.) were referred by the Rabbis to the four chiefs, or associates, of the Messianic time; Elijah and the Messiah, Melchizedek and the "Anointed for the War" (Messiah ben Joseph: Pesiḥ. v. 51a; comp. Suk. 55b). The "seven shepherds and the eight princes" (Micah v. 4 [A. V. 5]) are taken to be: Adam, Seth, Methuselah (Enoch was stricken from the list of the saints in post-Christian times), Abraham, Jacob, and Moses, with David in the middle, forming the set of "shepherds"; Jesse, Saul, Samuel (?), Amos (?), Hezekiah, Zedekiah, Elijah, and the Messiah, forming the set of "princes" (Suk. 52b). These, fifteen in number, correspond to the fifteen men and women in the company of the Persian Soshians. The Coptic Elias Apocalypse (xxxvii., translated by Steindorf), speaks of sixty companions of the Messiah (see Bousset, l.c. p. 221).

The Messiah of the Tribe of Joseph.

The origin and character of the Messiah of the tribe of Joseph, or Ephraim, are rather obscure. It seems that the assumed superhuman character of the Messiah appeared to be in conflict with the tradition that spoke of his death, and therefore the figure of a Messiah who would come from the tribe of Joseph, or Ephraim, instead of from Judah, and who would willingly undergo suffering for his nation and fall as victim in the Gog and Magog war, was createdby the haggadists (see Pesik. R. 37; comp. 34.). To him was referred the passage, "They shall look unto him whom they have pierced and mourn for him" (Zech. xii. 10, Hebr.; Suk. 52a), as well as the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah (see Justin, "Dialogus cum Tryphone," lxviii. and xc.; comp. Sanh. 98b, "the Messiah's name is 'The Leper' ['ḥiwwara'; comp. Isa. liii. 4]; the passage quoted in Martini, "Pugio Fidei," p. 417, cited by Gfrörer [l.c. 267] and others, is scarcely genuine; see Eppstein, "Bereshit Rabbati," 1888, p. 26). The older haggadah referred also "the wild ox" who with his horns will "push the people to the ends of the earth" (Deut. xxxiii. 17, Hebr.) to the Ephraimite Messiah (Gen. R. lxxv.; comp. Num. R. xiv.). The Messiah from the tribe of Ephraim falls in the battle with Gog and Magog, whereas the Messiah from the house of David kills the superhuman hostile leader (Angro-mainyush) with the breath of his mouth; then he is universally recognized as king (Suk. 52a; comp. Targ. Yer. to Ex. xl. 9, 11; Targ. to Isa. xi. 4, Cant. iv. 5; Sefer Zerubbabel, in Jellinek, "B. H." ii. 56, where he is introduced with the name of Nehemiah b. Ḥushiel; comp. l.c. 60 et seq., iii. 80 et seq.).

"Great will be the suffering the Messiah of the tribe of Ephraim has to undergo for seven years at the hand of the nations, who lay iron beams upon him to crush him so that his cries reach heaven; but he willingly submits for the sake of his people, not only those living, but also the dead, for all those who died since Adam; and God places the four beasts of the heavenly throne-chariot at his disposal to bring about the great work of resurrection and regeneration against all the celestial antagonists" (Pesiḥ. R. 36). The Patriarchs will rise from their graves in Nisan and pay homage to his greatness as the suffering Messiah, and when the nations (104 kingdoms) put him in shackles in the prison-house and make sport of him, as is described in Ps. xxii. 8-16, God will address him with the words "Ephraim, My dear son, child of My comfort, I have great compassion on thee" (Jer. xxxi. 20, Hebr.), assuring him that "with the breath of his mouth he shall slay the wicked one" (Isa. xi. 4); and He will surround him with a sevenfold canopy of precious stones, place streams of wine, honey, milk, and balsam at his feet, fan him with all the fragrant breezes of paradise, and then tell the saints that admire and pity him that he has not gone through half the suffering imposed upon him from the world's beginning (Pesiḥ. R. 37). The haggadists, however, did not always clearly discriminate between the Ephraimite Messiah, who falls a victim, and the son of David, who is glorified as victor and receives the tributes of the nations (Midr. Teh. xviii. 5, where the former is meant as being the one "insulted" according to Ps. lxxxix. 51 [A. V. 52]; comp. Targ. Yer. to Num. xi. 26, and Midr. Teh. lxxxvii. 6, where the two Messiahs are mentioned together). According to Tan. Yelamdenu, Shofeṭim (end), the nations will first bring tributes to the Messiah; then, seized by a spirit of confusion ("ruaḥ tezazit"), they will rebel and make war against him; but he will burn them with the breath of his mouth and none but Israel will remain (that is, on the battle-field: this is misunderstood by Weber, l.c.; comp. II Esd. xiii. 9).

In the later apocalyptic literature the Ephraimite Messiah is introduced by the name of Nehemiah ben Ḥushiel, and the victorious Messiah as Menahem ben 'Ammi El ("Comforter, son of the people of God": Jellinek, "B. H." ii. 56, 60 et al.). It appears that the eschatologists were anxious to discriminate between the fourth heathen power personified in Edom (Rome) the wicked, over whom the Ephraimite Messiah alone is destined to carry victory (Pesiḥ. R. 12; Gen. R. lxxiii.; B. B. 123b), and the Gog and Magog army, over which the son of David was to triumph while the son of Ephraim fell (see Otot ha-Mashiaḥ, Jellinek, l.c.). While the fall of the wicked kingdom (Rome) was taken to be the beginning of the rise of the kingdom of God (Pesiḥ. v. 51a), the belief was that between the fall of the empire of Edom = Rome and the defeat of the Gog and Magog army there would be a long interval (see Pesiḥ. xxii. 148a; comp. Pesiḥ. R. 37 [ed. Friedmann, 163b, note]).

According to R. Eliezer of Modin (Mek., Beshallaḥ, Wayassa', 4 [ed. Weiss, p. 58b, note]), the Messiah is simply to restore the reign of the Davidic dynasty ("malkut bet Dawid"; comp. Maimonides, Commentary to Sanh. xi.: "The Messiah, the son of David, will die, and his son and grandson will follow him"; on the other hand, Baḥya ben Joseph in his commentary to Gen. xi. 11 says: "The Messiah will not die"); also "the Aaronitic priesthood and Levitic service."

The New Jerusalem.

The apocalyptic writers and many rabbis who took a less sober view of the Messianic future expected a new Jerusalem built of sapphire, gold, and precious stones, with gates, walls, and towers of wondrous size and splendor (Tobit xiii. 15, xiv. 4; Rev. xxi. 9-21; Sibyllines, iii. 657 et seq., v. 250 et seq., 420 et seq.; B. B. 75a; Pes. 50a; Pesiḥ. xx. 143a; Pesiḥ. R. 32; Midr. Teh. lxxxvii.; in accordance with Isa. liv. 11 et seq., lx. 10; Hag. ii. 7; Zech. ii. 8). The "new" or "upper Jerusalem" (; Ta'an 5a; Ḥag. 12b; Test. Patr., Dan. 5; Rev. xxi. 2, 10; Gal. iv. 26; Heb. xii. 22) seen in visions by Adam, Abraham, and Moses (Syriac Apoc. Baruch, iv. 2-6) will in the days of the Messiah appear in all its splendor (II Esd. vii. 26, x. 50 et seq.; Syriac Apoc. Baruch, xxxii. 4); it will be reared upon the top of all the mountains of the earth piled one upon the other (Pesiḥ. xxi. 144b, after Isa. ii. 2).

This expectation of course includes a "heavenly temple," "miḳdash shel ma'alah" (Enoch, xc. 29 et seq.; comp. Ḥag. l.c.; Pes. 54, after Jer. xvii. 12). The more sober view is that the Messiah will replace the polluted temple with a pure and holy one (Enoch, liii. 6, xc. 28, xci. 13; Sibyllines, iii. 77b; Psalms of Solomon xvii. 30; comp. Lev. R. ix.: "Coming from the North, the Messiah will erect the temple in the South"). The sacred vessels of the Tabernacle of Moses' time, hidden ever since, are expected to reappear (II Macc. ii. 4-8; Syriac Apoc. Baruch, vi. 7-10; Tosef., Soá¹­ah, xiii. 1; apocryphical Masseket Kelim; Yoma 52b; Tan., Wayeḥi, ed. Buber, 3; comp. Josephus, "Ant." xviii. 4, § 1). There will be no sin any more, for "the Lord will shake the land of Israel andcleanse it from all impurity" (Pirḳe R. El. xxxiv. 21, after Job xxxviii. 13). The Messianic time will be without merit ["zekut"] and without guilt ["ḥobah"] (Shab. 151b). Yet "only the select ones will be allowed to go up to the new Jerusalem" (B. B. 75b).

A. New Law.

Whereas the Babylonian schools took it for granted that the Mosaic law, and particularly the sacrificial and priestly laws, will be fully observed in the Messianic time (Yoma 5b et al.), the view that a new Law of God will be proclaimed by the Messiah is occasionally expressed (Eccl. R. ii. 1; Lev. R. xiii., according to Jer. xxxi. 32)-"the thirty commandments" which comprise the Law of humanity (Gen. R. xcviii.). "Ye will receive a new Law from the Elect One of the righteous" (Targ. to Isa. xii. 3). The Holy One will expound the new Law to be given by the Messiah (Yalḳ. ii. 296, to Isa. xxvi.); according to Pes. xii. 107a, He will only infuse new ideas ("ḥiddush debarim"); or the Messiah will take upon himself the kingdom of the Law and make many zealous followers thereof (Targ. to Isa. ix. 5 et seq., and Iiii. 11-12). "There will be a new covenant which shall not be broken" (Sifra, Beḥuḳḳotai, ii., after Jer. xxxi. 32). The dietary and purity laws will no longer be in force (Lev. R. xxii.; Midr. Teh. cxlvii., ed. Buber, note; R. Joseph said: "All ceremonial laws will be abrogated in the future" [Nid. 61b]; this, however, refers to the time of the Resurrection).

Resurrection formed part of the Messianic hope (Isa. xxiv. 19; Dan. xii. 2). Martyrs for the Law were specially expected to share in the future glory of Israel (II Macc. vii. 6, 9, 23; Book of Jubilees, xxiii. 30), the term for having a share in the future life being "to inherit the land" (Ḳid. i. 10). The Resurrection was therefore believed to take place solely in the Holy Land (Pesiḥ. R. 1; the "land of the living" in Ps. cxvi. 9 means "the land where the dead live again"). Jerusalem alone is the city whose dead will blossom forth as the grass, for those buried elsewhere will be compelled to creep through holes in the ground to the Holy Land (Ket. 3b; Pesiḥ. R. l.c.). From this point of view the Resurrection is accorded only to Israel (Gen. R. xiii.). The great trumpet blown to gather the tribes of Israel (Isa. xxvii. 13) will also rouse the dead (Ber. 15b; Targ. Yer. to Ex. xx. 15; II Esd. iv. 23 et seq.; I Cor. xv. 52; I Thess. iv. 16).

The Last Judgment precedes the Resurrection. Judged by the Messiah, the nations with their guardian angels and stars shall be cast into Gehenna. According to Rabbi Eleazar of Modi'im, in answer to the protests of the princes of the seventy-two nations, God will say, "Let each nation go through the fire together with its guardian deity," when Israel alone will be saved (Cant. R. ii. 1). This gave rise to the idea adopted by Christianity, that the Messiah would pass through Hades (Test. Patr., Benjamin, 9; Yalḳ., Isa. 359; see Eppstein, "Bereshit Rabbati," 1888, p. 31). The end of the judgment of the heathen is the establishment of the kingdom of God (Mek., Beshallaḥ, 'Amaleḳ). The Messiah will cast Satan into Gehenna, and death and sorrow flee forever (Pesiḥ. R. 36; see also Antichrist; Armilus; Belial).

In later times the belief in a universal Resurrection became general. "All men as they are born and die are to rise again," says Eliezer ben Ḳappar (Abotiv.). The Resurrection will occur at the close of the Messianic era (Enoch, xcviii. 10). Death will befall the Messiah after his four hundred years' reign, and all mankind and the world will lapse into primeval silence for seven days, after which the renewed earth will give forth its dead and God will judge the world and assign the evil-doers to the pit of hell and the righteous to paradise, which is on the opposite side (II Esd. vii. 26-36). All evildoers meet with everlasting punishment. It was a matter of dispute between the Shammaite R. Eliezer and the Hillelite R. Joshua whether the righteous among the heathen had a share in the future world or not (Tosef., Sanh. xiii. 2), the dispute hinging on the verse "the wicked shall return to Sheol, and all the Gentiles that forget God" (Ps. ix. 18 [A. V. 17], Hebr.). The doctrine "All Israelites have a share in the world to come" (Sanh. xi. 1) is based upon Isa. Ix. 21: "Thy people, all of them righteous, shall inherit the land" (Hebr.). At first resurrection was regarded as a miraculous boon granted only to the righteous (Test. Patr., Simeon, 6; Luke xiv. 14), but afterward it was considered to be universal in application and connected with the Last Judgment (Slavonic Enoch, lxvi. 5; comp. second blessing of the "Shemoneh 'Esreh"). Whether the process of the formation of the body at the Resurrection is the same as at birth is a matter of dispute between the Hillelites and Shammaites (Gen. R. xiv.; Lev. R. xiv.). For the state of the soul during the death of the body see Immortality and Soul.

Regeneration of the World.

Owing to the gradual evolution of eschatological conceptions, the Rabbis used the terms, "'olam ha-ba" (the world to come), "le-'atid la-bo" (in the coming time), and "yemot ha-Mashiaḥ" (the Messianic days) promiscuously or often without clear distinction (see Geiger, "Lesestücke aus der Mischnah," p. 41; idem, "Jüd. Zeit." iii. 159, iv. 124). Thus, for instance, the question is discussed whether there will be death for the Gentiles "in the coming time" or not (Gen. R. xxvi.). R. Eleazar of Modi'im, of the second century (Mek., Beshallaḥ, Wayassa', ed. Weiss, p. 59, note) distinguishes between the Messianic time("malkut bet Dawid"), the "'olam ha-ba" (the future world), which is that of the souls, and the time of the Resurrection, which he calls "'olam ḥadash" (the new world, or world of regeneration). This term, used also in the "Ḳaddish" prayer "Le-Ḥadata 'Alma" (The Renewal of the World), is found in Matt. xix. 28 under the Greek name παλινγένεσις: "In the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory" and judge the world in common with the twelve Apostles (for the last words see the twelve judges for the twelve tribes of Israel in Testament of Abraham, A. 13, and compare the seventy elders around the seat of God in heaven in Lev. R. xi.)

Concerning this regeneration of the world Pirḳe R. El. i. says, with reference to Isa. xxxiv. 4, li. 6, lxv. 17; Hosea vi. 2: "Heaven and earth, as well as Israel, shall be renewed; the former shall be folded together like a book or a garment and then unfolded,and Israel, after having tasted death, shall rise again on the third day." "All the beauty of the world which vanished owing to Adam's sin, will be restored in the time of the Messiah, the descendant of Perez [Gen. R. xii.]-the fertility of the earth, the wondrous size of man [Sifra, Beḥuḳḳotai, 1-2], the splendor of sun and moon" (Isa. xxx. 26; Targ. to II Sam. xxiii. 4; comp. Apoc. Mosis, 36). Ten things shall be renewed (according to Ex. R. xv.; comp. Tan., Wayiggash, ed. Buber, 9): The sun and moon shall regain their splendor, the former endowed with healing powers (Mal. iii. 20 [A. V. iv. 2]); the fountains of Jerusalem shall flow, and the trees grow (Ezek. xlvii. 12); desolate cities like Sodom shall rise from their ruins (Ezek. xvi. 55); Jerusalem, rebuilt of precious stones, shall shine like the sun (Isa. liv. 11 et seq.); peace shall reign among the beasts (Isa. xi. 7); and between them and Israel (Hosea ii. 20 [A. V. 18]); weeping and death shall cease (Isa. 1xv. 19, xxv. 8-10); joy only shall reign (Isa. xxxv. 10); the "yeẓer ha-ra'" (evil desire) shall be slain by God (Suk. 52a). This regeneration of the world is to be brought about by a world-conflagration ("mabbul shel esh" = "a floor of fire" = ἐκπύρωσις: Sibyllines, iii. 542, 689; iv. 174; ii. 296; Hippolytus, "Refutatio Omnium Hæresium," ix. 30). This view, borrowed from the Stoics, is based upon Isa. xxxiv. 4 (comp. Bousset, "Der Antichrist," p. 159). In this world-conflagration Belial himself will be consumed (Sibyllines, iii. 73; compare the burning up of the primeval serpent Gohithar in Bundahis, xxx. 31). Thus the fire of Gehenna which consumes the wicked angels and the stars (Enoch, xc. 24 et seq., et al.) was turned into a cosmic force bringing about the world's renewal.

The Last Judgment.

The Messianic kingdom, being at best of mere earthly splendor, could not form the end, and so the Great Judgment was placed at its close and following the Resurrection. Those that would not accept the belief in bodily resurrection probably dwelt with greater emphasis on the judgment of the souls after death (see Abraham, Testament of; Philo; Sadducees; Wisdom, Book of). Jewish eschatology combined the Resurrection with the Last Judgment: "God summons the soul from heaven and couples it again on earth with the body to bring man to judgment" (Sanh. 91b, after Ps. l. 4). In the tenth week, that is, the seventh millennium, in the seventh part, that is, after the Messianic reign, there will be the great eternal judgment, to be followed by a new heaven with the celestial powers in sevenfold splendor (Enoch, xci. 15; comp. lxxxiv. 4, xciv. 9, xcviii. 10, civ. 5). On "the day of the Great Judgment" angels and men alike will be judged, and the books opened in which the deeds of men are recorded (lxxxi. 4, lxxxix. 70 et seq., xc. 20, ciii. 3 et seq., civ. 1, cviii. 3) for life or for death; books in which all sins are written down, and the treasures of righteousness for the righteous, will be opened on that day (Syriac Apoc. Baruch, xxiv. 1). "All the secret thoughts of men will then be brought to light." "Not long-suffering and mercy, but rigid justice, will prevail in this Last Judgment"; Gehenna and Paradise will appear opposite each other for the one or the other to enter (II Esd. vii. 33 et seq.).

This end will come "through no one but God alone" (ib. vi. 6). "No longer will time be granted for repentance, or for prayer and intercession by saints and prophets, but the Only One will give decision according to His One Law, whether for life or for everlasting destruction" (Syriac Apoc. Baruch, lxxxv. 9-12). The righteous ones will be recorded in the Book of Life (Book of Jubilees, xxx. 22, xxxvi. 10; Abot ii. 1; "Shepherd of Hermas," i. 32; Luke x. 20; Rev. iii. 5, xiii. 8, xx. 15). The righteous deeds and the sins will be weighed against each other in the scales of justice (Pesiḥ. R. 20; Ḳid. 40b). According to the Testament of Abraham (A. xiii.), there are two angels, one on either side: one writes down the merits, the other the demerits, while Doḳiel, the archangel, weighs the two kinds against each other in a balance; and another, Pyroel ("angel of fire"), tries the works of men by fire, whether they are consumed or not; then the just souls are carried among the saved ones; those found unjust, among those who will meet their punishment. Those whose merits and demerits are equal remain in a middle state, and the intercession of meritorious men such as Abraham saves them and brings them into paradise (Testament of Abraham, A. xiv.). According to the sterner doctrine of the Shammaites, these souls must undergo a process of purgation by fire; "they enter Gehenna, swing themselves up again, and are healed." This view, based upon Zech. xiii. 9, seems to be something like the Christian purgatory. According to the Hillelites, "He who is plenteous in mercy inclines the scale of justice toward mercy"-a view which shows (against Gunkel, "Der Prophet Ezra," 1900, p. 15) that Judaism believed in divine mercy independently of the Pauline faith (Tosef., Sanh. xiii. 3). As recorder of the deeds of men in the heavenly books, "Enoch, the scribe of righteousness," is mentioned in Testament of Abraham, xi.; Lev. R. xiv. has Elijah and the Messiah as heavenly recorders, a survival of the national Jewish eschatology.


There is no Scriptural basis for the belief in retribution for the soul after death; this was supplied by the Babylonians and Persians, and received a Jewish coloring from the word "Gehinnom" (the valley of Hinnom), made detestable by the fires of the Moloch sacrifices of Manasseh (II Kings xxiii. 10). According to 'Er. 19a, the smoke from subterranean fires came up through the earth in this place; "there are cast the spirits of sinners and blasphemers and of those who work wickedness and pervert the words of the Prophets" (Enoch, cviii. 6). Gehinnom has a double purpose, annihilation (Enoch, xciv. 1 et seq.) and eternal pain (II Esd. vii. 36 et seq.). Gehinnom has seven names: "Sheol," "Abbadon," "Pit of Corruption," "Horrible Pit," "Mire of Clay," "Shadow of Death," and "Nether Parts of the Earth" (Jonah ii. 3; Ps. lxxxviii. 12 [A.V. 11], xvi. 10, xl. 3 [A.V. 2], cvii. 14; Ezek. xxvi. 20). It is also called "Tophet" (Isa. xxx. 33). It has seven departments, one beneath the other (Soá¹­ah 10b). There are seven kinds of pains (II Esd. vii. 81 et seq.). According to rabbinical tradition, thieves are condemned to fill an unfillable tank; the impure sink into a quagmire; thosethat sinned with the tongue are suspended thereby; some are suspended by the feet, hair, or eyelids; others eat hot coals and sand; others are devoured by worms, or placed alternately in snow and fire. On Sabbath they are respited (see Dumah). These conceptions, ascribed chiefly to Joshua ben Levi, have their parallel in the apocalyptic literature appropriated by the Christian Church (see Gehenna). The punishment of the wicked endures twelve months, according to R. Akiba; the generation of the Flood will in time be released (Gen. R. xxviii.), but the punishment of those who have led others into heresy or dealt treacherously against the Law will never cease (Tosef., Sanh. xiii. 5).

Gan 'Eden.

The Garden of Eden is called the "Garden of Righteousness" (Enoch, xxxii. 3), being no longer an earthly paradise (ib. lx. 8, lxi. 12, lxx. 3). It is above the earth, and its inhabitants are "clothed with garments of light and eternal life, and eat of the tree of life" (ib. lviii. 3) in the company of the Lord and His anointed. In Slavonic Enoch its place is in the third heaven; its four streams pour out honey and milk, oil and wine (compare Sibyllines, ii. 318). It is prepared for the "righteous who suffer innocently, who do works of benevolence and walk without blame before God." It has been created since the beginning of the world, and will appear suddenly at the Judgment Day in all its glory (II Esd. vi.; comp. Pes. 54a). The righteous dwell in those heights where they enjoy the sight of the heavenly "ḥayyot" that carry God's throne (Syriac Apoc. Baruch, li. 11). As the wicked have a sevenfold pain the righteous have a sevenfold joy (II Esd. vii. 88 et seq.). There are seven divisions for the righteous, which shine like the sun (Judges v. 31; comp. Matt. xiii. 43), the moon (Ps. lxxxix. 37), the firmament (Dan. xii. 3), lightnings, torches (Nahum ii. 5 [A. V. 4]), and lilies (Ps. xlv. 1, Hebr.). Each of these divisions is placed differently before the face of God. Each of the righteous will have a mansion, and God will walk with them and lead them in a dance (Yer. Meg. ii. 73b). See Eden, Garden of.

The Banquet.

According to Ascensio Isaiæ, viii. 26, ix. 18, xi. 40, the righteous on the arrival of the Messiah receive in the seventh heaven garments of light as well as crowns and thrones. No small part in the future bliss is played by the eating of the heavenly bread or manna (Sibyllines, Proœmium, 87; Ḥag. 12b; Tan., Beshallaḥ, ed. Buber, p. 21; comp. "the mysterious food," II Esd. ix. 19), the ambrosial milk and honey (Sibyllines, ii. 318, iii. 746), and, according to R. Joshua b. Levi, "the wine prepared from the beginning of the world" (Ber. 34b; comp. Matt. xxvi. 29). The very name for the highest bliss of the future is "the banquet" (Abot iii. 16), which is the same as "sitting at the table of the Messiah" (Rev. xix. 9; Luke xiii. 28-29, xxii. 30, et al.). It is called in rabbinical literature "se'uddat ha-liwyatan" (the banquet of the leviathan), that is to say, in accordance with Job xl. 30 (A. V. xli. 6) the "ha-barim, or pious ones, shall hold their meal over it" (see Leviathan). It seems that the Persian ox, "hadhayos," whose marrow imparts immortality to the eater (Bundahis, xxx. 25), gave rise to the idea of the behemoth and leviathan meal which is dwelt on in Enoch, lx. 7 et seq.; Syriac Apoc. Baruch, xxix. 4; II Esd. vi. 52; Targ. Yer. to Num. xi. 26, Ps. civ. 26; B. B. 74b; Tan., Beshallaḥ, at end.

But while this eudemonistic view is the popular one, based upon Isa. lxv. 13 and Ps. xxiii. 5 (Num. R. xxi.), there is also the higher and more spiritual view taught by Rab: "In the world to come there is neither eating, drinking, nor procreation, neither barter nor envy, neither hatred nor strife; but the righteous sit with their crowns on their heads and enjoy the splendor of the Shekinah; for it is said: 'And they saw God and did eat and drink'; that is, their seeing God was meat and drink to them" (Ber. 17a). More characteristic still is the view of Rab's Palestinian contemporary R. Johanan: All the bliss for the future promised by the Prophets refers only to the Messianic time, whereas in regard to that which is in store for the righteous in the world to come it is said: "No eye hath seen it beside thee, O God" (Isa. lxiv. 3 [A. V. 4]; Ber. 34b; comp., however, Ex. R. xlv., at end, according to which God showed to Moses all the treasures in store for the doers of benevolent works). The New Testament sentence, "Many shall be last [there] that are first [here], and first [there] that are last [here]" (Matt. xix. 30, Greek), finds its explanation in the saying of a son of R. Joshua b. Levi: "A contrary order of things I have seen in the world beyond: the high in station are low there, the lowly are placed on high" (Ber. 50a).

Only in the esoteric Essene circles whence the apocalyptic literature emanated were attempted all the elaborate descriptions of paradise that found their way into the Midrash Konen, the Ma'aseh Gan 'Eden, and similar midrashim of the geonic time given in Jellinek's "B. H." ii. 28, 52 et seq.; iii. 131, 191 et seq.; but these descriptions can be traced through early Christian back to Jewish sources (see "J. Q. R." vii. 595). Mystics like Naḥmanides in his "Sha'ar ha-Gemul" adopted these views; Maimonides and his school rejected them. The whole eschatological system of retribution through paradise and hell never assumed in Judaism the character of a dogmatic belief, and Talmudic Judaism boldly transferred the scene of the heavenly judgment from the hereafter to the annual Day of Judgment at the beginning of the year (R. H. 16b; see New-Year). For Samaritan eschatology see Samaritans. The account above deals only with the early stages of the Jewish eschatological views, roughly speaking, down to the end of the Talmudic period. For later development and present-day views see Immortality; Judgment, Day of; Messiah; Resurrection.

Kaufmann Kohler
Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.

Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., ii. 496-556, where an extensive literature is given; Bousset, Die Religion des Judenthums im Neutestamentlichen Zeitalter, pp. 199-273, 473-483, Berlin, 1903; Charles, A Critical History of the Doctrine of a Future Life in Israel, in Judaism, and in Christianity, London, 1899; E. Böcklen, Die Verwandtschaft der Jüdisch-Christlichen mit der Parsischen Eschatologie, Göttingen, 1902; Hastings, Dict. Bible; Cheyne and Black, Encyc. Bibl.; Hamburger, R. B. T. s.v. Auferstehung, Wiederbelebung der Todten, Messianische Zeit, Paradies Zukunftsmahl; Weber, System der Altsynagogalen Palestinischen Theologie, pp. 322-386, Leipsic, 1880 (to be consulted with caution); Drummond, Jewish Messiah, London, 1877; P. Volz, Jüdische Eschatologie von Daniel bis Akiba, Leipsic, 1903.K.

Also, see:
Second Coming of Christ
Dispensation, Dispensationalism
Millenarianism. Views of the Millennium
Last Judgement
Rapture of the Church, Tribulation
Tribulation, Great Tribulation

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