Apocalyptic visions through the writing of these scriptures is how the prophet is revealed God's justice as taking place in the future.

This genre has a distinctly religious aim, intended to show God's way of dealing with humankind, and God's ultimate purposes.

The writer presents, sometimes very vividly, a picture of coming events, especially those connected with the end of the present age.

In certain of these writings the subject-matter is vaguely described as "that which shall come to pass in the latter days" (Daniel 2:28; compare verse 29); similarly Daniel 10:14, "to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days"; compare Enoch, i.1, 2; x.2ff. So, too, in Revelation 1:1 (compare the Septuagint translation of Daniel 2:28ff), "Revelation . . . that which must shortly come to pass."

Past history is often included in the vision, usually in order to give the proper historical setting to the prediction, as the panorama of successive events passes over imperceptibly from the known to the unknown.

Thus, in the eleventh chapter of Daniel, the detailed history of the Greek empire in the East, from the conquest of Alexander down to the latter part of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes (verses 3-39, all presented in the form of a prediction), is continued, without any break, in a scarcely less vivid description (verses 40-45) of events which had not yet taken place, but were only expected by the writer: the wars which should result in the death of Antiochus and the fall of his kingdom.

All this, however, serves only as the introduction to the remarkable eschatological predictions in the twelfth chapter, in which the main purpose of the book is to be found. Similarly, in the dream recounted in 2 Esdras 11 and 12, the eagle, representing the Roman Empire, is followed by the lion, which is the promised Messiah, who is to deliver the chosen people and establish an everlasting kingdom.

The transition from history to prediction is seen in xii.28, where the expected end of Domitian's reign -- and with it the end of the world -- is foretold. Still another example of the same kind is Sibyllines, iii.608-623. Compare also Assumptio Mosis, vii-ix.

In nearly all the writings which are properly classed as apocalyptic the eschatological element is prominent. The growth of speculation regarding the age to come and the hope for the chosen people more than anything else occasioned the rise and influenced the development of apocalyptic literature.


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