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The element of the mysterious, apparent in both the subject and the manner of the writing, is a marked feature in every typical Apocalypse. The literature of visions and dreams has its own traditions which are well illustrated in Jewish (or Jewish-Christian) apocalyptic writing.

This apocalyptic quality appears most plainly in the use of fantastic imagery.

The best illustration is furnished by the strange living creatures which figure in so many of the visions -- "beasts" or "living creatures", as is written in Revelation 4 in which the properties of men, mammals, birds, reptiles, or purely imaginary beings are combined in a way that is startling and often grotesque.

This characteristic feature is illustrated in the following list of the most noteworthy passages in which such creatures are introduced:

Daniel 7:1-8, 8:3-12 (both passages of the greatest importance for the history of apocalyptic literature);

Enoch, lxxxv.-xc.;

2 Esdras 11:1- 2 Esdras12:3, 11-32; Greek Apoc. of Bar. ii, iii; Hebrew Testament, Naphtali's, iii.; Revelation 6:6ff (compare Apocalypse of Baruch [Syr.] li.11), ix.7-10, 17-19, xiii.1-18, xvii.3, 12; the Shepherd of Hermas, "Vision," iv.1.

Certain mythical or semi-mythical beings which appear in the Hebrew Bible also play an important role in these books. Thus "Leviathan", mentioned in the Old Testament (Job 3:8; 41:1; Psalm 74:14; 104:26; Isaiah 27:1), and "Behemoth" (Job 40:15), mentioned also in the Old Testament, as well as (Enoch, lx.7, 8; 2 Esdras 6:49-52; Apocalypse of Baruch xxix.4); "Gog and Magog" (Sibyllines, iii.319ff, 512ff; compare Enoch, lvi.5ff; Revelation 20:8).

Foreign mythologies are also occasionally laid under contribution (see below).

 
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