Eschatology /ˌɛskəˈtɒlədʒi/ (listen) is a part of theology concerned with the final events of history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity. This concept is commonly referred to as the "end of the world" or "end times".
The word arises from the Greek ἔσχατος eschatos meaning "last" and -logy meaning "the study of", and first appeared in English around 1844. The Oxford English Dictionary defines eschatology as "the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind".
In the context of mysticism, the term refers metaphorically to the end of ordinary reality and to reunion with the Divine. Many religions treat eschatology as a future event prophesied in sacred texts or in folklore.
History is often divided by historians into "ages" (aeons), which are time periods each with certain commonalities. One age comes to an end and a new age or world to come, where different realities are present, begins. When such transitions from one age to another are the subject of eschatological discussion, the phrase, "end of the world", is replaced by "end of the age", "end of an era", or "end of life as we know it". Much apocalyptic fiction does not deal with the "end of time" but rather with the end of a certain period, the end of life as it is now, and the beginning of a new period. It is usually a crisis that brings an end to current reality and ushers in a new way of living, thinking, or being. This crisis may take the form of the intervention of a deity in history, a war, a change in the environment, or the reaching of a new level of consciousness.
Most modern eschatology and apocalypticism, both religious and secular, involve the violent disruption or destruction of the world; whereas Christian and Jewish eschatologies view the end times as the consummation or perfection of God's creation of the world, albeit with violent overtures, such as the Great Tribulation. For example, according to some ancient Hebrew worldviews, reality unfolds along a linear path (or rather, a spiral path, with cyclical components that nonetheless have a linear trajectory); the world began with God and is ultimately headed toward God's final goal for creation, the world to come.
Eschatologies vary as to their degree of optimism or pessimism about the future. In some eschatologies, conditions are better for some and worse for others, e.g. "heaven and hell". They also vary as to time frames. Groups claiming imminent eschatology are also referred to as Doomsday cults.
In Bahá'í belief, creation has neither a beginning nor an end. Instead, the eschatology of other religions is viewed as symbolic. In Bahá'í belief, human time is marked by a series of progressive revelations in which successive messengers or prophets come from God. The coming of each of these messengers is seen as the day of judgment to the adherents of the previous religion, who may choose to accept the new messenger and enter the "heaven" of belief, or denounce the new messenger and enter the "hell" of denial. In this view, the terms "heaven" and "hell" are seen as symbolic terms for the person's spiritual progress and their nearness to or distance from God. In Bahá'í belief, the coming of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, signals the fulfilment of previous eschatological expectations of Islam, Christianity and other major religions.
Christian eschatology is the study concerned with the ultimate destiny of the individual soul and the entire created order, based primarily upon biblical texts within the Old and New Testament.
Christian eschatology looks to study and discuss matters such as death and the afterlife, Heaven and Hell, the Second Coming of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead, the Rapture, the Tribulation, Millennialism, the end of the world, the Last Judgment, and the New Heaven and New Earth in the world to come.
Eschatological passages are found in many places in the Bible, both in the Old and the New Testaments. In the Old Testament, apocalyptic eschatology can be found notably in Isaiah 24–27, Isaiah 56–66, Joel, Zechariah 9–14 as well as closing chapters of Daniel, and Ezekiel. In the New Testament, applicable passages include Matthew 24, Mark 13, the parable of "The Sheep and the Goats" and in the Book of Revelation—although Revelation often occupies a central place in Christian eschatology.
The Second Coming of Christ is the central event in Christian eschatology within the broader context of the fullness of the Kingdom of God. Most Christians believe that death and suffering will continue to exist until Christ's return. There are, however, various views concerning the order and significance of other eschatological events.
The Book of Revelation is at the core of Christian eschatology. The study of Revelation is usually divided into four interpretative methodologies or hermeneutics. In the Futurist approach, Revelation is treated mostly as unfulfilled prophecy taking place in some yet undetermined future. In the Preterist approach, Revelation is chiefly interpreted as having prophetic fulfillment in the past, principally the events of the first century CE.
In the Historicist approach, Revelation provides a broad view of history, and passages in Revelation are identified with major historical people and events. This is view the Jewish scholars held, along with the early Christian church, and it was prevalent in Wycliffe's writings, and other Reformers such as Martin Luther,  John Calvin,  John Wesley,  and Sir Isaac Newton,  and many others.
In the Idealist approach, the events of Revelation are neither past nor future, but are purely symbolic, dealing with the ongoing struggle and ultimate triumph of good over evil.
Contemporary Hindu eschatology is linked in the Vaishnavite tradition to the figure of Kalki, the tenth and last avatar of Vishnu before the age draws to a close who will reincarnate as Shiva and simultaneously dissolve and regenerate the universe.
Most Hindus believe that the current period is the Kali Yuga, the last of four Yuga that make up the current age. Each period has seen successive degeneration in the moral order, to the point that in the Kali Yuga quarrel and hypocrisy are the norm. In Hinduism, time is cyclic, consisting of cycles or "kalpas". Each kalpa lasts 4.1 – 8.2 billion years, which is one full day and night for Brahma, who in turn will live for 311 trillion, 40 billion years. The cycle of birth, growth, decay, and renewal at the individual level finds its echo in the cosmic order, yet is affected by vagaries of divine intervention in Vaishnavite belief. Some Shaivites hold the view that Shiva is incessantly destroying and creating the world.
Islamic eschatology is documented in the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, regarding the Signs of the Day of Judgement. The Prophet's sayings on the subject have been traditionally divided into Major and Minor Signs. He spoke about several Minor Signs of the approach of the Day of Judgment, including:
Regarding the Major Signs, a Companion of the Prophet narrated: "Once we were sitting together and talking amongst ourselves when the Prophet appeared. He asked us what it was we were discussing. We said it was the Day of Judgment. He said: 'It will not be called until ten signs have appeared: Smoke, Dajjal (the Antichrist), the creature (that will wound the people), the rising of the sun in the West, the Second Coming of Jesus, the emergence of Gog and Magog, and three sinkings (or cavings in of the earth): one in the East, another in the West and a third in the Arabian Peninsula.'" (note: the previous events were not listed in the chronological order of appearance)
Jewish eschatology is concerned with events that will happen in the end of days, according to the Hebrew Bible and Jewish thought. This includes the ingathering of the exiled diaspora, the coming of the Jewish Messiah, afterlife, and the revival of the dead Tzadikim.
In Judaism, the end times are usually called the "end of days" (aḥarit ha-yamim, אחרית הימים), a phrase that appears several times in the Tanakh. The idea of a messianic age has a prominent place in Jewish thought and is incorporated as part of the end of days.
Frashokereti is the Zoroastrian doctrine of a final renovation of the universe when evil will be destroyed, and everything else will then be in perfect unity with God (Ahura Mazda). The doctrinal premises are (1) good will eventually prevail over evil; (2) creation was initially perfectly good, but was subsequently corrupted by evil; (3) the world will ultimately be restored to the perfection it had at the time of creation; (4) the "salvation for the individual depended on the sum of [that person's] thoughts, words and deeds, and there could be no intervention, whether compassionate or capricious, by any divine being to alter this." Thus, each human bears the responsibility for the fate of his own soul, and simultaneously shares in the responsibility for the fate of the world.
Researchers in futures studies and transhumanists investigate how the accelerating rate of scientific progress may lead to a "technological singularity" in the future that would profoundly and unpredictably change the course of human history, and result in Homo sapiens no longer being the dominant life form on Earth.
Occasionally the term "physical eschatology" is applied to the long-term predictions of astrophysics. The Sun will turn into a red giant in approximately 6 billion years. Life on Earth will become impossible due to a rise in temperature long before the planet is actually swallowed up by the Sun. Even later, the Sun will become a white dwarf.
ʾĀkhirah (Arabic: الآخرة) is an Islamic term referring to the afterlife. It is repeatedly referenced in chapters of the Quran concerning the Last Judgment, an important part of Islamic eschatology. Traditionally, it is considered to be one of the six main beliefs of Muslims, the others including: Tawhid (unitarianism), belief in the angels, belief in the Revealed Books (Scrolls of Abraham, Tawrat, Zabur, Injil and Quran), belief in the prophets and messengers, and belief in predestination.
According to the Islamic beliefs, God will play the role of the qadi, weighing the deeds of each individual. He will decide whether that person's ʾākhirah lies in Jahannam (Hell) or Jannah (Heaven) on the basis of the weight of either good or bad deeds in comparison with one another. The judgment doesn't depend upon the amount of deeds as much as it does on the will behind the deed, deeds are judged on the basis of the will behind it.
Jannah and Jahannam both have various levels. The placement of a person may depend upon the extent of his or her good deeds. It is also said that God may forgive a sin against Himself but not against another.
According to Islam, death is not the end of the life, but it is a transferral from this world to everlasting world. With the withdrawal of the spirit from the body, the soul's life in the Barzakh begins until the Day of Resurrection. According to the deeds of the believer and disbeliever, their Barzakh differs.Al-Masih ad-Dajjal
Al-Masih ad-Dajjal (Arabic: المسيح الدجّال Al-Masīḥ ad-Dajjāl, "the false messiah, liar, the deceiver") is an evil figure in Islamic eschatology. He is to appear, pretending to be al-Masih (i.e. the Messiah), before Yawm al-Qiyamah (the Day of Resurrection). He is an anti-messianic figure, comparable to the Antichrist in Christian eschatology and to Armilus in medieval Jewish eschatology.Apocalypticism
Apocalypticism, eschatological (end-time) views and movements that focus on cryptic revelations about a sudden, dramatic, and cataclysmic intervention of God in history; the judgment of all men; the salvation of the faithful elect; and the eventual rule of the elect with God in a renewed heaven and earth. Arising initially in Zoroastrianism apocalypticism was developed more fully in Judaic, Christian, and Islamic eschatological speculation.Apocalypticism is often conjoined with the belief that esoteric knowledge that will likely be revealed in a major confrontation between good and evil forces, destined to change the course of history. Apocalypses can be viewed as good, evil, ambiguous or neutral, depending on the particular religion or belief system promoting them. Although it is not exclusively a religious idea and there are end times or transitional scenarios based in modern science and technology.Buddhist eschatology
There are two major points of Buddhist eschatology: the appearance of Maitreya and the Sermon of the Seven Suns.Christian eschatology
Christian eschatology is a major branch of study within Christian theology dealing with the "last things." Eschatology, from two Greek words meaning "last" (ἔσχατος) and "study" (-λογία), is the study of 'end things', whether the end of an individual life, the end of the age, the end of the world or the nature of the Kingdom of God. Broadly speaking, Christian eschatology is the study concerned with the ultimate destiny of the individual soul and the entire created order, based primarily upon biblical texts within the Old and New Testament.
Christian eschatology looks to study and discuss matters such as death and the afterlife, Heaven and Hell, the second coming of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead, the rapture, the tribulation, millennialism, the end of the world, the Last Judgment, and the New Heaven and New Earth in the world to come.
Eschatological passages are found in many places in the Bible, both in the Old and the New Testaments. There are also many extrabiblical examples of eschatological prophecies, as well as church traditions.Fimbulwinter
In Norse mythology, Fimbulvetr (or fimbulvinter), commonly rendered in English as Fimbulwinter, is the immediate prelude to the events of Ragnarök. It means "great winter".Frashokereti
Frashokereti (frašō.kərəti) is the Avestan-language term (corresponding to Middle Persian fraš(a)gird
The doctrinal premises are (1) good will eventually prevail over evil; (2) creation was initially perfectly good, but was subsequently corrupted by evil; (3) the world will ultimately be restored to the perfection it had at the time of creation; (4) the "salvation for the individual depended on the sum of [that person's] thoughts, words and deeds, and there could be no intervention, whether compassionate or capricious, by any divine being to alter this." Thus, each human bears the responsibility for the fate of his own soul, and simultaneously shares in the responsibility for the fate of the world.Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden (Hebrew: גַּן־עֵדֶן – gan-ʿḖḏen), also called Paradise, is the biblical "garden of God" described in the Book of Genesis and the Book of Ezekiel. Genesis 13:10 refers to the "garden of God", and the "trees of the garden" are mentioned in Ezekiel 31. The Book of Zechariah and the Book of Psalms also refer to trees and water without explicitly mentioning Eden.The name derives from the Akkadian edinnu, from a Sumerian word edin meaning "plain" or "steppe", closely related to an Aramaic root word meaning "fruitful, well-watered". Another interpretation associates the name with a Hebrew word for "pleasure"; thus the Douay-Rheims Bible in Genesis 2:8 has the wording
"And the Lord God had planted a paradise of pleasure" rather than "a garden in Eden". The Hebrew term is translated "pleasure" in Sarah's secret saying in Genesis 18:12.Like the Genesis flood narrative, the Genesis creation narrative and the account of the Tower of Babel, the story of Eden echoes the Mesopotamian myth of a king, as a primordial man, who is placed in a divine garden to guard the Tree of Life. The Hebrew Bible depicts Adam and Eve as walking around the Garden of Eden naked due to their innocence.The location of Eden is described in the Book of Genesis as the source of four tributaries. The Garden of Eden is considered to be mythological by most scholars. Among those that consider it to have been real, there have been various suggestions for its location: at the head of the Persian Gulf, in southern Mesopotamia (now Iraq) where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers run into the sea; and in Armenia.Great Tribulation
In Christian eschatology, the Great Tribulation (Greek: θλίψις μεγάλη, thlipsis megalē) is a period mentioned by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse as a sign that would occur in the time of the end.At Revelation 7:14, "the Great Tribulation" (Greek: τῆς θλίψεως τῆς μεγάλης, literally, "the tribulation, the great one") is used to indicate the period spoken of by Jesus. Matthew 24: 21 and 29 uses tribulation (θλίβω) in a context denoting afflictions of those hard-pressed by siege and the calamities of war.Hindu eschatology
Hindu eschatology is linked in the Vaishnavite tradition to the figure of Kalki, or the tenth and last avatar of Vishnu or Shiva names of the Supreme Being in Hinduism and before the age draws to a close, and Harihara simultaneously dissolves and regenerates the universe.
The current period is Kali Yuga, the last of four Yuga that make up the current age. Each period has seen a progressive decline in morality, to the point that in Kali Yuga quarrel and hypocrisy are norm. In Hinduism, time is cyclic, consisting of cycles or "kalpas". Each kalpa lasts 8.64 billion years, which is a period of one full day and night for Brahma, who in turn will live for 311 trillion, 40 billion years. The cycle of birth, growth, decay, and renewal at the individual level finds its echo in the cosmic order, yet is affected by the vagaries of divine intervention in Vaishnavism. Some Shaivites hold the view that he is incessantly destroying and creating the world.
After this larger cycle, all of creation will contract to a singularity and then again will expand from that single point, as the ages continue in a religious fractal pattern.Idealism (Christian eschatology)
Idealism (also called the spiritual approach, the allegorical approach, the nonliteral approach, and many other names) in Christian eschatology is an interpretation of the Book of Revelation that sees all of the imagery of the book as symbols.Jacob Taubes writes that idealist eschatology came about as Renaissance thinkers began to doubt that the Kingdom of Heaven had been established on earth, or would be established, but still believed in its establishment. Rather than the Kingdom of Heaven being present in society, it is established subjectively for the individual.F. D. Maurice interpreted the Kingdom of Heaven idealistically as a symbol representing society's general improvement, instead of a physical and political kingdom. Karl Barth interprets eschatology as representing existential truths that bring the individual hope, rather than history or future-history. Barth's ideas provided fuel for the Social Gospel philosophy in America, which saw social change not as performing "required" good works, but because the individuals involved felt that Christians could not simply ignore society's problems with future dreams.Different authors have suggested that the Beast represents various social injustices, such as exploitation of workers, wealth, the elite, commerce, materialism, and imperialism. Various Christian anarchists, such as Jacques Ellul, have identified the State and political power as the Beast.It is distinct from Preterism, Futurism and Historicism in that it does not see any of the prophecies (except in some cases the Second Coming, and Final Judgment) as being fulfilled in a literal, physical, earthly sense either in the past, present or future, and that to interpret the eschatological portions of the Bible in a historical or future-historical fashion is an erroneous understanding.Islamic eschatology
Islamic eschatology is the aspect of Islamic theology concerning ideas of life after death, matters of the soul, and the "Day of Judgement," known as Yawm al-Qiyāmah (Arabic: يوم القيامة, IPA: [jawmu‿l.qijaːma], "the Day of Resurrection") or Yawm ad-Dīn (يوم الدين, Arabic pronunciation: [jawmu‿d.diːn], "the Day of Judgment"). The Day of Judgement is characterized by the annihilation of all life, which will then be followed by the resurrection and judgment by God. It is not specified when al-Qiyamah will happen, but according to prophecy elaborated by hadith-literature, there are major and minor signs that will foretell its coming. Multiple verses in the Qur'an mention the Last Judgment.The main subject of Surat al-Qiyama is the resurrection. The Great Tribulation is described in the hadith and commentaries of the ulama, including al-Ghazali, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Majah, Muhammad al-Bukhari, and Ibn Khuzaymah. The Day of Judgment is also known as the Day of Reckoning, the Last Day, and the Hour (al-sā'ah).Unlike the Qur'an, the hadith contains several events, happening before the Day of Judgment, which are described as several minor signs and twelve major signs. During this period, terrible corruption and chaos would rule the earth, caused by the Masih ad-Dajjal (the Antichrist in Islam), then Jesus will appear, defeating the Dajjal and establish a period of peace, liberating the world from cruelty. These events will be followed by a time of serenity when people live according to religious values.Similar to other Abrahamic religions, Islam teaches that there will be a resurrection of the dead that will be followed by a final tribulation and eternal division of the righteous and wicked. Islamic apocalyptic literature describing Armageddon is often known as fitna, Al-Malhama Al-Kubra (The Great Massacre) or ghaybah in Shī'a Islam. The righteous are rewarded with the pleasures of Jannah (Paradise), while the unrighteous are punished in Jahannam (Hell).Jewish eschatology
Jewish eschatology is the area of Jewish philosophy and theology concerned with events that will happen in the end of days and related concepts, according to the Hebrew Bible and Jewish thought. This includes the ingathering of the exiled diaspora, the coming of a Jewish Messiah, afterlife, and the revival of the dead Tzadikim. In Judaism, the end times are usually called the "end of days" (aḥarit ha-yamim, אחרית הימים), a phrase that appears several times in the Tanakh.
Until the late modern era, the standard Jewish belief was that after one dies, one's immortal soul joins God in the world to come while one's body decomposes. At the end of days, God will recompose one's body, place within it one's immortal soul, and that person will stand before God in judgement. The idea of a messianic age has a prominent place in Jewish thought, and is incorporated as part of the end of days. Jewish philosophers from medieval times to the present day have emphasized the soul's immortality.Kingship and kingdom of God
The concept of the kingship of God appears in all Abrahamic religions, where in some cases the terms Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Heaven are also used. The notion of God's kingship goes back to the Hebrew Bible, which refers to "his kingdom" but does not include the term "Kingdom of God".The "Kingdom of God" and its equivalent form "Kingdom of Heaven" in the Gospel of Matthew is one of the key elements of the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. The Gospel of Mark indicates that the gospel is the good news about the Kingdom of God. The term pertains to the kingship of Christ over all creation. Kingdom of "heaven" appears in Matthew's gospel due primarily to Jewish sensibilities about uttering the "name" (God). Jesus did not teach the kingdom of God per se so much as the return of that kingdom. The notion of God's kingdom (as it had been under Moses) returning became an agitation in Palestine 60 years before Jesus was born, and continued to be a force for nearly a hundred years after his death. Drawing on Old Testament teachings, the Christian characterization of the relationship between God and humanity inherently involves the notion of the "Kingship of God".Bahá'í writings also use the term "kingdom of God". The Quran does not include the term "kingdom of God", but refers to Abraham seeing the "Kingdom of the heavens".Premillennialism
Premillennialism, in Christian eschatology, is the belief that Jesus will physically return to the earth (the Second Coming) before the Millennium, a literal thousand-year golden age of peace. The doctrine is called "premillennialism" because it holds that Jesus' physical return to earth will occur prior to the inauguration of the Millennium. Premillennialism is based upon a literal interpretation of Revelation 20:1–6 in the New Testament, which describes Jesus' reign in a period of a thousand years.
However, the premillennialist view is not shared by all Christians. For the most this question was solved by the Council of Ephesus. Mainline denominations such as Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Catholic are generally amillennial and interpret this passage of Revelation as pertaining to the present time, when Christ reigns in Heaven with the departed saints; such an interpretation views the symbolism of Revelation as referring to a spiritual battle rather than a physical battle on earth. Amillennialists do not view the millennium mentioned in Revelation as pertaining to a literal thousand years, but rather as symbolic, and see the kingdom of Christ as already present in the church beginning with the Pentecost in the first book of Acts.
Premillennialism is often used to refer specifically to those who adhere to the beliefs in an earthly millennial reign of Christ as well as a rapture of the faithful coming before (dispensational) or after (historic) the Great Tribulation preceding the Millennium. For the last century, the belief has been common in Evangelicalism according to surveys on this topic. Amillenialists do not view the thousand years mentioned in Revelation as a literal thousand years but see the number "thousand" as symbolic and numerological.
Premillenialism is distinct from the other views such as postmillennialism which views the millennial rule as occurring before the second coming.Ragnarök
In Norse mythology, Ragnarök ( (listen)) is a series of events, including a great battle, foretold to lead to the death of a number of great figures (including the Gods Odin, Thor, Týr, Freyr, Heimdallr and Loki), natural disasters and the submersion of the world in water. After these events, the world will resurface anew and fertile, the surviving and returning gods will meet and the world will be repopulated by two human survivors. Ragnarök is an important event in Norse mythology and has been the subject of scholarly discourse and theory in the history of Germanic studies.
The event is attested primarily in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In the Prose Edda and in a single poem in the Poetic Edda, the event is referred to as Ragnarök or Ragnarøkkr (Old Norse for "Fate of the Gods" and "Twilight of the Gods", respectively), a usage popularised by 19th-century composer Richard Wagner with the title of the last of his Der Ring des Nibelungen operas, Götterdämmerung (1876), which is "Twilight of the Gods" in German.Second Coming
The Second Coming (sometimes called the Second Advent or the Parousia) is a Christian and Islamic belief regarding the future (or past) return of Jesus after his ascension to heaven about two thousand years ago. The idea is based on messianic prophecies and is part of most Christian eschatologies.
Views about the nature of Jesus's Second Coming vary among Christian denominations and among individual Christians.Seventh-day Adventist eschatology
The Seventh-day Adventist Church holds a unique system of eschatological (or end-times) beliefs. Adventist eschatology, which is based on a historicist interpretation of prophecy, is characterised principally by the premillennial Second Coming of Christ. Traditionally, the church has taught that the Second Coming will be preceded by a global crisis with the Sabbath as a central issue. At Jesus' return, the righteous will be taken to heaven for one thousand years. After the millennium the unsaved will be punished by annihilation while the saved will live on a recreated Earth for eternity.
The foremost sources are the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation. Jesus' statements in Matthew 24 for instance, as well as many other Bible verses are also used. The classic Adventist commentary on the end-times was Uriah Smith's Daniel and the Revelation. The writings of Ellen G. White have also been highly influential, particularly the last part of her book The Great Controversy. "Prophecy seminars", developed since the mid-20th century, have been a key popular source.World to come
The world to come, age to come, and heaven on Earth are eschatological phrases reflecting the belief that the current world or current age is flawed or cursed and will be replaced in the future by a better world, age, or paradise. The concept is related to but differs from the concepts of heaven, the afterlife, and the Kingdom of God in that heaven is another place or state generally seen as above the world, the afterlife is generally an individual's life after death, and the Kingdom of God could be in the present (such as realized eschatology) or the future.