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Imagining the Apocalypse. The genre of apocalypse. Influential genre c.250BC – 200AD Maccabees Different literary forms Visionary experiences Symbolism Political application Can be ‘vertical’ (gnostic) Or ‘horizontal’ (historical). Distinct themes. History coming to an end

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Imagining the Apocalypse

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the genre of apocalypse
The genre of apocalypse
  • Influential genre c.250BC – 200AD
    • Maccabees
  • Different literary forms
    • Visionary experiences
    • Symbolism
    • Political application
  • Can be ‘vertical’ (gnostic)
  • Or ‘horizontal’ (historical)
distinct themes
Distinct themes
  • History coming to an end
  • Cosmic cataclysm
  • Consummation and re-creation
  • Roots in prophecy
tom wright
Tom Wright
  • “Within the mainline Jewish writings of this period, covering a wide range of styles, genres, political persuasions and theological perspectives, there is virtually no evidence that Jews were expecting the end of the space-time universe. There is abundant evidence that they knew a good metaphor when they saw one, and used cosmic imagery to bring out the full theological significance of cataclysmic socio-political events.”
contemporary parallels
Contemporary parallels
  • Peak Oil
  • Global Warming
  • Grey goo (nanotechnology)
  • Y2K etc
  • Rooted in hatred of present system
    • (We know that there is something wrong)
common shape
Common shape
  • The world is wicked
  • God’s wrath will destroy the world
  • The righteous will be redeemed
  • The wicked will be punished
  • A new creation
  • EG Left Behind sequence
but is this christianity
But is this Christianity?
  • "The commonly held understanding of hell remains trapped within the apocalyptic imagination, that is, it is the result of a violent separation between the good and the evil worked by a vengeful god. It seems to me that if hell is understood thus, we have quite simply not understood the Christian faith..."(James Alison, Living in the End Times)

Last time we met was a low-lit roomWe were as close together as a bride and groomWe ate the food, we drank the wineEverybody having a good timeExcept you…You were talking about the end of the world

what is jesus perspective
What is Jesus’ perspective?
  • Apocalyptic was popular at the time
  • Runs to dualisms
    • Between now and the future
    • Between the righteous and the damned
    • Between the realm of heaven and the realm of earth
  • Jesus undermines these dualisms
apocalypse and wrath
Apocalypse and wrath
  • From apocalyptic to eschatology
  • Living in the end-times
  • Like a thief in the night
  • ‘realised eschatology’
  • Living in the Kingdom
nature of christian imagination
Nature of Christian imagination
  • Temptation to (gnostic) apocalypse
  • Desire for judgement
  • “Judge not… Be perfect…”
  • Settled acceptance of Father’s will
  • Obedience in the interim
  • An imagination shaped by Christ
the nature of christian hope
The nature of Christian hope
  • That the kingdom has begun (the evangel)
  • The kingdom is entering in to the world
  • God is in charge
  • His purposes will be accomplished
  • We are resident aliens – subjects of another kingdom
  • A decision, not a feeling
a christian imagination
A Christian imagination
  • Not about wrath but love
  • The revelation is of truth
    • “It doesn’t have to be this way”
    • Truth sets us free
    • Profoundly political in implication
  • It is breaking in now
  • We can share in it now
  • Metanoia
a pause
A pause..

The time has come.

The Kingdom of God is near.

Repent, and believe the Good News!

half time review
Half-time review
  • Jeremiah as oracle for today
  • World problems
  • Theological resources
    • 1. Idolatry as blindness
    • 2. Wrath as consequence
    • 3. Apocalypse as truth and life
in the second half
In the second half
  • Green Bible – God’s commands about living in the world
  • The Second commandment – God’s command about human relations
  • Islam, Terrorism etc – God’s commands about foreign relations
  • The New Covenant – God’s commands about right worship
the final run
The final run
  • Contention – the Church’s responsibility for failure
  • Discipleship – the Church’s core mission
  • Let us be Human - summary