APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE. A dis tinct type of religious literature emanating from Jewish and Christian sources. The form ative period of its growth and development reached from 200 B.C. to 100 A.D. The name "Apocalypse* comes from the Greek, mean ing °disclosures or °revelation,* and refers to a special kind of literature. The occasion for the appearance of this particular kind of lit erature among the Jews was the Maccabean revolt and the attendant causes leading up to the revolt. The rebellion itself was no more or less than a severe reaction against Hellen ism and the threatened domination of Jewish thought and life. It was the clash of two na tionalities and two religions that were almost mutually exclusive. It was in the heat of this period of strife that this literature found its voice and its mission, and by means of its en couragements became veritable °tracts for bad times.* Origin.— The origin of the apocalyptic liter ature has been the source of much discussion durjng the past few years. Almost every branch of Jewish society has been accredited with its production. Some authorities con tend that it must have come from the Es senes, others from Persian sources, and still others from Hellenistic sources. The best con clusion seems to be that the literature is first of all distinctly Jewish and Palestinian in origin, and that it emanated from the lay classes in stead of the recognized official classes. This condition easily accounts for its Pharisaical teachings, its demonology so often accredited wholly to Persian sources and its traces of Hellenism. The place of writing is still a mat ter of conjecture, but there is much to favor the idea that it was written (that is, the most of it) in Galilee.
• Characteristics and Problems.— The out standing characteristics of the apocalyptic liter ature are three in number. The most signifi cant one is the characteristic of pseudonymity. Some have concluded that this is the only mark of an apocalypse, and as a consequence much confusion has arisen in the use of the modern term apseudepigrapha.* The typical apocalypse is written under the assumed name of some ancient worthy and purports to come from his time. The use of the name in this way is regularly followed out in all apocalypses down to the 14th century a.a, with a few ex centions in the New Testament. The real rea son for this assumption of another name, as the medium of revelation, is to be found in the crystallization of the idea of a sacred canon of Scripture. To writers of the apocalypses the
canon was practically closed, the time of reve lation had passed, and so in order to reach the people with a new message the Patriarchs, Enoch, Moses and Daniel are made expositors of elaborate revelations. Another marked char acteristic of the apocalyptic literature is the use of symbolical language, visions and im agery. The visions are elaborate and rendered somewhat mysterious in their use of symboli cal language. The °horn') of an animal gener ally represents a king. The °little horn') of Daniel represents Antiochus Epiphanes. The patriarchs are represented as °white bulls.* The righteous Israelites are °sheep* or °lambs.* Foreign nations are pictured as ravenous beasts. Further the legalistic emphasis of the apocalyptic is very noteworthy. In every case, with the exception of 4 Ezra, allegiance to the Law or the Torah is affirmed or assumed. In some cases the validity of the Law is recog nized, even as last authority. Hand in hand with this recognition of the Law is the general expressed loyality to the Temple and its worship.
One of the greatest problems of apocalyptic literature is its relation to Old Testament prophecy. The similarities between the two forms of literature are masked. In the face of much discredit that has been thrown upon the apocalyptic writers, it must be said that they were the best successors of the great prophets, both in spirit and deed. They have the same basis of revelation and inspiration. Both possess an eschatology and are highly ethical. On the other hand the differences are very striking. Old Testament prophecy is al ways conditional in regard to future events; but in the case of the apocalyptic, the con ditions are of minor importance, as the pre diction will come to pass in a mechanical way irrespective of human conduct. The most strik-, ing difference is found in the scope of the two eschatologies. In Old Testament prophecy es chatology is almost entirely concerned with the nation, but in the apocalyptic the eschatol ogy of the individual is highly developed. A firm belief in the future life is one of the cardinal doctrines of the apocalyptic. Again the belief in a new heaven and a new earth is one of the finest products of this literature.