If a set of texts is combined onto one line you are not expected to differentiate them from each other.


Questions and spectra

How do we know?

Mixing of cultures

Personal Eschatology

Is there an afterlife?

What should one do in this life to optimize experience in the next life?

Is the body good?

What are the odds?

Collective Eschatology

What will happen to the world? What does that say about us and our view of the present world?





More questions

Primary Sources

  1. Identify the source
  2. Identify the major theologial issues (using theological terminology)
  3. Identify tensions/disagreements/conflicts with other views, whether received sources, contemporary opponents, or later receptions that substantially change the meaning.
  4. Identify influence and agreement

At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people; it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress since the nation began until that time. At that time your people shall escape, everyone who is found written in the book. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some to everlasting life, others to reproach and everlasting disgrace. But those with insight shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.

Then I saw an angel come down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a heavy chain. He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, which is the Devil or Satan, and tied it up for a thousand years and threw it into the abyss, which he locked over it and sealed, so that it could no longer lead the nations astray until the thousand years are completed. After this, it is to be released for a short time. Then I saw thrones; those who sat on them were entrusted with judgment. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image nor had accepted its mark on their foreheads or hands. They came to life and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over these; they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for [the] thousand years. When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison.

Then I answered and said, “Will time therefore be given to the souls, after they have been separated from the bodies, to see what you have described to me?” He said to me, “They shall have freedom for seven days, so that during these seven days they may see the things of which you have been told, and afterwards they shall be gathered in their habitations.” I answered and said, “If I have found favor in your sight, show further to me, your servant, whether on the day of judgment the righteous will be able to intercede for the ungodly or to entreat the Most High for them-- fathers for sons or sons for parents, brothers for brothers, relatives for their kindred, or friends for those who are most dear.” He answered me and said, “Since you have found favor in my sight, I will show you this also. The day of judgment is decisive and displays to all the seal of truth. Just as now a father does not send his son, or a son his father, or a master his servant, or a friend his dearest friend, to be ill or sleep or eat or be healed in his place, so no one shall ever pray for another on that day, neither shall anyone lay a burden on another; for then all shall bear their own righteousness and unrighteousness.”

Inasmuch, therefore, as the opinions of certain [orthodox persons] are derived from heretical discourses, they are both ignorant of God’s dispensations, and of the mystery of the resurrection of the just, and of the [earthly] kingdom which is the commencement of incorruption, by means of which kingdom those who shall be worthy are accustomed gradually to partake of the divine nature; and it is necessary to tell them respecting those things, that it behoves the righteous first to receive the promise of the inheritance which God promised to the fathers, and to reign in it, when they rise again to behold God in this creation which is renovated, and that the judgment should take place afterwards. For it is just that in that very creation in which they toiled or were afflicted, being proved in every way by suffering, they should receive the reward of their suffering; and that in the creation in which they were slain because of their love to God, in that they should be revived again; and that in the creation in which they endured servitude, in that they should reign.

“And I saw seats and them that sat upon them, and judgment was given.” It is not to be supposed that this refers to the last judgment, but to the seats of the rulers and to the rulers themselves by whom the Church is now governed. And no better interpretation of judgment being given can be produced than that which we have in the words, “What ye bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and what ye loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Whence the apostle says, “What have I to do with judging them that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?” “And the souls,” says John, “of those who were slain for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God,”—understanding what he afterwards says, “reigned with Christ a thousand years,”—that is, the souls of the martyrs not yet restored to their bodies. For the souls of the pious dead are not separated from the Church, which even now is the kingdom of Christ.

Jesus, King, receive my petition. And with the petition take your pledge. Lead forth Adam, the great pledge, in whom all the dead are concealed. [It is] just like when I received him, when all the living were hidden in him. I give you this ancient pledge, the body of Adam. Go up from here and rule over all. When I hear your trumpet I will bring out the dead with my own hands at your coming [again].

And so all people will rise again in the twinkling of an eye, in soul and body with no deformity or mutilation but intact in body and in gender; and the elect will shine with the brightness of their good works, but the reprobate will bear the blackness of their deeds of misery. Thus their works will not there be concealed, but will appear in them openly.

When will this “eschatological moment” take place—the moment when all the dead are to rise to eternal life? In that moment eternity breaks into time, and in the face of eternity, all times are simultaneous. “Before the face of God the times are not reckoned,” explained Martin Luther. “Thus the first man Adam is as close to him as he who will be born last before the Last Day, for God sees time not according to its length, but transversely, athwart time.” But that means, conversely, that all the hours of our deaths reach, or arrive at, this “eschatological moment” of eternity. So when is the resurrection of the dead to take place? My answer is: immediately after the death of every individual. “Today you will be with me in paradise.” That is the doctrine of “the resurrection in death.” The perfecting of the human being, body and soul, takes place immediately at death. The resurrection of the dead happens in the movement of eternity, contrary to the transitory course of time, which moves from the last moment of the first. It is like a bolt of lightning, lighting up synchronically everything that has happened in sequence in the progress of time. Today this idea is supported by Catholic theologians too, and according to Karl Rahner is not heretical.

Traditional eschatology was predominantly preoccupied with the eternal destiny of the individual. As a result, its focus was one-sidedly individualistic and otherworldly. On the contrary, an adequate Christian eschatology must enfold the implication of belief in the afterlife not only for the individual’s eternal destiny, but also for the promotion of justice and peace and for the transformation of society. Though this strand of eschatology runs the risk of horizontalism which focuses exclusively on innerworldly realities (what Questions in Eschatology refers to as “temporal messianism”), it can contribute, when elabroated by such theologians as Gustavo Gutiérrez and by the documents of Medellín and Puebla, to the renewal of the theology of hope as active anticipation of God, the Absolute Future of history; to the renewal of utopia as denunciation of the existing order and proclamation of what is not yet; to the renewal of a Christian spirituality in which salvation and liberation, faith and political activism, worship and solidarity with the oppressed are seen as two sides of the same coin.