The word arises from the Greek?éschatos 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".
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 the end of times to be imminent are also referred to as doomsday cults.
In the Bahá'í Faith, creation has neither a beginning nor an end; Bahá'ís regard the eschatologies of other religions 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" become symbolic terms for a person's spiritual progress and their nearness to or distance from God. In Bahá'í belief, the coming of Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892), the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, signals the fulfilment of previous eschatological expectations of Islam, Christianity and other major religions.
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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 stands at the core of much of Christian eschatology. The study of Revelation is usually divided into four interpretative methodologies or hermeneutics:
The Futurist approach treats the Book of Revelation mostly as unfulfilled prophecy taking place in some yet undetermined future.
The Preterist approach interprets Revelation chiefly as having had prophetic fulfillment in the past, principally in the events of the first century CE.
The Idealist approach sees the events of Revelation as neither past nor future actualities, but as purely symbolic accounts, dealing with the ongoing struggle and ultimate triumph of good over evil.
The Vaishnavite tradition links contemporary Hindu eschatology to the figure of Kalki, the tenth and last avatar of Vishnu. Before the age draws to a close Kalki 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 for 4.32 billion years and is followed by a pralaya of equal length, which together makes one full day and night of Brahma's 100 360-year lifespan, who lives 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.
Diagram of "Plain of Assembly"(Ard al-Hashr) on the Day of Judgment, from autograph manuscript of Futuhat al-Makkiyya by Sufi mystic and philosopher Ibn Arabi, ca. 1238. Shown are the 'Arsh (Throne of God), pulpits for the righteous (al-Aminun), seven rows of angels, Gabriel (al-Ruh), A'raf (the Barrier), the Pond of Abundance, al-Maqam al-Mahmud (the Praiseworthy Station; where the prophet Muhammad will stand to intercede for the faithful), Mizan (the Scale), As-Sir?t (the Bridge), Jahannam (Hell) and Marj al-Jannat (Meadow of Paradise).
Muhammad's sayings on the subject have been traditionally divided[by whom?] into Major and Minor Signs. He spoke about several Minor Signs of the approach of the Day of Judgment, including:
Abu Hurairah reported that Muhammad said: "If you survive for a time you would certainly see people who would have whips in their hands like the tail of an ox. They would get up in the morning under the wrath of God and they would go into the evening with the anger of God."
Abu Hurairah narrated that Muhammad said, "When honesty is lost, then wait for the Day of Judgment." It was asked, "How will honesty be lost, O Messenger of God?" He said, "When authority is given to those who do not deserve it, then wait for the Day of Judgment."
'Umar ibn al-Khatt?b, in a long narration relating to the questions of the angel Gabriel, reported: "Inform me when the Day of Judgment will be." He [Muhammad] remarked: "The one who is being asked knows no more than the inquirer." He [the inquirer] said: "Tell me about its indications." He [Muhammad] said: "That the slave-girl gives birth to her mistress and master, and that you would find barefooted, destitute shepherds of goats vying with one another in the construction of magnificent buildings."
"Before the Day of Judgment there will be great liars, so beware of them."
"When the most wicked member of a tribe becomes its ruler, and the most worthless member of a community becomes its leader, and a man is respected through fear of the evil he may do, and leadership is given to people who are unworthy of it, expect the Day of Judgment."
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(Ad Dukhan), 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[by whom?] in the chronological order of appearance)
Judaism usually refers to the end times as the "end of days" (a?arit ha-yamim, ), 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:
Good will eventually prevail over evil.
Creation, initially perfectly good, was subsequently corrupted by evil.
The world will ultimately be restored to the perfection it had at the time of creation.
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.
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.
^Bauckham, R. J. (1996). "Apocalyptic". In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible Dictionary (3rd ed., p. 53). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
^Tyndale, William, Parable of the Wicked Mammon, c. 1526, (facsimile copy of later printing, no ISBN, Benediction Classics, 2008) at pages 4-5
^Luther, Martin, "Sermon for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity; Matthew 24:15-28", Church Postil, 1525
^J. H. Merle D'aubigne's History of the Reformation of the Sixteen Century, book vi, chapter xii, p. 215.
^Calvin, John, "Lecture Fifty-Second", Commentary on Daniel, Volume