Understanding the apocalyptic worldview today

IN RECENT months, as the effects of climate chaos become more devastatingly evident, we have been hearing the word ‘apocalyptic’ with increasing frequency. ‘Hundreds trapped on pier after apocalyptic inferno turns sky red’ (the headline of an article about the Australian bush fires).1

‘In recent years the issue of climate change has taken a decidedly apocalyptic turn.’2 ‘End of Civilization: Climate Change Apocalypse could start by 2050 if we don’t act.’3

The word ‘apocalypse’ is probably best known with reference to the last book of the Bible: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John.” (Rev.1:1). ‘Revelation’ translates the original Greek word apocalypsis which means an uncovering, an unveiling. Biblical scholars use the word ‘apocalyptic’ for a genre of writing found not only in ancient Jewish literature, but in the writings of other ancient Near Eastern peoples. There are particularly strong affinities between Jewish apocalyptic texts and the mantic wisdom of the Babylonians.