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Take up any book on the subject and you will be told that the many features of apocalyptic literature can scarcely if ever be found in one single work. Indeed, a piece of apocalyptic can be absent many of the list of characteristics. Still, it is worth trying to get at the criteria. Brent Sandy has provided a list of eleven characteristics (twelve if one includes pseudonymity) of the genre:1 I have added some comments to temper them a bit.
Scenes - Animals - Rivers - Mountains - Stars
“jaw-dropping scenes of animals, rivers, mountains and stars that jump off the page with movielike special effects (Dan. 8:2-14; Zech. 6:1-7)”
A star went before the magi to guide them; it was actual not apocalyptical. While some of the animals, say in Daniel 7, are imaginary, this is not necessarily the case with the visions in Zechariah or Ezekiel. If the prophets could see real spiritual beings (cherubim, seraphim, women with stork’s wings, etc), then apocalyptic is more a category of experience (which includes seeing the supernatural) than has hitherto been admitted.
Catastrophes - Chaos - Universe - Day - Judgment
“natural catastrophes producing cosmic chaos throughout the universe, ushering in the dreadful day of judgment (Is. 24:18-20; Ezek. 38:19-22)”
These passages describe an epic earthquake; nothing in these passages is figurative.
Evil - Crises - Pessimism - Course - Events
“pernicious and disruptive evil contributing to constant crises and producing a seemingly hopeless pessimism with the course of current events (Isa. 57:3-13; Dan. 7:19-25)”
Isaiah 57 has a section full of hope for the contrite (Isa. 57:15-20), and Daniel 7 promises that the saints will possess the kingdom (Dan. 7:22, 27). Sandy has simply ignored the wider context. In point of fact, it is rare to find judgment or crisis passages in the Prophets which do not contain rays of eschatological hope.
Determinism - Conviction - Somehow - God - Control
“an underlying determinism resting in the unquestioned conviction that somehow God is maintaining sovereign control (Is 25:1; 26:1-4)”
It is common...
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