It is time for my weekly Readers’ Mailbag.   If you too have a question you would like me to address – on much of anything at all! – let me know, either by sending me an email or by commenting on this post.  I’ll be dealing with two questions today, one on dealing with where apocalyptic views came from, the other with my personal experience as a born-again Christian who had been raised Episcopalian.


QUESTION:  Was there something in the air roughly 2000 years ago that gave rise to apocalyptic beliefs? Was the world uniquely viewed as a ‘hell on earth’ requiring imminent Godly intervention, or are such views one of those ‘hardy perennials’ that exist all the time with deluded individuals perceiving themselves as possessing unique insight into the mind of God and so qualified to opinions on The Plan?


RESPONSE:  I suppose the answer is both Yes and Yes!  There certainly was a historical and cultural context from which apocalypticism emerged.  Scholars of ancient Judaism have traced the origins of the apocalyptic worldview back to the time of the Maccabean Revolt, which occurred about two centuries before the days of Jesus.  I won’t go into all the ins and outs of this major event in ancient Jewish history, except to say that at the time Judea was controlled by Syria, whose king, Antiochus Epiphanes, was determined to unify his realm by forcing Greek culture on all its inhabitants.  This meant, for Jews, that they were not allowed to keep their distinctive laws and customs, such as circumcision, Sabbath observance, kosher diet, and so on.   The Jews revolted under a family of guerilla warriors known as the Maccabees, and they ended up driving Syria out of the Promised Land and establishing Israel as a sovereign state (which lasted for about a century, until the conquest by the Romans in 66 BCE).

Jewish thinkers during the time of Syrian domination were trying to understand …

THE REST OF THIS POST IS FOR MEMBERS ONLY.  If you don’t belong yet, JOIN UP!  It costs very little, and every cent goes to charity!!