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The Origins of Apocalypticism

In my previous post I began to explain how, in 1985, while teaching a class at Rutgers on the Problem of Suffering, I came to realize that I simply didn’t accept any longer most of the views of the Bible on why there was suffering in the world.  But one view did continue to appeal to me, the apocalyptic view that emerged toward the end of the New Testament period, and became the view of Jesus, John the Baptist before him, the apostle Paul after him, and, in fact, most of the early Christians.

This would be a good time to review where this view came from and what motivated it.  For that I am going to return to a post that I made on the blog a couple of years ago.  Here I set up what apocalypticists believed (especially about suffering) by contrasting it with the view out of which it arose and to which it was reacting, the view of the traditional Hebrew prophets.


The Prophetic Perspective

We have seen that the classical prophets of the Hebrew Bible differed from one another in a number of ways, in the historical contexts that they addressed, in their manner of addressing them, and in the specifics of their messages.   But there are certain common features that tie all the prophets together, especially with respect to their understanding of God, his reaction to Israel’s failure to do his will, and the coming disasters that will occur as a result.   If you were to ask a prophet like Amos, Isaiah, or Jeremiah why it is the people of God suffer, they would have a clear and ready answer.  They suffer because …

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The Essence of Biblical Apocalyptic Thought
Apologies to All Colombians



  1. Avatar
    hasankhan  July 11, 2017

    Qur’an (57:22) No disaster strikes upon the earth or among yourselves except that it is in a register before We bring it into being – indeed that, for Allah, is easy

    Prophets themselves have been prosecuted by people for spreading the message. Its repeated many times in Qur’an, Is it not in the Bible? Wasn’t Joseph being prosecuted even though he didn’t commit adultery? Surely if he had listened to her, he wouldn’t be in trouble. Prophet Adam was thrown into the fire because he was preaching to not worship idols. Prophet Noah was ridiculed and mocked, etc. These people were suffering for believing, not otherwise. I’m surprised that this kind of suffering was overlooked by jewish scholars.

    Qur’an (29:2) Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried?

    • tompicard
      tompicard  July 22, 2017

      who was Adam preaching to?
      and who threw him in which fire?

      • Avatar
        hasankhan  July 24, 2017

        Sorry I typed Adam instead of Abraham. Abraham was thrown in the fire by the pagans. He was preaching to people he was born in. It is about the incident of him breaking the idols while people were occupied with some festival.

        Qur’an (21:68) They said, “Burn him and support your gods – if you are to act.”

        Similarly John the baptist was killed by the jews even though he was a believer. So prophets have suffered humiliation and prosecution throughout history. And since they are sent as an example for mankind, that makes it clear to the followers also that your being a believer does not mean that you’ll have a life free of suffering rather that is only a reward given to those who will be patient and die in the state of belief. God acknowledges this suffering of believers in the Qur’an in following words.

        Qur’an (2:214) Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said,”When is the help of Allah ?” Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.

  2. Avatar
    stokerslodge  July 11, 2017

    Bart, with regard to Jewish beliefs on the problem of suffering; when and how did the notion of everlasting suffering in the afterlife become established? Or is that a uniquely Christian belief?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 13, 2017

      Ah, that’s what my next book is about. I’ll return to that thread (I put it in hiatus in April) soon!

      • Avatar
        maklaka  July 14, 2017

        I cannot wait for this book. The only defense I’ve heard about a Jewish pre-apocalyptic understanding of an afterlife is the verse about David losing his child with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 12:23 3

        “But now the baby is dead, so why should I refuse to eat? Can I bring the baby back to life? No. Some day I will go to him, but he cannot come back to me.”

        Awfully vague. Seems more likely that the author would be conveying the sense that David too would go to the common fate of all – Sheol.

        As you’ve highlighted before, Ecclesiastes seems like a practically absurdist view of life and death. Bit of a difficult view to reconcile with an ultimate justice in the “not now but then” hereafter, no?

        • Bart
          Bart  July 16, 2017

          Yes, I think that’s what the passage does mean — he would see his child in Sheol.

  3. talmoore
    talmoore  July 11, 2017

    Dr. Ehrman, would you say this apocalyptic view essentially took over Jewish philosophy after the Maccabean revolt? I say this, because it seems to me that many traditional Jews saw the revolt as a return to the proper worship of God, and that, because of their traditional prophetic view, this meant that the Jews should prosper and flourish — that misery and suffering would end. But, alas, the Hasmoneans, from Jonathan and Simon up to Alexander Jannaeus, appeared to the traditional Jews (from the so-called Chassidim, or The Pious, to the Essenes) to be just as corrupt and in the pockets of the pagans as the pre-revolt Hellenistic Jews. This disillusionment, this sudden confrontation with ancient imperial realpolitik, as far as I can tell, is what spurred so many Jews to become apocalyticists (cf. the cryptic evidence within the DDS). All hope for an earthly realization of Utopia was gone. Salvation could only come from heaven itself coming down to earth, inaugurating a Messianic Age, where the good will finally prosper and flourish while the bad suffer in appropriate pain and misery. The disillusionment with Hasmonean rule seems, to me, to be the catalyst for much of this sudden surge in apocalypticism.

    • Bart
      Bart  July 13, 2017

      it didn’t take over completely, but it was heavily influential. It was the major bone of contention (well, one of the main ones) between Pharisees and Sadducees, e.g.

  4. Avatar
    Seeker1952  July 11, 2017

    In the apocalyptic view isn’t there a sense that, in order to make up for all the evil God has permitted, s/he must now make things perfectly good. Just improving things wouldn’t be enough. It’s like the more reality departs from what’s expected the more extreme people’s wishful thinking becomes in order to maintain their previous views.

    • Bart
      Bart  July 13, 2017

      For the apocalypticists we know about, the kingdom would not simply be improved, but fantastically good.

      • Avatar
        Wilusa  July 13, 2017

        I find it hard to understand their being so enthusiastic about a world in which there would be no more *children*.

        (Of course, it’s equally hard to understand their not wanting to have *sex*, for its own sake!)

  5. Avatar
    Seeker1952  July 11, 2017

    I don’t know a great deal about “cargo cults” but have comparisons been made between those and Judeo-Christian Apocalypticism? But maybe cargo cults don’t start with the present situation being so evil as does Apocalypticism.

    • Bart
      Bart  July 13, 2017

      Yes, about 30 years ago there were scholars making the comparisons with cargo cults and apocalyptic traditions, as a way to do a kind of cross-cultural anthropological analysis to explain the rise of apocalytpic beliefs.

    • talmoore
      talmoore  July 13, 2017

      Way back in my undergrad days I took a course in the anthropology of religion, in which we studied, in particular, syncretic religions like, for example, the Cargo Cults and the Virgin of Guadalupe. There was one common thread connecting all these new fangled religions: they all essentially took a foreign concept or idol and simply readapted it to an already indigenous belief. In the case of the Cargo Cults, their beliefs were the typical animistic and polytheistic beliefs common to most polynesian societies. In their world there are mortals and the abode of mortals (earth), and gods and the abode of gods (heaven), and making a connection between these two different types of beings and their abodes required elaborate rituals and ceremonies — usually performed by a qualified expert, such as a shaman or witch doctor. And it was through these rituals and ceremonies that the people received blessings and abundance from the gods (cf. Jewish sacrifices).

      So when these polynesians suddenly saw all these western people constructing runways, control towers and all sorts of other logistical structures, and they saw these cargo planes landing and unloading all these goods, the polynesians simply assumed that it was all the same complex ritual for appealing to the gods with which they were already familiar. And, most importantly, they saw that it worked! So they then incorporated the same habits as the westerners, building crude runways and control towers with the hope that the planes loaded with cargo would land for them. Basically, the Cargo Cults weren’t doing anything intrinsically different than the priests in the Temple in Jerusalem were doing. They were just doing it more crudely.

  6. tompicard
    tompicard  July 11, 2017

    Does the apocalyptic alternative imply an expectation of supernatural occurrences?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 13, 2017

      In the forms of apocalypticism that have come down to us from anicent Judaism, yes.

  7. Avatar
    Carl  July 11, 2017

    Loving the thread.

    Before his conversion is it safe to assume that Paul held the same view on suffering as that of the traditional Hebrew prophets as opposed to the first apocalyptic Jews or any other view?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 13, 2017

      It appears that he was an apoclaypticist from the outset (he was a Pharisee, and they were apocayupticists, so far as we can tell)

    • talmoore
      talmoore  July 13, 2017

      The only daylight I can see between Paul and the typical Pharisee is that:
      A) Paul believed the Messiah had already come, died and returned to heaven in the form of Jesus. The Pharisees (for the most part) did not believe the Messiah had already arrived on earth (exceptions being Pharisees like Zadok the Pharisee who appeared to think Judas the Galilean was the Messiah), much less that Jesus was the Messiah.
      B) Paul believed Gentiles didn’t have to convert to Judaism to be part of the new Israel in the Age-to-come. For Paul, the righteous Gentile followers of the Messiah Jesus would have a place in the new Israel on par with the righteous Jews. Meanwhile, the Pharisees believed only righteous Jews would have a place in the new Israel, and that any righteous Gentile whom God and the Messiah spared to live in the Age-to-come would be subservient to the new Israel (think vassalage). So for a Gentile to be part of the new Israel in the Age-to-come, he or she would have to convert. (Incidentally, Orthodox Judaism still to this day subscribes to the same belief as the Pharisees.)

    • Avatar
      llamensdor  July 30, 2017

      Paul never converted.

  8. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  July 11, 2017

    Readers of this blog who have not already read it, might find Schweitzer’s classic “The Quest of the Historical Jesus” of interest since it outlines the evidence that Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet in a very powerful way.

    For about five years, I attended various Unitarian Fellowships and they have a course entitled “Building Your Own Theology” which ends with each class member writing a summary of his/her beliefs. In essence, I think this is what you have done very well in this series of posts about your beliefs and how they evolved over time. I think putting it all together is what most readers of your trade books are most interested in doing. Thanks

  9. antoinelamond
    antoinelamond  July 11, 2017

    So is this post here what will lead you to writing about the afterlife?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 13, 2017

      Actually, yes, this is where I left off my thread on the afterlife in April! I’ll be getting back to that soon.

  10. Avatar
    Luke9733  July 11, 2017

    I’ve had an idea for a while and I can’t remember if I’ve asked about it before or not. I’ve wondered if perhaps Jesus thought that he himself would rebuild the Temple after it’s destruction. If his apocalyptic message involved a prediction of the destruction of the Temple, maybe it included that the Temple would be rebuild.

    Mark and John both seem to independently attest to the theme of Jesus’ claiming he would rebuild the Temple in 3 days. Mark says it was just rumors enemies were making up about Jesus, and John has Jesus actually say he would rebuild the Temple but then reinterprets the claim so it’s about his resurrection instead.

    Perhaps Jesus believed that, as the Messiah, it would be he who would rebuild the Temple after it was destroyed. What are your thoughts on this idea?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 13, 2017

      I’m not sure what that would mean. I don’t think Jesus was thinking of himself as a bricklayer, e.g.

    • talmoore
      talmoore  July 13, 2017

      If Jesus held views similar to other apocalyptic Jews at the time, it’s possible that he believed the new Messianic Age Temple could be built by angels, like the Temple in Heaven (which would make it possible to be built in such a short time) or that the Temple already in Heaven would simply come down to earth to take the place of the old Temple.

    • Avatar
      heronewb  July 14, 2017

      Jesus didn’t know the temple was going to be destroyed, so he most likely never claimed to rebuild the temple, unless the temple being destroyed and then rebuilt was some thing that Jews believed about the messiah, then they would have just said “it was symbolic and about jesus’ body” when they saw he failed to rebuild a temple that was not destroyed.

  11. cheito
    cheito  July 11, 2017

    DR Ehrman:

    Your Comment:

    What happens when the nation does what God instructs it to do – and it still suffers?

    My Comment

    From the exodus of Israel from Egypt, to the time of the destruction of the first temple, approximately, a little over nine hundred years passed, and Israel had not done of what God instructed them to do though all the prophets that he, God, sent them. God wanted righteousness from Israel, not burnt offerings and sacrifices.

    Jeremiah prophecies to the nation of Israel and tells them, that they had done nothing of what the Lord had commanded them to do.

    On the contrary, they were offering burnt offerings and sacrifices, which the Lord did not command them to do. The sacrificial system was there own idea. They perverted the Passover, which was a meal to be eaten, in an appointed place, by most, at an appointed time, commemorating their exodus from Egypt, accomplished by the presence and power of God through Moses, Aaron and Miriam, His servants, and they added all kinds of animal sacrifices that God did not command them to do. Again, God wanted righteousness from Israel, not burnt offerings and sacrifices.

    Read Jeremiah 7:21-23, (Isaiah 1:11-14, Isaiah 66:3, Amos 5:21-25)

    21-Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat flesh.

    22-“For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.

    23“But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’

    24-“Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward.

    25-“Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have sent you all My servants the prophets, daily rising early and sending them.

    26-“Yet they did not listen to Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck; they did evil more than their fathers.

    My point:

    Israel never did what God instructed them to do. Your assertion, with all due respect, that Israel obeyed God, and yet, they still suffered is biblically inaccurate.

    • Avatar
      HawksJ  July 14, 2017

      [[Israel never did what God instructed them to do. Your assertion, with all due respect, that Israel obeyed God, and yet, they still suffered is biblically inaccurate.]]

      ‘Never’ is a big word. So, you believe that every member of the nation acted with one accord and that there were no faithful individuals? Why would that be the case? Further, why did God change from ‘group judgment’ during that time to ‘individual responsibility’ in the New Testament?

      • cheito
        cheito  July 15, 2017


        God always had a remnant of Jewish believers that obeyed him. There were faithful individuals, (not perfect), but faithful. (e.g. Joshua, Caleb, King David, King Hezekiah, most of the prophets, etc.)

        However according to Jeremiah 7:21-26, Israel as a nation, did not obey God, but sinned more than their ‘fathers’. Israel as a nation did not walk in the ways that God commanded them. They followed their own counsels, and established their own laws and rituals. God did not command them to offer burnt offerings and sacrifices, that was their idea. That’s what Jeremiah is saying!

        As for your question:

        why did God change from ‘group judgment’ during that time to ‘individual responsibility’ in the New Testament?

        God didn’t ‘change from ‘group judgement’ in the OT, to ‘individual responsibility’ in the NT.
        God always dealt with individuals, and held each one accountable for their own sins. Read Ezekiel Chapter 18…

        Ezekiel 18:30

        18: 30-“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct,” declares the Lord GOD.


    • Avatar
      heronewb  July 14, 2017

      If Jeremiah was making the argument that the Torah was not canon, his writings would not have been canonized, as he would have been a heretic . The fact that you think Jeremiah is contradicting Torah, and you side with Jeremiah just sounds like Christian gobbledygook.

      • cheito
        cheito  July 15, 2017


        Your comment:

        The fact that you think Jeremiah is contradicting Torah, and you side with Jeremiah just sounds like Christian gobbledygook.

        My Comment:

        I don’t think Jeremiah is contradicting the ‘Torah’, I think Jeremiah is saying that the ‘Torah’, (i.e., the law of The Lord), available in his generation, had been altered by the scribes, to the point that it had become, (in Jeremiah’s own words), ‘a lie’. ( Jeremiah 8:8 )

        Jeremiah 8:8-“How can you say, ‘We are wise, And the law of the LORD is with us’? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie.

        The prophets and the priests had become perverted, and they also perverted the words of the living God. (i.e., the ‘Torah’)

        Read also Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:11, 16, 21, 30-32, 35, 36,)

        The ‘Torah’ of Jeremiah’s generation was historically unreliable. The scribes had altered, added and/or deleted stories from it.

        Jeremiah asserts that it wasn’t God who instructed and commanded them, (the nation of Israel), concerning burnt offering and sacrifices, when He, (God) brought them out from Egypt. What God wanted from Israel was righteousness, not burnt offerings and sacrifices.

        The sacrificial system was there own idea. God wanted righteousness from Israel, not burnt offerings and sacrifices. I believe this is what Jeremiah is saying.

        Note: Jeremiah was considered a heretic in his generation by many of the priests, false prophets. and others. They attempted to kill him but God saved him.

  12. cheito
    cheito  July 11, 2017

    DR Ehrman:

    Your Comment:

    But one view did continue to appeal to me, the apocalyptic view that emerged toward the end of the New Testament period, and became the view of Jesus, John the Baptist before him, the apostle Paul after him, and, in fact, most of the early Christians.

    My Comment:

    Jesus was an apocalypticist according to the synoptic gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, but not according to the gospel of John. The same is true for John the baptist.

    As for Paul being an apocalypticist, the so-called evidence in his undisputed letters, is disputable and open to debate. As for the early Christians, there were diverse theological opinions, and divisions among the different sects of believers, and different Christological views, as to what Christ taught, who he was, when he was returning, if at all, or if he already had returned.

    My point:

    I don’t believe that John the baptist, Jesus, Paul, nor the apostles of Christ, taught and believed that Jesus was returning in their own generation. The evidence is not conclusive.


  13. Avatar
    Silver  July 12, 2017

    Some two and a half months ago you began this thread saying that this is what you tell your students on the last day of term about how you came to your present beliefs. I am intrigued to know how you managed to fit all of this into one session. Did you have to cover some of the ground by saying e.g. ‘Do you remember when we discussed…’ or ‘You already know that…’ ?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 13, 2017

      Ha! Yeah, I thought that it would be one post and it turned into 10 weeks. Go figure — wasn’t planned. I gave my students a seriously condensed form of the Readers Digest version….

  14. Avatar
    fishician  July 12, 2017

    1. When evil people suffer it is punishment for their sins. 2. When good people suffer it is a test of faith. 3. We get to decide who the evil ones are and who the good ones are! For example, when New Orleans is hit by a hurricane it is because of their debauchery. When a town in the Bible Belt is hit by a tornado it is a test from God. Also, we get to decide which sins are responsible. I had a fellow tell me the woes of America are being caused by our acceptance of abortion and homosexuality. Not because we deny people health care, discriminate against minorities or turn away refugees. Sad that so few people try to seriously wrestle with the issue of suffering instead of using it to justify their own beliefs about others.

    • Avatar
      catguy  July 13, 2017

      There is an evangelist on the web who claims the reason for the economic problems in the US is due to abortion. He has graphed out how beginning in the mid-1970’s the US began to experience some economic problems and things have gotten much worse since because of all our abortions. I am not an advocate of abortion but I do think his claim is a stretch. Just pointing out that there are those who make such connections.

  15. Avatar
    1Graber  July 12, 2017

    Dr. Ehrman, is this where the idea of Satan came to be developed more? In the Apocolyptic view I mean? If so, what was Satan viewed as before this point?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 13, 2017

      Yes, this is when the idea that Satan was God’s personal enemy came from. Before that — e.g., in Job 1 — “the satan” is a member of the divine council who takes an adversarial position to humans.

  16. Avatar
    Hume  July 12, 2017

    The more I read Porphyry, the more the New Testament seems like poor vs rich. “Sell all you have and give it to the poor” and ” It’s hard for a rich man to enter heaven”. It seems to mean virtue should be more important than wealth, as good men can be virtuous and poor men can be corrupt. In reality the world is more grey, Jesus is very black and white. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 13, 2017

      Apocalyptic thinking tends to be binary and dualistic, for good or ill, so to speak.

  17. Avatar
    nbraith1975  July 12, 2017

    The odd thing in all of this is that Jesus – who is God himself if you believe in the Trinity – told his followers that they would not only be persecuted for their belief in him/God, but they should expect persecution until he returns and establishes God’s kingdom on earth. He did however offer comfort through the Holy Spirit in times of persecution. But even as I held to this belief, relief of the pain of my personal experience in the matter of suffering was of no help – I still experienced pain and suffering. It was only time that diminished the suffering and pain; and even with that, memories often take me right back to the experience and bring back the pain.

    As you have pointed out in this post, this is a 180 degree change from how God dealt with the Hebrews in the OT. However, the book of Revelation does offer a bit of restitution for all the suffering in that God will be killing all the enemies of his chosen (Christian?) people when he establishes his kingdom and will somehow reward the faithful recipients of often times terrible persecution. (It must be noted that punishment is not only promised for those who perpetrate persecution on the followers of Jesus, but that same punishment is also promised for all those who choose not to follow Jesus – regardless if they have never done any harm to anyone their whole lives or have been helpful to their neighbors.)

    At least this is what the NT generally says about the situation.

  18. Avatar
    Michael Toon  July 12, 2017

    What is the classic study go-to book on the development of apocalypticism in ancient Israelite religion?

  19. tompicard
    tompicard  July 12, 2017

    Maybe you’ve answered this but I was dense and didn’t catch it, if so do you mind repeating?

    You realized that the bible did not provide a reasonable explanation of the creation of the planet earth and yet remained a Christian and a believer in God. Let’s assume the bible doesn’t provide a reasonable explanation for the existence of suffering.

    Why does the bible’s lack of explanation for the existence of the suffering cause you to turn from Christianity and/or a belief in God when the bible’s lack of (or worse provides a patently false) description of the creation of this planet doesn’t?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 13, 2017

      My problem was *not* with the Bible. That’s what I’ve been trying to say. The Bible had almost nothing to do with it. My problem is that I didn’t believe that there could be a God in charge of this world given all the pain and misery in it.

      • Avatar
        gavriel  July 13, 2017

        You mean “no good God in charge”, in the sense good to at least humans. Do you also rule out a more terrifying and ruthless god?

        • Bart
          Bart  July 15, 2017

          I’ve never had any reason or inclination to believe in such a God. If he exists he’s doing a lousy job of what he’s trying to do, given all the good and joy in the world.

      • Avatar
        dragonfly  July 13, 2017

        It seems to me that you keep saying this but people still have trouble understanding it. My sense is that some people can’t separate the bible from the religion.

      • Avatar
        heronewb  July 14, 2017

        But isn’t that weak? There is a starving African right now that could be helped by you, and you are presumably capable, and yet do not. I guess that means you dont exist? Is Psn t it possible that there is a God, but maybe he respects the laws of the universe, and so let’s them take their course, because maybe in a way you can’t understand, that is what is “good”? I am not sure I would feed every African even if I could with the snap of a finger since it may not be an ultimate “good”. Most people understand why humans shouldn’t intervene to protect zebras from lions (let the universe take its course), but then with random Africans, humans lose their ability to accept the universe. The irony is that your skewed understanding of reality (sad things shouldn’t happen) was most likely a Christian invention and so it went like this
        1. Christianity taught you that humans are magical special snowflakes of infinitive value for unexplainable reasons.
        2. Bad things happen,
        3. God is good.
        4. Stopping all human suffering is good because people are magical special snowflakes that you should love like Jesus/God loved.
        5. If God exists and is good, he would care about human suffering and stop it.
        6. Ergo, an evidence that God doesn’t exist, or is not good.

        • Bart
          Bart  July 15, 2017

          I’m not concerned about relatively bad things, or sad things, happening. I’m concerned about massive, mind-blowing, suffering in extremis in a world allegedly made — along with its “laws” — by a good and all-powerful God. Why would God make laws that would lead to such horrendous and unspeakable suffering?

          • tompicard
            tompicard  July 18, 2017

            which particular ‘laws’ did God make that result in horrendous and unspeakable suffering?

            the law of gravity?
            If people build a tower improperly in the town of Siloam, is it the law of gravity’s fault for it falling on top of 13 people and killing them?

            laws of meteorology?
            Should it rain in every location in the exact amount and precise schedule so that an appropriate amount of crops can be produced to feed the number of humans in the vicinity, but not rain so much that it will ever overflow rivers potentially resulting in human drownings?

            laws of botany?
            should crops grow even when it doesn’t rain and even if the humans in that location miserably mistreat the environment, and why don’t crops grow even if people put in no effort to sow nor reap???

            laws of zoology?
            animals and humans have a finite lifespan, why is that an issue if God made humans with eternal/spiritual characters?

            geology/plate tectonics, etc, etc?

          • Bart
            Bart  July 24, 2017

            The argument is that the natural order necessarily involves hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, droughts, epidemics, massive crop failure, and … and and and.

  20. Avatar
    anthonygale  July 12, 2017

    Does the apocalyptic view hold that God is still the creator of the evil forces? If so, was there a Jewish tradition analogous to Satan’s fall? If not, where do the evil forces come from?

    • Bart
      Bart  July 13, 2017

      Some apocalypticists thought that there was a “fall of the angels” that brought evil into the world; others that the original humans did. God created the angels and the humans, but he didn’t create the evil they did.

      • Avatar
        dragonfly  July 13, 2017

        Yeah? Who created the serpent?

        • Bart
          Bart  July 15, 2017

          Creating a being who does something evil is not the same thing as creating evil itself.

          • Avatar
            HawksJ  July 15, 2017

            It is if you know – with absolute certainty- beforehand that he will do (truly) evil things — in this case, allegedly cause the downfall, and all this suffering, of an entire species ‘made in your image’.

      • Avatar
        catguy  July 13, 2017

        Doesn’t Isaiah talk about the angels being cast down from heaven after a great war? My sense is that Satan is adversarial to God beginning in Genesis when he tempts eve and lies to her about death. Satan is calling God a liar.

        • Bart
          Bart  July 15, 2017

          Are you thinking of Isaiah 14:12-28? That is referring to the king of Babylon (see v. 4). But certainly Milton read it as the fall of the angels.

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