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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

The ancient apocalypses are a literature of revelation. In visions, auditions, and cosmic and otherworldly journeys, the seers to whom they are attributed receive, by heavenly agency, revelations of the mysteries of creation and the cosmos, history and eschatology. The kinds of secrets that are disclosed vary from one apocalypse to another, but prominent among them is the fate of the dead. Jewish and then Christian understandings of life after death developed: the expectation of judgment and resurrection for all the dead, the two final destinies of eternal life and eternal condemnation, and the 'intermediate state' of the dead between death and the general resurrection. Such personal eschatology was not for the most part divorced from historical and cosmic eschatology, since the hope of individuals was to share in the corporate future of God's people in God's kingdom and in the cosmic future of new creation for the world.

Keywords: Christian; cosmic eschatology; Jewish apocalypses; personal eschatology

10.1163/9789004267411_002
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