SHORT NOTE ON MYTH AND HISTORY IN PROPHETIC AND APOCALYPTIC ESCHATOLOGY* It is usually said that prophetic eschatology is more historically ori- ented, while apocalyptic eschatology is mythically oriented. 1 This state- ment should be revised as follows: in principle, prophetic eschatology is a history understood mythically, whereas apocalyptic eschatology is a myth understood historically. In other words, the former is an out- look in which historical events are described in mythical language, while the latter is a mindset whose mythical framework is believed to unfold in concrete historical incidents. Myth and history di ﬀ er from each other in their representation of time: myth is cyclical, while history is linear. Myth is a worldview, a way in which people view and relate themselves to the world, stories that express the values of the culture and its deepest aspirations. Seeking to explain “the way things are”, the mythical mind delves into the remote past and reconstructs or reinvents stories that explain all and that is forever true. Unlike historical thinking, whose major interests are the changes and progress that takes place in the world, myth expresses the longing for the eternal, the durative, the perpetual, i.e., the unchanged.
Vetus Testamentum – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2005
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