Skip to main content

A genre of literature in which future events are revealed to a human recipient by means of a heavenly messenger. Central biblical texts are Daniel in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, and Revelation in the New Testament.

The standard definition of apocalyptic literature comes from J.J. Collins (The Apocalyptic Imagination [New York: Crossroad, 1989], p. 4.):

An apocalypse is defined as: ‘a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial insofar as it involves another, supernatural world’.

The name is derived from the Greek Ἀποκάλυψις / apokalypsis = ‘revelation’, as found in Revelation 1:1.

The three central apocalyptic texts which have been used to define the genre include: