Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Department ofClassics and Ancient
Mediterranean Studies

RLST 122: Apocalypse and Beyond

RLST 122: Apocalypse and Beyond

Apocalypse and Beyond is a topic (and title) meant to suggest that apocalyptic imagination about the end of the world, first begun in the Ancient Near East with certain Jewish and Christian writings, is constantly re-envisioned for each new age. Apocalyptic literature and world views are frequently produced by marginalized groups who perceive themselves to be persecuted, and who envision a violent (often divine) intervention, which alone will bring justice. In Part One of the course, we will examine the ancient literary genre of apocalypse, which was popular in the Ancient Near East from around 200 BCE to 200 CE, especially in Jewish and Christian writings both in the Bible (e.g., Daniel and Revelation) and outside of it (e.g., First Enoch, the Apocalypse of Peter, and the Apocalypse of Paul). The authors of these apocalypses expected the evil age in which they were living to dramatically end in their lifetimes; although that did not happen, apocalyptic thinking became foundational to the three world religions stemming from the Near East Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to varying degrees. In Part Two, we will examine the ideology, sociological underpinnings and some historical examples of apocalyptic groups and movements in medieval to modern times, and look at the impact that apocalyptic world views have had on the secular world, including philosophy, political movements, and popular culture, such as movies.


Tawny Holm
Head, Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies
Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies & Jewish Studies
Pronouns: She/Her