At 04:57 AM 12/27/00 -0500, you wrote:
>In a message dated 12/26/00 11:10:09 PM Eastern Standard Time, [log in to unmask]
> > the point is less that the OT and NT speak of the end (far more centrally
> >  the NT) for whatever reasons, but why people persist in making this the
> >  center of their concerns and imagining (so far incorrectly) that the end
> >  (Parousia, for xns) will come in their generation.  that, it seems to me,
> >  calls for psychological reasons to explain.
> >
> >  richard
> >
>My understanding is that Christian eschatology relies less on the OT than on
>the mother's speech to her sons in 2 Maccabees...which is included in
>Catholic Bibles and was originally included in the KJV, but isn't in Jewish
>or Protestant Bibles.
>"I cannot tell how ye came into my womb: for I neither gave you breath nor
>life, neither was it I that formed the members of  every one of you;  But
>doubtless the Creator of the world, who formed the generation of man, and
>found out the beginning of all things, will also of his own mercy give you
>breath and life again..." (2 Mac 7.21-23).

this for the resurrection of the dead, i presume.  there are many more, and
many more central passages, as far as i know, including Daniel.

>Also, Richard, I don't agree that we need to assume a psychological
>abnormality in anyone who believes that the end of the world--or at least the
>end of human life on earth--is in the foreseeable future.

i said psychology, not abnormal psychology.  please pat, my entire
scholarly career is dedicated to helping people who look at apocalyptic
believers as weirdos beyond the pale appreciate how many people they admire
(charlemagne and newton are my favorites) cd engage in such "silly" stuff,
and understand the psychological appeal of apocalyptic time.

>I guess I have what
>one might call an environmental eschatology. I believe that during my
>lifetime all the major species of wild animals--elephants, tigers, pandas,
>lions--will be forced into extinction. I also believe we've gone too far in
>poisoning the food chain, the air, the earth, and the oceans to be able to
>turn back or recover. I'm noticing especially the upsurge in cataracts and
>skin cancers (hole in the ozone layer), as well as other cancers,
>deformities, and diseases that seem to have an environmental origin, or come
>from the essentially irreversible poisoning of the environment.  We're at the
>point where even the DNA of entire populations has been compromised. Children
>in Vietnam born with the most bizarre and horrifying deformities weren't
>alive when the area was saturated with agent orange. Whatever is wrong with
>them is probably attributable to the compromised DNA of their parents and
>grandparents. Problems of similar magnitude are cropping up in that little
>town that has the misfortune to be right under the hole in the ozone layer,
>and as a result is getting far more exposure to ultraviolet than the human
>organism is able to withstand.  These people should be evacuated, for the
>same reason that whole towns near the Chernobyl reactor had to be evacuated.
>This kind of ever-accelerating downward spiral can't go on forever, which
>means I see a finite future for the human race.

this is the condition of modern man -- having displaced god as the agent
who brings about the millennial kingdom (the last 500 years have been
marked by a wide range of "secular" millennialisms), we now have the power
to destroy ourselves.  in 1000, if you wanted to believe that the world wd
be destroyed, you needed to believe in god.  today, we have good scientific
reasons to so believe.  the whole issue of global warming will play out
thru the use of apocalyptic and anti-apocalyptic rhetoric.

the case that i make for 1000 involves pointing out that, for people in the
region we call france, at the approach of 1000, given the elite culture's
teachings about the nature of the universe, you'd have to be abnormal not
to wonder if the end might not be at hand.  cognitive dissonance not only
hits the apoc believers (roosters) after the failure of the prophecy, but
also the skeptics (owls) before the failure.  think of all the skeptics who
nonetheless stayed home last new year's at the approach of y2k.

>Five hundred years sticks in
>my head as some kind of limit.

so you are eschatological but not apocalyptic.  if you had said: if we
don't change in the next five years, we'll all be dead in a generation, and
decided to dedicate your life to ending our polluting ways (including, when
peaceful efforts at persuasion failed, sabotage and violence), then you'd
be apocalyptic, a rooster.  and depending on just how committed you were to
your reading of the "signs" of future disaster, and open and urgent in your
dedication, "normal" people, owls, wd start calling you crazy.  and then
you'd have to ask me to "explain" you to them.  (:-)

>Maybe the earth will be too poisoned to be
>inhabitable by that point. Or maybe the human race will drag on, learning to
>think of it as "normal" for everyone to have cancers, for the water to be
>undrinkable, the air unbreathable, the clouds radioactive, and the entire
>earth a garbage dump. To believe that "science" is going to save us at the
>eleventh hour requires more faith in science than I can muster.

good point.  it does require faith in science.  but even more, it requires
faith in people, which leads us back to religious issues.

>Maybe it's a religious issue in the end. In the Creation story, when Adam and
>Eve are set in the garden of Eden so they can be the keepers of the garden, I
>take that to mean that God didn't create the world in order to have human
>beings crap it up, and we were actually asked to  be its stewards. Too bad so
>little emphasis was put on that verse, and that organized religion has been
>far more concerned, over the centuries, with such issues as preserving sexual
>purity. Even today, when there are protests or petitions to save the whales,
>or the oceans, or whatever, one doesn't see religious leaders in the
>forefront. They've convinced themselves that one can love God without
>treating the world he created with respect.

that's unfair, i think, to lots of religious people and leaders.  i
actually think that francis of assissi is a patron saint of environmentalism.

>Anyway, Richard, cut me some slack.  I don't have psychological
>abnormalities, even if you don't agree with me.

as i said, its apocalyptic that's the extreme case, which you aren't
yet.  and even then, it's not necessarily abnormal, or if it is, it's so
only in the sense of deviating from the norm -- e.g., genius is
abnormal.  and i'm not at all sure i disagree with you anyway.


Richard Landes
Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University      Department of History
704 Commonwealth Ave. Suite 205                 226 Bay State Road
Boston MA 02215                                 Boston MA 02215
617-358-0226 of         358-0225 fax                    617-353-2558
of     353-2556 fax                                    [log in to unmask]