Orr Forum: The Return of the Apocalyptic

The Orr Forum kicked off this week on Tuesday, September 15, at noon in Laird Hall.

The talks are the first of the series The Return of the Apocalyptic, the sequel to the talks from last year’s Orr Forum theme, Prophetic Fragments.

“The idea [for the Apocalyptic] emerged out of the Prophetic Fragments last year,” explains David True, Director of the Orr Forum and Associate Professor of Religion at Wilson College, “[the prophetic] went into the vein of critique, it was one of the first places we see social criticism. There is also this notion of hope and foreboding and also maybe a predictive quality so that got us thinking a little about the apocalyptic.”

Thirty people were in attendance for Tuesday’s talks on The Apocalyptic Framework of Early Christianity and The Uses of Apocalypticism, given by Dr. Greg Carey, Professor of New Testament at Lancaster Theological Seminary.

“I think of apocalyptic literature in terms of its historic origins in Judaism and early Christianity” begins, Carey in his first talk, “I want to talk about how apocalyptic discourse, how essential they were to the formation of Christianity.”

The word apocalypse, we learned, comes from the Greek word “apokalypsis,” which means revelation.

“Apocalyptic literature first emerges as a wave in the second century BCE about 200 years before the death of Jesus in response to the death of a local emperor nicknamed Epiphanes, or God Manifest,” he continues. Epiphanes’ death came out of a Jewish revolt, after he wanted to convert the local temple over to Roman tradition and Greek gods. So apocalyptic literature, in its historic context, emerged as an early form of political resistance literature, as may be exemplified by the books of Daniel and Enoch.


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