and Related Terms by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.
Preliminary Description of "Apocalypse":
In popular terminology today, an "apocalypse" is a catastrophic
event (e.g., nuclear holocaust).
In biblical terminology, an "apocalypse" is not an event, but a "revelation"
that is recorded in written form:
it is a piece of crisis literature that "reveals" truths about the past,
present, and/or future in highly symbolic terms;
the revelation often comes in dreams or visions, and usually needs to be
interpreted with the help of an angel;
it is usually intended to provide hope and encouragement for people in
the midst of severe trials and tribulations.
Caution 1: "The Apocalypse" is an alternate name (used especially
by Protestants) for the "Book of Revelation"
in the NT.
Caution 2: "The Little Apocalypse" or "The Apocalyptic Discourse"
are names sometimes given to Mark 13
(and parallel passages in Matt 24 and Luke 21), containing
the teachings of Jesus about the future of Jerusalem and the end of the world.
of "Apocalypse"(from the SBL's "Apocalypse Group"; published
in J. J. Collins, Semeia 14  9):
" 'Apocalypse' is 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."
Addition to the Definition, incorporating the purpose of the genre,
from the suggestions of Hellholm (1982) & Aune (1986):
".intended to interpret the present, earthly circumstances
in light of the supernatural world and of the future,
and to influence both the understanding and the behavior
the audience by means of divine authority."
Types of Apocalypses:
Apocalypses can be classified according to features in their CONTENT:
Some apocalypses contain "Otherworldly Journeys" (e.g., the seer is purportedly
taken on a tour of heaven)
Others do not contain "Otherworldly Journeys" (e.g., while seeing
heavenly things, the seer stays on earth)
Apocalypses can also be classified according to their primary REFERENTS:
Some apocalypses deal with Personal Eschatology (the death
and after-life of individuals)
Others focus more on Ethnic or National Eschatology
(the end of a nation or empire)
Many others contain Cosmic Eschatology (the ultimate end of
the whole world)
Apocalyptic (adj.) - originally referred to anything "revelatory";
now usually refers to catastrophic violence or disasters.
Apocalypticism - a world view with strong apocalyptic expectations;
social movements that expect the end of the world.
Eschatology / Eschatological - any teaching about the "end" times
and/or the future world beyond the end of normal time (see my page on Jesus'
Prophecy / Prophetic - not really "foretelling the future," as if
the prophet were "looking into a crystal ball"; rather, a prophet
"speaks and acts on behalf of God," conveying God's message to the people;
the words could be about past, present or future truths; the actions could
be "symbolic" or "miraculous" (see also my new extensive page on Biblical Prophecy)
Revelation - an "uncovering" of something which has always been
true, but previously hidden or unknown to humans.
Day of the Lord / Judgment Day - a cosmic event expected in the
future, but the specific expectations vary.
Parousia - the "coming" or "arrival" of any important figure, esp.
of Jesus at the end of time, in early Christian expectations.
Rapture - a fairly new term for the expectation that faithful Christians
will be taken off the earth to live with Jesus, while all other people are
not; based on an overly literal misinterpretation of 1Thess
Tribulation - in fundamentalist expectations, a 7-year period of
great suffering and turmoil before the Second Coming of Christ; but exactly
when the rapture is to occur in relation to the tribulation is disputed
among such believers:
Pre-Tribulation Rapture - non-believers have to endure the 7-year
tribulation, but believers are raptured first;
Mid-Tribulation Rapture - believers must endure 3½ years
of tribulation before they are raptured;
Post-Tribulation Rapture - believers must endure the entire 7-year
tribulation before they are raptured.
Dispensationalism - the belief that world history is divided into
a certain number of eras or "dispensations," which usually also implies
the belief that one is living in the last (or next-to-last) dispensation
before the end of the world and/or the beginning of God's Kingdom.
Armageddon / Harmagedon - the place (Megiddo) where the final battle
is to occur, according to Rev 16:16.
Millennium - any one-thousand year period; or more specifically,
the thousand year period of peace described in Rev
Millennialist / -ism - religious groups that expect Rev 20 to occur
literally, and often try to calculate exact times.
Millenarian / -ianism - religious or secular groups that look forward
to or prepare for the end of the world
Premillennialism / Premillenariaism - belief that the 1000-year
reign of peace will come only after the great tribulation and the return
of Jesus, so one must be prepared to endure the worst; also called "Catastrophic
Postmillennialism / Postmillenariaism - belief that the 1000-year
reign of peace must be established on earth by human beings and societies,
and that Jesus will return only at the end of that time; also called "Progressive
Not every Apocalypse is purely eschatological (they may also interpret
past or present events, not just the future).
Not all Eschatology is apocalyptic (some look forward to a future
that is peaceful, not violent).
"Millennium" has two N's (from Latin mille = 1000
and annus = year), while "Millenarian" has only one (simply
a nominal ending)
"Millenium" (with one N) is not proper English spelling, but a very
common misspelling (if it did exist, it would mean "1000" + "anus"!)