Albrecht Durer’s painting of the “Horsemen of the Apocalypse” inspired by “The Book of Revelation” in the New Testament depicts an evil group which brings famine, death and war. The job narrated in traditions was to create havoc wherever they travel.
Dante’s Inferno, the first part of the poem “Divine Comedy” depicts nine circles of suffering located within the earth, which mostly represent the journey of the soul towards God. The Ancient Aztec eschatology believed in four creations of universe and its destruction, derived from the early cultures of the Mesoamerican region of Mexico. Norse mythology describes end of days as Ragnarok, which is Norse for “twilight of Gods” that will be heralded by a devastation known as “Fimbulwinter” describing widespread despair.
Rastafaris believe in an eschatology that will bring the lost tribes of Israel together, which they believe are people from Africa who were victims of slave trade. Redemption, messiahship, revelation, fulfilment, evil, good and denial are popular themes of eschatology derived from the most popular elements of religious eschatology from earlier times.
When Micheal Bay came up with his Armageddon (1998) — a movie which co-related human extinction with a natural disaster like a huge meteorite falling upon the earth and killing earth’s species like in the Dinosaur Age — many art watchers claimed arguments of modern symbolism, relating global catastrophic risks with a new way of defining the end of the world, and how the human race could understand the doomsday scenarios like the expansion of the sun or other existential risks.
The Eschatology, in fact, is a well researched subject in a country like the United States, especially in the Christianity movement. Movements like The Watch Society and Tract Society of Pennsylvania believe Bible prophecies can be understood only after their fulfilment. End Time Ministries of Texas follow a evangelical exegesis with modern emphasis on modern nations, prophecy, and impeding event of the Anti Christ. Mormons, from the LDS Church, also believe that permanence of war, earthquakes, hurricanes and manmade disasters are a sign of “wretched earth” and the beginning of “The End Times.”
Eschatologies are well grounded in both Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic religions. Its roots are from “Frashokereti”- the Avestan language term of the Zoroastrian doctrine, which believes in the final renovation of the universe: a) when every evil will be destroyed and be in union with God – the ground of being or the unconditioned reality, b) salvation depended upon individual’s own thoughts, actions, and deeds. The Jewish eschatology came to refer the King from the Davidic line, anointed with “holy anointed oil” to form the “God’s Kingdom” in the Messianic Age.
The Buddhists hold a similar Zoroastrian belief in eschatology where human beings change according to human nature, a view present in Chakkavati sutta where Buddha makes relations between the life span of human beings and their change of behaviour – beauty, wealth, pleasure and strength decrease proportionately.
Contemporary Hindu eschatology is linked to Vaishnavite tradition of Kalki — the last avatar of Vishnu where Shiva sustains the universe. The Bahai view eschatology where humans periodically enter into a “hell of denial” and also believe in progressive revelation where humans are cleansed with new messages that bring piety.
Islamic eschatology has been a subject of debate. In Sunni Islam, punishment is embarrassment and punishment of the grave till resurrection. The concept of Mahdi and Occultation hold central to Twelver Shia belief that provides a platform for a futuristic war between good and evil in the end times. While Islam believes in the division of righteous and the wicked, and in major and minor signs of al- Qiyamah “The Last Judgement” as an article of faith, the religion generally describes Armageddon as fitnah in Sunni Islam or Ghaybah in Shia Islam, even though there have been commentaries of Islamic expositors like al-Ghazali, Ibn Khatir, among others.
In Arabic literature, however, Ibn al Nafis, wrote a fictional novel “ Theologus Autodidactus (1270)”, related to Islamic eschatology, where he used reason, science, and early Islamic philosophy to explain how the Qiyamah would unfold. Written as a rebuttal for Abubacer and Ghazali’s arguments, the book is a defence of “the system of Islam and the Muslims’ doctrines on the missions of Prophets, the religious laws, the resurrection of the body, and the transitoriness of the world.