Apocalyptic Literature in the New Testament

By Greg Carey Published
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How we view the end, determines how we live now.

Every significant layer of the New Testament features the distinctive concerns of apocalyptic literature, including the expectation of a messiah, hope for a resurrection, expectation of a final judgment, and a spiritual world that includes angels and demons. Yet many contemporary readers shy away from things apocalyptic, especially the book of Revelation.

This introduction considers the influence of apocalyptic literature throughout the Gospels and Acts, Paul’s letters, and Revelation. It argues that early Christian authors drew upon apocalyptic topics to address an impressive array of situations and concerns, and it demonstrates—example after example—how apocalyptic discourse contributed to their ongoing work of contextual theology.


“Engaging and readable, this book leads readers through the rich and sometimes confusing world of apocalyptic literature. It is definitely a book I will use in my classes and recommend to anyone seeking insight into the historical and social meaning of these important writings.”

Lynn R. Huber, Associate Professor and Chair of Religious Studies, Elon University


“Greg Carey has written a clear and readable introduction to apocalypticism in the New Testament. This is an excellent antidote to the rampant abuse and misuse of this material in popular culture.”

John J. Collins, Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation, Yale Divinity School, Yale University




“Greg Carey’s book is clear, cogently argued, and accessible to clergy, laity, and academy. He has persuasively demonstrated that the expectation of a messiah and all that this expectation entailed were thoroughly apocalyptic concepts. Understanding this one simple fact gives meaning to the New Testament in ways that no other socioreligious factors could. Readers will see how apocalyptic discourse bolstered the hopes of Jewish communities constantly under duress and also early Christian communities that were often marginalized, ridiculed, or crushed under social constraints.”

Thomas B. Slater, Professor of New Testament, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University




About the Author

Greg Carey

Greg Carey is Professor of New Testament at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His publications include numerous studies on the book of Revelation and ancient apocalyptic literature, as well as rhetorical analysis of the New Testament. He lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.