Prophesy and Apocalyptic are among the many literature genres used in the Bible. In trying to understand the nature of God and how He communicates to us these genres come in handy as such understanding is based on correctly analyzing them. Prophesy and Apocalyptic share some similarities and differ on some issues.
The most common feature between prophesy and apocalyptic is the communication method which is revelatory in nature. As seen in the cases of Zachariah and Ezekiel visions were used by God to communicate with them. Apart from visions other mediums such as dreams, and mediation by an angel were used to reveal God`s message. In both cases God was involved directly either by talking to a prophet as was the common case in the Old Testament, the same is true for apocalyptic whereas one was exposed to the heavenly world they often heard God`s voice guiding them through. The use of symbolism is another area in which the two also compare. In delivering their messages both cases symbols were used, even though the nature of the symbols differed. Old Testament prophets usually made reference to locusts, salt, lamp and other common earthly things that were used to symbolize various aspects of their prophesies. The apocalyptic messengers made reference to symbols of dragons, fiery beasts and other out-of -the- world examples to explain their visions. It is worth noting that the symbols were used as metaphors for what God wanted to be revealed to people. The two genres are differentiated on the basis of their general purposes. While prophesy entailed telling about future happenings before they took place apocalyptic refers to making a knowledge that was previously hidden to be known and understood. The focus in the two genres is another area where they differ. As seen prophesy majorly focused on revealing the secrets and happenings on earth and how they could change in future. On the other hand apocalyptic focused on heavenly secrets and happenings which led to those who were being given the message to experience some form of transcendence. This fact is true considering the experiences of Jeremiah as a prophet and John to whom the revelation about heaven was given. As Osborne also notes (210) the message delivered through prophesies was not usually hopeful as in most cases the message was meant to warn people to turn away from a certain path failure to which consequences were pronounced. The case is however different in apocalyptic where those targeted by the message were those who had been exposed to a lot of suffering for the sake of God`s kingdom and therefore it was meant to give them hope of a new tomorrow (222). Another fact worth noting is the literature that was involved in the two. Prophesy on in most cases involved originally spoken oracles that were later put down in writing. Writing on the other hand was the basis of apocalyptic whereas Revelation (1:11) shows the one to whom the visions were being shown was often told to write whatever they were seeing during that experience.
The proper analysis of each of the above genre has to follow some five key steps if at the differences and similarities have to be understood. To begin with is literary analysis. Since each is a representation of different literature genres the defining traits provide a good way to analyze them. Apocalyptic for example employs the use of a lot of symbolism, various figures of speech and poetry whereas prophesy involves a little less. Also while apocalyptic language tends to be full of hope in the future, prophesy language is more about warnings and possible repercussions in case of failure to adhere to the message. The second step is analyzing the grammar by looking deep into how words have been formulated and the meaning behind them. Historical analysis makes the third step, where trying to understand the time within which each genre existed, including the events of the time, the norms, and the general situation. Contextual analysis is also important as one gets to interpret a genre only range of its context. Lastly theological analysis is also necessary. This step involves trying to understand God`s purpose and will in all scripture and how He reveals Himself to us. Also trying to understand His future plans for us through all this will make it easier to correctly interpret and analyze both prophesy and apocalyptic.
Osborne, G. (2006). The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. IVP Academic.
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