Apocalyptic Literature Annotated Bibliography

The following annotated bibliography provides sources of all kinds for studying apocalyptic literature. It is not our own creation, but is taken directly from Richard A. Taylor, Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature, Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2016), 108-116 and is used by permission.

Primary Sources for Apocalyptic Texts

The biblical apocalypses (i.e., the book of Daniel in the Old Testament and the book of Revelation in the New Testament) should be studied within their historical, religious, and cultural settings. Rather than viewing them in isolation from this background, it is best to relate these writings to the context out of which they came. In order to accomplish this, the primary sources of apocalyptic literature are essential. Although specialists will work with these texts in critical editions based on original languages, translations are available for the use of nonspecialists. The following works present Jewish apocalyptic literature in accessible English translations, along with helpful introductions that discuss such matters as authorship, date, and structure. Reading the primary sources firsthand will give one a feel for apocalyptic literature that cannot be attained from reading secondary literature alone.

Charles, R. H., ed. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, with Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes to the Several Books. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1913. Prior to the publication of Charlesworth’s edition, this was the standard collection of the Old Testament apocryphal and pseudepigraphical literature in English. The first portion treats Old Testament apocryphal books. The second portion treats non-canonical Jewish literature written between 200 b.c. and a.d. 100. Extensive notes and discussions are found throughout. Charles has sometimes been criticized for adopting a too-free approach with regard to textual emendation. Although there is much useful material in this edition, it is now out of date.

Charlesworth, James H., ed. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. 2 vols. Anchor Bible Reference Library. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1985. A fairly up-to-date collection of Old Testament pseudepigraphical writings. The first volume covers apocalyptic literature and testaments. The second volume covers the following areas: expansions of the Old Testament and legends; wisdom and philosophical literature; prayers, psalms, and odes; fragments of lost Judeo-Hellenistic works. Copious notes and critical discussions appear throughout. This is the best source for Old Testament pseudepigraphical literature in English translation.

Reddish, Mitchell G., ed. Apocalyptic Literature: A Reader. Nashville: Abingdon, 1990. An anthology that provides representative selections from both Jewish and Christian apocalyptic texts. A brief introduction discusses matters of text, date, and historical background for each selection. This is a good place to begin reading apocalyptic texts; from here one can move to more detailed presentations.

General Works on Apocalyptic Literature

There is a substantial amount of secondary literature dealing with various aspects of Jewish apocalyptic literature. The following selections provide help with a variety of issues pertaining to this literature. These works will help one gain an overview of the nature of the apocalyptic genre and a grasp of major views regarding its history, origins, and characteristics.

Carey, Greg. Ultimate Things: An Introduction to Jewish and Christian Apocalyptic Literature. St. Louis: Chalice, 2005. This helpful volume treats features of what the author calls apocalyptic discourse—that is, the literary, ideological, and social aspects of apocalyptic language. It covers both biblical and extrabiblical apocalyptic literature for both Old and New Testaments.

Collins, John J. The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016. Discusses issues related to the study of the apocalyptic genre and surveys the contents and higher-critical issues of various apocalyptic texts. There is an especially helpful chapter on the relationship of Qumran to apocalypticism.

Collins, John J. Daniel, with an Introduction to Apocalyptic Literature. Forms of the Old Testament Literature, ed. Rolf Knierim and Gene M. Tucker, vol. 20. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984. Provides a brief introduction to the genre of apocalyptic literature, and a form-critical evaluation of the book of Daniel on a chapter-by-chapter basis. Helpful bibliographies appear throughout. A glossary at the end of the book provides useful definitions and/or summaries of genre-related terms.

Collins, John J., ed. The Origins of Apocalypticism in Judaism and Christianity. The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism, vol. 1. New York: Cassell & Continuum, 1998. This is the first of a three-volume encyclopedia dealing with various aspects of apocalypticism. Taken together, the essays found in these volumes provide a comprehensive overview of apocalypticism, although this volume is not an encyclopedia in the normal sense of the word.

Collins, John J., ed. The Oxford Handbook of Apocalyptic Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. A collection of twenty-eight essays arranged in five sections: the literary and phenomenological context; the social function of apocalyptic literature; literary features of apocalyptic literature; apocalyptic theology; and “apocalypse now.”

Cook, Stephen L. The Apocalyptic Literature. Interpreting Biblical Texts, ed. Gene M. Tucker. Nashville: Abingdon, 2003. A helpful general survey of issues pertaining to the study of apocalyptic literature.

Frost, Stanley Brice. Old Testament Apocalyptic: Its Origins and Growth. London: Epworth, 1952. An old but still useful consideration of the historical roots of apocalyptic literature and its characteristics, with thorough discussions of both biblicalnd extrabiblical examples of apocalyptic literature. Frost regards apocalyptic literature as a development out of prophecy.

Gruenwald, Ithamar. “Jewish Apocalyptic Literature.” In Principat, ed. Wolfgang Haase, 89–118. Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt: Geschichte und Kultur roms im Spiegel der neuren Forschung II, ed. Hildegard Temporani and Wolfgang Haase, vol. 19.1. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1979. Surveys issues related to the rise of Jewish apocalyptic literature, such as connections to prophetic literature, angelology, pseudepigraphy, relationship to the “the outside books,” status in relation to prophecy, status in relation to the Apocrypha, view of history, and eschatology.

Hanson, Paul D. The Dawn of Apocalyptic. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975. An examination of antecedents of apocalyptic literature as displayed in prophetic writings such as Third Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Second Zechariah, together with an identification of mythic themes found in apocalyptic literature. Hanson sees apocalyptic literature as precipitated by a sixth-century rift between rival factions of a Zadokite-dominated temple party on the one hand, and a visionary element which had resisted the Zadokite temple program on the other hand.

Koch, Klaus. The Rediscovery of Apocalyptic: A Polemical Work on a Neglected Area of Biblical Studies and Its Damaging Effect on Theology and Philosophy. Translated by Margaret Kohl. Studies in Biblical Theology, 2d series, ed. Peter Ackroyd, James Barr, et al., vol. 22. Naperville, IL: Alec R. Allenson (1970). A survey of scholarship dealing with the origins and nature of apocalyptic literature. It is an appeal to restore the apocalyptic
genre to a more central role in modern biblical studies.

McGinn, Bernard J., John J. Collins, and Stephen J. Stein, eds. The Continuum History of Apocalypticism. New York and London:Continuum, 2003. This volume derives from a larger three-volume work entitled The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism (New York and London: Continuum, 1998). Its three divisions mirror those earlier three volumes: the origins of apocalypticism in the ancient world; apocalyptic traditions from late antiquity to ca. 1800 c.e.; apocalypticism in the modern age. Twenty-five essays treat various aspects of apocalypticism from the time of its origins up to modern times.

Murphy, Frederick J. “Apocalypses and Apocalypticism: The State of the Question.” Currents in Research: Biblical Studies 2 (1994): 147–79. A helpful overview of recent research (up to 1994) on topics related to apocalypses and apocalypticism. Murphy divides his discussion into the following categories: definitions; genre; worldview; social movements; origins; the nature of apocalyptic discourse.

Rowland, Christopher. The Open Heaven: A Study of Apocalyptic in Judaism and Early Christianity. New York: Crossroad, 1982. A study of apocalypticism, dealing with such issues as the meaning of the term apocalyptic, the content of apocalypses, the origins of apocalypses, the esoteric tradition in early rabbinic Judaism, and apocalyptic in early Christianity. This work is based on the author’s doctoral dissertation completed at the University of Cambridge.

Rowley, H. H. The Relevance of Apocalyptic: A Study of Jewish and Christian Apocalypses from Daniel to the Revelation. Revised ed. Greenwood, SC: Attic Press, 1963. Surveys apocalyptic literature from the last two centuries b.c. (i.e., Daniel, 1 Enoch, Book of Jubilees, Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Sibylline Oracles, Psalms of Solomon, the Zadokite work, Qumran scrolls) and apocalyptic literature of the first century a.d. (i.e., Assumption of Moses, 2 Enoch, Life of Adam and Eve, 4 Ezra, Apocalypse of Baruch, Ascension of Isaiah, Apocalypse of Abraham, Testament of Abraham, Little Apocalypse of the Gospels, and Revelation).

Russell, D. S. The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic, 200 BC–AD 100. Old Testament Library, ed. Peter Ackroyd, James Barr, Bernhard W. Anderson and James L. Mays. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1964. A comprehensive survey of Jewish apocalyptic literature, although it is now dated. Russell describes the milieu and the contents of apocalyptic literature; discusses the method and characteristics of Jewish apocalyptic literature; and examines the message of Jewish apocalyptic literature.

Sacchi, Paolo. Jewish Apocalyptic and Its History. Translated by William J. Short. Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha: Supplement Series, ed. James H. Charlesworth and Lester L. Grabbe, vol. 20. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996. Sacchi is a leading figure in contemporary Italian research on Jewish apocalyptic literature. This volume presents in English translation a number of his previously published essays. Several of these essays deal with the Book of Enoch or the problem of evil.

Essays from Symposia on Apocalypticism

Over the past decades several academic symposia have convened to discuss problems and issues related to apocalyptic literature. Many of
the papers presented at these meetings have been very influential in the ongoing study of this literature.

Collins, John Joseph, ed. Apocalypse: The Morphology of a Genre. Semeia, vol. 14. Missoula, MT: Society of Biblical Literature, 1979. During the 1970s the Apocalypse Group of the Society of Biblical Literature Genres Project studied apocalyptic literature from the period 250 b.c.–a.d. 250.

Collins, Adela Yarbro, ed. Early Christian Apocalypticism: Genre, Social Setting. Semeia, vol. 36. Decatur, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 1986. Throughout much of the 1980s a group of scholars met at annual meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature to study the apocalyptic genre, with special attention to early Christianity.

Collins, John J., and James H. Charlesworth, eds. Mysteries and Revelations: Apocalyptic Studies since the Uppsala Colloquium. Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha: Supplement Series, ed. James H. Charlesworth, vol. 9. Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991. A collection of essays originating in a symposium held in 1989 at the Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Anaheim, California.

Hellholm, David, ed. Apocalypticism in the Mediterranean World and the Near East: Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Apocalypticism, Uppsala, August 12–17, 1979. Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1983. A collection of thirty-four essays (in English, German, or French) dealing with various issues in apocalypticism. These essays were originally papers presented at the 1979 Uppsala conference.

Apocalyptic Literature and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls preserved by the Qumran community give evidence of apocalypticism. This apocalyptic interest has been examined in a number of modern works, among them the following.

Collins, John J. Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Literature of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. George Brooke. London and New York: Routledge, 1997. Considers the following topics in light of the Dead Sea Scrolls: the definition of apocalypticism; Daniel, Enoch, and related literature; creation and the origin of evil; the periods of history and the expectation of the end; messianic expectation; the eschatological war; resurrection and eternal life; the heavenly world; the apocalypticism of the scrolls in context.

García Martínez, Florentino. “Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls.” In The Continuum History of Apocalypticism, ed. Bernard J. McGinn, John J. Collins and Stephen J. Stein, 89–111. New York and London: Continuum, 2003 [originally published in John J. Collins, ed., The Origins of Apocalypticism in Judaism and Christianity, Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism, vol. 1 (New York: Continuum, 1998), 162–92]. Argues that Qumran writings reflect an apocalyptic tradition that is both similar to and different from other apocalyptic traditions. The author treats the following areas: the origin of evil and the dualistic thought of the Qumran sect; the periods of history and the expectation of the end; communion with the heav-
enly world; the eschatological war.

Preaching Apocalyptic Literature

Public proclamation of apocalyptic literature for a lay audience presents special problems for expositors in terms of how exactly to go about this task. It is probably safe to say that many preachers do not even attempt a systematic exposition of apocalyptic texts. The following works, written
from a variety of perspectives, offer suggestions on how best to do this.

Ashcraft, Morris. “Preaching the Apocalyptic Message Today.” Review and Expositor 72 (1975): 345–56. Articulates factors that should be taken into consideration when preaching from apocalyptic portions of the Bible. Ashcraft suggests that too much stress on explaining the “props” of apocalyptic literature may keep the audience from understanding the overall plot. He sets forth some major apocalyptic themes from the book of Revelation that can enrich contemporary preaching.

Block, Daniel I. “Preaching Old Testament Apocalyptic to a New Testament Church.” Calvin Theological Journal 41 (2006): 17–52. Proposes the following strategies for preaching the message of the book of Daniel: respect the genre of the book; recognize the historical significance of Daniel; recognize form and structure; recognize the source of Daniel’s revelations; recognize major theme; recognize theological message. He concludes with some principles for studying and preaching the book of Daniel.

Fee, Gordon D. “Preaching Apocalyptic? You’ve Got to Be Kidding!” Calvin Theological Journal 41 (2006): 7–16. A brief reflection on literary features of apocalyptic literature and suggestions for preaching through the book of Revelation, preferably in a thirteen-week series.

Jonaitis, Dorothy. Unmasking Apocalyptic Texts: A Guide to Preaching and Teaching. New York and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2005. Discusses the nature of apocalyptic literature and reflects on teaching and preaching apocalyptic texts of both the Old and the New Testaments. Jonaitis offers sermon outlines for texts taken from Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Daniel, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, the Synoptic Gospels, and the book of Revelation.

Jones, Larry Paul, and Jerry L. Sumney. Preaching Apocalyptic Texts. St. Louis: Chalice, 1999. Stresses the importance of preaching apocalyptic material, but cautions against overly literalistic approaches. About two-thirds of the book consists of sermons based on the following texts: Daniel 7; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:11; Mark 13; Revelation 5; and Revelation 14. In each case there is a brief section dealing with exegesis of the passage in question, followed by two sermons on the passage.

Bibliographical Help on Pseudepigraphical Literature

Those who undertake scholarly study of apocalyptic literature will benefit from the following extensive bibliographies covering most topics related to the pseudepigrapha.

DiTommaso, Lorenzo. A Bibliography of Pseudepigrapha Research, 1850–1999. Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha: Supplement Series, ed. Lester L. Grabbe and James H. Charlesworth, vol. 39. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001. This massive work of more than a thousand pages provides bibliographical help for research in the pseudepigrapha and related literature.

DiTommaso, Lorenzo. The Book of Daniel and the Apocryphal Daniel Literature. Studia in Veteris Testamenti Pseudepigrapha, ed. Michael Knibb, Henk Jan de Jonge, Jean-Claude Haelewyck, and Johannes Tromp, vol. 20. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2005. A very comprehensive bibliographic tool with more than a thousand pages. The coverage focuses on the period from 1850 to 1999, although some material outside these limits has been included as well.

Read more about Taylor’s Interpreting Apocalyptic Literature or buy it on Amazon.