Legends of the End
Prophecies of the End Times, Antichrist, Apocalypse and Messiah from Eight Religious Traditions
Whether the world ends tomorrow or lasts for centuries, we all exist in a “climate” of the End of Days. As Thomas Merton wrote, “We live in an age of two superimposed eschatologies: that of secular anxieties and hopes, and that of revealed fulfillment. Sometimes the first is merely mistaken for the second, sometimes it results from complete denial and despair of the second.” The “end of time” obviously relates to history, but—just as obviously—it cannot be contained within it. Legends of the End have always been with us; every spiritual tradition that has a story of the beginning of things must also have one of their final end—the end of the earth, of the universe, of time itself. And just as all such myths symbolize invisible realities, so every historical event is precisely an invisible reality made visible and tangible. This book takes a look at eight Legends of the End: Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hopi, and Lakota. When these stories are placed side-by-side, both great differences and startling similarities become apparent—similarities in broad outlines and in minute details as well. In light of this traditional lore, the author begins and concludes with a penetrating spiritual meditation on the meaning of the End. Without a grasp of this meaning, to precisely date the End is impossible. With such a grasp, even the most accurate dating is irrelevant, for to know the meaning of the End of Days is already to be beyond it.