Samples Classification Classification and Division Essay: Eschatologies of the World’s Monotheistic Religions

Classification and Division Essay: Eschatologies of the World’s Monotheistic Religions

508 words 2 page(s)

The term eschatology refers to the various belief systems that religions have about how the world will end. In other words, eschatology is the scientific study of visions of apocalypse. The world’s three major monotheistic religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, perhaps owing to their shared geographical origin in the Middle East, have similar eschatologies with motifs of a Messiah who will save the world in a time of tribulation. Accordingly, Christianity, Islam and Judaism can be classified, yet also divided according to this basic schema.

While all three religions have a messiah figure, Christianity and Islam both name Jesus Christ as the messiah. This makes a clear division with Judaism, a religion that has always historically rejected Christ, not taking him to be the messiah. Nevertheless, Christianity and Islam, although they agree that Christ is the Messiah, disagree on the divinity of Christ. For Islam, Christ is a great prophet, while for Christianity, Christ is God. Christ thus is key to both eschatologies: in Judaism, however, Christ is neither God nor prophet, but rather has the role of a common criminal.

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The way these eschatologies have been interpreted however by various sects within these religions can provide further points of classification and division. For example, the evangelists in the United States have given continued support to Israel, because they believe Israel will play a key role in the end times. Israel on a geopolitical level accepts this support from the United States, even though they do not give any significance to Christ in their eschatology.

This type of eschatological vision, however, does not exclude Islam. For example, various fundamentalist movements have aligned themselves with U.S. and Israeli geopolitics, such as al-Qaeda in Syria and the Wahhabi fundamentalists in Saudi Arabia, who are operative in Syria on the U.S. side against the current Al-Assad regime and before that in Syria.

On the other hand, Islamic and Orthodox Christian communities have found a point of allegiance on their eschatological vision. For example, Orthodox Christian leaders in Russia and Muslim leaders in Iran have begun to realize the closeness of their eschatologies, in particular, the importance of Jesus Christ to these religious visions. Such an importance means an exclusion of Israel, because of the Judaic rejection of any significance to Christ.

Furthermore, another arrangement can be made according to the figure of the Mahdi in Islam. In Islam, Mahdi is a heroic savior figure who will help Christ in the end times. Nevertheless, Islam itself disagrees on who Mahdi is. For example, Shia Muslims believe that the Mahdi is already alive and has been alive for over thousand years, but is currently in a period of occultation. Sunni Muslims, in contrast, reject this version of the Mahdi.

Hence, applying the eschatological narratives of the three monotheistic religions in comparison and contrast provides numerous points of similarity as well as difference. Islam, Christianity and Judaism all have Messiah figures and many of the current world-views of these communities can be arranged according to their interpretation of the end times.