When someone says "" more often then not most people's minds conjure up images of the end of the world. We think of images of desolate wastelands, and ravished terrain. We picture cities falling apart and mushroom clouds exploding across the surface of the planet.
Apocalypse, for most people, is associated with the end of the world.
The word apocalypse itself comes from the Greek word Ἀποκάλυψις, which means "revelation" or "unveiling". It is about disclosure not destruction. The term is generally used to describe a genre of literature that was developed gradually by the Jewish people as they interacted with the cultures and literature of the empires that ruled them in the years after the exile until the conquest of the Romans.
It is a form of literature generally depicting eschatological events in a vivid imagery and though starkly dualistic representations of spirituality.This is what scholars mean by “apocalyptic”. Often these books include accounts of the end of the world through a final battle between good and evil. Because of scenes of this nature the genre has gained a reputation in popular culture of dealing primarily with the end of the world.
However, the end of the world is rarely the primary concern of an apocalypse.
Appocolypses are a way of communicating a message of hope to oppressed people. They open up the spiritual realm and teach that even when things seem like there is no hope, there is more at work then meets the eyes. There is a process going on that will result in an ultimate victory for good and a vindication for the righteous.
There is some apocalyptic literature represented in the Bible, although it tends to be very controversial.
Passages in Isaiah like chapters 24-27; 33; and 34-35 show vivid imagery and a developed eschatology so advanced that some scholars have posited that it was inserted in the so called "inter-testimonial" person, while others have argued it represents a proto-apocalyptic genre that was borrowed from and developed into further into what we now know as apocalyptic literature. There are other places in the Hebrew Bible that scholars see as precursors to apocalyptic writing. Scholars generally point to Jeremiah 33:14-26; Joel 3:9-17; and Zechariah 12-14 as examples of this.
In Ezekiel 38-39 there is so much apocalyptic literature that some view these chapters as a mosaic of Biblical references and motifs compiled and redacted by a late apocalyptist who inserted the material in, however it seems more likely that this to represents a proto-apocalyptic development that was particularly influential in the centuries that followed it's composition.
There are only two books in the Bible that people define as "apocalyptic" without caveat. One of these is of course the Apocalypse of John which is also known as Revelation. The other clear example of appocolyptic literature comes from the Book of Daniel. Although the whole book is not apocalyptic chapters 7-13 seem to clearly demonstrate a fully formed expression of the genre.