In studying the history of Christianity, and therefore, the historical context of the early Jesus Movement, which was obviously a Jewish context, I have been led to understand that in the first century, there was a popular form of Judaism now referred to as apocalyptic, or eschatological, Judaism.

Generally speaking, eschatological Jews believed the following:

  • The universe was a sort of cosmic battleground, and the forces of darkness, death, sin, and wickedness were doing battle with the forces of light, life, virtue, and righteousness.

  • God was still in control of this world in some ultimate sense. But for unknown and mysterious reasons he had temporarily relinquished his control to the forces of evil that opposed him.

  • This state of affairs would not go on forever. Soon - very soon - G-d would intervene directly.

  • He would soon send his emissary, occasionally referred to as the "Son of Man", but more often as the messiah.

  • The messiah would arrive in the world and usher in the Kingdom of G-d; he would then sit in judgment over mankind, both living and dead; the wicked would be laid low, and the righteous would be richly rewarded for their piety.

  • The Kingdom would be established, with its capital in Jerusalem, and Israel would take her place as the greatest of all nations.

  • The forces of darkness, death, sin, and wickedness would be crushed once and for all.

For a more comprehensive definition of apocalyptic Judaism, see the document linked here or here

At long last, we come to the point of all of this:

Does apocalyptic Judaism still exist today?

  • 2
    I'm not entirely sure what some of your terms mean (like "Son of Man"), but I'm not so sure that your claim that this isn't the mainstream belief in Judaism is true. If your definition of apocalyptic is "the world was approaching a drastic turning point. Wickedness and sin had grown to dominate much of the world's population, and soon, G-d would intervene directly," I think something similar to that is a mainstream opinion of modern Judaism. – Daniel Aug 17 '15 at 2:53
  • 1
    By the way, there are Jews today who actively search for red heifers. I'm not exactly sure why Christians would be looking for one unless they are planning on restarting the Temple service; but Jews want to have one in case the Messiah comes and rebuilds the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Then we would need the red heifer to purify ourselves. – Daniel Aug 17 '15 at 3:00
  • 2
    @HodofHod Yes these apocalyptic Jews left lots of writings. Some of which are extant in the dead sea scrolls, talking about the end of days, for which people wouldn't have sex or have kids for fear that they wold be impure when God would come to destroy the world. – Aaron Aug 17 '15 at 16:58
  • 2
    @WadCheber "But for unknown and mysterious reasons he had temporarily relinquished his control to the forces of evil that opposed him." Sorry, but this is a Christian idea. In Judaism, G-d wants the "evil" to test us, and then we'd be deserving of reward or as punishment. But the evil does not oppose him. – user613 Aug 17 '15 at 21:18
  • 2
    @user613 Saying that the dead sea scrolls are unreliable because their Chumash is different than ours doesn't prove they are unreliable, all it says is that someone's text is unreliable, and it could be ours. Why could it be ours? Because many of the dead sea scrolls also reflect what we know and find in the Septuagint. Things we thought were bad Greek translations turned out to have valid Hebrew sources. – Aaron Aug 17 '15 at 22:21

In my opinion, apocalyptic Judaism no longer exists. Sects like those at Qumran no longer exist, and no one is writing in the apocalyptic style (books of Daniel, Enoch, Revelations, and many of the scrolls of Qumran). We can debate all day long as to why. Maybe Jews were tired of predicting the end, but the end never came. Maybe the entire consensus shifted on what we should be focusing on? Maybe after x-amount of false messiahs we're just jaded? Who knows.

But the scholarly discussion of apocalyptic Judaism no longer seems to exist.

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .