How is apocalyptic literature similar to and different from typical biblical prophecy?

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Well, apocalyptic literature is unveiling the realities of heaven for those of us on earth. So, one of the things that you'll see is very often that the individual who is seeing the vision of heaven is taken up into heaven. You can think of Isaiah, and his vision of God and the "Holy, Holy, Holy." The same, of course, happens with John, in the book of Revelation. He's taken up into heaven and he begins to see visions, and the visions often include symbols and metaphorical imagery that then later has to be interpreted. So, that's one of the key elements of apocalyptic imagery. They often speak to the situation of God's people on earth at that time, but there can also be a future element, or something that's unveiling, some heavenly reality that we need to know in order to live our lives now in the hope of the future.

Answer by Dr. David W. Chapman

Dr. David W. Chapman is Associate Professor of New Testament and Biblical Archaeology at Covenant Theological Seminary