In a word: eschaton

The Baltimore Sun

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word:


If you have been following the chatter about the Mayan long calendar coming to an end this Friday, you have most likely (a) snickered at anyone who is such a dimwit as to take it seriously, (b) cashed in those bearer bonds for one last bacchanal, or (c) prayed that the end will come and spare you another of those grim family holiday meals.

To the degree that you have given the matter any thought at all, you have been speculating about the eschaton, (pronounced ESS-ka-ton) the last things, the end of the world, the divinely ordained climax of history. The branch of theology concerned with these matters is eschatology.

The Christian version of the eschaton is sometimes called the parousia, referring specifically to the return of Christ to announce the end of history and the establishment of his new divine order. But Christianity has no monopoly on theories of the end of time.

Eschaton comes to use from the Greek eskhatos, "last."

Check back with me on Saturday.


Example: From C.H. Dodd's Apostolic Preaching: " In prophecy and apocalypse alike, the divine event, the eschaton, is always ‘round the corner’. The prophet never conceives himself as standing midway in the course of history."

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