Chief enemy of Christ who would reign at the end of time, first mentioned in the epistles of St. John. The idea of a mighty ruler who will appear at the end of time to fight against the forces of good was adapted from Judaism; the Jewish concept in turn had been influenced by Iranian and Babylonian myths of the battle of God and the devil at the end of time. In the Book of Daniel the evil one is a military leader modeled on Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who persecuted the Jews. In several books of the New Testament, the Antichrist is a tempter who works by signs and wonders and seeks divine honors. It was a potent concept in medieval Christianity that received the attention of many commentators including Adso of Montier-en-Der, whose work became the basic medieval treatise on the Antichrist. During the Middle Ages, popes and emperors struggling for power often denounced each other as the Antichrist, and during the Reformation, Martin Luther and other Protestant leaders identified the papacy itself as the Antichrist.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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