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In many Western religious traditions, the period of catastrophic upheaval expected to occur just before the end of the world, when God will come to sit in judgment on humankind. The belief that the world will come to a violent and cataclysmic end exists in Judaism and Christianity as well as in Zoroastrianism. Several of the prophetic works of the Hebrew Scriptures, notably the book of Daniel, include visions of the apocalypse. The book of Revelation (or Apocalypse) gives a dark and dramatic picture of the end of time, when the wicked will be punished and the good will triumph through God's intervention. The approach of the Last Days is expected to be marked by famines, wars, earthquakes, plagues, and other natural disasters, along with signs in the heavens. Today apocalyptic themes are emphasized by various religious groups (e.g., fundamentalist Christians) and have also been taken up by science-fiction writers. See alsoeschatology; millennialism.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on apocalypse, visit Britannica.com.