Familiar Apocalyptic Themes: Modern Speculations about Famous Biblical Threats and Curses (Speaker: Steve Ruth)

Steve Ruth

The Bible is filled with apocalyptic material. The writings of the major and minor prophets feature curses, threats, and fierce complaints against Israel’s enemies, as well as stern commentaries aimed at the people of Israel themselves. The Torah has examples of horrific threats against those who do not obey God’s commands. Similarly, the New Testament is replete with apocalyptic statements. At times Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher; the Book of Revelation is rife with threatening messages, and St. Paul’s epistles are equally severe. Does any of the Biblical material seem familiar today? We will first review the most significant examples of apocalyptic themes and then look at some modern examples. For example, Elon Musk used the term “summoning the demons” to describe his concern that artificial intelligence could possibly lead to unpreventable wars between nations. Stephen Hawking and other scientists have expressed similar fears. Currently, some page-one stories about the dark web, revenge porn, deep fake, and ransomware might remind a reader of passages in Isaiah, Ezekiel, or Jeremiah. There will be time for discussion and speculation.

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