Is Apocalyptic a Subset of Eschatology?
Pat McCullough asks:
"Is there really such a thing as non-apocalyptic eschatology and what does it look like? In his ABD article on it, Paul Hanson creates a dichotomy between apocalyptic eschatology and prophetic eschatology. Is this valid?"I replied in comments that I think for "eschatology" to remain useful, it should refer generally to what it traditionally has: final dramatic events in history. I think scholarship has allowed the term too much elasticity, especially in the wake of John Dominic Crossan, who seized on the term "world-negation" (by which Schweitzer meant eschatology) and said it could apply to virtually anything -- apocalypticism, sappientialism (wisdom), nihilism, mysticism, etc. When we broaden our terms so that they mean almost anything, in a sense they mean nothing, so I would object to making apocalypticism a radical subset of eschatology in this way, even if the terms may not be precisely synonymous.
In Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet, Dale Allison uses eschatology to refer to "history's consummation and events directly associated with it", and apocalyptic to designate "a cluster of eschatological themes and expectations -- cosmic cataclysm, resurrection of the dead, universal judgment, heavenly redeemer figures, etc." -- that became fully realized in post-exilic Judaism (p 34, n 103, n 104). If we look at it this way, apocalyptic is simply Judeo-Christian eschatology. In this sense, it is a subset of eschatology, but not in the trivial manner proposed by someone like Crossan.
So to answer Pat's question, I think there is plenty of non-apocalyptic eschatology when you move out of the Judeo-Christian tradition. But for biblical studies specialists who stay focused within this tradition, the terms "apocalyptic" and "eschatological" are often used closely, if not synonymously. I tend to use them interchangeably. While the former may not be ideally suited for the pre-exilic period when certain themes were in gestation, I would never make a rigid distinction between "apocalyptic" and "prophetic" eschatology.