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Course Number: SS 663
Course Title: Apocalyptic Literature
Term: Summer 2014


Fr. William C. Mills



This course focuses on the eschatological dimension of biblical revelation. Exemplified especially in the book of Revelation, apocalyptic literature is found in both the Old and New Testaments. Topics covered include the characteristic features and major themes of apocalyptic literature and the similarities and difference between biblical and extra-biblical apocalyptic literature. Questions regarding the immediate historical, social, and cultural background will also be considered.

This course is not designed to give easy answers to questions of personal faith, although it should provide considerable foundation of historical, literary, and theological data which will enable the earnest student to arrive at a more mature personal faith. The professor will endeavor to provide an atmosphere of freedom and intellectual honesty in which maturation in faith and understanding is possible. The student's effort to develop his/her own personal religious faith, of course, is a task in which he/she will be engaged, hopefully, for the rest of his/her life.

Furthermore, since this course is being offered at a Roman Catholic Seminary and College emphasis will be placed on the “pastoral and practical” implications of the Synoptic gospels. In other words, when engaging the reading, course notes, and conducting research, always keep in mind how the gospels can impact your preaching, teaching, and pastoral care, especially within your parish setting.

I always encourage my students to actually use their course work in their local parish. Many students are active in adult education, Bible studies, retreat leaders, permanent deacons, members of religious orders, or in other parochial responsibilities. The course materials and student work are geared for pastoral and practical usage. This does not mean the other courses at HACS are not pastoral or practical, but it does mean that I ask that the student always maintain a pastoral and practical approach to the Scriptures as they study and reflect on them throughout the course and for the rest of their life.

As members of the body of Christ we are called to encourage and inspire one another and spread the good news of the Gospel.


At the conclusion of the semester the student should be able to:

  1. Explain the major themes and literary structure of Apocalyptic literature especially the Old Testament background.
  2. To be well acquainted with the literary structure and meaning of the Book of Revelation.
  3. To be well acquainted with the cultural, religious, and socio-political background from which the majority of apocalyptic literature was formed and shaped.
  4. Be able to convey this new course information to others in a very practical and pastoral manner, through their teaching preaching, and pastoral care.


  1. Students are responsible for all the assigned readings, including the secondary course material as well as the Church related documents noted below.
  2. Students will be responsible for all course work in the class including the two short papers and the final exam. For more information see below.


Students who have difficulty with research and composition are encouraged to pursue assistance with the Online Writing Lab (available at

  1. Grading will be assessed through the two writing assignments.
  2. Final grade will be determined in the following manner:
  • Written Assignment #1 - 33%
  • Written Assignment #2 - 33
  • Written Assignment #3 - 34%



A 96-100; A- 90-95; B+ 87-89; B 83-86; B- 80-82; C+ 77-79; C 73-76; C- 70-72 69-60; F 59 and below


The purpose of the three short papers is for the student to engage the course material in an in depth manner. Furthermore, we need to remember that while we are studying the Apocalyptic Literature which was written nearly 2,000 years ago, the meaning and message is as important today as it was then! The early authors of the Bible were interested with issues regarding their faith community, and therefore, were encouraged to provide guidance and direction in community life especially in terms of living the gospel during a time of great persecution and maintaining faith in times of doubt and distress. Please use either MLA or Chicago Manual of Style for grammar, style, and citations

Assignment #1 Cultural, Social, and Political Background of The Book of Revelation

The purpose of this assignment is for the student to have a basic knowledge of some aspect of the cultural, social, and political background of the Jewish/Roman World of the Book of Revelation. The student is asked to write a 5-6 page paper on any one of the following possible topics, the student of course may choose his/her own topic but please check with the instructor before proceeding. Topics can include: the role, use, and purpose of slavery, marriage and family life, transportation and communication, Jewish or Roman political structures in the Mediterranean (i.e. student might want to discuss role of Herodian dynasty or the roles of the Roman emperors, governors and prefects), flowers and fauna, medicine and healthcare in the ancient world, the use of coins and money in Jewish and Roman culture, childhood education and formation, pagan religious institutions such as temples, cults (public nature of worship). There are plenty of secondary sources as well as sources found on the Internet. I only ask that you give full citation to secondary work such as URL addresses or books/journals/articles. So do some research and enjoy.

Assignment #2 Synoptic Gospels for Catechesis and Teaching

The purpose of the second written assignment is for the student to understand the catechetical and teaching importance of the Book of Revelation. The fact that many people do not read Revelation should tell us something—maybe they do not know enough about the background to understand the material! Perhaps this assignment will help you enlighten some parishioners or friends and family members. The student will have two options regarding the presentation of the material: 1) create a 6-8 week adult education class or 2) create a series of 6-8 Sunday bulletins that are formatted around your specific topic. You are more than welcome to include charts, graphs, and pictures to enhance your work, the more creative you are the better! The goal for this assignment is not only to explore a specific topic in Revelation, but also to use this new information for catechetical and teaching purposes. My hope is that your reading and research will be used to further “advance the gospel” in your local parish and faith community. There are numerous topics available, I only ask that you first contact me before you begin your research/reading. You may also consult with your parish priest for some thoughts and ideas, he might help you find a topic that would be beneficial to your congregation. Below are some ideas for your project. If you have other ideas let me know before you do this assignment. You need to limit your topic since the project should only be 6-8 pages.

Sample Topics:

  1. Discuss John’s opening vision in Revelation 1. What does his vision tell us about how we should understand the rest of the Book of Revelation? How is Revelation 1 similar to Isaiah 6 or Ezekiel 3?
  2. What are some of the hallmarks or concepts that are found within apocalyptic literature? How can our can our understanding of the Old Testament assist us in understanding Revelation?
  3. As a Roman Catholic how would you explain the Book of Revelation to radical Evangelical Protestant who firmly believes in the “rapture”?
  4. Discuss the theme of “martyrdom” in Revelation and in early Christianity? How can we “witness” to the gospel if we do not live in a time of political persecution (at least not in the United States).
  5. What advice can you give to people who are leary of reading the Book of Revelation? How can we as teachers of the Christian faith make the Book of Revelation in particular, and apocalyptic literature in general, more accessible to the “average Joe or Jane Doe”?

Written Assignment #3 Cities of the Apocalypse

There are seven major cities mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Choose one particular city and write about it. Provide a general overview of the religion, politics, society, and culture. Make sure to mention why this city is important in the Book of Revelation and why it is important for our study of the New Testament and the early Christians.


Week 1 Overview of Class, read syllabi, look at some of the listed websites for background on the Apocalypse

Week 2 Read Book of Daniel, Read Mark chapter 13

Week 3 Read Revelation chapters 1-2 and corresponding pages in text/CD

Week 4 Read Revelation chapters 3-4 and corresponding pages in text/CD

Week 5 Read Revelation 5-6 and corresponding pages in text/CD

Week 6 Read Revelation 7-8 and corresponding pages in text/CD

Week 7 Read Revelation 9-10 and corresponding pages in text/CD

Week 8 Read Revelation 11-12 and corresponding pages in text/CD

Week 9 Read Revelation 13-14 and corresponding pages in text/CD

Week 10 Read Revelation 15-16 and corresponding pages in text/CD

Week 11 Read Revelation 17-18 and corresponding pages in text/CD

Week 12 Read Revelation 19-20 and corresponding pages in text/CD

Week 13 Read Revelation 21-22 and corresponding pages in text/CD

Week 14 Finish up papers and projects

Week 15 Finish up papers and projects


  • Scott Hahn The End: A Study of the Book of Revelation CD set (comes with study guide)
  • Catherine Ann Cory Book of Revelation Vol. 12 Collegeville Bible Study ISBN 978-0814628850
  • Optional text not required but for those who want more in depth analysis see Wilfrid Harrington Revelation Sacra Pagina Series (Liturgical Press, 1993) ISBN 978-0814658185



Holy Apostles College & Seminary is committed to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunities and full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities who qualify for admission to the College. Students enrolled in online courses who have documented disabilities requiring special accommodations should contact Bob Mish, the Director of Online Student Affairs, at or 860-632-3015. In all cases, reasonable accommodations will be made to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to course materials in a mode in which they can receive them. Students who have technological limitations (e.g., slow Internet connection speeds in convents) are asked to notify their instructors the first week of class for alternative means of delivery.


Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own.  At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends.

Students, where applicable:

  • Should identify the title, author, page number/webpage address, and publication date of works when directly quoting small portions of texts, articles, interviews, or websites.
  • Students should not copy more than two paragraphs from any source as a major component of papers or projects.
  • Should appropriately identify the source of information when paraphrasing (restating) ideas from texts, interviews, articles, or websites.
  • Should follow the Holy Apostles College & Seminary Stylesheet (available on the Online Writing Lab’s website at

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously.  Students participating in academic dishonesty may be removed from the course and from the program.


Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required, per the federal standards, to be in class three 50-minute sessions (or 2.5 hours a week) and prepare for class discussions six 50-minute sessions (or 5 hours) a week. Expect to devote at least nine 50-minute sessions (or 7.5 quality hours) a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.


An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class. NOTE; THE EXTENSION REQUEST MUST BE SUBMITTED TO HOLY APOSTLES BEFORE THE END OF THE SEMESTER – NO EXCEPTIONS.

To request an incomplete, distance-learning students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.


If you want to read more information about my background and ministry you can visit my website at Again, welcome to the class and I hope we have a good semester together!

(860) 632-3010