Jewish Journal

Even Newton can’t predict the End Times

by Brad A. Greenberg

June 21, 2007 | 2:32 pm

Some Christians have an unhealthy fascination with Armageddon (even more unhealthy is a fascination with “Armageddon”). While some Christians, mindful of Jesus’ “thief in the night” comment, avoid dwelling on when the end will come, others have obsessed for centuries.

The Millerites believed the date would be Oct. 22, 1844. If you are reading this now, you understand why that is referred to as the Great Disappointment. Today, the Rapture Index—a synthesis of world events that some readers of Revelation say should precede the apocalypse —stands at 158, well below the all-time high of 182 two weeks after 9/11.

It turns out, though, that minds far greater have attempted to predict the End Days. Isaac Newton’s 300-year-old manuscripts, unveiled this week in Jerusalem, show one of the world’s greatest scientists tried his hand at some apocalyptic algebra.

In one manuscript from the early 1700s, Newton used the cryptic Book of Daniel to calculate the date for the apocalypse, reaching the conclusion that the world would end no earlier than 2060.

“It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner,” Newton wrote. However, he added, “This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail.”

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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