Apocalypse [ə-pŏk’ə-lĭps’], with the definite article, means “the end of the world.” Apocalyptic writings–prophecies of the end of the world couched in symbolic language–were a popular genre with Jewish and early Christian writers between 200 B.C.E. and C.E. 150. The best known is the Revelation of St. John in the Christian New Testament.
“Apocalyptic [themes] emphasize a certain sense of futility and human frailty in response to forces seeming supernatural or otherwise out of human control,” says John Grayson Nichols, director of film studies at Christopher Newport University in Newport, Va. (Chicago Tribune)
Many historians trace the apocalyptic world view back to the Persian prophet Zoroaster, who spoke of a cosmic battle between good and evil ending in a new, perfect world for humanity. The Zoroastrian tradition survives today in Iran and as the basis of Parsiism in India. (pbs.org)