"A Time and Times and the Dividing of Time": Isaac Newton, the Apocalypse and 2060 A.D.

Stephen D. Snobelen

Abstract


On 22 February 2003 a story on the front-page of the Daily Telegraph announced that Isaac Newton had predicted that the world would end in 2060 A.D. That such an icon of rationality as the "scientist" Sir Isaac Newton, a thinker credited with founding modern mathematical physics, would venture into apocalyptic thought struck the media as both bizarrely anomalous and eminently newsworthy. During the week subsequent to the Daily Telegraph revelation, the story spread around the world
in the print, radio, television and Internet media. This paper provides contextual and historical background detail on the story that was left out of these sensationalized reports. First, this paper considers the several likely reasons why this story generated so much interest. Second, it is argued that apocalyptic thought is a culturally- and intellectually-widespread phenomenon, affecting even modern science itself. Third, an account is given of Newton s prophetic scheme, which not only reveals the logic of his apocalyptic chronology and the biblical hermeneutics he deployed, but also demonstrates that Newton was against date-setting and did not in fact believe the world was going to end in 2060 A.D.

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