The hope and fear inherent in apocalyptic belief make it an ideal subject for didactic purposes. The righteous are rewarded and the sinful are punished. This underlying message can be found in every single Old English text with apocalyptic elements - only the level of intensity differs.

Different also are the approaches used to arrive at this point. Texts such as the Soul and Body poems emphasise the fate of the sinner - from bad deeds to damnation. Other texts concentrate on the righteous and their salvation, either almost exclusively, like The Phoenix, or by emphasis, as in Ælfric's Alia Visio. Thirdly, some texts oppose the two fates. Christ III belongs to this group.

All three perspectives are not primarily used to

describe what lies beyond this life, but rather to guide the behaviour of man while this life lasts - either by threat or promise, or as Risden states: 'Thus Judgement Day poems seek to point the way of "the spiritual pilgrimage to the perfect state..."'Click for footnote

With the exception of works such as the Gospel of Nicodemus, the majority of texts with apocalyptic ideas can be distinguished as either poetic or homiletic. The poems are more descriptive and generally ahistoric. They are mainly concerned with the fate of man in general. The homilies are more instructive and therefore remain closer to the life of their listeners. They are often clearly footed in Anglo-Saxon England. The underlying message mentioned above is most clearly stated in these texts, for example in Blickling Homily X: 'The humble and fearing and trembling and quaking hearts and those fearing their Creator, God will never despise nor disregard, but will hear their prayers when they cry to him and pray to him for mercy.'Click for footnote

  The Apocalyptic Present