Reviewed by Marshall Hughes
2012, The Bible & The End of the World
gives first a thorough explanation of, and later a good debunking
of the ideas behind the recent 2012 end-of-the-world scare in this
Did you know that the world is going to end on December 21, 2012? OK, maybe not, but a large group of people would like you to believe that it is, and they are selling books and making movies to spread their message (and make a few bucks).
The whole hullabaloo has to do with 2012 marking the end of the Mayan calendar. Well, at least the end of the latest 5,125-year cycle of one of the Mayan calendars. They were actually 20 Mayan calendars. This end of this particular calendar, however, comes with the added bonus of ending at roughly the same time as the once-in-every-26,000 year alignment when, according to the author, “the winter solstice for the Northern hemisphere, the sun and earth will line up with the galactic center of the Milky Way.”
That’s a mouthful, and for non-astronomy majors among us, not exactly self-evident or even very clear. There is more. One 2012 website states that the last time this alignment happened was July 27, 9792 B.C. when Atlantis was destroyed. There is, of course, no consensus that there ever was an Atlantis, much less that it fell into the sea as a result of this alignment.
To understand the kinds of people who believe in this 2012 scare, know that the first 2012 conference was held in Hollywood (what are the chances?) and the second was held in (get ready for it) San Francisco. Perhaps the next one will be held in Cambridge or Berkeley. There seems to be a strong connection with the New Age people. The last scheduled conference is set for December 12, 2012 at the Mayan pyramids.
The two strongest parts of the book are the fairly detailed explanation of what the Mayan calendars’ history is and what exactly it entails, and the fascinating details of numerous-yet-failed “we know the date of the end of the world” predictions that there have been. The first “end prediction” mentioned dates back almost 5,000 years.
More modern predictions include Pope Innocent 3rd predicting the end times in 1284, preacher William Miller zeroing on October 22, 1844 (later know in American Christian circles as the “Great Disappointment") and the Jehovah’s Witnesses zeroing in on, so far, nine different dates. Perhaps nine different dates isn’t exactly zeroing in on anything. Presumedly you can guess all of these predictions failed to come true.
Hitchcock also explains various claims of secret messages encoded in the Bible leading to the 2012 date. A word to the wise: believing in encoded Bible messages is like believing someone who starts a sentence with, “Nostradamus clearly predicted...” According to one secret decoding, David Koresh was mentioned 2,729 times in the first five books of the Bible.
The final word for predicting Christ’s coming and/or the end of the world should be Matthew 24:44. “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”
A little more than half way through the book, Hitchcock changes gears from explaining what 2012 is all about to explaining what the Bible foretells, at least according to his view. Not all Christians will go along with his interpretations, and at times it seems like he seems as sure about his predictions as the 2012ers are about theirs. Hitchcock’s views are Biblical, but far from unanimously agreed upon by Christian scholars.
Still, 2012 is an interesting, informative read, especially for those who know very little about the 2012 talk that will undoubtedly grow stronger in the next 18 months or so.
Marshall Hughes is a former sports writer for the Honolulu Advertiser. For most of the past 22 years he has taught English in Japan. He has taught at the university level in America, Japan and China. Among his hobbies are sports, traveling and photography. He has been to 41 countries and is always hoping to go somewhere new. He is an award-winning photographer in both Japan and America. His bi-lines include The Washington Post, The Pacific Daily News (Guam), The Contra Costa Times and several sports publications.