The Antichrist Through the Ages

Dec. 8, 187 B.C. Syrian/Greek invader despot Antiochus IV butchers a pig on an altar to Zeus in the Temple. He calls himself "Epiphanes," or God/Zeus Made Flesh; Jewish comics dub him "Epimanes," or the Crazy Bastard. He inspires the proto-Antichrist in the Bible's book of Daniel.

Circa 64 A.D. Roman Emperor Nero's life goes downhill after he beds and kills his mom. He plays God, blames Christians for Rome's fire, and has them covered with beast skins and devoured by dogs. He inspires the Beast in Revelation. Possibly, Christians got blamed because they believed Rome's burning would herald Christ's return—some may have rejoiced, arousing suspicion.

Third Century Church father Origen interprets Revelation, and perhaps prophesies Bush press conferences by defining the Antichrist as "every word that pretends to be the truth when it is not."

Fifth Century Augustine argues that the Antichrist should be read as a warning against Christians whose faith is, as they say in Texas, all hat and no cattle.

Circa 950 Millennium fever propels the first Apocalypse best seller, Adso of Montier-En-Der 's Letter on the Origin and Time of the Antichrist, popularizing the idea of the Beast as the Final Tyrant who seizes Jerusalem, tortures and desecrates holy places, and dies on the very spot where Christ ascended to heaven.

1200s Pope Innocent III calls for a Crusade, and thinks maybe Muhammad is the Antichrist.

1520 At first, Luther pooh-poohs Revelation: "Christ is not known or taught in it." Then he decides it reveals the pope as "the true Antichrist."

Late 1500s Luther's followers insist there are two Antichrists: the pope and the Turk.

Late 1600s Puritan Cotton Mather adds Indians, witches, and Quakers to the Antichrist's cohort and predicts Christ's return in 1697. And 1716. And 1736.

1869 Philadelphia pastor Joseph Seiss says Napoleon III is the Antichrist.

1840s John Nelson Darby creates "dispensational premillennialism," recasting biblical apocalypse literature as a secret code now revealed to us by him. Bush fundamentalists—and very possibly Bush himself—base their whole lives on this unholy scripture.

1970s to '80s Hal Lindsey, author of the Revelation best seller The Late Great Planet Earth, proposes Khomeini, Sadat, and Arafat as Antichrist candidates. Reagan swears by the book and hires Lindsey as a Middle East consultant.

1982 Prophecy teacher Mary Steart Relfe nominates Kissinger, Sadat, Pope John Paul II, and Juan Carlos of Spain, but decides Sadat is the real Antichrist. (Odd, since he was killed for helping Israel.) He dies before her book goes to print.

1988 Robert Faid notes that his funny forehead obviously reveals Gorbachev has the Mark of the Beast.

1999 Jerry Falwell says the Antichrist is a Jewish male alive today. Texas student Roahn Wynar nominates himself; humorist Joel Stein nominates himself, Jon Stewart, and David Schwimmer—but decides Schwimmer's "too Jewish."

2001 Todd Strandberg of the Rapture Index Web site, "A Dow Jones Industrial Average of End-Time activity," confesses he was "joyful" over the 9/11 massacre, criticizing other Rapture fans' "phony sadness over certain events . . . ; in their hearts they know it means them getting closer to their ultimate desire."

2004 Harvey Stephens, star of 1976's Antichrist movie The Omen, now a banker with a $152,000 Maserati, says that the bills for both his 19th birthday dinner and his BMW's repair bill were 666 pounds. He was relieved when his son's birth, foretold by physicians as the sixth day of the sixth month, possibly at 6 a.m., was, in fact, three weeks late. He still has his Antichrist tricycle from the film.

Tim Appelo

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