Eschatology is the study of last things. It refers to the study of all things related to the Second Coming of Christ in the last days including issues related to the nature of life beyond this world.
Microsoft Encarta Dictionary limits its meaning to the state of the soul after death:
“doctrines about death and its aftermath
the body of religious doctrines concerning the human soul in its relation to death, judgment, heaven, and hell”
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, however, provides a broader meaning referring to events before death: eschatology
It is in this broader sense it is usually used today.
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