He was especially fascinated by the prophecies in the Book of Daniel, which he believed contained hidden clues about the end of the world. Based on his calculations and interpretations, he predicted that the world would end in 2060.
Newton’s prediction was not based on a whim or a vision, but on a rigorous application of his mathematical and scientific skills.
He used the historical and astronomical data available to him, as well as his own understanding of biblical chronology and symbolism. He wrote his findings in a letter dated 1704, which was later discovered among his papers and exhibited at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.
In his letter, Newton explained how he derived the date of 2060 from the Book of Daniel. He focused on the prophecy of the “time, times and half a time” (Daniel 12:7), which he interpreted as three and a half years or 1260 days.
He then assumed that each day represented a year in prophetic terms, following a common method of biblical interpretation. He also assumed that the prophecy began with the rise of the “little horn” of the “he-goat” (Daniel 8:9-12), which he identified with the papacy and its supremacy over Europe since the year 800.
Using these assumptions, Newton added 1260 years to 800 and arrived at 2060 as the end of the world. He wrote: “It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner.”
He also added a disclaimer that he did not intend to assert his prediction as a certainty, but only to “put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end”.
Newton’s prediction was not widely known until recently, when his papers were made public and attracted interest from scholars and media.
Some have speculated that Newton may have been influenced by other sources, such as ancient mysticism or alchemy, which he also studied.
Others have pointed out that Newton’s prediction was based on his own interpretation of the Bible, which may not be accurate or consistent with other parts of Scripture. Still others have wondered whether Newton’s prediction has any relevance for us today, given the advances in science and technology since his time.
Whatever the case may be, Newton’s prediction remains an intriguing example of how one of the most brilliant minds in history combined his scientific and religious interests to explore the mysteries of the future.