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Saturday 20 October 2007
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Newton set 2060 for end of world

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
Last Updated: 1:42am GMT 22/02/2003

Sir Isaac Newton, Britain's greatest scientist, predicted the date of the end of the world - and it is only 57 years away.

His theories about Armageddon have been unearthed by academics from little-known handwritten manuscripts in a library in Jerusalem.

The thousands of pages show Newton's attempts to decode the Bible, which he believed contained God's secret laws for the universe.


Newton, who was also a theologian and alchemist, predicted that the Second Coming of Christ would follow plagues and war and would precede a 1,000-year reign by the saints on earth - of which he would be one.

The most definitive date he set for the apocalypse, which he scribbled on a scrap of paper, was 2060.

Newton's fascination with the end of the world, which has been researched by a Canadian academic, Stephen Snobelen, is to be explored in a documentary, Newton: The Dark Heretic, on BBC2 next Saturday.

"What has been coming out over the past 10 years is what an apocalyptic thinker Newton was," Malcolm Neaum, the producer, said.

"He spent something like 50 years and wrote 4,500 pages trying to predict when the end of the world was coming. But until now it was not known that he ever wrote down a final figure. He was very reluctant to do so."

Thousands of Newton's papers, which had lain in a trunk in the house of the Earl of Portsmouth for 250 years, were sold by Sotheby's in the late 1930s.

John Maynard Keynes, the economist, bought many of the texts on alchemy and theology. But much of the material went to an eccentric collector, Abraham Yahuda, and was stored in the Hebrew National Library. It was among these documents that the date was found.

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