London: I. B. Tauris, 2008. — 232 p. — ISBN-10: 184511759X; ISBN-13: 978-1845117597.Plague, earthquake and flame: ideas about divinely-inspired disaster and prophecies of doom have an enduring place in the history of Christian thought. For centuries men and women have made preparations for the imminent end of the world, and for the thousand year reign of Christ and his saints. Inspired principally by the startling texts of the Book of Revelation, Christianity has a rich and varied tradition of looking forward to the purifying fires of Armageddon. But what do recurring motifs like the Rapture, pestilence, biblical prophecy and the building of the New Jerusalem really add up to? And how have interpretations of these patterns differed from century to century? Charting a steady course between the feverish predictions of early Christian heretics like the Montanists, and the febrile outpourings of modern-day millennialists such as the Branch Davidians and Christian Zionists in America, John M. Court explores the continuities and differences between their violent visions of cataclysm. His history comprises an incisive analysis of such movements and figures as the Levellers and Diggers, James Jezreel and his Trumpeters, Seventh-Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses, cargo-cults and drug cultures. Embracing two thousand years of intense and fiery admonition, Approaching the Apocalypse offers students of religion, history and politics the definitive handbook to Doomsday.ContentsPrefaceIntroduction: Definitions of the key terms, with a general outline of the history of the idea of the Millennium and of millenarian expectationsThe Roots of the Idea: Broader considerations about future hopes and fears, as well as the issues associated with the calculation of timeThe Biblical Basis: Which are the primary texts? An examination of the Old Testament context and the New Testament texts of Mark 13, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and the book of RevelationThe Return of Christ: Classifications of the Biblical expectations of the Parousia, premillennial or postmillennial expectations and the Last JudgementMillenarians Among the Church Fathers: An examination of the challenge of Montanism and a glance at Christian apologeticsApocalypse Then. The Year 1000: A survey of the contemporary evidence for ‘the terrors of the year 1000’, associated with apocalyptic expectation of a literal fulfilment of millennial Biblical prophecies, and also for the highly dismissive ‘a year like any other’ view Joachim of Fiore (C.1135–1202 CE): A look at the figure who presented a highly sophisticated example of the calendrical calculation of the world’s end: he claimed prophetic inspiration in the form of a key to interpret the Bible as a pattern of world history in three ages, presided over by the Holy TrinityThe Black Death and Other Plagues: An examination of apocalyptic signs of the approaching End ranging from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries, including plagues, fire and earthquakes. A glance at the Black Death, A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe and the Great Fire of LondonApocalypse and Civil War. (1500 CE and after): A consideration of evidence for the significance of the year 1500, including a look at Botticelli, Columbus, Dürer and the reading of works of Dante. This is followed by a reflection on sixteenth-century millennialism (including the work of Mercator) and, subsequently, the politics of Oliver Cromwell and the activities of the Levellers and Diggers.Edward Irving (1792–1834 CE) and the Catholic Apostolic movement: A look at a Church of Scotland minister with a fashionable middle-class London congregation who engrossed himself in applying the prophecies of Revelation to the years that followed the French Revolution, whose followers formed the Catholic Apostolic ChurchAcross the Pond: An investigation of the Millerites in America, beginning with the calendrical calculations of William Miller (1782−1849 ce), moving to the Seventh Day Adventists and the Jehovah’s WitnessesJoanna Southcott (1750–1814 CE) and Her Followers: An exploration of an English prophetess of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century who sealed up several of her prophecies in a box that, she insisted, was to be opened in a time of national crisis by a gathering of 24 bishops of the Church of England.J.J. Jezreel: The Trumpeter and His Tower: An enquiry into James Jezreel and the ‘New and Latter House of Israel’, who formed a Southcottian sect that produced the ‘Flying Roll’ as God’s last message to man. Of particular interest was the project to build the New Jerusalem at Chatham in KentAn Anglican Israel at the End of Time. The Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury: A consideration of the fascination the Biblical Holy Land exercised on English Protestantism, together with its practical and eschatological implications (particularly the perspective of Anthony Ashley Cooper, the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury)‘Somewhere a Place for Us’. Modern Utopias: A look at literary examples in early texts as well as in texts of the twentieth century of Utopia as the ideal placeChristian Missions and the Cargo Cults: A study of how modern colonialism, Western culture and the legacy of Christian missions are either welcomed in the Third World’s revolutionary movements as ‘salvation’ or (more likely) rejected with all the means that primitive, even preliterate, societies have at their command, with results that include millennial movements, cargo cults or drug culturesFigures of the Messiah. David Koresh and the Waco Siege: An examination of American events beginning with the Jonestown massacre and including the Order of the Solar Temple, but chiefly concerned with David Koresh as a messianic figure, whose apparent obsession with the book of Revelation and leadership of the Branch Davidians led to the tragic climax of the Waco siege in 1993. This chapter includes discussion of how modern authorities understand and deal with such movements.‘Apocalypse Now’. Celebrating the Millennium On or After 2000 CE: A survey of a selection of evidence as to how the recent turn of the Millennium was anticipated and observed, politically and spiritually, especially among fundamentalist American Christians and Christian Zionists. Reference is made to the Left Behind series of novels (as well as films and videos) beginning with the Rapture and ending with Armageddon.Epilogue
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