Lodged in the heart of each of the four great monotheistic religions to emerge from the Middle East lies an immutable, inescapable theological certainty: Apocalypse. While this vision has expressed itself in different ways in each of the four monotheistic traditions of Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam, the phenomenon is intrinsically similar. Exploring a range of ancient and modern cultural and religious experiences, and drawing on the interdisciplinary research of a distinguished group of scholars, Imagining the End highlights the importance of millennial and apocalyptic paradigms and their historical expressions in diverse settings. It demonstrates how visions of the End and eschatological scenarios - particularly the cycles of destruction and renewal in the canons of the major religions of the Middle East - have generated complex interpretations in cultures as diverse as early Judaism, classical Islam, medieval Europe, Africa, China, Iran and the United States. In the American context, unusually rich for religious experimentation, such motifs have given rise to prophetic visions and millennial hopes. What is the history of Millennialism? In what ways can patterns or phenomena that link the four faiths be discerned? Why has Millennialism so powerfully excited the human imagination within this monotheistic context? In seeking to answer these questions, this book demonstrates that the shared apocalyptic legacy among all four traditions has helped to shape not just the doctrines of these religious communities but also major currents in human history from the rise of new religions to political revolution.
Imagining the End
Visions of Apocalypse from the Ancient Middle East to Modern America