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Apocalypse: From Antiquity to the Empire of Modernity / Edition 1

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Overview

For most of us, "Apocalypse" suggests the cataclysmic end of the world. Yet in Greek "apocalypse" means "revelation," and the real subject of the Book of Revelation is how the sacred arises in history at a moment of crisis and destiny. With origins in ancient religions, the apocalyptic has been a transformative force from the time of the Crusades, through the Reformation, the French Revolution, and modern communism, all the way to the present-day "Islamic Jihad" and "War on Terror." In Apocalypse, John R. Hall explores the significance of apocalyptic movements and the role they have played in the rise of the West and "The Empire of Modernity."

This striking cross-disciplinary study offers a novel basis for rethinking our social order and its ambivalent relations to sacred history. Apocalypse will attract general readers seeking new understandings of the world in challenging times. Scholars and students will find a compelling synthesis that draws them into conversation with others interested in religion, theology, culture, philosophy, and phenomenology, as well as sociology, social theory, Western civilization, and world history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
ASA 2010 DistinguishedBook Award - Religion Section

"This learned and provocative study will long remain central in the discussions to follow."
Contemporary Sociology

"Hall's mastery of this literature enables him to construct of a new theory of modernity that has an explanatory power that is clear and compelling. Apocalypse is a dense work, rich in detail and information, that is well worth reading."
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

"A masterly account of a phenomenon that, far from passing out with the coming of modernity,seems intent on re-charging it with its own turbulent passions."
European Journal of Social Theory

"An extraordinarily erudite and readable book about the apocalyptic imaginary and its range over three millenia."
Review of Politics

"In this brilliantly conceived study, Hall not only presents a fascinating array of images about the end of time from antiquity to the present, but also forces us to rethink the role of apocalyptic thinking in the human imagination. This mind-bending study shows us that there is an apocalyptic strand to modernity and history, and will affect our own way of thinking about the global future."
Mark Juergensmeyer, University of California, Santa Barbara

"This is a necessary book. Theoretically sophisticated, historically erudite, Hall explains the contemporary crisis in a new way. Conflicts between the religious and the secular have given way to confrontations between sacred and profane. Apocalypse has entered fully into modern history, and it may be here to stay."
Jeffrey C. Alexander, Yale University

"The apocalyptic imagination, the idea that historical time could come to an end is indeed a fascinating one. Moreover, as we learn from John R. Hall's impressive study, this idea itself has a history which he traces across the centuries from Ancient Babylonia to contemporary America and Islamic radicalism. The book represents a highly illuminating analysis of the reality and power of social imaginations of time and the end of times."
Martin Riesebrodt, University of Chicago

"Anyone who has ever wondered 'What on earth is the world coming to?' should read Apocalypse. Few will fail to learn much from this masterly tour de force as John Hall takes us on a sometimes astonishing, occasionally chilling, and always gripping journey through history, explaining how alternative visions of time can herald alternative versions of The End."
Eileen Barker, London School of Economics

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745645087
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 8/3/2009
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

John R. Hall is Professor of Sociology at University of California, Davis

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements xi

1 Seeing through the Apocalypse 1

2 The Ancient Origins of History and the Apocalypse 9

Antecedents: time in its primordial and ancient enactments 13

History and apocalypse, connected at birth 17

Cosmos become dualism: Zoroastrianism 18

The ancient Israelites: covenant and apocalypse 19

The time of Jesus and the times of early Christianity 25

Islam, history, and jihad 35

The end of the beginning of modernity 41

3 Medieval Christendom and Its Others 44

Apocalypse, the sacred, and the secular 45

The medieval Roman Church, the Crusades, and heresy 48

Holy war 53

Crusaders against the Jews 55

The Crusades and heresies 57

Religious authority, the Cathar heresy, and the Albigensian Crusade 59

Heresies of asceticism and mysticism 61

Apocalypse as heresy 62

The Reformation and the religious realignment of European states 65

Trajectories of reformation 67

The apocalyptic lever 70

Religion, reformation, and nationalism 73

Conclusion 76

4 Apocalypse Re-formed 79

Modernizing temporality, identities, and everyday life 81

History and the apocalyptic 87

Apocalypse, exploration, colonization, migration 90

Before the Reformation 90

Colonies and migration in the wake of the Reformation 92

States containing the apocalyptic 94

England 95

France 103

Reprise: containment and progress 105

Secular rechanneling of the apocalyptic 108

Conclusion 118

5 Modernity and the Apocalyptic 119

Theorizing modern times 121

Lineages of the secular apocalyptic 132

Revolutionary communism and anarchism in Russia and China 134

Anticolonial messianic movements, terrorism, and guerrilla warfare 142

The dialectic offundamentalism and counterculture through the Cold War 147

American apocalyptics through the nineteenth century 147

Twentieth-century American fundamentalism and the rise of the Christian Right 152

Apocalyptic counterculture 156

Conclusion 159

6 Radical Islam and the Globalized Apocalypse 161

9/11, Iraq, and the problem of violence 165

Political violence and contemporary jihad 169

9/11 and al-Qaida 172

Ideology 174

Organization and modes of action 179

Oppositional milieu 181

Apocalyptic war and the established social order in the West 184

Policing modernity's empire 191

Conclusion 198

7 The Last Apocalypse? 200

Apocalypse as narrative 200

The apocalyptic and Western historical development 203

The end of history and the retheorization of modernity 207

The temporal structures of modernity 209

The diachronic axis of modernity 211

Modernities in the shadows of the diachronic 214

The last apocalypse 220

Notes 227

Bibliography 255

Index 276

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