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Millions of Americans take the Bible at its word and turn to like-minded local ministers and TV preachers, periodicals and paperbacks for help in finding their place in God's prophetic plan for mankind. And yet, influential as this phenomenon is in the worldview of so many, the belief in biblical prophecy remains a popular mystery, largely unstudied and little understood. When Time Shall Be No More offers for the first time an in-depth look at the subtle, pervasive ways in which prophecy belief shapes contemporary American thought and culture.
Belief in prophecy dates back to antiquity, and there Paul Boyer begins, seeking out the origins of this particular brand of faith in early Jewish and Christian apocalyptic writings, then tracing its development over time. Against this broad historical overview, the effect of prophecy belief on the events and themes of recent decades emerges in clear and striking detail. Nuclear war, the Soviet Union, Israel and the Middle East, the destiny of the United States, the rise of a computerized global economic order--Boyer shows how impressive feats of exegesis have incorporated all of these in the popular imagination in terms of the Bible's apocalyptic works. Reflecting finally on the tenacity of prophecy belief in our supposedly secular age, Boyer considers the direction such popular conviction might take--and the forms it might assume--in the post-Cold War era.
The product of a four-year immersion in the literature and culture of prophecy belief, When Time Shall Be No More serves as a pathbreaking guide to this vast terra incognita of contemporary American popular thought-a thorough and thoroughly fascinating index to its sources, its implications, and its enduring appeal.
Paul Boyer traces the roots and branches of the rich, strange complex of biblical exegesis and twisted journalism that he calls 'prophecy belief.' When Time Shall Be No More exhaustively describes a strange species of rabid predictions of the wrath to come.
— Anthony Grafton
A splendid, rigorously documented treatise, as up to date as the morning newspaper...No book provides more comprehensive information about the awesome degree to which Biblical literalism and prophetic fervor have invaded the hearts and minds of Americans, rich and poor, educated and ignorant...[Those] who read the book can laugh and weep.
— Martin Gardner
Splendid... [A] compelling cultural history.
— L. S. Klepp
Prologue: The Hidden World of Prophecy Belief
I. The Genre and Its Early Interpreters
1. Origins of the Apocalyptic
2. Rhythms of Prophecy Belief
3. The Premillennial Strand
II. Key Themes after World War II
4. The Atomic Bomb and Nuclear War
5. Ezekiel as the First Cold Warrior
6. The Final Chatisement of the Chosen
7. The United States in Prophecy
8. Antichrist, 666, and the Mark of the Beast
III. The Enduring Apocalyptic Vision
9. The Continuing Appeal of Prophecy Belief
10. Apocalyptic Portents in a Post-Cold War World
Illustrations follow pages 144 and 280