When Time Shall Be No More / Edition 1

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

New Republic - Anthony Grafton
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.
Washington Post Book World - Martin Gardner
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.
Village Voice Literary Supplement - L. S. Klepp
Splendid... [A] compelling cultural history.
James Gilbert
This is one of the most important and impressive books I have ever read in American cultural history. It is richly researched, ably argued, exhaustive in its coverage of the subject of apocalyptic belief in the United States, yet a constant revelation. Indeed, it amounts to the discovery of what many of us in this field have halfway understood but never quite realized, that the dominion of prophecy and 'end-time' religion is vast and of utmost importance in understanding the whole of American culture. It will scarcely be possible now not to see the importance of this fringe culture that affects millions of Americans and which, from time to time, finds itself near the very center.
George Marsden
It is a work of high quality in every respect and is as good as anything I know of on the subject. In addition to writing well, the author is judicious and insightful in his judgments and maintains a tone of seeking understanding rather than, as do most writers on such topics, taking cheap shots at easy targets. Also and importantly, I found the book engaging and was eager to keep reading.
Nathan O. Hatch
This is not a facile study, attempting to draw large and arresting conclusions from a mere sample of the evidence. Boyer committed himself to an intense study of popular prophetic belief and the result is a learned, persuasive, and nuanced study of a very important subject. The book is inherently interesting and superbly written.
New Republic

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

Washington Post Book World

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

Village Voice Literary Supplement

Splendid... [A] compelling cultural history.
— L. S. Klepp

New Republic
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
Washington Post Book World
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
Village Voice Literary Supplement
Splendid... [A] compelling cultural history.
— L. S. Klepp
Booknews
Boyer immersed himself in the literature of prophecy to study its content and implications. He writes in the preface: "...one cannot fully understand the American public's response to a wide range of international and domestic issues without bearing in mind that millions of men and women view world events and trends, at least in part, through the refracting lens of prophetic belief." Recent events in Waco, Texas support the need for understanding of this current in American thinking. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674951297
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1994
  • Series: Studies in Cultural History Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 504
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Boyer was Merle Curti Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
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Table of Contents

Preface

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

Notes

Acknowledgements

Credits

Index

Illustrations follow pages 144 and 280

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