Writing the Rapture: Prophecy Fiction in Evangelical America

Overview

For the past twenty years, evangelical prophecy novels have been a powerful presence on American bestseller lists. Emerging from a growing conservative culture industry, the genre dramatizes events that many believers expect to occur at the end of the age - the rapture of the saved, the rise of the Antichrist, and the fearful tribulation faced by those who are "left behind."
Seeking the forces that drove the unexpected success of the Left Behind novels, Crawford Gribben traces ...

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Overview

For the past twenty years, evangelical prophecy novels have been a powerful presence on American bestseller lists. Emerging from a growing conservative culture industry, the genre dramatizes events that many believers expect to occur at the end of the age - the rapture of the saved, the rise of the Antichrist, and the fearful tribulation faced by those who are "left behind."
Seeking the forces that drove the unexpected success of the Left Behind novels, Crawford Gribben traces the gradual development of the prophecy fiction genre from its eclectic roots among early twentieth-century fundamentalists. The first rapture novels came onto the scene at the high water mark of Protestant America. From there, the genre would both witness the defeat of conservative Protestantism and participate in its eventual reconstruction and return, providing for the renaissance of the evangelical imagination that would culminate in the Left Behind novels.
Yet, as Gribben shows, the rapture genre, while vividly expressing some prototypically American themes, also serves to greatly complicate the idea of American modernity-assaulting some of its most cherished tenets. Gribben concludes with a look at "post-Left Behind" rapture fiction, noting some works that were written specifically to counter the claims of the best-selling series. Along the way, he gives attention not just to literary fictions, but to rapture films and apocalyptic themes in Christian music. Writing the Rapture is an indispensable guide to this flourishing yet little understood body of literature.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Gribben provides rich analytical context in this compelling and a much-needed historical look at prophecy fiction. Writing the Rapture brings both the popular and trans-Atlantic side of the history of dispensationalism to life."—Amy Frykholm, author of Rapture Culture: Left Behind in Evangelical America

"Crawford Gribben has accomplished an unusual feat in this fine book: he has shown why apparently "ephemeral" literature should be taken seriously and why doing so allows for very serious reflection on American religious history in general. Gribben, from Ireland, has written wisely and well on a profoundly American phenomenon." —Mark Noll, Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

"How have novels depicting the end times become so popular in contemporary America? Crawford Gribben analyses the process, carefully and sympathetically, in terms of the changing evangelical perceptions of the twentieth century." —David Bebbington, Professor of History, University of Stirling.

"Gribben's book is a must-read for any scholar interested in prophecy fiction specifically and twentieth and twenty-first-century Protestant fiction more generally. ...This book will become a standard work for all interested in more contemporary Protestant publishing. Religious and cultural historians, as well as literary critics, will find great rewards nestled on almost every page of his work." —American Historical Review

"Gribben's study is commendable for its clear descriptions of the early development and later phenomenal success of fictional depictions of the rapture. It undertakes the complicated task of placing the novels against the backdrop of American evangelical and fundamentalist traditions, maintaining a balance of perspectives throughout."—H-Pentecostalism: H-Net Reviews

"The most comprehensive and informative examination to date of 'prophecy fiction'... Writing the Rapture is a must read for anyone with a scholarly interest in prophecy fiction, with the evolution of dispensationalism, or with the history of American evangelicalism." —Nova Religio

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195326604
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/2/2009
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Crawford Gribben is Professor of Early Modern British History School of History and Anthropology at Queen's University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 3

1 The Eclectic Roots of Prophecy Fiction 27

2 The Orthodox Consolidation of Prophecy Fiction 47

3 Prophecy Fiction and the Second World War 67

4 Prophecy Fiction and the Cold War 87

5 Prophecy Fiction and Evangelical Political Reengagement 107

6 The Left Behind Phenomenon 129

7 Prophecy Fiction after Left Behind 145

Conclusion 167

Glossary 171

Notes 175

Bibliography 219

Index 252

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