Vision and Violence argues that throughout Western history, the Apocalypse has changed nothing but its guisefrom God to Reason, to History, and then to Natureall the while holding us rapt with its prophecy of universal devastation. While in Judaism and Christianity it inspires efforts to uplift societies spiritually, the apocalyptic fantasy serves in secular thoughtas in today's environmental movementto bring about much-needed policy reforms.
Much of the book is devoted to an examination of the persistence of the apocalyptic heritage from ancient Greek and Hebrew civilizations, through the religious revivals of the Middle Ages and the Enlightenment belief in progress, to its importance in Hegelian and Bolshevik thought, and finally to its expression today in the resurgence of religious fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Mendel concludes his remarkable book with an appeal for the more modest and humane philosophy of the "repair of the world," which, he argues, is central to biblical teaching.
The late Arthur P. Mendel was Professor of History, University of Michigan, specializing in Russian intellectual history. His first book, Dilemmas of Progress in Tsarist Russia: Legal Marxism and Legal Populism, established him as one of the outstanding historians of his generation. Richard Landes is co-founder, with Stephen O'Leary, of the Center for Millennial Studies. He is also Associate Professor of History, Boston University, and author of Relics, Apocalypse, and the Deceits of History: Ademar of Chabannes, 989-1034.