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The Oxford Handbook of Apocalyptic Literature,9780199856497
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The Oxford Handbook of Apocalyptic Literature



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Oxford University Press
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Apocalypticism arose in ancient Judaism in the last centuries BCE and played a crucial role in the rise of Christianity. It is not only of historical interest: there has been a growing awareness, especially since the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, of the prevalence of apocalyptic beliefs in the contemporary world. To understand these beliefs, it is necessary to appreciate their complex roots in the ancient world, and the multi-faceted character of the phenomenon of apocalypticism.

The Oxford Handbook of Apocalyptic Literature is a thematic and phenomenological exploration of apocalypticism in the Judaic and Christian traditions. Most of the volume is devoted to the apocalyptic literature of antiquity. Essays explore the relationship between apocalypticism and prophecy, wisdom and mysticism; the social function of apocalypticism and its role as resistance literature; apocalyptic rhetoric from both historical and postmodern perspectives; and apocalyptic theology, focusing on phenomena of determinism and dualism and exploring apocalyptic theology's role in ancient Judaism, early Christianity, and Gnosticism.

The final chapters of the volume are devoted to the appropriation of apocalypticism in the modern world, reviewing the role of apocalypticism in contemporary Judaism and Christianity, and more broadly in popular culture, addressing the increasingly studied relation between apocalypticism and violence, and discussing the relationship between apocalypticism and trauma, which speaks to the underlying causes of the popularity of apocalyptic beliefs. This volume will further the understanding of a vital religious phenomenon too often dismissed as alien and irrational by secular western society.

Author Biography

John J. Collins is Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale Divinity School.

Table of Contents


1. What is Apocalyptic Literature? - John J. Collins

Part I. The Literary and Phenomenological Context
2. Apocalyptic Prophecy - Stephen L. Cook
3. The Inheritance of Prophecy in Apocalypse - Hindy Najman
4. Wisdom and Apocalypticism - Matthew Goff
5. Scriptural Interpretation in Early Jewish Apocalypses - Alex P. Jassen
6. Apocalyptic Literature and the Study of Early Jewish Mysticism - Ra'anan Boustan and Patrick G. McCullough
7. Dreams and Visions in Early Jewish and Early Christian Apocalypses and Apocalypticism - Frances Flannery

Part II. The Social Function of Apocalyptic Literature
8. Social-Scientific Approaches to Apocalyptic Literature - Philip F. Esler
9. Jewish Apocalyptic Literature as Resistance Literature - Anathea Portier-Young
10. Apocalypse and Empire - Stephen J. Friesen
11. A Postcolonial Reading of Apocalyptic Literature - Daniel L. Smith-Christopher

Part III. Literary Features of Apocalyptic Literature
12. The Rhetoric of Jewish Apocalyptic Literature - Carol A. Newsom
13. Early Christian Apocalyptic Rhetoric - Greg Carey
14. Deconstructing Apocalyptic Literalist Allegory - Erin Runions

Part IV. Apocalyptic Theology
15. Apocalyptic Determinism - Mladen Popovic
16. Apocalyptic Dualism - Jörg Frey
17. Apocalyptic Ethics and Behavior - Dale C. Allison, Jr.
18. Apocalypse and Torah in Ancient Judaism - Matthias Henze
19. Apocalypticism and Christian Origins - Adela Yarbro Collins
20. Descents to Hell and Ascents to Heaven in Apocalyptic Literature - Jan N. Bremmer
21. Apocalypses amongst Gnostics and Manichaeans - Dylan M. Burns
22. The Imagined World of the Apocalypses - Stefan Beyerle

Part V. Apocalypse Now
23. Messianism as a Political Power in Contemporary Judaism - Motti Inbari
24. Apocalypticism and Radicalism - Christopher Rowland
25. Apocalypse and Violence - Catherine Wessinger
26. Apocalypticism in Contemporary Christianity - Amy Johnson Frykholm
27. Apocalypse and Trauma - Dereck Daschke
28. Apocalypticism and Popular Culture - Lorenzo DiTommaso


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