- List of Contributors
- What Is Apocalyptic Literature?
- Apocalyptic Prophecy
- The Inheritance of Prophecy in Apocalypse
- Wisdom and Apocalypticism
- Scriptural Interpretation in Early Jewish Apocalypses
- Apocalyptic Literature and the Study of Early Jewish Mysticism
- Dreams and Visions in Early Jewish and Early Christian Apocalypses and Apocalypticism
- Social-Scientific Approaches to Apocalyptic Literature
- Jewish Apocalyptic Literature as Resistance Literature
- Apocalypse and Empire
- A Postcolonial Reading of Apocalyptic Literature
- The Rhetoric of Jewish Apocalyptic Literature
- Early Christian Apocalyptic Rhetoric
- Deconstructing Apocalyptic Literalist Allegory
- Apocalyptic Determinism
- Apocalyptic Dualism
- Apocalyptic Ethics and Behavior
- Apocalypse and Torah in Ancient Judaism
- Apocalypticism and Christian Origins
- Descents to Hell and Ascents to Heaven in Apocalyptic Literature
- Apocalypses among Gnostics and Manichaeans
- The Imagined World of the Apocalypses
- Messianism as a Political Power in Contemporary Judaism
- Apocalypticism and Radicalism
- Apocalypse and Violence
- Apocalypticism in Contemporary Christianity
- Apocalypse and Trauma
- Apocalypticism and Popular Culture
- Scriptural and Ancient Texts
- Subject Index
Abstract and Keywords
Drawing on deconstructive literary theory, this chapter explores how apocalyptic allegories suppress their literary production; it focuses on the emergence of an increasingly popular form of “literalist allegory” whereby the transcendent truth of present political events are allegorically provided by apocalyptic texts. As an example, it explores the connection made between Osama bin Laden and the Whore of Babylon at the time of his death. Turning back to the literary features of Revelation 17–18, the Whore’s evil is shown to be constructed through the juxtaposition of incompatible social roles and affects, including those of the intended audience; like the empire the figure is meant to criticize, both self and other are subsumed by it. The same subreptive structure is shown to be at work in the literalist allegory that equates bin Laden and the Whore.
Keywords: Osama bin Laden, Whore of Babylon, literalist allegory, apocalypticism, apocalyptic imagery, politics, political literalism, apocalyptic literature, deconstructive literary theory, subreption, empire
Erin Runions is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Pomona College. She takes up analysis of apocalypse and politics in her book, The Babylon Complex: Theopolitical Fantasies of War, Sex, and Sovereignty, as well as in her articles “Biblical Promise and Threat in U.S. Imperialist Rhetoric, before and after 9.11,” in The Scholar and Feminist Online, and “Desiring War: Apocalypse, Commodity Fetish, and the End of History,” in The Bible and Critical Theory.
Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.
If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.