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date: 16 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

One way to investigate the original meaning of biblical texts is through social-scientific interpretation, an area of historical criticism that utilizes ideas from anthropology, sociology, and social psychology. This chapter explores how social-scientific ideas and perspectives offer important insights on some apocalyptic texts. It explains how social-scientific research into “millennialism” provides a helpful mode of analysis for the content of apocalyptic texts. The chapter begins with a discussion of the sociology of knowledge, sectarianism, and millennialism. It then considers apocalyptic texts in a millennial perspective, the application of ideas and perspectives from Mediterranean anthropology to biblical texts, and apocalypses as a literature of resistance to imperial oppression. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the connection between “empire,” apocalyptic literature, and ethnic identity.

Keywords: apocalyptic literature, biblical texts, social-scientific interpretation, anthropology, sociology, millennialism, sectarianism, resistance, empire, ethnic identity

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