- 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
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.
Philip Esler, a specialist in the social-scientific interpretation of biblical texts, is the Portland Chair in New Testament Studies at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham, UK. His books include Conflict and Identity in Romans: The Social Setting of Paul's Letter and Sex, Wives, and Warriors: Reading Biblical Narrative with Its Ancient Audience.
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