I’m currently reading the book, The Continuum History of Apocalypticism, edited by Bernard J. McGinn, John J. Collins, and Stephen J. Stein (2003). This book consists of three main parts: (1) 8 article on the origins of apocalypticism in the ancient world; (2) 7 articles on apocalyptic traditions from late antiquity to cs 1800 C.E.; and (3) 10 articles on apocalypticism in the modern age. This book is a condensation of The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism, 3 vols (1998). As the title of the book indicates, the topic of apocalyptic or apocalyptic movements may be the most continuous literary genre from ancient to modern times.
Since the word “apocalypticism” is ambiguous, the authors of this book have not attempted to impose a strict definition of apocalypticism, but to include a broad range of materials that may be regarded as apocalyptic in various aspects. For example, Richard J. Clifford traces the roots of apocalypticism in ancient Near Esastern myth, whereas Anders Hultgard provides an exposition of Persian apocalypticism.
In my view, the articles in this book do an excellent work on the variety of the genre “apocalypticism.” Their works invite us to think about the following questions: “How would you define the genre of apocalypticism?” “What do you see in both ancient and modern writings that could be cateorized to the genre?” Like all other encyclopedia contribute to their own fields, this book contributes to the discussion on the literature of apocalypticism.
The editors see that apocalypticism, throughout the history, not only has been the source of hope and courage for the oppressed, but also has given rise to fanaticism and millenialism. The following quotation may explain well their goal for collecting the articles to this book:
The essays in this volume seek neither to apologize for the extravagances of apocalytic thinkers nor to excuse the perverse actions of some of their followers. Rather, they strive to understand a powerful, perhaps even indipensable, element in the history of Western religions that has been the source of both good and evil, and still is today.
Part 1: The Origins of Apocalypticism in the Ancient World
1. The Roots of Apocalypticism in Near Eastern Myth (Richard J. Clifford, S.J.)
2. Persian Apocalypticism (Anders Hultgard)
3. From Prophecy to Apocalypticism: The Expectation of the End (John J. Collins)
4. Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls (Florentino Garcia Martinez)
5. Messianism and Apocalypticism (James C. VanderKam)
6. The Eschatology of Jesus (Dale C. Allison, Jr.)
7. Paul and Apocalyptic Eschatology (M. C. de Boer)
8. The Book of Revelation (Adela Yarbro Collins)
Part 2: Apocalyptic Traditions from Late Antiquity to ca 1800 C.E.
9. Apocalypticism in Early Christian Theology (Brian E. Daley, S.J.)
10. Byzantine Apocalypses (David Olster)
11. Apocalypticism and Church Reform, 1100-1500 (Bernard McGinn)
12. Radical Apocalyptic Movement in the Late Middle Ages (Gian Luca Potesta)
13. Images of Hope and Despair: Western Apocalypticism ca. 1500-1800 (Robin Barnes)
14. Jewish Apocalypticism, 670-1670 (Mishe Idel)
15. Isalamic Apocalypticism in the Classic Period (Said Amir Arjomand)
Part 3: Apocalypticism in the Modern Ages
16. Apocalypticism in Central and South American Colonialism (Alain Milhou)
17. Apocalypticism in Colonial North America (Reiner Smolinski)
18. Apocalypticism in Mainstream Protestantism, 1800 to the Present (James H. Moorhead)
19. Apocalypticism Outside the Mainstream in the United States (Stephen J, Stein)
20. The Growth of Fundamentalist Apocalyptic in the United States (Paul Boyer)
21. Apocalyptic Movement in Latin America in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Robert M. Levine)
22. The Messianism of Success in Contemporary Judaism (Aviezer Ravitzky)
23. The Resurgence of Apocalyptic in Modern Isalm (Abba Amanat)
24. Apocalypticism in Modern Western Europe (Sandra L. Zimdars-Swartz and Paul F. Zimdars-Swartz)
25. Apocalypticism in Eastern Europe (J. Eugene Clay)