The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism
Seventh-Day Adventists, Melanesian cargo cults, David Koresh's Branch Davidians, and the Raelian UFO religion would seem to have little in common. What these groups share, however, is a millennial orientation-the audacious human hope for a collective salvation, which may be either heavenly or earthly. While many religions feature a belief in personal salvation, millennial faiths involve the expectation that salvation will be accomplished for an entire group by a superhuman agent, with or without human collaboration. While the term "millennialism" is drawn from Christianity, it is a category that is used to study religious expressions in diverse cultures, religious traditions, and historical periods. Sometimes, as with the American Millerite movement, millennialism expresses itself benignly. Other times, as in the Branch Davidians' showdown with the FBI in Waco, these movements turn violent. This handbook will offer readers an in-depth look at both the theoretical underpinnings of the study of millennialism and its many manifestations across history and cultures. The book will begin with a section that lays out the four different types of millennialism and will then move on to examine millennialism in a wide variety of places and times, from ancient millennial movements to modern apocalyptic movements. This handbook will be a valuable resource for scholars of religious studies, sociology, psychology, history, and new religious movements.
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