The End Is Nigh: Failed Prophecy, Apocalypticism, and The Rationalization of Violence in New Religious Eschatologies

Christopher Partridge

in The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology

Published in print December 2007 |
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

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In popular discourse, apocalypticism has been the feature most often associated with new religious movements. In the theologies of many of the prominent new religions, end-time discourse is conspicuous. Several terms are used by scholars to discuss apocalyptic beliefs, notably apocalypticism, millennialism, and millenarianism, all of which overlap, clustering around the same general eschatological focus—the end of the present world. In the study of new religions, the term apocalypticism has tended to refer to catastrophism and, more often than not, to eschatological scenarios which, despairing of a political or religious transformation of the world, look to cataclysmic intervention of a divine, otherworldly, or superhuman kind. This article discusses millenarian adventism and failed prophecy, Jehovah's Witness eschatology, apocalypticism and violence involving Aum Shinrikyo in Japan, and eschatology and violence.

Keywords: Aum Shinrikyo; Japan; violence; millenarian adventism; failed prophecy; millennialism; apocalypticism; millenarianism; catastrophism

Article.  10078 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Religious Studies

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