Timothy P. Weber

in The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology

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

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Millennialism is the belief that there will be a period of peace and righteousness on the earth associated with the Second Coming of Christ. Millennialism has taken various forms and been embraced with varying degrees of intensity throughout the history of Christianity. Millennialists cite Old Testament passages that describe a “peaceable kingdom” in which all God's covenantal promises are fulfilled, human society is transformed, and a new covenant is written on human hearts. The Book of Revelation contains both apocalyptic and prophetic elements, which complicates interpretation even more. Most early Christians struggled to make sense of it, as can be seen in the early church's difficulty in recognizing the book's canonical status. Over time, four ways of interpreting Revelation emerged: preterism, historicism, futurism, and idealism. There are two kinds of millennialism: premillennialism and postmillennialism. This article discusses millennialism and the history of millennial movements (the early church, the Middle Ages, the Protestant Reformation, and the modern period), as well as amillennialism as an alternative to millennialism.

Keywords: Christianity; millennialism; Book of Revelation; preterism; historicism; futurism; idealism; premillennialism; postmillennialism; amillennialism

Article.  8662 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion ; Religious Studies

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