Apocalyptic Religion and Violence

Jamel Velji

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199759996
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Apocalyptic Religion and Violence

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  • Religious Studies
  • Comparative Religion
  • Islam



This chapter offers a working definition of the apocalyptic, followed by some of the apocalyptic's most important constituent components. Then, it concentrates on associations between these components and violence, illuminating how structures of the apocalyptic can be deployed to serve violent ends. Apocalyptic texts and movements alike demonstrate a tendency to split the world and its contents into absolute good and absolute evil. Dualistic thinking has been noted by many scholars as a quintessential element of religious violence. Furthermore, the chapter examines three interrelated processes connected to duality that aid in the transformation of apocalyptic thinking into violence against others. Apocalyptic duality is deepened through a sense of temporality that envisions all of time having led up to the unique moment in history in which only the elect exclusively possess the truth. Duality and utopia coalesce as motive forces for foreign intervention to “free” those who are “oppressed.”

Keywords: apocalyptic thinking; religious violence; dualistic thinking; apocalyptic duality; utopia

Article.  4184 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Comparative Religion ; Islam

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