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Messianic Revolution: Radical Religious Politics to the End of the Second Millennium Hardcover – April, 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 303 pages
  • Publisher: Hill & Wang Pub; 1 edition (April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809068850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809068852
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,473,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Katz, Professor of History at the University of Tel Aviv, and Popkin, Professor Emeritus of the History and Philosophy of Religion at UCLA, teamed to trace the history of radical millennial religious movements from the Renaissance to the present. Approximately half of the text deals with the European background of such movements and the other half with subsequent American developments. Their history brings together a potpourri of interesting people who have been fascinated by the interpretation of biblical prophecy, including Pico, Paracelsus, Sir Isaac Newton, Swedenborg, William Miller, Pat Robertson and David Koresh. The distinctive position of each successive prophetic interpreter is clearly identified in relation to those who came before and those who followed. The authors carefully note the political effects of such biblical prophecy. Katz and Popkin maintain that millennialism has been an important breeding ground for radical political ideologies on both the left and the right. They argue persuasively that political movements rooted in millennial ideas have influenced both past and present political behavior and that an understanding of how this ideology operates is important to an appreciation of the contemporary situation. The authors suggest, furthermore, that an understanding of millennialism is essential to getting a grasp on much of the current American religious right and the militia movements. Katz and Popkin have produced a book that is clear, concise and comprehensive.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Katz (history, Tel Aviv Univ.) and Popkin (history/philosophy, UCLA) present a condensed overview of the development of millennialist and messianic ideas since the Renaissance and the influence of these ideas on radical politics. Though not exhaustive, their survey ranges from Joachim of Fiore and the Anabaptists of 16th-century Germany to Isaac Newton to the Branch Davidians. The authors purpose is to examine groups and individuals who believe in the imminent return of Christ and insist on fundamental social change in preparation for His coming. Their thesis supports the idea that law enforcement agencies must be aware of radical groups that are inspired to extreme action by their religious convictions. One criticism: millennialist and messianic are used too loosely and interchangeably, bypassing new understandings among millennialist scholars. Nevertheless, this is a useful addition to a growing literature accessible to the nonacademic reader, to be supplemented with such works as Paul Boyers When Time Shall Be No More (Belknap, 1992). Recommended for academic and large public libraries.William P. Collins, Library of Congress
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Eric Miller on April 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Any brief review carrying a theme through many centuries will cover certain aspects in an overly simplified or superficial manner. But the test is if in the end the information provided grants us insight that would otherwise have been lacking. "Messianic Revolution" by Katz and Popkin stands up well to this test. Although at certain points early on the book seems to drag, by the second half all the pieces tie together well. The reader gains an understanding of where many messianic concepts current today had their origin. Such understanding can on the one hand break down prejudice caused by ignorance, on the other hand it can give the reader healthy caution in reviewing his own religious concepts. It is important to note the use and constant potential abuse of prophetic interpretations.
If we understand historically where we came from and how we arrived at this point at the turn of the millennium, we can have our eyes that much wider open as to what will or will not occur in the next.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Werner Cohn on February 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The authors show commendable effort in tackling such an ambitious project. Unfortunately their scholarship is often spotty. One example of many: they base their discussion of Jehovah's Witnesses on superficial, secondary, non-scholarly sources. They state that Jehovah's Witnesses "reject the use of tobacco and alcohol, and will not accept blood transfusions." (P. 158) This is more-or-less correct regarding blood transfusions, but the authors of this book are obviously not aware of the fact that the scholarly literature concerning Jehovah's Witnesses documents widespread alcoholism among the Witness leadership. Similarly, on page 456 and elsewhere, the authors make sweeping statements concerning John Calvin, statements that they fail to document, and which, in fact, constitute gross oversimplifications. On the other hand, the authors, with more attention to research and more mature reflection, are no doubt capable of writing a much better book some time in the future. They need to go back to the library !
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ricky Hunter on September 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book was enjoyable to read. Books looking at messianic beliefs through history seem to be a burgeoning market. A better one covering the same material is Norman Cohn's The Pursuit of the Millenium. As well, there are books that cover a very specific part of the picuture, such as Michael Barkun's Religion and the Rascist Right, examining British-Isrealism and Christian Identity. Part of the charm of Messianic Revolution is its looseness in defining radical religious politics. It often seems the authors include an idea or group simply because it interests them and then they shoe horn it gently into the narrative. This may not make for a authoritative book but it does keep the story and subject interesting and should lead the reader to read more on this subject.
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