- Series: Studies in Cultural History (Book 10)
- Paperback: 488 pages
- Publisher: Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (January 1, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674951298
- ISBN-13: 978-0674951297
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 16 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #713,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture (Studies in Cultural History) Reprint Edition
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A splendid, rigorously documented treatise, as up to date as the morning newspaper...No book provides more comprehensive information about the awesome degree to which Biblical literalism and prophetic fervor have invaded the hearts and minds of Americans, rich and poor, educated and ignorant...[Those] who read the book can laugh and weep. (Martin Gardner Washington Post Book World)
Paul Boyer traces the roots and branches of the rich, strange complex of biblical exegesis and twisted journalism that he calls 'prophecy belief.' When Time Shall Be No More exhaustively describes a strange species of rabid predictions of the wrath to come. (Anthony Grafton New Republic)
Splendid... [A] compelling cultural history. (L. S. Klepp Village Voice Literary Supplement)
This is one of the most important and impressive books I have ever read in American cultural history. It is richly researched, ably argued, exhaustive in its coverage of the subject of apocalyptic belief in the United States, yet a constant revelation. Indeed, it amounts to the discovery of what many of us in this field have halfway understood but never quite realized, that the dominion of prophecy and 'end-time' religion is vast and of utmost importance in understanding the whole of American culture. It will scarcely be possible now not to see the importance of this fringe culture that affects millions of Americans and which, from time to time, finds itself near the very center. (James Gilbert, University of Maryland)
This is not a facile study, attempting to draw large and arresting conclusions from a mere sample of the evidence. Boyer committed himself to an intense study of popular prophetic belief and the result is a learned, persuasive, and nuanced study of a very important subject. The book is inherently interesting and superbly written. (Nathan O. Hatch, University of Notre Dame)
It is a work of high quality in every respect and is as good as anything I know of on the subject. In addition to writing well, the author is judicious and insightful in his judgments and maintains a tone of seeking understanding rather than, as do most writers on such topics, taking cheap shots at easy targets. Also and importantly, I found the book engaging and was eager to keep reading. (George Marsden, University of Notre Dame)
This is one of the most important and impressive books I have ever read in American cultural history. It is richly researched, ably argued, exhaustive in its coverage of the subject of apocalyptic belief in the United States, yet a constant revelation. Indeed, it amounts to the discovery of what many of us in this field have halfway understood but never quite realized, that the dominion of prophecy and 'end-time' religion is vast and of utmost importance in understanding the whole of American culture. It will scarcely be possible now not to see the importance of this fringe culture that affects millions of Americans and which, from time to time, finds itself near the very center.
--James Gilbert, University of Maryland --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Mr. Boyer also discusses the different strands of prophecy belief such as the passive and activist branches. The activist branches being those who actively seek to help bring about the end times by helping to fulfill percieved prophecies in order to bring about god's rapture as soon as possible as opposed to the passive branch that believes that people cannot affect god's plan and that the end is preordained by god and there is nothing that can change that plan. Both sides of this movement are well represented here and thoroughly discussed in an historical context, but this is the problem with the work also.
This book begs for a deeper look into the prophecy movements. Throughout the entire work I felt it needed something more like a psychological or sociological approach to go with the historical rendering. The book simply scratches the surface and leaves the reader wanting these deeper looks into the leaders and the millions of people who follow end time prophecies.
Another problem with the book is that the author tends to use the same sources over and over again. This means his chapter breaks do not really break anything at all. The book simply reads as one single strand which makes the breaks irrelevant and makes the reading tedious. The same authors and preaches are constantly quoted over and over again in each chapter which leaves no natural breaks in the reading.
To finish, I think this is a good starter to get any reader into this topic, but it is not a definitive work. This book leaves the reader wanting a deeper look into these movements. The reason I don't take off for this is the author is up front from the beginning that his book is not that deeper look. His is an historical look at this movement which leaves the deeper studies to others. I do give this work a high mark even with the problems it has because the book does deserve to be read. I recommend this book but with reservations.
If you believe bible prophecy exegesis, read this book to be amazed at the range of ideas proclaimed as certainties by prophecy preachers. If you think it's nonsense, or are unaware of it, read this book to understand a belief system, widely held by intelligent Americans, which affects national policy -- claims to be "the exceptional nation," to fight "the axis of evil," that "... the purpose of our great land is to rid this world of evil ..." --President Bush. (Paradox: prophecy preachers say human effort cannot rid the world of evil or improve the world, nothing can prevent God's plan for history, which includes continued growth of evil, The Tribulation and Armageddon; yet like other Americans they advocate a strong military defense for the nation.)
Google "bible prophecy" and see nearly six million hits. It's a hot topic.
Boyer spent years wading through a vast literature of bible prophecy writing in the U.S. since WW2. His extensive quotation saves us from the ordeal of reading any of it. The word "antichrist" appears in the Bible only in letters of John -- "even now there are many antichrists" 1 Jn 2.18 (that is, persons who deny Jesus is the Christ/Messiah). Theologians and preachers for 2000 years have built a huge edifice of speculation on this word, linking Gog from Ezekiel and The Beast from Revelation. In each generation, religious and political leaders have been labeled The Antichrist. Boyer wrote before LaHaye's "Left Behind" prophecy/fantasy novels (16 volumes, 1995-2007, 65 million copies, four films, a PC game). It's worthwhile to try to understand this persistent belief system about Rapture, Tribulation, the number of The Beast 666, Second Coming, Armageddon, The Millennium, Last Judgement. Failed predictions of the imminent end of the world (from Jesus and Paul to Pat Robertson and Edgar Whisenant), of a Russian invasion of Israel, of Nuclear Holocaust, have not diminished the power of prophecy preachers.
Boyer, history professor at the University of Wisconsin, grew up in the Brethren of Christ Church (Mennonite) in Dayton, a church founded by his grandfather. His memoir of his grandfather's mission is MISSION ON TAYLOR STREET: THE FOUNDING AND EARLY YEARS OF THE DAYTON BRETHREN IN CHRIST MISSION (1987). He quotes his grandfather (pgs 295, 447) saying in 1942 that the war was fulfillment of a prophecy of Jesus.