Messianic Revolution: Radical Religious Politics to the End of the Second Millennium

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9780809068869: Messianic Revolution: Radical Religious Politics to the End of the Second Millennium

From Renaissance Messianism to the Aryan Nation, Apocalyptic Political Movements--Their Attractions and Dangers.

On April 19, 1993, at least seventy-four people lost their lives near Waco, Texas; it has been clear to most Americans that the followers of David Koresh and the federal agents outside his compound inhabited two different conceptual worlds. Neither journalists nor law-enforcement experts nor the public seemed aware of the rich tradition of messianic, revolutionary politics behind groups like Koresh's: this is the history, stretching back to the Middle Ages, that is the subject of Messianic Revolution.

David S. Katz and Richard H. Popkin show how the beliefs of many fringe, distressed, and disenfranchised Christians have been transmitted across a millennium. They offer lucid explanations of why and how this apocalyptic strain found especially fertile ground in the New World, and throw new light on the many strands of Jewish and Christian biblical interpretation woven into this complex, fascinating history.

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On April 19,1993, at least seventy-four people lost their lives near Waco, Texas, in the confrontation between the followers of David Koresh and the federal agents outside his compound. These groups, clearly, inhabited two different conceptual worlds. Two years later, the Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed by people who related the act to what had happened in Waco. Yet both then and now, it seemed that neither journalists nor law-enforcement experts nor the public was aware of the rich tradition of messianic, revolutionary politics behind groups like Koresh's, a history that stretches back, unbroken, to the early Middle Ages.

In this fascinating study, two historians explore that tradition, showing how the beliefs of many fringe, distressed, disenfranchised, or purely mystical Christians and Jews have been transmitted across a millennium. Professors David Katz and Richard Popkin's Messianic Revolution offers a strong and lucid explanation of why and how this apocalyptic strain found especially fertile ground in the New World, and it throws new light on the many strands of biblical interpretation, both Jewish and Christian, that are woven into this complex, fascinating history.

About the Author:

David S. Katz, professor of history at Tel Aviv University, has written many books on the history of religious ideas. Richard H. Popkin is professor emeritus of philosophy at Washington University and adjunct professor at UCLA.

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