Are we done yet?

According to the main page of Wiki, on this day in 1844 the Millerites predicted Christ’s return to our vale of tears here on Earth.

The Millerites were, as you might know, the followers of William Miller, a well-off farmer in upstate NY who believed in the coming Second Advent of Jesus Christ in the time period of 1843-4. He based this, not too surprisingly, on information he gleaned from the Book of Daniel and also Revelations.

There's a rich tradition of using the allegorical language used in the Bible to describe current events and forecast future occurrences. While no doubt a fun hobby, it's a little silly. The prophets and apocalyptics in the Bible were describing their current political situations and social milieu. As was traditional, they'd describe their political/religious sermon in terms of a dream or vision---one which they couldn't understand---then that dream would be explained by some figure of authority. Angel, God, what have you. The symbolism would be fairly obvious to the prophet's contemporary audience. To us, hearing about 4 horrific beasts sounds mythical but 2200 years ago every adult would realize that they represented the dread empires of Babylon, Media, Persia and Greece. Tomato, tomahto.

Apocalypticism represented a change from the view of the prophets that suffering was punishment for sin. After all, the prophets came from a tradition wherein Judaism was transcendent. God intervened in their liberation from Egypt by parting the Red Sea and drowning tens of thousands of Egyptians. Proving quite strongly that praying to the right god is a serious matter. However after the Northern Kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722BC and the Southern Kingdom in 586BC by the Babylonians, it became a lot more difficult to convince followers that they were "the chosen people."

Apocalypticism taught that for a limited time, for reasons unknown, God had chosen to grant ascendancy to Satan but that He'd return and at that time---hopefully soon---sinners and Satan-collaborators would be judged and punished. It was a very smart way to deal with the sad state of affairs for the Jews of Palestine. After all, with this view anyone that was successful---which meant the Assyrians, Egyptians, Greeks, Persians and especially the Babylonians (as well as the Hebrews that helped them)---were by definition minions of evil and would eventually be punished. That's a source of comfort, small as it might be, in a world that had royally fucked them over for 150 years. That's a long time to believe that you're a chosen people when you're dressed in rags, don't have enough to eat and are being ordered around by a foreign governor.

Apocalypticism originated with the Maccabean Revolt around 150BC when the Jews of Palestine were being heavily persecuted by Syrians. This was the period of time in which the Book of Daniel was believed to be written, though Daniel actually lived 350 years earlier. While he was no doubt in life a rabbi of the traditional prophet stamp, his writings are in the apocalyptic camp and as such resemble those of Jesus and John the Baptist--two rabbis who have had vast influence on modern religious thought.

Anyway... I seem to have departed quite a bit from my original topic. I had intended to write about the Millerites and their influence on modern life in the form of the Seventh Day Adventists and the Jehovah's Witnesses. Oops.


Into the Light said…
I have to ask... What?????

Does someone need a hug....
utenzi said…
I believe those to be the words of a donkey, a beast of old, and I forever deny the possibility of parfait substituting for an onion.
Into the Light said…
Words to live by! Good job!
GA Girl said…
Don't you know the Bible and all versions are the word of God? The writers of the King James version would have been smited if they wrote down something not in keeping with the Word. Tsk tsk - no heaven for you!
GA Girl said…
Have you heard the latest? The wealthy have been smiled upon by God and deserve all they have, the poor are bad people.
SassyAssy said…
Well that was quite interesting. I am sure the slaying on the original pathway would have been equally so. A little first hand knowledge??
utenzi said…
Slaying? I had no intention to kill anything, Sassy.

As for first hand knowledge, definitely not. I've never been a member of any church or religious organization, though of course I know many people who are---or were members.

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