Apocalyptic movements have been motors of religious—and secular—change throughout history. The origins of Christianity are inseparable from the apocalyptic spirit that consumed the Judeo-Hellenistic world in late antiquity. Albert Schweitzer in his highly influential The Quest of the Historical Jesus (1906), saw Jesus as the archetypical messianic prophet who expected to see the establishment of God’s rule on earth—as theologian John Riches puts it—through a “mighty act of divine intervention in history which would put an end to the evil age.” Muhammad’s original mission cannot be explained without reference to the apocalyptic admonitions, the foreseen calamities and terrors of the Day of Judgment described in the early suras (chapters) of the Koran “when mankind shall be like moths, besprinkled, when mountains shall be like tufts of wool…” [101:4-5] — Malise Ruthven, “Waiting for the Apocalypse: From the Romantics to Romney,” on the New York Review of Books blog. Read the whole thing here.
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