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This book makes available major texts in the Christian apocalyptic literature form the 4th to the 16th centuries. The apocalyptic tradition is that of traditional prophecy based on revelation and concerned with the end of the world. Even an age such as ours characterized by its scientific and rationalistic outlook has strong elements of literal apocalypticism found in fundamentalist and charismatic groups. The popular success of Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth is evidence of this. Also the present hunger for apocalypse has adopted a variety of secular disguises typified by Heilbroner's An Inquiry into the Human Prospect. Contemporary theologians like Kasemann, Pannenberg, Rahner, Moltmann and others have devoted much of their work to the meaning of apocalyptic thought. This is a collection which can show the traditional roots of this contemporary phenomenon.
Dr. Bernard McGinn says in his introduction, these treatises and letters have been chosen because of the way in which they manifest how beliefs about the imminent end affected the lives of their adherents..." Perhaps the task for us today is that by seeing how the lives of Lactantius, the monk Adso, Joachim of Fiore, The Spiritual Franciscans and Savonarola were affected by their apocalyptic vision we can recognize how our lives are being affected by the contemporary prophetic sense of the end of history. [via]