This is advice followers of the big three book religions really need to follow. My own view is that we are dealing in such texts as Ezekiel or Revelation with a literary genre which only fools would read literally, or in expectation of discerning the future. All of the various apocalyptic texts of the collection we conveniently if inaccurately call the Bible — inaccurately because the term lends unity to a collection spanning centuries at the very least that manifestly lacks unity — refer more to the circumstances of their composition than to any timetable of eschatology. For more on that, see my Good Friday reading where I review Jonathan Kirsch A History of the End of the World (Harper San Francisco 2006).
I found it curious that Ian McEwan’s The day of judgment (referred from Arts & Letters Daily) does not mention Kirsch’s book, given how similar McEwan’s article is to Kirsch. Nonetheless, it is a very good article.
End-time thinking – the belief in a world purified by catastrophe – could once be dismissed as a harmless remnant of a more superstitious age. But with the rise of religious fundamentalism, prophets of apocalypse have become a new and very real danger, argues Ian McEwan.
Read the rest of this entry »