1680: Apocalypse and Modernity

The years between 1675 and 1685 were marked by repeated catastrophes, involving wars and revolts, dearths and plagues, and unprecedented weather conditions. Not surprisingly then, across Christian Europe, many believers imagined the fast approaching end of the existing world. It was in 1678 that the first part of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress described the simple [Read More…]

1680: Revolts in America

I have been posting on the catastrophic years around 1680, when climate-induced changes vastly increased social tensions, spawning revolts and social crises. The 1670s was also a turbulent period in North America itself, and weather played its role – as how could it not? In 1676, Nathaniel Bacon led his famous revolt in Virginia, which [Read More…]

1680: The Limits of Christendom

I recently described the tumultuous years 1675-1685, and how they shaped the future of Europe and North America. Here, I want to explore the implications for the politics of religion in this era, and for some of the stereotypes we might have. Everyone knows that religion played a vital role in the Early Modern era: [Read More…]

1680: Climates of Revolt

Any account of religion in the pre-Modern world has to take account of economic circumstances, and especially the way in which climate change and weather affected farming and trade. In my last post, I described the horrendous conditions of the decade after 1675,  an especially cold period within the larger framework of the Little Ice [Read More…]

1680: Crops, Catastrophes, and Religious Crises

This is about how we write religious history, and also about a dimension of that history that we need to think through. When we study the history of religions, we usually focus on significant moments of change – great revivals, conflicts, persecutions, awakenings, and reformations. In my next few columns, I am going to suggest [Read More…]

Why Gorgias Matters

This post concerns a wonderful and too-little known resource for Christian history. If you are a specialist in these specific areas, you will be baffled that anyone could make such an obvious point As such specialists are quite rare, I hope that others might find the information of use. In the first millennium (and more) [Read More…]

Christians in the Arab Gulf

I have been posting about Islamic apocalyptic mythologies that borrowed heavily from Christian precedents. That religious overlap is a lengthy and complex story. When Islam emerged in the seventh century, it did so in an Arabian world with a strong presence of both Christianity and Judaism. The politics of the region have made it difficult [Read More…]

The Hadith and the Jews

I have been discussing the Islamic Hadith, and the apocalyptic traditions found in the section on “Turmoil and Portents” in the collection Sahih Muslim, “Pertaining To Turmoil And Portents Of The Last Hour” (Kitab Al-Fitan Wa Ashrat As-Sa’Ah). Specifically, I have suggested that many of these ideas stem from Christian sources, from the late seventh [Read More…]

Turmoil and Portents

Although the Islamic Hadith are sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, many of them probably come from some decades after his time, and they are a goldmine of information on religious debate and interchange in these years. I have been posting about one apocalyptic section of a collection that is known as the Turmoil and [Read More…]

Dueling Apocalypses

I have been posting about some apocalyptic sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, which are found in the collections known as the Hadith. Such sayings are numerous, and at so many points, they echo the lore found among contemporary Christians. Taken with those Christian documents, in fact, they suggest the depth of the apocalyptic fascination [Read More…]