Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Dominion of God: Christendom and Apocalypse in the Middle Ages

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Dominion of God: Christendom and Apocalypse in the Middle Ages

Article excerpt

Dominion of God: Christendom and Apocalypse in the Middle Ages. By Brett Edward Whalen. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2009, Pp. vi, 328. $29.95.)

From the time when Jesus told his disciples that it was not for them to know the times or the seasons of the last days, anyone who has tried to foretell the Antichrist's identities has demonstrated the wisdom of Jesus' instruction by making failed predictions which often have significant social implications. Brett Edward Whalen traces the development of apocalypticism in the Western church and empire from the ninth-century arrival of the Latin translation of Pseudo-Methodius's Apocalypse until the failed prophecies of John of Rupescissa in the 1330's.

At one level, Whalen provides us a dense but readable survey of medieval apocalypticism, though one which only marginally advances the work of scholars such as Bernard McGinn or Richard Emmerson. He provides a particularly useful study of the place of futuristic eschatology in the Franciscan controversies over poverty. The significance of Whalen's work, however, is not in its study of apocalyptic thinking, but in the correlation of the rise and fall of medieval apocalypticism with the rise and fall of the imperial papacy and the simultaneous rise and fall of Western power in Palestine and the rest of the Eastern Mediterranean.

The first of these nexus of imperialism, apocalypticism, and militarism was marked by the "great schism" of 1054 between the Eastern and Western Church, and ultimately the first crusade of 1095-1099. The subsequent loss of significant portions of the Holy Land and the failed crusades of the twelfth century culminated in the detailed structural prophecies of Joachim of Fiore and his encouragement of the unsuccessful crusade of 1187-1192 (and the participation of Richard I of England). Joachim's Sabbath Age became one of the major ideas behind the identity of the Franciscans and their evangelical poverty, the consolidation of papal power under Innocent III, the fourth Lateran council, and the abortive fifth crusade of 1217-1221. By the middle of the thirteenth century, the house of cards created by the conjunction of the imperial papacy, a great world transformation predicted for 1260 (that did not happen) , and the adventurism of the Frankish nobility fell, as a result of the loss of the kingdom of Jerusalem to the Egyptians, the recapture of Constantinople by Michael VIII Palaiologus, and the coming storm of the Mongol invasion. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.