Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Apocalypses: Prophecies, Cults, and Millennial Beliefs through the Ages

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Apocalypses: Prophecies, Cults, and Millennial Beliefs through the Ages

Article excerpt

Apocalypses: Prophecies, Cults, and Millennial Beliefs through the Ages. By Eugen Weber. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. 1999. Pp. vii, 294. $24.95.)

Eugen Weber first came to the attention of this reviewer in the pages of Action Francaise (1962), and he has been his prophet (see p. 87) ever since. In this case the author denies research in original sources to prove a point but rather proclaims his effort as a journey through the morass of materials that have accumulated under the name in the title. As interesting as the material is in itself, the author adds his special touch to make it all the more appetizing. Leon Bloy becomes "the bizarre Christian writer who expected a Second Coming any day after the 1870's." As might be expected in such a book, Nostradamus has the most entries, if the (excellent) index is to be believed. There is no entry for "pyramid," except in a note on Nostradamus in which it is stated, "Numerological interpretations of the great pyramid suggest the end of the world in 2001:"

The journey is not altogether haphazard. After some numerology about hundreds and thousands there are mini-courses in Scripture Studies, Patrology, Medieval Studies, and Renaissance-Reformation. The reform of the calendar by Pope Gregory XIII brings the delightful remark of Voltaire that Protestant mobs preferred their calendars to disagree with the sun than to agree with the Pope.

At about mid-book the author's area of specialty takes over with a plethora of French, and especially English, manifestations of Millenarian, apocalyptic, and utopian urges. …

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