Revolution and the Millennium: China, Mexico, and Iran

By James F. Rinehart | Go to book overview

1
Apocalyptic Prophecy to Millenarian Revolution

The he idea of a messiah, or deliverer, who will miraculously and abruptly someday return to earth and usher in a utopian, paradisiacal world of justice and harmony is a fundamental tenet of Judeo-Christian doctrine. In its strictly religious connotation, millenarianism refers to a thousand years and has its origins in Christ's prophesied reign in person, on earth, biblically foretold in the twentieth chapter of Revelation. The concept of messianism is the belief in a messiah, or liberator, who will bring about heaven on earth. The earliest known written reference to a messianic prophecy is in the Old Testament Book of Daniel, written around 165 B.C.1

Besides its Judeo-Christian tradition, millenarianism has also been used as a descriptor for the idea of Mahdiship -- the belief in the return of God's messenger to earth (the Mahdi) -- common to the Shi'ite and Sunni sects of Islam. 2

Islamic millenarianism is similar to the Christian form. Nonetheless, we should acknowledge some differences. Christians anticipate the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time. Muslims, on the other hand, expect that the Mahdi will "appear" or "rise" in response to an unbearable secular authority within society. The Mahdi's role is salvation through purification -- a return to the sacred teachings of true Islam. 3 In addition, Moslems do not anticipate a thousand-year reign of the Mahdi following his return to earth. 4

Millenarianism has also been identified as an important element of many traditional religions in Asia, Africa, the South Pacific region, and the preconquest Americas. 5 Indeed, it has been argued that few societies may be found in the world that do not possess a belief in the return of a culture hero in some form who will save society. 6

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Revolution and the Millennium: China, Mexico, and Iran
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 12
  • 1 - Apocalyptic Prophecy to Millenarian Revolution 17
  • Notes 33
  • 2 - Imperialism and Upheaval: China, Mexico, and Iran 41
  • Notes 57
  • 3 - Preparatory Function 63
  • Notes 103
  • 4 - A Platforin for Leadership 117
  • Notes 144
  • 5 - The Therapeutic Function 151
  • Notes 168
  • Conclusion 173
  • Notes 178
  • Bibliography 179
  • Index 191
  • About the Author *
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