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Expecting the Apocalypse: My Idea for the Book

Instead of one long (and possibly laborious) thread on my current research for my scholarly monograph on Otherworldly Journeys, I’ve decided to talk about that work sporadically, here and there on the blog, over the course of the next couple of months.   I would like to give a greater focus on the books I’m working on for a general audience.

As I have mentioned, I have two in view just now and am in the process of planning them.  I don’t have a contract for either one yet, but hope to present the possibilities to my publisher soon.   One, as I have indicated, would be on the expectation that the end is coming soon, both among many Christians but also in the secular culture at large, all based on a certain reading of the book of Revelation (the secularists usually don’t realize this!) that scholars have long found untenable.   That is the one I’ll start in on here on the blog.

My normal process for coming up with a proposal for a publisher is to 1) Get the idea; 2) Do a bunch or reading on it; 3) Draft a statement for myself about how I’m imagining it; and 4) (When I’m sure how I want to propose it) Come up with an actual Prospectus for the publisher.

I have now drafted my statement for myself and would like to share it with you.  It is longer than normal, since the whole idea is a bit involved.  It will take probably six posts or so to present it all.

My tentative title for the book (this will certainly change) (unless the End comes first) is Expecting the Apocalypse: The Book of Revelation and Imminent End of the World.   This is how I start in my self- statement (if you’ve read my book on Jesus the Apocalyptic Prophet, this part will sound familiar, though none of the rest of the book will).


Toward the end of the 20th century the millennia-long fascination with the imminent end of the world grew to a fevered pitch in parts of American culture, not just among the many millions of conservative Christians who expected Jesus to return in judgment during their lifetime, but also in secular popular culture and its perennial obsession with apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic film and literature.

The widespread conviction that the end may indeed be coming soon is not simply …

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Fundamentalist Visions of the End of the World
An Early Otherworldly Journey



  1. Avatar
    Pattycake1974  March 20, 2019

    Endtime prophecy is one of my favorite topics. I read Pagels’ book about Revelation, but I didn’t understand it very well. When searching around for endtime-type books, David Jeremiah shows up frequently. He seems to be a popular author right now, writing books about the Apocalypse. Agents of the Apocalypse was a #1 NYT Bestseller according to Amazon. Wikipedia says he’s a conservative evangelical Christian who went to Dallas Theological Seminary. It also says he succeeded Tim LaHaye as a pastor and is on the Donald Trump evangelical advisory board?!?

  2. Avatar
    Lopaka  March 20, 2019

    When Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, how big was that church? Also, were they in any way in hiding? Was Christianity considered illegal by the Romans? Thanks

    • Bart
      Bart  March 20, 2019

      1. POssibly dozens of people? Not lots of dozens. 2. Nope. 3. Nope. I deal with these important issues in my book Triumph of Christianity.

    • Avatar
      Joel Smith  March 20, 2019

      In 1 Thess Paul wrote telling the Christians there that he knew that they were being persecuted. He then promises that their faithfulness will be rewarded. In 1 Thess 4 he tells them that he wants them to understand what happens when they die. They die, Jesus comes down from heaven (not in the flesh), they are resurrected and Jesus takes them back with him to God’s house in heaven. This is the reward that Paul promises these Christians. He also promises that the Christians who are not dead yet will have their turn later on.
      Paul even more explicitly repeats this promise in 2 Cor 5.
      Flesh & blood can’t go to heaven. -1 Cor 15.

  3. tompicard
    tompicard  March 20, 2019

    I dont understand how the apocalyptic worldview you ascribe to Jesus is actually much different than a lot of the fundamentalist views.

    could you clarify the differences sometime?

    • Bart
      Bart  March 20, 2019

      Well, Jesus didn’t believe in the Rapture or the Tribulation or the Antichrist etc. etc. He did think the Kingdom of God was coming soon, but his was a Jewish apocalyptic view, not a Christian fundamentalist one.

  4. Avatar
    Joel Smith  March 20, 2019

    In the Apocalypse (& other books) there is a timetable. The number 1260 appears seven times… as 1260 days, 42 months & 3 1/2 years.
    1260 also appears at least twice in the Book of Daniel.
    In Islamic prophecies (particularly of the Shi’ih sect) the year 1260 appears repeatedly. The year 1260 in the Islamic calendar is the year 1844 of our calendar. The world has completely changed since 1844. Knowledge has increased. The Jews have returned to Israel. Could it be that that’s when the Promised One appeared? Look to Israel. The Har Mageddon is Mt Carmel. (The only mountain bordering Megiddo.) That’s also where Isaiah & Micah said he would appear.
    How is it possible that prophecies from three religions all contain the same numbers… unless they’re from the same Source?
    Now that would make a good book.

    • Bart
      Bart  March 22, 2019

      Not sure what you’re asking. Are you saying all three are divinely inspired? Why not just say Daniel provided the idea to the later Christians and Muslims?

  5. Avatar
    Hormiga  March 20, 2019

    How about modern, secular, completely materialistic (kinda) versions? Aside from boring extinction (nuclear war, plague), they come in several other versions and may involve humanity transcending itself by biological or cybernetic means, pure cybernetic taking over from H.Sap., etc. Think Vernor Vinge’s “Singularity” and Greg Bear’s “Blood Music.”

    • Bart
      Bart  March 22, 2019

      Yup, it’s a newer mode, unimaginable in (not so much) earlier times….

  6. Avatar
    Deva758  March 20, 2019

    I am so glad you have decided to write a book on this topic and can’t wait to see it. As a teenager in the early 70s I was enthralled by the works of Hal Lindsey and Salem Kirban. Kirban wrote ” Your Last Goodbye” and “666”. Seriously interested me as a 16 yr old brought up Baptist fundamentalist who was taught the rapture and tribulation period were most certainly going to occur in the lifetime of virtually every preacher I heard at the time. Of course, I suppose by now, most of them are gone… I wonder how badly written these books were, because at the time I thought they were scary and fascinating.

    • Bart
      Bart  March 22, 2019

      I was a Lindsey fan, but try as I might, I could never generate any enthusiasm for Kirban!

  7. Avatar
    silvertime  March 21, 2019

    It has always been interesting to me that many fundamentalists dislike Jews and love Israel

    • Bart
      Bart  March 22, 2019

      For many of them, “dislike” would be a euphemism; but even if they personally *like* their Jewish family members and friends, they think they will roast in hell forever…..

  8. Avatar
    Eric  March 27, 2019

    I think you’ll get more rhetorical value out of analyzing Climate Change Apocalypticism (12 more years before we’re done!) as a secular example of the main phenomenon (Y2K hysteria is another) than you will of attributing Climate Change Denial specifically (or even partially) to apocalyptic “short-termism”.

    • Bart
      Bart  March 29, 2019

      I think both passionate deniers and passionate affirmers have been affected by Christian apocalyptic logic, if that’s what you’re saying.

  9. KaryNation
    KaryNation  March 31, 2019

    I like your book concept on ‘Expecting The Apocalypse’.

    However, the whole idea of people fretting over ‘the end times’ seems a bit silly in retrospect. None of us live for very long. Every generation experiences their very own REAL ‘apocalypse’ when they breath their last breath.

    Speaking of death, people all fret their entire lives wondering what it will be like when they die.

    My answer is simple:
    “You already have been dead. Before you were born you had a lot of experience being dead.
    Do you remember when Teddy Roosevelt became president? Remember when the pyramids were being built or when the Earth was formed?
    Of course not. Because all that time I must aver that you were not only merely dead, you were really most sincerely dead.” 😀

    • Bart
      Bart  April 1, 2019

      Maybe be silly, yes! But its an idea common among many, many millions of people! I agree on “consciousness before birth.” Ancient Greek philosophers mused on that (esp. Epicurus; Lucretius).

      • KaryNation
        KaryNation  April 1, 2019

        I will look up those Anchient Greek writings directly.

        I used the phrase ‘before you were born’ loosely to avoid the whole birthing issue. More correctly I should have written ‘Before conception’.

  10. Avatar
    FocusMyView  August 20, 2019

    Are you aware that the Bosporan and the Seluecid dating timelines were nearing the year 365 in the first century AD? There are Jewish artifacts using these timelines. I have read there was some baited breath as the Roman calendar reached the year 365, so I am not sure if there was anything about these other two dating systems.
    As one who worried about Rosh Hashannah in 1988 and who has a friend who spends hours on the internet trying to cypher the future from what Trump is saying, I am looking forward to your book!

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