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IDST 390: The Ends of the World

Reflective Writing #2: Basham, Kyle, and Boyer

Historical and Other Contexts for Studying The End

After engaging with this week’s readings, please respond to the following items.

1. When studying the history of The End, one of the most stark (and cautionary) tales of predicting the end of the world is found in the story of William Miller. He and the Millerites serve as an excellent case study in millennarian movements and the problem with “hard date-setting” regarding The End. Briefly outline the story of Miller and the Millerites in one or two good paragraphs, taking care to make connections with prior work in this course on IDST and Revelation.

2. In “The Apocalypse of John as Oral Enactment,” David Barr shares a perspective on how stories were told in the first century. Discuss at least one specific aspect of Barr’s article which was impactful. How did it deepen your understanding of Revelation?

3. Connected to Miller, adaptability and malleability became and remain key for popular prophecy writers. In the last several decades, dates for “The End” have been set for 1948, 1967, 1988, 2000 (Y2k), 2007, and 2012 (in addition to lesser known ones). All have been wrong. Your opinions are valuable, but use the readings to support your responses.

a. Why are popular prophets so keen on setting dates for The End? What drives this urge? 

b. Is being adaptable and malleable a “good” or “bad” thing for doomsayers? 

c. Is being adaptable and malleable a “good” or “bad” thing for us as IDST students and thinkers? 

4. Discuss what reading these historical and religious studies perspectives have added to your “tool kit” as a thinker regarding The End. In what ways can you see differently now than before reading and doing the work related to Barr, Basham, Kyle, and Boyer (feel free to draw from Repko, Trafton, Revelation, as well)? You do not have to discuss them one by one, as here I am seeking a more summative reflection on how the last two weeks have impacted your “lenses” on The End. Do this in a couple of substantive paragraphs.

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