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Religion 12 The End of the World

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Religion 12

The End of the World

Spring 2011

Susan Niditch Robert Doran

114 Chapin Hall 209 Chapin Hall

Office Hours: Th 4-5, and by appointment Office Hours: Th 11:30-12:30, and by appointment

Books to Buy at Amherst Books:

NRSV Bible

Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More

Norman Cohn, Pursuit of the Millennium

Leon Festinger, When Prophecy Fails

Alexander Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis

Tim LaHaye, Left Behind

Marge Piercy, He, She, and It

Gershom Gorenberg, The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount

Jan. 25: Introduction

Jan. 26: Viewing of the film Knowing (streaming)
Jan. 27: Ninian Smart, Worldviews: Crosscultural Explorations of Human Beliefs, Introduction and

chapter 1, pp. 1-11 (Ereserve)

Discussion of the film Knowing

Assignment #1: See questions below and prepare a two page response that explores

some of the ways in which the film Knowing might be interpreted as a pop-cultural version of

religious perspectives on the end of the world.

What essential elements create the structure and message of the film? What is the take of the modern creators on the end of the world and the larger pattern of creation/decline/destruction/recreation discussed in our first meeting? How does this film reflect contemporary concerns and shape our perception of the world? Does it attempt to make sense of reality by immersion in a particular imaginary constellation? How does this film construct culture?

Feb. 1, 3: Background to Apocalyptic: Patterns of World Creation and Re-creation

Paul D. Hanson, “Old Testament Apocalyptic Reexamined,” Interpretation 25

(1971)454-79, (Ereserve)

A. Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis (Enuma elish) (buy or reserve)

Genesis 1-11

Zechariah 9-14

Feb. 8-15: “Proto-Apocalyptic”: Visions of the End in 2nd Temple Judaism

John J. Collins, “Apocalyptic Eschatology as the Transcendence of Death,”

CBQ 36(1974)21-43 (Ereserve)

Isaiah 24-27; 34-35

Daniel 2; 7; 10-12

1 Enoch 1-36,
Feb. 10: A Guest Lecture by Professor John J. Collins, Yale University
Feb. 17: Assignment #2: A three page essay on apocalyptic in ancient Judaism: creation and recreation
Feb. 17-Mar. 1: Visions of the End in Early Christianity
Feb. 17: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11

1 Corinthians 15:1-28

Romans 8-11
Feb. 22: Gospel of Mark 13; Gospel of Matthew 24-25; Gospel of Luke 21

2 Thess 2:1-12

Feb. 24: Leon Festinger, When Prophecy Fails (buy or reserve)
Mar. 1: Read the Book of Revelation
Mar. 2: Viewing of the film The Seventh Seal (streaming)
Mar. 3: Discussion of The Seventh Seal
Mar. 8: A Guest Lecture by Professor Adela Yarbro, Yale Divinity School
Mar. 10: Apocalyptic in late Antiquity

Norman Cohn, Pursuit of the Millennium, chs. 1-2 (buy or reserve)

R. Landes, “Lest the Millennium Be Fulfilled” (Ereserve)

Augustine, City of God, Bk 20 (Ereserve)

Mar. 11: Assignment #3: Dealing with early Christianity
Mar. 15, 17: Spring Break
Mar. 22: The Medieval Scene

Norman Cohn, Pursuit of the Millennium, chs. 7-9; 11-13

Mar. 24-Apr. 5: “The End” in 19th Century America and Beyond
Mar. 24: Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More, pp. 1-112 (buy or reserve)
Mar. 29: Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More, chs. 4-10
Mar. 31: Tim LaHaye, “Left Behind”

Film in class

Apr. 5: A guest lecture by Amy Frykholm, Editor at Large, The Christian Century
Apr. 7: No Class
Apr. 7: Assignment #4 due on medieval or 19th/20th century material
Apr. 11: Viewing of the film 2012 (streaming)
Apr. 12: Comparative Case Study

A guest lecture by Scott Sessions, “The Mayans: History and Popular Culture”

Apr. 14: Contemporary Jewish Millennarian Fervor

Gershom Gorenberg, The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount,

Oxford/NY: Oxford U. Press, 2000, pp. 1-29; 138-180; 203-250 (buy or reserve)
Apr. 19: No Class. Begin reading the novel assigned for Apr. 26.
Apr. 20: Viewing of the film Bladerunner (streaming)
Apr. 21: Apocalyptic and Artificial Intelligence

Robert M. Geraci, Apocalyptic AI (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010) 1-38; 72-105


Episode of the Big Bang Theory: “The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification” from

Season 4, Episode 2:402,
Apr. 26: Marge Piercy, He, She, It
Apr. 28-May 5:

Room to grow and final reports

Apr. 28: Assignment #5: A 4 page essay due on one of the following novels or films or a work selected in consultation with the professors (a piece of short fiction or film not listed)
Sources for Assignment #5. Details to be provided in class:


The Seventh Sign

The Road

28 Days Later

The Day After Tomorrow

Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome

Continued on next page for Assignment #6

Assignment #6: Final research project due on May 5th dealing with a “new” religious movement. Details to be provided and specific topic to be approved by your professors.
New Religions

Heaven’s Gate

David Koresh Movement

Jim Jones/Jonestown

Aun Shinrikyo

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