- CC 300 G - Apocalypse and the Christian Imagination
- 3 Credits
MWF 12:30-1:20 pm- Professor Cover
Fulfills upper level theology requirement.
St. John’s Apocalypse, the final book of the Bible, offers the most elaborate canonical account of what Christians call “the last things.” A rich tapestry of prophetic symbols and imagery, the Apocalypse has continued to inspire the Christian theological imagination throughout the centuries, albeit somewhat from the margins. In the last century, the Apocalypse gained surprising popular traction, not only in contemporary religious discussions of the "end times" (think Left Behind) but also in secular apocalyptic reflexes (think, Apocalypse Now or World War Z) against the post-Enlightenment narrative of continual progress. But what are the origins of "apocalypse" as a literary genre and as a view of history, of which John’s Apocalypse is the primary Christian representative? How has the apocalyptic impulse both shaped and been resisted by later Christian theologians?
In this course, we will attempt to answer these questions first through a study of historical apocalyptic texts and thinkers, such as 1 Enoch, Daniel, Jesus, Paul, and Revelation. We will then trace the influence of apocalyptic thought in the Christian tradition from the early struggle between the Gnostics and Irenaeus, through the Medieval writings of Joachim of Fiore and the Romantic apocalyptic of William Blake, into the modern theology of Jürgen Moltmann, Sergei Bulgakov, and Hans Urs von Balthasar, as well as in the literary recovery of apocalyptic in the twentieth century (e.g. The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia). Along the way, students will develop a nuanced understanding of Christian apocalypse as "the unveiling of the kingdom of God in power." In addition to several papers, as a final project, each student will choose a different contemporary work of apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic fiction or film and offer a critical review, noting the degree to which each work represents or distorts the Christian apocalyptic vision.