Friday, December 21, 2012

Eschatology, Again

Well, I guess that whole Mayan thing didn't pan out. 

Msc. Bibl. 140, Bamberg Apocalypse, fol. 32v
Kind of like in the Middle Ages, when a number of clerics, theologians, and political figures thought that the Second Coming would happen in the year 1000. Otto III, the Holy Roman Emperor, commissioned a luxurious illuminated version of the Book of Revelation (the Bamberg Apocalypse), and pursued a policy of linking his reign to those of Constantine (through his association with Pope Sylvester II) and Charlemagne (by visiting his tomb at Pentecost in 1000). The desire to create an environment that would demonstrate to God that the faithful were deserving of his return led, in part, to one of the most important social justice movements of the Middle Ages: The Peace of God. And the wealthy were worried enough about the possibility for the imminent arrival of Judgement Day that they gave land and gifts to monasteries, which, in turn, built new churches. Ralph (Radolfus) Glaber, a monk from that period, wrote that "It was as if the whole world had shaken off the dust of the ages and covered itself in the white mantle of churches." 

Once the year 1000 came and went without major event, people re-dated their calculations to the year 1033, a millennium after Jesus' death, rather than his birth. That came and went, but it didn't slow down the apocalyptic prophets.

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