Apocalypse and Reform from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages  book cover
1st Edition

Apocalypse and Reform from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages

ISBN 9781138684041
Published August 2, 2018 by Routledge
244 Pages

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Book Description

Apocalypse and Reform from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages provides a range of perspectives on what reformist apocalypticism meant for the formation of Medieval Europe, from the Fall of Rome to the twelfth century. It explores and challenges accepted narratives about both the development of apocalyptic thought and the way it intersected with cultures of reform to influence major transformations in the medieval world.

Bringing together a wealth of knowledge from academics in Britain, Europe and the USA this book offers the latest scholarship in apocalypse studies. It consolidates a paradigm shift, away from seeing apocalypse as a radical force for a suppressed minority, and towards a fuller understanding of apocalypse as a mainstream cultural force in history. Together, the chapters and case studies capture and contextualise the variety of ideas present across Europe in the Middle Ages and set out points for further comparative study of apocalypse across time and space.

Offering new perspectives on what ideas of ‘reform’ and ‘apocalypse’ meant in Medieval Europe, Apocalypse and Reform from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages provides students with the ideal introduction to the study of apocalypse during this period.

Table of Contents

Introduction; Chapter 1: "The Chronicle of Hydatius: a historical guidebook to the last days of the Western Roman Empire"; Chapter 2: "To be found prepared: eschatology and reform rhetoric ca. 570–ca. 640"; Chapter 3: "The final countdown and the reform of the liturgical calendar in the early Middle Ages"; Chapter 4: "Apocalypse and reform in Bede’s De die iudicii"; Chapter 5: "Creating futures through the lens of revelation in the rhetoric of the Carolingian Reform ca. 750 to ca. 900"; Chapter 6: "Eschatology and reform in early Irish law: the evidence of Sunday legislation"; Chapter 7: "Apocalypse, eschatology and the interim in England and Byzantium in the tenth and eleventh centuries"; Chapter 8: "Apocalypticism and the rhetoric of reform in Italy around the year 1000"; Chapter 9: "This time. Maybe this time. Biblical commentary, monastic historiography, and Lost Cause-ism at the turn of the first millennium"; Chapter 10: "Against the silence: twelfth-century Augustinian reformers confront apocalypse"; Chapter 11: Afterword


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Matthew Gabriele is Associate Professor and Coordinator of Medieval & Early Modern Studies in the Department of Religion and Culture at Virginia Tech, USA. His previous publications include An Empire of Memory: The Legend of Charlemagne, the Franks, and Jerusalem before the First Crusade (2011), The Legend of Charlemagne in the Middle Ages: Power, Faith, and Crusade (2008) and Where Heaven and Earth Meet: Essays on Medieval Europe in Honor of Daniel F. Callahan (2014).

James T. Palmer is Reader in Medieval History at St Andrews, UK. His previous publications include The Apocalypse in the Early Middle Ages (2014) and Anglo-Saxons in a Frankish World 690–900 (2009).


'Covering a sweep of time from the Book of Revelation and the early Middle Ages through the twelfth century (with an eleventh-hour stop at the country-western Louvin brothers), Gabriele and Palmer’s Apocalypse and Reform assembles a team of experts to challenge assumptions about medieval attitudes towards the end of the world. Rather than presenting us with panicking peasants or wild-eyed millenarian revolutionaries, the essays in this masterful volume rightly place the apocalypse at the center of medieval society, culture, and politics, discernable in works of exegesis, prophecy, art, theology, the liturgy and more. The editors and authors are to be applauded.'

Brett Whalen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, US

'The world seems to be continually nearing its end. From the disintegration of the Western Roman Empire to the A-Bomb, an imminent end had been in sight and triggered social, cultural and religious transformations. In this coherent and impressive collection, each article firmly locates this phenomenon within diverse geo-political, cultural and religious contexts. Appealing to students and academics alike, this volume constitutes an important step in the rehabilitation of the Apocalypse. No longer the confines of historians of religion and radicalism, its editors bring the apocalypse into global history.'

Eyal Poleg, Queen Mary University of London, UK

'As a whole, the volume works well as an introduction to the complexity and variety of apocalyptic thought in the Latin Christian tradition up to 1200 CE, and to the existing historiographical field. Each essay has extensive notes and references that will be particularly useful to students. The strongest essays are those that offer a reassessment or correction to major works of scholarship in the field of medieval apocalyptic thought, including seminal works by Richard Landes, Bernard McGinn, and Sylvain Gouguenheim. As an intervention in the field of reform studies, Apocalypse and Reform from Late Antiquity to the High Middle Ages opens a potentially rewarding approach to interpreting early and high medieval reform rhetoric.'

Alexandra Locking, University of Chicago, USA

"Overall it significantly enhances scholarly understanding of medieval apocalyptic reform."

Maeve Callan, Simpson College, USA

"Overall, the collection makes a convincing case for the part played by Apocalyptic thinking in the calls for moral improvement for individuals"

Julia Barrow, Early Medieval Europe, vol.27, issue 4