Panacea Trust Conference on Millenarianism and Violence

Joe Webster (Participant)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


Violent Endings

This paper examines dispensationalist imaginings of ‘the last of the last days’, with a particular focus on their acutely violent character. For the Brethren and for Jehovah’s Witnesses, the most convincing ‘signs’ of the imminent apocalypse are violent ones. By drawing on a mixture of biblical and extra-biblical tropes and images – flames, horns, bullets, missiles – dispensationalism creates a semiotic landscape filled with natural, supernatural, and ‘man-made’ disaster. By analysing different images of ‘violent endings’ in circulation among the Brethren and the Witnesses, this paper asks two questions, namely, what are the effects of such violent imaginings, and what imaginings exists on the other side of such violence, after its perpetration? Drawing inspiration from Rodney Needham’s work on dual symbolic classification, this paper argues that dispensationalist violence demands its own partial disappearance by setting itself against its symbolic opposite of millennial healing, only to then reappear in a final act of dichotomising violence through a ‘renovation of the earth by fire’.
Period06 Apr 2017
Event typeConference
LocationBedford, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational