I don't have any original thoughts to share on the subject but would like to recommend two sources of compelling insight into the phenomenon of "apocalyptic anxiety." Much can be learned about this unique form of anxiety from reading the works of Ernest Becker. Becker received the Pulitzer I believe in 1973 for "The Denial of Death." His seminal work is "The Birth and Death of Meaning." He had this, and much more to say, in his is posthumously published "Escape From Evil." Because humans are able to contemplate our own mortality we "...hold for dear life onto the self-transcending meanings of the society in which [we] live, onto the immortality symbols which [seem to] guarantee [our] indefinite duration of some kind, [but] a new kind of instability and anxiety are created. And this anxiety is precisely what spills over into the affairs of men." p5
I see a duality in apocalyptic anxiety. The anxiety creating "the end is near" and the anxiety assuaging "repent and all will be well."
When the subjects of the Essenes, Dead Sea Scrolls and the life of Jesus come up I'd like to see more attention paid to the rigorous scholarship and profound insights of Barbara Thiering in "Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls." HarperSanFrancisco, 1992 Dr. Thiering discovered the subtext of the scrolls which reveals the controversial career of Jesus and explains the inconsistencies that make the New Testament so puzzling. It puts the apocalypse in the cultural historical and religious context where it belongs.
Thank you for your terrific work in making Frontline such a valuable resource for the rest of us.
To those who wrongly claim the show was biased against people of faith:
It is not the job of historians to prove or disprove your faith. It is their job to relate history as they find it, without judgment, but as reporters of their findings. The fact that what they find and report does not match your belief system is your problem to grapple with. If historical evidence clashes with how you "want" things to be, then you may either lash out as self-appointed martyrs, or you may do some self-introspection concerning why it is so important to you that religious history be the way you believed it to be.
It is is also not the job of public television shows to pander to the will and sensitivities of one segment of society, rather than bring us truly informative and historically accurate information.
To PBS: It is because of this sort of high quality programming our family continues to support PBS.
To Frontline: Thank you for the Apocalyptic episode, as well as your many other fine shows.
As usual Frontline examines very controversial subjects and does it with hard facts.
I have been an open-minded agnostic for many years and not much interests me when it comes to the bible. I feel as it is a crutch for functional illiterates who have little self worth or self esteem. I did however, find this program fascinating because I think it showed the book of Revelation like it should have been shown all along.
It is just a book arbitrarily placed in the 'Bible' by....? and was only relevant to events happening at the time of writing! It is very hard for normal, rational thinking individuals to even consider this drivel as fact! All religions of the world since time began always rely on intimidation, guilt and fear. Only the gullible and weak eat this fantasy world up.
Thoroughly enjoyed the show, very entertaining. Nothing resolved as usual, never will be; life goes on.
The Millennium is just
another excuse for a party. Sounds like there's a lot of crazies out there with a death wish, waiting for the END.
Parksville, BC Canada
Guilt and fear: Dress it up however you like,it is the stock and trade of religion,and the means by which to control the faithful.They must be taught to live in fear of a "judgement"and a horrible fate if not making the mark.
I think for all the historical perspective and admittedly fascinating speculation,it still comes down to how to convince and control people.
it is regretable that there wasn't a fawell crusade airing at the same time as this interesting program on apocalphoric doctrine in scripture. the same people who admonish us to teach only creationism in school, apparently believe that they can dictate content to pbs. in the hour long broadcast i cannot recall any overt attempt to discredit christian beliefs. this segments intent was to explore the historical development of the book of revelation and the apocalypse
doctrine in judo-christian experience. Christ himself repeatedly admonished followers not to focus on such issues. the criticism of this program, from consertative viewers, perplexes me. Christ told followers don't worry about it, it'll happen when it happens, rather focus you attention on living you life for God. if the fundamentalists would only understand this simple point maybe they would stop feeling so insecure in their beliefs and stop trying to cram their distorted view of the bible down everyones throats.
Apocalypticism and millennialism, like the poor, thou shalt always have with you. This phenomenon is not exclusive to years with zeros although more drenched symbolically in that case. By bringing together the pre-eminent scholars on biblical apocalypticism, apocalypticism and millennialism in Western history, and critical theorists of apocalyptic discourses, Frontline has performed an invaluable service. This Web site is also a feast, to which I will direct my students of world literature, in a course whose focus this year is apocalyptic texts.
Dr. Thomas Long
Thank you for another wonderful look at an aspect of Christianity on which we can obviously not reach agreement. After reading the opinions above, we suggest that perhaps the next endeavor might be a program on Fundamentalism!
gail & glenn stevens shourds
Your report on the Apocalypse caterd to the "millenial hype" presently going on in this country. I only hope that your program dispels preconceived notions people have about the Apocalypse. I would have appreciated more mention of "amillennialism" on your program. Instead you had to show money-grubbing televangelists like Jerry Falwell and John Hagee premillennialists who like to play on the fears of their followers and soon to be followers with literal doomsday language.
Pastor Chris Sanderson
Fort Wayne, Indiana
I thoroughly enjoyed this show as I did the one on Jesus. It certainly puts a different perspective on it all. After veiwing this show, I finally saw what Waco was all about. Keep up the good work.
The Frontline report on the Apocalypse was extremely informative, interesting and provocative. What is disturbing is the thought of what might happen when the 'unholy' alliance between Christian and Jewish fundamentalists regarding the rebuilding of the third Temple in Jerusalem backfires and the Jews are again the scapegoats for failed Christian apocalyptic expectations. What will happen when the Jews again fail to convert 'en masse'?
I usually appreciate your programs, as they mostly are well-researched and balanced in your research. However, I cannot say that about your reports on the Apocalypse or From Jesus to Christ. As a minister in an evangelical church, and someone who has a graduate degree and post-graduate studies, I was sincerely disappointed that your programs completely ignore the vast array of conservative theologians and professors from places like Denver, Gordon Conwell, Fuller, Trinity, and Dallas Theological Seminaries. The professors you trotted out in your programs represent a point of view, but certainly not the dominant point of view in American Christianity. Just look at the fact that most mainline churches traditional,liberal in this country are in a downward spiral in attendance and membership. That alone should communicate something significant. If what these professors were expousing were true, then I wouldn't bother being a pastor myself ! Why bother invest your life in something that is made up ! If you're going to continue doing these kind of programs which I hope you do, then please open your minds to the perspective of evangelical theology and church development which is having a tremendous impact in the lives of millions of Americans each day. Unfortunately, this program only assumed a liberal view of Scripture and an unhealthy attachment to higher criticism and neo-orthodoxy. You can do better than this.
Cottage Grove, MN
This was another poorly done propaganda film;
Shots of Nazis interspersed with Christians worshiping Christ in church.I see where someone has characterized it as "one sided." But it's worse than that.It reeks of religious bigotry.It closes desolving slowly to the face of the leader of Heaven's Gate.Joseph Goebbels would be proud to see his techniques at work. Did we pay for this?
Frontline: Redeem yourself with a pro-Christian film!
In response to Mr. Hollman,
I had a completely different experience of the program. I thought it was almost completely objective, and the scholars were very well-spoken. They were also in agreement on the Book of Revelation.
Now, is it realistic to think that Frontline searched for atheist or devil-worshipping scholars? How would they go about it? Would the scholars want to be televised?
Let's look at your behaviour for a moment...
you turned the show off after 30 minutes then you felt you were qualified to assess it's worth. You called it nonsense and said it was close to Blasphemy.
Here's my take. You didn't like it because responsible, intelligent scholars hold a view that is not in line with yours. Instead of equipping yourself to argue against their view, reading, watching the show you turn it off and charge them with blasphemy. God gave you rationality, use it.
Thank you for another great program.I'm a minister and currently teaching a Bible Study on Revelation in my congregation. There is a great hunger and need for historical information and interpretations that open new horizons rather than lock people in fear. I highly recommend your show and your fine website to all who want to escape or have escaped the narrowness and shallowness of literalism.
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