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Title: "It was the worst of times; it was the worst of times" : popular prophecy, Rapture fiction, and the imminent apocalypse in contemporary American Evangelism
Author: Khalidi, Anbara Mariam
ISNI:       0000 0004 5914 5108
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis explores how the Rapture fiction and popular prophecy of modern American premillennial dispensationalism shapes the eschatological beliefs of its readership. This will be accomplished through a text-based critical analysis of the anxiety narratives of the Bible study and exegetical guides of the Tim LaHaye Prophecy Library, and its counterpart, the Left Behind fiction series. This thesis represents the first scholarly analysis of the Tim LaHaye Prophecy Library, and the first situation of Left Behind fiction within its theological context. It will be proposed that these two sets of texts shape the eschatological beliefs of their readers through a discursive ‘streamlining’ that is performed in several ways. Firstly, the historical development of the movement will be examined, exploring the evolution of a specific premillennial dispensationalist hermeneutic and its ‘channelling’ through particular cultural institutions. Secondly, an analysis of the Tim LaHaye Prophecy Library and Left Behind fiction will demonstrate that this premillennial dispensationalist hermeneutic is almost exclusively communicated through anxiety narratives which focus on expressions of horror, isolation, powerlessness and paranoia. It will be argued that these narratives serve to explore ‘abjective’ elements of premillennial dispensationalist belief, re-integrating them into the fabric of the faith. Particular attention will be paid to these abjective elements, which include the role of the eschatological body, the nature of individual salvation, and the perpetual deferment of the Rapture. As such, the popular media of premillennial dispensationalism serves as a further channel for the discursive streamlining of the movement’s prophetic scheme. Finally, this thesis proposes that the ‘deprivation’ theory of millennial appeal does not adequately explain the appeal and success of premillennial dispensationalism. As such, the following analysis will suggest that an alternate critical analysis of the movement, concentrating on its tropes of anxiety, serves to better explain the continued appeal of this ideology.
Supervisor: Zachhuber, Johannes ; Rowland, Christopher Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: American literature in English ; History of North America ; Modern spiritual movements ; Philosophy, psychology and sociology of religion ; Christianity and Christian spirituality ; American studies ; Christian Apocalypticism ; Premillennial Dispensationalism ; The Rapture ; Prophecy ; Modern American Evangelicalism ; Rapture fiction ; Tim LaHaye ; The Left Behind series ; Anxiety ; Horror ; Paranoia