Anthropology‐as‐theology: Violent endings and the permanence of new beginnings
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Webster, J. (2022). Anthropology‐as‐theology: Violent endings and the permanence of new beginnings. American Anthropologist https://doi.org/10.1111/aman.13705
Abstract: This article examines the temporality of dispensationalist imaginings of the apocalypse, with a particular focus on why such imaginings often have an 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 images—flames, hail, missiles—dispensationalism creates a semiotic landscape filled with natural, supernatural, and “man‐made” disaster. By analyzing different images of “violent endings” in circulation among the Brethren and Jehovah's Witnesses, this article asks two questions, namely, what are the temporal effects of such violent imaginings, and what imaginings exist on the other side of such violence, after its perpetration? I seek to answer these questions by developing a mode of inquiry I call anthropology‐as‐theology, whereby anthropological analysis deliberately surrenders to theological ideas. I suggest that, when viewed from the perspective of anthropology‐as‐theology, violent dispensationalist visions about the end of the world can provide new perspectives on permanence, which, seen through the lens of revelation, comes to be understood as both novel and eternal.
RESEARCH ARTICLE, RESEARCH ARTICLES, apocalypse, theology, time, millenarianism, Christianity
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/aman.13705
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/333600