The book begins with an introductory survey of the better known and more influential millennium thinkers and movements through history. It shows how the millennium was interpreted as a utopia and expressed in violent ways in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and by the Branch Davidians in Waco and the Aum Shinrikyo sect in Japan. It also examines the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses and the New Age movement on the millennium. Part Two is devoted to the millennium in the Revelation of St John. It strips the millennium of utopian fantasies and the other accretions it has acquired through the centuries. It sets the millennium within the context of the whole of Revelation and its attack on the deceptive and oppressive ideology propagated by the Roman Empire and John's alternative interpretation of reality. It demonstrates that far from being an isolated reference, the millennium is integral to the whole of Revelation. It shows that the millennium is a metaphor for God's vindication of those who pay the ultimate price in witnessing to truth and justice, i.e. the martyrs, and indicates the relevance of the millennium in the world we live in today.
The book is aimed at the general reader wanting an accessible introduction to recent thinking on the millennium. There is nothing here to help those who want to set the doomsday clock, but plenty to encourage those who are going through difficult times, and the book will challenge all to help today's victims of oppression and injustice. For those who wish to pursue the subject further, a bibliography of scholarly works is included.
R.J. McKelvey has served as Principal of Adams United Theological College in South Africa and of Northern College in Manchester, and has taught New Testament in the University of Manchester. A minister of the United Reformed Church in the UK, he served as Moderator of the General Assembly in 1994-95. He is a contributor to the New Bible Dictionary, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, and The New 20th Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge and is the author of The New Temple: the Church in the New Testament.