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By John J. Collins / Eerdmans / 1998
Apocalyptic literature evokes an imaginative world that is set in deliberate counterpoint to the experiential world of the present. Apocalypticism thrives especially in times of crisis, and it functions by offering a resolution of the relevant crisis, not in practical terms but in terms of imagination and faith.
The Apocalyptic Imagination by John Collins is one of the most widely praised studies of Jewish apocalyptic literature ever written. And this second edition of Collins’s study represents a complete updating and rewriting of the original work. Especially noteworthy is the chapter on the Dead Sea Scrolls, which now takes into account all of the recently published texts. Other chapters discuss apocalypse as a literary genre, explore the phenomenon and function of apocalypticism in the ancient world, study a wide range of individual apocalyptic texts, and examine the apocalyptic character of early Christianity.
A very useful guide to the Jewish apocalypses and related literature... One will not find a better or more up-to-date survey of this material, which expresses a way of thinking that was so influential on formative Christianity, than in Collins's book.
—Journal of the American Academy of Religion
This is an updated and rewritten edition of a highly acclaimed book that appeared in 1984. In it Collins expertly explains the apocalyptic genre and then examines the Enoch literature, Daniel, various oracles, testaments, and apocalypses, as well as the Qumran material. In the final chapter he addresses the presence of such thinking in early Christianity. Though this is primarily a study of literature, the various pieces are placed within their historical contexts in order to show how they are imaginative responses to events in history. Collins argues that apocalyptic material did not effect change in history, but offered a way to deal with it in a manner that is both courageous and faithful. The book provides important information about an important yet little known corpus of material. It is a valuable resource.
—The Bible Today
John J. Collins is Holmes professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale Divinity School and has served as president of both the Society of Biblical Literature and the Catholic Biblical Association. His many books include Beyond the Qumran Community, King and Messiah as Son of God, The Bible after Babel, and The Apocalyptic Imagination.