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The Epilogue reflects upon the meaning of history in the light of the presence of evil within it. It examines religious providence, secular progress, cosmic nihilism, and apocalypticism as potential solutions to the problem of meaning in history. It ends with a reflection on ethical eschatology at the personal level.
This chapter begins with how Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, brought the early traditions into a cohesive narrative whole by incorporating the abomination of desolation, the little horn, the fourth beast and the fourth king, the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition, and the beasts that arose from the earth and the sea into the Antichrist figure. It then explores the development of the Irenaean story through Hippolytus of Rome, Tertullian, Lactantius, and Pseudo-Hippolytus. It analyses the various components of the story as they were developing over the third and fourth centuries, including the notion of double Antichrists, the role of Nero as the Antichrist, the Antichrist as Satan incarnate, and physical depictions of the Antichrist as a monstrous being in various Greek, Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopian, and Latin texts.
In this chapter, the Antichrist and the book of Revelation are placed within the context of modernity, beginning with the attempts of the new science to square it with the book of Revelation. It deals with the beginnings of scepticism about the Antichrist and prophetic history among the London wits, and the beginnings of the separation between prophecy and history. That said, the chapter argues that the Antichrist was to remain on the Protestant agenda well into the nineteenth century. It also demonstrates how, with the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon, the focus of theorising shifted from a papal to an imperial Antichrist. It also shows the transition from papal Antichrist to Adsonian Antichrist in the writings of John Henry Newman as he transitioned from Anglicanism to Catholicism. The chapter then argues that, with the rise of the historical critical approach to the Bible in the middle of the nineteenth century, prophetic history declined and the Antichrist became a free-floating signifier, available for use in many different contexts, both sacred and secular. Ironically, this enabled a proliferation of individual and collective Antichrist figures.
This chapter traces the development of the Antichrist tradition in both the Eastern and Western church from the time of Origen in the third century until that of Adso in the tenth. In particular it explores the tensions between the Antichrist as both a future and present individual, and as both an individual and collective figure. After a discussion of Origen’s understanding of the Antichrist, it moves to an account of Jerome’s literal and spiritual Antichrist, and Antichrists already present in the world. It outlines the literal and spiritual reading of the Antichrist in the African Donatist Tyconius that set the scene for Augustine’s account of the Antichrist. This is followed by an analysis of Pope Gregory the Great’s understanding of the Antichrist. It also explores the development of Simon Magus as an Antichrist figure, examines how the Last World emperor, Gog and Magog became part of the story of the Antichrist. The chapter ends with a discussion of three crucial influences on Adso in the works of Pseudo-Methodius, Haimo of Auxerre, and Thietland of Einsiedeln
This chapter begins with a discussion of the most significant painting of the Antichrist in Western art – Luca Signorelli’s ‘The Sermon and Deeds of the Antichrist’. This painting is located within the story of the Antichrist in the Italian Renaissance, particularly around Girolamo Savonarola. With the Reformation, a new chapter in the life of the Antichrist began. Within Protestantism, the papal Antichrist (both individual and as an institution) became dominant. The views of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Knox are discussed, along with representatives of the so-called Radical Reformation, both on the Continent and in England. Key to the Protestant reading of the pope or the papacy as the Antichrist was a new interpretation of the book of Revelation that reinforced the judgement that the Antichrist was to be found in the Roman papacy and had been present there since its inception. The chapter analyses the new Protestant interpretation through the commentaries on Revelation by John Bale and John Napier. The chapter also examines the Catholic response to Protestantism by a return to the Antichrist of Adso of Montier-en-Der.
This chapter takes the story of the Antichrist from the beginning of the thirteenth century up to the time of the Reformation in the early sixteenth century. It begins with the story of the radical William Auriflex before examining the influence of Joachim of Fiore in the Franciscan movement. It also gives an account of the Franciscan emphasis on the Antichrist as an antichristian emperor as well as an antichristian pseudo-pope. It details Peter Olivi’s description of the Great Antichrist yet to come and the Antichrist mysticus whose coming was imminent. This is followed by a discussion of Ubertino of Casale’s identification of the Antichrist with the then popes, Boniface VIII and Benedict XI. The Franciscan alchemist John of Rupescissa was to complicate the story further with his declaration of Antichrists to come from both East and West, and his declaration of an angelic pope as counterpoint to the idea of the papal Antichrist. For John, the angelic pope and the Last World Emperor would unite to restore the world shortly before its end. The chapter concludes with the development of radical accounts of the papal Antichrist among Wycliffites and Hussites presaging the Reformation.
This chapter begins with a description of the first biography of the Antichrist by Adso of Montier-en-Der around the year 950. It then traces the development of the story within the New Testament, particularly the book of Revelation, the letters of John, and the second letter to the Thessalonians. It looks at the developing Antichrist tradition in early Christian literature, especially the Didache, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Dialogue with Trypho, the Epistle of Barnabas, and the Testament of Hezekiah. It shows how, by the end of the second century, all the elements that were to become central features of the story of the Antichrist were in place.
This chapter begins with an account of the depiction of Muhammad the prophet as the Antichrist at the time of the Crusades and its beginnings in Muslim Spain. It then segues to a discussion of the development of the figures of Al-Dajjal, the Muslim Antichist, and Armilus, the Jewish Antichrist. There follows a snapshot of ‘lives of the Antichrist’ in the year 1200 from Roger de Hoveden’s Annals, the one derived from Adso, the other from Joachim of Fiore. These two 'lives of the Antichrist' provided the conceptual space for debates over the next 600 years about who the Antichrist might be and whether he would come from inside or from outside of the church. It also continues the discussion of how the debate about the Antichrist now became focused around disputes over authority within and outside of the church. It analyses the Antichrist accounts of Gerhoh of Reichersberg, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Hildegard of Bingen. It concludes by establishing Joachim of Fiore’s ‘Antichrist’ as a crucial development in the history of the Antichrist by suggesting the idea of a papal Antichrist.
The Prologue defines the Antichrist as the archetypal evil human being who is to come at the end of the world before being finally defeated by the army of Christ. The aim of this book is to tell the story of the Antichrist from its beginnings in the New Testament period up to the present time. It shows that the complex idea of the Antichrist was the result of an array of tensions within the concept of the Antichrist that developed over the first twelve centuries of the Common Era. It also shows how the story of the Antichrist absorbed a significant number of biblical figures – Gog and Magog, Behemoth and Leviathan, the beasts from the earth and the sea, the mark of the beast and his number, the false prophet and the destroyer, along with a number of other legends – Alexander the Great, Simon Magus, Antiochus Epiphanes, the Emperor Nero. It indicates that the story was enriched as it spread from Christianity into Judaism and Islam.
The malign figure of the Antichrist endures in modern culture, whether religious or secular; and the spectral shadow he has cast over the ages continues to exert a strong and powerful fascination. Philip C. Almond tells the story of the son of Satan from his early beginnings to the present day, and explores this false Messiah in theology, literature and the history of ideas. Discussing the origins of the malevolent being who at different times was cursed as Belial, Nero or Damien, the author reveals how Christianity in both East and West has imagined this incarnation of absolute evil destined to appear at the end of time. For the better part of the last two thousand years, Almond suggests, the human battle between right and wrong has been envisaged as a mighty cosmic duel between good and its opposite, culminating in an epic final showdown between Christ and his deadly arch-nemesis.
In Wonderful News from the North, Mary Moore tells the story of the bewitchment of her eleven-year-old daughter Margaret Muschamp, and of her eventual deliverance, the bewitchment of two others, her daughter Betty and son George, and the death of a fourth child, her infant daughter Sibilla. In this sense it is unique. For it is the only story of possession we have in which the authorship is attributable to a woman. It was written by Mary Moore to encourage the legal pursuit of the woman whom she believed was responsible for the misfortunes which befell her family, namely Dorothy Swinow. The story is driven by Mary's frustration at not being able to persuade anybody, including her own husband, of the guilt of Dorothy, and punctuated by Mary's ‘shopping’ for a sympathetic judge. It ends with the indictment of Swinow, but there is no suggestion within the text nor any evidence elsewhere that anything further came of it.
The authorship itself is not clear. The Preface to the Reader is signed by Mary Moore. The text speaks on occasion in the first person. But more often Mary is written of in the third person as the mother of the afflicted. The fragmentary and contradictory nature of the text is best explained if we see it more as a collection of texts, written by a number of persons including Mary, and put together by her.
In 1981, in his introduction to Unclean Spirits, Daniel Walker wrote of taking a step into a largely unexplored field, that of demonic possession and exorcism in early modern France and England. Over twenty years later, it remains still largely unexplored. This book is intended to continue the work then begun. It hopes to open up further territories then merely glanced at, and to provide new maps of terrains thus far merely sketched. It is my hope that the modernised versions of nine of the most significant contemporary stories of demonic possession and exorcism offered below will encourage others to search further.
The introduction proceeds from the assumption that the meaning of demonic possession and exorcism is to be found within the context of the social, political, and religious life of early modern England. More specifically, it argues that possession and deliverance is a cultural drama played out by all the participants within the confines of a cultural script known to all of them. And it suggests that the experiences of demonic possession had by demoniacs, exorcists, and audiences are shaped and configured by their cultural setting. Thus I hope that we come closer to a comprehension of how this aspect of popular religious belief and practice was lived out and experienced in the context of early modern English life and thought.
But this book aims too to bring its readers closer to the events it describes.