Secular and spiritual prophets of doom abound in the information-rich twenty-first century - as they have for millennia. But there has yet to be worldwide floods, meteor impact, global computer failure, obvious alien contact, or direct intervention from God to end the world as we know it. Considering the frequency with which prophecy apparently fails, why do prophecies continue to be made, and what social functions do they serve? This volume gives a concise, but comprehensive, overview of the rich diversity of prophecy, its role in major world religions as well as in new religions and alternative spiritualties, its social dynamics and its impact on individuals’ lives. Academic analyses are complimented with contextualized primary source testimonies of those who live and have lived within a prophetic framework. The book argues that the key to understanding the more dramatic, apocalyptic and millenarian aspects of prophecy is in appreciating prophecy’s more mundane manifestations and its role in providing meaning and motivation in everyday life.
Sarah Harvey, MSc is a Research Officer at Inform where she has worked since 2001. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Manchester in Comparative Religion and Social Anthropology and a Masters degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Social Research Methods (Sociology). She is also currently a PhD student at the University of Kent researching the natural childbirth movement. At Inform, her research focuses on Pagan religions, new Christian movements, the 'new age' milieu and 2012 prophecies. She has recently guest edited a special issue of The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies. Dr. Suzanne Newcombe is a Research Officer at Inform where she has worked since 2002. She is also an Associate Lecturer for the Open University in the East of England and has lectured in the field of new and alternative religious movements at Kingston University. Her PhD research at the University of Cambridge explored the popularization and development of yoga and Ayurvedic medicine in Britain. She continues to be active in research networks in this area and has published articles in the Journal of Contemporary Religion, Religion Compass and Asian Medicine, as well as contributing chapters to a number of edited books.
’This is a rich text full of significant insights for both new comers to the field of study and established experts. Uniquely combining the views of scholars and participants in prophetic movements, the essays in this volume make important contributions to our theoretical and empirical grasp of why and how prophecies generate, sustain, and sometimes strain religious movements, ranging from the lengthy legacy of Christian apocalypticism to the recent preoccupation with the Mayan 2012 prophecy and many other contemporary revelations.' Lorne Dawson, University of Waterloo, Canada ’Seasoned scholars are joined by new researchers in this rich and lively collection. Coverage is broad and comparative, chapters are written in an accessible yet scholarly style, and a sure editorial hand is evident throughout. The volume as a whole makes a persuasive case for restoring prophecy to a central place within the comparative study of religion.’ Steven J. Sutcliffe, University of Edinburgh, UK 'One of the many strengths of the text is the diversity and multiplicity of its perspectives. ... any religious studies student or scholar should add this text to his/her collection.' Nova Religio '[This is] a rich and ground-breaking study that should stimulate a fresh interest in this enigmatic phenomenon.' Review of Religious Research 'As in the other volumes of this series, the editors offer a rich mix of approaches and include fascinating insider perspectives in the form of case studies ... offering an essential insider perspective that complements the empirical research and theoretical models put forward in the other chapters.' Fieldwork in Religion