Vision and Violence

Arthur P. Mendel
Just in time for the millennium—apocalyptic thinking, from ancient Greece to modern political philosophers


Vision and Violence argues that throughout Western history, the Apocalypse has changed nothing but its guise—from God to Reason, to History, and then to Nature—all the while holding us rapt with its prophecy of universal devastation. While in Judaism and Christianity it inspires efforts to uplift societies spiritually, the apocalyptic fantasy serves in secular thought--as in today's environmental movement—to bring about much-needed policy reforms.

Much of the book is devoted to an examination of the persistence of the apocalyptic heritage from ancient Greek and Hebrew civilizations, through the religious revivals of the Middle Ages and the Enlightenment belief in progress, to its importance in Hegelian and Bolshevik thought, and finally to its expression today in the resurgence of religious fundamentalism in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Mendel concludes his remarkable book with an appeal for the more modest and humane philosophy of the "repair of the world," which, he argues, is central to biblical teaching.

The late Arthur P. Mendel was Professor of History, University of Michigan, specializing in Russian intellectual history. His first book, Dilemmas of Progress in Tsarist Russia: Legal Marxism and Legal Populism, established him as one of the outstanding historians of his generation.

Richard Landes is co-founder, with Stephen O'Leary, of the Center for Millennial Studies. He is also Associate Professor of History, Boston University, and author of Relics, Apocalypse, and the Deceits of History: Ademar of Chabannes, 989-1034.

Praise / Awards

  • "Eloquent, moving, and compelling, Vision and Violence places our age into the context of apocalypse, showing the profound continuities of culture that link the crisis of our century to attitudes of long standing and an ancient, and enduring, mode of thought. Here is a work that translates scholarship into insight, and accords moral authority to knowledge, for on the strength of deep learning and reflection, Mendel instructs us on what has gone wrong, and how to understand our situation."
    —Jacob Neusner

Look Inside


Introduction 1
Apocalypse and God Ancient Theory 3
Apocalypse and God Medieval Practice 47
Apocalypse and Reason 95
Apocalypse and History 137
Apocalypse and Nature 195
Paradise Now The Counterculture 223
Full Circle Fundamentalism 265
The Middle Ground 309
Bibliography of Recent Books on the Millennium 323

Index 327


Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 328pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1992
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10275-4

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  • $79.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 1999
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08636-8

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  • $31.95 U.S.