The great popularity of The Left Behind novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins attests to the strong appeal of apocalyptic beliefs in many conservative Christian communities. As biblical scholar Robert M. Price reveals in this history and critique of Christian end-time beliefs, LaHaye and Jenkins’s famous novels are just the latest examples of a long tradition of popular fundamentalist eschatology. Price traces the origin and scriptural basis, which is sometimes astonishingly skimpy, for such beliefs as the Rapture, the Second Coming, the Antichrist, and Messianic prophecy. He emphasizes that the writers of the New Testament consistently set a first-century deadline for the return of Jesus Christ, and yet the stubborn fact that the Second Coming obviously did not occur has not deterred fundamentalist Christians from blindly predicting the event throughout the centuries up to the present day. Price then critiques the raft of previous apocalyptic novels before turning to the Left Behind series. He offers both literary and theological criticism, while explaining the psychological appeal of the books. Finally, he offers a parody chapter on the Left Behind series called “Tribulation Farce.” With its approachable, engaging style, The Paperback Apocalypse makes complex scholarly research accessible to the interested lay reader. Seminarians, religion scholars, interested observers of the American religious scene, and even fans of the Left Behind series will learn much from Price’s in-depth scholarship.
Robert M. Price is adjunct professor of theology and scriptural studies at the Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary, is the editor (with Jeffery Jay Lowder) of The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave and the Journal of Higher Criticism. He is also the author of… More about Robert M. Price