John Napier and the mathematics of the 'middle future' apocalypse

Almond, Philip (2010) John Napier and the mathematics of the 'middle future' apocalypse. Scottish Journal of Theology, 63 1: 54-69. doi:10.1017/S0036930609990226

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Author Almond, Philip
Title John Napier and the mathematics of the 'middle future' apocalypse
Journal name Scottish Journal of Theology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0036-9306
Publication date 2010-02
Year available 2009
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1017/S0036930609990226
Volume 63
Issue 1
Start page 54
End page 69
Total pages 16
Place of publication Cambridge, United Kingdom
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Formatted abstract
This article explores the notion of 'middle future' apocalypticism through the work of the late sixteenth-century Scottish theologian and the discoverer of logarithms, John Napier. Middle future apocalypticism envisaged the end of the world, not in the immediate or far distant future but (rather like modern environmental apocalypticism) within the next 100-200 years. It enabled the understanding of the present in apocalyptic terms, and set out the requisite conditions, tasks and obligations - social, political and personal - essential for bringing to reality those events which were necessary precursors of the coming of Christ. John Napier's 1593 A Plaine Discovery of the whole Revelation of Saint Iohn was the first Scottish work on the book of Revelation. Though later to be derided by historians of mathematics and science, in its time, it was highly influential, not only in Scotland and England but also in Protestant communities on the Continent. I explore the complex mathematics which Napier brings to bear and suggest that the middle future apocalypticism of Napier, as demonstrated in the carefully articulated mathematics of history in this work, is both socially conservative and socially active. Living in the seventh age, as Napier believed he did, did not entail either 'downing tools' and passively awaiting the end, nor actively hastening the end by radical social upheaval. But it did mean in the here and now fighting the Antichrist of Rome, bringing in Reformed religion and spreading the true Gospel. (Copyright © 2010 Cambridge University Press)
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Available online 24 December 2009

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: 2010 Higher Education Research Data Collection
Centre for the History of European Discourses Publications
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Created: Sun, 28 Feb 2010, 00:00:44 EST