Why did medieval Europeans believe in a coming Apocalypse?
Why do so many 21st-century Americans believe the same thing?
This medieval illustrated manuscript depicts the End of Days, as prophesied by John the Apostle. Within its pages are a series of horrific visions, including the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who arrive to deliver pestilence, war, famine, and death, presaging Jesus Christ's return to judge the living and the dead.
The manuscript speaks to a belief widely held by medieval Europeans: the belief in a coming Apocalypse. Of course it didn't happen. And today, of the world's 7 billion people, only a tiny fraction believe that God is about to call "times up" on humanity. Almost all of that tiny fraction reside in one nation: the USA, where more than a quarter of the citizenry believe that the End of Days will occur within their lifetimes.
What do 21st-century Americans have in common with medieval Europeans that makes them believe the end is nigh?
The secret is revealed in the premiere broadcast of Museum Secrets: Inside the Met.
Meet Your Doom
We invite you to meet each of the four horsemen of the apocalypse in our Web Exclusive Video: Four Horsemen.
Choose Your Doom
Millions of people alive today are convinced the end is nigh. And millions more fear it might be. But how will the world end? With a bang? A whimper? A quantum singularity? And more importantly... what kind of apocalypse is right for you? To find out, we invite you to take the quiz in our Interactive Feature: Apocalypse: Made to Measure.
Down through history many have predicted the end of history. Like who? Check out Listverse for the Top 10 Failed Apocalyptic Predictions.
Beg to Differ
We realize it's not nice to make light of deeply held beliefs. So here is some information on someone who is convinced that Judgement Day is coming, presented without comment:
Harold Camping is a radio evangelist and president of Family Stations, a Christian radio network. In 1992 he predicted the world would end in 1994. Currently, on this page of his radio network's web site, Camping predicts the world will end on May 22, 2011.
As we promised, we're not commenting, except to say we will update this page on May 22, 2011 (if possible).
UPDATE: MAY 22, 2011: Turns out Harold Camping was wrong. The non-event was summed up nicely by David Batty of the Guardian: Apocalypse not now: The Rapture failes to materialize.
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