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Apocalypticism and Popular Culture in South Africa: An Overview and Update

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AbstractApocalypticism, in the form of premillennial dispensationalism, based on foundational texts in Daniel, 2 Thessalonians and the book of Revelation, took root in South Africa through missionaries from the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century. At first associated with Pentecostal churches and splinter groups from traditional churches belief in an imminent rapture followed by the tribulation, the millennium and final white throne judgment characterise an ever-widening circle of so-called charismatic groups. This heightening of expectation can mainly be ascribed to the influence of Hal Lindsey during the 70s and 80s and Tim LaHaye during the first decade of the 21st century. Rapid growth in media technology and the popularity of religious fiction has resulted in a merging of apocalyptic expectation with popular culture. This article probes the nature of “popular culture” and its relation to religion in South African context, and indicates a route for further enquiry and research. It concludes with the question, “What obligation does this lay on the scholarly guild?”

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, University of South Africa PO Box 392, 0003 UNISA Republic of South Africa, Email:, URL:


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