Publication Date


Degree Granted

D. Lit. et Phil.

Institution Granting Degree

University of South Africa Pretoria


Puritan, apocalyptic, millennialism, Geneva Bible, Fifth Monarchy, the Diggers, the Levellers


Biblical Studies | Christian Denominations and Sects | European History | History of Christianity | History of Religion | Religion


The study of the apocalyptical phenomenon in biblical prophecy is an area of current investigation in biblical studies. The present dissertation utilizes the sociology of knowledge to investigate the socio-economic-religio-political milieu of the English Puritans in their development of an apocalyptical hermeneutic.

Medieval and Reformation backgrounds to the Puritan apocalyptic are traced from Wycliffe through Luther, Calvin, Knox, Bale, Bullinger and Foxe. The historic Protestant apocalyptic tradition was then adopted by the Marian exiles at Geneva and popularized through the extensive annotations of the various editions of the Geneva Bible. To these were added the speculations of such scholars as Napier, Ralegh, Brightman and Broughton.

In time, the millennialism of Alsted and Mede captured the Puritan imagination and became the predominant viewpoint as the Puritans adopted a “realized apocalyptic” which placed them within the apocalypse itself. Believing that the Battle of Armageddon had already begun, they logically concluded that a righteous revolution of the saints was necessary to fulfill the purposes of God against the Antichrist.

During the height of militant millenarianism the Puritans maintained a significant influence upon British politics through the Long Parliament and the subsequent Barebone’s Parliament. The Fifth Monarchists urged the Parliament to revolt against the monarchy, execute the King and establish Christ’s Kingdom on earth by force. However, at the height of their influence the Puritans became bitterly divided against themselves and their coalition fragmented into failure to impose their apocalyptic vision on the nation.