"The revival of chiliasm in the later Middle Ages...had been kept alive in the Middle Ages in Jewish apocalypticism...Throughout the Middle Ages Jewish teachers and commentators, studying Old Testament prophecy and even astronomical phenomena, predicted the appearance of the Messiah and the establishment of a Messianic kingdom."6
Jewish rabbi Abba Hillel Silver wrote, "The hope of the Messiah did not at any time disappear in Israel.
The great Jewish philosopher Maimonides felt that belief in the Messiah was an essential article of faith: "King Messiah will arise in the future and will restore the kingship of David to its ancient condition... he will rebuild the Temple and gather the exiled of Israel...all the laws will return as they were in the past." This belief system also included a belief in a resurrection of the dead, a last judgement, and a New Jerusalem. The last great king would be a human figure with the blood of David, the Messiah.8
The beliefs called chiliasm or premillialism were branded as Jewish by both Luther and Calvin, and the Augsburg Confession of Faith.
The introduction of millenial beliefs and the occult occured in the British Isles when the Stuarts, part of the bloodline that secretly claimed to descent from Jesus, took the English throne.
The Puritans began during this period in England, and their speculation about the Millenium was on a grand scale.9 Certain elements of the Puritans were very much involved with the occult 10
too. The millenarian Puritans suffered political defeat in England, but were able to relocate to the New World. The first puritan group is known as the Pilgrims. The famous Pilgrims would retain a certain separateness from the later Puritan groups that would arrive to populate Massachusetts,12 and Connecticut. Johnathan Edwards gave intellectual stature to millenial beliefs.13 The idea of a coming Millenial Kingdom of a Jewish Messiah led Puritans to feel that they had a divine mission to the world,14 much in the manner that the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses view themselves today.
NEW ENGLANDERS & THE BURNED-OVER DISTRICT
The revivals of the Great Awakening and the Second Great Awakening produced great resurgences in religious activity. Researchers found their hottest points of revival, in those areas where descendents of the Puritans resided.15 Michael Barkum in his book Crucible of the Millennium discusses many of the connections between the revivals and the Millenial religions that sprang up in what is called the "burned-over district of New York." The burned-over area produced Mormonism, Adventism, as well as a host of other religious groups including 55 communal groups during the years of 1842-1848.1 Two of the better known groups are the Oneida communal group and the Shakers.
The burned-over area was settled by families, the majority of which had come from western Connecticut, western Massachusetts, and western Vermont.17 The New Englanders tended to move in groups of families en masse. Where that did not occur, relatives would join afterwards which meant that communities were usually culturally homogeneous and blood related.18
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