Joachim of Fiore, Apocalyptic Conversion, and the ‘Persecuting Society’



In recent years, scholarship on the 12th-century Christian apocalyptic thinker Joachim of Fiore has highlighted the place of the Jews in his scenarios for the end of the world. Responding in part to R. I. Moore’s 1987 work The Formation of a Persecuting Society, historians argue that Joachim’s vision of a harmonious Jewish apocalyptic conversion stood in contrast with rise of a persecuting mentality among the Christian ruling elite of medieval Europe, who increasingly sought to identify, marginalize, and sometimes violently oppress non-Christian and non-orthodox communities. These scholarly discussions of apocalyptic conversion have extended to include the Western Christian belief that not just the Jews, but also pagans, Muslims, and even non-Western Christians would convert during the earthly Sabbath age that would precede the apocalypse. The resulting field of inquiry into medieval apocalyptic thought promises further insights into the ways that Christian scenarios for the ‘end of days’ might complicate narratives of religious persecution, violence, and conversion.