Four stages in the life of a millennial movement

Albert I. Baumgarten

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The object of this paper is to generalize about the experience of millennial movements. As part of that process I also intend to restore the intellectual link between the study of millennialism and cognitive analysis. Research into millennial movements and cognitive analysis shared an important juncture almost 50 years ago in the pioneering work of Festinger, Riecken and Schachter. They have since parted ways, in particular as a result of the criticism directed against some of the conclusions of Festinger and his colleagues (see further below). I regard this separation as unfortunate. In my view millennial studies and cognitive analysis are like twins separated at birth in a comedy of errors, each of whom has gone its separate way. They need to be reunited in order to reach a happy intellectual ending, one that allows the greatest possible light to be shed on millennial movements. The generalizations to follow are not intended as a means of overcoming the diversity of millenarian experience, as reflected in the papers in this volume and elsewhere. Rather, to the contrary, I intend to explicitly embrace the diversity of that experience. I take the acknowledgement that there is no single standard millenarian vision in Judaism, Christianity, Islam or any other major religious tradition as one of the hallmarks of contemporary research on the topic. I suggest that we focus on four stages or phases in the life of a typical millennial group.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWar in Heaven/Heaven on Earth
Subtitle of host publicationTheories of the Apocalyptic
PublisherEquinox Publishing Ltd
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781845534677
ISBN (Print)1904768873, 9781904768883
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2005

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Stephen D. O'Leary and Glen S. McGhee 2005. All rights reserved.


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