Crawford Gribben is an historian and something of an entrepreneur in his discipline. He is interested in religion of a kind that will be missed by many an historian because it is of no interest to themselves, and, perhaps, they think it is of no interest to their readers. For example, they have little patience for people who are interested in the likely occurrence of the Rapture amongst believers, because they could not conceivably be interested in the Rapture themselves. There is something of a partiality, a bias, at work in this, when it comes to writing histories of history. Their history would not have any slots about the people who had beliefs in the Rapture, and how the believers in it articulate it. The historian’s fishing net does not catch the Rapture, and so it is expunged from the record. Academic history is of course a humanism, but that manifests and is shaped by the current interests of historians. The history of belief in the Rapture does not settle down in the historical record as anything that anyone was interested in, not even to the reaction of bewilderment, or what it was like in 2021 to be a believer in the Rapture.
It is not only the Rapture, but several other convictions The result is – I think – that Crawford has an author’s ingenuity and works hard. For the book does not feature the Rapture alone - that was my way of this review getting going. But better, on the cultural setting of those who have among the people for whom the Rapture is an active belief. But it is an exercise in ‘Reconstruction’, another novel word, that is, a serious exercise in attempting a new cultural setting for the faith of men and women to grow. That is nearer what historians may be interested in, for it denotes the re-siting of human groups in order to arrange a novel culture. The importance of reconstruction us given in the title of the first chapter, ‘Migration’.