End of Days: An Encyclopedia of the Apocalypse in World Religion. Edited by Wendell G. Johnson. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2017. 381 pages. Acid free $89.00 (ISBN 978-1-4408-3940-5). E-book available (978-1-4408-3941-2), call for pricing.

Wendell G. Johnson, editor of End of Days: An Encyclopedia of the Apocalypse in World Religion (EOD), provides an excellent collection of essays related to various eschatological (study of the end of times) views. The purpose of EOD is fourfold: to provide readers with an overview of apocalyptic themes; to place popular apocalyptic motifs within their appropriate historical context; to enable a more complete appreciation and understanding of the presence of apocalyptic material in popular culture, literature, and the arts; and to present information in a single volume that will serve researchers in a variety of contexts (xii–xiii). Through the contributors of this work, Johnson exceeds these goals and provides a superb resource that will be a welcome addition to any library collection.

In works such as EOD that touch upon religious issues, definitions are critical. In his introduction, Johnson acknowledges this and defines both the terms eschatology and apocalyptic, terms that are critical to understand any work dealing with end times. Johnson’s definitions are incredibly helpful, particularly as the manifestation of these two ideas varies greatly between differing religions. In these definitions, Johnson provides an exceptional starting point for a collection of works that mimic that excellence.

When dealing with works of a religious nature, it is often difficult to find resources that provide objective dialog. Many works in this area often come from a Judeo-Christian perspective, and Judeo-Christian ideas subsequently tend to dominate these conversations. While Johnson’s work does provide several essays on Judeo-Christian eschatological concepts like “the great tribulation” and “millennialism,” EOD also provides superb essays on a variety of non-Western eschatological concepts. Johnson’s work strives to provide a global perspective of eschatology and exceeds that goal.

The variety and excellence of the various essays reflects the various research tools embedded in EOD. After each essay, the encyclopedia offers a list of works for further reading. The size of this list varies from topic to topic, but they include scholarly works that can help any reader discover more about that particular area. Even topics that may not be familiar to Western religious traditions, such as the Puranic Apocalypse, which refers to a sectarian text of the Hindu Brahminical tradition, have further resources, empowering EOD to serve as an excellent starting point for a variety of interests. EOD’s index mimics the excellence seen in the further reading lists.

If a patron turns to EOD to discover more about the Egyptian Book of the Dead, or any primary source, would it not be helpful to offer some primary text, so the reader can see the actual text for himself or herself? Several essays include a portion of the primary text that the article discusses. This feature is incredibly helpful for anyone desiring to learn more about the topic. Its inclusion increases the value of this already excellent work.

Due to the variety of topics covered, the extensive index, the depth and breadth of each article, and the fact that it is a one-volume work, EOD will be a welcome addition to any library: public, K–12, academic, or research. Its brief nature makes it a welcome addition to any patron who is just curious about a topic, but the index, the further reading lists, and the inclusion of primary texts make it an invaluable starting point for any researcher inquiring about eschatology.—Garrett B. Trott, University Librarian, Corban University, Salem, Oregon


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ALA Privacy Policy

© 2019 RUSA