Soon after the victory of Donald Trump in the U.S.A. presidential election a pavement advertisement board outside a bookshop read: “Dystopian fiction now found in the political history section”. Is a global conversation now even possible? Are we doomed to the trauma of a violent despair? Is hope nothing more than nostalgia?
This unit addresses a range of issues relating to hope, hopelessness, and despair, while seeking to understand and critically engage them through the history of Christian eschatological and apocalyptic thought. Beliefs and practices are inseparable which entails that practices of hope can be fruitfully examined in conjunction with critical analysis of the beliefs that ground and shape them.

Unit code: CT3820A

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Systematic Theology

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

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Learning outcomes


Understand the importance of context for the development of diverse eschatological beliefs


Evaluate a range of eschatological perspectives throughout the history of Christian theology


Communicate a critical understanding of the overlaps between philosophical and theological analyses of hope and hopelessness


Analytically articulate an appropriate form of engagement with perceived or real problems of hope and despair


Demonstrate the capacity to research a specific topic in a critically rigorous, sustained and self-directed manner.

Unit sequence

UG - Either an UG level 1 AP or CT unit


Mixed mode – Face-to-face, online, blended learning, flipped classrooms

Indicative Bibliography

  • Agamben, Giorgio, The Kingdom and the Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011).
  • Arendt, Hannah, The Human Condition (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1958).
  • Braidotti, Rosi, The Posthuman (Cambridge and Malden: Polity Press, 2013).
    Connolly, William, Facing the Planetary: Entangled Humanism and the Politics of Swarming (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2017).
  • Eagleton, Terry, Hope Without Optimism (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015).
  • Northcott, Michael, An Angel Directs the Storm: Apocalyptic Religion and American Empire (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2004).
  • Gray, John, Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia (London: Penguin Books, 2007).
  • Hauerwas, Stanley, Approaching the End: Eschatological Reflections on Church, Politics, and Life (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 2013).
  • Jameson, Frederic, Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions (London and New York: Verso, 2005).
  • Keller, Catherine, Apocalypse Now and Then: A Feminist Guide to the End of the World (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005).
  • McDowell, John, Theology and the Globalized Present: Feasting in the Presence of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2019).
  • McDowell, John (ed.), ‘Hope in Dark Times’, special issue of Religions (2019-20),
  • McDowell, John and Kirkland, Scott, Eschatology: Christian Hope, Guides to Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2018).
  • Mühling, Marcus, trans. Jennifer Adams-Maßmann and David Andrew Gilland, T&T Handbook of Christian Eschatology (London and New York: T&T Clark, 2015).
  • Nancy, Jean-Luc, The Creation of the World or Globalization, trans. François Raffoul and David Pettigrew (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007).
  • Polkinghorne, John and Welker, Michael (eds.), The End of the World and the Ends of God: Science and Theology on Eschatology (Harrisburg, Penn.: Trinity Press International, 2000)
  • Schwarz, Hans, Eschatology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 2000).
  • Taylor, Charles, A Secular Age A Secular Age (Cambridge, Mass., and London: Belknap Press, 2007).
  • Walls, Jerry L., The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Essay 1500 35.0
Essay 3000 65.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 5 Oct, 2020

Unit record last updated: 2020-10-05 18:00:18 +1100