Eves, “Great Signs from Heaven”

Eves, Richard. 2011. “Great Signs From Heaven”: Christian Discourses of the End of the World from New Ireland. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 12(1):13-28.

Abstract: The intensifying global spread of apocalyptic forms of Christianity, now well established in Papua New Guinea, has popularised readings of the Bible that stress a cataclysmic end of the world from which only the faithful will be saved. This paper examines the way that this apocalyptic discourse is being embraced by the Lelet of central New Ireland, taking the case of an earthquake that occurred during the year 2000. Apocalypticism is increasingly the operative explanatory framework for unusual events that are seen as signs. However, recourse to it varies between individuals. Signs are very carefully examined and various theories, new and old, are considered before an explanation is finally accepted. I argue that the acceptance of new beliefs does not always depend on the existence of prior similar beliefs, and neither are older beliefs simply displaced by the new.

A part of the special issue: Negotiating the Horizon-Living Christianity in Melanesia