Recent studies have created an ever-fuller picture of Western apocalypticism in its various forms. Scholars have become more aware of the need to understand how apocalyptic conceptions have shaped and expressed group identities. In Reformation and early modern studies, one current challenge is to analyze end-time outlooks in relation to the formation of confessional cultures, and with regard to the broader social process of “confessionalization.” Differences in the character and intensity of apocalyptic expectancy among the major confessional cultures raise questions about their so-called “functional equivalence” so far as promoting social change was concerned.

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