Tabor in the Christian apocalyptic tradition

Martin Pjecha, (M.A.) (Central European University, Budapest, History)


From the earliest Christian period and throughout the middle ages, the various symbols and narratives of the Christian apocalypse were continually contested and reinterpreted. The identity of the Antichrist was continually adapted, prophecies of the end-time were constantly amended, and the exact chronology of the ultimate events was always a matter of speculation. Nevertheless, for almost a millennium after the foundational works of Augustine of Hippo, one detail of the apocalyptic narrative remained constant, namely man’s passive role therein. Despite the widespread acceptance of the final events, which would include cosmic wars, persecutions, and destruction, regular believers were rarely seen as anything more than passive observers in the epic drama. This did not change even with the popularization of apocalyptic movements in the thirteenth-century, and arguably only the most radical of the Hussites of the early fifteenth-century, the so-called Taborites, gave believers an active role the apocalyptic narrative with their calls to nihilistic violence. As such, the Taborites represented a significant shift in late-medieval intellectual history, one in which human historical progression, based on the will of God, actually required the cooperation of human with divine agency in order for that will to be fulfilled and realized. Furthermore, the Taborites represent a unique case in the Christian apocalyptic tradition in that they sought to help implement Christ's kingdom in the inner-worldly sphere, rather than seeing it as a part of the next (heavenly) existence.