Work Title: Left Behind?: The Facts Behind the Fiction
Work Author(s): LeAnn Snow Flesher
168 pages, Softcover $14.00
Reviewer: Beth Hemke Shapiro
Since the cataclysmic events of 9/11, interest in biblical prophecy and end-of-world events has exploded, as people search for ways to cope with and understand previously unforeseen disasters. A corresponding fascination with the popular fundamentalist Christian fictional "Left Behind" series has increased, as readers have pored over its fifteen volumes, riveted by descriptions of the rapture and the Antichrist. Although the Left Behind series is fiction, many individuals believe it to be an accurate portrayal of biblical prophecy. In this volume, the author confronts the Left Behind series' claims head-on and offers alternative historical interpretations.
Flesher, a professor of the Old Testament at American Baptist Seminary of the West and a faculty member of the Graduate Theological Union, begins by explaining many of the terms found in eschatology, the study of last things. By examining history and using charts, the author defines the Left Behind series' view as "premillennial dispensationalist," which can be summarized as follows: Jesus will return to earth at the end of a seven-year tribulation in order to create a kingdom over which he will rule for one thousand years; Jesus will gather the faithful who will be raptured to heaven; and most scriptural promises will be fulfilled in the future.
Flesher counters the literal approach of the Left Behind series by recognizing many ingredients that are necessary in interpreting a particular passage of the Bible, such as its language, its time and place, its time span, its type of...