In Papua New Guinea it is widely believed that soon the biblically prescribed Second Coming of Jesus will end the world in its present state. This paper intends to examine the occurrence, change, and spread of apocalyptic narratives. I will summarize which eschatological signs have been pointed out to me in Pairundu (Southern Highlands Province) and how they were looked upon five years later. Surprisingly, subsequent fieldwork in Koimumu (West New Britain Province) showed that apocalyptic narratives seemed to be absent. Analyzing the ethnographic data, I will start with the question of why the inhabitants of Pairundu would find the idea of the Second Coming to be believable. Elucidation of the cultural meaning of this idea, however, will finally necessitate an attempt to account for its virtual nonexistence in Koimumu.


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pp. 171-204
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2004
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