Waiting for Darkness: Apocalyptic Eschatology in Early Medieval China


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation examines apocalypticism from the end of the third century to the middle of the eighth century. The research centers on apocalyptic interpretations of the future descent of Maitreya Buddha, who was the focus of devotional practices as well as the inspiration for mass rebellions against the imperial state. These varying interpretations of Maitreya emerged from scriptural descriptions, and this project goes beyond prior studies by making use of both canonical and apocryphal scriptures. The project aims to answer the following question: how were certain apocalyptic ideas employed in a subversive manner to support political rebellions in medieval China, while similar messianic notions were concurrently utilized to reinforce the dominance of the imperial state?