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IntroductIon

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Ottoman nineteenth century there was no eschatological current comparable to postmillennialism or the restorationist movement. These predominantly anglo-american currents were embedded in Western macrodynamics of ex- pansion and stood in a particular protestant relationship to Jewish legacy, the hebrew Bible, and civil emancipation of the Jews. There were explicit apocalyptical feelings in the late Ottoman world, feelings of end timesreligiously expressed or not—including the fear of islams corruption, the empires fall, and the rise of non-muslim infidels.” The feeling of threat and existential disorientation led to a longing for saviors. “among the muslims, too, there is no auspicious master [sahib-i hayır], to raise in their midst saying the way things are, or are not,” complained an Ottoman student in europe in a letter of 1896. he prayed, “mercy, my God, give the community of mu- hammed security and protection.”18

“last daysmarked by disorder (fitna), before the messianic reign, were expected by Jews, Christians, and muslims in premodern periods. some Ot- toman muslims and Jews praised Ottoman sultans in the fifteenth and six- teenth centuries as blessed rulers who put order in the chaos of the last days, thus paving the way for the mahdi, Jesus, or the messiah who would restore the Jews to palestine and establish the messianic kingdom. The broad apoca- lyptic dynamics of that period, in europe and in the Ottoman world, were marginalized in the late sixteenth century with the exception of england.19 in the mid-seventeenth century, a strong intracommunal Jewish movement emerged with sabbatai Zwi from smyrna. Zwi was declared the messiah, preached Jewish restoration in palestine, and won over many Jews in europe and the Ottoman empire. at the cradle of the sabbatian movement stood, among others, english millennialism: “in the home of his father . . . young sabbatai heard the stories of english merchants about the puritans who loved and studied the scriptures, identified themselves with the Jews and looked forward to the restoration of israel.”20 Zwis failure to lead the Jews back to palestine together with his forced conversion to sunni islam con- tributed to a decline of traditional messianic expectation and piety among Jews. For many among them in Western europe, it led to their final turn- ing to european enlightenment, including its modern ideologies (atheism, radical revolutionism, messianic nationalism, and socialism), but excluding a comprehensive modern rearticulation of religion and historical experience.21 The strong long-term appeal of american millennialism, in contrast to pre- modern Jewish messianism (both personal messianisms), lay in its ability to reconcile Calvinist Bible reading, enlightenment, and experiences of perse- cution, pioneering work, rise, and success. at the turn of the nineteenth cen- tury, protestant millennialism, based on a powerful reading of both modern

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