Signs, signs, everywhere a sign: an annotated translation and study of the Scripture on the cycles of heaven and earth

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Sacred apocalyptic texts claim to foretell coming events, warning the faithful of some terrible fate that lies beyond the present. Such texts often derive their power from successfully recasting past

Sacred apocalyptic texts claim to foretell coming events, warning the faithful of some terrible fate that lies beyond the present. Such texts often derive their power from successfully recasting past events in such a way as they appear to be "predicted" by the text and thus take on additional meanings beyond the superficial. This ex eventu status allows apocalyptic texts to increase the credibility of their future predictions and connect emotionally with the reader by playing on present fears. The fifth-century Daoist apocalyptic text, the Scripture on the Cycles of Heaven and Earth (Tiandi yundu jing, 天地運度經), is no exception. This thesis examines the apocalyptic markers in the poetic sections of the text, attempting to develop a strategy for separating the generic imagery (both to Chinese texts and the apocalyptic literary genre as a whole) from the more significant recoverable references to contemporary events such as the fall of the Jin dynasty and the subsequent founding of the Liu-Song dynasty.