The spiritual globe
The Renaissance recovery of Ptolemy’s Geography may have laid the foundations for a scientific cartography, but the new interest in maps, which provided an increasingly sophisticated orientation to the unknown, also opened up a new prophetic space. And the growing knowledge of the globe would engage the religious imagination of many, as salvation moved to a planetary scale and fostered a long-standing desire to bring the entire world and all its peoples under one faith. As a result, spiritual desires themselves contributed to the expansion of cartography. This article traces this emerging apocalyptic cartography not only in Christian but also in Jewish and Islamic contexts. For each tradition, the ultimate goal, deeply felt in the early modern period, was the realization of a Beautiful Ending: the Second Coming of Jesus for the Christians, the arrival of the Messiah for the Jews, and the return of the Mahdi for the Muslims. But, while each tradition drew on similar apocalyptic visions of the End, their dreams of unity were ultimately exclusive. The ideal of the spiritual globe not only united, it also divided the world.
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