Zombies in America and at Qumran: AMC’s The Walking Dead, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Apocalyptic Redux

  • Author(s): Kipp Davis
  • When: 2015-07
  • Where: Journal of Religion and Popular Culture
  • The surging popularity of zombies in modern American fiction, film, and television is rooted in a form of “a-religious” apocalypticism: a fatalistic view of the world and the future without any hope for deliverance. This worldview contains a handful of intriguing similarities with the ancient Jewish eschatological expectations that appear in the Dead Sea Scrolls. This study surveys four prominent themes that are shared between the scrolls and the American hit television series, The Walking Dead: (1) expectations for the “last days”; (2) a persecution complex that produces doctrines of a “remnant”; (3) need for social preservation through “ritual” purity; and (4) “insider / outsider” polemics. This comparative exercise attempts to show how zombies in popular culture are one reflection of our own existential, socio-economic angst that finds expression in a post-modern, post-Christian context.

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