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The Book of Revelation, often called the Book of Revelations, Revelation to John, the Apocalypse of John, The Revelation, or simply Revelation, the Revelation of Jesus Christ (from its opening words) or the Apocalypse , is the final book of the New Testament, and therefore also the final book of the Christian Bible. It occupies a central place in Christian eschatology. Its title is derived from the first word of the text, written in Koine Greek: apokalypsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation" (before title pages and titles, books were commonly known by the incipit, their first words, as is also the case of the Hebrew Five Books of Moses (Torah). The Book of Revelation is the only apocalyptic document in the New Testament canon (although there are short apocalyptic passages in various places in the Gospels and the Epistles) The only extended passage in the Old Testament is in the Book of Daniel.
The New Testament is the second part of the Christian biblical canon, the first being the Old Testament. The New Testament discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianity. Christians regard both the Old and New Testaments together as sacred scripture.
Christian eschatology is a major branch of study within Christian theology dealing with the "last things." Eschatology, from two Greek words meaning "last" (ἔσχατος) and "study" (-λογία), is the study of 'end things', whether the end of an individual life, the end of the age, the end of the world or the nature of the Kingdom of God. Broadly speaking, Christian eschatology is the study concerned with the ultimate destiny of the individual soul and the entire created order, based primarily upon biblical texts within the Old and New Testament.
The incipit of a text is the first few words of the text, employed as an identifying label. In a musical composition, an incipit is an initial sequence of notes, having the same purpose. The word incipit comes from Latin and means "it begins". Its counterpart taken from the ending of the text is the explicit.
The author names himself in the text as "John", but his precise identity remains a point of academic debate. Second-century Christian writers such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Melito the bishop of Sardis, and Clement of Alexandria and the author of the Muratorian fragment identify John the Apostle as the "John" of Revelation.Modern scholarship generally takes a different view, and many consider that nothing can be known about the author except that he was a Christian prophet. Some modern scholars characterise Revelation's author as a putative figure whom they call "John of Patmos". The bulk of traditional sources date the book to the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian (AD 81–96), and the evidence tends to confirm this.
Justin Martyr was an early Christian apologist, and is regarded as the foremost interpreter of the theory of the Logos in the 2nd century. He was martyred, alongside some of his students, and is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Oriental Orthodox Churches.
Irenaeus was a Greek bishop noted for his role in guiding and expanding Christian communities in what is now the south of France and, more widely, for the development of Christian theology by combatting heresy and defining orthodoxy. Originating from Smyrna, now Izmir in Turkey, he had heard the preaching of Polycarp, who in turn was said to have heard John the Evangelist.
Titus Flavius Clemens, also known as Clement of Alexandria, was a Christian theologian and philosopher who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. A convert to Christianity, he was an educated man who was familiar with classical Greek philosophy and literature. As his three major works demonstrate, Clement was influenced by Hellenistic philosophy to a greater extent than any other Christian thinker of his time, and in particular by Plato and the Stoics. His secret works, which exist only in fragments, suggest that he was also familiar with pre-Christian Jewish esotericism and Gnosticism. In one of his works he argued that Greek philosophy had its origin among non-Greeks, claiming that both Plato and Pythagoras were taught by Egyptian scholars. Among his pupils were Origen and Alexander of Jerusalem.
The book spans three literary genres: the epistolary, the apocalyptic, and the prophetic.It begins with John, on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, addressing a letter to the "Seven Churches of Asia". He then describes a series of prophetic visions, including figures such as the Seven Headed Dragon, The Serpent and the Beast, culminating in the Second Coming of Jesus.
A letter is a written message conveyed from one party to another party through a medium. Letters can be formal and informal. Besides a means of communication and a store of information, letter writing has played a role in the reproduction of writing as an art throughout history. Letters have been sent since antiquity and are mentioned in the Iliad. Historians Herodotus and Thucydides mention and utilize letters in their writings.
Apocalyptic literature is a genre of prophetical writing that developed in post-Exilic Jewish culture and was popular among millennialist early Christians.
Patmos is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea. It is the location of the vision given to the disciple John in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament, and where the book was written.
The obscure and extravagant imagery has led to a wide variety of Christian interpretations: historicist interpretations see in Revelation a broad view of history; preterist interpretations treat Revelation as mostly referring to the events of the apostolic era (1st century), or, at the latest, the fall of the Roman Empire; futurists believe that Revelation describes future events, the seven churches growing into the body/believers throughout the age, and a reemergence or continuous rule of a Roman/Graeco system with modern capabilities described by John in ways familiar to him; and idealist or symbolic interpretations consider that Revelation does not refer to actual people or events, but is an allegory of the spiritual path and the ongoing struggle between good and evil.
Christian Historicism is a method of interpretation of Biblical prophecies which associates symbols with historical persons, nations or events. The main primary texts of interest to Christian historicists include apocalyptic literature, such as the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation. It sees the prophecies of Daniel as being fulfilled throughout history, extending from the past through the present to the future. It is sometimes called the continuous historical view. Commentators have also applied historicist methods to ancient Jewish history, to the Roman Empire, to Islam, to the Papacy, to the Modern era, and to the end time.
In Christianity, the Apostolic Age is the period from the death of Jesus until the death of the last of the Twelve Apostles. It holds special significance in Christian tradition as the age of the direct apostles of Jesus.
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of ancient Rome, consisting of large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean sea in Europe, North Africa and West Asia ruled by emperors. From the accession of Caesar Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, it was a principate with Italy as metropole of the provinces and its city of Rome as sole capital. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided in a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when it sent the imperial insignia to Constantinople following the capture of Ravenna by the barbarians of Odoacer and the subsequent deposition of Romulus Augustus. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to Germanic kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.
The name Revelation comes from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: ἀποκάλυψις (apokalypsis), which means "unveiling" or "revelation". The author names himself as "John", but modern scholars consider it unlikely that the author of Revelation also wrote the Gospel of John. Pope Dionysius of Alexandria set out some of the evidence for this view as early as the second half of the third century, noting that the gospel and the epistles attributed to John, unlike Revelation, do not name their author, and that the Greek of the gospel is stylistically correct and elegant while that of Revelation is neither; some later scholars believe that the two books also have radical differences in theological perspective.
Koine Greek, also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the common supra-regional form of Greek spoken and written during the Hellenistic period, the Roman Empire, and the early Byzantine Empire, or late antiquity. It evolved from the spread of Greek following the conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC, and served as the lingua franca of much of the Mediterranean region and the Middle East during the following centuries. It was based mainly on Attic and related Ionic speech forms, with various admixtures brought about through dialect levelling with other varieties.
The Gospel of John is the fourth of the canonical gospels. The work is anonymous, although it identifies an unnamed "disciple whom Jesus loved" as the source of its traditions. It is closely related in style and content to the three Johannine epistles, and most scholars treat the four books, along with the Book of Revelation, as a single corpus of Johannine literature, albeit not from the same author.
Saint Dionysius of Alexandria, named "the Great," 14th Pope of Alexandria & Patriarch of the See of St. Mark from 28 December 248 until his death on 22 March 264, after seventeen years as a bishop. Most known information about him comes from Dionysius' large surviving correspondence. Only one original letter survives to this day; the remaining letters are excerpted in the works of Eusebius.
Tradition ascribes the authorship to John the Apostle, but it seems unlikely that the apostle could have lived into the most likely time for the book's composition, the reign of Domitian, and the author never states that he knew Jesus.All that is known is that this John was a Jewish Christian prophet, probably belonging to a group of such prophets, and was accepted as such by the congregations to whom he addresses his letter. His precise identity remains unknown, and modern scholarship commonly refers to him as "John of Patmos" (Revelation 1:9 – "I was put on the Island of Patmos").
John the Apostle was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus according to the New Testament, which refers to him as Ἰωάννης. Generally listed as the youngest apostle, he was the son of Zebedee and Salome or Joanna. His brother was James, who was another of the Twelve Apostles. The Church Fathers identify him as John the Evangelist, John of Patmos, John the Elder and the Beloved Disciple, and testify that he outlived the remaining apostles and that he was the only one to die of natural causes. The traditions of most Christian denominations have held that John the Apostle is the author of several books of the New Testament.
Early Christianity had its roots in Hellenistic Judaism and the Jewish messianism of the first century and Jewish Christians were the first Christians. Christianity started with Jewish eschatological expectations, and it developed into the veneration of a deified Jesus after his earthly ministry, his crucifixion, and the post–crucifixion experiences of his followers.
John of Patmos is the author named as John in the Book of Revelation, the apocalyptic text forming the final book of the New Testament. The text of Revelation states that John was on Patmos, a Greek island where, by most biblical historians, he is considered to be in exile as a result of anti-Christian persecution under the Roman emperor Domitian.
The book has been written about 95 AD. The date is suggested by clues in the visions pointing to the reign of the emperor Domitian.The beast with seven heads and the number 666 seem to allude directly to the emperor Nero (reigned AD 54–68), but this does not require that Revelation was written in the 60s, as there was a widespread belief in later decades that Nero would return.
Revelation is an apocalyptic prophecy with an epistolary introduction addressed to seven churches in the Roman province of Asia."Apocalypse" means the revealing of divine mysteries; John is to write down what is revealed (what he sees in his vision) and send it to the seven churches. The entire book constitutes the letter—the letters to the seven individual churches are introductions to the rest of the book, which is addressed to all seven. While the dominant genre is apocalyptic, the author sees himself as a Christian prophet: Revelation uses the word in various forms twenty-one times, more than any other New Testament book.
The predominant view is that Revelation alludes to the Old Testament although it is difficult among scholars to agree on the exact number of allusions or the allusions themselves. [ need quotation to verify ]Revelation rarely quotes directly from the Old Testament, yet almost every verse alludes to or echoes older scriptures. Over half of the references stem from Daniel, Ezekiel, Psalms, and Isaiah, with Daniel providing the largest number in proportion to length and Ezekiel standing out as the most influential. Because these references appear as allusions rather than as quotes, it is difficult to know whether the author used the Hebrew or the Greek version of the Hebrew scriptures, but he was clearly often influenced by the Greek. He very frequently combines multiple references, and again the allusional style makes it impossible to be certain to what extent he did so consciously.
Conventional understanding until recent times was that the Book of Revelation was written to comfort beleaguered Christians as they underwent persecution at the hands of a megalomaniacal Roman emperor, but much of this has now been jettisoned: Domitian is no longer viewed as a despot imposing an imperial cult, and it is no longer believed that there was any systematic empire-wide persecution of Christians in his time. [ additional citation(s) needed ] The current view is that Revelation was composed in the context of a conflict within the Christian community of Asia Minor over whether to engage with, or withdraw from, the far larger non-Christian community: Revelation chastises those Christians who wanted to reach an accommodation with the Roman cult of empire. This is not to say that Christians in Roman Asia were not suffering, for withdrawal from, and defiance against, the wider Roman society, which imposed very real penalties; Revelation offered a victory over this reality by offering an apocalyptic hope: in the words of professor Adela Yarbro Collins, "What ought to be was experienced as a present reality."
Revelation was the last book accepted into the Christian biblical canon, and to the present day some churches that derive from the Church of the East reject it.Eastern Christians became skeptical of the book as doubts concerning its authorship and unusual style were reinforced by aversion to its acceptance by Montanists and other groups considered to be heretical. This distrust of the Book of Revelation persisted in the East through the 15th century.
Dionysius (248 AD), bishop of Alexandria, disciple of Origen wrote that the Book of Revelation could have been written by Cerinthus although he himself did not adopt the view that Cerinthus was the writer. He regarded the Apocalypse as the work of an inspired man but not of an Apostle (Eusebius, Church History VII.25).
Eusebius, in his Church History (c. 330 AD) mentioned that the Apocalypse of John was accepted as a Canonical book and rejected at the same time:
- 1. ... it is proper to sum up the writings of the New Testament which have been already mentioned... After them is to be placed, if it really seem proper, the Apocalypse of John, concerning which we shall give the different opinions at the proper time. These then belong among the accepted writings [Homologoumena].
- 4. Among the rejected [Kirsopp. Lake translation: "not genuine"] writings must be reckoned, as I said, the Apocalypse of John, if it seem proper, which some, as I said, reject, but which others class with the accepted books.
The Apocalypse of John, also called Revelation, is counted as both accepted (Kirsopp. Lake translation: "Recognized") and disputed, which has caused some confusion over what exactly Eusebius meant by doing so. The disputation can perhaps be attributed to Origen.Origen seems to have accepted it in his writings.
Cyril of Jerusalem (348 AD) does not name it among the canonical books (Catechesis IV.33–36).
Athanasius (367 AD) in his Letter 39,Augustine of Hippo (c. 397 AD) in his book On Christian Doctrine (Book II, Chapter 8), Tyrannius Rufinus (c. 400 AD) in his Commentary on the Apostles' Creed, Pope Innocent I (405 AD) in a letter to the bishop of Toulouse and John of Damascus (about 730 AD) in his work An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith (Book IV:7) listed "the Revelation of John the Evangelist" as a canonical book.
The Council of Laodicea (363) omits it as a canonical book.
The Decretum Gelasianum , which is a work written by an anonymous scholar between 519 and 553, contains a list of books of scripture presented as having been reckoned as canonical by the Council of Rome (382 AD). This list mentions it as a part of the New Testament canon.
The Synod of Hippo (in 393),followed by the Council of Carthage (397), the Council of Carthage (419), the Council of Florence (1442 AD) and the Council of Trent (1546 AD) classified it as a canonical book.
The Apostolic Canons, approved by the Eastern Orthodox Council in Trullo in 692, but rejected by Pope Sergius I, omit it.
Doubts resurfaced during the 16th-century Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther called Revelation "neither apostolic nor prophetic" in the 1522 preface to his translation of the New Testament (he revised his position with a much more favorable assessment in 1530), Huldrych Zwingli labelled it "not a book of the Bible", As of 2015 [update] Revelation remains the only New Testament book not read in the Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Church, though Catholic and Protestant liturgies include it.[ citation needed ]and it was the only New Testament book on which John Calvin did not write a commentary.
There are approximately 300 Greek manuscripts of Revelation. 47 (3rd century); the minuscules (8th to 10th century), plus fragmentary quotations in the Church fathers of the 2nd to 5th centuries and the 6th-century Greek commentary on Revelation by Andreas.While the Codex Vaticanus does not include it, the other major manuscripts that do are the Codex Sinaiticus (4th century), Codex Alexandrinus (5th century), and Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (5th century). In addition, there are numerous papyri, especially that of
Divisions in the book seem to be marked by the repetition of key phrases, by the arrangement of subject matter into blocks, and associated with its Christological passages,and much use is made of significant numbers, especially the number seven, which represented perfection according to ancient numerology. Nevertheless, there is a "complete lack of consensus" among scholars about the structure of Revelation. The following is therefore an outline of the book's contents rather than of its structure.
Revelation has a wide variety of interpretations, ranging from the simple historical interpretation, to a prophetic view on what will happen in the future by way of the Will of God and the Woman's victory on Satan ("symbolic interpretation"), to different end time scenarios ("futurist interpretation"),to the views of critics who deny any spiritual value to Revelation at all, ascribing it to a human-inherited archetype.
This interpretation, which has found expression among both Catholic and Protestant theologians, considers the liturgical worship, particularly the Easter rites, of early Christianity as background and context for understanding the Book of Revelation's structure and significance. This perspective is explained in The Paschal Liturgy and the Apocalypse (new edition, 2004) by Massey H. Shepherd, an Episcopal scholar, and in Scott Hahn's The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth (1999), in which he states that Revelation in form is structured after creation, fall, judgment and redemption. Those who hold this view say that the Temple's destruction (AD 70) had a profound effect on the Jewish people, not only in Jerusalem but among the Greek-speaking Jews of the Mediterranean.
They believe the Book of Revelation provides insight into the early Eucharist, saying that it is the new Temple worship in the New Heaven and Earth. The idea of the Eucharist as a foretaste of the heavenly banquet is also explored by British Methodist Geoffrey Wainwright in his book Eucharist and Eschatology (Oxford University Press, 1980). According to Pope Benedict XVI some of the images of Revelation should be understood in the context of the dramatic suffering and persecution of the churches of Asia in the 1st century.[ citation needed ]
Accordingly, the Book of Revelation should not be read as an enigmatic warning, but as an encouraging vision of Christ's definitive victory over evil.
In the Coptic Orthodox Church the whole Book of Revelation is read during Apocalypse Night or Good Friday.
Most Christian interpretations fall into one or more of the following categories:
Eastern Orthodoxy treats the text as simultaneously describing contemporaneous events (events occurring at the same time) and as prophecy of events to come, for which the contemporaneous events were a form of foreshadow. It rejects attempts to determine, before the fact, if the events of Revelation are occurring by mapping them onto present-day events, taking to heart the Scriptural warning against those who proclaim "He is here!" prematurely. Instead, the book is seen as a warning to be spiritually and morally ready for the end times, whenever they may come ("as a thief in the night"), but they will come at the time of God's choosing, not something that can be precipitated nor trivially deduced by mortals. [ citation needed ]This view is also held by many Catholics, although there is a diversity of opinion about the nature of the Apocalypse within Catholicism.
Book of Revelation is the only book of the New Testament that is not read during services by the Byzantine Rite Churches although in the Western Rite Orthodox Parishes, which are under the same bishops as the Byzantine Rite, it is read.
The early Protestants followed a historicist interpretation of the Bible, which identified the Pope as the Antichrist.
Similar to the early Protestants, Adventists maintain a historicist interpretation of the Bible's predictions of the apocalypse.
Seventh-day Adventists believe the Book of Revelation is especially relevant to believers in the days preceding the second coming of Jesus Christ. "The universal church is composed of all who truly believe in Christ, but in the last days, a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.""Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus." As participatory agents in the work of salvation for all humankind, "This remnant announces the arrival of the judgment hour, proclaims salvation through Christ, and heralds the approach of His second advent." The three angels of Revelation 14 represent the people who accept the light of God's messages and go forth as His agents to sound the warning throughout the length and breadth of the earth.
By the analogous reasoning between the Millerite historicism, and Baha'u'llah's doctrine of progressive revelation, a modified historicist method of interpreting prophecy have become integrated in foremost American Bahá'í teachings.
`Abdu'l-Bahá has given some interpretations about the 11th and 12th chapters of Revelation in Some Answered Questions .The 1,260 days spoken of in the forms: one thousand two hundred and sixty days, forty-two months, refers to the 1,260 years in the Islamic Calendar (AH 1260 or 1844 AD). The "two witnesses" spoken of are Muhammad and Ali. Also, the Bible reads, "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads". The seven heads of the dragon are symbolic of the seven provinces dominated by the Umayyads: Damascus, Persia, Arabia, Egypt, Africa, Andalusia, and Transoxania. The ten horns represent the ten names of the leaders of the Umayyad dynasty: Abu Sufyan, Muawiya, Yazid, Marwan, Abd al-Malik, Walid, Sulayman, Umar, Hisham, and Ibrahim. Some names were re-used, as in the case of Yazid II and Yazid III and the like, which were not counted for this interpretation.
The Book of Mormon states that John the Apostle is the author of Revelation and that he was foreordained by God to write it. [ non-primary source needed ]
Doctrine and Covenants, section 77, postulates answers to specific questions regarding the symbolism contained in the Book of Revelation. [ non-primary source needed ] Topics include: the sea of glass, the four beasts and their appearance, the 24 elders, the book with seven seals, certain angels, the sealing of the 144,000, the little book eaten by John, and the two witnesses in Chapter 11.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that the warning contained in Revelation 22:18–19does not refer to the biblical canon as a whole. Rather, an open and ongoing dialogue between God and the modern-day Prophet and Apostles of the LDS faith constitute an open canon of scripture.
Christian Gnostics, however, are unlikely to be attracted to the teaching of Revelation because the doctrine of salvation through the sacrificed Lamb, which is central to Revelation, is repugnant to Gnostics. Christian Gnostics "believed in the Forgiveness of Sins, but in no vicarious sacrifice for sin ... they accepted Christ in the full realisation of the word; his life, not his death, was the keynote of their doctrine and their practice."
James Morgan Pryse was an esoteric gnostic who saw Revelation as a western version of the Hindu theory of the Chakra. He began his work, "The purpose of this book is to show that the Apocalypse is a manual of spiritual development and not, as conventionally interpreted, a cryptic history or prophecy."Such diverse theories have failed to command widespread acceptance. But Christopher Rowland argues: "there are always going to be loose threads which refuse to be woven into the fabric as a whole. The presence of the threads which stubbornly refuse to be incorporated into the neat tapestry of our world-view does not usually totally undermine that view."
The radical discipleship interpretation asserts that the Book of Revelation is best understood as a handbook for radical discipleship; i. e., how to remain faithful to the spirit and teachings of Jesus and avoid simply assimilating to surrounding society. In this interpretation the primary agenda of the book is to expose as impostors the worldly powers that seek to oppose the ways of God and God's Kingdom.[ citation needed ] The chief temptation for Christians in the 1st century, and today, is to fail to hold fast to the non-violent teachings and example of Jesus and instead be lured into unquestioning adoption and assimilation of worldly, national or cultural values – imperialism, nationalism, and civil religion being the most dangerous and insidious.[ citation needed ]
This perspective (closely related to liberation theology) draws on the approach of Bible scholars such as Ched Myers, William Stringfellow, Richard Horsley, Daniel Berrigan, Wes Howard-Brook,and Joerg Rieger. Various Christian anarchists, such as Jacques Ellul, have identified the State and political power as the Beast and the events described, being their doings and results, the aforementioned ‘wrath’.
Many literary writers and theorists have contributed to a wide range of theories about the origins and purpose of the Book of Revelation. Some of these writers have no connection with established Christian faiths but, nevertheless, found in Revelation a source of inspiration. Revelation has been approached from Hindu philosophy and Jewish Midrash. Others have pointed to aspects of composition which have been ignored such as the similarities of prophetic inspiration to modern poetic inspiration, or the parallels with Greek drama. In recent years, theories have arisen which concentrate upon how readers and texts interact to create meaning and which are less interested in what the original author intended.[ citation needed ]
Charles Cutler Torrey taught Semitic languages at Yale University. His lasting contribution has been to show how much more meaningful prophets, such as the scribe of Revelation, are when treated as poets first and foremost. He thought this was a point often lost sight of because most English bibles render everything in prose.Poetry was also the reason John never directly quoted the older prophets. Had he done so, he would have had to use their (Hebrew) poetry whereas he wanted to write his own. Torrey insisted Revelation had originally been written in Aramaic.
This was why the surviving Greek translation was written in such a strange idiom. It was a literal translation that had to comply with the warning at Revelation 22:18 that the text must not be corrupted in any way. According to Torrey, the story is that "The Fourth Gospel was brought to Ephesus by a Christian fugitive from Palestine soon after the middle of the first century. It was written in Aramaic." Later, the Ephesians claimed this fugitive had actually been the beloved disciple himself. Subsequently, this John was banished by Nero and died on Patmos after writing Revelation. Torrey argued that until AD 80, when Christians were expelled from the synagogues,the Christian message was always first heard in the synagogue and, for cultural reasons, the evangelist would have spoken in Aramaic, else "he would have had no hearing." Torrey showed how the three major songs in Revelation (the new song, the song of Moses and the Lamb and the chorus at 19: 6–8) each fall naturally into four regular metrical lines plus a coda. Other dramatic moments in Revelation, such as 6:16 where the terrified people cry out to be hidden, behave in a similar way.
Christina Rossetti was a Victorian poet who believed the sensual excitement of the natural world found its meaningful purpose in death and in God.Her The Face of the Deep is a meditation upon the Apocalypse. In her view, what Revelation has to teach is patience. Patience is the closest to perfection the human condition allows. Her book, which is largely written in prose, frequently breaks into poetry or jubilation, much like Revelation itself. The relevance of John's visions belongs to Christians of all times as a continuous present meditation. Such matters are eternal and outside of normal human reckoning. "That winter which will be the death of Time has no promise of termination. Winter that returns not to spring ... – who can bear it?" She dealt deftly with the vengeful aspects of John's message. "A few are charged to do judgment; everyone without exception is charged to show mercy." Her conclusion is that Christians should see John as "representative of all his brethren" so they should "hope as he hoped, love as he loved."
Recently, aesthetic and literary modes of interpretation have developed, which focus on Revelation as a work of art and imagination, viewing the imagery as symbolic depictions of timeless truths and the victory of good over evil. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza wrote Revelation: Vision of a Just World from the viewpoint of rhetoric.Accordingly, Revelation's meaning is partially determined by the way John goes about saying things, partially by the context in which readers receive the message and partially by its appeal to something beyond logic.
Professor Schüssler Fiorenza believes that Revelation has particular relevance today as a liberating message to disadvantaged groups. John's book is a vision of a just world, not a vengeful threat of world-destruction. Her view that Revelation's message is not gender-based has caused dissent. She says we are to look behind the symbols rather than make a fetish out of them. In contrast, Tina Pippin states that John writes "horror literature" and "the misogyny which underlies the narrative is extreme."
D. H. Lawrence took an opposing, pessimistic view of Revelation in the final book he wrote, Apocalypse.He saw the language which Revelation used as being bleak and destructive; a 'death-product'. Instead, he wanted to champion a public-spirited individualism (which he identified with the historical Jesus supplemented by an ill-defined cosmic consciousness) against its two natural enemies. One of these he called "the sovereignty of the intellect" which he saw in a technology-based totalitarian society. The other enemy he styled "vulgarity" and that was what he found in Revelation. "It is very nice if you are poor and not humble ... to bring your enemies down to utter destruction, while you yourself rise up to grandeur. And nowhere does this happen so splendiferously than in Revelation."
His specific aesthetic objections to Revelation were that its imagery was unnatural and that phrases like "the wrath of the Lamb" were "ridiculous." He saw Revelation as comprising two discordant halves. In the first, there was a scheme of cosmic renewal in "great Chaldean sky-spaces", which he quite liked. After that, Lawrence thought, the book became preoccupied with the birth of the baby messiah and "flamboyant hate and simple lust ... for the end of the world." Lawrence coined the term "Patmossers" to describe those Christians who could only be happy in paradise if they knew their enemies were suffering in hell.
Modern biblical scholarship attempts to understand Revelation in its 1st-century historical context within the genre of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature.This approach considers the text as an address to seven historical communities in Asia Minor. Under this interpretation, assertions that "the time is near" are to be taken literally by those communities. Consequently, the work is viewed as a warning to not conform to contemporary Greco-Roman society which John "unveils" as beastly, demonic, and subject to divine judgment.
New Testament narrative criticism also places Revelation in its first century historical context but approaches the book from a literary perspective.For example, narrative critics examine characters and characterization, literary devices, settings, plot, themes, point of view, implied reader, implied author, and other constitutive features of narratives in their analysis of the book.
Although the acceptance of Revelation into the canon has from the beginning been controversial, it has been essentially similar to the career of other texts.The eventual exclusion of other contemporary apocalyptic literature from the canon may throw light on the unfolding historical processes of what was officially considered orthodox, what was heterodox, and what was even heretical. Interpretation of meanings and imagery are anchored in what the historical author intended and what his contemporary audience inferred; a message to Christians not to assimilate into the Roman imperial culture was John's central message. Thus, his letter (written in the apocalyptic genre) is pastoral in nature (its purpose is offering hope to the downtrodden), and the symbolism of Revelation is to be understood entirely within its historical, literary, and social context. Critics study the conventions of apocalyptic literature and events of the 1st century to make sense of what the author may have intended.
Scholar Barbara Whitlock pointed out a similarity between the consistent destruction of thirds depicted in the Book of Revelation (a third of mankind by plagues of fire, smoke, and brimstone, a third of the trees and green grass, a third of the sea creatures and a third of the ships at sea, etc.) and the Iranian mythology evil character Zahhak or Dahāg, depicted in the Avesta, the earliest religious texts of Zoroastrianism. Dahāg is mentioned as wreaking much evil in the world until at last chained up and imprisoned on the mythical Mt. Damāvand. The Middle Persian sources prophesy that at the end of the world, Dahāg will at last burst his bonds and ravage the world, consuming one in three humans and livestock, until the ancient hero Kirsāsp returns to life to kill Dahāg. Whitlock wrote: "Zoroastrianism, the state religion of the Roman Empire's main rival, was part of the intellectual millieu in which Christianity came into being, just as were Judaism, the Greek-Roman religion, and the worship of Isis and Mithras. A Zoroastrian influence is completely plausible".
Much of Revelation employs ancient sources, primarily but not exclusively from the Old Testament. For example, Howard-Brook and Gwyther [ unreliable source? ]regard the Book of Enoch (1 Enoch) as an equally significant but contextually different source. "Enoch's journey has no close parallel in the Hebrew scriptures." Revelation, in one section, forms an inverted parallel (chiasmus) with the book of Enoch in which 1 En 100:1–3 has a river of blood deep enough to submerge a chariot and in Rev 14:20 has a river of blood up to the horse's bridle. There is an angel ascending in both accounts (1 En 100:4; Rev 14:14–19) and both accounts have three messages (1 En 100:7–9; Rev 14:6–12).
Academics showed little interest in this topic until recently. [ citation needed ]This was not, however, the case with popular writers from non-conforming backgrounds, who interspersed the text of Revelation with the prophecy they thought was being promised. For example, an anonymous Scottish commentary of 1871 prefaces Revelation 4 with the Little Apocalypse of Mark 13, places Malachi 4:5 ("Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord") within Revelation 11 and writes Revelation 12:7 side-by-side with the role of "the Satan" in the Book of Job. The message is that everything in Revelation will happen in its previously appointed time.
Steve Moyise uses the index of the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament to show that "Revelation contains more Old Testament allusions than any other New Testament book, but it does not record a single quotation." [ citation needed ]Perhaps significantly, Revelation chooses different sources than other New Testament books. Revelation concentrates on Isaiah, Psalms, and Ezekiel, while neglecting, comparatively speaking, the books of the Pentateuch that are the dominant sources for other New Testament writers. Methodological objections have been made to this course as each allusion may not have an equal significance. To counter this, G. K. Beale sought to develop a system that distinguished 'clear', 'probable', and 'possible' allusions. A clear allusion is one with almost the same wording as its source, the same general meaning, and which could not reasonably have been drawn from elsewhere. A probable allusion contains an idea which is uniquely traceable to its source. Possible allusions are described as mere echoes of their putative sources.
Yet, with Revelation, the problems might be judged more fundamental. The author seems to be using his sources in a completely different way to the originals. For example, he borrows the 'new temple' imagery of Ezekiel 40–48 but uses it to describe a New Jerusalem which, quite pointedly, no longer needs a temple because it is God's dwelling. Ian Boxall [ citation needed ]writes that Revelation "is no montage of biblical quotations (that is not John's way) but a wealth of allusions and evocations rewoven into something new and creative." In trying to identify this "something new", Boxall argues that Ezekiel provides the 'backbone' for Revelation. He sets out a comparative table listing the chapters of Revelation in sequence and linking most of them to the structurally corresponding chapter in Ezekiel. The interesting point is that the order is not the same. John, on this theory, rearranges Ezekiel to suit his own purposes.
Some commentators argue that it is these purposes – and not the structure – that really matter. G. K. Beale believes that, however much John makes use of Ezekiel, his ultimate purpose is to present Revelation as a fulfillment of Daniel 7.Richard Bauckham has argued that John presents an early view of the Trinity through his descriptions of the visions and his identifying Jesus and the Holy Spirit with YHWH. Brandon Smith has expanded on both of their proposals while proposing a "trinitarian reading" of Revelation, arguing that John uses Old Testament language and allusions from various sources to describe a multiplicity of persons in YHWH without sacrificing monotheism, which would later be codified in the trinitarian doctrine of Nicene Christianity.
One theory, Revelation Draft Hypothesis, sees the book of Revelation constructed by forming parallels with several texts in the Old Testament such as Ezekiel, Isaiah, Zechariah, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Exodus, and Daniel. For example, Ezekiel's encounter with God is in reverse order as John's encounter with God (Ezek 1:5–28; Rev 4:2–7; note both accounts have beings with faces of a lion, ox or calf, man, and eagle (Ezek 1:10; Rev 4:7), both accounts have an expanse before the throne (Ezek 1:22; Rev 4:6). The chariot's horses in Zechariah's are the same colors as the four horses in Revelation (Zech 6:1–8; Rev 6:1–8). The nesting of the seven marches around Jericho by Joshua is reenacted by Jesus nesting the seven trumpets within the seventh seal (Josh 6:8–10; Rev 6:1–17; 8:1–9:21; 11:15–19). The description of the beast in Revelation is taken directly out of Daniel (see Dan 7:2–8; Rev 13:1–7). The method that John used allowed him to use the Hebrew Scriptures as the source and also use basic techniques of parallel formation, thereby alluding to the Hebrew Scriptures. [ unreliable source? ] [ unreliable source? ]
In order of appearance:
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible, the Book of Revelation by John of Patmos, at 6:1–8. The chapter tells of a book or scroll in God's right hand that is sealed with seven seals. The Lamb of God opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons four beings that ride out on white, red, black, and pale horses.
The Whore of Babylon or Babylon the Great is a symbolic female figure and also place of evil mentioned in the Book of Revelation in the Bible. Her full title is stated in Revelation 17 as Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and Abominations of the Earth.
Wormwood is a star or angel that appears in the Book of Revelation.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church holds a unique system of eschatological beliefs. Adventist eschatology, which is based on a historicist interpretation of prophecy, is characterised principally by the premillennial Second Coming of Christ. Traditionally, the church has taught that the Second Coming will be preceded by a global crisis with the Sabbath as a central issue. At Jesus' return, the righteous will be taken to heaven for one thousand years. After the millennium the unsaved will be punished by annihilation while the saved will live on a recreated Earth for eternity.
The Woman of the Apocalypse is a figure described in Chapter 12 of the Book of Revelation.
In the Book of Revelation, the two witnesses are two of God's prophets who are seen in a vision by John of Patmos, who appear during the Second woe recorded in Revelation 11:1-14. They have been variously identified by theologians as two individuals, as two groups of people, or as two concepts. Dispensationalist Christians believe that the events described in the Book of Revelation will occur before and during the Second Coming.
The four kingdoms of Daniel are four kingdoms which, according to the Book of Daniel, precede the "end-time" and the "Kingdom of God".
The Beast may refer to one of two beasts described in the Book of Revelation.
In the Christian Bible, the term Seven Spirits of God appears four times in the Book of Revelation. The meaning of this term has been interpreted in multiple ways.
Revelation 13 is the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse of John in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The book is traditionally attributed to John the Apostle, but the precise identity of the author remains a point of academic debate. The author records visions of two beasts or monsters which he saw while "standing on the seashore", the monster from the sea and the monster from the land.
The canon of the New Testament is the set of books Christians regard as divinely inspired and constituting the New Testament of the Christian Bible. For most, it is an agreed-upon list of twenty-seven books that includes the Canonical Gospels, Acts, letters of the Apostles, and Revelation. The books of the canon of the New Testament were written before 120 AD.
Revelation 12 is the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse of John in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The book is traditionally attributed to John the Apostle, but the precise identity of the author remains a point of academic debate. This chapter contains the accounts about the woman, the dragon and the child, followed by the war between Michael and the dragon, then the appearance of the monster from the sea. William Robertson Nicoll, a Scottish Free Church minister, suggests that in this chapter the writer has created a Christianised version of a Jewish source which "described the birth of the messiah in terms borrowed from ... cosmological myths [such as] that of the conflict between the sun-god and the dragon of darkness and the deep".
Historicism, a method of interpretation in Christian eschatology which associates biblical prophecies with actual historical events and identifies symbolic beings with historical persons or societies, has been applied to the Book of Revelation by many writers. The Historicist view follows a straight line of continuous fulfillment of prophecy which starts in Daniel's time and goes through John's writing of the Book of Revelation all the way to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 5 is the fifth chapter of the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse of John in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The book is traditionally attributed to John the Apostle, but the precise identity of the author remains a point of academic debate. This chapter contains the inaugural vision of the lamb on the throne in heaven.
Revelation 8 is the eighth chapter of the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse of John in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The book is traditionally attributed to John the Apostle, but the precise identity of the author remains a point of academic debate. Chapter 6 to chapter 8:5 record the opening of the "Seven Seals", while chapter 8:6 to chapter 11 contains the accounts related to the sounding of the "Seven Trumpets". In this chapter, the seventh seal is opened, the vision of the opening of the other six seals having been reported in chapter 6, and the first four angels' trumpets are sounded.
Revelation 14 is the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse of John in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The book is traditionally attributed to John the Apostle, but the precise identity of the author remains a point of academic debate. This chapter contains the accounts of the lamb with 144,000 followers, the three angelic messages and the voice from heaven, as well as the harvest of the earth and the vintage of the earth. The Three Angels' messages in verses 6 to 12 form a central feature of the teaching and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church: "“Make disciples of Jesus Christ who live as His loving witnesses and proclaim to all people the everlasting gospel of the Three Angels’ Messages in preparation for His soon return".
Revelation 17 is the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse of John in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The book is traditionally attributed to John the Apostle, but the precise identity of the author remains a point of academic debate. This chapter describes the judgment of the Whore of Babylon.
Revelation 18 is the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse of John in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The book is traditionally attributed to John the Apostle, but the precise identity of the author remains a point of academic debate. This chapter describes the fall of Babylon the Great.
Revelation 19 is the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation or the Apocalypse of John in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The book is traditionally attributed to John the Apostle, but the precise identity of the author remains a point of academic debate. In this chapter, heaven exults over the fall of Babylon the Great.
[...] the minor Catholic epistles and Revelation continued to be omitted, and are still not included in the canon of the church of the East which was geographically (and from the late-fifth century doctrinally) isolated in the Persian empire.
Zwingli, the Swiss Reformer, said, '[The Book of Revelation] is not a book of the Bible'.
To this day, Catholic and Protestant lectionaries have only minimal readings from Revelation, and the Greek Orthodox lectionary omits it altogether.
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