Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Book of Revelation

The last book in the Bible, the book of Revelation, is probably one of the richest books in the entire Bible, but one that many Christians struggle with the most because of the symbolism and language that St. John uses.

In the time before Jesus there was a popular kind of Jewish writing called Apocalyptic writing (AW). This writing had several characteristics including:
  • It dealt with the subject of the last age of the world when good triumphs over evil
  • It made much use of symbolism taken from the animal kingdom, astrology, numbers, etc.
The OT book of Daniel influenced much of this writing. This kind of writing also resembled some of the styles used in the OT prophetic books like Isaiah and Zechariah. But, there are differences with the prophetic books, they include:
  • AW doesn't use an author's name, but one of a celebrated persona
  • AW conceives of this world as being of Satan and incapable of regeneration. Therefore the most that man can hope for is a new world that he can pray for.
  • AW has determinism. That is, that there is very little room for personal freedom or conversion.What is, is.
Revelation is not therefore an Apocalyptic Writing, like some call it, but rather a work of prophecy. The only one in the NT. Prophecy is not always telling the future, but rather giving a message of God to a people. This is the purpose of the Book of Revelation and it includes language that tells us about the future in part.

Fr. Barron has some great comments about how we ought to read The Book of Revelation:

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