We’re launching into the book of the Bible many people have grappled with. Apocalypse, or what people call “apo-” is something like “away from” or “apart”, as in “apostate”, one who stands apart from the faithful, or “apostle”, one who is sent out on a mission; and so apocalypse is bringing something out of concealment. It came over time to be used specifically for revelations about the end of the world. Is that what the entire book is?
What is needed in examining Revelation is an interpretive reading of that book such that the sum total of the whole is greater than the individual parts. Not that an ancient text, biblical or otherwise, has more than one meaning, which is the claim of post-modernity. Instead, what is called for is the realization that we as humans, with finite understanding, need each other’s insights, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, in order to grasp the intent of God’s Word. Applying the analogy of the parts and the whole to Revelation permits one to state it this way: The four interpretations in this volume represent the interpretive parts while its readership, aided by the Spirit, forms the whole.
In addition to being apocalyptic and prophetic in nature, Revelation is encased by an epistolary framework – in other words, like letters. And it’s hard to take letters and make them apocalyptic. The prescript (1:4-8) contains the typical letter-like components—sender, addressees, greetings, and the added feature of a doxology. The postscript (22:10-21), in good ancient letter form, summarizes the body of the writing, as well as legitimates John as its divinely inspired composer. The combined effect of the prescript and the postscript, not to mention the letters to the seven churches of the Roman province of Asia (chaps. 2-3), is to root Revelation in the real history of its day.
For our lesson tomorrow, read the introduction and presentations of the 4 main views of Revelation:
- Preterists View
- Idealist View
- Classic View
- Progressive View
Study just a little bit, and have fun.
See you at breakfast,