Twelve Things the Book of Revelation Means to Me

Dave, thank you for your candid reply! My apologies if I came across in an impertinent way–for sure, it was not intended. I am in complete agreement with your goals. I also wonder how we can further open up the dialogue to other ways of understanding the book of Revelation. Including Dr. Adela Yarbro Collins’ presentation about intertextuality was really helpful in expanding these kinds of paradigmatic options. As she included in her presentation, there have been a number of people working in this space over the past 40+ years. There’s a lot of good stuff there for us to learn! Thank you! :slight_smile:


All angels sing praises… not quite… a third of them don’t according to John in Rev 12.
John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11

Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.

2 Corinthians 4:4; cf Eph 2:2

in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Two things I have appreciated in bringing to the study of Revelation are:

  1. The methodology of intertextuality because it opens a way to understand this text such that we don’t have to become “orthodoxic” about its interpretation. I think Steve Moyise says it well: In his chapter on John’s use of the book of Ezekiel, he remarks, “On the side of the hearers/readers, they are invited to ‘reappropriate biblical metaphors through the lens of Revelation itself’… The reader is confronted with two contexts [i.e. that in Ezekiel and that in Revelation] and each affects the other… The reader is caught in a dilemma. Much of the book [of Revelation] sounds familiar [because the reader is already familiar with Ezekiel], yet he or she is constantly having to wrestle with the ‘literary landmines’ buried in the text… John has not offered an interpretation of Ezekiel as a finished product… Rather, by utilizing much of its structure and language, he has bound the two works together to form a complex set of interactions… The reader is not expected to create a synthesis and then retire from the exegetical task… What is required of the reader is to think out the implications of calling Rome a Beast and to be ready to act upon it. In other words, John’s use of Ezekiel involves the reader in a hermeneutical challenge.” (The OT in the Book of Revelation, pp. 82-3)

  2. The Jewish way of interpretation because it also teaches respect for a number of views. As they say, two Jews, three opinions. Not sure where the third opinion comes from–possibly the two first come at the matter from their own perspectives, but as they discuss it, together they come up with a third view…?

With these methodologies, I believe we can learn to appreciate that prior generations (1st century or 19th century, or anything else) could hear God’s voice to them through this book, encouraging them to see beyond current terrors to the magnitude of issues involved in the Grand Narrative, and to continue relying on God’s promises–even though the specific issues these groups faced were different.

Maybe 1st century believers did have a fear of Rome. Maybe some perceived how the foundation of Rome through the myth of Romulus was a “reversal of the mythological narratives” (quoting Suzanne Ross of the Raven Foundation) from what the scriptures taught in the story of Cain and Able. We know they did wonder why Jesus’ second coming was delayed… as did the 19th century believers.

And now, today, issues we wrestle with include inequality, injustice, ecological disasters… and why the second coming continues to be delayed! One could understandably throw up their hands, say it’s all a hoax. Where is this God? And who is he, anyway? Is he capable of keeping his promises? Is there any benefit to remaining loyal to him and doing things his way? Yet, there’s the book of Revelation… encouraging us to “look a little higher,” in the words of Graham Maxwell.


I thought this was funny, not that he wanted it to be funny, but they had to have the letter read to them because most were illiterate. They did not need prophetic charts because again they could not read. So since they did not need them David does not need them. Very much a non-sequitur.

well, as I have learned fro m a nowadys writer of Syrian origin - the Near East languages tell a message by the words, their literal meaning - and by the sound - the latterbeing the primary bearer of the message !

Just imagine having istened to the “666” : HEXAKOSIOI HEXHKONTA HEX !" -that was like strokes of a sledgehammer !

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Not the least bit impertinent! Fun! Thank you!

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Thank you! As someone who is not a Biblical scholar, I don’t try to correlate things in the visions with pinpointed things in human history. To me, its a great story, or cluster of stories, and should be enjoyed as such. Pondering its meaning should focus on what one experiences immediately after hearing the whole book read in one sitting. For instance: Whether the seven heads of the dragon refer to the seven hills of Rome or something else seems a little over much to me. Why don’t we debate the meaning of the claws on its bear-like feet? Thanks again for writing! It is always great to hear from you!

What does Revelations mean to me?

Exactly what I think it would have meant to Jesus.

That is, precisely nothing.

To date, Jesus has been mentioned in millions of books, letters and articles but there is no evidence that he is even aware of that body of work, much less that he personally endorses any of it.

So to my mind, Revelations is as significant as is the array of countless postmortem Elvis sightings and John’s dystopian apocalyptic nightmare can be seen as just one of early “Christian” attempts at what has now become a two millennia long tradition of using the at-least-partial, if not utterly mythological personhood of Jesus to supposedly lend credence and gravitas to one’s letters and writing.

For better or worse, it seems that such credence only works with those who already have demonstrated a bent toward credulity, people who default to belief and faith rather than detailed investigations of facts and very young children.

The fact that Adventism has not spent the past 100 years or so apologizing for the terror they’ve been trying to instill in people’s minds, most particularly in the impressionable psyches of their kids, by constantly finding new “signs” supposedly mentioned in Revelations and EGW that “prove” the world can’t last another two seconds, would be considered absolutely comical if one could only overlook the cruelty of this ongoing joke.

If everything is subjective as you’ve stated, and given the essential incompleteness associated with all philosophy as is implied by Godel’s theorems, nothing that can be expressed in words or found in a book-as is the case with all religions-can ever rise to the level of absolute truth.

There will always be the near certainty that any purported truth is an illusory artifact of finite mind, along with the perpetual doubt that no truth has been, or ever could be, perceived correctly by human sensory apparatuses which are known to be less than comprehensive. (For example, our eyes cannot see radio waves.)

Further, since we know the word “truth” is not truth just as one can’t quench his thirst with a picture of a glass of water, and that there is no need to consider what a squared circle* that cannot possibly exist would look like, there is obviously no good reason to entertain the possibility that any religion can, or ever might, somehow rise above the limitations of language and be found to be conclusively true.

Thus, Pascal’s Wager is again shown to be a loser’s bet and the safe money still assumes there’s is no pot of gold at either end of Religion’s Rainbow.

(*With apologies to Vince McMahon and the WWE.)


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What a vision ! - Three angel with an earnest admonishion - Baylon, all the world around us , also here and now - ready to get deleted - Three angels - - the ONE, like a son of man, amidts - - three other angels - - -

Oh yes, and verse 13 : " - blessed are - - - they may rest fom their labours and their works do follow them - - "

Besides, once again : I repeatedly cherish “Das Buch mit sieben Siegel” , an oratorio in later Romantic style, 1938 ( ! ) here composed by Franz Schmidt , him as a RCC man taking the text from Martin Luther .- - - an impressing view - - -

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Yes. Thank you very much!

Thanks, @NY_G_PA2.

Gödel’s incompleteness theorem has implications for mathematics and the philosophy of mathematics. Its application to the rest of philosophical reasoning is a radically underdetermined.

However, even allowing for your use of Gödel, here…

a) So what? That is, why need any religious system be composed of “absolute truth,” whatever that is, in order to be useful?

b) How does your conclusion apply to your own hypothesis? In other words, if nothing that can be expressed in words can ever rise to the level of absolute truth, what should we say of the statement, “Nothing that can be expressed in words can ever rise to the level of absolute truth”? Is that statement absolutely true?

I’m not clear what you’re arguing, here, or what it has to do with my statements. If your argument is that no religion can be absolutely certain its formulations are true, both of my responses, above, apply, and are restated.


It seems you’ve moved the goal post.

The question was if any religion could be “true”.

Now you’re asking about utility.

History has shown any number of philosophies to be useful, sometimes for precisely the opposite purpose. E.g., Christianity has been used to justify slavery and liberation theology.

Even philosophical systems that are now considered essentially evil and basically “truth less” can be useful, for example, the Nazis built some of the world’s best roads, so the question of usefulness seems irrelevant to the previous topic.

Probably not.

Which is why I qualified the statement by using the terms “if” and “nearly certain”.

To sum up, the basic argument is that given finite minds, an incomplete set of facts, the limitations of language, the possibility that each of us is a brain in a vat, seemingly unavoidable and ubiquitous subjectivity, etc., many philosophers have argued there is a certain, and possibly profound, wisdom in remaining perpetually uncertain about pretty much everything, including religion.

Indeed, if insecurity is the best policy, perhaps a “true” religion is the last thing one should go looking for, much less expect to find, as one suspects that the supposedly everlasting and undeniable truths religions purportedly provide most likely cannot exist in a cosmos where subjectivity, incompleteness, impermanence, relativity, etc, may be the most fundamental principles.

In others words, I don’t know exactly what your argument might have been, but you asked

Which I find to be not merely idle speculation but an utter waste of time, given the likelihood of humanity’s inability to be conclusively objective.

To my mind, and given the interminably long time line you’ve mentioned, trying to find, or waiting around for a verifiably true religion is probably like trying to prove that pi is a rational number.

Thanks, @NY_G_PA2:

Actually, you have moved the goalposts.

• The issue you raised was not truth but absolute truth.

I said “absolute truth” is undefined, meaning, seemingly, there is no way to talk about it.

I take as a given that utility is a, if not the, significant aspect of any religion; i.e., that all religions exist for a functional purpose; i.e., unlike the Hope Diamond, at which one may merely stare in order to utilize it, a religion must be "done,’ or “acted out,” in order to actually utilize it.

See above.

You did not. You qualified other statements, such as:

I did not say this. I said:

However, I considered your reduction an acceptable, limited interpolation.

You also said:

I addressed that here.

What remained was your statement, which, again, is self-refuting.

This certainly seems one way to do it.

Another way to do it, obviously, is to be perpetually uncertain about one’s uncertainty about religion.

Again, insecurity, of the kind you describe, can, just as well, lead one to doubt the insecurity you describe.

All right.

The person who finds otherwise might draw opposing conclusions.

Maybe you’re just doing it wrong.


Admittedly so.

But I doubt it.

Thanks, @NY_G_PA2.


But in the vein of the philosophers you cite, perhaps you might exercise more skepticism about your conclusions.


I might take your unsolicited advice.

But I’ll probably conclude its worth precisely what I paid for it.

Thanks, @NY_G_PA2.

I’m not offering you advice, Bruce. I’m pointing at the terminus of your argument.

I’m making you zero in on the place where your attempt at logic, for the umpteenth time, delaminates and decoheres.


Thanks, @NY_G_PA2

Again, in the vein of the philosophers you cite, perhaps you might exercise more skepticism about your conclusions.


Wow. That must be frustrating.

I don’t know if you’ve found a religion that might be helpful in such circumstances but from what I hear you might want to try some form of Christianity.

From what I understand, Jesus would have recommended you walk away after your first failed attempt to make another see your “truth”.

What conclusions can I make given a finite mind and an incomplete set of facts?

It seems the best I can do is “best guess” inferences and/or unfalsifiable assumptions.


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