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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Posting on the Apocalypse — an unscientific unfinished postscript

"The Apocalypse of John is a work of immense learning, astonishingly meticulous literary artistry, remarkable creative imagination, radical political critique, and profound theology.”
 — Richard Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy (Intro., p. ix)

So why is it that after 25 years of studying the greek text every time I start to write something about The Apocalypse I am overwhelmed by a crushing sense of futility? Have you ever entered a room where there were several alpha males/females engaged in a noisy heated discussion where the most exalted supreme alpha is prevailing by means just slightly short physical violence? Let’s back off a little bit. Have you ever arrived for a committee meeting late to find the discussion already well underway and two or three dominate voices controlling the discussion? That is what I feel like just before I start to write something about the Revelation of St. John. What’s the point? Who will listen?

I grew up on edges of the prophecy conference culture. If you are too young to know about this just Google “prophecy conference movement” and do some reading. I just tried a search on ““prophecy conference” and everything that came up was dated sometime in 2010; so it appears that the prophecy conference culture is still with us in some form, but the culture I am talking about started in the late 19th century and continued into the 1960’s.The end of which was marked by the publication of Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth.

My exposure to this culture was primarily guest preachers, missionaries, conference speakers and so forth. My family was not interested in the “end times”. One of the elders at our church had some books by Walvoord and Pentecost, I can remember him loaning them to my father but I doubt my father read them. Our pastor was a Dallas Seminary student for four years where he shared a dorm room with Hal Lindsey. However, our pastor was not terribly excited about the “end times” and rarely taught from the prophetic literature. So my experience of the prophecy conference culture was sort of second hand. It was going on, I knew about it but I wasn’t involved.

I became engaged in study of John’s Apocalypse in the second half of the 80’s when I was reading linguistics and learning Koine Greek. My primary interest was the Christology of the Apocalypse. 

Richard Bauckham, quoted above, has the right idea about The Revelation of St. John. It is a world class, without peer, work of literary genius. Read some other books in this genre, the best are probably the visions in the book of Daniel and Zachariah, there are other works not in the canon and you will fall asleep reading them.


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