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Symbolism in the Book of Revelation

I will soon conclude this thread dealing with the ancient use of letters of the alphabet for numerals by discussing the most famous instance of them all, the “number of the beast” in the Book of Revelation:  666.  What is this number referring to? I’ve decided that to make sense of this intriguing number, I need first to say a brief word about how the symbolism of the book works more generally.  My students usually think of the book of Revelation as an amazing one-of-a-kind book, unlike anything ever written, a blue print for the future of earth.   What they learn in class is that in fact it is a lot one-of-a-kind, but instead is like a number of ancient books, both Jewish and Christian, that are called “apocalypses.”   The term “apocalypse,” in this context, refers to a literary genre.   Like all genres, apocalypses had set literary features.  The reason Revelation seems so weird and unusual to readers today is that they are not familiar with the genre.  But there were numerous other books like [...]

2020-04-03T14:00:19-04:00February 17th, 2015|Revelation of John|

Futuristic Interpretations of the Book of Revelation

My apologies for being “absent” from the blog for a few days. As I pointed out in my last posting, I’m in lovely Chantilly VA just now, doing a series of lectures for the Teaching Company. The schedule is a real killer and I have virtually no time on my hands. In any event, right before I came, my textbook on the Bible was finally completed and sent off to the publisher to be entered into production. As it turns out, one of the passages from the Intro coincides with one of the lectures I gave yesterday on the book of Revelation. For the undergraduate reader of the text, I try to show, as succinctly as I can, why Revelation is best not interpreted as referring to future events to transpire in our own day. Here’s what I say in the textbook. *************************************************************** One of the most popular ways to interpret the book of Revelation today is to read its symbolic visions as literal descriptions of what is going to transpire in our own day [...]

2020-04-03T18:45:00-04:00February 28th, 2013|Book Discussions, Revelation of John|
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