A New Genre in Jewish Antiquity: The Apocalypse

I am in midst of starting to explain how a new view of the afterlife came into existence in Jewish circles right around the time of the Maccabean revolt, and to that end I have devoted one post to a brief narrative of what happened leading up to the revolt and a second post to two of our principal sources of information about it, 1 and 2 Maccabees.

Now, I need to provide yet more background: it was at this time, ...

Continue Reading →
54

Bart Ehrman discusses the Apocalypticist

This is a very strange video!  One of the strangest I’ve ever been in.  To begin with, the title doesn’t make any sense (I’m not sure who called it this).  The word “apocalypticist” means “a person who holds to an apocalyptic world view.”  So who or what is “The apocalypticist”?  I’ve never heard someone being given that title (“THE” apocalypticist; as if there were just one??).  Maybe it means Jesus the Apocalypticist?  Maybe, but that’s not really what the clip ...

Continue Reading →
55

Were Jesus’ Followers Crazy? Was He? Mailbag June 4, 2016

I’ll be dealing with two questions in this week’s Readers Mailbag, both dealing, as it turns out, with issues related to psychology and the early Christian movement: one has to do with why the followers of Jesus didn’t simply give up and disband when the end-of-the-world-apocalypse they had been anticipating didn’t happen (so that they were proven to be *wrong*) and the other about whether Jesus was, literally, crazy.   Interesting questions!  If you have one you would like me to ...

Continue Reading →
71

The Book of Revelation as an Apocalypse

I can now give a brief description of how the book of Revelation functions as an apocalypse – that is, how the features of the genre, that I’ve already mentioned, work themselves out in the narrative of the book.  Again, this is taken from my textbook on the New Testament.

********************************************************

In general terms, Revelation corresponds to the basic description of apocalypses that I have given.  It is a first-hand account written by a prophet who has been shown a ...

Continue Reading →
28

The Book of Revelation and the Apocalypse Genre

I’m devoting a thread to the book of Revelation and its interpretation.  This began by my raising the issue of what 666 stands for, which led me to say a few things about the symbolism of the book, which occasioned several comments from readers wanting to know what my broader take is on how to interpret it.

Yesterday I began to stress the importance of knowing what an “apocalypse” is before trying to interpret any one particular apocalypse.   Today I pursue ...

Continue Reading →
25

Apocalypticism and Apocalypses

In the just finished thread I discussed the number of the Beast, 666, in the context of the book of Revelation and its broader symbolism.  In response, several readers asked me to say some more about Revelation (which by the ways does NOT have an “s” on the end!!  That’s one of my pet pieves.  It’s not the book of Revelations but the book of Revelation).  So I think I’ll do two or three posts on it.  It is the ...

Continue Reading →
23

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 ...

Continue Reading →
32