Book of Revelation Commentary Part 4

AS we shall discover together in working slowly through this text, The Book of Revelation is a Trinitarian text. Of course, it does not have the post-Nicene terminology. In this text, one will not find the language of Father, Son and Spirit as one finds abundantly in John’s Gospel and in post-nicene formula. Rather, one will find God, Jesus Christ, and the Spirit which is more similar to Paul’s formulation.

Now, as argued by Gordon Fee and others, I assume that the author of the Book of Revelation was written by the same John who wrote the Gospel According to John. I have not seen sufficient convincing evidence for me to reject the apostle John as the author of the Gospel that bears his name nor have I read an argument that convinced me that another John or anyone else wrote the Book of Revelation. If someone does present an argument that John of Patmos is not the same individual as the Apostle John that did convince me it would change little about my understanding and interpretation of the text. Nevertheless, from its content, I assume that Revelation is a late first century (post 70 AD) document.

I know that even posing such questions bothers some people but there has never been agreement on who wrote this book. I even have a Gospel song that assumes that John the Baptist wrote the Book of Revelation. That theory I do not find plausible, at all.

In the last post, I made it clear that despite its opening assertion that this is a book that reveals, discloses or uncovers, there is a long history of obfuscating and obscuring and treating the text as though it were a code that needed to be decoded by self-proclaimed “prophecy experts.” Yet, it is this very understanding of the text that makes it so very difficult for most of us to read. So, toss that out the window and just let John’s images and visions flow. If there is any obscurity in the text, then it is because we lack the historical, cultural, and indeed biblical knowledge of those who first heard John’s letter read aloud.

It is a great irony how biblically illiterate so many Protestants Christians are given the Reformers emphasis on sola scriptura (Scripture alone) and the almost idolatrous status modern evangelicals give to the written word of God. I point this out because the Book of Revelation has more Old Testament allusions in it than any other book in the New Testament although it has very few, if any, direct quotations. Thus, its first readers/hearers would certainly hear many familiar texts, themes, and images that modern readers fail to discern.

John seems to have assumed the Biblical literacy of his largely Gentile (non-Jewish) audience. He also seems to have assumed familiarity with a type of literature which modern scholars have dubbed apocalyptic literature. This particular genre or collection of texts from what is often referred to as the inter-testamental period seems to have its roots in the style of certain oracles of Biblical Prophets like Ezekiel, Joel, and Zechariah. The Book of Daniel or at least parts of this book fall into this genre and certainly John draws from the imagery employed by the author of Daniel.

So, if you need refresh your memory, go back and read some of these texts. See how the prophets of Israel and Judah employed seemingly world-ending imagery to describe current or impending historical events. For it is in this tradition and style, that John is writing.

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