I have been mildly amused at the seriousness with which some take the Book of Revelation in the Bible – the oracle of Christianity. Earlier manuscripts called it The Apocalypse of John. Apocalypse is sometimes translated Revelation in English. It begins, The revelation of Jesus Christ, unto his servant John…
It is a book of two visions – one to the seven churches of Europe, the other a vision of the end of times. The book was more controversial in the first thousand years of Christianity – some even questioning whether it should be included in the canon. My notion is that Christianity would have more validity without this vague hallucination of the doctrine. Christianity has only suffered as a result of the inclusion of Revelation.
Many folks today hold with the Book of Revelation as truth – as gospel. Ironically – these folks are usually the fundamentalist who hold the Bible to be literally true, a factual account of history and science. Yet the Book of Revelation is loaded with metaphor – and the fundamentalist folks busy themselves with trying to associate the metaphor to modern times – this is the central problem with the idea of metaphor – The idea demands that we use reason and be responsible in our interpretation.
The Book of Revelation was originally written in Greek – and not very well. The original text was loaded with grammatical errors – unlike the Book of John that was also written in Greek – but was poetic in the use of Greek Grammar. Because it was written in Greek I think it is fair to keep it in a Greek context. An oracle, in ancient Greece, was seen as a person to whom divinely-inspired spiritual prophesies were given. The oracle in the movie Matrix was a black woman baking chocolate chip cookies. She says obscure things to Neo, the lead character in the movie. This is the caricature of the Oracle. Obscurity.
Like other oracles, The Book of Revelation is loaded with obscurity. The generalities and metaphors are intentionally not specific. They are written in a way that intentionally leaves the door open to a variety of interpretations. Many generations of Christians have attempted to apply the writings to their specific time in history – in that regard Revelation achieved its purpose.
History has proven that attempts to make sense of the obscure and vague writings of Revelation are pointless. The Book has no value other than to confuse and distort.