Welcome to Towards an Understanding of Revelation. I’m starting this blog so that I can share the things that I read, mostly commentaries, about the last book of the Bible. I’m hoping that this will be a mutual effort between you and me as we explore this amazing and seemingly mysterious part of the Bible.
Understanding prophecy is looking more and more like a necessary thing in this day and age, and as Revelation appears to be the culmination of all the prophecies that haven’t yet been fulfilled, it looks like a good place to start. But when you start to read about it, the first thing you notice is that everyone has a different idea about how to interpret it. And some people claim they are not prophecies at all! So who is right?
Let me get into this by telling you a little bit about myself. I am a retired RN, an artist (music and visual mostly), and, most importantly, I am a Christian, born again. I invited Christ into my life 7 years ago: rather late in life, so I’ve been playing catch up. Revelation has intrigued me since I started this journey, but I put off studying it until I had studied more of the other parts of the Bible. From my studies I would say that in belief, I would be characterized as a pre-tribulational dispensationalist. And that underlying belief system would lead me to interpret Revelation in a specific way. But is it the right way?
I decided that I would collect as many commentaries and sources as I could (afford) to read and digest. I have found that many of the older commentaries on the Revelation are available free as pdfs on sites such as Internet Archive, and some are on Christian websites, such as Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Some of the more recent ones (50’s to early 2000’s) are available on Internet Archive to “borrow”. Those that aren’t available for free I have to evaluate for cost. Some are very reasonably priced as used books on Amazon, thriftbooks.com (my real go-to place!), and other used book outlets online, such as Powell’s books from Portland, and Abe Books. There are a few, however, that are not so reasonably priced. Some are only $30 or $40, which doesn’t sound terrible, until you realize how many books you are buying! Some are a lot more than that. Those books may not be represented here.
I haven’t counted how many books I’ve collected yet, but I know that I’m approaching 200. I’m still gathering pdfs, but I felt inspired to go ahead and get this blog rolling.
Previous to this, when I only had about 20 or 30 sources, I had started sharing what I was reading with a small, intimate Christian women’s group I meet with fairly regularly. It led to some fantastic discussions. However, I’m beginning to think that they think I’m a bit crazy, as the number of books I’m acquiring goes up. I don’t blame them. My husband is looking at me funny too. But, in my own defense, I have become fascinated with the changes in how commentators interpret Revelation (or “The Apocalypse” as they use to call it) down through the centuries. None of it sounded realistic to many early writers. Now, we can imagine a real “mark of the beast”, or a real “creature” that’s the size of an insect that can fly around under the control of others and “sting” people. Things are falling into place in a way that can make us wonder if perhaps we shouldn’t re-evaluate this last book.
So, this is what I’m going to do: as I read, I will pull excerpts from the book. I will try hard to make the excerpts that I pull representative of what the author is saying, and try to make sure that all his/her best points are put forward. I will start with excerpts from the introductions of each book, though not all books have an introduction, many of them do. These excerpts will give you an idea of each author’s intentions and overall approach to the material. Some use examples from the book to make points, so you will start to get a feel for what’s coming.
After the introductions, we will move into the book. Sometimes we will move in a line at a time, sometimes it will be a phrase, and sometimes only a few words. This material is incredibly rich in meanings, so we will let it guide us as we go.
Ground rules. For me: I will be making comments that indicate my point of view, conclusions, and questions that I have about the material…but I promise that I will not hold back any excerpts that go against what I currently believe. And who knows, my beliefs could ripen and/or change as we move through this material. I will be providing full footnotes so that you can check up on me, or can read more if the excerpts I’ve provided really grab you or if you just want further reading to understand the author’s point of view better. For you: I expect civility and will take down any uncivil comments as soon as I see them. I’m not asking you to hold back or to worry about offending others with your point of view. We can’t have discussion if we can’t speak our minds. Just keep it civil.
I hope, for your sake, that you are a Christian; it will make the reading easier if you are. But, I believe that an interested non-Christian can read this and understand it for the most part. You will certainly learn more about Christianity, and it may surprise you.