Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

New Testament #45-46; Revelation

Posted by cherylem on January 3, 2008

Revelation of John (The Apocalypse)

Some background:

A good book for LDS Readers: Opening the Seven Seals: TheVisions of John the Revelator. Richard D. Draper, Professor ofReligion, BYU. Deseret Books. 1991.

Apocalypse: Greek Apokalypsis = unveiling

Raymond Brown:

“Revelation is widely popular for the wrong reasons, for agreat number of people read it as a guide to how the world will end, assumingthat the author was given by Christ detailed knowledge of the future that hecommunicated in coded symbols. For example, preachers have identified the Beastform the Earth whose number is 666 as Hitler, Stalin, the Pope, and SaddamHussein, and have related events in Revelation to the Communist Revolution, theatom bomb, the creation of the State of Israel, the Gulf War, etc. [I add:the Iraq war, AIDS, and just this week the assassination of Bhutto; add yourown to this list.] The 19th and 20th centuries have seen many interpreters ofprophecy who used calculations from Revelation to predict the exact date of theend of the world. Up to the moment all have been wrong!”

The literary genre of the Apocalyptic

· Difficult to define: no comparable examples in contemporaryliterature (LDS unique scriptures being the exception – see below). Peopleimitate Revelation or apply it innovatively, mostly to the harm of all.

· Biblical apocalypses: a narrative framework in which a revelatoryvision is accorded to a human being, most often through the intervention of anotherworldly being, e.g., by an angel who takes him to a heavenly vantage pointto show him the vision and/or to explain it to him. Sometimes to get there thevisionary has to travel a distance to the ends of the earth or make a verticaljourney through various heavens The secrets revealed involve a cosmic transformationthat will result in a transition from this world to a world or era to come anda divine judgment on all.

· The vision of the supernatural world or of the future helps tointerpret present circumstances on earth, which are almost always tragic.

· The vision is often full of vivid symbols and mysterious numbers.

Examples of Jewish Apocalyptic

Ezekiel 1-3; 37, 40-48

Ezekiel supplies a major part ofapocalyptic language and images: four living creatures (looking like a man,lion, ox, eagle), enthroned figure above the firmament described in terms ofgems and precious metals, eating scrolls, the harlot, the wicked prosperouscity-kingdom, measuring the Temple, etc.

Joel

Zechariah 4:1-6:8, 9-14

1 Enoch (3rd cent BC)

Daniel (165 BC)

Dead Sea Scrolls

IV Ezra (after 70 AD)

II Baruch (after 70 AD)

Examples of early Christian Apocalyptic

Mark 13, Matthew 24

1 Corinthians 15

II Thessalonians 2

Shepherd of Hermas

Apocalypse of Peter

Apocryphon of John (Gnostic)

Apocalypse of Paul (Gnostic)

Examples of Latter-day Apocalyptic

1 Nephi 8, 11-14 (read 14:18-27)

Ether 3:21-22, 25, 27

Moses 7:41-67

JS-Matthew

Joseph Smith

“After I got throughtranslating the Book of Mormon, I took up the Bible to read with the Urim andThummim. I read the first chapter of Genesis and I saw the things as they weredone. I turned over the next and the next, and the whole passed before me likea grand panorama; and so on chapter after chapter until I read the whole of it.I saw it all.”

Examples of Latter-day Promises of Understanding

D&C 45:39

D&C 68:11

D&C 76:5-8

D&C 98:12

D&C 106:4-5

Examples of Latter-day Interpretation:

D&C 77

Joseph Smith

“There is a grand distinction between the actual meaning ofthe prophets and the present translation [of the Bible]. The prophets do notdeclare that they saw a beast or beasts but that they saw the image or figureof a beast. Daniel did not see an actual bear or a lion, but the images orfigures of those beasts. The translation should have been rendered”image” instead of “beast,” in every instance where beastsare mentioned by the prophets [except John in chapter 4 only].

Our manual:

• Why are symbols useful in teaching? (They can help the learnerunderstand and remember by comparing unfamiliar ideas or things to those thatare more familiar; they can have different levels of meaning; they canencourage the learner to think more deeply about what is being taught.)

Explain thatsymbols are used throughout the scriptures, but especially in the book of Revelation.

You may want to explain thatthe Apostle John, author of the book of Revelation, came out of a culture thatused symbolism extensively in its language and literature. Readers today oftenhave difficulty with the symbolism in John’s writings. If we interpret theimages literally, the book of Revelation can seem strange and confusing. If weremember that many of the images are symbolic and represent people, things, orconcepts with which we are already familiar, the book becomes easier to understand.

The book of Revelationis written primarily in symbolic language. Its theme is that “there will be aneventual triumph on this earth of God over the devil; a permanent victory ofgood over evil, of the saints over their persecutors, of the kingdom of Godover the kingdoms of men and of Satan. … The details about the beasts, thewars, the angels, the men, etc., contribute to the development of this theme.By a little study, the theme can be perceived even if the details are notcompletely identified” (Bible Dictionary, “Revelation of John,” 762).

One of the symbols: the menorah (the candlestick)

The menorah is a seven branched candelabrum and has been asymbol of Judaismfor almost 3000 years. It was used in the ancient Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Lit by olive oil in the Tabernacleand the Temple,the menorah is one of the oldest symbols of the Jewish people. It is said to symbolize theburning bush as seen by Moses on Mount Sinai(Exodus 25).

Read

Rev. 1:12, 1:20

3 Nephi 18:24 (p. 443)

Rev. 1:16 (more symbols: stars, sword, countenance)

D&C 6:2 (p. 11)

Helaman 3:29 (p. 374)

Rev. 1:18 (another symbol: keys)

2 Nephi 9:10-13

Overcoming the World

Rev. 12:11

Rev. 20:12

D&C 128:6 (p. 259)

Rev. 21:1-7

Raymond Brown:

“To a contemporary culture that idolizes science andcalculable knowledge, apocalyptic is an enduring witness to a reality that defiesall our measurements; it testifies to another world that escapes all scientificgauges and finds expression in symbols and visions. That world is not createdby imagination, but images serve as an entrée . . . . To a world that acceptsonly what it can see, hear, and feel, Revelation is the final [to the non LDS]scriptural gateway to what the eye has not seen and the ear not heard. Becauseits visions are filled with theological symbols, not with photographicreproductions, Revelation does not give an exact knowledge of that other world,a world that cannot be translated into human concepts. Rather, it attestsforcefully that at every moment of human history, even the most desperatemoment that causes people to lose hope, God is present. The Lamb standing asthough slain is the ultimate guarantee of God’s victorious care anddeliverance, especially for the downtrodden and oppressed.”

From the manual:

Point out that the NewTestament ends with a message of great hope. Prophets like John the Revelator haveseen the things that are to come and have told us of the blessings we willreceive if we remain righteous and endure to the end. Testify that therighteous will triumph at the end of the world. Encourage class members to takecourage and hope from this knowledge as they stand against wickedness and seekto overcome the obstacles of this life.

4 Responses to “New Testament #45-46; Revelation”

  1. cherylem said

    I see this needs a little cleanup. Don’t have time now – will try to do later.

  2. brianj said

    [did some editing; I hope it’s okay; was going to change the underlined headings to bold, but will let you do that if you wish.]

  3. cherylem said

    Brian,
    On my MAC in Safari the changes you made were running paragraphs together – this might not have been the case with the server you were using.

    I made some changes. Now the paragraphing is more clear in Safari but some words have run together. In Firefox, the actual formatting from Word seems to have translated, complete with boxes, etc. However, I am not sure how it is showing up on other servers or PCs.

    Let me know.

  4. Clark said

    My problems with formatting were on a Mac too.

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