Revelation (Theology)


Revelation or Apocalypse (əpŏk´əlĬps), the last book of the New Testament. It was written c.AD 95 on Patmos Island off the coast of Asia Minor by an exile named John, in the wake of local persecution by the Emperor Domitian (AD 81–96). Tradition has identified John with the disciple St. John, but many scholars deny such authorship. They also disagree as to whether this book has common authorship with the Gospel or with First, Second, and Third John. The book is an apocalypse, comprising visions of victory over evil and persecution and of the triumph of God and the martyrs. Its structure is deliberate, depending heavily on patterns of sevens. It consists of letters counseling and warning seven churches in Asia Minor; the opening of the seven seals on the scroll in the hand of God, four revealing the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; the blowing of seven trumpets by angels before God's throne; the seven visions, including a seven-headed dragon (Satan) and the rising from the sea of the Beast, related to the Emperor Nero (persecutor of Christians in Rome after the great fire of AD 64), whose name is numerically equivalent to 666; the seven plagues; the seven-headed harlot named Babylon, representing the Roman Empire; and visions of heaven, the defeat of Satan, the judgment, the millennial reign of Christ, and the New Jerusalem. Constant allusion occurs to earlier scriptural prophecies, such as Ezekiel, Daniel, and Isaiah. One immediate goal of Revelation was to encourage persecuted Christians; absolute assurance of interpretation stops there. Every period of Christian history has produced variant explanations of the book's mysteries. See apocalypse.

See studies by G. E. Ladd (1972), D. H. Lawrence (1972), G. B. Caird (1980), L. Morris (1987), A. Y. Collins (1988), J. P. M. Sweet (1990), R. Wall (1991), J. Kirsch (2006), and E. Pagels (2012).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Revelation (Theology): Selected full-text books and articles

Inspiration and Revelation in the Old Testament By H. Wheeler Robinson Clarendon Press, 1946
Revelation: From Metaphor to Analogy By Richard Swinburne Clarendon Press, 1992
Sensus Fidei: Faith "Making Sense" of Revelation By Rush, Ormond Theological Studies, Vol. 62, No. 2, June 2001
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
A Verb, Not a Noun: The Perils of 'Revelation' By Moran, Gabriel Commonweal, Vol. 143, No. 16, October 7, 2016
Tradition and Imagination: Revelation and Change By David Brown Oxford University Press, 1999
The Idea of Revelation in Recent Thought By John Baillie Columbia University Press, 1956
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