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When Is The Last Time You Read Revelation, And Is It Worth It?


Keith Kelly
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When is the last time you read the book of Revelation? Is it worth it? It seems fairly muddled to me and I don't see much value in it myself.

 

Is there any value to it, apart from an historical or literary review of apocalyptic literature, i.e. if one happens to be interested in such literature? This is an interesting link on the book: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/31/four-big-myths-about-the-book-of-revelation/

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Martin Luther did not like the book. He later changed his mind.. I think it is worth reading at least once with a good companion

 

Can I Get a Witness? Reading Revelation through African American Culture, Brian K. Blount (Editor)

 

I like Elaine Pagels. Her book would be a good companion.

 

To have a text explained is not the same as letting as reading a text so what Elaine Pagels says is key.

 

Countless people for thousands of years have been able to see their own conflicts, fears, and hopes reflected in his prophecies. And because he speaks from his convictions about divine justice, many readers have found reassurance ....

 

Dutch

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Keith,

 

My interest has been piqued by Pagels new book. When I get her book, I will read Revelation in conjunction with it. But, to just sit down and read it cold, no, I am not particularly interested.

 

George

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I think the last time I read it was when my church did this "read the bible in 90 days" thing where the whole church read the entire bible within that time. The only value I see it in now is as a historical artificat to show how early Christians reconciled their faith in a loving god during times of persecution by telling symbolic mythological stories. I still would love it if Hideaki Anno made a sci-fi anime version of it though.

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I've always wanted to travel to Patmos, where the book of Revelation was penned. They must have some wicked magic mushrooms or some serious weed on that island!

 

I never liked reading Revelation until after I experienced LSD for the first time. Then; I got it!

 

Seriously, though, I read Ms. Pagel's book, and think that her analysis makes the most sense. She said in the article posted above that she's studied this book a lot and STILL doesn't totally understand it.

 

I don't think anyone really does.

 

NORM

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The only book more grossly immoral than the wicked tortures in Revelation is John Edwards' Sinners In The Hands of an Angry God. That has no value whatsoever and the first time I read it in my American Literature class, I wanted to throw the textbook on the other side of my room.

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I haven't read any of the book of Revelation since about 1987, but your post has made me interested in reading it again through new eyes, and with a good companion book such as Pagels'. I'd be interested in reading it again under these circumstances just for my personal benefit of explaining those old fear-mongering beliefs I was indoctrinated with. Thanks.

Edited by PaulS
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Does Pagels explain why Revelation warns Christians not to fall asleep naked lest the end of the world comes while you're asleep? I remember always being paranoid when I was a fundamentalist that the end of the world would come when I wasn't wearing any clothes and everyone would be seeing you naked.

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I think there is a lot of symbolic representations of valid psychological and sociological and spiritual principles within The Revelation. But i don't think anyone can comprehend that until they are personally ready for it. It didn't make sense to me, was down right uncomfortable for me to try to read, I actually avoided it, until just a few years ago....at which time, I found myself drawn into it with great fascination i could never imagined having for it before that.

I also think those raised under fundamentalist, evangelical can only approach it with any reasonable expectation of 'getting it' after they've separated themselves signoficantly from the perspectives and interpretations conditioned into them by that background. I suspect those more well versed in understanding such as the ideas of Carl Jung and Joseph Cambell, the relevance of myth and symbol, are more likely than most to be ready to find ground for comprehending much presented in it. Literalists, materialists, are just not going to 'get it.'

LSD, magic mushrooms or buttons might have helped me get into it sooner, but I quite completely bypassed that stage of my "coming of age in the 60's life experiences," at least from what I've heard of that kind of thing, lol. The idea of those things never appealed to me, and my life journey just didn't lead me into them.

 

Jenell

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Hi Keith,

 

I last read it 3 years ago and at points lost focus and breezed over stuff because it is so "out there." I think everyone interested in religion should read it at least once as an adult just to know what it says. Better yet, read it with a companion such as Pagels as mentioned above, and then re-read it with a companion from a noted TV evangelist like John Hagee to understand how many christians are being told to interpret it.....

 

For more insight, when I was in school for theology I took a NT scriptures class taught by an absolutely brilliant professor and he refused to even teach anything on revelation because it was so questionable. Given his refusal to teach on it I used (a must have) book called Introduction to the New Testament (far more than an "introduction" to the average person) by Fr. Raymond E Brown Ph.D... He has some good insights on the rationalle for the symbolism.

 

Eric

 

Eric

Edited by Eric333
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To me the entire book is symbolic and about a struggle within that reveals the appearing of Christ in each of us. It is meant to symbolically show the unfolding of Christ and cannot be comprehended literally and in my view should have been left out of the NT. It seems to me it is not a future event or in a fixed time period for all but more on an individual basis..

 

Joseph

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The problem with a book composed entirely of symbolism is that it requires a definition key to the symbolism for proper understanding. Without that correct interpretation, the book is rendered meaningless.

 

We no longer possess that key. Therefore, the Orthodox Church has it right: the book is meaningless today.

 

The book of Enoch is another such book of symbolic writing. However, we DO have the key to that book within Judaism. Even still, there is MUCH disagreement about the "true" meaning.

 

One would be better off reading Don Quixote de la Mancha - in the original Spanish. It is full of puns that you don't experience in the English translations.

 

NORM

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I just finished reading Borg's "Reading the Bible Again for the First Time" - his chapter on Revelation was wonderful. I did not know, for example, that it was meant to be read aloud, and that he was writing for a specific group of people. I love how he explained the symbology. The book makes a lot more sense now. I used to pick out the bits I liked, (I am the Alpha and Omega... and he shall wipe the tears from your eyes....). Now, i will re-read Revelation with a new POV and might actually get something out of it.

 

I highly recommend Borg's book BTW. A great primer for bible study.

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Norm,

 

i think the key to the symbolism can be found within that book itself and in the other NT books. IE when one reads of the temple one must remember that the NT speaks of our bodies as the temple of God. When the book speaks of an altar, we must remember that we have an altar whereby we offer the sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of our lips. When the books speaks of many waters, we must remember elsewhere in that book it is defined as peoples, nations, multitudes, and tongues... etc. I could go on and on but overall i think the book is so symbolic that its usefulness to the masses is limited and as you said "there would be much disagreement about the true meaning".

 

Perhaps it is not necessary and best left out but i have read it perhaps a dozen or more times with the last time being about 10 years ago and believe i cannot say it was worth it in that there was no new information that was not revealed to me elsewhere. Amd besides, i think overall because it is so difficult to understand for most, and most rely on the churches interpretation, as a book it has been more of a stumbling block for the walk of the Christian.

 

Just my own view of the question in the OP

Joseph

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Joseph,

 

I'm not sure that its usefulness to the masses would be limited. As Borg explains it, and as I can now see for myself, the symbols have to do with challenging a "dominant system" (the term Borg and Crossan use to describe the political and religion environment) that sets the rich above the poor, or us against them. It is also a story of the archetypal struggle of good over evil. Furthermore, it is the idea that God is over all, as opposed to Nero (or Rome) being in charge. There's much more to it than that. I think, using Borg's and Crossan's explanation while reading Revelation, that very much can be gained for those who are truly interested. Quite frankly, I don't think the way I have been learning to read the bible is "for the masses" either, as evidenced by the number of Christians who believe in bible inerrancy. But I still think its worth the effort.

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I suppose one could read Revelation for a variety of reasons: as divine revelation, as literature, study of early Christianity, curiosity . . .

 

Isn't the "Left Behind" series of books based somewhat on Revelation? If so, one could read it to learn about what we in store.

 

George

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Hi Yvonne,

 

You make a good point but isn't the teachings of Jesus and Paul in the NT much easier to understand than the book of revelations ? To me, there is nothing new in the book of Revelations. While it is discernible if one works at it long enough, it is like a dream that one has and many years can be spent wondering and studying its symbols which in the end only describe what has been, and what is which is plain to see before all. The message and unfolding of Christ to me is simple so that anyone who really wants to see can see.

 

In summary, the book, to me, simply requires more than is needed. In my view, It is a book of dreams and symbols difficult for most to understand for themselves and then, when pursued, i have to ask myself, is one any better off for it? And as in the OP question. Is it really worth it?

 

Just my own personal view and questions,

Joseph.

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I suppose one could read Revelation for a variety of reasons: as divine revelation, as literature, study of early Christianity, curiosity . . .

 

Isn't the "Left Behind" series of books based somewhat on Revelation? If so, one could read it to learn about what we in store.

 

George

 

George,

 

it is my opinion that the left behind series is so out of touch with the real message of the book and reality that it is quite humorous. Just reading the first chapter of the book carefully will tell one what the book is about. Especially reading it with a lookup of Greek words and a comparison of the writings of Paul.

 

Joseph

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With the understanding I gained from reading books such as Borg's, yes, reading Revelation is completely worth it. Is reading the gospels easier? Yes. Is reading the gospels critically any easier? No.

 

As an analogy (and maybe not a good one) - When my ex-husband, who was born and raised and lived all his life in the Middle East, and I went to see 'Forest Gump', as we walked out of the theatre he asked "what was that about?" He had few references to appreciate the movie. I, who understood the era of the war and the time period, could understand the Americana symbols where he could not.

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I don't understand how fundamentalists can use Revelation to justify eternal hellfire since one thing it clearly describes is that it says that Hades and Satan will be destroyed in the lake of fire and that hell is meant for Satan and his demons, not for us. So it seems obvious to me that Revelation is teaching an anninalationist (spelling?) world view rather than a worldview of eternal damnation.

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As an analogy (and maybe not a good one) - When my ex-husband, who was born and raised and lived all his life in the Middle East, and I went to see 'Forest Gump', as we walked out of the theatre he asked "what was that about?" He had few references to appreciate the movie. I, who understood the era of the war and the time period, could understand the Americana symbols where he could not.

 

Great analogy.

 

George

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