Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I've been preparing to give a talk to a denominational group on the subject of-- hold on to your hats, sports fans-- Revelation! The book, not the dance. (Singular, not plural).

Of course, you know I've read it before. I read it... well, I didn't read it in seminary, actually. I read it... well, I didn't actually read it in my first theology MA program either. Hmmm.

Well, I can tell you for SURE I read it (partially) in middle school, when I (briefly) attended a bible study at my parish.

And I can tell you for SURE SURE that I read the whole kit and kaboodle, from stem to stern, in 2005-- that's the year I got my One Year Bible (TM), and did that thing. (So, I read it in December.)

But lately, I've read it-- all in one go, over the span of the last two days, with the help of a study guide. I've just finished, actually.

I'm blown away. Part of what has blown me away is my embrace of the interpretive scheme of the study guide, to be sure. It is most assuredly not a dispensationalist/rapturist/pro-Armageddon reading (unlike that of the current L3ft B3hind craze). It is a feminist (in the sense that we take note of the disturbing imagery regarding women, as well as how it has been used historically) and Reformed (in that it correctly uses scripture to interpret scripture, according to the best of our tradition). And it is environmentalist (in that it takes note of God's strong words for those who destroy the earth, and the role the earth/ river of life/ tree of life has in the restored New Jerusalem).

I sat there for a few minutes after I'd finished reading with my heart racing.

I think I've had a conversion experience. I've been converted to loving this crazy, problematic book of which Luther said, "My spirit cannot fit itself into this book." I find, my spirit can. And I'm blown away.

It's a revelation.


Aric Clark said...

Revelations is awesome. It has my absolute favorite eschatological image of all time in the New Jerusalem where every tear is wiped away - poetry. It is full of irony - like the Lion of Judah who turns out to be a Lamb that was slain. The lion roars and it goes "baaaaaa"... Hilarious and profound!

I absolutely read it as a preterist/idealist though. It either refers in code to events having to do with the Roman Empire of the day, or it refers in symbolism to metaphorical realities of the church, but I am repulsed by dominionist/historicist readings which want to turn Jesus into a mass-murderer with laser beam eyes.

I return to the study of this book often. I hope you find it fruitful, and your congregation too.

LittleMary said...

you know when we studied together i read brian blount's work on revelation. it is a must, must, must read. you might not want to know that right now, but it is. and takes into account a lot of feminist work, integrating it and challenging it.

Karen said...

Sounds interesting. What study guide did you use? Thanks.

Cecilia said...

Aric, I think I'm pretty much where you are with it. Little Mary, this study referenced Blount at least a couple of times. Karen, it's the Presbyterian study put out by Horizons, the magazine of the Presbyterian Women. Here's the link.


gordbrown said...

The two books my first year New Testament seminary course does not touch are Hebrews and Revelation. Oddly enough the older gentleman at the Church I attend said the two books his seminary Greek (he studied in the Reformed tradition in Grand Rapids) could not help him with were Hebrews and Revelation.

Having said that, my appreciation for Revelations comes from Ralph Milton's Family Story Bible, which has a brief but beautiful bit on "I saw a new Jerusalem descend to earth." Pretty much what you need to know.

Wendy said...

Having been subject to a set of 1970s pre-L3ft B3hind movies when I was much too small (it's at church--it must be appropriate) I still have moments of panic in which I think I have, indeed, been "L3ft B3hind." Maybe it's time to give the book a new look with different eyes, though our Pastor has chosen to skip it in our "Getting to Know the Bible" class.

RuthAnn said...

One book which has helped me a lot - and which some of us are reading at our church (Lutheran), is The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation by Barbara R. Rossing. I highly recommend it.

Jane R said...

William Stringfellow has some kick-ass writings on Revelation.