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LDS New Testament Notes 28: Revelation

LDS New Testament Notes 28: Revelation

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Published by: Mike Parker on Jul 15, 2011
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New TestamentWeek 28: The Revelation
1
of John
1)
Introduction.a)
[SLIDE 2]
BYU professor of religion Robert Millet:
Perhaps no book of scripture has led to more speculation, spawned more foolishness,and resulted in more spiritual imbalance than the Apocalypse, the Revelation of Johnthe Beloved.
2
 b)Genre.i)Revelation seems bizarre and unusual to the modern reader. This is largely becauseit’s the only New Testament book of its kind.ii)
[SLIDE 3]
The title of the book comes from the first word in chapter 1, verse 1:αποκαλυψις (
apocalupsis
), a noun meaning “revelation” in the sense of 
uncovering
or
unveiling
(i.e.
revealing
) something that is hidden.(1)In
apocalyptic
writing the author taken into heaven by an angelic guide andshown amazing (and sometimes frightening) things by means of symbolism thatreveal God’s plans and future events.(2)The Greek word has made its way into English as “apocalypse,” although with thesomewhat altered meaning of an ultimate, climactic battle between good and evil.iii)There were many other
apocalypses
 written during this time period. It was a popularform of writing from the 4th century 
B
.
C
. through the 2nd century 
 A 
.
D
.(1)The second half of Daniel and the book of 1 Enoch are famous examples of OldTestament apocalypses. The Dead Sea Scrolls also contain apocalyptic writings.
3
(2)From the New Testament era there are apocalypses attributed to Peter
4
 and Paul,
5
as well as a widely-used apocalyptic book called the Shepherd of Hermas.
6
(3)Modern scriptures also contain many apocalyptic visions. Prophets like Lehi
1
(1 Nephi 1), Nephi
1
(1 Nephi 11–14), Enoch (Moses 7), and Joseph Smith (D&C76) all had visions where they were shown heaven and/or future events.c)
[SLIDE 4]
Author.i)Although the author identifies himself as “John” (1:1, 4, 9; 21:2; 22:8), there is noindication within the book as to which John is meant.
1
Note that the title of the book is singular (“Revelation”), although it is commonly misspoken as a plural (“Revelations”).
2
Robert L. Millet, “Revelation of John Offers Recurring Lessons, Doctrinal Refrains and Hope,”
Church News,
22December 1995;
http://bit.ly/r35Yq9
. Just this year (2011) Millett published a book entitled
 Making Sense of the Book of  Revelation
(
http://deseretbook.com/Making-Sense-Book-Revelation-Robert-L-Millet/i/5053197
). The cover of this book hasan image of a wax seal, something that we will discuss beginning on page4.
3
One of the most famous apocalyptic writings among the Qumran texts is the so-called “Messianic Apocalypse” (4Q521).See
http://religiousstudies.uncc.edu/people/jtabor/4q521.html
4
There are three apocalypses attributed to Peter, including one that was considered scripture by Clement of Alexandria(
http://www.ntcanon.org/Apocalypse_of_Peter.shtml
) and a Gnostic text (
http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/apopet.html
).
5
The 4th-century Apocalypse of Paul claims to contain details of Paul’s vision mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:1–4(
http://wesley.nnu.edu/sermons-essays-books/noncanonical-literature/apocalypse-of-paul
). The Nag Hammadi texts alsoinclude a Gnostic apocalypse attributed to Paul (
http://www.interfaith.org/christianity/apocrypha-apocalypse-of-paul-2
).
6
The Shepherd of Hermas was written during the first half of the 2nd century, read by many Christians up through the 4thcentury, and regarded by some Christian churches as canonical scripture. It was eventually excluded from the canon because it was not written by an apostle. See:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/shepherd.html
© 2011, Mike Parkerhttp://bit.ly/ldsarcFor personal use only. Not a Church publication.
 
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion ClassNew Testament: RevelationWeek 28, Page 2
ii)Tradition, dating back to the early 2nd century, has asserted that the author was theapostle who was also known as “the Beloved,” author of the Gospel and the threeepistles of John. Since the 3rd century, differences in language and style betweenRevelation and the Gospel of John have caused some to doubt this.
7
iii)The Book of Mormon identifies the author of Revelation as John the apostle (1 Nephi14:18–27; cf. Ether 4:16).d)Date.i)The traditional (and still widely-accepted) date for the book is c.
 A 
.
D
. 95–96, duringthe Christian persecutions under Caesar Domitian.
8
ii)A minority of scholars argue that Revelation was written earlier, in the mid-60sduring the reign of Nero.e)
[SLIDE 5]
Location and audience.i)John tells us he has been banished “for the testimony of Jesus Christ” to “the islethat is called Patmos” (1:9). Patmos is a 13-square-mile island in the Aegean Sea justoff the western coast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey).ii)Revelation was a circular letter written to seven churches on the mainland of western Asia Minor: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, andLaodicea (1:11; 2:1–3:22).f)Purpose and theme.i)The message was intended to encourage believers in the midst of persecution (1:9), by revealing that, despite the tribulations they faced, Jesus Christ was in control and would be the ultimate victor over the forces of evil in the world (17:14).g)Interpretation.i)Because of its strange symbolism and often vague references, Revelation has beeninterpreted in many different ways over the last 2,000 years.(1)
[SLIDE 6]
The four most popular approaches are:(a)The
 preterist 
approach argues that the symbols in Revelation refer to eventsat the end of the 1st century, that the beast of chapters 13–17 is the Romanemperor, and that John expected Jesus to return quickly and overthrow this wicked kingdom.(b)The
historicist 
approach contends that Revelation is a presentation of theentire course of the history of the Christian church from the close of the 1stcentury to the end of time. In this view, we are currently somewhere withinthe events described in the book, we just need to interpret correctly it todiscover where we are.(c)The
 futurist 
approach argues that all of the visions from Revelation 4:1 to theend of the book are yet to be fulfilled, and will take place in the periodimmediately preceding and following the second coming of Christ.
7
Daniel B. Wallace reviews the evidence for and against Johannine authorship in his article “Revelation: Introduction, Argument and Outline”;
http://bible.org/seriespage/revelation-introduction-argument-and-outline
8
This date was asserted as early as
 A 
.
D
. 180. See Irenaeus,
 Against Heresies
5:30:3;
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.vii.xxxi.html
© 2011, Mike Parkerhttp://bit.ly/ldsarcFor personal use only. Not a Church publication.
 
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion ClassNew Testament: RevelationWeek 28, Page 3
(d)The
idealist 
approach contends that Revelation is purely symbolic andrepresents the eternal conflict of good and evil which persists in every age.(2)Modern scholarship general takes the preterist approach. Most Latter-day Saintsprobably are historicists (and modern scripture seems to back that up), withmuch of Revelation still to be fulfilled (futurist).(a)Even if we accept that Revelation still awaits completely fulfillment, we should be aware that many of the symbols in the book are directly targeted at theRoman Empire and the imperial cult, and this is the way the book would have been understood by 1st-century Christians.
9
ii)Symbolism.(1)Revelation is a highly symbolic book with a classic Eastern metaphoric approach.This can be confusing for Westerners (like us) who tend to interpret scriptureliterally. A literal approach to Revelation can be complex and puzzling, as Johnpresents his readers with many disturbing and unusual images.(2)
[SLIDE 7]
Numbers especially have a symbolic or idiomatic application.(a)Multiples of 
seven
appear repeatedly, representing
 fulfillment 
or
completion
:Seven cities, seven seals, seven heads, seven trumpets, seven plagues, seven bowls.(b)The number
twelve
also appears, representing
order 
: The celestial city of New Jerusalem has twelve gates, twelve foundations, a tree with twelve fruits, andis 12,000
stades
wide, long, and tall.
(c)
One thousand 
indicates a very large number: Satan is bound for 1,000 years;144,000 people are sealed (12 × 12 × 1,000).iii)Dependence on the Old Testament.(1)In Revelation there are as many as 460 allusions to Old Testament passages of scripture (although not one direct, formal quotation).(2)John’s vision has many similarities to Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel,Zechariah and other Old Testament prophets.iv)
[SLIDE 8]
Joseph Smith:
The book of Revelation is one of the plainest books God ever caused to bewritten.
 v)In this lesson we’re not going to comprehensively go through every symbol inRevelation. Rather, we’re going to take a deeper examination of a handful of passages and try to understand them in context, using history and ancient andmodern scripture to help us.(1)The handout for this class has an outline of the contents of the book.
9
For an LDS argument for a 1st-century context for Revelation, see Eric D. Huntsman and Cecilia M. Peek, “Imperial Cultand the Beasts of Revelation,”
The Life and Teachings of the New Testament Apostles: from the Day of Pentecost through the Apocalypse
, Richard Nietzel Holzapfel and Thomas A. Wayment, eds. (Deseret Book, 2010), 221–49.
10
KJV “furlongs” (Revelation 21:16). The Greek 
stade
is equivalent to 607 feet; 12,000 stades is almost 1,400 miles.
11
Joseph Smith, 8 April 1843.
 History of the Church
5:342
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith
290(
http://scriptures.byu.edu/stpjs.html#290
);
Words of Joseph Smith
188. This is part of long discourse by the Prophet onRevelation, some of which we will discuss below; see
TPJS 
289–94.
© 2011, Mike Parkerhttp://bit.ly/ldsarcFor personal use only. Not a Church publication.

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