of Saint John scarcely merits the title. Far from being a revelation,
it is the most abstruse book in the whole Bible; and it was not written
by any apostle called John. Indeed most of the material is secondhand,
being borrowed liberally from the Old Testament books of Isaiah,
Ezra, Ezekiel and, in particular, Daniel (which also has fantastic
images of the End Time and refers to one like a son of man). Revelation essentially
is Jewish scripture.
Truth Behind 'Revelation'
the apocalypse does not quote directly, within its four hundred or
so verses are about five
hundred and fifty references to the Old Testament (B. F. Westcott and
F. J. A. Hort, Greek New Testament, 184 ff.) Its core several apocalyptic endings badly stitched together was
later given a Christian preface: a series of seven angry letters,
chastising seven errant churches in western Asia Minor. Having berated
the churches, Revelation then unleashes a relentless apocalyptic
nightmare, badly written, repetitive and self-contradictory. In chapter
it details bizarre horrors, the supposed fate that imminently will befall
the enemies of the Lord. It is the latter which gives the book its enduring
popularity a vision of the gore-fest at the End of Time.
Revelation is the outpouring of a
Jew seriously embittered by Roman imperialism. This
fevered Jewish mind invokes retribution for his enemies from that
old, vicious god of Hebrew scripture, who rips into humanity with
abandon. Thus, in a whole series of Ends, God releases seven vials
of his wrath (blood, plague, sores, fire, drought,
etc.); sets loose four horsemen (at the head of an army of 200 million!) for
to slay the third part of men (9.15). He has his demonic
locusts torment unbelievers for five months; etc., etc. Kings, captains, false
prophets and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both
small and great are eaten by fowls that fly and are cast alive into a
lake of fire and brimstone.
nothing else, the crude, unpolished construction of Revelation,
reveals early proto-Christian ideas in the process of forming. The early
origin of the book is attested by its doctrinal incompatibility
with the rest
of the New Testament. The doctrine of the Trinity is nowhere in
Rather, Revelation embodies Philos
notion of multiple
emanations the seven spirits of God (3.1,
5.6). Later biblical books will slim this down to a single Holy
Spirit. Revelation has no
dogma of original sin ; it is idolatry which
damns the mass of humanity. Baptism is not mentioned; believing Jews
not baptised. There is no reference to the Eucharist nothing so
genteel as a meal with friends mars the carnage. On the day of judgement
it is works (public action) that will count, not the Pauline
grace through faith. To the authors obvious delight, Babylon (the Roman Empire) falls
unrepentant and the vast
mass of humanity perish. There is no religion of love here but
only undiluted hatred and lust for revenge.
In Revelation we
see intermediate stages in the assimilation of preexisting, and for the most part pagan fantasy. For example, one of the godly
emanations is a Christ figure, who appears in many different and
peculiar forms. The Christ of Revelation is actually
born in heaven, and under pretty extraordinary circumstances (his mother
in the sun, with the moon at her feet, wearing twelve stars as a crown a
reasonable description of Isis). This infant is going to be a bit of
she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with
a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his
– Revelation 12.5.
Thus, unlike the later books of the New Testament, Revelation has
a Christ born in Heaven who rules on earth rather than
a Christ born on earth who rules in Heaven!
is no human biography at all for this Christ he is an entirely
heavenly figure, and one with some strange appendages:
he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went
a sharp two edged sword:"
– Revelation 1.16.
At this point in time the polymorphous Christ is only
slightly ahead of Moses in the celestial pecking order; both are spiritual
agents of God. Thus in 15.3 the martyrs sing the song of Moses
and the song of the Lamb. We note from Revelation 1.5
that Christ is the
prince of the kings of the earth. Later, of course, he will
be promoted to be king of kings.
in Revelation suggests that this Christ is ever incarnated
on earth. Though said to have been dead , and is alive (2.8),
the circumstances of this dying and raising are never given. In
one of the first of a series of visions, Christ appears as a high
priest; later in the book, he is alpha and omega (first
and last), the beginning and end of Gods creation that has
existed from all eternity. He is also the bright morning
star and the Lamb of sacrifice.
primary role in Revelation, however, is as a Jewish warlord, who doth
judge and make war. This celestial war god bears little in common
with a Galilean carpenter!:
he was clothed with a vesture dipped in
blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses,
clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth
sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he
shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress
of the fierceness
and wrath of Almighty God." – Revelation 19.13,15.
The torturous chronology of Revelation make
no rational sense. Clearly at the end of the world, time is no longer
maybe the storyteller is keeping his audience enthralled by retelling the
gory bits. The gist, however, is that soon, a new
Jerusalem, or heaven, will descend from the clouds, with God himself
at the helm, illuminating the cityscape by his own light.
primitive attempt at describing this heaven has it is as a walled
city of pure
gold, like unto clear glass. It is approximately
half the size of the U.S.A. twelve thousand furlongs.
The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. (21.16)
Jewish Golden Age
the walls of this cubic city (which are also built of precious
stones) pass twelve gates, each named for a tribe of Israel.
Within, God, on a great white throne, has before him a book with
seven seals, and also a book of life into which he enters the name
of the saved. Significantly, it is God who sits in judgement,
not Christ (he
gets the job in the later gospels). The slain and risen Lamb
(the Christ figure) has the job of opening each seal in turn. With
the opening of the seventh seal, seven angels blast away on seven
trumpets, each sound releasing a new horror fire and blood,
mountains of fire cast into the sea, a burning star falling to earth,
every mountain and island displaced, etc. At one point, war
even breaks out in Heaven and it is not Christ who
is the conquering hero but the Jewish archangel Michael (Israels
"And there was
war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought
against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And
neither was their place found any more in heaven." – Revelation 12.7,8.
righteous brethren of course are saved, but the
idea of resurrection in a single day for all of humanity
(see Matthew 25) has not yet evolved. Instead, the endgame
in Revelation is
rather different a two-track resurrection. In the first, Christ
rules an earthly kingdom for a thousand years while Satan, confined
but not defeated, is locked up in a pit. During this period, 144,000
Jewish males (12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel) are
the only ones
to share the kingdom. In this heaven, there is not
a single woman.
The male elect are
not defiled by women; they are
(14.4).Everyone else is still dead:
"But the rest of
the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection ... they shall be priests
of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." (Revelation 20.5,6)
Gets Another Chance
the end of the thousand year reign (a golden age of Jewish virginity?), Satan is loosed (by God?) and now a final apocalypse wrecks havoc
on humanity (presumably raised to life in order to be killed off).
army is still numerous:
"And he shall go
out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the
earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle:
number of whom is as the sand of the sea." – Revelation 20.8.
This time round, Satan and his hordes are dispatched in
a couple of sentences:
" ... and
fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And
the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and
where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day
and night for ever and ever." – Revelation 20.9,10.
Yet even at the close of this revealed future (after
all the carnage, the final defeat of Satan and the inauguration of a new heaven
and earth!), outside the golden city the heathen are still to be found!
"For without are
dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters,
and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." – Revelation 22.15.
Clearly, the one thing we are not dealing with here
is a clear vision of the future. Its recycled symbols, secondhand imagery
and incoherent bile are ill-digested, confused and confusing.
Revelation is nothing
more than virulent anti-Roman fury meant to stiffen the brethren by lurid
images of their foes in torment.
Dating the Nightmare
Despite internal evidence for an earlier dating,
Christian scribes often choose to aggrandise their own suffering by
dating Revelation to
the persecutions of Domitian about 96 AD. This tradition began
with Irenaeus at the end of the second century. Correctly understood
as a Jewish resistance tract Revelation has nothing
to do with later Christian suffering at all. Its core elements the
several alternative apocalyptic endings almost certainly were
in circulation in Palestine (particularly Galilee) in the mid-years
of the first century, where such
literature was popular. When was it written? The book itself tells us
the answer, enigmatically but more precisely than any other book of
"Here is wisdom.
Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast:
for it is the number of a man; and his number is
threescore and six. (13.18)
And there are
seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not
yet come; and
when he cometh, he must continue a short space.
And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of
the seven, and goeth into perdition." (17.10,11)
person these celebrated verses point to is Nero.
over a century scholars have known that Jewish numerology or gematria resolves
the name of Nero Caesar, as it appears in Hebrew (without vowels),
into the number 666. Unlike the English alphabet,
all the letters of
Hebrew have a
numerical equivalent, which opens the door to all sorts of
esoteric or mystical use. Engels credits a fellow German
with the resolution of the riddle of Revelation thus:
solution was given by Ferdinand Benary of Berlin. The name is
Nero. The number is based on [Hebrew] Neron Kesar, the Hebrew
spelling of the Greek Nerôn Kaisar, Emperor Nero, authenticated
by means of the Talmud and Palmyrian inscriptions. This inscription
was found on coins of Nero's time minted in the eastern half
of the empire. And so -- n (nun)=50; r (resh)=200; v (vau) for
o=6; n (nun)=50; k (kaph)=100; s (samech)=60; r (resh)=200. Total
666. If we take as a basis the Latin spelling Nero Caesar the
second nun=50 disappears and we get 666 - 50 = 616, which is
– On The History of Early Christianity,
seven kings referred to are the emperors of Rome. At the time of writing,
five are past (are fallen Augustus, Tiberias, Caligula,
Claudius, Nero), one rules still (Galba who ruled from June 6,
68 to January 15, 69), and the prophesy is made that only one other will
rule before the End. The final sentence resolves again into Nero. Could
he be is and is not (alive then dead)? How could one of
the seven be the eighth as well? The answer is that the crisis
of the year 68/69 (the so-called 'year
of four emperors', which
ran from June 68 through to December 69) lasted long enough for rumours
to spread that Nero had not died at his own hand, but had
fled to Persia, had raised an army and would reclaim the throne from
the interloper Vitellius. Seemingly confirming this turn of events was
appearance of an impostor on the island of Kithnos (Thermia) about
a hundred and thirty miles from Patmos claiming to be Nero.
Revelation, and other fiery tracts of the same genre, no doubt strengthened
the resolve of first century Jewish resistance. The rebels failed, as
did the Apocalypse in its prediction of the imminent fall of Rome and
of the Millennial Reign that would follow. Many early Christians
rejected the book outright, attributing authorship and the doctrine
of an earthly
kingdom to a late first century Jewish Egyptian heretic called
the chagrin of many Christians ever since, Revelation nonetheless
sneaked its way into the Bible, tucked away at the back and horror
fiction apart largely forgotten.
forgotten that is, until the beast of American
Christian fundamentalism emerged from its
pit and gave the apocalyptic ravings a whole new lease of life.
Did They Get Their Ideas From?
Much of the content of the 'Holy Bible' is material
re-cycled again and again.
of St John
of Moses in Egypt
Angel 1 – Causes
Angel 2 & 3 – Oceans
Angel 4 – Sun
scorches all men
Angel 5 – World
Angel 6 – Evil
spirits disguised as frogs
Angel 7 – Thunder & Lightning
Thunder & Lightning
from Mt Sinai
Friedrich Engels, On the History of Early Christianity
Paul Johnson, A History of the Jews (Phoenix Grant, 1987)
Dan Cohn-Sherbok, The Crucified Jew (Harper Collins,1992)
Henry Hart Milman, The History of the Jews (Everyman, 1939)
Josephus, The Jewish War (Penguin, 1959)
Leslie Houlden (Ed.), Judaism & Christianity (Routledge, 1988)
John Allegro, The Dead Sea Scrolls & The Christian Myth (Westbridge,1979)
M. Baigent, R. Leigh, The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception (Jonathan Cape, 1991)
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