The Book of Revelation and the Interpretation of the Three
The last of the Johannine writings and the last book of the New Testament
is the Apocalypse. Literally meaning "revelation", it is the strangest book of the
New Testament. It is written in such a difficult and complex style that many
otherwise devoted readers of the sacred texts are tempted to throw their hands in
despair. However, if one has some knowledge of the authors, their backgrounds,
situations, styles, and purpose, the Apocalypse turns out to be quite a fascinating
and rewarding piece of literature.
Apocalyptic literature, a very common and complex literary style, began to
emerge in Jewish circles around the time of the Babylonian Exile. Its development
was sparked by the need for a secrecy of communication during times of
persecution. Words of encouragement had to be relayed to the Jews to help them
retain their faith in God, despite attacks from militant paganism and attempts of
oppression. These words, intended for Jews alone, had to be cast in terms only
they could understand. If the pagans uncovered the real meanings of writings,
there would have been a savage retaliation, hence the dire need for a secret code.
Examples of Apocalyptic writings can be found in Is. 24-27 and Zach. 9-12.
Daniel is written for the most part in this style, as well as Ezechiel
Apocalyptic writing was also extremely popular with Christians. This
literary form came quite naturally to St. John, an early Christian deeply versed in
the writing of his people, sacred and otherwise. Credited as being one of the
authors of the Book of Revelation, John's work was a reflection of his own
suffering and hope for salvation. He, as were thousand of his fellow Christians,
was persecuted and oppressed. Christians were confused and...