- REVELATION. Whatever you see, write it in a book

Created: Friday, 15 August 2014 Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2014

REVELATION
Whatever you see, write it in a book


1.- The Revelation is not an easy writing. The following are some of the most important difficulties: the biblical quotes or allusions are many (more than 500) and they send to the corresponding passages dispersed by all the Scriptures; the symbols are constant and it is necessary to interpret them; the language used in a persecution time (that who read it, understand it) is clandestine; the texts of the Old Testament must be read in the spirit of the Gospel; the prophetic text must be understood in a prophetic context. It is necessary to listen God´s word who judges history, alive communities in which the Revelation can be understood and lived today are needed; it is necessary to acknowledge Jesus like Lord of history, In front of diverse manipulations, the adequate approach is fundamental: it is not the empire towards God, but to the contrary, God judges the empire ( In the photograph, Pantocrator, Saint Clement of Tahull, XII century)
2.- Apocalypse means revelation made by God about history sense. It is a literary gender that the prophets use and that is developed specially in the two last centuries before Christ. It appears in Isaiah (Is 24-27), Ezekiel (Ez 40-48), Zechariah (Ze 9-14) Daniel (Dn 7), Mathew (Mt 24-25), Mark (Mk 13), Luke (Lk 21), Peter ( 2P 3, 10-13), Paul (1Thes 4,15-18; 2 Thes 2,1-12; 1Co 15,20-28; 2 Co 5,1-10).
3.- The Revelation accumulates symbols and, besides, it goes from ones to others. It is necessary to interpret them adequately. Thus, for instance, if it is said that Christ is “the lion of the Judah’s tribe (Rev 5,5), it is to say, “he has all power, richness, wisdom and strength” (5,12); the lamb is “on his foot, although he seemed decapitated; he had seven horns and seven eyes” (5,6), it is to say, Christ is raised in spite of his death and he has full (seven) power and wisdom; heaven indicates God´s home; the land, man’s home; horn, the power; corn and grape harvest, God´s judgement; mount Zion or Jerusalem, the place where salvation takes place; the cosmic convulsions symbolize the foundation shock; the trumpets, God´s action; the animals (lamb, lion, horses, locusts, scorpions, dragon, two beasts) are in each case realities to identify; number seven (or any of its multiples) indicate the entirety; nevertheless, the half of seven, three and a half, fractions or a third indicate a part, something limited; among the colours, the white symbolizes the divinity; the black, the death; the red, the blood, and so on.
4. The author introduces himself as follows: “I, John, your brother and fellow of  the sufferings, the kingdom and the patient endurance, in Jesus. I was on the island of Patmos, because of the Word of God and Jesus´ witnessing.” (1, 9). John is not a violent fighter against the empire, he is resistant, kingdom militant (Jn 18, 36), “prophet” (10, 11; 22, 6.9). A tradition, already presented by Justin and thoroughly spread at the end of the second century (Ireneo, Clement of Alexandria, Tertulian, Muratori´s Cannon) acknowledges apostle John like the author. Ireneo (about 140-202) identifies John like the loved disciple (Adv. Haer., III, 1, 2), one of the apostles (II, 33, 3); at his childhood, he listened to Policarpus (69-155), Smyrna’s bishop, and he heard him to talk about his contacts with “John, Lord’s disciple”  (III, 3, 4; Eusebio, HE V, 20, 5-6). At the time of Domiciano, “the apostle and evangelist John, still alive, due to his God´s word testimony, was exiled to the island of Patmos” (HE III, 18, 1), “after the tyrant’s death, John moved to from the island of Patmos to Ephesus. He usually travelled , when he was called, towards the neighbour regions” (98-117; HE III, 23, 3-6). Now well, if Jesus died in the year 30, how old was John when he writes the Revelation?. On the other side, a “presumed tradition” places the death of the apostle John before Nero’s persecution (HE III, 23, 1, note)
5. The Revelation is written down during persecution times. Everything fits better in Nero’s persecution (years 64-67). The “diverse tests” that suffer the addressees of Peter’s letter makes understand that the persecution ignites like “fire” in the provinces (1 P 1, 1-7; 4, 12): “They defame you like criminals” (2, 12), The imperial worship, key piece of the empire unity, begins already with Julius Caesar’s death. In the year 29 a temple in his honour is raised in the place where his body had been burnt. Imperial worship is developed above all since Augustus, that becomes “supreme pontiff” and he compels others to call him “son of god” (divi filius). Domiciano (from 81 to 96) compels others to call him “ our lord and god”. He placed his own equestrian image in the middle of the roman forum. He felt passion for the spectacular ceremonies. Every four years expensive “Capitolina festivals” were celebrated. He organized magnificent processions (with white tunics and laurel crowns) in the occasions of his triumphal entrance in the cities. His death penalties were preceded by the writing: “It has been in the taste of the lord, our god”.. An emperor-god cannot be mistaken.  
6. The Revelation is a message of hope among the difficulties that the believers find before the roman empire, “the beast” (Rev 13). It is an invitation to keep the Christian testimony before the scandal of the persecution. To carry out his plan, John comes back upon the great prophetic themes, specially about the “day of the Lord” (Am 5, 18). The believers, submitted under the corresponding empire (Egyptian, Assyrian, Caldeans, Greek) and dispersed by the persecution, expect the day in which God will come to liberate his people
7. The Revelation is a “prophecy” (1,3), Jesus´, the Christ, revelation: “God gave it to him to let his servants know what is soon to take place. He sent his angel to make it known to his servant, John, who reports everything he saw, for this is the word of God and the declaration of Jesus Christ.” (1, 1-2). It is also said at the end: “The Lord God, who inspires the prophets, has sent his angel to put forth to his servants what is to happen soon (22, 6). According to Justin (about 100-168), Jesus is called angel, because he announces to the men anything that the Creator of everything, upon who there is no other God, wishes to tell them” (Dialogue with Trifón, LVI). There are two signatures at the end: “I John, was the one who saw and heard this. And when I saw and heard it, I felt at the feet of the angel who had shown me all this to warship him. But he told me: no, be careful; I am a servant like you and your brothers the prophets… To God you must worship” (22, 8-9; Tb 12). And also: I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you testimony about the concerning the churches. I am the little one and David’s descendent” (22, 16; Is 11, 1)

8.  John greets “the seven churches of Asia”, id est, the totality of the Churches, “on behalf of That who is, who was and who will come” (God, Ex 3, 14), “on behalf of the seven Spirits who are before his throne” (the Spirit in his plenitude, gifts, Is 11, 2-4) , and “on behalf of Christ, the faithful witness, the first born among the death, the prince of the kings of the earth” (Ps 89), “to whom loves us and had cleaned us… and who has made of us a kingdom of priests for his God and Father, to him the glory and the power for ever and ever”. The Resurrected Lord comes to judge: “Look, he comes accompanied by clouds” And, like signing everything, it is told: “I am the alpha and the omega, says the Lord God (Rev 1, 4-7; see Dn 7,13; Zec 12,10; Mt 26,64 and Jn 19,37).
9. In the island of Patmos, one Sunday, reading passages of Daniel and Ezekiel, John has a vision, a revelation (1 Co 14, 26): “I fell in ecstasies the day of the Lord and I heard a great voice behind me, like of a trumpet, that said: Whatever you see write it down in a book and send it to the seven churches”, “I turned to see what was the voice talking and, when turning, I saw seven golden candlesticks, and in the middle of the candlesticks like a son of man, dressed with a full-length tunic, hugged to the waist with a golden girdle. His head and his hair were white, like the white wool, like the snow; his yes like a fire flame; his feet looked like of precious metal refined in the oven; his voice like the voice of large waters. He has in his right hand seven stars, and from his mouth an acute sword with two edges; and his face, as the sun when it shines with all its strength”, “the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven candlesticks the seven churches” (Rev 1, 10-20; Dn 7, 13 and 10, 5-6; Ez 2, 9 and  43, 2)
10. The son of man, sacrificed by beastly powers, appears among the churches. His attributes are described by means of symbols: priesthood (full-length tunic), royalty (golden girdle), eternity (white hair), wisdom (blazing eyes), stability (bronze feet), power (right hand), judgement (word), majesty (sun). He is the Christ of the transfiguration: “I fell at his feet like one dead but he touched me with his right hand and said, “Do not be afraid. It is I, the First and the Last. I am the living one; I was dead and now I am alive for ever and ever… Now write what you have seen, both what already is and what is yet to come” (Rev 1, 17-19)
11. The Revelation is intended for the churches to be read in the meeting of the community: “Blessed that who reads it and blessed those who listen the words of this prophecy” (1, 3; 22, 7). The community, if it is alive, must listen “the mystery of God” (10, 7) and the mystery of the Beast (17, 5.7, must discover the sense of history in the light of the word of God.
* Dialogue: Is the Revelation current? What difficulties do we find?