Visions, vindication and victory: the strange world of the Apocalypse

This post is in the series Rite Reading.

The Revelation to John, also known as the Apocalypse, contains seven letters, which make up the second and third chapters. However, it is not itself a letter, but the only New Testament book which as a whole is in the literary genre of apocalyptic. This is a type of literary description of visions that claim to unveil the meaning of history for those in the know.1 They often contain the metaphor of a journey through heavenly or spiritual realms with a guide. The vision at the heart of the Apocalypse is that the soft power of the Lamb’s self-sacrifice will be triumphant over the hard power of the mighty Roman empire. While readings from this book are used on a number of feast days,1 Revelation also provides the second reading for the Sundays of Easter in Year C. Its celebration of Christ’s triumph draws out a key aspect of the Easter gospel.

Readers are somewhat prone to introducing readings from this book wrongly. It is the Book of Revelation in the singular, not Revelations in the plural. The book itself claims to be the record of a single revelation, handed from God to Jesus and from Jesus via an angel to his servant John. There is only one secret to be unveiled: the triumph of God over evil through the cross of Christ.

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Riddle me this: Jesus as a misunderstood puzzle. Mark’s story

17th century icon of St Mark via Wikimedia Commons

Unlike Matthew’s carefully introduced and triumphantly concluded story, Mark begins fairly abruptly and ends even more suddenly than it begins. That beginning reflects a sense of pace that Mark injects into his gospel; Jesus is constantly on the move, and his mission is presented with a sense of urgency fitting to a figure who is announcing that the kingdom of God has come close.

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Daniel: interpreting divine dreams & God’s graffiti

This post is in the series Rite Reading.

Daniel, as I have mentioned in a previous post, is not classified among the prophets in the Hebrew Bible, but as one of the rather more miscellaneous “Writings”. The main reason for that is almost certainly because it was written quite late – around the time of the Maccabean revolt1, as an encouragement for those who were being called to give their lives, if necessary, as a faithful witness to their God.

The writing on the wall at Belshazzar ‘s Feast. See the story in Daniel 5.
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