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A Letter to Explain the Subtleties of Revelations - Essay Example

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A Letter to Explain the Subtleties of Revelations

Probably the first thing that it is important to understand is that Revelations is grounded firmly in the time of its writing – that is, the first century after the death of Christ, and it can take on a completely new meaning when looked at under that light. Probably the first thing that it is important to understand is that Revelations is not at all unique, but rather part of a “literary tradition” of apocalyptic literature that was flourishing in the first century (Kirsch 38). This literary tradition was not just Christian, but also Jewish, and in fact expanded to many other groups, including “shamans” and other religious leaders (38). Many of these works take the form of visions granted by a divine being, said to show the end times and to warn people of the coming apocalypse, so in this way too is the Book of Revelations part of a broad tradition (103). But, I can imagine you saying, this is part of the bible, not just some raving of a Shaman. The fact remains, however, that there was a great amount of apocalyptic literature that was coming in and out of popularity during this era, and the decision of what would become canonical (or part of the Bible) and what would become apocryphal (not part of the Bible) would be made only centuries later and through an incredibly complex and fraught political process. So, in some ways, if you are worried about the end of the world as depicted in revelations, you also have to be worried about the end of the world depicted in a wide variety of other literature in this genre. So now that we have understood a little bit about the cultural and literary context that Revelations came from, it is important to delve into the historical realities that surrounded its creation, which have a palpable impact on one’s understanding of it once one is aware that the historical context exists. The first century after Christ’s death was an incredibly uproarious time religiously, and Christianity is in fact part of that uproar. During this time period there was widespread social unrest, especially in Judea, because of the relatively recent conquest of the area by the Roman Empire (45). This was simply the latest in a long line of conquests and enslavements that Jews (at this period Christians might be better understood as a sect of Judaism rather than as an independent religion) had suffered, which was made especially dire by the destruction of the Second Temple. These times of conquest and upheaval have always been accompanied by the emergence of apocalyptic literature (48), which serves several purposes. One is to provide hope and spirit to the people suffering – the end of the world necessarily means the prevailing of the righteous at the hands of the evil, which is an especially appealing idea to a downtrodden people. Another is to solidify the base of believers, whose beliefs might be weakened or who might be tempted to stray from the teachings of their religion based on the persecution that they suffer at the hands of the conquering force. So along with being part of line of literary traditions of apocalyptic literature, Revelations is also a fairly common response to political upheaval. One of the most commonly known prophesises in revelations, for instance, is the “mark” or “seal” of the devil (Revelations 13:16) that will become spread widely during the end ...Show more


Your Name Prof’s Name Date A Letter to Explain the Subtleties of Revelations Dear Mom, I know you have recently been watching a lot of television, especially preachers who insist that the end of humanity is coming very soon, based on prophesy and interpretations of the Book of Revelations in the Bible…
Author : ccarter
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