What is some of the other apocalyptic literature of the time? Could you indicate five or six other apocalyptic writings of the time to which you are comparing the book of Revelation? (That is non-Christian liturature NOT based on New Testament teachings.)
Sure. There's actually a fair number of Jewish writings in the apocalyptic mode. Mostly, these flourished in the two centuries BC, and were perpetuated by Jewish zealots in service of fostering revolt. The Romans crushed them repeatedly, of course.
Such books include but are not limited to:
- I Enoch
- Daniel (probably written in the 2nd century BC)
- The Sibylline Oracles
- 2 Baruch
And in the extra-canonical (read: books Christians now reject which were earlier accepted) xian tradition:
- The Shepherd of Hermas
- The Apocalypse of Peter
10 seconds on searching on Google will produce a more exhaustive list. Listing them, of course, signifies nothing. What's your point?
The book of Revelation takes the lead to inform us that the prophecy is being made known to the reader by "signs" (Rev. 1:1)
So the author informs the reader in the first couple of sentences that there is symbolism in the writing.
So some things are symbolic and some things are to be taken literally. For example, that Jesus is called the Lamb is symbolic. It doesn't mean that he has four feet and a tail. However, that Jesus is disccribed as the eternally reigning King as God's Son is not symbolic. That is to be taken literally as the rest of the Bible would also affirm.
I'll agree that Christians say the Bible affirms it. But in the context of the genre, what would be the use-value of this book for late 1st-century xians? What would they use it for?
The tenth chapter discribes prophecy symbolically pictured as a little scroll to be eaten. We are told that it will be sweet in the mouth but bitter in the stomach. This seems to indicate that on one level the fulfullment of the vision will be sweet, yet on another level it will not be without some uncomfortable consequences. See Revelation 10:8-11.
I think this is different and more realistic than a mere "wish-list."
Me too. But then, I didn't say "wish-list," I said "wish fulfillment." There's a big difference. The former is what you use to ask Santa Claus for loot in December. The latter has to do with stating something that you hope will come to pass. It can be couched in the context of realistic discomfort.
But it has been on the world wide best seller list for a long time.
That's the Bible as a whole. We're talking about one text included therein.
But, since the synecdoche's been duly noted, let me just add that popular doesn't mean good. That's like the advertising fallacy where the ad says "a bazillion people have switched to our product. Therefore you should, too!"
McDonald's subtitle on their sign that reads "billions and billions served" doesn't change the fact that the food is not fit for dogs (except for those fries. Yum!)
Closer to home, Dan Brown's bumwipe of a novel The DaVinci Code was a bestseller. It's still only almost good enough to line my cat's litter tray.
And I am pretty sure that you don't know much about the intricate structure of the book of Revelation. I think you have never appreciated the design of the book. It certainly does not come over like "a mad-man's dream" to those who carefully study the design and structure of the book of Revelation.
Okay, let's pause for a sec. I don't question that Revelation exhibits evidence of authorial design. Nor do I suggest that it was "a mad-man's dream" (BTW, that quote doesn't refer to Revelation in its original context, but rather the xian faith as a whole). That's because I see it as an example of a certain genre of literature. I'm all for appreciating its literary intricacies, such as they may be. I personally think the book is a crummy read.
I see nothing basically improper about that if it was.
Again, you infer where the implication is absent. I didn't say it was improper.
I also see a consistency between the circumstances of those believers with other followers of God in other ages covered in the Bible.
Please elaborate. In what sense(s) are the circumstances of the believers posited in Revelation consistent with the circumstances of the followers of God in other ages?
Could you briefly review for us the design of the relationship of the visions with one another in Revelation ? How are they structured?
Spirally. That is, although nominally the sequences of images occur one after the other, they function not as descriptions of what will happen in time, but as repetitive amplifiers of the idea that tribulations are going to descend. So you don't say "Ah, so the seven trumpets represent all kinds of hell breaking loose. Oh, and after that, these seven bowls indicate seven more kinds of hell breaking loose here. And right after the trumpets, too!" Instead, you say, "this guy's really trying to drive home the message that things are going to get really bad, and that a lot of those things are because God is pouring at wrath is about to descend, and I can see now on the third go round that it's all ultimately from God's hand, because of the bazillion sevens and threes in the images."
What's your take?