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The Subject of Revelation (for Dummies)

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By Duncan - Posted on 19 August 2006

by Duncan McKenzie
Some time ago I watched scholars on a very scholarly website dedicated to the study of Revelation try to summarize the subject of Revelation. They all had different answers but basically had trouble summarizing what Revelation was about. While the interpretation of the many strange images in Revelation is often difficult, the basic subject of the book is quite simple.
Some time ago I watched scholars on a very scholarly website dedicated to the study of Revelation try to summarize the subject of Revelation. They all had different answers but basically had trouble summarizing what Revelation was about. While the interpretation of the many strange images in Revelation is often difficult, the basic subject of the book is quite simple.
In Revelation we are shown two women, the harlot and the bride, who are two cities, Mystery Babylon and New Jerusalem. These two women are also two wives. While it is obvious that the bride is a wife (Rev. 21:9) it is easy to miss that the harlot is also a wife, a widowed wife (Rev. 18:7). The harlot (unfaithful Israel, cf. Deut. 31:16-20, Ezek. 16, 23) became a widow when she had her husband (Jesus) killed. She denies this claiming that she is still a queen (cf. Matt. 21:5), that she is still God’s wife (cf. Hosea 2:2-4). The widowed wife (the harlot) is judged and destroyed in Revelation 17-18 and then God marries his new covenant bride in Revelation 19. God told Moses that this would happen to His unfaithful old covenant people

And the LORD said to Moses: 'Behold you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured... Deut. 31:16-17

There is essentially an exact parallel of two women/cities in Galatians 4 that deserves careful consideration. In Galatians 4:21-31 we are told of two women who are two wives (Hagar and Sarah) who correspond to two cities (physical Jerusalem and heavenly Jerusalem). We are told that these two women/cities are symbolic of two communities of people, those under the old covenant and those under the new covenant.

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewomen. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar- for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children- but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all…But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. Galatians 4:21-31 NKJV emphasis added

It should be obvious that the “Jerusalem above” of Galatians 4:26 corresponds to the New Jerusalem of Revelation (which comes down out of heaven, Rev. 21:2, 10); but how does Mystery Babylon correspond to Jerusalem? Babylon is called “the great city” in Revelation (Rev. 14:8; 18:21); elsewhere in Revelation we are told that “the great city” is where Jesus was crucified (Rev. 11:8). I invite the reader to do the math: If A equals B (the great city is where Jesus was crucified), and B equals C (Babylon is the great city), then A equals C (Mystery Babylon is the city where Jesus was crucified).

Revelation is talking about the exact same subject as Galatians; both books are contrasting two “cities” (physical Jerusalem and heavenly Jerusalem in Galatians, Mystery Babylon and the New or heavenly Jerusalem in Revelation) that are two “wives” (Hagar and Sarah in Galatians, the widowed harlot and the bride in Revelation). The two women of Galatians and Revelation represent two communities, those of the old and new covenants. Notice that while the city of Jerusalem is mentioned in Galatians, it is representing all those under the old covenant not just the city of Jerusalem (just as I have argued that Babylon the Great doesn’t just represent 1st century Jerusalem but all those of the old covenant who were rejecting Jesus).

In the book of Revelation, as in Galatians (4:29), one women persecutes the other (i.e. the harlot persecutes the bride, Rev. 17:6 cf. Rev. 18:24, Matt. 23:29-37). Similarly in Revelation, as in Galatians, one of the two women is cast out (the harlot is destroyed Rev. 18:21) while the other woman receives her inheritance (the Lord takes the bride as His wife). This explains why the very next subject after Babylon is destroyed is the wedding of the bride (Rev. 19:1-10; cf. Matthew 21:33-45). God has the beast dispose of His unfaithful old covenant wife (who irrevocably broke her covenant of marriage with God and became a widow when she had Jesus killed) and then marries his faithful new covenant bride. Again, the subject of Revelation is exactly the same as Galatians 4:21-31. Both are talking about two women who are two wives and two cities; these things represent the two covenants and those who are part of them (“which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants” Gal. 4:24).

OK now you can do something most of those with advanced degrees in theology probably can’t do. You can give a simple yet elegant summary of the subject of Revelation. Now who’s the dummy! For those who would like to do more study on the harlot motif and God’s unfaithful old covenant people here are some references.

Duncan

Leviticus 17:7; Leviticus 20:5-6; Numbers 14:33; Numbers 15:39; Deuteronomy 31:16; Judges 2:17; Judges 8:27; 1 Chronicles 5:25; 2 Chronicles 21:11; Psalms 73:27, Isaiah 1:21; Hosea 1:2; Hosea 2:4 [MT:6]; Hosea 4:15; Hosea 9:1, Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:2,9,13: Jeremiah 5:7,11; Jeremiah 13:27, Ezekiel 6:9; Ezekiel 16; Ezekiel 23; Ezekiel 43:7,9.

chrisliv's picture

Thanks, Duncan,

Your clear and simple article certainly contributes to the Preterist viewpoint, even if you are not fully Preterist in your eschatology.

It's interesting how Thomas S. heckled both you and me, all the while claim to be Preterist, in some semantic or historic sense.

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

mazuur's picture

Duncan,

I just have to say, that was brilliant! I will be keeping this one for future use.

What might surprise you (or may not) is this summary you wrote is actually the summary of the entire Bible. Two Covenants in contrast with the old one coming to an end, and the new one coming into existence and lasting forever.

Rich

-Rich

Duncan's picture

Thanks Rich,

By the way, were you expecting anything less than brilliant from one of my articles?

your humble servant ;- )

Duncan

ThomasS's picture

Dear Duncan,

I would also say that you are very good in communicating your views. No wonder that your essays are appreciated.

BTW, that is my scholarly opinion :)

All the best

Th. S.

Duncan's picture

It is much easier when one has weight of Scripture backing them up, as I do on the identity of the harlot.

ThomasS's picture

...sure! ;)

chrisliv's picture

Yeah,

The very first verse in Revelation tells every reader that the language is symbolic, or "signifies" that everything written within would "shortly come to pass", which obviously had 70 AD in view.

The Book itself demands a pre-70 AD authorship, too, as Duncan indirectly points out from the text, that Old Jerusalem hadn't quite been destroyed yet:

"I invite the reader to do the math: If A equals B (the great city is where Jesus was crucified), and B equals C (Babylon is the great city), then A equals C (Mystery Babylon is the city where Jesus was crucified)."

Interestingly, the Book of Revelation comes to an almost storybook ending, where everyone in the New Jerusalem lived happily ever after, which must seem like Heresy to the Dispensational mind since no hostile, carnal, dictator Christ has arrived on a strip of Middle Eastern sand.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

ThomasS's picture

C. Livingstone,

May I ask you a question regarding the Book of Daniel?

Consider:

"I invite the reader to do the math: If A equals B (Antiochus IV = the little horn [in Dan 8]), and B equals C (the little horn [in Dan 8] = the little horn [in Dan 7), then A equals C (Antiochus IV. = the little horn [in Dan 7]."

Would you agree?

Th. S.

chrisliv's picture

Well, Thomas,

We went around and around on this one a month, or so, ago.

The so-called "Great City," "The Whore of Babylon," the figurative "Sodom and Egypt," are all clearly identified as Old Jerusalem right before her Judgment in 70 AD, as cataloged below.

The old Great City was obsolete, despicably wicked, and in breech of its Covenant. The Book of Revelation is a revelation of Christ, but it is also a revelation of a new Great City and a new People, spiritually speaking.

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

Re 11:8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

Re 14:8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.

Re 17:18 And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

Re 18:10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.

Re 21:10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

ThomasS's picture

Is this your answer to my question (Re: the Book of Daniel)?

Th. S.

chrisliv's picture

Yeah,

You're off on tangents or are trying to switch the subject, and you won't stay on the brief point of the article (Re: The Book of Revelation).

Why don't you just concede on this one simple, non-Dispensational point?

Or, must you automatically object to everything that a Preterist puts forth?

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

I do subscribe to classic preterism, which (as you probably know) is the oldest form of preterism known to us.

As you refuse to answer my question, I guess you think it's OK to insist on the same identity of the "great city" in all parts of the Book of Revelation, whereas it's OK to say that in the Book of Daniel, the "little horn" in Ch. 7 and the "little horn" in Ch. 8 are not referring to one and the same king. Nice to know.

Thanks!

Best regards

Th. S.

chrisliv's picture

Well,

You're going off on another tangent, Thomas, by saying that you're a Preterist.

You're certainly a Futurist, since you are still waiting for "The Coming of the Son of Man," as per Mat. 24, to be fulfilled. Yet the New Testament declares that that "Coming" was to be fulfilled within the 1st Century AD, and every Preterist agrees and declares, along with the Bible, that "The Coming of the Son of Man" has been completely fulfilled since at least 70 AD, or may also include Masada, too, which occured a little later.

So, I think you're making a fraudulent claim, by trying to pass yourself off as a Preterist, when in reality you are a tried and true Futurist.

Why don't you just admit it, and get comfortable with the fact that that is what you are?

Is it that you intutively understand how foolish Futurism is, and are seeking to deflect some of that implied and inherent foolishness by adopting a new Title for you position?

If so, why not go all the way?

Why not be consistent and honest by becoming a "real" Preterist?

Trying to pass yourself as a Preterist, when you're a Futurist, is not very becoming of you.

I mean, if I were a Futurist, I would be proud to be one, and I'd be proud to be called one, also.

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

I am a 'classic preterist', at least according to what normally is labeled "pretersit".

It seems to me that according to you, in order to be a preterist one has to believe that all parts of Biblical prophecies are fulfilled. If this is the case, I am not sure that e.g. Duncan McKenzie is a preterist. (Do you see Duncan as a futurist?)

All "partial preterists" like Ken Gentry are futurists, according to your defintion. According to you, the Church has been a body of futurists for the last 1900 years or so.

Fine! :)

Now, your definition is not really relevant here. But it is nice to know how you see things.

Regards

Th. S.

chrisliv's picture

Well,

By definition, "preterist" means past in fulfillment. And we're not talking about the earthly minstry of Christ or His accomplished Atonement. In those senses, I suppose every Christian that has come down the historical pike is a classic preterist.

But, it is well known that the Preterist term is used in the context of eschatology, almost exclusively. And the primary point of what makes a Preterist is the understanding that The Coming of the Son of Man, as espoused by Christ Himself (at Mat. 24 and elsewhere) as having a fulfillment within the very generation of his hearers, or at least while some of them would still be alive to see the fulfillment of what it implied.

Every Preterist will tell you that The Coming of the Son of Man was fulfilled almost 2000 ago.

Guys like Gentry, who may call themselves "partial" or "classic" may sound like a Preterist on a variety of points, but they are Futurists nonetheless, if they are still waiting for The Coming of the Son of Man to set up a futuristic Kingdom as a hostile dictator that is centered on a strip of Middle Eastern real estate.

For you, Thomas, to try to pass yourself off, in the context of eschatology, as a Preterist, seems dishonest, to me.

Why are you so ashamed of the Futurist label?

As I said, if I were an escatological Futurist I would be proud to be one.

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

I am not able to see how it would be dishonest for me to say that I am a "classic preterist". Classic preterism was advocated by Bossuet, Stuart, Feuillet. My use of the word preterist is in harmony with the historical use of this term.

Of course, you are entitle to your opinion.

But do you think it is dishonest that Duncan McKenzie tries to pass himself "off (...) as a Preterist"?

Best regards

Th. S.

chrisliv's picture

Yes,

I am entitled to my opinion. Thank you for acknowledging that.

Well, I don't see Duncan trumpeting that he is a rightful claimant to the title of "preterist" as I see you doing.

Duncan has confessed that he has some "futurist" in him at the instant that the subject came up.

Since Dispensationalism has been the dominant eschatological view since the 1930s, most Preterists have transitioned out from that view, and that transition can be gradual for some as they work through their transitional stages which will usually, or quickly, lead to a full Preterist position.

So, there are Preterists and there are Futurists, and there are people in between, usually while they're in transition. And we Preterists are happy to see and interact with those who are still working it all out for themselves. I especially enjoyed a description that Gary DeMar gave to himself; it was "non-Dispensationalist". Now, Gary is still a futurist in my book, but he is no longer a full-fledged Dispensationalist either, and much of what he writes compliments the Preterist position very well. But DeMar is not claiming, to my knowledge, that he is a "classic eschatological preterist like the Church has alway been".

Thomas, from the numerous posts that you've made here at Planet Preterist, it is obvious to me that you are a "Classic Dispensationalist", and little else.

By definition, and in the context of eschatology, I think it is dishonest for a Futurist to try to pass themself as a Preterist.

I suppose "partial-Preterist" or "non-Dispensationalist" could accurately describe Futurists who are moving away from Dispensationalism or are ashamed of their title as a Futurist.

But, again, anyone who denies that the "The Coming of The Son of Man" was fulfilled within the 1st Century AD, as Christ prophesied at Mat. 24, cannot by definition, according the English language, or in an eschatological sense rightfully apply the term "Preterist" to themself, unless they modified it with prefix that indicates that something less than the basic term is implied, like "partial".

Its just dishonest on its face for a Futurist to try to pass themself as a "Classic Preterist".

There will not be Another "Coming of the Son of Man" as outlined by Christ at Mat. 24, and which was fulfilled by around 70 AD. This is the basic declaration of every Preterist.

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

I really do not believe that it is up to you to decide what the meaning of "preterism" is or should be.

You seem to ignore the historical use of the term preterist/preterism and are insisting on a semantic derived from its etymology. But that is fallacious reasoning; it's called etymological fallacy.

I have never said that I am a full preterist. I have said that I subscribe to *classic preterism*. This is the very kind of preterism that you find in the works of classic preterists like Bossuet, Stuart, Feuillet and others.

Before you are able to prove that "classic preterism" means something else, it's really hard to take you seriously.

Like Duncan McKenzie, I do not believe that all parts of biblical prophecy have been fulfilled. Thus, the fact that you think I am dishonest but he is not, is indeed very interesting.

Regards

Th. S.

chrisliv's picture

Well,

We are well into your tangent now, but lets see if we can tie it back into the article and the Book of Revelation a bit.

As I told you, "according to the English language" you cannot be a Preterist of any sort.

You have the fallacy in thinking that the Church has been speaking English and using the term Preterist for the last 2000 years.

Definition:

Noun 1. preterist - a theologian who believes that the Scripture prophecies of the Apocalypse (as in the Book of Revelations) have already been fulfilled.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/preterist

You continue to try to twist the meaning of this English term while also attempting to spin it out of its obvious eschatological context.

The fact that you admit to seeing parts of biblical prophecy still unfulfilled while attempting to call yourself by a term which is the antithesis of that eschatology is dishonest.

That is something you should find very interesting, indeed.

Thomas, I appretiate seeing a sincere Dispensationalist asking us Preterists tough questions with a genuine desire to see if NT really is fulfilled, or not. But, you have attached yourself to every offshoot of this article thread, which was written by someone who is still somewhat of a futurist, yet you seem to rebel against his simple observation and overview of Revelation. So, belaboring this tangent will now come to an end, as far as I'm concerned.

But, if you must, go ahead and wait another 2000 years for a cube-shaped satellite, called New Jerusalem, to drop out of Heaven.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

It is obvious that you are no linguist.

According to your definition, neither Duncan Mckenzie nor I are preterists of any kind. More interesting, though, no member of the Church has ever been what you call a "preterist" before, say, late 18th or early 19th century.

However, according to the definition in Oxford English Dictionary, a preterist is:

"One who holds that the prophecies of the Apocalypse have been already (wholly or in great part) fulfilled."

..."wholly or in great part"!

Now, this makes your statement that "according to the English language" I "cannot be a Preterist of any sort" somewhat interesting, don't you think?

I mean, who is really being dishonest? I’ll let the reader decide.

Best regards

Th. S.

chrisliv's picture

OK,

I'll play along a bit more.

But, every here has already decided by this time, Thomas. And they don't have to be a linguist to see that a "futurist-preterist" is a contradiction.

Duncan has instantly admitted that he is still futurist. Please be honest, Thomas, and do the same, rather that try to pass yourself off as your antithesis.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

I really do not see anything dishonest in using a definition of preterism taken from Oxford English Dictionary, which also reflects actual use in scholarly works.

I cannot imagine that Duncan McKenzie would say that he is not a preterist. And I see no reason why you should call him dishonest if he calls himself a preterist.

You see, it is not up to you to decide how terms like "preterism" and "preterist" should be used. I think I'll stick with the scholarly definition (see Beale's commentary on Revelation) which corresponds to the one in Oxford English Dictionary.

As it would seem to me that you do not have anything substantial to add, I will end this "discussion" now.

Best regards

Th. S.

chrisliv's picture

Well, Thomas,

Duncan has already, and honestly, characterized himself as a Futurist, within this very thread.

You should follow follow his fine example, and quit trying to dishonestly characterize yourself as a Preterist.

I think we're done here.

May His peace be with you,
C. Livingstone

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

Where/when did Duncan characterize himself as a "Futurist"?

This is what he actually wrote: "I have a little futurism in me".

Speaking of being dishonest...

I am a (classic) preterist in harmony with the definition of "preterist" in Oxford English Dictionary and the scholarly literature. It really is sad that you still refuse to accept the truth.

Regards

Th. S.

chrisliv's picture

Well,

Yes, he confessed his futurism. You should do the same, instead of lying about being a Preterist.

I accept the fact that you're about the only one who is stubbornly trying to pass themself off as a Futurist-Preterist, while at the same time latching onto virtually every Preterist thread in a feudal effort to sabatoge or undermine them.

I mean, really Thomas, you're a die-hard Dispensationalist.

Isn't the true reason that you post here is because you think you need to defend the Dispensational-style Faith against Preterist eschatology?

Isn't it also possible that you really see Preterism as a kind of spiritual form of an "existential threat" that is gaining steam, and that's why you're squirming so much and trying to pass yourself off as a Preterist, so as to confuse others about the Preterist position?

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

I see that you keep on insisting that I am lying, whereas the truth is that I follow the definition of preterism found in Oxford English Dictionary and the scholarly literature (cf. Beale's commentary on the Book of Revelation).

I really do hope that this is not your way of showing us how you really are (cf. 1 Tim 6:4; 1 Pet 3:16).

Over and out.

Best regards

Th. S.

chrisliv's picture

Yeah,

I think you are still being dishonest by the standard definition of a Preterist that I cited and also by the Oxford definition that you cited afterward.

You're a Futurist, you don't believe "The Apocalypse" (Revelation) is fulfilled.

You've already posted to Duncan here, that you think Revelation is talking about the end of the world and that that is still unfulfilled. Like most Classic Dispensationalists, I'm sure you're still waiting for another Antichrist, Armageddon, and a futuristic, cube-shaped New Jerusalem satelite to drop down out of the sky someday.

Be honest about that, rather than trying to pass yourself off as a Preterist.

Futurist-Preterist is an oxymoron. Maybe you do need to consult a linguist to figure that out.

May His peace be with you,
C. Livingstone

ThomasS's picture

Livingstone,

I trust that you are not being dishonest, here, just a bit slow, so I will repeate the definition from Oxford English Dictionary.

A Preterist is:

"One who holds that the prophecies of the Apocalypse have been already (wholly or in great part) fulfilled."

I repeat:

..."wholly or [!] in great part"...

Got it?

If not, I suggest that you get some help.

Now, if you are not able to prove that I do not believe that the Apocalypse "in great part" has been fulfilled, I really don't see that you have a case here. Your own, private definition of "preterism" is based on a rather naïve understanding of how a term is defined. I will not spend more time on this. I’ll stick to Oxford English Dictionary and the scholarly literature. This may sound dishonest to you, but... :)

Best wishes

Th. S.

chrisliv's picture

Yeah,

It still sounds very dishonest to me, and, I'm sure, most other Preterists here who have watched you latch onto, over a period of months, virtually every thread that suggests that the Apocalype is fulfilled in any significant way in an effort to belittle the fulfilled perspective.

The standard definition that I provided is valid, and it is really reaching for you to use the (parenthetical) Oxford definition, in an effort to make a Futurist into a Preterist, which is an oxymoron.

I know you're not slow, so I'm left with the clear impression of dishonesty and a little esoteric sleight of hand on your part. Maybe you're confabulating, and can't see the obvious contradiction of your actions.

I don't need to prove any "case" against you.

But, if your pattern of undermining virtual every Preterist thread continues, you will have further proven that your efforts are that of a failed saboteur of Preterist (fulfilled) Eschatology.

Or, if you now have had a true paradigm shift, and really realize that the Apocalypse is fulfilled (or in great part), then we should all be able to see further interactions by you which are more congruent with someone who is accurately described as a Preterist, or a partial-Preterist.

Maybe it's too "naïve" of me to expect you to see that Futurist-Preterist is an oxymoron, or that the Coming of the Son of Man and the Apocalypse is fulfilled.

Stick around Thomas (doubting), maybe you'll get it yet.

Peace,
C. Livingstone

Duncan2's picture

Thomas,

I have a little futurism in me. You seem to have a lot. The real difference, however, is that most of the people on this website subscribe to covenant eschatology, (that the "end" that eschatology bring us to is the end of the old covenant age and full establishment of the new covenant age). That is why my article resonates so well with many of the people here.

Duncan

Duncan2's picture

Thomas,

Not the best logic here. You are assuming the conclusion you want (in "B equals C"). You are assuming that the little horn of Dan. 7 and 8 are the same.

Duncan

ThomasS's picture

Duncan,

Just like you are assuming that the 'great city' in Rev 11 is the same as the 'great city' in rev 17-18?

Th. S.

Duncan2's picture

Thomas

There is no indication of 'the great city' in Revelation having two different references. On the other hand there are many differences between the two little horns in Dan. 7 and 8 and the circumstances surrounding their defeats.

ThomasS's picture

Duncan,

I think you are wrong: First, as to the two cities ("Sodom/Egypt" vs. "Babylon the great") see the "Greek" syntax in Rev 16:19. Also, one should consider the fact that the great city in Rev 11 is called "Sodom and Egypt", not "Babylon".

As to the Book of Daniel, as demonstrated by e.g. Colless and Lucas, there is absolutely no reason for not identifying the little horn in Dan 7 with the little horn in Dan 8 -- unless, of course, one insists on identifying the fourth kingdom with the Roman Empire (for which there is absolutely no sound exegetical reason).

By the way, seems to me that we are in great need for a modern scholarly commentary on Daniel from a Preterist perspective... I know Gentry is working on a commentary on Revelation. Perhaps he could do something on Daniel as well? (Perhaps we might agree on this?)

Th. S.

paul's picture

Brother Duncan,
You did an outstanding job here!!! (By the way, Mr. Scott Thompson, a brother of Church of Christ background who has studied from Don Preston over the past 7 years, has organized a home gathering of preterists, which I attended in Plano, Texas last night. It was a tremendously God-blessed time. I was probably the only there from a background other than the Church of Christ, but there was only a joyful delight obviously evident in all of the participants just to finally meet fellow believers face to face from the Dallas Metroplex area who share the outlook that you refer to here.) I believe the best of preterism is simply making what is plain as plain as possible for all of God's dear people to appreciate! Thanks so much.

Paul Richard Strange, Sr.
Waxahachie Texas
dadprs@hotmail.com

ThomasS's picture

...a little knowledge is a dangerous thing!

Or: Why is it that a given subject sometimes seems less complicated for those who lack knowledge? Could it be that there is a correlation between the lack of knowledge and the lack of complicity perceived?

Now, whom do you trust: the quacksalver or the professor?

;)

Th. S.

davo's picture

ThomasS: Now, whom do you trust: the quacksalver or the professor?

Or perhaps the text? -- This was a pretty clear and understandable example of 'comparative teaching'; the fact that you might disagree with it, which is ok, doesn't change the simplicity of the exercise, i.e., it actually isn't that hard to grasp.

davo

ThomasS's picture

davo,

I am sure that Duncan's text is easy to understand. My point is that the Book of Revelation is not. It might be that from a lay person's perspective it really is as simple as Duncan would like us to believe (...perhaps, then, he can explain why it has been misunderstood for more than 1800 years?) -- or, it might be that the scholarly world is correct in considering the Book of Revelation a highly complex and difficult text.

I, for one, do understand why most scholars think the Apocalypse is difficult to understand, at least without proper knowledge of NT Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew and the socio-religious "Sitz im Leben" of John the Seer.

I have to admit that on I trust the professor on this one...

;)

Th. S.

Starlight's picture

Paul apparently kept the early church briefed on similar subjects according to Thessalonians, (2 Th 2:5 NIV) don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?) And the Bereans (Acts 17:11) searched the scriptures to determine if these things are true. In other words the context of Revelation appears to have been more understandable to those that it was written to than to those today who have been babelized with confusing western interpretations of the past 2000 years. Yes Revelation is indeed difficult for those who have been confused. The purpose of Duncan’s article is to provide a necessary framework for approaching a proper exegesis of Revelation and build the bridge needed to cross over to reliable understanding of the more difficult issues. If you have the foundation of understanding that the early church was given then you are on the way to rightly discerning the rest of the message. Or to put it another way it allows you to fill in the blanks. Think Wheel of Fortune as an example or pattern, and how people have to get the basic letters first then they can fathom and see clearly the more difficult letters leading them to the proper construct of the total.
Blessings
Norm

Duncan2's picture

Exactly!

Its giving a overall view of the forest before one goes into it and tries to make their way through the trees. The first century church's Scripture was the Old Testament. They would have been as familiar with the picture of the harlot as we are with the picture of the bride. If one is going to let the OT be the guide, the first and by far most likely suspect for the harlot is unfaithful Israel. The overwhelming weight of OT evidence supports me on this. The scholars should start here but most don't.

Duncan

ThomasS's picture

Duncan,

Are you considering the possibility that most scholars actually have good reasons for not accepting your interpretation?

The OT background has to be interpreted (as well). (And as pointed out my S. Moyise, the OT allusions in the Book of Revelation are highly problematic!)

The following scholars have done research on the OT background of the Book of Revelation: Vanhoye, Vogelgesang, Ruiz, Kowalski (all: the Book of Ezekiel); Fekkes (Isaiah); Beale (Daniel) -- I haven't seen any of them accepting the identification of "Babylon the great" with Jerusalem.

Most scholars (but, hey, they are just scholars, right?) would argue that John the Seer has re-used a lot of OT oracles against several nations (like Tyre, Babylon), not just Israel.

The informed reader might want to do some research here. I think they should start with Vogelgesang. His study is excellent on how John has (re-)used Ezekiel.

Th. S.

Duncan2's picture

And I can name scholars who would say I am right on. Ken Gentry is working on a commentary on Revelation. One of the titles he was considering was "The Divorce of Israel," That is what Revelation is talking about, not the fall of Rome. Get off your high-horse Thomas.

Duncan

ThomasS's picture

Duncan,

First: Hello -- I wish you a nice day or is it night? (It's 06.30 PM here).

Second: I do not say that Gentry's position (and yours, I believe) is all wrong. I think it is worth considering. You, however, do not seem to leave other interpretations much room. So I wonder, who really is on a "high-horse"...

All the best

Th. S.

Duncan2's picture

OK,

Explain to me again how Rome threw itself off and destroyed itself (never to rise again) in the first century. It doesn't make sense, but maybe you can explain it to me.

ThomasS's picture

Duncan,

Seems to me that you have the following a priori assumptions: (1) John could not have been wrong and (2) "Babylon" had to be destroyed in the first century CE.

As to (1): To me, this is not very logical -- it's dogmatic. It's like saying: If a man back in 1944 said "next year 'Uncle Sam'" will be destroyed, you would be willing to identify this 'Uncle Sam' with Nazi Germany (because an identification of "U.S" with the USA would not make sense...) in order to save his reputation as a true prophet.

I don't know if you see my point. My reason for an identification of "Babylon the great" with the City of Rome is not that this is what actually happen, it is based on what John actually wrote.

As to (2): I have never said that Rome had to be destroyed in the fist century. I know that you insist on a first century fulfillment; I disagree. However, you cannot use this argument in order to prove that "Babylon" = Jerusalem.

I believe M. Stuart and H.B. Swete are good on how Rev 17 could be understood within a "classic preterist" paradigm.

Again, I am not saying that your identification is impossible. I actually think a case could be made for identifying Babylon with Jerusalem (or unfaithful Judaism), but I do see several problems with this identification that just cannot be ignored. (I would take the Jerusalem identification over futurist and historicist fantasies any day!)

Regards

Th. S.

Duncan's picture

Thomas,

As to your point 1 (my supposed dogmatism for supposing Revelation is true)
What I have presented in this article is both logical and elegant in its simplicity.
If you think Revelation was just the thoughts of John (that may well have been wrong) then I am wasting my time. This is a common position of many scholars: the idea that John thought Rome was about to fall and he was wrong. My position, that Revelation is true, that it is contrasting the two covenant communities is not dogmatic, it has the weight of Scripture behind it. If I thought the Bible was just the thoughts of men about God I wouldn't waste my time studying it. What would I care about the wrong ideas of some guy stuck on an island in the first century?

2. You say you disagree on a first century fulfillment. Consider the following verses, however.

The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction…Here is the mind which has wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits, and they are seven king; five have fallen, one is, the other has not come ; and when he comes, he must remain a little while. The beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth… Rev. 17:8-11 NASB

The beast (who would destroy the harlot) was about to come. There was only the short reign of one ruler between the current ruler (when John wrote) and the soon coming beast. Please explain how one turns that into a space of hundreds or even thousands of years. By the way the beast that was about to come would be defeated by the Second Coming (Rev. 19:11-21). If the beast was about to come then so was Jesus. Revelation clearly says these things were about to happen (cf. Rev. 1:1,3; 22:6, 10).

I think you would be wise sticking with your first point. You think John was simply writing his thoughts and wishes and he was just plain wrong.

Duncan

ThomasS's picture

Dear Duncan,

First: Are you familiar with Popper's ideas of the difference between being scientific and just dogmatic? Your answer to my latest message makes me wonder...

Second: I think it is possible that John made true prophecies of divine origin. But the truthfulness of his prophecies should be defended by sound exegesis not eisegesis or special pleading.

Third: I do know that you insist on a literal understanding of at least some temporal markers in the Book of Revelation. Like most scholars, I think you are wrong. I think John has written within a certain genre (i.e. chronography). The same chronography is found in the Book of Daniel; in Dan 2:44 we are told that God would "set up a kingdom" in the "days of those kings". Now, "those kings" have to be a reference to all four kingdoms. If one, like you, insist on a literal interpretation of "in the days" in Dan 2:44, Daniel was wrong. There is, however, no reason to advocate such a literal interpretation of an apocalyptic prophecy.

Fourth: I am not sure that the second coming is described in Rev 19:21-19.

However, if you really think the beast was a Roman Emperor (relax: I will not reveal his name -- I can keep a secret!), no Roman Emperor was killed in 70 CE. Perhaps you would say that the beast is the Roman Empire? But this beast was not destroyed in 70 CE either... In fact, the Roman Empire grew more powerful after 70 CE.

Finally, there is no need to assume that I do not trust the Bible. But (perhaps?) unlike you, I do not base my trust on some assumption of what the Bible should be like.

I think this could have been a subject for a nice and interesting discussion, but as you seem to have made up your mind I guess there is no reason to continue. I think I'll keep an open mind, though. Therefore, I am still looking forward to reading Gentry's commentary on the Book of Revelation -- and your book on "the Antichrist".

Th. S.

Duncan's picture

Thomas,

If Revelation wasn't to happen soon (after it was written), God sure played a dirty trick on the first century audience he sent the book to. They certainly would have understood the statements about the time being near (contained in the introduction and epilogue) to mean soon.

I still don't see how one can stretch "five have fallen, one is, the other has not come ; and when he comes, he must remain a little while." (and then the beast comes) into a gap of hundreds or thousands of years. There was the short reign of one ruler between the ruling king and the soon coming beast. Can you explain how you stretch that into a long period of time? While you are at it you seem to think most of us at this website are on the wrong track. Please tell us what you think Revelation is about; you have a golden opportunity to set us straight.

Duncan

ThomasS's picture

Duncan,

Does this mean that if God did not literally set up a kingdom in the days of Neo-Babylonia (cf. Dan 2:44), "God sure played a dirty trick on the (...) audience he sent the book to"?

...or could it be that people with the same socio-cultural background as Daniel were able to understand the prophecy in Dan 2 properly?

I have never wanted to stretch the list of seven kings "into a gap of hundreds or thousands of years" -- this is nothing but a straw man. If you are interested in my take on the seven (!) kings, you should take a look at R. Bauckham's study The Climax of Prophecy .

I think we are currently living in the period described as the Millennium.

Now, here are two questions for you:

(1) If you think the beast was killed in 70, how did this happen -- was a Roman emperor killed that year?

(2) Does the Bible even suggest that the beast would be more powerful after 70 CE?

If you feel that these questions are answered in your book, just say so. I can be patient.

Finally, I have only pointed at some problems with your interpretations. I do not say that I have all the answers. As you do not seem to be able to see any problems with your own view, I do not have much more to add.

Regards

Th. S

Duncan2's picture

Thomas,

Question one goes to the very thesis of my book. The beast comes out of the abyss. This was not a man, but a spirit that would work through a man. You are right that preterists have a problem if they just say the beast was Rome. Rome was not put in the lake of fire at AD 70 (or would it ever be) like the beast is.

Come on Thomas give me your summary of what Revelation is about; I have given you mine. Don't direct me to some article. It is much easier to nay-say then it is to give a coherent summary of the book. You seem clear that Revelation is not about what I say it is about. OK then you tell what it is about.

Duncan

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