Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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James Tabor has recently blogged asking - "Can A Pre-Christian Version of the Book of Revelation Be Recovered?"
http://jamestabor.com/2013/10/13/can-a- ... recovered/
In my recent post on the destruction of Pompeii by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE I suggested that one of the authors/editors of the New Testament book of Revelation was reacting to this specific disaster and giving it an apocalyptic interpretation in the materials we now find in chapter 18–the “Fall of Babylon the Great.”
One thing I had noticed in my own work on the book of Revelation over the years was that the explicit references to either “Jesus” “Christ,” or “Jesus Christ” outside the letters to the churches of chapters 2 & 3, are mostly clustered in chapters 1 and 22, with few in the middle chapters.
- But what is even more astounding, to me at least, was the observation that nearly all of these references can be easily removed without detracting in any way from the structure or flow of the passages in which they occur. In other words, one could get the distinct impression that references to Jesus Christ lay quite lightly on the text and could even be seen as secondary interpolations.
This exercise strongly suggests that these are later additions to an original Jewish text inserted to “Christianize” a book that in its origins had nothing to do with Jesus.
Tarbor makes mention of
Josephine Masssyngberde Ford's volume on Revelation in the Anchor Bible Commentary series (now Anchor Yale Bible Commentary, edited by J. J. Collins); and
G. R. Beasley-Murray, "How Christian is the Book of Revelation?"
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When laid out like this, it certainly does appear that references to Jesus were rather clumsily inserted as clauses into an already extant and finished text. Usually a reference to Theos is quickly followed by "... and Jesus!"
Rev 1:9 I, John, your brother who share with you [in Jesus] the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God [and the testimony of Jesus.]
NRS Rev 11:8 and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that is prophetically called Sodom and Egypt, [where also their Lord was crucified.]
Rev 12:17 Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God [and hold the testimony of Jesus.]
Rev 14:12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God [and hold fast to the faith of Jesus.]
Rev 17:6 And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints [and the blood of the witnesses to Jesus.] When I saw her, I was greatly amazed.
Rev 19:10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your comrades [who hold the testimony of Jesus.] Worship God! [For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."]
“The only sensible response to fragmented, slowly but randomly accruing evidence is radical open-mindedness. A single, simple explanation for a historical event is generally a failure of imagination, not a triumph of induction.” William H.C. Propp
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Clever. The eruption hypothesis would explain the references to fire and brimstone.