Fun Facts of Lent, Day Forty-One: The Book of One Man’s Revelation

I’m not really into the Book of Revelation, and I’m not alone. It was not accepted into the Armenian Church until 1200. It has never been recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Church. Martin Luther proposed removing it from the Bible (along with Jude, James, and Hebrews). These four books are still listed last in the German-Language Luther Bible.

The New Testament did not come to us fully-formed. There were a lot of councils and arguments and conventions that got us where we are today. For example, there are only four gospels in the Bible, but many more exist. Did we make the right choices when we decided what was and was not the Word of God? We can never know. At the Council of Constantinople in 629 the book of Revelation was approved by a single vote.

It just doesn’t fit.

Revelation is one long dream sequence. While it pulls on lots of Biblical ideas and imagery, it doesn’t quote the Hebrew scriptures directly very much (certainly not in the way the rest of the New Testament does). Its depiction of Jesus is very different than the earthly one we see in the gospels. And there’s a lot of evidence that it isn’t supposed to be about the end times at all, but rather a commentary on the government that was in power at the time it was written.

There’s a certain beauty to the book for sure, and if it really was political commentary it’s brilliant. If all it ever did was inspire Prince to write a super sweet song, that certainly makes it worthwhile as a piece of art. But as prophecy? I just don’t buy it.

In Sunday School I had the kids make their own Bible bookshelf out of construction paper, and it was color-coded by writing type (history, gospels, letters, etc). The Book of Revelation was the same color as Psalms and the Song of Solomon: Poetry.