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  1. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    Revelations.

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by SonnehLee, Oct 8, 2008.

    Okay, so my story for NaNoWriMo involves the end of the world. The Apocalypse, whatever you want to call it. And having read the book of REvelations, which is where the story premise comes from, I'm curious to know you all's thoughts on it.

    My youth pastor and I were talking about it, and she thinks that it is not actually the end of the world that John saw, but it was John portraying, in symbols, the world in his time.

    First, prophesy or fiction?

    Second, end of the world, or interpretation?

    Third, what do you think of the symbolism used there? Is it to be taken in a literal sense (as it will be in my story) or is each one a metaphor? (ex. lady and the red dragon: red dragon- nero, lady giving birth- god forming his christian church)

    I get that this is probably a very contreversial subject (you have little idea of how many people outright refused to talk about it with me at my church), and that eventually the thread will probably get closed because of arguments.

    Thanks for your help!
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Please Take Note!

    As with every religion-based thread, this one will be closely watched. As long as everyone remains respectful toward everyone else's beliefs, the thread may continue.

    In the past, religion threads have had a very poor track record in this regard.

    FAIR WARNING! In the past, we have simply closed the thread when it gets too heated. This time, whoever takes it to the point that requires it to be closed will also be subject to an infraction.

    So please keep the tone respectful at all times.
     
  3. Gloom Kitty
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    Gloom Kitty Banned

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    First of all, I would say perhaps prophesy but also its human nature to understand fault and recognise what it eventually leads to. I’m thoughtful to your second question but I’m unsure how to answer. I was as a child raised in a religious family so I’m familiar with revelations, I would say no doubt the world will end eventually However we are a fair way a ways from that yet.

    As you know the bible has used metaphors before, I can’t recall exactly what the creatures were called however I do remember one to three headed and another to have risen from the seas. There has been a lot of controversy over the years on this. However most peoples understanding is that it is metaphorical to countries. That wield great power.

    I doubt that I’ve helped any in this, however thankyou for bringing up an interesting topic.
     
  4. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Well, I'm not Christian, so the Book of Revelation doesn't really have personal meaning for me. I won't say it's fiction, but to me, it's not reality. There are lots of different stories from different cultures and belief systems about how the world will end. One can spend ages discussing who finds these to be literal, or symbolic, or fictional. The creation legend of a culture I'm interested in insists that after the flood the world was re-created upon a giant turtle's back. Is this literal? Symbolic? Fiction? Most Euro-Americans would find the very thought of the world resting atop a turtle so silly they wouldn't even bother considering it to be anything other than fiction, but for a long time, to a lot of people, it was the truth. It was reality.

    Even before I renounced Christianity, I found Revelation to be symbolic, myself. As for whether it applies to what was going on at the time of the writing, or future events, I can't say. I don't know enough on the subject, plus, it's not my belief system anymore. It's not my place to say if it's the literal truth or it's just a story.

    I'm kind of puzzled about the question regarding symbolism being considered "literal." Something is either symbolic OR literal, not both. If the images in Revelation are literal and really do refer to things like giant dragons and such, then they're not symbols anymore. A symbol is something that represents something else, after all, and if a dragon really is a dragon, then there's nothing symbolic about it.
     
  5. ValianceInEnd
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    ValianceInEnd Active Member

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    While I am a Christian, I personally don't most any part of the Bible as a history. They are all symbolic stories representing Christian ideals. I mean, I've always wondered why God had so much to physically do with the people of Bible times, but today you never hear of the Biblical miracles. So when reading revelations, I view it as just an idea. An idea of how a Jew 2,000 years ago would understand the world to end. I strongly believe that if the world were to end, it would be in an all-out nuclear war, fatal incurable diseases, or we'll all drown to death in our own materialism. Who really knows?
     
  6. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not christian, but I think most of the stuff in the bible was supposed to be taken as symbolic rather than literally. Besides, we've already past quite a few dates of when the world was supposed to end. Actually, all of us have even lived through a date when the world was supposed to end; any one remember the crazy things that were supposed to be happening when the year two-thousand started.
     
  7. Carmina
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    Carmina Contributing Member Contributor

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    In my 13 years of Catholic school, I heard both sides of the debate. I had some theology teachers who interpreted literally. I had some who had a more figurative interpretation. I also had the opportunity to study myth and folklore. That class showed that the end of the world commonly appeared in the mythos of cultures around the world spanning all known history. Revelation is simply the Christian version of this. I also think it posible that John was writing about the Roman Empire and not the world as a whole. In the Old Testament there is the flood that covered the whole world. Historically, no proof of a world-wide flood has been found, but geological evidence showed that a great flood of the Tigris and Euphrates happened thousands of years ago and could have been the basis of the myth. (Interestingly, flood myths appear in Mayan and other mythologies as well). So, events of the times made their way into the Bible with exagerated significance. A great flood in the only part of the world one knows is the whole world. An empire coming to squash your people is the end of your world. My own beliefs are not to literally interpret the Bible. There are too many contradictions. Two creation stories. Gospels that contradict eachother and were written over an incredible period of time (John wasn't even around for the events about which he was writing). The books of the Bible were written by people a long time ago with an agenda. There is history, philosphy, theology, culture, and attempted conversion all relected in the books. Revelation is no different. It was written as a caution, as a lesson, perhaps as a prediction. I don't think that the 4 hourseman are going ot show up or that the 7 viles will be opened. Just my opinion. I should talk to my boss/pastor about it and get her opinion.
     
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  8. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thank you Cog! I definitely don't want this to turn into some huge argument where people don't make sense anymore.


    Carmina, John was one of the disciples of Jesus. He was around for all of JEsus' ministry. However, he was not involved in anything after the crucifixion because he was exiled to the island of Patmos after the crucifixion. So, he did not know of the persecution of the early christians.
     
  9. lordofhats
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    Just so you know it is common misconception that John the Apostle wrote Revelations. Tradition often says John the Disciple wrote the book but it's effectively impossible as the Book was likely written around 120 AD, which would have made Jesus Disciple of the same name over 100 years old! Revelations was written by John of Patmos (who is a different John from John the Apostle or John the Baptist... appartently the Bible really likes folk named John. There's four or five of them in there :p).

    Almost none of the New Testament Books were actually written by the Apostols. The oldest "books" are Paul's letters to various communities (Romans, Corinthians, Phillipians etc.) and Paul was not a disciple of Jesus. Of the Gospels all were written between 60-100 AD. The oldest is Mark, which was written maybe 30 years after the death of Jesus (Jesus didn't die in 0 AD, Jesus died in 26 or 27 AD). Most of the Disciples were dead by the time the Gospels and Revelations were written for various reasons and its more likely the books were written by the disciples of the disciples.

    It really depends on the interpretation.

    Some view Revelations as being fulfilled with the collapse of the Roman Empire and the rising dominance of the Catholic Church (Some view the Millennial Kingdom, as being the about 1000 year reign of Catholicism which lasted from the late 5th century to the mid sixteenth).

    Some say that it was a book of analogy that was foretelling the fall of rome (some consider the four horsemen as representing the Huns). This is also supported by the numbers 666, which in some earlier copies is 626. Both numbers refer to Emperor Nero (one refers to his official title, the other to his actual name), Number games were very popular when the book was written and anyone in the time period capable of reading would have figured it out.

    The end of the world interpretation would require the book to be viewed as pure symbolism. Some say that Nero's name was used as a reference to an archetype (one quite common in the bible) and not as saying he was the antichrist, but that the antichrist is going to be that kind of guy. The rest is pretty much jumping through hopes far as I know. The book says only God knows how and when the world will end. Trying to decipher the clues according to the bible to find out yourself is a waste of time and to some it can be viewed as a sin (Pride). God knows how its going to go down and the information is not relevant to the christian lifestyle. The only purpose of the book is to explain an aspect of the judeo-christian god as both the worlds creator and ultimate destroyer (another common biblical theme).

    Literally? Yeah, I think a seven headed beast is going to rise from the earth and take over the world. Very few would support a literal interpretation. Its meant as symbolism (similar symbolism can be found in the Book of Daniel, and the Book of Enoch. Revelations is eschatological literature, or "End of Days." Three cannon books are eschatological (Deuteronomy, Daniel, and Revelations) and one non-cannon book is (Enoch). They all contain similar themes and symbolism often referring to "evils" of the time they were written to provide examples of what the end of days would be like. There are so many ways to interpret these works, no one is going to get a perfect answer. The Rapture is barely in the Bible at all, as is the anti-christ. Satan is barley in the bible period, and the modern "Devil" was more the creation of the 15th Century Christians who got the idea from the Muslims. More likely the great evil of Revelations is meant to reflect the overarching theme that all biblical books share. Order vs Chaos (very common in mesopotamia and egypt when the Old Testament was written). In the Bible, Yahweh was the force of Order, and Chaos was represented as many things (the Serpent of Eden, Leviathan, or the Numbered Beast).

    Whoo. Sorry. I took a Theology class freshmen year XD.
     
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  10. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lordofhats: no apologies needed. that is actually extremely helpful. :) Tonight I'm getting the notes my pastor took while in seminary (always thought it was sermonary...hm. *shrug*) on the class, so I'll be sure to take those into account also.
     
  11. Frost
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    I thought it was a different John that wrote Revelation? So I was told anyway.

    Personally I have no idea. Im officially a catholic but I find it increasingly harder to believe. As for the end of the world, I like the Mayan 2012 theory. It's pretty neat. But other than that one Im not to fussed. If it happens it happens.

    Which I know doesnt answer your question, so let me try to.

    I think that the book of Revelation was written as a symbol for end times. Are you telling me that great 10-headed beasts will walk the streets while humans with the mark of the devil on their foreheads suffer in a hell-on-earth? Somehow i dont think so. Many a christian would put my head on a steak for saying that but I simply cant believe it.
     
  12. Raven
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    Its true one day will come when the Earth Dies.

    Personally I think thats a long time off. In fact I would think it would have something to do with the Sun burning out. Chances are by then we will have moved on to colonise another planet.

    And one day that planet will also die. We will ever die with the Earth or it will die without us.

    The future is far off. and short of a nuclear disaster I think we'll all be around for a while to come.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There are plenty of things that could happen to the solar system, the planet, or the species that have nothing to do with mistakes by mankind. I think there's somewhat of a twisted arrogance in the idea that any adversity to the ecosphere must be man's fault.

    We could all perish next year if a previously uncharted massive chunk of rock or ice crossed orbits with the Earth.

    Now, I'm an atheist (and no, I don't mean an agnostic), so I don't believe in divinely inspired predictions - your mileage may vary - but I do know that the pendulum swings back and forth nas regards whether theologians believe various predictions or chronicles were intended literally or symbolically. I suspect the true intents were somewhere in between, based on what I know of human history. We tend to view everything with post-Renaissance perspectives, and it's difficult to fathom the prevailing thought patterns that preceded that revolution. Most of us have difficulty even following the thought patterns that preceded the Age of Reason.

    The pre-Renaissance way of thinking is heavily biased toward an uncritical acceptance of dogma, taken literally. How much of that even the great thinkers were influenced by isn't always easy to discern. Some who woke with flashes of inspiration probably saw them as divine revelation, without even trying to guess whether the meaning was literal or symbolic. So they simply recorded the inspiration as faithfully as possible.

    That's my take on it anyway. As I said, your mileage may vary.
     
  14. SonnehLee
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    SonnehLee Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay, I did research on John of Patmos. Here is the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_of_Patmos

    Basically, it says that there is dispute as to whether they are the same John's, but that it is generally accepted by the christian faith that they were the same man.
     
  15. Ferret
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    Revelation, my friends. The "s" you add at the end, it stands for Satan. Kidding, kidding of course. Just kind of annoys me how everyone adds that extra letter.

    As for any part of the Bible, let me say this: it's either true or not. Not much room for the in between. I have a hard time making a connection between the millennial kingdom and the time period of the early church.
     
  16. Raven
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    Well said Ferret.
     
  17. lordofhats
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    So, a monster with a bunch of heads horns and the number 666 slapped on it's head has to take over the world or it's all made up?

    It doesn't work that way. The Bible is full of symbolism, metaphor, and fable. It simply can't be taken at it's face value 50% of the time. This can mostly be broken down by the book you're reading. For Gospels, yeah there really isn't an in between. Either Jesus was the son of God and died on the cross or he isn't. Revelation though? It's pretty obvious that we're not looking at something literal.

    The Book of Daniel used almost identical imagery and concepts as Revelation but rather than referring to Rome, it referred to Babylon, the Greeks under Alexander, and the Seleucids. The Seleucid Empire is described as nine headed dragon, each head representing one of it's nine kings (The Seleucids had more than twenty kings but at the time Daniel was written, there were only nine). Similar imagery can again be found in the last third of the Book of Enoch (Enoch has nearly an event for event copy of Revelation and is a much much older book) and Dragons and serpents are very common in biblical imagery.

    The Bible isn't something you just read and bam, that's how it is. It requires a bit of thought and shifting through the information. The Old Testamant as we now have it is the product of four-five revisions on part of different generations, and the New Testament has had no less than two prior to 160 AD and no more than three. Each book likely has multiple authors save for Daniel, the Epistles, and the Letters of Paul (the only books known to have been written by one individual).

    The words aren't either true or untrue. Metaphor and Symbolism abound. Many sections of the Bible must be taken at face value (it's either true or not) but not all of it is that way. Job, Daniel, Revelation, and several of the Prophets are pure symbolic books (except for Job, which is probably less symbolism and more a fable or folk tale).
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Careful - there are Christian sects who DO interpret the bible literally.
     
  19. Carmina
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    Carmina Contributing Member Contributor

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    For spiritual people, there can be a difference between between "Truth" and "Fact." The events in the Bible may not be factually accurate, but they can still be spiritually true for those who believe.
     
  20. Ferret
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    Enoch? Apocrypha? /BibleThump]

    Either the book was inspired by God or it wasn't. That's all I'm saying.

    I would agree that, to properly read the bible, you do need to understand what's going in the background, yes. However, I wouldn't say that just because the Jews were in a state of slavery, what the author had to say (what little there is to come from their tongue, that is) is any less inspired.

    Oddly enough, I've learned more theology in physics than I have physics from that man. 666 = Man(being made on the sixth day) trying to be God 3 times (the trinity) I really don't know much about the end times, but that one stuck with me for whatever reason.
     
  21. tehuti88
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    I recall reading several times however that there was a mistranslation somewhere along the way, and the number "666" was more likely something like "616." :confused:

    *bowing out of conversation*
     
  22. lordofhats
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    That was a 2005 discovery. The number has been found to be 616, 626, or 666 depending on which date the document your looking at was copied. That's mostly moot though as all three numbers are numerical interpretions of the name of Nero in Hebrew interpretations of Koine Greek and Latin:

    Neron Ceasar = Resh (200) + Samekh (60) + Quph (100) + Nun (50) + Vav (6) + Resh (200) + Nun (50) = Total (666)

    If you remove the 'n' and spell it simply as Nero Ceasar (Neron is greek) the number comes out to 616.

    In earliest writings the number was most likely 666, and was later changed to 616 as the works were rewritten from Greek into Latin, and then somewhere along the line most likely changed back to 666 (This event would have been very quick, taking no more than a century as the Bible books became unofficially standardized in the 3rd Century and few changes were made until the writing of the King James Bible).

    There are some other numbers though:

    616: Caligula Ceasar
    666: Domitian, Papcy, Martin Luther

    There's dozens more but those are the one's I know of off the top of my head. I generally disregard Martin Luther and Papcy as neither existed when the book was written. Nero is the most accepted answer because only his name fits both 616 and 666 and 626 (Depending on the alphabet and the language you're spelling his name in).
     
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