Revelation: A Book Worth Studying

by blackspanielgallery

The Book of Revelations also known as the Apocalypse, is a significant book in the New Testament, but it is not a cursory read. It takes guided study.

Revelation is a book of the Bible, the very last book of the New Testament. It is not a book that can be read for relaxation. In fact, if you examine the title you do not see the word “read.” This is intentional. It is a book that requires study. And by study I mean expert lead study.

Revelation is filled with symbolism. Much of the symbolism requires knowledge of the time it was written. Much of the references are back to the Old Testament, passages we might ordinarily pass over if they were not pointed out in the context of Revelations.

My Experience

Early this year I had to go on sick leave for an extended period.  I happened to be in the right parish at the right time.  One of our priests leads studies in the Catholic faith.  He was offering a thirteen-week study of Revelations.  The topic was intriguing.  The cost was nominal, thirty-five dollars for course materials that included a textbook and a link to a website.  I signed up.  I managed to attend about ten of the classes.  Remember, it was being ill that allowed me to be available to take the course at all.

My Big Mistake

I got the impression I could read the book and understand it.  That was an error.

The Course

The priest would meet with us and we would discuss a short segment of Revelation.  Some discussions were on a single chapter, other discussions were on a few chapters.  We watched a video after discussion a segment.  Then, we were to read on our own the next segment.

 

The videos were of a class on Revelations presented by Jeff Cavins.  He is quite well versed in the subject.  He converted to the Roman Catholic Church after serving as a minister in another religion, so he had knowledge of Revelations from two points of view.

 

Note that the insights are attributed to the class.

Jeff Cavins: Revelation The Kingdom Yet to Come

Book
Revelation Study Set: The Kingdom Yet to Come (Great Adventure)

Jeff Cavins: Revelation The Kingdom Yet to Come

DVD Set
Great Adventure Revelation: The Kingdom Yet to Come DVD set

What I Expected

I had heard Revelation was the prophecy of the end of the world, and God had made it such that we would never unravel the meaning.  Perhaps that is so, but it is much more.  Revelations, also called the apocalypse, is a revealing of God to us.  He reveals parts of His nature through the book, and we learn much as we progress through the verses.

The Bibe

Catholic Bible: Revised Standard Version, Compact Edition

The Revised Standard Version dramatically shaped the course of English Bible translation work in the latter half of the Twentieth Century. It is still the translation used in of...

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Holy Bible, Catholic Companion Edition

The only Bible with a pray-along Rosary embossed in the cover New American Bible Revised Edition Page-edge indexing Gold-gilded page edge Silk ribbon marker Luxurious Black Dura...

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The Ignatius Bible: Revised Standard Version - Second Catholic Edition

A completely new design and typeset edition of the popular Ignatius Revised Standard Version-Catholic Edition Bible, with minor revisions to some of the archaic language used in...

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The New American Bible (With the Revised Book of Psalms and the Revised New Testament)

Uniquely American, this popular translation is the easiest to understand Catholic edition of the Bible. This modern translation was prepared by over 50 scholars to capture the t...

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The Catholic Study Bible

This landmark resource, the first fully based on the authoritative NABRE translation, contains the trustworthy study notes, expanded essays, and informational sidebars which hav...

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Douay-Rheims Bible (Black Genuine Leather): Standard Print Size

The Douay-Rheims Version of the Holy Bible, translated between the years 1582 and 1610 and revised by Bishop Richard Challoner from 1749-1752, is the most accurate English trans...

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The Beginning

Revelation was written by the Apostle and Evangelist John.  John had a vision, and wrote down the details.  Early on John was given messages for seven churches, messages that praised good and gave warnings against things they struggled with.  Each church had a unique message, and the struggles included such things as lewd behavior, eating the remains of offerings burnt to idols, and even emperor worship, as commanded by Rome.

 

In fact, there were ten churches, but the number seven meant completeness to the people of the time.  The churches were on an ancient mail route, and they were named in the order they would be encountered.  I suppose the other three got the idea, and hopefully took heed of the warnings.

 

We might take to heart that God did not just focus on the problems the members of the churches were having, but on what they did that was pleasing to Him.  If this is how He judges, perhaps we expect the same at the individual level.

The Destruction of the Temple

The destruction we often read into Revelations may have a double meaning.  It could refer to the end of the world.  It could also refer to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.  The later happened in the year 70 A.D.  This was during the reign of Nero as Emperor of Rome.  The historical accounts of the events of 70 A.D. paint a rather bleak picture of life in Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

Twelve

Twelve appears many times.  The twelve gates to the new Jerusalem is interesting in that each has the name of a Tribe of Israel and a name of an Apostle.  Notice Dan is missing, and replaced with Levi, not one of the twelve Tribes of Israel.  Dan turned on God to practice idolatry.  So also is the name Judas not likely there, but it is replaced by Mathias. 

 

Imagine how John felt when he had the vision and read the names at the gates.  Surly he recognized his own name.  

The Beatitudes

The Beatitudes are mentioned in the Old Testament, albeit scattered.  Revelation collects them in one place.  References back to the Old Testament appear often in revelations.

The Antichrist

People are always looking for the antichrist.  In the case of the destruction of the temple it was thought to be Nero.  In modern times Hitler has been mentioned. 

 

One person recently referred to the anticipated antichrist as “he.”  But could it be a “she?”  We have to wait and see.

Much More

I cannot provide a complete review, even after taking the class.  However, the book must be read understanding historical events that occurred prior to its writing, symbolism, and a deep knowledge of the Old Testament.

 

It is worth a study, as long as it is led by an expert in the things mentioned.  In my case Jeff Cavins provided via video the expertise, and the priest was scholarly enough to provide answers to questions.  The textbook provided lists of meanings of such things as numbers and colors, as understood by the people of the time.  Indeed, if a number means complete, that is what is being conveyed, not necessarily the literal number.  The colors of the horsemen also have meaning.

 

While the end of the world is mentioned. It is far from the focus of Revelations.  Instead, if properly studied, God reveals, hence the name, Himself to us.  It is an incomplete understanding of God’s nature, but in my case much deeper an understanding than before the study.  The joyous experience of better understanding God runs through the book.  Yes, evil will be punished in the end, but the real focus is on those attaining Heaven.

 

In the end the group voted on Psalms for the fall.  I am back at work, so I will have to pass.  If you get a chance to study such a course, I strongly recommend it. 

 

Acknowledgement:  Revelation The Kingdom Yet to Come, Jeff Cavins

 

Introduction image is my own Zazzle product.

 

This article contains links to affiliate programs and Adsense advertising.  These must use cookies to allow for proper crediting. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

Updated: 07/01/2019, blackspanielgallery
 
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blackspanielgallery on 07/02/2019

Thanks. I would have missed much of the symbolism without the text that accompanied the course.

frankbeswick on 07/02/2019

Apocalypse is the name for a genre of writing that deals in dramatic descriptions of the end times.There is a small apocalypse in Mark's gospel, but Revelations is an apocalypse large and sustained. It is so full of symbolism that it must be read carefully.

blackspanielgallery on 07/02/2019

Jeff Cavins had a clerical position in a faith other than Catholic, then decided to practice Catholicism. I do not recall the other religion, nor if it was initially Catholic, perhaps he did not mention it on the tapes. Or, I forgot.

God used Old Testament and historical references which should have been familiar to the people of the time, although I certainly would not have drawn the connection without it being pointed out. The expert guidance requires one with theological, historical, and geographical knowledge, as well as what was commonly understood at the time. God, of course, reserve much of His nature for the next world. even after reading we do not get a "complete" understanding of His nature, just a better understanding.

DerdriuMarriner on 07/02/2019

blackspanielgallery, Thank you for insights and products. Wikipedia describes Jeff Cavins as having an evangelical pastoral career before returning to his cradle, Catholic faith. Is that incorrect?
You indicate that "I had heard Revelation was the prophecy of the end of the world, and God had made it such that we would never unravel the meaning" and that "Revelations, also called the apocalypse, is a revealing of God to us. He reveals parts of His nature through the book." Is it that God gives us a historical context so that we understand His nature by seeing his presentation and interpretation of facts that we can or already know, without second-guessing past or predicting future events?
In a different but somewhat related direction, have you seen The Coming Convergence?

blackspanielgallery on 07/02/2019

Thanks, I thought you might have a deeper insight into both the history and the Book itself. My purpose is to give the significance, and advise on going beyond a reading. It would be difficult to read cognitively without expert guidance, the real message I intend here. Certainly I could not call this a book review, for I intentionally left much out.

frankbeswick on 07/02/2019

The majority of early Christian thinkers followed Justin Martyr in ascribing the book to John the Apostle, but a minority agreed with the historian Eusebius in thinking that it was written by John the Elder. Interestingly, in 22:9 the angel speaks to the writer about "Your brothers the prophets" indicating that the writer was of prophetic rank,only one below an apostle, though this position is not absolutely certain. Some think that John the Elder was a disciple who knew Jesus, but who had not been given apostolic rank. But the important point that many people fail to recognise is that the basis of Scripture's authority is acceptance by the church, which collected and authorised the canon of Scripture. As Revelations was accepted by the church as reflecting the apostolic faith then it is a genuine part of Scripture worthy of study.Questions of authorship are of importance secondary to church approval.

We note that this principle is applicable to Luke's Gospel, for Luke had never met Jesus, but he researched witnesses and what he wrote gained approval by the church, hence it was included in Scripture.

Several works did not earn approval, such as the highly overrated gnostic gospels, and others were classed into the Apostolic Fathers, one of which was the letter of Barnabas, which is heavy on scriptural reference and makes arduous reading.

blackspanielgallery on 07/02/2019

The author does just call himself John. He does not elaborate.

If read right, with expert guidance, the book does explain much, and can be uplifting.

frankbeswick on 07/02/2019

Wise advice. Revelations needs expert guidance.

There are doubts about the authorship, for some think that the author was John the Elder [presbyter] not John the Evangelist.

It is important not to read any clues about the history of the last two thousand years into it, for it refers symbolically to the history of its own period.

What may be significant is that in chapter 20:10 the Devil, the beast and the false prophet burn eternally, but in 20:15 sinners are hurled into the burning lake with death and Hades.Eternal agony is not mentioned.

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