5 Tips for Reading Apocalyptic Literature in the Bible
Apocalyptic literature is a challenging genre. In the Bible, we find this genre in the Book of Revelation and in the second half of Daniel.
There’s also a lot of apocalyptic literature outside the Bible. It was a very popular genre during the Second Temple period (from 530 BC to 70 AD), and so we have a lot of examples of the purpose, form, and style of apocalyptic literature to inform our understanding of how it functions in Scripture.
Since it’s such a different style of writing than the gospels, epistles, or historical and theological writings we find elsewhere in the Bible, it’s important that we approach apocalyptic literature with a different perspective.
Here are 5 tips for reading apocalyptic books like Daniel and Revelation.
1. Pay attention to the symbolism
One thing to remember about…
The Seven Churches of Revelation: Why They Matter and What We Can Learn
The book of Revelation opens with seven letters to seven churches. Each of the seven letters is a prophetic word from Jesus, through the Spirit, who is inspiring John to write.
Who were the recipients of these letters? How were they read and understood in the first century? And what are we to make of them today?
Where were the seven churches located?
Before we look at these letters as a whole, let’s briefly look at the seven cities where the recipients lived.
1. Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7)
A messenger coming from Patmos—where John wrote—would reach Ephesus first, so Ephesus makes sense as the first letter. Ephesus was also a prominent city in the province: more powerful than Pergamum politically, and more favored than Smyrna for the imperial cult.
The letter to Ephesus warns against false teachers and evil in the…
What Is the Mark of the Beast?
This post is adapted from material found in Craig Keener’s Revelation online course.
The book of Revelation speaks of several beasts. Perhaps the most famous is the beast found in Revelation 13:11–18. And this beast comes with a mark—the number 666.
What, or who, is this beast? What does this mark mean? And in light of the wildly different interpretations of this passage—both in our own time, and throughout the church’s history—how should we think about the mark of the beast today?
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7 Tips for Understanding Revelation
The Book of Revelation is notoriously difficult to understand. Over the centuries, the church has presented countless interpretations and theories about the meaning and significance of this enigmatic work.
Even modern scholars approach Revelation in several different ways.
Whether you find that intimidating or enticing, we need some guardrails to keep us from getting lost in Revelation’s prophecies, metaphors, and apocalyptic imagery. Here are some tips for studying Revelation from Scott Duvall, who, along with J. Daniel Hays, teaches the Biblical Interpretation online course.
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Extracurricular Activities 3.7.15 — Wright on Cranfield, Inerrancy Summit, & Racial Diversity
The Reverend Professor Charles E. B. Cranfield, who has died six months short of what would have been his hundredth birthday, was one of the leading British New Testament scholars of the second half of the twentieth century. He taught in Durham for thirty years, as Lecturer (1950-62), Senior Lecturer (1962-66), Reader (1966-78) and finally in what used to be called a ‘personal chair’ (1978-80). (Throughout much of that time Professor C. K. Barrett, younger by two years, was the ‘Professor of New Testament’; Durham, like most universities then, only had one ‘professor’ in each subject.) Barrett and Cranfield lived close to one another on the western slopes of the city of Durham. They observed an old-fashioned courtesy, but students would sometimes detect a slightly frosty atmosphere between two men who were in…