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Islam, the third great prophetic religion of the West, has its basis in revelations received by the Prophet Muhammad c. More than either Judaism or Christianity, Islam is a religion of the Book. Insisting as it does on the absolute sovereignty of God, on human passivity in relation to the divine, and on the infinite distance between creator and creature, Islam has sometimes been inhospitable to philosophical speculation and mystical experience. Yet in medieval Islam there was both a remarkable flowering of Arabic philosophy and the intense piety of the mystical Sufis.

The rationalism of some philosophers and the theosophical tendencies of some of the Sufis came into conflict with official orthodoxy.


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A fourth great prophetic religion, which should be mentioned for its historic importance, is Zoroastrianism , once the national faith of the Persian empire. Zoroaster Zarathushtra , a prophetic reformer in the 6th century bce , apparently professed a monotheistic faith and a stern devotion to truth and righteousness. This revelation enabled Zoroaster and his followers to comprehend the difference between good Truth and evil The Lie and to know the one true God.

Later forms of Zoroastrianism apparently had an impact on Judaism, from the time of the Babylonian Exile, and, through Judaism, on Christianity. Recurrent questions concerning revelation include: There is, however, no irreconcilable opposition between general and special revelation. Vedanta Hinduism and Buddhism, even if they do not speak of special revelation, believe that their religious books and traditions have unique value for imparting a saving knowledge of the truth.

The Western religions differ somewhat among themselves in the ways in which they understand how special revelation occurs. Some focus simply on the direct inspiration of the divinely chosen prophets. The Judeo-Christian tradition, however, characteristically looks upon the prophets as witnesses and interpreters of what God is doing in history.

Revelation through deeds is conceived to be more fundamental than revelation through words, though the words of the prophets are regarded as necessary to clarify the meaning of the events. The full disclosure of the meaning of history, for many of the biblical writers, will occur only at the end of time, when revelation will be given to all peoples in full clarity.

The Judeo-Christian notion of history as progressive revelation has given rise to a variety of theological interpretations of world history, from St. Augustine — to G. Hegel — and other modern thinkers. In those religions that look for guidance to the ancient past, great importance is attached to sacred books. Theravada Buddhism, while it professes no doctrine of inspiration, has drawn up a strict canon standard or authoritative scriptures —the Pali-language Tipitaka —in order to keep alive what is believed to be the most original and reliable traditions concerning the Buddha see also Pali literature.

Mahayana Buddhism, while it has no such strict canon, considers that all its adherents must accept the authority of the sutras basic teachings written in aphorisms. Zen Buddhism, a popular branch of Mahayana thought in East Asia, sometimes goes to the point of rejecting any such written authority. Many religions view their holy books as inspired and inerrant. Judaism, on the other hand, looks upon the Bible as divinely inspired by a personal God.

The idea of verbal dictation from God, which occurs here and there in the Bible, was applied by some rabbis to the Pentateuch, which was believed to have been written by Moses under verbal inspiration, and even to the whole Bible. Christianity, which generally accepts both the Old and New Testaments as in some sense inspired, has at times countenanced theories of verbal dictation.

According to the Mormons, the Book of Mormon was composed in heaven and delivered on tablets of gold to Joseph Smith. The great religions frequently make a distinction between those scriptures that contain the initial revelation and others, at the outer fringe of the canon, that contain authoritative commentaries. In Hinduism the four Vedas and three other ancient collections—the Brahmanas , Aranyakas, and Upanishads—are Shruti i. Later Judaism, while recognizing the unique place of the Bible as the written source of revelation, accords equal authority to the Talmud as traditional commentary.

Among Christians, Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox believe that revelation is to be found not only in the Bible but also, by equal right, in the apostolic tradition. Protestants emphasize the objective sufficiency of Scripture as a source of revelation, but many Protestants today are careful to add that Scripture must always be read in the light of church tradition in order that its true message be rightly understood. Special significance is attached to the practice Sunnah of the Prophet himself and to the traditions handed down by his immediate companions.

In most religions, nonverbal communication plays an important part in the transmission of revelation. This can occur in art notably in icons , statues, and idols , in sacred music, in the liturgy, and in popular dramas, such as the mystery plays common in medieval Europe or those still performed in Indian villages. For a deeper initiation into the revelation, it is believed to be necessary to live under the tutelage of a guru see also Guru , monk, or holy man.

To the extent that revelation is identified with a profound and transforming personal experience, the spiritual preparation of the subject by prayer and asceticism is stressed. Among the great living religions of the world, there is wide agreement that revelation cannot be fully communicated by books and sermons but only by an ineffable, suprarational experience. In Hinduism the Upanishads emphasize the hiddenness of God. Leaving behind all created analogies , the adept is led to the point where he comes to praise God in an adoring silence more exalted than speech.

Buddhism of the Mahayana, especially its Zen varieties, likewise advocates ecstatic contemplation. John of the Cross. Many theologians within Judaism e. John Chrysostom and St. This idea, never absent from the medieval Scholastic intellectualist tradition, was newly emphasized by Martin Luther , who insisted that the revealed God Deus revelatus remains the hidden God Deus absconditus , before whom human beings must stand in reverent awe. Modern Roman Catholic theologians, such as Karl Rahner , maintain that even in heaven God will not cease to be, for the finite human mind, an unfathomable mystery.

Revelation makes human beings constantly more aware of the depths of the divine incomprehensibility. In certain forms of mysticism , particularly prevalent in the Eastern religions, the envisioned goal is an absorption into the divine, involving the loss of individual consciousness. In the Western religions and in Bhakti Hinduism the abiding distinctness of the individual personality is affirmed.

Sufism, however, resembles Hasidism and Christianity in its aspiration for personal union with God. For many modern religious thinkers, such as the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber and the Roman Catholic philosopher Gabriel Marcel , revelation involves a mutual self-giving of the revealer and the believer in personal intercommunion. In his view, the articulation of revelation in the scriptures and creeds is a secondary stage, presupposing an experiential encounter with the divine.

This secondary phase, however, is viewed as necessary in order that the individual may realize himself in his humanity as a believer and achieve solidarity with his fellow believers. In general, the Western religions tend to attach more importance to the idea of a community of faith than do the Eastern religions. Revelation in the biblical and Islamic view is addressed not to individuals as such but to a whole people, which achieves its identity, in part, by articulating its faith in writings that are approved as authentic expressions of what God has revealed.

The problem of the relationship between revelation and reason arises, on the one hand, because revelation transcends the categories of ordinary rational thought and, on the other hand, because revelation is commonly transmitted by means of authoritative records, the contents of which cannot be verified by the believer. Buddhism, since it does not attribute inspiration or inerrancy to its canonical sources, allows some scope for individual reason to criticize the authoritative writings, but, like other religions, it has to face the charge that the illumination to which it aspires may be illusory.

Orthodox Hindus, giving full authority to the Veda , hold that human reason errs whenever, on the grounds of perceptual experience, it takes issue with the sacred writings. Hinduism, however, allows for great freedom in the exegesis interpretation of its sacred books, some of which are more poetic than doctrinal. The tension between faith and reason has been particularly acute in the Western religions, which find revelation not simply in holy books but in prophetic words that call for definite assent and frequently command a precise course of action.

The ambiguities of scripture in these religions are frequently cleared up by creeds and dogmas of the community, calling for the assent of true believers. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, moreover, came into close contact with Hellenistic culture , which held up the ideal of rationally certified knowledge as the basis for the good life. They therefore had to face a problem: Could assent to an authoritative revelation be justified before the bar of reason?


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  6. They reinterpreted the content of revelation so as to bring it into line with science and philosophy. A third school, in which the medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides and the medieval Christian Scholastic theologian Thomas Aquinas may be included, sought to maintain the primacy of faith without sacrificing the dignity of reason. According to the Thomist theory, human reason can discern the credibility of revelation because of the external signs by which God has authenticated it especially prophecies and miracles. Reason, moreover, makes it possible for the believer to understand, in some measure, the revealed mysteries.

    This intellectualist position continues to appeal to many Christians, but some maintain that it overlooks the qualitative differences between faith—as a transrational assent to mystery—and scientific knowledge, which operates within the categories of objectivizing reason.

    In some theological circles the concept of revelation is rejected on the ground that it is bound up with mythological and anthropomorphic conceptions and introduces an unassimilable element into the history of religions. It would seem, however, that the concept can be purified of those mythical elements and still be usefully employed.

    Bible Living

    In the sphere of religion, wisdom is often best sought through privileged moments of ecstatic experience and through the testimony of those who have perceived the sacred or holy with unusual purity and power. The self-disclosure of the divine through extraordinary experiences and symbols is fittingly called revelation. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles. The radical discipleship interpretation asserts that the Book of Revelation is best understood as a handbook for radical discipleship; i.

    In this interpretation the primary agenda of the book is to expose as impostors the worldly powers that seek to oppose the ways of God and God's Kingdom. Adventists maintain a historicist interpretation of the Bible's predictions of the apocalypse. Seventh-day Adventists believe the Book of Revelation is especially relevant to believers in the days preceding the second coming of Jesus Christ. Many literary writers and theorists have contributed to a wide range of theories about the origins and purpose of the Book of Revelation. Some of these writers have no connection with established Christian faiths but, nevertheless, found in Revelation a source of inspiration.

    Revelation has been approached from Hindu philosophy and Jewish Midrash. Others have pointed to aspects of composition which have been ignored such as the similarities of prophetic inspiration to modern poetic inspiration, or the parallels with Greek drama. In recent years, theories have arisen which concentrate upon how readers and texts interact to create meaning and which are less interested in what the original author intended.

    His lasting contribution has been to show how much more meaningful prophets, such as the scribe of Revelation, are when treated as poets first and foremost. He thought this was a point often lost sight of because most English bibles render everything in prose.

    Had he done so, he would have had to use their Hebrew poetry whereas he wanted to write his own. Torrey insisted Revelation had originally been written in Aramaic. This was why the surviving Greek translation was written in such a strange idiom. It was a literal translation that had to comply with the warning at Revelation According to Torrey, the story is that "The Fourth Gospel was brought to Ephesus by a Christian fugitive from Palestine soon after the middle of the first century.

    It was written in Aramaic. Subsequently, this John was banished by Nero and died on Patmos after writing Revelation. Torrey argued that until AD 80, when Christians were expelled from the synagogues, [82] the Christian message was always first heard in the synagogue and, for cultural reasons, the evangelist would have spoken in Aramaic, else "he would have had no hearing.

    Nature and significance

    Christina Rossetti was a Victorian poet who believed the sensual excitement of the natural world found its meaningful purpose in death and in God. In her view, what Revelation has to teach is patience. The relevance of John's visions [89] belongs to Christians of all times as a continuous present meditation. Such matters are eternal and outside of normal human reckoning.

    Winter that returns not to spring Recently, aesthetic and literary modes of interpretation have developed, which focus on Revelation as a work of art and imagination, viewing the imagery as symbolic depictions of timeless truths and the victory of good over evil. Vision of a Just World from the viewpoint of rhetoric.

    John's book is a vision of a just world, not a vengeful threat of world-destruction. Her view that Revelation's message is not gender-based has caused dissent. She says we are to look behind the symbols rather than make a fetish out of them. In contrast, Tina Pippin states that John writes " horror literature " and "the misogyny which underlies the narrative is extreme.

    Lawrence took an opposing, pessimistic view of Revelation in the final book he wrote, Apocalypse. Instead, he wanted to champion a public-spirited individualism which he identified with the historical Jesus supplemented by an ill-defined cosmic consciousness against its two natural enemies. One of these he called "the sovereignty of the intellect" [96] which he saw in a technology-based totalitarian society. The other enemy he styled "vulgarity" [97] and that was what he found in Revelation. And nowhere does this happen so splendiferously than in Revelation. His specific aesthetic objections to Revelation were that its imagery was unnatural and that phrases like "the wrath of the Lamb" were "ridiculous.

    In the first, there was a scheme of cosmic renewal in "great Chaldean sky-spaces", which he quite liked. After that, Lawrence thought, the book became preoccupied with the birth of the baby messiah and "flamboyant hate and simple lust Modern biblical scholarship attempts to understand Revelation in its 1st-century historical context within the genre of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature. Under this interpretation, assertions that "the time is near" are to be taken literally by those communities.

    Consequently, the work is viewed as a warning to not conform to contemporary Greco-Roman society which John "unveils" as beastly, demonic, and subject to divine judgment. Although the acceptance of Revelation into the canon has from the beginning been controversial, it has been essentially similar to the career of other texts.

    Scholar Barbara Whitlock pointed out a similarity between the consistent destruction of thirds depicted in the Book of Revelation a third of mankind by plagues of fire, smoke, and brimstone, a third of the trees and green grass, a third of the sea creatures and a third of the ships at sea, etc.


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    7. A Zoroastrian influence is completely plausible". Much of Revelation employs ancient sources, primarily but not exclusively from the Old Testament. For example, Howard-Brook and Gwyther [] regard the Book of Enoch 1 Enoch as an equally significant but contextually different source. There is an angel ascending in both accounts 1 En Academics showed little interest in this topic until recently. For example, an anonymous Scottish commentary of [] prefaces Revelation 4 with the Little Apocalypse of Mark 13, places Malachi 4: The message is that everything in Revelation will happen in its previously appointed time.

      Steve Moyise [] uses the index of the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament to show that "Revelation contains more Old Testament allusions than any other New Testament book, but it does not record a single quotation. Revelation concentrates on Isaiah, Psalms, and Ezekiel, while neglecting, comparatively speaking, the books of the Pentateuch that are the dominant sources for other New Testament writers.

      Revelation, Theology of

      Methodological objections have been made to this course as each allusion may not have an equal significance. To counter this, G. Beale sought to develop a system that distinguished 'clear', 'probable', and 'possible' allusions. A clear allusion is one with almost the same wording as its source, the same general meaning, and which could not reasonably have been drawn from elsewhere. A probable allusion contains an idea which is uniquely traceable to its source. Possible allusions are described as mere echoes of their putative sources.

      Yet, with Revelation, the problems might be judged more fundamental. The author seems to be using his sources in a completely different way to the originals. For example, he borrows the 'new temple' imagery of Ezekiel 40—48 but uses it to describe a New Jerusalem which, quite pointedly, no longer needs a temple because it is God's dwelling.

      Ian Boxall [] writes that Revelation "is no montage of biblical quotations that is not John's way but a wealth of allusions and evocations rewoven into something new and creative. He sets out a comparative table listing the chapters of Revelation in sequence and linking most of them to the structurally corresponding chapter in Ezekiel. The interesting point is that the order is not the same.

      John, on this theory, rearranges Ezekiel to suit his own purposes. Some commentators argue that it is these purposes — and not the structure — that really matter. Beale believes that, however much John makes use of Ezekiel, his ultimate purpose is to present Revelation as a fulfillment of Daniel 7. The chariot's horses in Zechariah's are the same colors as the four horses in Revelation Zech 6: The nesting of the seven marches around Jericho by Joshua is reenacted by Jesus nesting the seven trumpets within the seventh seal Josh 6: The description of the beast in Revelation is taken directly out of Daniel see Dan 7: The method that John used allowed him to use the Hebrew Scriptures as the source and also use basic techniques of parallel formation, thereby alluding to the Hebrew Scriptures.

      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the book in the New Testament. For other uses, see Book of Revelation disambiguation. Matthew Mark Luke John. Apostle Beloved disciple Evangelist Patmos Presbyter. Apocryphon Acts Signs Gospel. Authorship of the Johannine works. Development of the New Testament canon. After them is to be placed, if it really seem proper, the Apocalypse of John, concerning which we shall give the different opinions at the proper time.

      These then belong among the accepted writings [Homologoumena]. Among the rejected [Kirsopp. Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. An Introduction to the New Testament 2nd ed. Isaiah and Prophetic Traditions in the Book of Revelation: In Esler, Philip F.

      Book of Revelation - Wikipedia

      The Early Christian World. Retrieved 17 October Commentary on John, Book V: Retrieved 15 October Catechetical Lecture 4 Chapter Retrieved 12 October Retrieved 14 October Commentary on the Apostles' Creed Synod of Laodicea Canon Decretum Gelasianum English translation ". Word Biblical Commentary 52A: Revelation 1 — 5. Retrieved 28 October Retrieved 20 April Seraphim Rose , ed.

      In the Teachings of Ancient Christianity. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood. Pryse Apocalypse Unsealed London: Archived from the original on 5 October Retrieved 25 April Reading Revelation Then and Now. From Paul to Postcolonial Times. A Political Commentary on the Gospel. Ministry, International Journal for Pastors. Retrieved 29 June General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

      Retrieved 5 October Yale University Press North in his The Second Isaiah London: However, Christopher North goes on to cite Torrey on 20 major occasions and many more minor ones in the course of his book. So, Torrey must have had some influence and poetry is the key. Oxford University Press p. She quoted 1 John 3: