Revelation of John in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

LITERATURE The last book of the New Testament. It professes to be the record of prophetic visions given by Jesus Christ to John, while the latter was a prisoner, "for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (Rev 1:9), in PATMOS (which see), a small rocky island in the Aegean, about 15 miles West of Ephesus. Its precursor in the Old Testament is the Book of Dnl, with the symbolic visions and mystical numbers of which it stands in close affinity. The peculiar form of the book, its relation to other "apocalyptic" writings, and to the Fourth Gospel, likewise attributed to John, the interpretation of its symbols, with disputed questions of its date, of worship, unity, relations to contemporary history, etc., have made it one of the most difficult books in the New Testament to explain satisfactorily. I. Title and General Character of Book. 1. Title: "Revelation" answers to apokalupsis, in Rev 1:1. The oldest form of the title would seem to be simply, "Apocalypse of John," the appended words "the divine" (theologos, i.e. "theologian") not being older than the 4th century (compare the title given to Gregory of Nazianzus, "Gregory theologian"). The book belongs to the class of works commonly named "apocalyptic," as containing visions and revelations of the future, frequently in symbolical form (e.g. the Book of Enoch, the Apocalypse of Bar, the Apocalypse of Ezr; see APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE), but it is doubtful if the word here bears this technical sense. The tendency at present is to group the New Testament Apocalypse with these others, and attribute to it the same kind of origin as theirs, namely, in the unbridled play of religious fantasy, clothing itself in unreal visional form...

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