Book Excerpt: Revelation: The Way It Happened
Inside these pages lives a love story gone awry.
You’re about to read the Revelation story the way it would have been understood by its audience in the early years after Christ. “Revelation” means “apocalypse,” an unveiling of earthly events from the perspective of the gods in heaven. It’s one of only two apocalyptic books in our Christian Bible, along with Daniel. If you have grown up interpreting Revelation from a futuristic viewpoint—by assuming that most, if not all, of the vision will yet unreel when Christ returns to redeem His own—then my book’s viewpoint may seem foreign to you. The world looked very different to Christians in the first century.
The book of Revelation sports a storied history, hated by some church fathers but grudgingly accepted by others because of its presumed authorship by one of the original twelve apostles: John, the son of Zebedee. As late as the fourth century in the West and the seventh century in the East, Bible-builders still bickered over the question of whether Revelation ought to be included in Christian scripture. Popularity did not matter when building the “canon,” our chosen scriptures. Church fathers rejected the Shepherd of Hermas, greatly loved in the second century, because its author confessed he was not an original disciple of Jesus. They eventually accepted Revelation, with its bizarre images and tone of revenge so contrary to the Gospels, because of two words in the book: I, John.
Thus, Bible compilers preserved our map of the end times. For every generation since the death of Christ on the cross, Christian thinkers have pointed to the signs and predicted Christ’s imminent return. Religions have been founded on this prediction. Surely no generation in history has been more able to lay claim to the approaching end times than our current generation … right? We look at the restoration of the Jewish city-state, the threat of a nuclear Armageddon, the spreading of the gospel to nearly every nation in the world, and of course, these evil, immoral times (for surely no generation before this could act so ungodly) to justify this belief. Yes, it seems clear that we flirt with the final days!
But this is not the case. The first generation before and after the holy war of 66 through 70 CE, with Jerusalem ransacked and the Temple destroyed, fits the apocalyptic message of Revelation far better than any other time in history.
–Revelation: The Way It Happened, 2010, pp 7-8, by Lee Harmon