It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.

 

Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.

 

Author says Revelations and Christian Prophesy is simply wrong.

page: 1
2
<<   2  3 >>

log in

join
share:

posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 01:30 PM
link   
Hi everybody!

I just wanted to share what I've read recently in a book titled: A History of the End of the World: How the most controversial book in the Bible changed the course of Western civilization by Jonathan Kirsch (Harper San Francisco: 2006).

I've read through some chapters, and I'm now starting at the beginning.

However, even from the first chapter, I'd like some feedback.

I don't necessarily agree or disagree personally with what Kirsch writes, but I'd rather like to encourage debate about the book, and its findings on Revelations.

Kirsch begins by quoting some famous Christians, who weren't so sure the book should have been included in the Bible at all, or regarded it as a drug-crazed or maniacal rant (including Martin Luther or President Jefferson). Then he says that it meant something completely different to its first readers, but since then every generation of believers was sure they could find "God's secret meaning" in the historical metaphors, and "remarkably, the failure of each previous generation to crack the Revelation code only encourages the next generation to try harder." (p.13)

The author informs us in no uncertain terms that history has proven any literal meaning of Revelation wrong:


As a work of prophesy, of course, Revelation is wholly and self-evidently wrong."How long, O Lord, holy and true, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" demands the the biblical author, quoting the souls of the dead martyrs, and he answers his own question by attributing an unambiguous promise to Jesus Christ: "Behold, I am coming soon." Those words were first reduced to writing nearly two thousand years ago, but the readers of Revelation are still waiting for the day of revenge that is predicted with such clarity and confidence in ancient text.

The author of Revelation is not the only figure in Christian scriptures whose prediction of the end times was mistaken. Jesus, according to some awkward sayings attributed to him in the Gospels, assures his followers that at least some of them will see the end of the world with their own eyes. The apostle Paul, in turn, offered the same assurance to his generation of Christians. Both Jesus and Paul were gone by the time the author of Revelation set down his vision of "things which must shortly come to pass." All of them turned out to be dead wrong, and the world is still here.

The utter, obvious, and persistent failure of the world to come to "end on time," as one contemporary Bible scholar wryly puts it, has compelled Christianity to consider how life ought to be lived in the here and now, no less in late antiquity than today.

(P. 13, bold emphasis added by myself.)
edit on 25-1-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)




posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 01:36 PM
link   
Would it be considered wrong if people wanted to see to it that it happens?

I don't believe in the literal end of the world as the Bible predicts, certainly a natural occurrence of catastrophic proportions could happen, but foreseen by the people that wrote the Bible? Nah.

But I do believe there is a group of people that would like to see the end take place.

Would the Bible be right, if someone hijacked the notion of the end times?
edit on 25-1-2012 by satron because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 01:56 PM
link   
I guess I would like to see the author's points rather than just the opening opinion.

The supporting argument is much more important than the opening.

Without support, it's just...like...you know...his opinion.



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 01:58 PM
link   
reply to post by halfoldman
 

Hello, yourself.

My apologies for being lazy, but I'm not going to buy the book. (Also, money is involved. I'm a little short at the moment.)

Martin Luther seemed to believe it was necessary to take a lot of books out of the Bible, some he was succesful in removing, others not. He was too critical of too much of the Bible for me to give him the mantle of authority on this one.

And Thomas Jefferson? Kirsch is calling him a Christian? That will surprise most people. Maybe he was a Deist, maybe. But in Jefferson's bible, he tossed out everything except Jesus' words. I can't call him an authority either.

The author informs us in no uncertain terms that history has proven any literal meaning of Revelation wrong:
It never was accepted as, or ever claimed to be, literal. History has nothing to do with it. It strikes me as a cheap trick on the part of the author. It's like making the assertion that history has finally proved that Dragons and Dinosaurs didn't exist during the Roman Empire.

What else is exciting here? That people try to solve mysteries and puzzles? I give you Nostradamus and his "predictions" interpreted again every few years.

Kirsch writes

by attributing an unambiguous promise to Jesus Christ: "Behold, I am coming soon."
Kirsch calls that "unambiguous???" How can I take him seriously after that statement?

Then Kirsch talks about other books in the Bible, but since you're talking about Revelation, I'll leave them for now.



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 02:02 PM
link   
According to Kirsch the Book of Revelations also appeals to hatred and revenge-fantasies, usually (in the broader text) appealing to the designated group excluded for hatred at the specific time of interpretation.

So current books in the "end times" market, like the slick Left Behind thriller series of recent literature sees the anti-Christ in gays and the political enemies of the USA. This comes later in Kirsch's book, but it's worth a mention because locusts or horses may be interpreted as missiles and modern weaponry, thus ironically implying that the author and initial readers of Revelation were unable to understand their own visions!

In any case, Revelations is clearly a motivating diatribe for the faithful, that has brought out disturbing feelings of vindication, and even hatred, which has marked historic "millennial states":


Above all else, the author of Revelation is a good hater, and he embraces the simple principle that anyone who is not for him is against him. He rails against his rival preachers, condemning them as fornicators and false prophets. He heaps abuse on those of his fellow Christians whom he regards as insufficiently zealous for the Lamb of God. He offers the ultimate insult to Jews who do not embrace Jesus as a Messiah by insisting that Christians are the only authentic Jews. He reserves special contempt for anyone who indulges in carnal pleasure and, especially, the getting of goods. And, in a gesture of rhetorical overkill that is the hallmark of Revelation, he condemns his adversaries as not merely wrong, not merely sinful or criminal, but wholly corrupted by the "deep things of Satan".
(...)
Here we find particularly heartless theology of exclusion: the saints and martyrs will be granted eternal life, as the author of Revelation sees it, and the rest of humanity will burn in hell. Indeed, the book of Revelation fairly sizzles with the deferred pleasure of revenge".

(Kirsch 2006: p.14.)

I think all that is already apparent on ATS by people who claim to interpret culture through Revelations, but what was surprising to myself, is that the term "anti-Christ" does not occur in the biblical book at all.

edit on 25-1-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 02:16 PM
link   
reply to post by charles1952
 

Thanks for your points on Jefferson and Luther.
Very interesting.

I got the book from my local library, and it cost me nothing.
I assume there are libraries in the USA?

It's just some quotes from the introduction, and perhaps I don't do the book justice.

However, it's already changed my perspective on all the constant end time threads on ATS.

They really take these verses as both unambiguous and literal.

So I'm not sure of your point.
You see the Bible as ambiguous?



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 02:25 PM
link   
reply to post by halfoldman
 



I once read a story about how the historical south americans (can't remember which ones) had a prophecy given to them and carried for years and years. Their prophecy entailed the spanish (the prophecy described the people not named them as spanish) showing up to their shores. The reason the spanish were not killed right away is because the people believed that it was a prophecy and turned a blind eye to the fact that these guys were there to colonize (occupy). I have always wondered, since reading that, if we are being set-up the same way. Are we being fed this stream of info to embed it in our psychi deep enough to not question or be suspicious of any type of advanced trickery that may be in store for us.
Think of this.... How does a person react, who is scared of snakes, when you flash a fake snake toward them. They may know it's fake, but they will still have the fearful reaction.



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 02:35 PM
link   
reply to post by WickettheRabbit
 

Well that's fine.
Of course everybody quotes literature (including the Bible) to make, illustrate, or support a point.

For me the problem is that so many people make predictions based on the Bible, from popular Christian literature, to various preachers on Youtube, and they claim to speak from literalism.

But, is there actually a case for their interpretations?
And it's not just innocent views and prophesies.
As Kirsch demonstrates, these were and are beliefs with very real social impact.

Just recently in SA I had to hear how gays have the "character of the anti-Christ".
People have said that to my face.
What on earth does that even mean?
I think it's time that people read the book and the fantastic monsters it introduces, and realize how Revelations has been historically abused.
So we should not only encourage religious parroting on ATS, but also scholarly views and books.

Things may seem refreshingly different in a historic perspective.

Perhaps reading a book is an effort for some, but I'd strongly encourage it.




edit on 25-1-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 02:47 PM
link   
reply to post by halfoldman
 

Dear halfoldman,

Always a pleasure to have a little chat.


I got the book from my local library, and it cost me nothing.
I assume there are libraries in the USA?
You should see how we've come along. Every state has at least two libraries. There are even some cities that have their own schools. We're doing just great here.

I am sorry to hear that a Christian would take the Book of Revelations as a literal, factual book. I have never run across a Christian who held that position. A beast with seven heads (or is it horns, or crowns)? As I say, I have never heard anyone call it literal fact. Would you please do me the favor of linking to an ATS Christian that thinks that way? I've got to have a little talk with the lad.


So I'm not sure of your point.
You see the Bible as ambiguous?
I see Jonathon Kirsch's claim that the word "soon" is unambiguous to be silly. Of course, "soon" is ambiguous. "Man appeared soon after the dinosaurs." "The hot spices in the stew soon had him sweating profusely." "Mommy, will we be there soon?"

Portions of the Bible are literal, some are lyrical, mystical or visionary, some are symbolic or metaphorical. "The Bible" is not just one thing, it's a set of books with different purposes.

With respect,
Charles1952



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 02:53 PM
link   
reply to post by halfoldman
 


Well if you're serious about your request, then I'll offer some comments regarding scholarly interpretations of the meanings of these passages:



"How long, O Lord, holy and true, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" demands the the biblical author, quoting the souls of the dead martyrs, and he answers his own question by attributing an unambiguous promise to Jesus Christ: "Behold, I am coming soon." Those words were first reduced to writing nearly two thousand years ago, but the readers of Revelation are still waiting for the day of revenge that is predicted with such clarity and confidence in ancient text.


But what is "soon" to God? He doesn't measure time like we do:


Psalm 90:4
A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.


So it may seem like a long time has passed to us, but thousands of our years are a blip on the radar to God.


Jesus, according to some awkward sayings attributed to him in the Gospels, assures his followers that at least some of them will see the end of the world with their own eyes.


No, he didn't say that. Let's look at the passage in its context:


Matthew 24
32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.


What generation is he talking about? The author you quoted (Kirsch) implies that it was the generation of people Jesus was speaking to, but the context doesn't indicate that. The context indicates that he was referring to the generation that would see the lesson of the fig tree. So what is the lesson of the fig tree? First we need to ask what the fig tree is, the answer is Israel. Next we need to ask what the passage means by twigs getting tender and leaves coming out, and it would seem apparent that this is in reference to Israel "blooming" again. Throughout history scholars have believed that this meant that Israel would at some point become a nation again, but before 1948 it seemed so utterly impossible that many declared it to be proof that Bible prophecy was bogus. But in 1948 it DID happen to the utter astonishment of many. OK, so how long is a generation then? Many recognize this definition:


Psalm 90:10
As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.


So 1948 + 70 to 80 years = 2018-2028. Since he said "this generation shall not pass" it means that the end times would happen in that generation's window, IE, 2018-2028 marks the end of the window but the end times could happen any time before that as well.

If you read through the NT you'll find that even the apostles constantly misunderstood Jesus's quotes, sometimes to his apparent frustration. And it still goes on today. I'm not saying you have to believe me and not Kirsch, I'm simply pointing out that there are two (or more) sides to every story and it's up to you to sort through and determine what you believe and don't believe. It's not easy work, I've been studying this subject for over 10 years now and am still working through what the details mean.



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 02:55 PM
link   
I think a lot of the bible explains astronomic and mother nature's changes with words that try to be universal. The prophecy might be right but might not be because of God, the devil or sins of man.

It's easy for man to attribute unexplainable situations with God.

This doesn't mean the concept of God doesn't exist, it just means that little thing that happen might not be directly because of God but only be part of the cycle of life on earth.



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 02:58 PM
link   
Here is a Youtube interview with Jonathan Kirsch on his book, conducted by Bill McDonald.

The author here goes into much larger points on Revelations.

I think I've only concentrated shortly on what he says it is probably not (a coded guide to current events from antiquity), and I think I've done so with the many great biblical "literalists" on ATS in mind (who are actually not literalists at all, but the ultimate symbolists).

Of course, differing from the crowd will lead to disagreements, because the current barrage of Revelation readings has been a virtually unopposed agreement that it refers to a prophesy of our "end times" since the 1970s.
But a massive agreement on a broad interpretation (with all kinds of disagreements on minor metaphors) that is simply wrong, doesn't make it true.

I think all should enjoy expanding the historical debate on Revelations.


edit on 25-1-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 03:08 PM
link   

Originally posted by halfoldman
Just recently in SA I had to hear how gays have the "character of the anti-Christ".
People have said that to my face.
What on earth does that even mean?


It means religious dogma is alive and well. Unfortunately religious dogma does not represent God's will. Does God hate gays? Silliness. We've been over this on ATS before, but the word "homosexual" is not even in the King James Bible, it is an interpretation that was added to later versions and in my opinion after careful study, is a misinterpretation of a passage that was instead referring to overabundant behavior in general. The message isn't that gays will burn in hell, it is that every one of us is a sinner and that we all need salvation. The Bible is quite clear that one sin is not greater than another, they are all as filthy rags in God's eyes (and the original text for "rags" is referring to the puss-filled, filthy cloths that lepers wrapped themselves in). Ever stolen a pen from work? Lied to someone? Coveted someone or something? We're ALL guilty, and stealing a pen is just as bad as an extramarital affair. It's all wrong. People who carry around signs complaining about homosexuality are EXACTLY the hypocrites Jesus warned about here:


Matthew 7
1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.


So these people are walking around in a self-righteous state complaining about the sins (or perceived sins) of others, all the while wallowing in their own stench. I think you can rest assured that their self-righteousness is the ugliest act of all in God's eyes. But their acts are their own, they are not representing God's will.

EDIT to add: it's not my position that our guilty state means we should go around suffering through life and pitying ourselves. On the contrary, life is a gift to be lived to the fullest. The message is that despite our guilt God loves us as members of his family, wants the best for us, and offers us salvation at no cost to us.
edit on 25-1-2012 by SavedOne because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 03:20 PM
link   
reply to post by charles1952
 

Thanks for the chat.
So there's no need to part with money to read the book.

As to the other points on "soon", yes I agree entirely, it could have a number of meanings.



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 03:27 PM
link   
reply to post by halfoldman
 


But what I'm saying is that the author is stating that Revelations is wrong.

...

But it's about things that are supposed to come to pass. It can't be wrong if it hasn't happened.

Before you jump on me, there is a difference between saying something will never happen and that it did happen, but not in the way the prophecy stated.



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 04:15 PM
link   
reply to post by WickettheRabbit
 

In hindsight I should have more succinctly said that some prophetic readings of Revelations are wrong.
Of course, I have no way of proving that Revelations is wrong or right.

Anyway, just wanted to introduce a different approach on the topic through Kirsch.

I think Kirsch explains much in the above clip.

Nobody jumps on anyone, I just gave an opinion of an author.


edit on 25-1-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 04:41 PM
link   

Originally posted by satron
Would it be considered wrong if people wanted to see to it that it happens?

I don't believe in the literal end of the world as the Bible predicts, certainly a natural occurrence of catastrophic proportions could happen, but foreseen by the people that wrote the Bible? Nah.

But I do believe there is a group of people that would like to see the end take place.

Would the Bible be right, if someone hijacked the notion of the end times?
edit on 25-1-2012 by satron because: (no reason given)


That's a good point.
I think Kirsch makes a reference to this towards the end of the above interview.

He actually says that unlike previous apocalyptic movements, currently science is standing with religion in a convergence of end-time possibilities.

Like religion, science admits today that the world will end.
However Kirsch believes in the science that says it won't end soon.

More culturally speaking, I think the fact that science is also considering end time scenarios, makes it easier for self-styled prophets to cash in on religion.


edit on 25-1-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 05:13 PM
link   
reply to post by halfoldman
 


I just ordered a copy of "A History of the End of the World: How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible Changed the Course of Western Civilization" from BetterWorldBooks, so it takes a few days to come in the mail. Apparently a lot of used ones out there so it was basically free plus shipping.
"How you do good when you buy from Better World Books" it says on the book markers I got with the last book I bought from them which seem to be former library books so I guess this is normal procedure for libraries to donate their old or overstock books to them, which is a charity organization with one program being "Books for Africa".
I like the idea of doing threads to discuss books so we can have like our own little book club.
edit on 25-1-2012 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 05:20 PM
link   
reply to post by WickettheRabbit
 

But it's about things that are supposed to come to pass.

Things 'to soon come to pass', so reads the prologue to Revelation, so we should see this as already come about, then figure out how to understand how it did.



posted on Jan, 25 2012 @ 05:29 PM
link   
reply to post by jmdewey60
 

Oh fantastic.

I do hope they stock the poorer libraries in Africa, which are in a virtual state of religious bombardment.
I have serious doubts that it will ever make the shelves in some countries.

The interview with the author above is for free.


edit on 25-1-2012 by halfoldman because: (no reason given)



new topics

top topics



 
2
<<   2  3 >>

log in

join