Jun 29, 2015

Revelation, Its About My Now

The last of the four schools of interpreting John’s Book of Revelation is the spiritualist view.  Spiritualistic interpretation is a relatively new theory that tends to over emphasize symbolism.  The spiritualist believes that the book focuses on the struggles of all Christians in any age, not specifically the original readers, the past, or future.  Revelation is intended to inspire Christians being persecuted.  The spiritualist argues that looking for meaning in the past and constructing meaning is a future forward view is guesswork at best.  Any attempt at a literal interpretation is absurd.  Furthermore, any attempt to find such meaning may conflict with the spiritual meaning for which the spiritualist is searching. 

This type of reading is inspirational, except it does ignore the fact that John’s book is written as a letter to be publicly read.  John wrote and sent this letter to seven specific Churches.  John also stressed that events would soon take place.  This sets the letter in a specific time and place with a sense of immediacy. 
That being said, the spiritualist view has some great strengths.  Because the spiritualist believes in a timeless interpretation, the symbols are not tied to specific events. Therefore the conflict is a spiritual war fought between good and evil.  The spiritualist will view the beast from the sea as a satanically inspired political persecution or oppression.  Whereas the beast from the land may represent a corrupt religion opposed to Christianity.  The harlot represents the seduction of the world.  The seven seals and trumpets represent the catastrophes and disasters that occur naturally and/or motivated by evil.

Ultimately, then there is no one single “best” method.  It is my opinion that when reading and studying John’s Book of Revelation, it needs to be regarded first as a letter written in the first century and second as a part of the New Testament with spiritual and theological significance to Christians in every age.  Thus we need to combine elements of the preterits, historicist, and spiritualist methods.  We need to examine it critically from a historical, literary, and symbolic perspective without losing sight of sound Catholic Christian doctrine that builds a united Kingdom of God no a divisive one.


Cory, Catherine A. New Collegeville Bible Commentary: The Book of Revelation. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2006.
Hahn, Scott, Ph. D. "The Book of Revelation: The End." Sycamore, Illinois: St. Joseph Communications, 2003.
Harrison, Wilfred J. O.P. Sacra Pagina: Revelation. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2008.
Senior, Donald, Mary Ann Getty, Carroll Stuhlmueller, and John J. Collins, . The Catholic Study Bible. New American Bible (NAB). New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
Wilson, Neil S., and Linda K. Taylor. Handbook of Bible Charts & Maps. Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2001.
Zukeran, Patrick. Probe Ministries: Four Views of Revelation. April 20, 2009. https://www.probe.org/four-views-of-revelation/ (accessed June 27, 2015).


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