The historicist view in contrast to the preterist view makes the message of John’s book relevant to the reader in whatever age it is being read. Historicism teaches that the events described in Revelation chapters 4 through 20 describe the history of the Church from the time of the first century to the second coming of Christs. This view is most common among conservative Christian Protestant denominations. As a young boy this type of thinking was very exciting. After all, it is the material of a good television special or a History Channel show about end time’s prophecy. Wrapped into all of that speculative thinking is the highly creative task of re-thinking all of human history to match key world players and events with the apocalyptic imagery. This is Dan Brown style fiction, interesting but inaccurate and definitely dangerous.
As Catholics we must be on guard against this view and its promulgation. This mode of interpretation was the standard Protestant method during the Reformation. In recent times it has diminished in popularity in favor the futurist view (will be addressed later). Using the same study of Gematria, the Jewish practice of assigning numeric value to words, the historicist suggest that the mark of the beast refers to the Pope/Papacy and the Roman Church not Emperor Nero or the Roman Empire. Both groups arrive at the same numeric value (666) for the same word lateinos. The difference is the filter, historicists were persecuted Protestants. As such they, like the preterits identified the beast and restrictions of commerce as the oppression experienced by the medieval Church and state.
The major problem with this method is not that it portrays the Catholic Church as the beast, but that it will never be accurate. This inherit inaccuracy invalidates many of its conclusions. Because the historicist model applies chapters 4-20 to the history of the Christian Church it changes with every age, invalidating its previous conclusion. More so, we can conclude if this view is true, the book would have had no meaning to the original readers.
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).
Revelation, Its All About Now
4/ 5Oleh JIM Woodmansee