The word preterist comes from the Latin praeteritus meaning “gone by”. As such this view holds firmly that John’s Book of Revelation was fulfilled at the time of it being written or shortly thereafter. If this method of interpretation is true, then Revelation had enormous meaning to the first century Christians were facing or would face intense persecution. John’s message was to “hold firm” and remember that God vindicates his faithful people.
This view was introduced by a Jesuit priest, Louis de Alcazar who wrote in response to the Protestant Reformation. This view challenged scholars to interpret events and images in the Book to coincide with events affecting the early Christians. So the great conflict in the text between good and evil is a conflict between Christians and Rome and Jerusalem, i.e. Christians and the Empire and Christians and the Jews. When viewed symbolically in its Hebrew form, the “mark of the Beast”, 666, is viewed as a representation of Emperor Nero. The 42 months of the beasts reign in Revelation 13:5 coincides with the length of the Roman siege of Jerusalem, which began in 66 A.D.
Using historical-critical methods of research scholars deconstruct the text to uncover the many symbolic references to determine meaning. Consequently, Revelation would have little to no theological meaning to us today. Sadly, scholars would only examine the book for his historical implications for the Church in Asia Minor at the turn of the first century. This view requires that a reader immerse him or herself in the life of the early Church and draw meaning from a first century perspective. One could argue why the Church Fathers included it in the Cannon and why it was officially adopted as a book in the Bible, which is God’s Word for His people (past, present, and future).
That being said, we cannot completely ignore this method. Recall from the first post that apocalyptic literature has meaning within in the lifetime of the author and to future generations. A preteritic interpretation and critical examination will shed insight into the life belief of the early Church. Understanding God’ role in the past, reveals His role in our present and the future.
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 Done
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