Visions of the Apocalypse: Receptions of Johns Revelation in Western Imagination


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The Seer himself testifies that the visions he is about to narrate were seen by him whilst in Patmos. Patmos is one of the group of small islands close to the coast of Asia Minor, about twelve geographical miles from Ephesus. Tradition, as Eusebius tells us, has handed down that John was banished to Patmos in the reign of Domitian for the sake of his testimony of God's word Hist.

He obviously refers to the passage "for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus " i, 9. It is true that the more probable meaning of this phrase is, "in order to hear the word of God ", etc. But it was quite natural that the Seer should have regarded his banishment to Patmos as prearranged by Divine Providence that in the solitude of the island he might hear God's word. The tradition recorded by Eusebius finds confirmation in the words of the Seer describing himself as "a brother and partaker in tribulation" i, 9. Irenaeus places the Seer's exile in Patmos at the end of Domitian's reign.

The Emperor Domitian reigned A. In all matters of Joannine tradition Irenaeus deserves exceptional credit. His lifetime bordered upon the Apostolic age and his master, St. Polycarp, had been among the disciples of St.

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Eusebius, chronicling the statement of Irenaeus without any misgivings, adds as the year of the Seer's exile the fourteenth of Domitian's reign. Jerome also, without reserve or hesitation, follows the same tradition. Against the united testimony of these three witnesses of tradition the statement of Epiphanius placing the Seer's banishment in the reign of Claudius, A. The revelation made by Jesus the Messias to John. Salutation prefatory to the seven Epistles, wishing the churches the grace and the peace of God and Jesus.

The portrait is taken from Daniel 10 and Henoch The Epistles are short exhortations to the Christians to remain steadfast in their faith, to beware of false apostles and to abstain from fornication and from meat offered to idols. The throne is surrounded by twenty-four elders. In the right hand of God is a scroll sealed with seven seals. In the midst of the Cherubim and the elders the Seer beholds a lamb, "agnus tamquam occisus", having on its throat the scar of the gash by which it was slain.

The Seer weeps because no one either in heaven or on earth can break the seals. He is comforted on hearing that the lamb was worthy to do so because of the redemption it had wrought by its blood. The portrait of the throne is taken from Ezechiel 1. Compare in both accounts the description of the four beasts. They resemble a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. Their bodies are full of eyes cf. Revelation ; and Ezekiel The twenty-four elders were probably suggested by the twenty-four courses of priests ministering in the Temple. The lamb slain for the sins of mankind is from Isaias At the opening of four seals, four horses appear.

Their colour is white, black, red, and sallow, or green chloros , piebald. They signify conquest, slaughter, dearth and death. The vision is taken from Zach. At the opening of the fifth seal the Seer beholds the martyrs that were slain and hears their prayers for the final triumph.


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At the opening of the sixth seal the predestined to glory are numbered and marked. The Seer beholds them divided into two classes.

First, , Jews, 12, of every tribe. Then a numberless multitude chosen from all nations and tongues. After the interval of about half an hour, the seventh seal is broken; seven angels issue forth, each one holding a trumpet. The sounding of the first four trumpets causes a partial destruction of the elements of nature. One-third of the earth is burned, as also one-third of the trees and all the grass.

One-third of the sea becomes blood cf. Exodus One-third of the rivers is turned into water of wormwood. One-third of the sun, moon, and stars is obscured, causing one-third of the day to be dark cf. At the sounding of the fifth trumpet locusts ascend from the abyss. Their work is to torment men for five months, They are specially charged not to touch the grass. Their shape is that of horses Joel their teeth like those of lions Joel , their hair like the hair of women.

They have the tails of scorpions where with to chastise man. The command over them is held by the Angel of the Abyss, named Abaddon, the destroyer. At the sound of the sixth trumpet the four angels chained at the Euphrates are let loose. They lead forth an army of horsemen. By the fire which the horses spit out and by their tails which are like serpents, one-third of mankind is killed.

After the sixth trumpet there are two digressions. He swears that at the sound of the seventh trumpet the mystery will be completed. He hands to the Seer a little book. When eaten by him it is found sweet to taste, but bitter when once devoured. Taken from Ezech. It lasts three and a half years. Taken from Dan. During that time two witnesses are sent to preach in Jerusalem. They are the two olive-trees foretold by Zach. At the end of their mission they are slain by the beast. The seventh trumpet is now sounded, the nations are judged and the kingdom of Christ is established.

The lamb, the woman, and her seed; and opposed to them, the dragon, the beast from the sea, and the beast from the land. The main idea is taken from Gen. The woman is arrayed in heavenly splendour; a crown of twelve stars on her head and the sun and the moon under her feet cf.

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She is in travail. Her first-born is destined to rule all the nation Psalm , 9. She herself, and her other seed, are persecuted for three and a half years by the great dragon who tries to kill them.

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The great dragon is Satan Genesis He is cast out of heaven. With his tail he drags after him one-third of the stars. The fallen stars are the fallen angels. The beast from the sea is in great part taken from Daniel's description of the four beasts. It arises from the sea Dan.

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It had also ten horns, like the fourth beast of Daniel vii, 7 ; it resembled a leopard, the third beast of Daniel vii, 6 , it had feet like a bear, the second beast of Daniel vii, 5 ; and teeth like a lion, the first beast of Daniel vii, 4. The great dragon gives full power unto the beast, whereupon all the world worship it viz. The followers of the beast have its mark on their head and hand. The beast from the land has two horns like a ram. Its power lies in its art of deceiving by means of tokens and miracles. Throughout the remainder of the book it is called the false prophet.

Its office is to assist the beast from the sea, and to induce men to adore its image.

The first act of the drama concludes with a promise of victory over the beast by the lamb of God. The seven vials.

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They are the seven plagues preceding the destruction of the great city, Babylon. They were for the greater part suggested by the Egyptian plagues. The first vial is poured out on the earth. Men and beasts are smitten with ulcers Exodus The second and third vial upon the seas and rivers. They become blood Exodus The fourth vial upon the sun. It burns men to death.

Visions of the Apocalypse: Receptions of Johns Revelation in Western Imagination Visions of the Apocalypse: Receptions of Johns Revelation in Western Imagination
Visions of the Apocalypse: Receptions of Johns Revelation in Western Imagination Visions of the Apocalypse: Receptions of Johns Revelation in Western Imagination
Visions of the Apocalypse: Receptions of Johns Revelation in Western Imagination Visions of the Apocalypse: Receptions of Johns Revelation in Western Imagination
Visions of the Apocalypse: Receptions of Johns Revelation in Western Imagination Visions of the Apocalypse: Receptions of Johns Revelation in Western Imagination
Visions of the Apocalypse: Receptions of Johns Revelation in Western Imagination Visions of the Apocalypse: Receptions of Johns Revelation in Western Imagination
Visions of the Apocalypse: Receptions of Johns Revelation in Western Imagination Visions of the Apocalypse: Receptions of Johns Revelation in Western Imagination
Visions of the Apocalypse: Receptions of Johns Revelation in Western Imagination Visions of the Apocalypse: Receptions of Johns Revelation in Western Imagination

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