Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Revelations -- should reveal.

We now commence one of my favorite books of the Bible[1], Tanrı'dan Yuhanna'ya gelen esinlemek. Or, in English, the "From God, to John, coming stuff inspiration." Or, in Greek, apokalupsis -- the unveiling. There is a blessing pronounced upon those who read these words. The Greek word for "read," anagnoso -- to make known to those standing around, implies that this divine favor rests upon those who read this letter aloud. Like most of the books of the Bible, Esinlemek divides neatly into 50 chunks, so it's suitable for liturgical reading, one chunk per week for a year.

Bottom line: Esinlemek is meant to be understood. It is supposed to make things plain. It is meant to be a blessing to those who read it and take its message to heart. The problem? Well, it's one of the most densely hyperlinked books in the Bible. It occurs, conveniently, at the end of the Bible, like an index to the rest of it. To those who understand the rest of Scripture, and know a little bit about the time when Esinlemek was written, the message is plain.

Unfortunately, we have a major industry of "newspaper exegisis" in the USA. Folks attract audiences, and get rich, out of retrofitting today's headlines into this book. Everyone loves to think they play starring roles in a cosmic drama. After all, how could the consummation of all history happen except during the lifetime of someone as important as ME?
Bu peygamberliğin sözlerini ukyuana, burada yazılanları dinleyip yerine geirene ne mutlu! Çünkü beklenen zaman yakındır.
Quick list of interesting words:
  • Çünkü -- because
  • beklenen -- the thing awaited
  • zaman -- time
  • yakındır-- near is
At the time this book was written, the pressures on the believers were becoming almost unendurable. John assures them that relief is near. The gigantic social and political structures grinding them down were about to be cut down to size. Yes, dear reader, believe it or not, John's letter to the seven churches was written to the seven churches of Asia minor. It addressed their concerns. It offered them practical insights into their situation, not cotton-candy speculations about stuff that wouldn't happen for thousands of years. It concerns events that are about to happen. "The time is near." I take this literally. By "near," Jesus meant "near." If by "near," Jesus meant "a few thousand years from now," I'd not send Him out for pizza!

[1] My Turkish friends will be happy to hear that Esinlemek was written from an island off the coast of Turkey, to folks living in seven Turkish cities.


dori said...

Interesting post! I don't know if I can agree with you that Revelation is transparent and obvious. It really reminds me more of Daniel's prophesies than Paul's epistles. I'm not sure what to take away from it, but I do think that if it were meant to be simply didactic John (and God) would have found a way to communicate its message more clearly. It can be as dangerous to read prophesies as a "how to" manual as it is to read them to find out what will happen tomorrow.

Al ve oku said...

Actually, the lectionary version of Revelation is a mirror image of Ezekiel. Divide each book into 50 chunks, and they march in lockstep through the year.