Book of Revelation, More Sacred Subterfuge

There is a modern myth circulating in United States political circles that is based upon taking the New Testament’s “prophecy” called Revelation as inescapable destiny, and thus believe that the contemporary nation of Israel, established May 14, 1948, will play a deciding role when “end times” judgment is levied upon Earth.  It is known that the book Revelation was actually written c. 135-137, and its declared author was “St” John the Divine, who, inexplicably, has never been authenticated.  Oddly, Revelation begins in letter form, “John to the seven churches that are in Asia, grace to you and peace.” (1:4)  And, peculiarly, the book ends like Paul’s epistles to the same churches, with the “grace” of Jesus being invoked (22:21).

The locale for the alleged transmission of Revelation to John was on the island of Patmos off the coast of the Roman province of Asia.  It was there that the risen Christ supposedly appeared to John and instructed him to write to those seven particular churches to tell them about future conditions (chapters 2 and 3).  Chapters 4 and 5 had John whisked off to heaven where he sees god enthroned and holding a sealed scroll which can be opened only by the “lamb” standing beside god’s throne, a figure who bears the marks of sacrifice.  Chapters 6 through 19 relates a sick orgy of gory violence, which then launches into god’s judgment of the  world.  Predetermined is a new creation (chapter 21), and the “New Jerusalem” is to descend like a “bride of the lamb.”  The ending, chapter 22, is rampant with typical religious name-calling and contemptuous imaging, assuring the reader that outside the gates to the new city “…are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.”  The same stock-in-trade hate rhetoric is still being used by religious bigots today. Apparently the isolationist city of New Jerusalem is destined to have for its next door neighbors the rowdy citizens of Hell.

The timeframe in which the writing of the New Testament’s final book occurred is pertinent to understanding the alleged “prophecy” that it depicts.  (In spite of it placement, Revelation was not the last book written: the book of Hebrews was written later, c. 137-140.)  The late appearance of Revelation upon the scene followed upon the Jewish insurrection in Jerusalem under Bar Cocheba (132-135), an insurrection that spread to Cyrene, Egypt, Cyprus, and Mesopotamia.  The Roman’s were pissed.  And Roman authors were responsible for all the New Testament writings.  Thus the character of the mild teacher Jesus became presented as gradually transforming psychologically through the early gospels to culminate as the harsh judge presiding over the elimination of all faith systems except what the authors represented.  It should be noted also that the format of Revelation borrowed heavily from the Old Testament book of Daniel, which the priests of Yahweh in Jerusalem happened to have reworked from a Babylonian poetic epic.

The long recounting of planned godly rampage which makes up the tale of Revelation thus concludes with Jerusalem, the seat of Jewish faith, being whisked off the Earth and a “New Jerusalem” being plunked down far from heaven to replace it.  How the expected Christian rapture is equated with all the soot and ashes and bones and desecration upon which the New Jerusalem is to be put in place is another unanswered divine mystery.  Perhaps it is simply because the book of Revelation was written in the heyday of the Roman Empire which accounts for the city of Rome being spared a similar replacement policy.

A large percentage of Christian evangelicals in the US believe that the second coming of Jesus (do they mean the early gentle teacher or the later death-dealing judge?) hinges upon the Jews gaining and maintaining control over the so-called “Holy Land.”  Thus in the US we have fanatic believers such as newly installed (January 2011) Republican congressman from Florida, Daniel Webster, using Revelation logic to advocate doling out excessive “aid” to Israel because, as he put it, “…if we stop helping Israel, we lose god’s hand and we’re in big trouble.”  This was aired on “Good Life 45,” a televangelist TV program and replayed on YouTube.  Somehow that assessment of god’s character is more in keeping with the Republican characteristic of cutting backroom deals for personal gain and political domination.  The political power merchants in Israel smile and shrug at such Religious Right interpretations in the US, and humbly accept the “help” of $2.4 billion a year while laughing up their sleeves.  This is the political savvy that makes Israel the top recipient of foreign aid money from the United States—while the poor of our own nation are callously disregarded.

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