Monday, December 13, 2010

The New Testament in a Year: Revelation 8-12

For my own personal study, I am using a combination of tools. These include listening to an audio version of the Bible (TNIV) and a series of commentaries in addition to the text itself. I recognize that not everyone will have access to these materials. I can at least provide a link to the Biblical text itself. For this purpose, I've found that is a very useful tool. Not only does it include the TNIV, which enables me to link to the same text as what I'm listening to with the audio version, but one can easily switch to another translation (if one so desires) simply by using the drop-down menus. I hope that this is helpful.

This week, I am working through Revelation, chapters 8-12.

Chapter 8

  • Verse 1 - A half an hour of silence?  Why?  And, perhaps my importantly, is this length of time supposed to be significant beyond "a long time"?
  • Verses 6-13 - Now that all seven seals have been opened, we have seven trumpets to work through, and as before, each one does something different.  I notice that we're only through four trumpets by the end of the chapter, with the chapter ending with a warning about the upcoming three trumpets.  And I notice that each trumpet causes something to happen to "a third" of something.  Why a third?
Chapter 9

  • Verse 1 - There's a lot of this kind of thing in this book, so don't make much of my singling this instance out, but the personification of a star is intriguing. 
  • Verse 5 (again, just as one example) - It's definitely passages like this that lead people (mostly unbelievers) to say that God is cruel.  If we claim to follow a loving God, we simply must be able to deal honestly with passages like this.
Chapter 10
  • This chapter seems to serve as an interlude between the sixth trumpet and the final one (although chapter 11, verse 14 would suggest that the sixth trumpet repercussions just take a couple of full chapters to work through).  Another scroll (a "little" one, apparently not part of the seven mentioned earlier) is introduced. Seven thunders also show up, apparently out of nowhere, although the definite article seems to suggest that I should know about them already.
  • Verse 11 - "OK.  I've just forced you to eat this thing that made you sick.  Now, prophesy!"
Chapter 11
  • Verse 6 - It's hard to hear about "plagues" and "water into blood" and not think of the story of the Exodus.
Chapter 12
  • Verse 5 - An iron scepter?  Why iron? (the footnotes suggest this is a reference to Psalm 2:9, but I have my doubts as to how explicit this reference would be)1

1Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament), Eerdmans, 1977, p. 238, also references this Psalm, and seems to make a connection between the "rule" apparent in Revelation and the "break" of the Psalm by suggesting "shepherd" as an alternate interpretation for the Psalm, but I don't see how that would connect with the rest of Psalm 2:9.  The footnote to the Psalm gives us the "ruling" interpretation back again, but only by referencing the Septuagint--which would have almost certainly been known to New Testament authors--and the Syriac.  I am left to wonder if this verse shows us more about the history of Scriptural interpretation than it does about the actual original intentions behind either passage.

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