As I read along in the PDF posted for free on the internet (Thank you, Mr. Bauckham), I will post thoughts, and update this blog like a webpage. These critical thoughts should not detract from our high praise of this work, though the wonders he is showing me now are more difficult to write than the brief criticisms.
Mr. Bauckham, like most modern scholars, thinks that the Revelation could not have been written by John the Apostle. We await his reasons for thinking not. In the first chapter of my book, I think it becomes “obvious” that no one other than John could have written or received the Revelation. There is little reason to think not, though there must more reason than I have found in my note #1. The book speaks of the apostles in a way that an apostle might not speak of the apostles, and Jesus does not address John as one he knew in life. But these things are not decisive.
Mr. Bauckham also, like most modern scholars, assumes that the book cannot be what it says it is, a revelation given by Jesus. So the scholars are always saying things like “John uses,” or John draws in such a way on this or that Old Testament prophet, or John “is concerned with working out…” etc. That there is much that is “deliberate” in the things related to the Old Testament, there is no reason to think it is John’s deliberation or intention, especially when the text explicitly says that it is not. What if God said the same thing to John that he said to Isaiah or Ezekiel? Then it would be clear that it is not John “drawing on” or such things.
A vision is not something one devises to serve ones personal intention. Bauckham writes as though he does not believe that John had a vision at all, but only pretended, using a literary device that he could have fully explained, having possession of the purpose.
Yesterday, I marveled at his account of the little scroll, and today at the Lion and Lamb, and the meaning of witness.
But is it only an accident that this has come to have a new meaning in the past few months? And where is Nero? Mr. Bauckham thinks that Nero is the Beast, as do most modern scholars, although few particulars fit. Sure, John has written an anti-Roman political pamphlet hidden in symbolic language to avoid persecution. This may in part be true: Jesus is the only one who spoke out (Luke 13) during the emergence of the worst tyranny ever, under Tiberius, because one might be killed immediately. Nor do we get a critique of Caligula from the early church. Van Impe is superior to Bauckham on this point, because he understands that Nero, like Antiochus, can be a type or prefiguration of the Antichrist. He kills the two witnesses, Peter and Paul. But there is no mark of the beast, no nations of the four corners gathering at Armageddon, no separate “False Prophet,” no Euphrates or Kings of the East, etc. No ascent of the witnesses viewed by many peoples, no winepress, no “Parousia,” as they like to call the second coming. There is the destruction of the Temple by Titus under Vespasian, as was prophesied repeatedly by Jesus and others, a worldwide dispersion, and a trampling by the Gentiles that is to occur until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled.
The world wide extent of the reign of the Beast and the apocalyptic events is merely “hyperbole.” The globalization of our world, a mere coincidence.
Bauckham sets as a principle that prophesy must be understood as intended to be heard by the contemporaries to whom it is addressed. But Daniel is told that the vision is sealed, until the time of the end, and is not even for him.
There is further no reason to think that the Revelation was written before the traditional date of about 96, during the reign of Domitian. So John is all about a return of Nero from Parthia? Mr. Baukham would like my book, if I could get it to him. But as it is, the text is sealed, and it turns out that one sure way of keeping a text out of the hands of those who do not want it for the intended purpose is to set a moderate price on it! My first chapter is intentionally bland, and this is already plenty enough to get me in trouble with just about anyone. Just as Betty D. said as she was inducted into the Michigan writers Hall of fame, a writer is supposed “to first grab the reader by the eyeballs” This is not always true. At least we can count on our FBI understanding scripture well enough to make certain distinctions (not). And if they cannot, to understand their own limitations and the precedence of our First Amendment, where no one’s rights are being violated (not).
So you see, if the reader does not care about the things in Chapter One, I do not really want them to read the rest, and would pay them 12$ to not, if I had it!