A Summary of the Teaching of the Commentary on the Revelation

This summary is taken from the last two pages:

To summarize, the teaching of this commentary has been: that John is the writer of the Revelation; that it is worth reading for its own sake, as well as for our worries about the future; and that the reading confers a blessing. It is addressed not to everyone, but to those already turned by the gospels, the servants. It is about the martyrs and the avenging of their martyrdom in the end times. The rapture, like the desolating sacrilege, is not directly addressed. The fourth chapter is a vision of the throne that continues throughout, so that the completion of the number of the saints or martyrs is a completion of the throne. The seals are of a different time scale than the trumpets, addressing centuries following the incarnation, up through the making of the martyrs seen in the fifth seal.

There is some conjunction of Jewish and Christian things foreseen, a re-grafting in of Israel. The Messiah will not be born in the end times, but is coming on the clouds, having already been born, died and resurrected. Israel may be set up to receive the false messiah, having missed the first incarnation, but will surely see the Messiah at the second coming, and then the two will agree. The two witnesses may refer not to individual prophets but, as the olive trees, to two bodies of the faithful, whether the Eastern and Western Churches or the Jewish and Christian. The two legs of the statue in the vision of Daniel correspond to the areas of the Eastern and Western Churches.

The twelfth chapter describes the incarnation and the consequent pursuit of the woman and her offspring, who are the Christians. This pursuit has led to the martyrs seen under the throne with the opening of the sixth seal. The worldwide earthquake destroys the present political orders, while the advances of civilization are retained, allowing after a profound silence for the emergence of the apocalyptic things concerning the Beast. The pursuit of the woman and her offspring is continued by the sea and land beasts of the thirteenth chapter, and provides the context. Meanwhile, there are survivors, and these gather on Mount Zion. The harvest and the winepress may be two different occurrences. The return is addressed in Chapters 14, 15 and 19, focusing on different aspects. The Beast is distinct from Babylon, and his kingdom is distinct. He attacks Babylon, and at the same time makes martyrs of the true offspring. The identity of Babylon is a mystery, but it is something like world empire, or the assumption made by the seven world empires, concluding with Rome and then the worldwide worship of the beast. The two books of Daniel and the Revelation together provide the Biblical apocalyptic teaching. Babylon is the whole of the statue seen by Daniel, named after its head. In the worst period of all human history, the beast will attack Babylon and make martyrs of the witnesses before the mark of the beast is required. This will continue in the martyrdom of what become the millennial saints: those who refuse the mark and are not conquered by the Beast. The extent of the world rule is not clear, since his control does not prevent the nations of the four corners of the world from gathering at Armageddon. Nor is it clear that the millennial reign of the saints is literal from the earthly point of view, though this does seem to be the most consistent reading. Babylon is contrasted with the woman that is the true Bride. The New Jerusalem is mystically identified with the body of the faithful, who have no church as we do now. No lamps are needed because the Lord is present. The marriage of the Bride and the Lamb is the most complete image of God in the scriptures, mystically including mankind in the throne. The harmony of the whole, lost from Eden, is restored in the union of God and His creation, through those not only created, but begotten, by Him and by the Bride. The saints even of this age are from this union, and are a foreshadowing or foretaste of the heavenly city. The new earth is like the former one in that there are nations. The story of their paying tribute indicates the difference, if the rod of iron indicates the similarity of the New Jerusalem to a world empire. The need for the rod of iron indicates the difference between the new condition and the simple imagination of perfection or of heaven, which remains the mystery that heaven has always been.

Aquinas on Coining

Has anyone yet essayed a principled response to the 1215 statement of St. Thomas Aquinas, cited still as the theoretical basis for the Inquisition? Thomas wrote that heresy was worse than the forgery of money, for which the penalty was already quite severe (Summa, II, Q xi; New Catechism, 1984, p. 221).

“They cannot touch me for coining: I am the king himself,” says Lear in his madness at Dover (Lear, IV, vi). Nature’s above art in that sense…” as he imagines giving his soldiers their impress money. Like the tyranny of the Roman emperors, the question could not even be safely addressed for about three to five centuries, and by that time had slipped by unnoticed too. The mad assertion is that the king, as the cause of convention, is the cause of value.

“It is an heretic that makes the fire, not she that burns in it,” says Shakespeare’s Paulina in A Winter’s Tale. This: human ignorance, is the problem, and in a word, we think the answer is the US freedom of religion, solving the problem that had plagued the West since Constantine’s Edict of Toleration turned to heresy hunting in the fourth century. So we replace Aquinas with Socrates at the head of our Academy, despite the clarity of the mind of St. Thomas. One wonders if Thomas might have amended or recanted, having seen what then unfolded when the Knights of the Crusades were turned on fellow Christians over theoretical immaturities. As we treat others, so it will be with us, and as George Mason and Lincoln relate, nations cannot be punished in the next life, and so are in this.

Milton, in Areopagita, portrays the practical problem: Censors are supposed to be employed to judge the work of those who have better things to do.