Richard Bauckham III

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!

Richard Bauckham II

While satirizing the Anti-futurist reading of the Revelation, I neglected to address Mr. Bauckham. He is a wonder as a scholar, reader and writer. The Baptist review by Mr. Luter showed me to Mr. Bauckham’s other book, more on the literary and historical study of the Revelation than on the Theology, called The Climax of Prophesy. Just reading the Introduction, one can tell this is going to be some fun, catching up with the reading of this anti-futurist. I had things from his part in the Oxford Bible commentary especially in the section of my book on chapter one. He is showing me now, something about the seven angels and the relation of the throne scene to the unfolding judgments.

Mr. Bauckham is also alot of fun, having a story on his website about his bus ride home, encountering knickers and an Indian Holy man, for whom he offered to pray for free.

We do not have holy men in the Biblical tradition. This is something like the way that it is sometimes said that in the Greek, there is no Holy God (said by Strauss contrasting Socrates and Isaiah). But if we did, well, she showed him her knickers!

Richard Bauckham

While staying up all night to watch the record lows, and keep the shed cat happy and warm, I have been reading Richard Bauckham’s book on the theology of the Revelation. He is good for me, because he reads the book like the modern scholars do, as referring to the Roman empire in the time that John wrote, rather than some future political disaster. This is comforting, because then we do not have to worry that these things are occurring in our world. There is just a huge hiatus between the Roman emperors and “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And that third of the world destroyed, why, that’s just symbolic of the Roman empire, the nations at the four corners of the earth, just parts of the Roman empire surrounding Jerusalem as in 70 A. D., the whole apocalypse referring to those other people. The seventh trumpet has been blown, and Babylon fell somewhere early in the fifth century. The beheading of the martyrs, again symbolic of Roman persecution, as must be the mark of the Beast. The scroll and seals were open for the seven churches, and refer to the particular troubles predicted in the seven letters.

The anti-futurist reading makes sense of some things in the text which are otherwise difficult for me, like the inclusion of the seven churches in the gifts of the kingdom, and the fact that all the apostles seem too to have thought of the events as very imminent, in their own lifetimes. It is a good challenge to our reading to say just why it cannot be so. If I were not now doing the second manual index for yet another edition…I will address these things in a note, after I spend some time with his book.

The main reason we think the futurist reading to be true is the symbolic resemblance of things in the vision to things in the political theory and developments in the world. But it is also said that the gospel would be preached throughout the whole world, and then the end would come. But there is no way to demonstrate, for example, that the reading of the visions in the Revelation as referring to the end times future is false or is a misreading. The modern scholars simply assume this as a principle, because we are uncomfortable with so many futurists. We can say things like there has not been a universal rule, the nations have not gathered at Armageddon, no mark of the beast given, no nations from the four corners of the world, etc. But they will simply say these things are not really to be looked for, but rather, we were to look for Nero revived attacking Rome with the Parthians for troops. This we know because we know John was writing about his own times, and could not think beyond the Roman emperors then bothering the Christians.

Perhaps some simple math is in order: The Antichrist or Beast/False Prophet is to be the worst tyrant of all time. Hitler was worse than Nero. Therefore Nero is not the Beast or Antichrist.

Three foul spirits are to proceed from the mouth of the dragon, beast and false prophet, gathering the armies from the four corners, that were held back by the four winds. Nothing like the modern ideological tyrannies of fascism, communism, and now terrorist Islam, had ever been imagined in the world when John saw his vision.

You see, I should not stay up past 5 A. M. watching the weather!