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New Left Review I/190, November-December 1991


Dimitris J. Kyrtatas

Revelation Revised

‘This is the Revelation given by God to Jesus Christ. It was given to him so that he might show his servants what must shortly happen.’ [1] Translation from The New English Bible, Oxford and Cambridge 1970. Thus commences the last book of the New Testament, the Revelation of John. A short prologue is followed by messages to seven churches in the Roman province of Asia, concerning proper religious and moral conduct. Then comes the largest section of the document, which consists mainly of prophetic visions and admonitions. Some of the visions are clearly drawn from Jewish prophetic and apocalyptic literature, most influential of which was the book of Daniel. But the seer seems to have added several ideas of his own, a product of his Christian outlook. The imagery includes seals which are opened one by one, angels who blow trumpets in turn, glimpses of future events, powers of darkness and heavenly beings. Revelation ends with confirmative remarks and blessings for those who adhere to the prophecy.

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