D B Davis <***@crcomp.net> wrote in news:***@crcomp.net, quoting
a website whose author(s) he didn't name; I haven't looked carefully
but suspect I won't find names beyond the corporate one, United
Post by D B Davis
The Apocalypse, or Revelation to John, the last book of the
Bible, is one of the most difficult to understand because
it abounds in unfamiliar and extravagant symbolism, which
at best appears unusual to the modern reader. Symbolic
language, however, is one of the chief characteristics of
apocalyptic literature, of which this book is an outstanding
example. Such literature enjoyed wide popularity in both
Jewish and Christian circles from ca. 200 B.C. to A.D. 200.
Ya know, scholars keep saying this, but I never have understood it.
Far as I know, the books of Revelation and Daniel have continued to
enjoy wide popularity *long* after A.D. 200. I bet they're still
being read today, in fact.
People kept *writing* apocalypses after A.D. 200. (I'd tell you to
see the apocalyptic volume of <The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha>,
edited by James Charlesworth, except that most library copies of
that volume have been stolen, because of course nobody reads
apocalypses after A.D. 200. ) What's more, other people kept
*copying* them. Most surviving apocalypses (except the Egyptian and
Mesopotamian analogues) reach us through the manuscript tradition.
I'm also not convinced by the distinction between apocalypses written
after 200 B.C. and things like Ezekiel written before then.
There seems to be this scholarly *thing* about grouping those four
centuries, and since the apocalypses we care most about were written
then (as were others, for example in the Nag Hammadi texts), that
group gets attached to apocalypses, but I don't think it works.
Apocalypses typically profess to impart previously unknown facts
about the cosmos, about the future, or both, which the author learned
from Beings Beyond Our Ken; the author usually narrates how this
learning came about (making the genre narrative, hence my interest),
and this narration is usually boring as all get-out. The cosmic
stuff is a great way to embellish your religion's universe, or maybe
writing it is a great way to obey the Scary Being who told you to,
but the prophecy has a hidden virtue: it's a great way to criticise
the king without being explicit. Given that, I'm prepared to believe
someone had to *invent* the apocalypse genre, but once all the pieces
had been put together (as I admit they aren't quite in Ezekiel), I
don't see any reason it would thereafter have gone out of style.
 I am not making this up. Far more libraries in the US own the
second volume of that set, the one that doesn't have apocalypses,
than still own volume I. The library I'm in has a copy of I - but
it has two copies of II.
Joe Bernstein <***@gmail.com>