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Multiple levels of interpretation

Multiple levels of interpretation

My problem with the argument that these texts in Revelation require a further level of fulfilment beyond the immediate historical context of the conflict with Rome is twofold.

First, I see nothing in the texts that necessitates this hermeneutical assumption. I do not hear John saying: This can be applied to Rome for now but actually there will be a bigger fulfilment of this prophecy in the remote future. What makes this multiple fulfilment argument a matter of exegesis and not mere speculation? I’m not persuaded by Peter’s argument that apocalyptic literature by its very nature invites multiple levels of interpretation in this way.

Secondly, it seems to me that in narrative terms the significance of the thousand year period is precisely that there will not be a repetition of the sort of challenge to Christ’s sovereignty that was represented by Roman imperialism. I made the point before (you appear not to have noticed it) that what John describes here is a unique (and therefore unrepeatable) victory over Caesar. This does not mean that the church cannot reuse the typology of the beast to describe later conflicts (cf. your allusion to Andrew of Caesarea), but I’m not sure that we can legitimately claim that this was part of the original meaning of Revelation.

I also questioned this before: where in Daniel do hills or mountains symbolize the kingdoms of the world (and not the kingdom of God)? You have in Isaiah and Micah the idea that the mountain of the Lord will be higher than the other hills, but this is a very different prophetic motif.

With regard to your comments about Victorinus: I don’t have a serious problem with a post AD 70 date for Revelation. I would rather think that the visions of judgment on Jerusalem are genuinely forward-looking rather than retrospective. I made the point earlier that Domitian was seen by some Roman authors as Nero redivivus.

Is Rome Babylon? By: Joel Richardson (34 replies) 27 May, 2006 - 02:46