Thursday, September 11, 2014

Armageddon redux

Premils read Rev 19-20:1-10 chronologically. Christ returns. Followed by a battle. Followed by the binding of Satan. Followed by the Millennium. Followed by another, more decisive battle. 

One prima facie problem with that deceptively straightforward reading is that both battles have their common background in the same battle in Ezk 38-39. John split a single battle into two separate battles–as if part B is the delayed effect of part A–then intercalated the Millennium. 

That raises the question of how we should understand the sequence of events. If John bifurcates one battle into two, then inserts the MIllennium between them, as a kind of buffer zone, is that still meant to be a linear series of events? Or is his flexibility in recasting the original scene an indication that the sequence is schematic rather than literal? Is the two-part battle a framing device to inset the Millennium? 

In theory, there are different ways to explain this: (i) It's possible that John began with Ezk 38-39, and reworked it. That would be literary. (ii) It's possible that God gave John the same vision that he gave Ezekiel, which John redacted to make room for an intervening Millennium (which John also envisioned). That would be editorial. (iii) And it's possible that God revealed a two-part battle, with a millennial intermezzo. Obviously, we're not in a position to reconstruct the original experience. 

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