Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Vampire hunters

Alan asked me to comment on Mealy's statement:

1. In traditional Augustinian amillennialism, the Millennium spans the entire church age or interadventual age. It is, however, illicit to take a single incident in a long narrative and stretch it to cover the entire plot (Rev 4-19).

2. A more recent version of amillennialism appeals to recapitulatory parallelism. I don't know the first scholar to use that analysis. Warfield uses that analysis. It was popularized by Hendriksen, in his classic, anti-Dispensational commentary. And that's developed by more recent amil commentators like Beale and Poythress. 

From what I can tell by the excerpt, Mealy is shadowboxing with that analysis. He doesn't think the two battle scenes (Rev 19-20) overlap. 

3. I do think Revelation has some overlapping scenes, although we need to avoid rigidly schematizing that feature.

4. The Apocalypse is a record of a vision or series of visions John had one day on Patmos. God showed him things in the vision. It's important to draw a conceptual distinction between:

i) Only shown something once

ii) Something happening only once

The fact that this is the only time John sees an incident doesn't necessarily mean this is a one-time incident. If he was only shown it happening on one occasion, that doesn't imply that it only happens once. Maybe it's an unrepeatable event, or maybe it's a repeatable kind of event that John saw just one time. Is the relationship between events in Revelation and the real world a one-to-one or one-to-many correspondence? 

5. The Apocalypse belongs to the narrative genre. The question is how the plot maps onto reality. Consider dream sequences. To some extent, Revelation is like a recurring dream or inescapable nightmare, where bad things keep happening. You think you put it behind you, but it's waiting for you around the next corner. It circles back to pounce. The plot in Revelation is characterized by alternation. 

6. What's the significance of Satan's binding? What narrative function does that serve? How does it correspond to reality?

It reminds me of a cinematic trope. In the horror genre, monsters like vampires, werewolves, and zombies personify a contagion. If they bite the victim, that turns the victim into one of them. So they multiply exponentially. This has science fiction counterparts with aliens that incubate a human host, then replace it. In real life, this is similar to parasitoid wasps–as well as rabies, where a rabid animal infects a human, making the human rabid. 

A variation on the vampire mythos is the master vampire who's the patriarch for a family tree of vampires. They all descend from him. He turned them directly or indirectly. If you kill the master vampire, all his descendants revert to human. If you can track down the progenitor, you don't need to destroy all his progeny, one-by-one. Kill multiple birds with one stake. 

Because these monsters are so contagious, public safety requires total eradication. A single surviving carrier will recreate an outbreak all over again. 

I think that's the point behind oscillating events in Rev 19-20. There are times and places in church history where Christians enjoy a respite from persecution. But that can lull them into a false sense of security. Because evil is infectious, like a communicable disease, you can never be sure if you put it behind you once and for all time. So you dare not drop your guard. Eventually, Satan and his minions are permanently quarantined, but you don't know ahead of time where you are in church history. 

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