MANY PEOPLE WOULD RATHER DIE THAN THINK; IN FACT, MOST DO. — BERTRAND RUSSELL

Revelation revisited

Illustration for John Milton’s “Paradise Lost“ by Gustave Doré, 1866.

Here is an intriguing look at the Book of Revelation that claims that the writer of the book, emphatically not John the Apostle, wasn’t writing about the end of the world, but rather about the collapse of the Roman empire, with Nero as the one stamped with the numerals 666.

I don’t know what John Milton’s personal interpretation of the Revelation might have been other than what he wrote in Paradise Lost, but it seems at least plausible to me that Milton, as ever, was onto something revolutionary.

In Paradise Lost, Satan, of course, is actually the Satan of religious lore, but Milton also established his character to symbolically represent Charles I, the king of England, and hell as the British monarch and empire at large. Students of British history well know, of course, that Milton was in favor of dethroning Charles I and supported republicanism, free speech and freedom of the press. In other words, he was well ahead of his time.

Again, I don’t know if a study has ever been undertaken, but what are the implications here if Milton, some 360 years ago, interpreted the Book of Revelation in the more modern sense, with the “end” coming not to the world, but to what was perceived as an evil, oppressive empire?

4 big myths of Book of Revelation – CNN Belief Blog – CNN.com Blogs.

[Image credit: Illustration for John Milton’s “Paradise Lost“ by Gustave Doré, 1866.]

About the Author

Jeremy Styron
Jeremy Styron
I am a newspaper editor, op-ed columnist and reporter working in the greater Knoxville area. This is a personal blog. Views expressed here are mine and mine alone.

2 Comments on "Revelation revisited"

  1. My cousin (an ex-military man, and religious type) is convinced god has spoken to him in his own reinterpretation of the book of revelation as a prophecy of a resurgence of communism, and a war to be fought in Europe sometime in the next decade. He reinterprets the whole shebang in terms of military command structures, tactical doctrine, and weapons from tanks to helicopters to nukes.

    It's a rather interesting take on the myth, and would make quite a good techno-thriller. Sadly, he seems to believe it to be divinely inspired truth…

  2. Jeremy Styron jeremystyron | April 2, 2012 at 11:08 am | Reply

    Alan,
    That is interesting indeed. So, does he have a doctrinal basis for that or he just thinks he's the only person on the planet that God has spoken to about this resurgence of communism?
    I've found that many believers read that book in political or military terms, the supposed "anti-Christ" being a world leader to bring in some kind of new world order or global empire or some tripe, although most don't seem to go quite as far as what you described.
    Thanks for reading.

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