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Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Revelation: Structure of the Book

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

10. The order of the book has been variously disputed. One linked history, drawn in a continuous series from beginning to end, it does not have; neither is the thread uninterrupted, but doubled back several times, in which distinct pericopes represent the same, except that the ἐπεισόδια, parenthetical additions, repeatedly render some part of the Prophecy more illustrious. Some Visions are universal; others, particular.

Concerning the order of the book it is variously disputed. That one linked history of the Church from its beginning to end is extended in a continuous series, there are not wanting those that would affirm. Among whom Alcasar, and of our men the Most Illustrious Brightman[1] and Cluverus, register their names. But already of old Saint Augustine, City of God, book XX, chapter 17, rightly observed, that in this book the same things are repeated many times, in such a way that it appears to say one and another thing, although it is found upon investigation to say these same things in one and another manner; and so diverse visions in varied types represent the same period of Ecclesiastical History. An evident argument of this is that often repeated description of final things, which by no anticipation, but in a direct succession of the history, is generally subjoined to the individual visions. Which is an altogether certain sign that the Apocalypse is not a single thread continued through the whole book, but one repeated several times, as it were, in which distinct pericopes represent the same thing. Except that the ἐπεισόδια, parenthetical additions, exhibit in a new way some more illustrious part of the Prophecy. Nevertheless, the same things are said in diverse ways, in such a way that the prior visions are generally more obscure, and the latter lend a clearer light to the darkness of the former. For example, the opening of the seven seals appears obscure in the second vision. But, in the third vision, the seven trumpets, each subordinated to its own seal, especially the latter five, concerning the great stars falling from heaven to earth, concerning the locusts tormenting but not killing men, concerning the armies of the four Angels of Euphrates, lend extraordinary light to the seals. Thus the measuring of the Temple, and the Prophecy of the two witnesses, appear more obscure; but by the fourth vision of the three Angels preaching the Gospel against Antichrist they are made clearer. The history of the Beast, less clear in Revelation 11 and 13, is made clearer in Revelation 17. The last things are adumbrated more obscurely at the end of the first visions, more clearly at the end of the latter visions. Moreover, the same things are said one and another way, not that the same individual events are many times repeated, but that the same period is represented time and again according to some and other more notable histories and in even clearer types. Finally, all the visions describe the same Ecclesiastical history, yet not all the visions the whole history, but some the whole, but others certain intervals. Whence some visions are universal, comprehending the entire history of the whole Church from beginning to end; which very visions are to be divided by their periods, which the Most Illustrious Pareus makes four, some fewer, others more (with little difference, since the same thing might be divided into a few greater, or more lesser); in which reckoning especially are the visions of the seals, the trumpets, the woman in labor, the Dragon bound and loosed: others are particular, like the fifth concerning the seven vials of the last plagues, and the sixth of the judgment of the great harlot, the destruction of Babylon, and the ruin of Antichrist. I considered these things concerning the order of the Apocalypse, observed by Saint Augustine, and by more recent men, Bibliander, Bullinger, Nicolas Colladon,[2] and others; and drawn out at greater length by the Celebrated Pareus: as worthy of compression, and representation to the student of the Apocalypse.

[1] Thomas Brightman (1562-1607) was educated at Queen’s College, Cambridge. He served as Rector of Hawnes, Bedfordshire. He was a Puritan divine of some reputation for learning and piety. He wrote A Revelation of the Apocalypse. [2] Nicolas Colladon (c. 1530-1586) was a French Reformed theologian, serving as Professor of Theology at Geneva (1562-1571), and then at Lausanne (1572-1586). He wrote Methodum facillimam ad explicationem sacrosanctæ apocalypseos Joannis Theologi.

Dr. Dilday's Lecture: "Revelation, Part 4"

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