By Christopher Burdon

The Apocalypse of John could be the main eye-catching and hazardous textual content in any scripture. This research seems at English responses to it in political pamphlets and scholarly exegesis, in poetry and preaching and visible paintings. those that got down to locate enduring which means within the ebook failed. but within the post-Christian re-writings of Revelation by way of Shelley and Blake, John's personal dynamic of showing involves existence, subverting the constructions of energy and examining outfitted at the visions of Patmos.

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6o David Barr is even more confident of the text's transforming power. )', he too uses the language of catharsis to claim that its transformation of symbols actually 'transforms reality' for its readers, in the way that Levi-Strauss saw myth doing: The liturgical recital of the Apocalypse becomes a real experience of the Kingdom of God .... This is no ephemeral experience. The hearers are decisively changed. They now live in another world. Persecution does not shock them back to reality. They live in a new reality in which lambs conquer and suffering rules.

The text resists its spiritualisation into some ethereal 'grammar' or 'geometry' and insists on returning its reader into the rhetoric and conflict of the material world. 53If music itself cannot ultimately escape time, a fortiori words cannot and in the case of the Apocalypse are not designed to. The failed attempt to read the book as straining towards a kind of music could be seen as providing evidence that the book cannot ultimately be treated in a formalist way as self-enclosed or fugal, a work that is its own meaning; or, to put it another way, that it is inescapably rhetorical.

Perhaps the former kept their tongues silent and their pens idle neither because of lack of knowledge nor because of political conservatism, but out of the religious sense that whatever mysteries are contained in the book's symbols and structures can not be represented diagramatically, discursively or historically. Examining the way the book was or was not interpreted under the impact first of the Enlightenment then (in subsequent chapters) of the upheavals in political and poetic consciousness and in biblical criticism at the end of the eighteenth century may help to determine whether there can be any appropriate exegetical criteria for the Apocalypse, or whether the biblical scholars would be better handing the book over to artists, poets, liturgists and (possibly) preachers.

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