The Apocalypse in England: Revelation Unravelling, 1700–1834 by Christopher Burdon (auth.)

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By Christopher Burdon (auth.)

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What he sees is a series of visions visions bizarre, vivid and memorable, from the first sight of the 'one like the Son of Man' to the conclusion in the new Jerusalem. The temporal or narrative axis is disjointed, but the spatial or visual one seems constant: within it the action moves between heaven, earth and the abyss, with the seer receiving revelations focused on each plane, whether he himself is depicted as standing on earth or penetrating the 'open door' into heaven. The visions, filled with colours, jewels, shapes and measurings, are less like a moving picture than 'stills', as Farrer puts it - juxtaposed rather than leading into one another within a coherent narrative.

3 John Foxe's use of the Apocalypse in his very widely read Acts and Monuments (1563, with further editions in 1570, 1576 and 1583) was also fairly general. But in his late, uncompleted commentary Eicasmi seu meditationes in sacram Apocalypsin (1587) Foxe abandoned 'the pattern of particular and universal fulfilments ... 4 Luther's identification of the Beast and Antichrist with the Pope is now taken for granted, and in Foxe's full survey of world and church history up to the 'events' of Rev 17 there is a special role for England as for other European nations in the providence of God revealed to John.

A book eaten by the seer in chapter 10 is the source of further prophesying and writing (10:11; 11:1). And it is on the basis of what is written in books that the dead are judged (20:12; 21:27). 56 If in some 26 The Apocalypse in England sense the book John writes is held to be a digestion or transcription of this heavenly book, then it is presented as far more than a record of visions or a prophetic exhortation or an exegetical meditation, though it does incorporate all three. It is laid before the reader as the revelation of (or from) Jesus Christ, that is, as the word of God (19:13).

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