Jump to content


Photo
* * - - - 3 votes

Is the kind of visionary revelation in John's "Apocalypse" continuing in the Orthodox Church today?

apocalypse revelations charismatics

  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#1 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 200 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 21 September 2015 - 10:16 PM

One of the main features in the charismatic movement is that they claim to have extreme, completely vivid and realistic or lengthy visions. Some of them I think bring to mind the book of Revelations, although I am not sure if even the charismatics generally have such extremely detailed visions. However, it seems like in the modern Orthodox church this is a rare phenomenon. I am not saying that any visions at all are nonexistant, but particularly the lengthy, extreme kind in the Pentecostal churches. For example, in the Orthodox church over the last few centuries there have been saints who have had visions of Jesus or the Theotokos and have even conversed with them and with angels. Nonetheless, the modern ones that I am familiar with don't seem to be as long and detailed as the Book of Revelations. However, please correct me if I am wrong about that.

 

So my first question is whether the kind of visionary revelation in John's "Apocalypse" is continuing in the Orthodox Church today.

 

My second question is whether John's apocalypse can be explained as literary that John consciously, voluntarily, intentionally, and directly thought out himself, or whether he actually and literally experienced what he claimed to have experienced. Namely, was John writing a parable about having an experience and visions, or did Jesus literally come to him and touch John, appearing to John looking as if an actual sword was coming out of his mouth, etc.

 

Revelations 1 describes this mix of an extreme vision and physical interaction:

 

12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:


In the beginning of the chapter, John says that this happened when he was "in the spirit" on the Lord's Day. The elements described like the menorah bring to mind the elements of the liturgy. Fr. Alexander Mileant (I think he became a bishop) suggested from those circumstantial facts that this occurred after the liturgy or in that context.

 

The reference to having a vision while "in the spirit" brings to mind Peter's reference about the Pentecostal speaking in tongues as the apostles being in the spirit, and about Paul's mention in Ephesians about being drunk in the spirit.

 

Fr. Tarazi (or at least this secondhand portrayal of his views) portrays the Book of Revelations as if it was deliberately thought out by its writer:

 

Seeing persecution begin to drive people away from the Faith, he wrote a searing commentary of apostasy and glorification of martyrdom (Revelation).

Apocalyptic literature was typically written in response to persecution. It was an attempt to exhort believers to remain true to their faith even at the cost of their own lives.
The seven letters to seven churches is merely a literary device. In reality the apocalypse is itself one letter to each and every church. John had to convince his readers that physical pain and suffering and death would be worth choosing when a normal, comfortable life was the alternative.


http://www.stgeorgeg...y by tarazi.pdf


I understand that the Book of Revelations can serve as a reaffirmation of hope and confidence in the face of persecution, however from this excerpt as if the writer of John's "Apocalypse", deliberately wrote Revelations in order to meet this need for reaffirmation. That is, it was not actually a matter of having a vision imposed on him in which he literally saw flaming swords, angels, heaven etc. Instead, it sounds like this excerpt sees it more as a parable written in an "Apocalyptic genre", somewhat like Dante's Divine Comedy, in which the Italian Durante degli Alighier proposed the narrative of himself being shown what heaven and hell were like.

 

According to conventional thinking, one of the proofs that someone was sincerely having a real vision and not just deliberately making something up is if they were undergoing persecution for it. In the case of the author of the "Apocalypse", he was exiled to the island of Patmos for his Christianity. So based on conventional thinking, wouldn't that be proof positive that his vision was a literal one in which he literally had visions of heaven, hell, angels, the New Jerusalem, etc.

 

However, the visions of the "Apocalypse" cover 22 chapters and they are often rather detailed. That would mean at least what, 30 minutes of visions? So did he have two visions - one with Jesus about the letters to the seven churches in chapter 1-3 and then another vision iin chapters 4-22? In that case it would mean that he would have had to have relied on an excellent, detailed, precise memory. Alternately, did he have a series of numerous visions that flowed together in a series of images and experiences like he described, and then after each one he recorded the vision?

 

Later, in the second half of the second century, a heresy arose called Montanism. The Montanists claimed to have major visions and they emphasized John's "Apocalypse". However, the Church did not accept the Montanists. One of the reasons, as I understand it, was that the Montanists had mistaken theological views. However, did the Church at some point propose that the Montanists might have been consciously imagining or inventing the visions that they claimed to have had?



#2 Phoebe K.

Phoebe K.

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 279 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 22 September 2015 - 12:06 PM

Firstly the occurrence of visions of any length are rare in Orthodox tradition, the fathers stay that they will not entirely disaper but will come increasingly rare as the end approaches as love grows cold and the amount of faith becomes less.  The saints through every age have and will receive visions, but in most cases we will never hear of them as in their humility they ether never mention them or summit them to their spiritual father and leave it at that.  This approach is the way which is encouraged by the fathers as it makes shore that we do fall into the trap of the enemy fooling us which it is easy to do.  If spectacular visions happen now we are likely never to hear of them.

 

We cannot say with certainty how what is described in the revelation of St John happened, the way I have been tort to read it as a description of the liturgy by Fr Andreas who was my catechist.

 

The church has always been coursous about visions as the Church as a whole knows how easily we can be deceived especially when we are still young spiritualy, hence the church says that receiving visions is not a necessity in out spirituality, but a rare gift given to those who are close to perfection.

 

From my own experience (I was involved in the edge of the charismatic movement for a while before I came into the Orthodox Church) I would say that much of what happens in those meetings dose not resemble worship as it described in the new testament let alone the worship of the Orthodox Church.  We know that in the last times many false prophets and false Christs will appear and deceive those who they can.  So we must be careful where we look and weigh everything against the holy troditon of the Church.



#3 Rdr Andreas

Rdr Andreas

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,032 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 22 September 2015 - 06:35 PM

What Phoebe says is right, if I may say so. H Smith poses two questions; we can address the first but the second can only be answered by reference to what the Holy Fathers of the Church say. In all matters, we cannot put forward our own opinions but in relation to the Book of Revelation, it is essential that we bear in mind what Archimandrite Irenee, the founder of this web site, said in a recent interview reported in pravoslavie.ru here http://www.pravoslav...glish/80648.htm namely that we can only reflect the voice of the Church.

 

In relation to the first question, Orthodox Christians must be very careful about visions and revelations. St Symeon the New Theologian was criticised in his time for being so bold as to relate his experiences of the uncreated light, and in our own time, Elder Sophrony of Essex was similarly criticised by some and accused of being in prelest (notably in Russia) for his book, We shall see him as He is. That is why we hear little or nothing about 'visions' and 'revelations' which may be not authentic. What we have from Spirit-bearing and God-seeing holy Fathers of all times and our own is what God knows we need. There is much we have from modern saints and elders - let us heed them and prepare ourselves.



#4 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 200 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 22 September 2015 - 10:05 PM

Thank you very much for your replies.

 

Are there any cases in the last, say, 300 years of such extreme visions as we see in John's Apocalypse?

 

I saw an alleged one by St. John of Kronstadt wherein he met St. Seraphim of Sarov that was also very long and detailed, but I am not sure if that account is real or is given much widespread regard in our church.



#5 Phoebe K.

Phoebe K.

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 279 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 22 September 2015 - 11:04 PM

As I said before if there were large vision in recent times the laity are unlikely to have been informed, in fact it is unlikely that anyone other than the person who had it and their spiritual father will have known about it.  It is increadaly rare for any vision to be accepted as genuine by the church, a few have been through the whole of the history of the Church mostly from those who were already known to be very close to the Lord and only at the descression of the Church for the benefit of the people of the Church.

 

From my readings of the saints I do not know of many visions being admitted to at all of any length.

 

Visions are not a key part of the spiritual life in the Orthodox church so not a key concern when recording the lives of saints, a modal for living we can draw from to help us in our own lives.



#6 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 200 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 23 September 2015 - 02:21 AM

The Orthodox Church's belief about the three days after the death of a believer is based in part on a revelation from an angel by St. Makarios in the 4th century. I think that his vision was not nearly as lengthy as St. John's Apocalypse though.



#7 Kosta

Kosta

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,517 posts

Posted 23 September 2015 - 05:53 AM

John was in a semi-trance when he received his vision in a cave. A scribe was there to write down what was being dictated to him. Some of the language was symbolic and figurative other times the scribe wrote down what seemed like literal experiences. St Gregory of Nazianzen did believe John 'walked with Christ' in his revelation. As Paul said of one of his own experiences, he could not tell whether he was in the body or out of the body. Thus such an experience can be literal even though the body remains within space and time. 

 

Lengthy revelations no longer take place in the Church. The Apostles have already handed down everything as they have received it (Jude 3), there is nothing more to add. All sensationalistic visions ceased being accepted by the Church after the montanist heresy. Prophets and visions have survived to our own day but authentic visions do not pronounce anything new whether christological or other dogmas. As the Creed says, 'Who spoke through the prophets in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church".  The Spirit does not speak apart from the collective conscience of the Church. Prophecies and visions are to exhort the faithful during a persecution and give them hope,  to reveal the relics of a healing saint, to anounce a prophecy that may shortly come to pass.


Edited by Kosta, 23 September 2015 - 05:55 AM.


#8 Rdr Andreas

Rdr Andreas

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,032 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 23 September 2015 - 01:27 PM

An example of the revelation by a saint of the place of his relics is that of St Raphael in 1959 in Mytilene (Lesbos) thus giving rise to the veneration of SS Raphael, Nikolaos and Irene.



#9 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 200 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 23 September 2015 - 07:06 PM

I appreciate your answers very much and am still thinking about them.

I can't think of any Orthodox visionary experiences so lengthy and detailed as those in the Apocalypse, but it's true that theoretically we don't know if they have happened someplace, and I don't think that the Orthodox Church really has a problem with it per se. Back in the early centuries even the Christians weren't sure if they should approve of the Apocalypse. It's really unusual in Orthodox tradition since the Biblical era for there to be such a long visionary experience that is Church-approved as far as I can tell. It's true that the Church seems to discourage emphasizing them or spreading accounts of such detailed, long, extreme visions, which is not to say all modern visions. I just can't think of any that match those qualities, although I really wish I could.

 

At the same time, if  accept that the Apocalypse was deliberately thought out by its writer, then it creates a problem for me. Fr. Tarazi and not a few other Orthodox think that it was consciously composed. But how could you prove that it was probably so? The claims in it, like Jesus arriving and touching John with his hand, a sword coming out of His mouth, not to mention the multitude of extreme images like a city actually coming down from the sky makes it sound normally unlikely, but then, we are dealing with a visionary experience, so it can't be ruled out on that basis. You could ask about the science of how his mind would receive such a forceful, unrealistic experience unless he was dreaming or on narcotics, but then one can reply that miracles happen, and so theoretically that could mean a vision too. You could point out that this was 22 chapters of visions and say that visions practically never happen for such a long time; but theoretically they could.

 

For me perhaps the most incredible thing is that John was able to so precisely remember and then record all the detailed statements made, particularly those in the letters to the seven churches, throughout his 22 chapters. Even in real life we have a hard time remembering people's words, but to remember those of a 30 minute conversation seems difficult even for someone 15 to 50 years old. And it's not like in the letters to the seven churches John probably forget much, because they all seem to follow the same format. That leaves the possibility that John also had a miraculous memory and was able to record in such length and detail his visions.

 

Rationally speaking, you can say that these gifts ceased in the 2nd century about the time the Montanists were rejected, and then give reasons like there being less holiness today or less need for it today. But it's hard to say that the idol worshiping and cruel Romans were really more holy than, say, 18th century Europe or early 20th century America, or that our saints of the last 300 years have not been as holy as the first century ones. I would usually expect that gifts of the Spirit that happened in the late 1st century should still be around, although I suppose there can be an intervening event. Perhaps the apostles were just uniquely and extremely gifted in their abilities such as other saints generally haven't been.

The alternative that John knowingly composed the Apocalypse is more uncomfortable for me. It seems like if he did that, then the other visions of Christ and the claims of what the resurrected Christ told the apostles could have been deliberately composed by them too. The Apocalypse, at face value, makes it sound like Christ actually showed up and physically touched John, and then John actually had lengthy extreme visions. In the gospels we also read extreme accounts of physical events, although in the Apocalypse most of what we read is a vision, while in the gospels what we read is portrayed as real life. But nonetheless, if John would have created an account of visions and portrayed it as a real set of visions, then it seems like he and the other apostles could have done the same things for the other extreme miracles that they depicted in the New Testament.

 

I am not concluding that the New Testament events and miracles were wholly made up, it just seems to me like there are major problems, doubts, and discomfort that this issue causes me. I am not sure what to do about that.



#10 Deacon John Martin

Deacon John Martin

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 123 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 24 September 2015 - 03:32 PM

Fr. Paul Tarazi is not considered an Orthodox authority; in fact, some consider him a heretic.

 

Based on your posting history, I think you have these “major problems, doubts, and discomfort” because you are reasoning from faulty premises and coming to wrong conclusions. For example, St. John writing the Apocalypse in order to encourage Christians under persecution does not mean that he made up his revelations, but wrote a narrative of his revelatory experience with the aim of encouraging others.

 

Also, you are approaching holy mysteries with your rational mind, which is problematic because we know the mysteries through the intuitive mind or the nous, which can be clouded by our passions. Trying to figure out such things with your reasoning brain will cause you to go mad. Although we can know about something, to truly understand it requires a deeper participation in the life of the Church. I have no idea what your spiritual/inner life is like, so I can’t make a judgement there. I do recommend that you take a break (for a little while) from worrying about these matters and read something else.

 

Moreover, you should talk to a priest if you have a crisis of faith, who would probably be better equipped to help you than random Internet strangers.



#11 Rdr Andreas

Rdr Andreas

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,032 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 24 September 2015 - 05:43 PM

I find myself in broad agreement with John Martin. The Book of Revelation is not read in church, and that should tell us something. I would suggest that Revelation should only be studied with the blessing and guidance of one's spiritual father.



#12 Lakis Papas

Lakis Papas

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 617 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 27 September 2015 - 06:10 PM

The legacy of Christianity is hidden from wise man. It is apocalyptic to simple man.

The poetic language of Apocalypse is addressing our hearts. It is full of images reflected in the mind by non linguistic expressions.

Edited by Lakis Papas, 27 September 2015 - 06:13 PM.


#13 Lakis Papas

Lakis Papas

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 617 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 27 September 2015 - 09:53 PM

Some paintings from "The Monastery of Dionysiou" - the cyclus of the Apocalypse of John, shown in 21 scenes, painted between 1560 and 1564 : 

 

http://athosweblog.c...-1-day-2-nr-12/

http://athosweblog.c...-2-day-2-nr-13/

http://athosweblog.c...-3-day-2-nr-14/

http://athosweblog.c...-4-day-2-nr-15/

http://athosweblog.c...-5-day-2-nr-16/

 

http://www.corbisima...-world-heritage


Edited by Lakis Papas, 27 September 2015 - 09:59 PM.


#14 Lakis Papas

Lakis Papas

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 617 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 27 September 2015 - 10:58 PM

The revelation is about the disclosure of the future. It is not a narration of the future.
 
The Revelation does not expose the future in chronological order, but repeats the same things, but in a different way in each one of three cycles. The first round is of the seven seals, the second of the seven trumpets and the third of the seven bottles. What is described in seven seals is repeated in the seven trumpets, but in an augmented way. And what is described in the seven trumpets is repeated in an augmented and brighter way in the seven bottles.
 
John the Evangelist did not described the events in detail, but under symbolism. Sometimes, God forbids him to write those disclosed. John takes a general look until the end of the world and describes the events in the third round of the seven bottles.
 
Everything described in Revelation will be fulfilled literally in their time. The purpose of the prophetic book is not to satisfy the curiosity of people, but to stimulate the faith of believers of different generations in the difficult times of the persecutions. The Revelation prepares believers for persecution, prepares them to be ready to suffer, so not to lose their faith, but to defeat the ruler of this world of darkness.
 
Also, the Revelation is written in a poetic way. Thus, Revelation ultimately appears as an epic of Christian hope. What Picasso did in Guernica is similar to what St John did in Revelation: present reality in the form of images with powerful transcendent symbolism. St. John literally builds a new writing language to speak in a way that is fundamentally anti-realistic and anti-narrative. The symbols of Revelation are not meant to be photographs of objective facts. Many of the scenes can not be placed on canvas or movie screen, but even can not be placed either on the screen of the mind.
 
St. Jonh said (Revelation 1:3) Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.


#15 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 200 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 23 October 2015 - 01:24 AM

Dear Kosta,

 

You proposed a practical way that the revelation could be recorded:

John was in a semi-trance when he received his vision in a cave. A scribe was there to write down what was being dictated to him.

 

In Revelations 1-2, Jesus appears to John and says to him directly: "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; ...Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; ...And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write..."

It seems like this circumstance suggests a direct instruction to John to write, rather than to repeat it narratively to a scribe.

 


 

You wrote:

Some of the language was symbolic and figurative other times the scribe wrote down what seemed like literal experiences.

I think many times there is symbolic meaning, as in the "beast" and "Babylon". When you say that the scribe other times wrote down literal experiences, do you mean that John sometimes did not literally envision the images he described and only meant them literally? For example, do you mean that if he mentioned seeing a sword coming out of Jesus' mouth that he might not have actually seen it, but that John said that he did in order to express a poetic figure or symbol?

 

You wrote:

Lengthy revelations no longer take place in the Church.

Is there anything in our Tradition that says this explicitly? Jude 3 says to "contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people." So you are right that we have the catholic faith, the whole faith entrusted to the people. But I think that at least by itself doesn't necessarily mean that there won't be more lengthy visions in the future.

 

But you could be right, because offhand I cannot think of any such lengthy visions from the last 1500 years or so that our church teaches.


Edited by H. Smith, 23 October 2015 - 01:25 AM.


#16 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 200 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 23 October 2015 - 02:59 AM

An example of the revelation by a saint of the place of his relics is that of St Raphael in 1959 in Mytilene (Lesbos) thus giving rise to the veneration of SS Raphael, Nikolaos and Irene.

Reader Andreas,

 

This is an interesting story: "That July 3, workers found the holy relics of St. Raphael as they cleared rubble, and shortly thereafter St. Raphael, along with Sts. Nicholas and Irene, started appearing to many Lesvos residents and told them the stories of their lives."
https://en.wikipedia...phael_of_Lesvos

 

In the secular world, this would probably be seen as a case of paranormal ghosts. I think that the story of these saints' appearances is probably true.

The story of St John's visions on Patmos is more extreme, since Jesus has a sword of fire come from his mouth, and later St. John has about 18 chapters of extreme, detailed visions of the apocalypse, including the manifestation of a New Jerusalem, the Beast, the apocalyptic heavenly battle, etc.



#17 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 200 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 23 October 2015 - 04:59 AM

Fr. Paul Tarazi is not considered an Orthodox authority; in fact, some consider him a heretic.

 

Based on your posting history, I think you have these “major problems, doubts, and discomfort” because you are reasoning from faulty premises and coming to wrong conclusions. For example, St. John writing the Apocalypse in order to encourage Christians under persecution does not mean that he made up his revelations, but wrote a narrative of his revelatory experience with the aim of encouraging others.

 

Dear John,

You could be right that the premises I have are faulty. Otherwise perhaps my conclusions would be much more certain. Rather than having doubts, perhaps I would have a solid "Yes" or "No" to such questions, as Jesus said of one of the churches in Revelations 3: "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot."

 

As for my reasoning of Fr. Tarazi's comment on the reason for St. John writing Revelations, it was as follows: In Revelations, St. John says that Jesus appeared to him and commanded him: "Write the things which thou hast seen... Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write...", thereupon dictating to St. John the letters to the churches. In that situation, an apostle who was given direct orders by Jesus to write these things would have as his purpose for writing them that Jesus Himself gave those instructions. In that case, the narration of the Book of Revelations would be the fulfillment of a direct instruction by Jesus to write the book. It would not have been a case of St. John seeing the persecution of Christians and then making his own decision to write Revelations as his own reaction to the persecution. It would not have been written because John "had to convince his readers that physical pain" was worth keeping the faith.

 

If you see your friends undergoing hardship, and then your elder comes to dictate a letter to your friends to help them spiritually (like the letters to the seven churches), the reason you transcribe your letter is because you are obeying your elder, not because you decided to exhort your friends. The letter is one in which your elder convinces your friends, not one in which you convince your friends.

 

Second, you are right about the importance of approaching mysteries through intuition. It's important to use our faculties like love and compassion and the heart when approaching our spirituality, when you say:

Also, you are approaching holy mysteries with your rational mind, which is problematic because we know the mysteries through the intuitive mind or the nous, which can be clouded by our passions. Trying to figure out such things with your reasoning brain will cause you to go mad. Although we can know about something, to truly understand it requires a deeper participation in the life of the Church.

Some Truths like the existence of God and the soul may not be provable using the limitations of the material world and its finite logic. Jesus and the events of the gospels however are not just philosophies or supernatural, immaterial beings, but were physical beings within time and space. And thus when thinking about them, it seems to me like rational thinking has a value too. I don't find belief in Jesus, the Incarnation, or Trinitarianism to be so "illogical".

 

The issue is rather that I am a rational person too, and so when I think about physical events in time and space, then my normal approach includes critical thinking. For example, if a group of Christians tell me that they saw angles, then although I might like and trust them, I would tend to think critically about how likely their story was. It's not as if I would just rule them out though. And so when it comes to the gospels, I have the same kind of mental process. I am not sure what to do about that, John.

 

I have no idea what your spiritual/inner life is like, so I can’t make a judgement there. I do recommend that you take a break (for a little while) from worrying about these matters and read something else.

 

Moreover, you should talk to a priest if you have a crisis of faith, who would probably be better equipped to help you than random Internet strangers.

I think this is good advice. It is something I do talk with clergy about. I appreciate it when they do give me advice. One of them suggested reading Biblical commentaries, while another said he could understand and sympathize with my difficulty there, because he had some issues as a Protestant coming to Orthodoxy decades ago. But we agree that Orthodoxy matches the teachings of the early church. I also appreciate your writing here on Monachos.



#18 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 200 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 23 October 2015 - 05:21 AM

Lakis,

When you write:

Also, the Revelation is written in a poetic way. Thus, Revelation ultimately appears as an epic of Christian hope. What Picasso did in Guernica is similar to what St John did in Revelation: present reality in the form of images with powerful transcendent symbolism. St. John literally builds a new writing language to speak in a way that is fundamentally anti-realistic and anti-narrative. The symbols of Revelation are not meant to be photographs of objective facts. Many of the scenes can not be placed on canvas or movie screen, but even can not be placed either on the screen of the mind.

Are you saying that John did not literally have visions of many of the things he claimed he saw, but that sometimes he was only using symbolism to write in an anti-realistic way? So when John says in the beginning of Revelations that Jesus appeared to him in the midst of a menorah and had a sword coming out of his mouth, that maybe John did not literally envision a literal sword, but only wrote that as a way to symbolize the power that John felt in Jesus' words. But then it becomes unclear how much of Revelations was an actual vision or literal experience by John and how much of it was a series of symbols thought up by John himself.



#19 Kosta

Kosta

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,517 posts

Posted 23 October 2015 - 07:25 AM


 


You proposed a practical way that the revelation could be recorded:

 

In Revelations 1-2, Jesus appears to John and says to him directly: "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; ...Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; ...And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write..."

It seems like this circumstance suggests a direct instruction to John to write, rather than to repeat it narratively to a scribe.

 

There is no right or wrong answer as none of us were there. How well did John speak and write the greek language? We know in his gospel he used scribes even while the scribes says he wrote the contents (See John 21.24).

 On Patmos there is a legend that the triple fissure cracks in the cave where John lived and prayed at, is where the voice and sounds emanated from (Rev 1.10).

 

According to a small phrase from Gregory Nazianzen in his canonical list of scriptural books, he refers to St. John as the one "who walked in the heavens". This is an apparent reference to Revelation  4.1. In this instance St Gregory is asserting that John the evangelist had the same exact experience that St Paul had in 2Cor 12.1:3:

 

It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.


 


You wrote:

I think many times there is symbolic meaning, as in the "beast" and "Babylon". When you say that the scribe other times wrote down literal experiences, do you mean that John sometimes did not literally envision the images he described and only meant them literally? For example, do you mean that if he mentioned seeing a sword coming out of Jesus' mouth that he might not have actually seen it, but that John said that he did in order to express a poetic figure or symbol?

 

 

As you can see from Paul's explanation above, these were inexpressible words and visions. If you lived 500 years ago how would you explain a jet fighter dropping bombs? Perhaps a bird laying eggs as it flew. Its all imagery as Lakis and even St Paul said which is difficult to even utter . The sword coming out of his mouth has always been interpreted as the gospel being preached which either saves the repentant or condemns the unbelievers. 


You wrote:

Is there anything in our Tradition that says this explicitly? Jude 3 says to "contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people." So you are right that we have the catholic faith, the whole faith entrusted to the people. But I think that at least by itself doesn't necessarily mean that there won't be more lengthy visions in the future.

 

Well I gave you a short quote of St Gregory Nazianzen as he recounted which of John's writings are canonical. That is his gospel and three epistles. Even though St Gregory referenced John using an allusion from the Apocalypse:

 

"Now Matthew wrote the marvelous works of Christ to the Hebrews, and Mark to Italy, Luke to the Greeks, and John the great preacher, walker of the heavens, to all" Yet St Gregory completely omitted the book of Revelation from his list. St Gregory quotes from Revelation in some of his writings yet when it came to the canonical books of the NT he completely left it out with the following warning:

"And Jude is the seventh. You have them all. And if there be any outside these, they are not genuine".  Truly only the canonical books are read in Church and when many in the early church promoted chiliasm basing it on Rev 20, it was rejected. It was only after chiliasm died out that the book of Revelation was received universally in the east 500 years later. 

 

But you could be right, because offhand I cannot think of any such lengthy visions from the last 1500 years or so that our church teaches.

Any lengthy revelation ended due to the Montanists.  They were the last group that made some traction early on but eventually the local churches dismissed then as demonic. No different that Vasoula Ryden, same evil spirit but it still took each church many years to condemn her. 


Edited by Kosta, 23 October 2015 - 07:26 AM.


#20 H. Smith

H. Smith

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 200 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 26 October 2015 - 06:42 PM

Kosta!

 

And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write..."

It seems like this circumstance suggests a direct instruction to John to write, rather than to repeat it narratively to a scribe.

 


There is no right or wrong answer as none of us were there. How well did John speak and write the greek language? We know in his gospel he used scribes even while the scribes says he wrote the contents (See John 21.24).

I think that there was some defect or weakness in his Greek, and that John's Gospel has been edited by later editors. This is a common view by scholars. It appears that both Revelation and the Gospel were originally in Aramaic or at least written in Greek by an Aramaic writer. How do you know that "in his gospel he used scribes", as opposed to scribes editing it decades after he wrote it?
John 21:24 says "This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true." With the word "We", it implies the community around the apostle. It looks like chapter 21, the Gospel's final chapter, is a later addition that is a narrative by one of the apostles that was later edited by those scribes. This is a frequent view among scholars today as well.

In our Tradition, his Revelation was written down by a scribe, one of the 70 apostles, named Prochorus, but I don't know when that tradition about Prochorus was created or first recorded. Further, there appears to be much less Greek grammar corrections made in the Greek text of Revelation. If the author could write at least poorly in Greek, a Greek scribe would not have been necessary to compose it.
 

 

 

According to a small phrase from Gregory Nazianzen in his canonical list of scriptural books, he refers to St. John as the one "who walked in the heavens". This is an apparent reference to Revelation  4.1. In this instance St Gregory is asserting that John the evangelist had the same exact experience that St Paul had in 2Cor 12.1:3:

 

It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.


 

This is interesting. In Revelations 4, John sees the doors in heaven inviting him and then is caught in the spirit, suggesting that his trance-like or supernatural mental state began in the chapter after already seeing those doors. So is the text presenting it as if the doors were physical? That would be reading too much into the text, I think.
It's also an interesting parallel that you point out to Paul's claim about a man caught up in heaven. I don't know how we could backdate John's vision in Rev. 4 to before St. Paul's letter, unless John in Patmos was recounting a past experience. So it seems they would be talking about two different experiences. How do we know Paul was talking about his own experience in Paradise?

 

 

 

I think many times there is symbolic meaning, as in the "beast" and "Babylon". When you say that the scribe other times wrote down literal
experiences, do you mean that John sometimes did not literally envision the images he described and only meant them literally? For example, do you mean that if he mentioned seeing a sword coming out of Jesus' mouth that he might not have actually seen it, but that John said that he did in order to express a poetic figure or symbol?

As you can see from Paul's explanation above, these were inexpressible words and visions. If you lived 500 years ago how would you explain a jet fighter dropping bombs? Perhaps a bird laying eggs as it flew. Its all imagery as Lakis and even St Paul said which is difficult to even utter . The sword coming out of his mouth has always been interpreted as the gospel being preached which either saves the repentant or condemns the unbelievers. 

OK, so in your view, the symbolic things were his way of describing things that he literally saw, like calling planes "birds". When he said that he saw a man with a sword coming out of his mouth, I understand how the sword could symbolize the power of Jesus' message, the gospel. however, taken at face value, John says that he has a vision where he sees a sword coming out of Jesus' mouth. To interpret this as purely a metaphor for the gospel, rather than an actual sword vision, would call into question how many other parts of Revelation were only metaphors, rather than actual visions.

 

 

 

 

Well I gave you a short quote of St Gregory Nazianzen as he recounted which of John's writings are canonical. That is his gospel and three epistles. Even though St Gregory referenced John using an allusion from the Apocalypse:

 

"Now Matthew wrote the marvelous works of Christ to the Hebrews, and Mark to Italy, Luke to the Greeks, and John the great preacher, walker of the heavens, to all" Yet St Gregory completely omitted the book of Revelation from his list. St Gregory quotes from Revelation in some of his writings yet when it came to the canonical books of the NT he completely left it out with the following warning:

"And Jude is the seventh. You have them all. And if there be any outside these, they are not genuine".  Truly only the canonical books are read in Church and when many in the early church promoted chiliasm basing it on Rev 20, it was rejected. It was only after chiliasm died out that the book of Revelation was received universally in the east 500 years later. 

First, by saying that Jude is the seventh NT book, doesn't it exclude other NT books besides Revelation, like the other Epistles (James', Paul's, Acts, James', John's Epistles)?

If Revelation was excluded from the Bible by St. Gregory, and other works like Revelation are "not genuine" for St. Gregory, then it's confusing why he would quote from Revelations like you said.

But more importantly, even if the Bible's divinely inspired writings ended either at Revelations or at the books listed by St. Gregory, what is to say that there would not be further divine visions? Just because miracles and visions occurred after those books were composed doesn't mean they didn't happen.

 

 

Any lengthy revelation ended due to the Montanists.  They were the last group that made some traction early on but eventually the local churches dismissed then as demonic. No different that Vasoula Ryden, same evil spirit but it still took each church many years to condemn her. 

 

I don't know of similar extraordinary revelatory visions after St. John's, and it's true that the Church rejected the Montanists' teachings. But I don't know why this means that nothing similar actually happened after the time of the Montanists.

 

I don't believe in Vassoula's visions and think she made them up, because eg. her handwriting and spelling mistakes are the same as that allegedly performed by the spirits. It's very weird though that a woman would intentionally invent vision stories to try to deceive millions of people. I have trouble understanding the thinking of such a deceiver. Doesn't the deceiver really believe in God, and she does, why would she knowingly deceive people so intensely about this? Maybe she herself was delusional? Perhaps she intentionally tried to confuse herself mentally like the Pentecostals prompt themselves to perform glossolalia?


Edited by H. Smith, 26 October 2015 - 06:43 PM.





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users