The Purpose of the Work
The “Symbols of the Apocalypse” is a work that has been in progress for over fifty years. Conceived in the mind of a young theologian, it has grown over the years to seven volumes that approach the work of the Prophet John from a multitude of perspectives in the hope of providing a definitive interpretation of the prophecy. The subject matter that it contains has been described as “massive’, “diverse” and “difficult” by an old comrade who proof read the manuscript. I plead guilty on all these counts. But the Apocalypse itself can only be described as “massive, “diverse” and “difficult”. It is full of secret symbols, arcane numerology, ancient Old Testament motifs, and pre-Christian mythology, all of which provide deep and difficult insights into human psychology. In a word, it is a book that must be studied rather than read. In the course of our own study we concluded that the major themes of the Apocalypse were so misunderstood that it would be necessary to present them to the reader in an introductory volume. Hence the present work, which we have modeled on John’s own introduction to the prophecy. The manner in which we have presented the material may, at first, appear complex to the reader for we have attempted to weave the strands of our thoughts on many subjects into the fabric of our commentary on the text. If we have, on occasion, taken these thoughts farther than the Prophet intended, we have done so in order to emphasize their great importance and the tremendous implications of John’s visions.
The Apocalypse as Literature
The Apocalypse is a literary masterpiece that has dramatically influenced Western Culture, almost from the moment it was written. It is undoubtedly the most influential book in the New Testament, and its theological concepts have exerted enormous power over our civilization during the past two millenniums. A large part of this prestige is due to the literary merits of the apocalypse. The works of Homer, Virgil, Dante, and even the great Milton, are dwarfed by the visions of the Prophet. Clothed in powerful poetic imagery, John’s “Revelation” is a literary work of art that can hold its own in any company. Our commentaries seriously consider, and lay great emphasis upon the importance of the Apocalypse as literature.
Mysterious Numbers and Secret Symbols
One of the most important facets of the apocalypse lies in its structure. It is based upon an unbelievably complex mixture of numbers, symbols, and myths, all of which lead the reader to layer after layer of meaning. Our commentary examines the meaning of Numerology in detail, and considers ideas on the subject from the time Pythagoras to that of Schwaller de Lubicz, every number in the Apocalypse – from 1 to 7 to 666 – is examined carefully. But the most important subject of all is Symbolism for we cannot understand the work if we fail to understand the symbols. The Apocalypse is a book that reeks of symbols. One cannot understand the message of the book without understanding the meaning of the symbols. Although this subject is both vast and arcane we have attempted to introduce several fundamental ideas about symbols to the reader. In the course of our commentary we have included material regarding the origin, nature, and development of the symbols, and hope to explore the subject further in our future commentaries on the Book of Revelation. Perhaps, in time, we will reach a fuller understanding of the mysterious and intriguing symbols of the Apocalypse.
Regarding the Interpretation of Prophecy
The upheavals of the Apocalypse are associated by the Prophet John with the events surrounding the Exodus. This equation presents us with two irreconcilable ideas. Either the predicted plagues of the Apocalypse are trivial local upheavals of very little world-wide importance, or the events of the Exodus have been grossly misunderstood and misinterpreted by the majority of the commentators. Our belief that the latter alternative is the correct one led us to reevaluate the Exodus experience. The theory of Uniformism controls the way our modern age thinks about almost everything. Conclusions reached by our contemporary historians and psychologists have been shaped and determined by its precepts. These men view the Exodus account as an anthropomorphic description of an unimportant, quasi-historical event, preserved in the religious writings of an ignorant people. The events described by Moses could never have “really” happened. In order to justify ourinterpretation of the Exodus we were forced to offer an extensive and, we hope, logical alternative to this view. This, in turn led us into a re-appraisal of ancient history, Old World mythology, and human psychology. Through the reconsideration of these complex and interrelated subjects we hope to make the implications of the Exodus plagues clear to the reader. In our opinion a correct understanding of these events is essential to a correct understanding of the Apocalypse. Therefore, we have considered them in great detail. Like John, we have made the Exodus the hub around which our introduction to the prophecy revolve
“Martin, John – The Seventh Plague – 1823” by John Martin – http://www.artmagick.com/images/content/martin/hi/martin14.jpg.
A Word about our Method of Interpretation
We have chosen orthodoxy as a matrix for our commentary, and will present the traditional Christian interpretations, with which we do not always agree, before offering other considerations. The Apocalypse is, after all, a Judaeo-Christian work, and the ideas of the Christian theologians, both ancient and modern, should be considered at length. But they are not the only source of truth concerning the Apocalypse, and we have embraced enlightenment wherever we have found it. This approach has led us to some interesting, unusual, and sometimes original conclusions that are not always Orthodox. Our goal in this work has always been to understand the Apocalypse on all its many levels, and our watchword throughout the work has been, “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” After so many caveats we can only commend the book to the reader with the earnest hope that s/he will find it both informative and interesting.