Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Curiously enough, interpreting the Book of Revelation rather resembles a science project. An interpreter starts with a hunch, a hunch that he (he, because by he in this scenario I mean me) needs to first articulate and craft into a clearly-stated hypothesis. Once the interpreter has put his hunch into words, he needs to devise an accurate means to test it. Devising such a test is rarely, if ever, easy. But a well-designed, accurate test cannot be bypassed. For reliable, replicable results, it is altogether necessary. Then, after his hypothesis has been tested and determined to be correct or incorrect, the scientist — er, interpreter — must do one of three things: 1) admit failure and scrap the hypothesis; 2) recognize that the hypothesis has some problems and thus needs to be reconsidered and revised; or 3) share his results and findings with his peers and colleagues, lest no one else benefit from what he has found. The whole point of the scientific endeavor, after all, is to benefit others with attained knowledge.
Enter the “Mad” Scientist. Sometimes a scientist will have a hypothesis that is met with wide skepticism, and even outright scorn from others in a field of specialization. However, the Mad Scientist is thoroughly convinced that she (she, because I recently read how this very scenario played out with a female scientist who developed mRNA vaccines) is convinced she is correct and on the right track. With that firm conviction, what options does the marginalized Mad Scientist pursue? She endures the scorn and finds a way to soldier on, lest no one else benefit from what she has found and might develop.
Enter the “Loony” Interpreter. Sometimes an interpreter will have an interpretation that is met with wide skepticism, and even outright scorn from others ~somewhat~ familiar with the topic. However, the Loony Interpreter is thoroughly convinced that he is (probably) correct and on the right track. What options does the Loony Interpreter have? He endures the scorn and keeps going, lest no one else benefit from what he has discovered and learned. The whole point of the theological endeavor, after all, is to benefit others with attained knowledge.
At some point, though, the scientist-interpreter analogy begins to break down. After all, hard science is a more objective discipline than Biblical interpretation. In science, the lines between the correct and the incorrect are usually much starker. Compared to theology, it is easier and usually faster to determine which hypotheses have failed and which have succeeded. Nonetheless, in either discipline, peer-review unavoidably happens and must happen. The whole peer-review aspect of science and academia serves as a sorter, an arbiter of what is enduring and worthwhile, in distinction to what is fallacious junk.
And so it must be with any would-be interpreter. Findings must be submitted for peer review. Ergo, this blog. And although a blog may not be the ideal forum for peer review, it potentially allows someone on the “professional” fringe a voice. Because otherwise, no one else will benefit from what he, the interpreter, has found and learned.
Waiting is the hardest part. It is akin to fishing. When a blogger puts his thoughts out into cyberspace, he effectively casts them into a murky pool. He never knows ahead of time what may or may not come. He just casts, hopes, prays, and waits.
And yes, I have just metaphorically compared myself to a scientist and a fisherman. If you have read thus far, thank you for the peer review.
Someday soon, I intend to blog about the Seventh Apocalyptic Seal, which I will call the Fire Flung from Heaven. My interpretive hypothesis is that historically, the Fire Flung from Heaven is one and the same Pentecost event recorded in the Book of Acts, Chapter 2. If that hypothesis is correct, then the Seventh Apocalyptic Seal (of Revelation 8:1-5) and the First Apocalyptic Trumpet (of Revelation 8:7) would be the very same historical event, an event which I believe occurred in Jerusalem on a Sunday morning in May, 33AD/CE. Stay tuned for my interpretation of the passage and an explanation of why I interpret the symbolism the way I do.