October 06, 2003

Pokemon on Patmos!

The next installment of Patrick Farley's Pokemon-like character version of The Apocalypse of St. John the Divine is now up. It features my Berkeley colleague Professor Sheila Na-Gig...

How The Apocalypse of St. John the Divine ever found its way into the canon of a religion calling itself Christian is beyond me...

Posted by DeLong at October 6, 2003 06:44 AM | TrackBack


A large number of apocalyptic books were excluded from the Old and New Testament or relegated to the Apocrypha. When the standard version of the Bible was put together, some argued against including Revelations / Apocalypse. Hopefully someone will report in more detail.

What's even more baffling is how the Apocalypse came to be regarded as a guide for American foreign policy. (But I'm harping again).

Posted by: Zizka on October 6, 2003 11:53 AM

And you are shrill!!

Posted by: Brad DeLong on October 6, 2003 01:41 PM

That really hurt my brain. It was even worse than what Max Sawicky linked to for Friday Cat Blogging.

Posted by: Curtiss Leung on October 6, 2003 01:53 PM

That really hurt my brain. It was even worse than what Max Sawicky linked to for Friday Cat Blogging.

Posted by: Curtiss Leung on October 6, 2003 01:56 PM

Didn't Northrop Frye demonstrate in "The Great Code" that the mythological elements of Revelations were drawn from Judaism and other sects of the Mediterranean basin? Rome supported the inclusion of Revelations but Constantinople did not.

There is a lot of interesting potential fallout from the inclusion of Revelations in the Bible.
Jesus never described Heaven, which was probably deliberate, but Revelations filled this gap. Revelations conveniently provided imagery for the use of Church officials. The fight over Revelations foreshadowed the iconoclastic battle within the Church, which Rome also won. Islam, which opposes the use of imagery, arose during this period.

Some think that the inclusion of Revelations in the Bible obfuscated the straightforward message of Jesus Christ and allowed religious and secular leaders to justify practically any course of action, good or bad. However, heavy metal music would be much poorer for the lack of such cool apocalyptic imagery in our society...

Posted by: Mark on October 6, 2003 03:07 PM

Did not Christianity emerge after a long development of eschatological thought/writing in Jewish tradition after the Babylonian/Persian/Greek conquests, which definitively sundered the Kingdom of Israel? And does not the Apocalypse concern the overturning of worldly imperial powers and the inversion of social hierarchies, a bloody and vengeful business, indeed? How exactly is this contrary to the "spirit of Christianity"- "the meek shall inherit the earth",etc? (Hint: is there not a similarity here between Christianity and satire?) That a divine or divinized justice rules over the world-(and justice like all normative notions is a counterfactual)- is counterposed to to the corruption and iniquity of the worldly and powerful at the end of time. Is not apocalytic despair simply the flip side of the immanent millenarian expectation of early primitive Christianity? Does not a notion of divine justice rooted in love and compassion also imply a world of pain and discipline, such that the wrath of God upon iniquity goes along with the redemptive mercy of God? (Hint: what is revealed in revealed religion are the commandments; the rest is just back story or compensation.) Have you not committed a counter-fundamentalist literalism here in failing to distinguish human violence from the divine violence, awaited in patience and humility, that purges and redeems the world?

It is perfectly legitimate to reject received traditions. It is also valid to examine the origins and development of such traditions, from textual and other evidence, while suspending the validity claims of that tradition or of its orthodox interpretation. But it is not alright to simply edit out from the body of that tradition anything that fails to conform to one's contemporary preferences. Perhaps you should go back and review Vico's double hermeneutic doctrine of the conceit of the peoples and the conceit of the scholars. To be sure, it is virtually impossible for us modern post-genocidal people to imagine that there rules over the world a power of divine justice that in its transcendent goodness redeems us from our own hopeless implication in this world, let alone to accept all the supernatural stage-managing and costumes and props. But from the fact that religious language is often paradoxical and its accompanying beliefs often excessive to the point of being unconstruable, it does not follow that it is refutable by a referential cognitive account of the world as it is, for that is precisely to misconstrue the stakes. The fact remains that we draw our normative conceptions from a cultural background of received traditions and the historical experience of conflicts that has delivered it up to us. That these traditions are often harsh is unsurprising, for so is the historical experience that accompanies them. But the attempt to censor and rationalize such received traditions in accordance with a preconceived standpoint is bootless and deleterious, even leaving aside the persistence of those who would attempt to impose them in their unmitigated harshness and of those who would instrumentalize them for quite other purposes, for, unless one believes that one has a method by which to deduce all norms and their entailments- (and I obviously do not, since that is to misconstrue the nature and limits of logic, although such attempts too are part of the received tradition)- the fullest possible understanding of such traditions is our only resource in dealing with the normative perplexities of a complex and pluralistic modernity. Even the post-modernists, part of whose shtick is to attempt to provide precedence for the unprecedented- (e.g. gay liberation)-, are backhandedly acknowledging this.

Posted by: john c. halasz on October 6, 2003 10:06 PM
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