By Dr. Mike Graves, Scholar in Residence/Minister of Spiritual Formation
There is a story in the early church of a man named Philip coming across someone reading from the prophet Isaiah in the Bible. Philip asks the man if he understands what he’s reading, and I love his response, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:31) If that is true for reading from Isaiah, then imagine how much more so for the document in the New Testament we call Revelation. Isaiah is a piece of cake compared to the Apocalypse, which is its name in Greek. I’m assuming you’ve tried to read that last book of the Bible at some point.
Starting this Monday, Sept.30, and then again for the next two Monday evenings after that, Dr. David May will be leading a class, “New Doors into the Book of Revelation.” Those who went on the trip to Israel earlier this year are quite familiar with him since he was one of the leaders of that pilgrimage. For those who didn’t go, David is my dearest friend and a former colleague of mine. He is professor of New Testament at Central Seminary here in Kansas City, and specializes in the book of Revelation. One of the ways he comes at that rather strange book is through the use of ancient coins. Turns out, they were not only a form of commerce but commercials too, since they often featured propaganda about the Roman Empire and Caesar.
It is more than ironic that the name of this last book is the Apocalypse in Greek or Revelation in English. Think about it, a revelation is an unveiling, a coming to an insight. And this book is probably the least accessible of them all. But as David will point out, that’s part of its genius, part of the way it unmasked the powers of the Roman Empire itself.
I know a lot of people who can fall asleep reading from the Bible. I’ve done it myself. Some parts are esoteric, boring even. I don’t know anyone who falls asleep reading Revelation, assuming they even try. More likely they hyperventilate, all those intimidating passages of dragons and beasts. If this describes you, here’s your chance to get a fresh reading. No paper bags required.