This post continues Couchoud’s account of the nature of the Christ found in the Book of Revelation and how he epitomizes the “false Christ” that Paul denounced his apostolic rivals for promoting. Couchoud has been tracing the rise of Christianity from the Enochian community in “pre-Christian” times and the evolution of the Christ idea in his work The Creation of Christ. Jesus Christ, he argues was a figure that evolved from meditations of the Jewish Scriptures and related Second Temple apocryphal literature. Paul’s Christ was a heavenly being into whom he projected his own life of sufferings and attributed to them saving power once embodied in God himself. Jesus was really another image or aspect of God himself. But Paul’s rivals were based in Jerusalem and they envisaged a very different sort of Christ. The continuing visions of this conquering and far-from-humiliated Christ by one of those “Jerusalem pillars”, John, is the subject of this post. The previous post in this series examined The Book of Revelation’s damning allusions to Paul’s Christ and teachings. Keep in mind that all of these Christological divisions pre-date any thought that Jesus had visited earth. According to all early prophets and apostles Jesus was an entirely heavenly being whose coming — first coming — was eagerly anticipated by the devout. The complete series is archived here.
John is carried up from earth to heaven where he beholds the glorious setting of the Eternal and Formless God (Rev. iv. 2-6):
Behold a Throne was set in heaven
On the Throne was One seated.
He who was seated was in aspect as a Jasper and a Sardius;
A Rainbow round about the Throne
In sight like an Emerald.
About the Throne were four-and-twenty thrones,;
On the thrones were sitting four-and-twenty Elders,
Clothed in white raiment,
On their heads crowns of gold.
Out of the Throne came lightnings
And the crash of thunder.
Seven Torches of Fire burned before the Throne
Who are the Seven Spirits of God.
Before the throne a sea of glass
Like a crystal.
Jesus is found to be dwelling in such a setting as this, forever sharing the glory of God’s throne. This Jesus is now described.
John is present at the mysterious liturgy which comes before the great drama. A scroll sealed with seven seals is in God’s hand. None in heaven, nor on earth, nor in hell, can open it. Further on its name is given as the Book of Life, the Book of the Slain Lamb.* [* Rev. xiii. 8 (the Book of the Life of the Lamb) ; xvii. 8 ; xx. 12 (the Book of Life).] This is the complete record on which the names of the elect are inscribed since the beginning of the world. When the seven seals are opened, the judgment will begin. Jesus alone can open them for to him belong the elect. Before the ages he redeemed them with his blood. He is the Sacrificed Lamb of Isaiah, the ram “slain from the beginning of the world” (Rev. xiii. 8; cf. I Peter i. 20: “foreordained before the foundation of the world, ” a corrective to John). He appears in the midst of God’s throne (Rev. v. 6):–
I saw in the midst of the Throne and of the four Cherubim,
In the midst of the Elders,
A Lamb, as though Slain,
With Seven Horns and Seven Eyes,
Who are the seven Spirits of God
Sent forth into all the Earth.
The Shape of the Lamb is the eternal shape of Jesus. In heaven he is the divine Ram, as Jahweh was originally a divine Bull. The Lamb takes the Book to the sound of a new song (Rev. v. 9-10):–
Thou hast the power to take the Scroll
And to open the Seals of it,
Because thou wast sacrificed,
And bought for God with thy blood
Men of every tribe, speech, nation, and race,
Whom thou hast made for our God a Kingdom of priests,
Who shall reign on Earth.
While the first six seals are being opened, warning events take place (Rev. vi. I) :–
I SAW the Lamb open one of the seven Seals;
I HEARD one of the four Cherubim
Say in a voice of thunder,
I SAW; behold a white horse;
He who rode him
Held a Bow.
To him was given a Crown:
He went forth a conqueror to conquer.
After the conqueror come a red horse, a black horse, a green horse; their riders are war, famine, and pestilence. The martyrs of old whose souls are beneath the heavenly altar cry out to God for vengeance.
Up till now I have attempted to post my own outline and paraphrase of Couchoud’s argument. But I see here I am beginning to quote him in full and for whatever reasons I have decided to scan the remainder of this chapter and copy Couchoud’s words in full for the remainder of this post. This makes it a bit long, but it is out of copyright (hence not illegal) and sharing some of Couchoud’s style (even in translation) as well as his argument may not be a bad thing. I will use the default WordPress fonts and formatting for the full copy of Couchoud’s pages 87 to 108 of The Creation of Christ, Volume 1. The running chapter heading is THE SACRIFICED LAMB. (I have changed some of the coding for the footnotes.) Any bolded text for emphasis, and the colour coding for ease of breaking up the text on a computer monitor is my own doing.
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They are first garbed in the white raiment which is their body of glory. Then a first quaking of the heavens will terrify mankind. After which an angel will mark the brows of the hundred and forty-four thousand elect with the sign which will protect them from the countless demons who are to be let loose. But a short while and a host of the elect rise to heaven, in their hands the palms of victory and about them their everlasting robes; these are the blessed who will die martyred in the great Torment which is soon to sweep across the world (Rev. vii. 14-17) :—
They come from the Great Trial.*
They have washed their robes,
Have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Therefore they are before the Throne of God;
They serve him day and night in his Temple.
He Who sits upon the Throne
Shall dwell among them.
They shall hunger no more,
They shall thirst no more,
Nor shall the sun overwhelm them
Nor the heat.
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the Throne
Shall be their Shepherd.
He shall lead them to the Fountains of Life.¶
God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.‡
These first visions, strange but beautiful, sound a note of consolation. They assure to the elect the reality of their salvation by the blood of the Lamb.
Now the descriptions of the great Doom foretold by Daniel sweep through a crescendo of dread and sacred horror, a trial such as no man ever dreamed, not even for the saints (Rev. viii. 1-6) :—
* The Time of Distress which, according to Daniel .will precede the End (Dan. xii. 1).
¶ They are the Exiles returned to Jerusalem of the prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah xlix. 10) : “ They shall not hunger nor thirst. . . Jahweh shall guide them by the springs.” The Lamb takes the place of Jahweh again.
‡ At the great feast prepared for all the nations (Isa. xxv. 6-8).
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When he opened the seventh Seal
There was a silence
As it were half an hour.*
I SAW the seven Angels,
Who stand before God.¶
To them were given seven Trumpets. ‡
Another Angel came
And stood before the Altar
Holding a golden Scoop.
Heaps of incense were given him
To offer up with the prayers of the Saints
On the golden Altar which is before the Throne.
Rose up the smoke of the incense
With the prayers of the Saints §
Out of the Angel’s hand, in the presence of God.
The Angel took the Scoop.
He filled it with fire of the Altar
And cast it on the Earth. ||
There were thunderings and lightnings,
The seven Angels who held the seven Trumpets
Prepared to sound.
As on the Hebrew New Year’s day, the Day of God’s New Age is hallowed in by trumpet blasts. At the first four fire falls from heaven and ravages the earth in four manners. At the sound of the last three an eagle at the highest point of heaven will shriek, “Malediction !” thrice. Twice the saints shall be spared, but the third time they will be assailed and overcome.
* The eternal liturgy of the angels is interrupted to let the prayers of the Saints mount to heaven. The breaking of the seventh seal allows the Book to be opened. The introduction is completed. Everything is ready for the End of the World.
¶ Enoch xx. 7 calls them Archangels and gives their names.
‡ The horns and trumpets which, according to Joel (ii. i), announce the coming of the Day of Jahweh, just as the holy trumpets announce New Year s Day, the festival of Jahweh the King.
§ The prayers of the saints who have just appeared in heaven are added to those of the slain martyrs (Rev. vi. 10). They ask for the End of the World, just as in Enoch xlvii. 2.
|| As the angel in Ezekiel x. 2, throws red-hot coals from heaven on Jerusalem.
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As the eagle cries “Malediction” twice, swarms of demons like locust-scorpions, legions of demons, with fiery breath, torture and massacre the heathen. But so great will their blindness be that they will not refrain even then from worshipping demons, nor will they repent.
Then comes the most poignant revelation—the slaughter of the saints. At this point the prophet sees and hears a mighty angel swear by God that at the seventh trumpet, which will sound for the trial of the saints,
The Mystery of God shall be accomplished,
As he gave the Gospel
To his Servants the Prophets (Rev. x. 7).
For John, as for Paul, the good tidings, the evangel, is the revelation of God’s mystery. This for Paul is the abasement and exaltation of Jesus, for John it is the defeat and the triumph of the blessed.
To enable him to foretell the last stage, John obtains from the mighty angel a little book which he eats, as Ezekiel did. Whereon he pictures the vision of the last trial.
This, as Daniel foretold, will last three and a half years, half a week of years. During these three and a half years Jerusalem will be in the hands of the heathen, who will tread it beneath their feet. The Temple alone will be free from their soiling. Two prophets garbed in horsehair will test the inhabitants by the same plagues as those with which Moses tormented Egypt. Slain by the pagan, abandoned unburied, they will rise again and go up to heaven.* The tenth part of Jerusalem will fall into ruins, seven thousand men will perish, and the rest, in their terror, will be converted. The best Jews will thus be saved.
In heaven a marvellous event takes place. That he may judge the world, the heavenly Lamb must take the shape of a man, the Son of Man, in which form Daniel saw him. He must therefore be born by a celestial female.
In heaven there is a semi-divine being who is at one and the same time the Mother and the Bride of Jesus. This
* It is to be noted that it will not be Jesus who will be put to death and rise again, but the two he sends as his witnesses.
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woman is the celestial double of the community of saints, and is at the same time a City of Diamond, the New Jerusalem. In heaven there is also the Old Enemy of God and Jesus, the great Red Dragon which personifies Chaos, and is Satan. Jesus will be born of the woman to become the brother of the Elect, and the Dragon will seek to devour him (Rev. xii. 1-6) :—
A great Wonder appeared in Heaven;
A Woman clothed in the Sun,
The Moon at her feet,
On her head a Crown of twelve Stars.
She is big with child,
She cries with the pain
And torment of travail.
Another Wonder appeared in the heaven;
Behold a great red Dragon
With seven Heads and ten Horns,
On his Head seven Crowns,
His tail swept the third part of the Stars of Heaven.
It cast them to earth.
The Dragon stood
Before the Woman about to be delivered.
He would devour her Child
As soon as it was born.
She brought forth a Man child
Who is to rule all the Peoples with a Rod of iron.
The Child was caught up
To God and his Throne.
The Woman fled into the Wilderness,
Where she has a place prepared of God,
Where she shall be fed twelve hundred and sixty days.
After 1260 days (three and a half years) of the great trial the woman goes up into the wilderness, like the Bride in the Song of Songs, to be the Bride of the Lamb.
The Dragon Satan is the counterpart in Revelation of the Archontes in Paul, the demons who crucify Jesus. But in the Apocalypse Satan cannot lay hands on Jesus, not even for a short while. He is driven out of heaven and cast down
p. 93 THE SACRIFICED LAMB
on to earth. He has no power over Jesus, but he has over the other children of the Woman, the faithful followers and brethren of Jesus (Rev. xii. 7-9) :—
There was war in heaven :
Michael and his Angels
Fought against the Dragon.
The Dragon fought,
His Angels also,
He did not prevail:
They found no longer a place in Heaven.
He was cast out, the great Dragon,
The old Serpent,
Called the Devil and Satan
Who dupes the whole world,
He was cast down to the Earth,
His angels were cast out with him.
For three and a half years Satan, expelled from heaven, will lay waste the earth. He will have power to overcome and to slay, through his officers, the saints of the earth. On earth there are two Satanic powers, infernal counterparts of Jesus and the Woman, the Beast and the Whore (Rev. xiii. 1) :—
I saw rise up out of the Sea a Beast
With ten Horns and seven Heads.
On the Horns ten Crowns,
On the Heads Names of blasphemies.*
These names, which are in themselves blasphemies against God, are those of false gods. The Beast is then the sum of those demons who on earth pass for gods, and therefore blaspheme the only god. One head—i.e., one such pagan god—attracts special attention, so much so as to be taken for the whole Beast (Rev. xiii. 3) :—
One of its heads was wounded as though sacrificed to death:
Its deadly wound was healed. ¶
Such sacrifice and resurrection parody Jesus, and also God
* The ten Crowned Horns come from Dan. vii. 7 and the Seven Heads represent the number of the False Gods.
¶ A wound made by a knife (xiii. 14).
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by the mystic formula which explains his action. God is He who is, who was, and who is to come (Rev. i. 4 and 8). The Beast is He who was, is not, and will ascend from the Abyss, the home of demons, or He who was, is not, and shall be present (Rev. xvii. 8) :—
The Beast which thou hast seen
Was, Is Not, and Will Ascend from the Abyss.
It goes to destroy.
The dwellers on the earth shall wonder,
They whose names are not written in the Book of Life
From the beginning of the World,
When they see the Beast
For that He Was, Is Not, and Shall Be Present.
Ascension (anabasis) and presence (parousia) were technical terms of pagan mysteries. Here, then, is a reference to a god who in his mysteries disappears in death, then ascends, and is present. Who can he be? His name, which will be tattooed on the brows and hands of his followers, is given in a cryptogram so that the blasphemy may not soil the lips of the true believer (Rev. xiii. 18) :—
Here is wisdom.
Let him who has understanding
Calculate the number of the Beast,
For it is the number of a man *
Its Number is six hundred and sixteen, ¶
616 is the sum of the letters of the dative of Attis (ATTEI),‡
* I.e., that a man can calculate; cf. “ measure of a man,”—i.e., one employed by men (xxi. 17).
¶ 1The figure 616 is given by one of the two best MSS. (C), by the old Latin version of Tyconius, and by an old Armenian text. Irenæus knew of it though he did not adopt it; Jerome did adopt it (De Monogrammate; ed G. Morin). It is probably the original. In many MSS. the number 666 is given, substituted either by analogy with Jesus, 888 (Deismann), or because it is a triangular number. (See van Eysinga, La Littératnre Chrétienne Primitive ; Paris, 1926, p. 201.)
‡ The dative is the case required for a votive inscription such as would be inscribed on the forehead or the hand. Isaiah foretold that the heathen would inscribe on their hands To Jahweh. The figure 666 corresponds to the accusative. See The Book of Revelation; Watts, London, 1932, p. 146. The identification of the Beast with Attis and of the Whore with Cybele is due to R. Stahl.
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the name which would be written on the brows and the hands of the initiates. Jesus’s rival is the Phrygian god who each year was wounded to death with a knife of flint and who, in his mysteries, dies and rises again, and thus was, is not, and ascends, or is present, the god whose annual festival the Emperor Claudius made official throughout the Empire.
Lo, a red and hideous couple! The Beast carries on his back the Whore, infernal rival of the Woman of Heaven (Rev. xvii. 3-5) :–
I saw a Woman
Seated on a scarlet Beast
Full of the Names of blasphemies,
With seven Heads and ten Horns.
The Woman was clothed in purple and scarlet,
Decked with gold, with precious stones and pearls,
Holding in her hand a Cup of gold
Full of abominations;
The filthiness of her fornication.
A Name written on her forehead, a Mystery,
Babylon the great mother
Of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth.
The mystery of this name is not impenetrable. ” Abominations ” is the classic term in the Bible for heathen deities.* “ Harlots ” similarly is the elegant biblical way of referring to heathen goddesses. The Great Mother of the Gods (Magna Mater Deum) is the official name of Cybele in the Roman religion. The Woman seated on the Beast is as Cybele seated on the Lion, and holds a cup in her hand as Cybele holds a patera. Her name is composed of Babylon the Great—i.e., Rome—and the Great Mother of the Gods. Just like the Woman of Heaven, she is both deity and city. Cybele is the mother and the bride of Attis, just as the Woman of Heaven is the mother and the bride of Jesus. She is Rome the unclean, as the other is the New Jerusalem. At Rome the temple of Cybele dominated the Emperor’s palace, so that the emperors took as their protectress the Mother of the Gods (Rev. xvii. 6) :—
E.g., in the Septuagint, Ezek. vii. 20; 1 Kings xi. 5 (Astarte); Kings xxiii. 13 (Moloch).
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I saw the Woman drunk with the blood of the Saints,
With the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.
Cybele-Rome drank Christian blood, and was poisoned by it, so that she was burnt in a great fire as a witch for her sorcery.
The Beast, rival of God and Jesus, will have his false prophet, rival of the genuine prophets. He will hold his power of the Dragon, that he may overcome and slay the saints. Misled by this false prophet, men will worship the image of the Beast and will be proud to bear the mark of his name. The saints will have the fortitude to bear their fate — for some the dungeon, for others the sword.
At the end of three and a half years of torment will come a heavenly vengeance, the extermination of the idolaters. An angel will announce the Good News. The Hour of Doom is at hand.
Lo! Jesus, the Divine Man, hitherto hidden away, will come forth in Palestine on a cloud as Daniel had beheld him, and will gather together the elect, and will harvest a bloody vintage of the others (Rev. xiv. 14-20) :—
Behold a white Cloud.
On the Cloud sat ONE LIKE TO A SON OF MAN,
Having on his head a golden Crown,
In his hand a sharp Sickle.
Another Angel came out of the Temple
Uttering a great cry,
To him who sat on the Cloud.
Thrust in thy Sickle! Reap!
The Time is come for reaping
For the Harvest of the Earth is ripe.
He who sat upon the Cloud
Thrust his Sickle on the Earth;
The Earth was reaped.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .*
* Interpolation by dittography. A copyist instead of writing Another angel came out from the altar,” re-wrote “ Another angel came out of the temple. ’’ An editor, not recognizing the error, added
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Another Angel came out from the Altar,
Who had Power over Fire.
He cried with a loud cry
To him who had the sharp Sickle,
Thrust in thy sharp Sickle.
Gather the clusters of the Vine of the Earth
For the grapes are ripe.
He thrust in his Sickle on the Earth.
He gathered the Vine of the Earth
And cast it into the Great Winepress of the Wrath of God.
The Winepress was trodden without the City.*
Blood came out of the Winepress to the horse bridles ‡
By the space of six hundred stadia. √
The seven blows of the wrath of God will fall on the pagan as once they fell on the Egyptian. Alone the elect will escape. As once the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, so will the elect cross the sea of crystal which separates the earth from heaven. Blow after blow will strike earth, sea, the waters, the sun, and the empire of the heathen; nevertheless men will not repent, but will blaspheme God as they suffer from his wrath. The kings of the earth will assemble their armies to do battle with the Lord of Hosts.
Before describing this crazy battle, John stops to savour the delights of the special punishment meted out to the Whore. In a hymn breathing hate he rejoices over the burning of Rome and intoxicates himself with the weeping and wailing that shall rise from about her (Rev. xviii.) :—
a line giving the angel a sharp sickle, which put the angel on a par with Jesus. This is contradicted by xiv. ig, which declares that Jesus trod the winepress of the wrath of God.
* In the valley of Jehosaphat (valley of judgment) (Joel iii. 2, 12).
‡ “A horse shall walk in the blood of sinners to its chest, and a wain shall be wholly covered ” (Enoch c. 3).
√ About the length of Palestine. This Judgment of Jesus will be for Palestine. The Harvest is of the just who worship in the Temple (xi. 1), and of sinners who have repented (xi. 13). The Vintage is of the Gentiles who have oppressed the holy city for three and a half years. After this the cups of the wrath of Jahweh will be poured over the whole world (xv—xvi), and Jesus will return to destroy (xix. 9-end).
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They shall bewail and lament her,*
The Kings of the Earth,
With whom she whored and flaunted,
When they shall see the smoke of her burning,
Standing far off, for fear of her torment, saying
Woe ! Woe ! that Great City,
Babylon the Mighty,
In one hour is thy Judgment come.
The Merchants of the Earth
Weep and lament over her,
For their merchandize
Shall find no buyer.
Cargoes of gold, of silver, or of precious stones and pearls,
Of fine linen, of purple, of silk, and of scarlet,
Of thyine wood, of ivory, and of vessels of rare woods,
Of bronze and iron and of marble,
Of cinnamon, cardamom, perfumes, myrrh, and frankincense,
Of wine and of oil, of flour and wheat,
Of cattle and sheep and horses, of wains and of slaves,
And of the souls of men.
The vendors of these things,
Who were made rich by her,
Shall stand far off, for fear of her torment,
Weeping and wailing, saying,
WOE! WOE! that Great City,
Clothed in fine linen, and purple and scarlet,
Decked with gold and precious stones and pearls,
In one hour so great riches were destroyed utterly.
The pilots on the ships, and all the company in them,
The sailors and all those who toil at sea
Stood afar off.
They cried when they saw the smoke of her burning
What is there like unto this great City ?
They cast dust on their heads.
They cried, wept, and lamented,
WOE ! WOE ! that great City,
* Compare the Fall of Tyre (Ezek. xxvi and xxvii).
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Wherein were made rich all those who had sails on the sea,
In one hour her wealth * is utterly destroyed.
Rejoice over her, Heaven!
O Saints, O Apostles, O Prophets,
God has judged your case against her.
A mighty Angel took up
A stone like a great millstone,
And cast it into the Sea, saying,
Thus in one cast shall be thrown down
Babylon the Mighty City;
It shall be found no more at all.¶
The ripe fruit which thy soul coveted
Has escaped thee.
All that is dainty and goodly
Is departed from thee.
They shall be found no more at all.‡
The music of harpers, of singers,
Of pipers and trumpeters,
Shall be heard no more at all in thee.§
No craftsman of any craft whatsoever
Shall be found any more in thee !
Sound of millstone
Shall be heard no more in thee !
Flame of lamp
Shall no more gleam in thee !
Song of the bridegroom and his bride
Shall be heard no more in thee ! ||
For thy Merchants were
The great men of the Earth,
For by thy sorceries
Were all mankind deceived,
* ῆ τιμιότης, instead of èκ τῆς τιμιότητος,(Charles),
¶ An act of magic. Cf. Jer. li. 63-64.
‡ This verse has been accidentally misplaced, and should be here (Charles).
§ Jahweh said to Tyre : “ I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall no more be heard ” (Jer. xxv. Io).
|| Jahweh silenced for ever in Judah “ the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of millstones,” and extinguished “ the light of the candle ” (Jer. xxv. 10).
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For in thee is the blood of the Prophets and the Saints,*
Of all who were martyred on the Earth.
The smoke of burning Rome will be applauded with a formidable Halleluiah! And Jesus will come down upon the heathen world, riding on a white horse and followed by the cavalry of saints, the God with the flowing cloak whose picture the pagans in Thrace and Asia adore unaware of the awful significance it has for them (Rev. xix. n) :—
I SAW Heaven open.
Behold a white horse.
He who rode him
Called Faithful and True.¶
In justice does he judge and make war.
His eyes like flame of fire,
On his head many Crowns,
Bearing a Name written
Which none knows but himself,
Clothed in a Cloak steeped in blood.‡
His Name has been called
The Word of God.§
The Armies in Heaven
Follow him on white horses,
Clothed in pure white linen. ||
From his mouth springs forth a sharp
Sword To smite the nations.
* Blood with which the Woman has gorged and poisoned herself (xvii. 6). The curse on Rome is sandwiched between two allusions to martyrs. MSS., in her (eν αυτη); Primasius, in thee (in te).
‡ Epithets of Jesus [iii. 14). In Habakkuk (iii. 8) Jahweh has horses and chariots of victory. John brings into action the Celestial Cavalry. Jesus bestrides a white horse, symbol of domination and victory (cf. Rev. vi. 2). At an early date in the East the sun god became a horseman (F. Cumont, Les Religions Orientales, 4th ed., p. 222, n. 11).
§ Because he has just annihilated Edom (Rome) (Isa. lxiii. 1-6).
§ Jesus revealed his Name through the revealing angel. John stages here a scene from the Book of Wisdom (xviii. 15) : “ Thy Word (Logos), pitiless warrior, leaps from the heavens, from the royal thrones, into the midst of the destruction of the earth, bearing a sharp sword, thy irrevocable decree.” ’
|| The armies of Jahweh are angels. These are the “called, elect, faithful.” After the victory they will dwell on earth with Tesus for a thousand years (xx. 4).
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He shall rule them with a Rod of Iron.*
He treads the Winepress
Of the wine of fury of the Wrath
Of God Master of All.‡
He bears on the (Arm) and on the Thigh ‡
A Name written,
KING OF KINGS, LORD OF LORDS.§
The Knight Jesus will seize the Beast and the false prophet and cast them into everlasting fire. He will slay the paynim utterly (Rev. xix. 21) :—
The remnant were slain
With the sword of Him Who rode the Horse,
The Sword which sprung from his mouth.
All the birds were filled with their flesh.
As for the Dragon, Satan, he will be bound and imprisoned in the Abyss for a thousand years. For Jesus and his victorious squadrons will camp for a thousand years on earth, and will reign in Jerusalem on their thrones (Rev. xx. 4):—
They lived and reigned
With the Messiah a thousand years.
The other dead lived not again till the thousand years
At the end of the thousand years the Dragon will be let loose and will gather together the last nations. Gog and Magog, from the four corners of the terrestrial table, will come to besiege Jerusalem, as Ezekiel said they would. Fire from heaven will consume them and the Dragon will be cast into the Lake of Fire.
Then at last will be the general resurrection of the dead.
As was predicted at his birth in human form (xii. 5).
‡ He trod this press near Jerusalem (xiv. 19-20).
‡ MSS. : “ On the Mantle and on the Thigh.” το ιματιον is probably a misreading for τον βραχιονα. The god Aion in the temple of Kore at Alexandria had five divine seals—on the forehead, on the hands, and on the knees (Epiphanius, Pan., li. 22). In an Egyptian picture a royal child bears a royal title on each limb (W. Weber, quoted by Lohmeyer).
§ Jahweh’s titles (cf. xvii. 14). This is read by all. The secret name is in cryptogram on his forehead, see above (xix. 12).
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Heaven and Earth will flee away from before the face of God, and in the emptiness the dead will rise up before their judge. The book of life will be open and the registers of all their acts. Only those whose names appear in the Book of the Lamb will pass the test. For this sparse remnant of the first universe, benevolent God will create a new heaven and a new earth. The victors will be as children to God. The defeated and condemned (especially the Nicolaitanes) who have had commerce with idols, have fornicated and lied, will be cast into the Lake of Fire, where they will suffer a second death.*
In heaven Jesus will resume his eternal form—that of a male Lamb—and will celebrate his wedding with the Woman of Heaven, now become the New Jerusalem (Rev. xxi. 9-11) :—
There came one of the seven Angels
Who had the seven Cups . . .
He spoke to me and said,
Come! I will show thee
The Bride, the Lamb’s Wife.
He carried me away in the Spirit
To a great and high Mountain.
He showed me that great City,
The Holy Jerusalem,
Descending from Heaven, from God,
Having the Glory of God;
Its light was like unto a very precious stone,
Even like crystal jasper.
Never did a Jewish bride glitter with such an abundance of gems. The whole city will be gold and jewels. Through gates of pearl the nations will bring in their tribute. The leaves of the Orchard of Life will heal them; its fruit will be the food of the elect, and they will drink the Water of Life. In the radiation of the Glory of God their priestly reign shall last for ever and ever (Rev. xxii. 3-5) :—
* At this point—xxi. 8—the earliest edition of the Book of Revelation came to an end. The rest—xxi. 9-end—was a later addition, and was probably made to fit on by means of xvii. 7. In the MSS. the two terminations are added by conflation (see The Book of Revelation; Watts, London, 1932, p. 22).
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Nothing shall any longer be forbidden.
The Throne of God and of the Lamb shall be there.
His Servants shall serve him,
They shall see his face,
His Name shall be on their foreheads.
There shall be no more night.
There shall be no further need of torches
Nor the light of the sun,
For the Lord God will shine on them.
They shall reign for ever and ever.
Jesus here speaks once more to set the seal of authority on John’s prophecy (Rev. xxii. 18) :—
I testify to those who hear
The Words and the Prophecy of this Book.
If any man add to it,
God shall add to him the Plagues
Which are written in this Book.
If any man take away
From the Word of the Book of Prophecy,
God shall take away his part
Of the Orchard of Life
And of the Holy City
Which are written in this Book.
The reading ends in the ritual cry, taken up by the whole congregation :—
Come, Lord Jesus !
John’s prophecy was composed about ten years after Paul’s activities, which John sought in this matter to negative, came to an end. Its date is apparent from the text; it is earlier than 70, for, though the prophet foresees the taking of Jerusalem by the Romans, he did not think possible the destruction of the Temple. In 70 the Temple was burned and demolished. Three towers alone stood of the town; and of the Temple nothing but a stretch of wall where the Jews thenceforth came to wail. Its date is somewhat later than 64; for the curse on Rome, calling fire down on the Eternal City, corresponds to the fire of Nero’s day. We can,
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then, claim a time about 65 for the composition of the Revelation of St. John the Theologian.* It antecedes the great war of the Jews against Rome, that terrestrial struggle of Jahweh with the false gods which saw his defeat, but not by many years, and has all the imprint of a period of horror, frenzy, and dread.
The entire poem of John is in antithesis with the fragments of Paul, which are at once more homely and more profound and mystic. John’s book does not open up infinite vistas, immediately to hide them again, as does the work of Paul. But it does reveal, without leaving anything to vague implications, the complete expectation of Christendom; in that lies its merit, and also its flaw.
These two great prophets of early Christianity championed two opposed sects. Just as Paul furiously abused the apostles and pillars of Jerusalem as agents of Satan, even so did John abominate the mysticism of Paul as the depths of Satan. A house divided is a painful spectacle; the hate of Christian for Jew, of Christian for heathen was never so bitter as the hatred of Christian for Christian. Out of this strife developed the Christian dogmas to come.
Which won the day: Paul, supple in practice and bold in doctrine, apt at perceiving and satisfying the needs of man’s soul; or John, unbending in his Hebrew pride, chancing all religion on the prophecy of What Was To Come Quickly, basing all on tradition, on the prophets of yore and accepted revelations ? We who know our history know that the powers fought on Paul s side. But in 65 Paul was no longer in the field, and the field he had tilled could be ploughed anew and a new crop sown. The harvest would seem to be to one man, the sole prophet surviving who could speak in the the name of the faith’s founder.
John’s Revelation shows us the narrow, yet flamboyant, world of thought and fancy which was also that of James and of Peter, of the Twelve and the Five Hundred. It is the true line, and in its substance, if not in date, it is the earliest
* A later interpolation endeavours to insert a prediction of the return of Nero; this was made about 98, which led Irenæus to assign this date to the whole work. (See The Book of Revelation ; Watts, London, 1932, p. 35).
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Christian document; and from the authentic prophet, the pillar apostle, the “ beloved disciple,” we may expect the portrait of Christ which will have undergone the least touching up—the most faithful picture of Jesus.
After a careful study of the Apocalypse, we can have no doubt as to the original traits of Jesus. We have here the God Hero of a Divine Epic. Jesus is of heaven heavenly, and he is yet to come. He has nought as yet to do with the earth or with history, and is manifested in visions alone. To be known, he has yet to come down from heaven an instant, or the prophet must ascend to heaven. He partakes of the Throne of God; his essence is of Glory and his form the Bleeding Ram with the eyes of Spirit beneath the horns of Power. He is at once the officiating priest and the sacrifice for all eternity, the redemption given by God. He has had no earthly existence. But he will take on such an existence to last a thousand years, when he will leap down from heaven on a snowy horse, draped in a cloak red with dripping blood. His is the Awful Power of God.
The mystery of the Two Persons of God is at the base of this tableau. It pervades Christianity. Just as did Paul, John shares the Old Testament attributes of Jahweh between God and Jesus. As for John, so for Paul. God and Jesus is singular, grammatically and otherwise.* For John and for Paul God and Jesus are one. When a Christian worships Jesus as God he never looks upon himself as anything but a strict monotheist; Jesus was a new aspect of the divine substance.
But the revelation of the divine personality of Jesus was made to John in another manner than to Paul. To Paul Jesus came crucified in weakness and strength wrought in weakness. But John, on the other hand, beheld the Inviolate Power beyond and above all devices of the enemy, untroubled by suffering. Thus he seemed to preserve divine might and to avoid the scandal and absurdity into which Paul seemingly fell; but he is unaware of the incomparable hold God thus gained on man.
* The singular is often employed in the Apocalypse for God and Jesus together—e.g., xi. 15 ‘‘he shall reign”; xxii. 3-4 “His servants, his face, his Name, etc.”—Cf. Paul, 1 Thess. iii. 11.
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John’s priestly warrior is overmuch of Judah, is overlike the Hebrew Messiah to win the race against the unsuspected, unheard-of Christ which Paul presented to the world. John’s Jesus may die, his serene sacrificial death is the spectacle of a festival. Deity though he may be, he is the war-leader come to exterminate the heathen and avenge Israel, and the expectations he engenders are material and concrete; they narrowly escape the coarse and puerile.
About the time of John’s Revelation—rather earlier than 70—was written a Jewish Apocalypse, attributed to the secretary of Jeremiah, Baruch, in which the abundance of the days of the Messiah was described :—
It will come about, once all those things have been fulfilled
Which must be fulfilled,
That the Prince Messiah will be revealed . . .
The earth will bear its fruits ten thousand times.*
A vine will bear a thousand branches.
A branch will bear a thousand grapes;
A grape will contain a thousand pips ;
To each pip an amphora of wine.
Those who have been hungry will be in plenty ;
They will see other miracles every day.
The winds will waft towards me
Every morning, the fragrance of perfumed fruit;
Every evening, mists of sweet dew.‡
The pathetic day-dreams of starving men; the kingdom of the Messiah will be a land of abundance. Burnt and harsh Palestine, generous in spasms and swiftly exhausted, is to become moist, fertile, and fat, a blessed land of guzzling and swilling, of cool breezes and ripe fruit.
John’s “ hearers ” were to quote a similar prophecy as being revealed by Jesus to John :—
The days will come when the vines will bear,
Each vineyard will have ten thousand vine-stocks,
On each stock ten thousand branches.
* A misreading of a passage in Genesis (xxvii. 28); Rendel Harris, Expositor, 1895, pp. 438-449.
‡ R. H. Charles, The Apocalypse of Baruch ; London, 1896, ch. xxiv.
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On each branch ten thousand grapes,
In each grape ten thousand pips,
And each pip when pressed will give twenty-five pots of wine.
Whenever a Saint will cull a grape,
Another will cry, I am a better grape;
Take me, through me bless God !
Similarly a grain of wheat will bear ten thousand ears,
Each ear ten thousand grains,
Each grain will give five pounds of clean, pale flour.
All other fruit, harvests and crops
Will give as abundantly.
All the creatures which will eat of this food
Which the earth will receive
Will be at peace and in harmony with one another;
All will be subject to man in utter submission.*
This Jews’ Christ, vindictive and warlike, giver of thrones and banquets, is the Christ after the flesh, which Paul would not recognize, for he held that Christ’s crucifixion cleansed him of all that was egoist (2 Cor. v. 14-16) :—
The love of the Christ constrains us
Who have judged thus;
If one died for all,
Then all were dead.
And he died for all
That the living should no longer live for themselves,
But for him who for them
Died and rose again.
Therefore we, henceforward,
Know no man after the flesh;
Though we have known the Christ after the flesh,
Yet now we know him no more.
‘‘After the flesh” here means, as often in Paul, egoistically.‡ Paul renounces all temporal profit from Christ; he
* According to Irenæus (Hœr., v. 33, 3), Papias, “ John’s hearer,” quoted this prophecy as the words of Jesus revealed by John, as witnessed by the elders who “ had seen John, the disciple of the Lord.”
‡ E.g., in Rom. viii. 13 : “ For if you live after the flesh you shall die : but if through the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.” After the flesh = selfishly.
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is utterly and irreversibly absorbed in mystic union with the crucified and risen Christ.
Fundamentally the Christs of John and Paul are incompatible and the two religions to which they gave rise were distinct in their essence. John did not admit the crucifixion.* Paul knew nothing of a flesh-and-blood Christ. John bathes in the blood of the Lamb, but admits no humiliation or suffering for the Supreme. Paul sees in his own sufferings the sufferings of his Christ. John sees himself riding pillion on the white charger behind his conquering Jesus. Paul preaches Jesus on the cross and feels the nails in his own flesh. The gates of John’s mystic city were hardly to be opened to the pagan, whereas Paul hastened to bring to the heathen of the whole world the cross and salvation, hoping it might be in time. John unveils the mystery of the time to come, spelled in horrific letters of sulphur and flame. Paul draws aside the curtain from the timeless mystery, the desire for unburdening which crucifies the human heart.
The only mode of reconciling these two opposed visions was for one to prevail over the other, and the future was to St. Paul. Once the need for apocalyptic prophets had passed, once the atmosphere of secret gnosis should have been swept away, the Christian legend would take on a narrative and popular form, making an easy appeal to the masses. Then John’s poem becomes jetsam, witness of the wreck of past dreams. It becomes a supplement to the New Testament, a special and strange picture of the last days, a record that the sacrificial death of Jesus has been, in opposition to both Paul and John, brought down from heaven to earth.
* The little gloss—xi. 8—is obviously an addition. Such a capital point would not be limited to an adventitious gloss.