It’s the end of the world as we know it.
Or at least it’s how Saint John the Divine saw it in the First Century.
If you’ve ever wanted to really understand the Book of Revelation as it was written and not filtered through the political and social views of the writers behind the Left Behind series, then pick up The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Book of Revelation.
Bell breaks Revelation down into manageable chunks and spreads it across several chapters, which digesting the final book of the Bible a lot easier. Revelation is chock full of imaginary and much of it is bloody and arcane. Bell goes through each passage and puts them in context of how fit into the the time it was written. He also unwinds the dense text and puts into the simple terms so that modern readers can grasp what is being described as the Seven Seals are unveiled, the Seven Trumpets are blasted, and the Beast rises out of the sea.
So, what does it all mean? Well, who knows. Maybe John really did have a revelation or maybe he was just tripping on mushrooms. Either way, he had something to say to the Christians of his time.
Bell spends most of his explanations based on two assumptions 1) That the John who wrote Revelation was also the author of the Gospel According to John (Many scholars point to the differences in writing styles to argue against this) and 2) John really was writing down what he saw as it was “revealed” to him. It’s only in the back chapters that Bell devotes time to discussing the idea that Revelation is a metaphor or a description of events contemporary to the author.
Still, Bell manages to give the modern audience and approachable glimpse into how early Christians viewed the apocalypse that many were sure would happen in their lifetime.
In that respect, not much has changed in two thousand years.