Worldviews, Wright and The Book of Revelation

Posted: February 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

I promised to blog through Bishop N.T. Wright’s 3-volume New Testament theology and to dig deeper into Revelation, so let’s do both.

Wright argues against postmodernism, which asserts that because none of us have a God-like perspective then we can’t really know the truth behind texts or history, that given humble, prayerful and careful study of the worldviews of those who wrote the texts then we can come to, at least, an approximation of what the author was trying to say.

The Bishop believes that in order to understand a person or group’s worldview, that we must pay careful attention to the stories that they lived by.  

Wright has a point.  We all, whether we have stopped to notice it or not, live within certain stories.  The secular American story is that if we look a certain way and earn a certain amount of money then we will live happily ever after.  

According to Bishop Wright, the first century Jewish story that the authors of Scripture lived within was that God would eventually return and release them from their period of exile.  This point is debatable but we’ll return to it at a later date. 

Yet, Wright is…well…right that we can understand the Bible by understanding the worldview of the inspired authors and that   holds true for the Book of Revelation as well. 

Take for example how we understand symbols.  Take a look at this symbol and ask yourself what it means?

Did you guess “peace”

Fair enough.

But what about when Sir Winston Churchill flashed this sign?

Something tells me that Sir Winston wasn’t sucking on a wizard shaped bong and trying to synch The Wizard of Oz with Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”!

Nope…to Winston, and all those who lived through WWII it meant victory while to those who lived through the sixties it meant peace.

You have to enter into the worldview of the time and culture that produced a symbol in order to understand it.

If we enter into the worldview of 1st century Christians living under the persecution of the Roman Empire during the 1st century then we can understand the symbols of the book of Revelation and, if we understand the symbols then we can understand the book and then we can be blessed by it.

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