Reading Revelation is somewhat like attending a good play

I really enjoy reading Michael Pahl’s The Beginning and the End (Eugene, Ore.: Cascade, 2011). In the following I will quote a few things he says about Revelation. What I like about what Pahl says is that he talks about the suffering of the followers of Jesus and God’s faithfulness to them. We fail to read Revelation probably if we miss these. The other great suggestion Pahl has is that we can read Revelation as if we are attending a play. (I will highlight some sentences in blue in the quotes below.)

Revelation is not so much concerned with the precise when and how questions of the future as much as the who and what and why sorts of questions of human – and especially Christian – existence in this present age: Why do we suffer in this world, especially as God’s people? Is God faithful to his people and his creation? What is our role as God’s people in this oppressive world? What is wrong with the world? How will things be made right? (p. 51)
[I]n a real sense, reading Revelation is a lot like attending a good play – which brings us back to the importance of stories in shaping our collective identity and purpose and values. We have narrators (John and his angelic interpreter) guiding us through the story. We have a series of scenes (apocalyptic visions) unfolding before us, which are visually and verbally stimulating, even provocative, critiquing the world in which we live even as they present for us the world as it could be, as it will be. And, just like a good play, if we fully engage the strange world of this dramatic story we call Revelation, we will come out of the theater changed, seeing the real world – and our place in it – in a radically new way. (p. 51)

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