The Book of Revelation: How It Should Have Ended

Today in my class on Revelation we were up to chapter 19, which features the second of three instances in which we expect a climactic battle only to have no battle described and the victory of God/Christ proclaimed.

We had previously discussed the challenges of turning absolute monotheism into a narrative with plot, suspense and resolution. But there was still the feeling that there was something unsatisfying about having battle anticipated and yet never occur.

One possibility is that this issue arises because so much is symbolic or metaphorical. The Beast is a corporate entity, and so cannot have a single defeat or resolution to its story, the way the story of a single Roman emperor might. And so too the victory of Christ is accomplished through the sword of his mouth, presumably representing the Word of God rather than military victory.

Nevertheless, in spite of a rather stern warning at the end of the Book of Revelation, we found our minds turning to the series “How It Should Have Ended.” This is something we’ll come back to the next time the class meets. But I thought I’d ask readers what they think. Do you find the failure of the Book of Revelation to narrate an actual final battle between good and evil unsatisfying? Do you have any interesting or amusing suggestions for “The Book of Revelation: How It Should Have Ended”? And also, is adding to Revelation (even if not actually inserting additional material into the book) sufficiently in contravention of Revelation 22:18-19 that I shouldn’t even suggest this as a potential classroom activity, lest some students fear they must risk coming under a curse if they participate in this class discussion?

Also related to the ending of Revelation, I only recently looked at the Brick Testament depiction of the battle after the millennium in Revelation 20, and loved the sci-fi ambiance they gave it. It never occurred to me before, even though it seems a natural element to include if one views this as 1,000 years in the future!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04417266986565803683 John S. Wilkins

    I'd love to see the Book of Revelation done as1. A sitcom2. A daytime soap3. An SF spectacular4. A stoner dreamImagine the cliches!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11335631079939764763 Bob MacDonald

    It ends perfectly well. It does not fail. It is the tree of life, whose leaf does not fade (Psalm 1). It is the Lambkin and the bride. What more do you need?The substance of the prophecy is the suffering of the Lamb for the life of the world. Anyone who enters into this will not be disappointed.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    John, I've heard the original interpreted as at least two of the genres you mentioned.Bob, I find myself thinking of LOST not just because I tend to anyway, but because it is arguable that the issue the students were having with Revelation wasn't about the ending, but about the failure to wrap up some plot developments on the way there…


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