Lee Harmon on the Two Witnesses

Lee Harmon on the Two Witnesses July 6, 2013

James Bradford Pate has been blogging about a book by Lee Harmon on the Book of Revelation.

One of the most interesting things I noticed is Harmon’s suggestion that the two witnesses in Revelation 11 could be the priests Jesus and Ananus, both of whom are killed, in close connection to which (according to Josephus) an earthquake occurs.

It is always interesting to try to find historical references that an ancient apocalyptic author had in mind. And it is certainly not inappropriate to make the attempt. But as James notes, the stance of these two individuals scarcely fits Harmon’s suggestion that John of Gischala wrote the Book of Revelation, and Ananus’ execution of James the brother of Jesus makes him an unlikely candidate to be considered a true prophet by the Christian author of the Book of Revelation. Of course, one could suggest (following George Beasley-Murray) that the book we now have is a Christian redaction of an earlier Jewish work, which had such features. But if so, then that means the final Christian author didn’t understand at least some of what its earlier author(s) intended.

And so I mention this proposal as an example of how easily (relatively speaking) one can construct a theory based on some evidence, if one is willing to overlook the larger number of places where the evidence does not fit.

In conclusion, let me mention that speculation about the identity of the two witnesses is a longstanding pastime in some Christian circles. Here’s what some futurist interpreters think they’ll look like:


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  • Michael Wilson

    It is an interesting coincidence. I’m very skeptical that a Christian would describe Ananus as a witness to the Christian faith, even if they really hated the Zealots and Idumideans. Piecing out specific meanings to thing in Revelation is fairly difficult, in my opinion, because its hard to settle on a date for composition and the prospect exist that this work was edited later so every thing may not interrelate. I did find a lot of merit to the theory that the two witnesses are a symbol for the people who make up the Christian community so there isn’t a specific event relating to two individuals in mind here. The idea instead is that in the last days the community, symbolized by the temple, will preserver, but many of its constituent members will be martyred. It is possible that the links between the Revelation and the fates of Jesus and Ananus is coincidence, its is also possible that John was inspired by the tales circulating about these two and the earthquake and destruction that followed, or that a prophecy that was composed in relation to this event by supporters of Ananus and Jesus was incorporated by the author/redactor of Revelation who thought it was really about some event concerning the Christian community. This sort of syncretism happens a lot in occult circles now, whereby prophacies from Nostradamus, Hopi Indians, or Mayans are adopted by “Christian” groups out of context to refer to some pending apocalypse.

  • jojo

    And I thought William Tapley was one of the two witnesses. Stupid me!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      “It’s Prophesied,
      It’s Prophesied,
      What happens when
      Your brain gets fried…”

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Kick-ass comics illustration of “The Trip-and-Fall Guys”.
    Where is it from?

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