‘The Last Judgment’ Fra Angelico (1387-1455)

Course Description

In Greek, the word “Revelation” literally means “unveiling.” With its intricate plot and frightfully weird characters, like the dragons, intriguing horsemen, beasts, and a strange lamb that although slain is somehow victorious, most people see the Book of Revelation as far from an “unveiling” by God. In fact, St. Jerome (347-420), the great Doctor and Father of the Church Father, wrote that the Book of Revelation “has as many mysteries as words” (Letters 53, 8).

In our popular Western culture the Book of Revelation has been consistently drawn upon for movies depicting the apocalyptic ending of the world: from the groundbreaking 1968 Sci-Fi adventure, Planet of the Apes, starring Charlton Heston to Steven Spielberg’s 2005 War of the Worlds, and more recently Cormac McCarthy’s 2009 grim post-apocaylptic film, The Road. With Hollywood’s almost endless fascination with the end of the world we could ask, ‘What do all these cinema-graphic depictions really have to do with the “unveiling” of God’s plan in the Book of Revelation?’

What is the real message of the Book of Revelation? Who is the slain, victorious Lamb? Who are the four horsemen, the 144,000, or the twenty-four elders? What is meant by the thousand year reign, the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven bowls of judgment? Who are the four living creatures or the two mysterious witnesses given power to prophesy for 1260 days?

Despite all the fanciful Hollywood depictions of the end of the world, a number of modern biblical scholars have noted that above all the Book of Revelation contains strong liturgical overtones. The book describes men in white robes (4:4), saints singing songs (15:3-4), incense (5:8), altars (8:3; 16:7), chalices (16), Sunday worship (1:10), a High Priest (1:13ff), vestments (4:4), priests (20:6), books being read to churches urging them to repentance (2-3), consecrated virgins (14:4), a heavenly tabernacle (21), lamp stands (1:12), candles (1:12), the sign of the cross on foreheads (14:1), the Gloria (15:3), the great Alleluia (19:1, 3, 6), the Holy, Holy, Holy (4:8), the Lamb of God (5:12), intercessory prayers of angels and saints (8:3-5), silent contemplation (8:1), men prostrating themselves before Christ, the Son of Man (1:17), and finally the great marriage supper of the Lamb (19:9).

What are we supposed to make of all these unusual and sometimes frightful characters and liturgical overtones? In this course we will endeavour to answer these questions, and much more!

Unlike other such courses on Revelation we will steer clear of the many popularly held fanciful interpretations. We will be guided by the Church’s criteria for correct biblical interpretation as laid down by the Second Vatican Council (Dei Verbum, n.12) and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (see nn.112-114).

This course is designed for you to discover the riches of the Book of Revelation so as to enrich your own personal prayer life and your experience in attending the Church’s liturgical celebrations. So come and join us for this awesome and exciting study of the Book of Revelation!

Course Objectives

  1. To see the connections between the Apocalyptic literature of the Book of Revelation and the Church’s liturgical celebration in the Catholic Mass.
  2. To gain an appreciation for how the first century Christians understood the Mass.
  3. To understand how the Bible becomes living Word in and through the Mass.
  4. To see that through the Mass the mysteries of Salvation History are made present by God’s divine power.
  5. To see how, through the Book of Revelation, the reality of the Mass as Heaven on Earth is conveyed to us.

Course Duration

6 Weeks: 12 Hours (i.e., two hours, one night a week).

Recommended Reading

Texts Recommended for Purchase by Course Participants:

Barber, Michael. Coming Soon: Unlocking the Book of Revelation and Applying Its Lessons Today. Steubenville, Ohio: Emmaus Road Publishing, 2005.

Hahn, Scott and Curtis Mitch. The Ignatius Catholic Bible Study: The First, Second, and Third Letters of St. John and the Revelation to St. John. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2009, 2nd ed. 2011

Hahn, Scott. The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth. New York: Doubleday, 1999

Popular Level Reading:

Barber, Michael. Singing in the Reign: The Psalms and the Liturgy of God’s Kingdom. Steubenville, Ohio: Emmaus Road, 2001.

Hahn, Scott and Curtis Mitch. The Ignatius Catholic Bible Study: The New Testament. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010.

Hahn, Scott. Study Guide for The Lamb’s Supper. New York: Image Books, 2010.

Hemming, Laurence Paul. Worship as a Revelation: The Past, Present and Future of Catholic Liturgy. London: Burns and Oats, 2008.

Raush, Thomas P. Eschatology, Liturgy and Christology: Toward Recovering an Eschatological Imagination. Collegeville, MI: Liturgical Press, 2012.

Thematic Works for this Course:

Achtemeier, Paul J. Inspiration and Authority: Nature and Function of Christian Scripture. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 1999.

Béchard, Dean P. ed. and trans. The Scripture Documents: An Anthology of Official Catholic Teachings. Collegeville, MI: The Liturgical Press, 2002.

Bruce, F.F. The New Testament Documents: Are they Reliable? Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1981.

Catholic Church. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Homebush: St Pauls, 1994.

_________. The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church: Address of His Holiness John Paul II and Document of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. Boston: St Paul Books and Media, 1993.

_________. Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, New Revised Edition, vol. 1. Edited by Austin Flannery. New York: Costello Publishing Company, 1996.

Dauphinais, Michael and Matthew Levering. Holy People, Holy Land: A Theological Introduction to the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2005.

Farkasfalvy, Denis. Inspiration and Interpretation: A Theological Introduction to Sacred Scripture. Washington DC. The Catholic University of America Press, 2010.

Geisler, Norman L. and William C. Roach. Defending Inerrancy: Affirming the Accuracy of Scripture for a New Generation. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2011.

Hahn, Scott. A Father Who Keeps His Promises: God’s Covenant Love in Scripture. Michigan: Servant Publications, 1998.

_________. A Pocket Guide to the Bible. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Division, 2008.

_________. Scripture Matters: Essays on Reading the Bible From the Heart of the Church. Steubenville, Ohio: Emmaus Road, 2003.

Shea, Mark P. Making Senses out of Scripture: Reading the Bible as the First Christians Did. San Diego: Basilica Press, 1999.

Sri, Edward. The Bible Compass: A Catholic’s Guide to Navigating the Scriptures. West Chester, PA: Ascension Press, 2009.

Stravinskas, Peter M.J. The Catholic Church and the Bible. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996.

Vanhoozer, Kevin J. (ed.) Theological Interpretation of the New Testament: A Book-by-Book Survey. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2005, 2008.

_________. (ed.) Theological Interpretation of the Old Testament: A Book-by-Book Survey. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2005, 2008.

Scholarly Level Reading:

Aune, David. Word Biblical Commentary: Revelation. 3 vols. Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1997.

Beale, Gregory K. The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmanns, 1999.

Briggs, Robert. Jewish Temple Imagery in the Book of Revelation. New York: Peter Lang, 1999.

Caird, G.B. A Commentary on the Revelation of St. John the Divine. London: A & C Black, 1966.

Carrington, Philip. The Meaning of Revelation. London: SPCK, 1931.

Charles, R.H. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary of the Revelation of St. John. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1920; 1985.

Chilton, B.D. “Festivals and Holy Days: Jewish.” In Dictionary of New Testament Background. Edited by Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

Chilton David. The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation. Tyler, TX: Dominion Press, 1987.

Collins, Adela Yarbro. “The Apocalypse (Revelation).” In The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Edited by Raymond Brown, J. Fitzmeyer, and R. Murphy. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1968.

Daniélou, Jean. The Bible and the Liturgy. Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 1956.

Dix, Gregory. The Shape of the Liturgy. London: Dacre Press, 1945.

Fekkes, J. Isaiah and Prophetic Traditions in the Book of Revelation: Visionary Antecedents and Their Development. Sheffield: Sheffield Press1994.

Ford, Massyngberde, J. The Anchor Bible: Revelation. New York: Doubleday, 1975.

Gentry, Kenneth. Before Jerusalem Fell. Atlanta, GA: American Vision, 1998.

_________. The Beats of Revelation. Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1994.

Glasson, T.F. The Revelation of John. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965.

Gregg, Steve, ed. Revelation: Four Views: A Parallel Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1997.

Hahn, Scott W. Kinship by Covenant: A Biblical Theological Study of Types and Texts in the Old and New Testaments. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.

Harrington, Wilfred J. Revelation. (Sacra Pagina Series, vol. 16) Collegeville, MI: Liturgical Press, 2008.

Hendriksen, William. More than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1962.

Hort, F.J. The Apocalypse of St. John: I-III. London: MacMillian, 1908.

Johnson, Dennis E. Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 2001.

Levenson, Jon D. Sinai and Zion: An Entry into the Jewish Bible. Minneapolis: Winston Press, 1985.

McCarthy, Dennis J. Treaty and Covenant. Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1981.

_________. Old Testament Covenant: A Survey of Current Opinions. Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1972.

Metzger, Bruse. Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1993.

Minear, Paul S. I Saw a New Earth: An Introduction to the Visions of the Apocalypse. Washington, DC: Corpus Press, 1968.

Mounce, Robert. The Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmanns, 1998.

Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal. The Spirit of the Liturgy. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000.

_________. Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life. Washington DC: Catholic University Press, 1988.

Resswquie, James, L. The Revelation of John: A Narrative Commentary. Grand Rapids: MI: Baker Academic, 2009.

Russel, Stuart J. The Parousia: The New Testament Doctrine of Our Lord’s Second Coming. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1983.

Shepherd, Massey H. The Pascal Liturgy and the Apocalypse. London: Lutterworth Press, 1960.

Spatafora, Andrea. From the “Temple of God” to God as the Temple: A Biblical Study of the Temple in the Book of Revelation. Rome: Editrice Pontificia Universita Gregoriana, 1997.

Thomas, Robert L. Revelation 1-7: An Exegetical Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1992.

_________. Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary. Chicago: Moody Press, 1995.

Trench, Richard. Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia Minor. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1997.

Wainwright, Geoffrey. Eucharist and Eschatology. Akron, OH: OSL Publications, 2002.

Scholarly Journal Articles:

Blount, Brian K. “Reading Revelation Today: Witness as Active Resistance.” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 54 (2000): 398-412.

Chase, S.H. “The Date of the Apocalypse.” Journal of Theological Studies 8 (1907): 431.

Durwell, Francois-Xavier. “Eucharist and Parousia: The Fundamental Basis of the Interpretation of the Real Presence.” Lumen 26 (1970): 273-315.