The Dire Consequences of Disregarding Internal Evidence
by Mark Mountjoy
The ordeal of interpretive ambivalance, aspect blindness and systemic abdication of the imperative to understand the Book of Revelation as the culmination of a narrative, a larger story and a Semitic epitome passing from a narrow national stage to a universal, transcendent and ultimate framework is the direct result of massive academic failures along the way—denying explicit indicators from the Old Testament prophets, (Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel) subverting the prophecies of Jesus himself, ('this generation', the fall of Jerusalem, the coming of the Son of man, the coming of the kingdom of God) and playing fast and loose with the emphatic words of the Apostles and their amanuensis (e.g., "the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly"1; "in yet a very little while and he that shall come will come and will not delay"2 ; "the judge is standing at the door"3 ; "the end of all things is at hand"4; "the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass"5)—by not paying attention, or by deliberately ignoring the Words of God the subject of apocalyptic seems like a hopeless mess and every man's interpretation is right in his own eyes and the Bible's own claims, notwithstanding, are despised as desperate and wishful thinking or else out-and-out fiction.
What is interpretive ambivalence? This is the inability or unwillingness to define a book, a chapter or a verse as meaning anything definitive or sure. Hostile leaders of the people in Jesus' day, in some cases, were unwilling to say or admit to a logical conclusion based on the ramifications or implications that they could see were involved. It could be that the logic of a situation is viewed as completely undesirable or, perhaps a particilar interpretation could deprive them of the basis of power or the cloak of authority. Many reasons can be offered as to motivations, but it is clear today that of all the books of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation is, by far, the one in which the majority of scholars and laymen alike, are vague and uneasy about making definitive pronouncements of what it certainly means and what it certainly says.
But this ambivalence does not cover all topics in the book (as one might expect). Instead, the bulk of the material in John's revelation is chalked up to insinuations about the Romans, their army, their capital, their religion, but, ultimately, authorities are completely certain that at the end of time Jesus is coming back in glory and their is but one universal resurrection.