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21 Aug 0 Comment

The most feared book in the Bible: what is the Apocalypse and why is 666 the “number of the Beast”


When we hear about the Apocalypse, the first thing that comes to mind is “Apocalypse Now” the 1979 American war film directed and produced by Francis Ford Coppola where the Vietnam War is recounted. For the youngest, it will be any of the “zombie apocalypse” films, where the dead come out of their graves to eat the brains of the living and thus remain in that state of existence. For the more veteran it could be the film of “The four horsemen of the Apocalypse” American production of 1921 with Rodolfo Valentino (and his version of the tango “to the American”) and its reissue in 1962 whose script is based on the homonymous novel of 1916 , written by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez and that begins in a stay in Argentina. But also, in the face of any catastrophe, be it environmental or humanitarian -whether generated by man or by nature-, we shout that the Apocalypse is already upon us or that it is the end of history.

However, for both Jews and Christians the apocalyptic genre was not written to generate fear, fear and anxiety but hope. Let’s see a definition of this literary genre: “A set of literary expressions that arose in Hebrew and Christian culture during the Hellenic and Roman period between the 2nd and 1st centuries BC and the 1st centuries until the middle of the 2nd century is known as apocalyptic genre. they express, through symbols and complex metaphors, the suffering situation of the Jewish people or of the followers of Christ and their hope in a saving messianic intervention, or in the case of the Christian apocalyptic in the Parousia or second coming of Christ. ”

In other words, it not only narrates the end of time and the arrival of Jesus, but it also narrates the hope of the people of Israel in the most terrible moments of their existence. The Greek word apocalypse means “to unveil” or “to reveal.” Hence, some Bibles refer to the book of Revelation as the “Book of Revelations.” What is mainly revealed in the apocalyptic genre is the end of history and the eternity that will follow, in which the justice of God will be established.

The apocalyptic literature of the Old Testament was written in times of crisis, beginning with the tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes in 175-164 BC, passing through the first Jewish revolt of AD 66-70. and culminating in the second revolt under Bar Kocheba in AD 132-135. In their messages, the apocalyptics followed the Israelite prophets, who claimed to speak and explain the word of God for the times they lived, and believed, hoped, and prayed for the triumph of justice. What strikes us most in these writings is the abundant and imaginative use of symbolism, which must be interpreted figuratively, never verbatim. His language, on the other hand, is almost always evocative, suggestive, connotative and also quite dark in some texts. Portions of Joel, Amos, Zacharias and Isaiah have apocalyptic features, also the book of Daniel which is for many the book of apocalyptic par excellence.

In the New Testament, the book of Revelation of John is the only fully apocalyptic document. The author of it calls himself by that name. “John to the seven churches that are in Asia” (Ap. 1, 4). And again, “I, John, your brother and companion in tribulation. . . he was on the island called Patmos, because of the Word of God ”(1, 9). The seer does not give more details about the person of him. But there are other paragraphs of the New Testament that could be classified as apocalyptic and they are Matthew 24–25 and Mark 13. Also, some segments of the letters to the Thessalonians contain apocalyptic elements: the apocalyptic of evil: 2 Thess. 2: 1-4; Christ descends from heaven 1 Thess. 1:10 with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God: 1 Thess. 4:16; 2 Thess. 1: 7; angels will accompany him as executors of his decree: 2 Thess. 1: 7; vengeance will be taken on the wicked both Gentiles and Jews: 1 Thess. 4: 6; 2 Thess. 1: 8, the condemnation of the wicked will be their eternal destruction 2 Thess. 1: 9. And when evil reigns on earth Christ will descend from heaven and kill the man of sin with the breath of his mouth and then destroy him with the manifestation of his coming 2 Thess. 2: 8.

Numbers are also symbolic in the Apocalypse of John: 3 for God, 4 for nature, 6 for incomplete and sometimes bad, 7 for complete and perfect, almost always good with the exception of the parody of the dragon and the beast . The 10 is also complete, the 12 points to the people of God (12 patriarchs, 12 apostles, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 altar stones, etc …). A multiplication adds to the meaning of the digit: 144,000 is the square of 12 times the cube of 10. When the figures are symbolic, they should not be translated into the metric system or other measures because

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