Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Dummies Guide to the Apocalypse

David Hulme - doctor David Hulme - is the genius who edits the journal Vision. Never heard of Vision? No surprise there, it has a miniscule circulation, but is lavishly produced to promote the views of Hulme's sect, of which he is Glorious Leader. Vision has over recent years managed to obtain interviews with a number of those best described as "the good and the great" in the field of biblical studies, and the High and Hulmerous One himself has been published in obscure tomes, giving the impression of seasoned scholarship.

Those mighty accomplishments notwithstanding, Doc Hulme is a former cult televangelist who, after bailing out of that faith community, then being dumped from the presidency of a splinter group, now struts his stuff for a tiny, secretive fringe group.

All of which is by way of background to these statements from Hulme in the current issue of Vision. Subject: the book of Revelation.

The apostle John's final written work, the book of Revelation, concludes the collection we call the New Testament... There are many who question the book's authorship. But conservative scholars, basing their opinion on the earliest traditions, believe Revelation to be an authentic work by the apostle John.

This is clearly Hulme's position too, as the article is the nineteenth (!) in a series called The Apostles.

Hulme is absolutely correct when he notes that there are many who question the authorship of the Apocalypse. In fact most not only question, but totally reject the idea that the writer of the other Johannine literature is responsible for it. As for "conservative scholars," it's hard to know who he has in mind. Most mainstream 'evangelical' scholars would want to distinguish the apostle from the author (sometimes referred to as John of Patmos, or John the Elder) who penned Revelation. Bear in mind that nowhere does the author claim to be the disciple who Jesus loved. There is no internal evidence to support Hulme's position.

That the second century church fathers - specifically Irenaeus, Clement, Tertullian and Justin - considered 'St. John' to be the author isn't in dispute, but Hulme hardly stands in a tradition that attaches much value to the 'church fathers'; in fact he'd probably run a mile rather than give them any credibility at all when it comes to other matters of history and doctrine. It has to be conceded that they could indeed be wonderfully inventive when the cause of righteousness required an apologetic flourish. There were other voices though: among those in the early church who questioned the authorship of Revelation was Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria (see below).

There are some really good reasons why the writer of Revelation is highly unlikely to have been one in the same as the disciple/apostle, but Hulme seems to have conveniently forgotten to list them. Why? Given the fact that he seems to go out of his way to rub shoulders with genuine scholars, it's hard to believe that he isn't acquainted with these reasons. For those unfamiliar with them, here's a "Readers' Digest" overview of some.
  • Differences between the style of Revelation and the other material ascribed to John. These are too great to be explained away by the use of different scribes. Dionysius mentions these as early as the third century, noting of Revelation that, where the Gospel of John and Johannine letters are skilful compositions, "in neither language nor style does [the author of Revelation] write accurate Greek. He makes use of barbaric expressions and is sometimes guilty even of grammatical error."
  • The author of Revelation refers to the other apostles as past founders - with no indication that he is of their number (Rev. 21:14)
  • John was one of the most common Jewish names of the era.
  • While the Gospel of John shows little concern for the end of the age, certainly less than the synoptic Gospel writers, there is a complete contrast in the single-minded apocalypticism of Revelation.
Perhaps the premier one-volume 'conservative' commentary currently on the market is Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. In fact it would be remarkable if Doc Hulme didn't have a copy of his own, doubtless gathering dust at this very moment. Therein we read: 'the precise identity of "John" remains unknown.' Hardly a ringing endorsement of Hulme's view.

Of course, there are many other churches which promote an uncritical reading of the Bible, but Hulme is a little different, he appears to play on scholarship. Which leads one to wonder why he can't bring himself to fess up about the uncertain authorship of the Apocalypse. Could it be that a sect like his makes huge use of this book in particular to fuel lurid prophetic speculation, speculation that lies at the heart of their sense of uniqueness and identity, and that consequently any doubt cast on the traditional authorship would seriously undermine the nonsense that undergirds such an approach?


  1. The John who wrote the gospel is very self effacing in his autobiographical descriptions, while the John of Revelation comes right out and uses the phrase "I, John".

    Other church fathers believe that whoever wrote the book was close to God, even if the apostle did not write the book. Thematically, one could see this book as belonging in the Bible. The mistake HWA/WCG made was in teaching that we should base our daily lives more on their particular take on this book (as filtered through the Old Testament/Covenant) than on
    the teachings of Jesus Christ.
    There are people who have endured literally decades of sustained fear as a result.


  2. "Thematically, one could see this book as belonging in the Bible."

    OK, any church that preaches that? Automatic deal-breaker, right there.

    Did you even read Gavin's post, Bob? The early Roman church founders didn't even think, "thematically" or otherwise, the book belonged in the canon!

    My question is, why this Apocalypse? Why not any one of the the other half-dozen apocalypses? Thematically, any one of those fit better with the overall canon (and I do mean the overall canon, not just the NKJV or NASB), than the "Revelation of John."

    That's just my opinion.

  3. --Hellenistic Judaism--30 October 2010 at 17:09

    A fascinating look at a particular aspect COG mental illness.

    The COGs, JWs who claim an unbroken - if esoteric - preservation of doctrine/canon from the 1st century, in reality, owe a great deal to 2nd century Catholic harmonization of disparate christian streams/interpretations of the Christ Myth - which itself is the result of a rich variety of disparate Judaistic/Hellenistic movements/charlatans.

  4. Every Christian writer until the middle of the 3rd century, whose works are extant today and who mentions the matter at all, attributes Revelation to John the apostle. Examples include:

    Justin Martyr at Rome
    Irenaeus at Lyons
    Tertullian at Carthage 
    Hippolytus at Rome )
    Clement of Alexandria (.

    Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria was the first Church Father to question the apostolic authorship of Revelation. His argument was based upon his observation of the use of different words and expressions in Revelation than in the gospel of John.
    The Greek of the Gospel of John is correct and idiomatic, whereas that of Revelation contains a number of passages that are unusual and cannot be explained in terms of correct Greek grammar and syntax.
    But does this prove that John did not write Revelation? No. For one thing, the two books present different themes, and a certain difference of terms should be expected. But more importantly, when Revelation was written, John was in exile on the Isle of Patmos. He had no scribes or literary helpers there to assist him in writing. John was an uneducated Jewish fisherman who had never taken a college class in Greek composition. 
    The attempt to disprove the apostolic origin of Revelation based upon literary factors is insufficient to offset the evidence in favor of John's authorship.

  5. "My question is, why this Apocalypse?"

    Bet your life on eternal truth, not on comparative myth or calumnies about Christ.

  6. PH:

    Of course I read the entire discourse. If I had become offended or perplexed at the point of a single word, and had stopped reading, I would have been honest as you have been with me, and would have noted that word, and told you where I had stopped.

    I'm seeing things from an enhanced perspective these days, as I recently completed both Josephus's and Eusebius's histories. There is so much to read that I did not while I was in the WCG, and I have time to do it. Planned reading for the future includes more from the Antenicene Fathers, Hillel, Nahmanides and Maimonides. Having a wonderful time! Wish you were here!


  7. "..a tiny, secretive fringe group."

    That's for sure. From the stats on Cogwriter, I estimate they're now down to around 1000 supporters, falling below critical mass. And many, I guess, are making the move to to larger more viable GOGs, like to UCG, where they can still get most of Herb's "18 Restored Truths". I know one family who recently jumped ship from LCG to UCG (really, what's the difference).

    Doc Hulme tries to make his operation appear large by mentioning "Offices" around the world. But no address is given for the Australian office, just a PO box. A street name is given for New Zealand but, alas, it appears to be the one on which the Post Office is located (Wellesley St).

    The "World Headquarters" is pictured but, disappointingly, it's no more than a small Craftsman bungalow in LA.

  8. "Planned reading for the future includes more from the Antenicene Fathers, Hillel, Nahmanides and Maimonides. Having a wonderful time! Wish you were here!"

    The Antenicene fathers just put me to sleep. Na(c?)hmanides was interesting, but I only glossed over him, might have to revisit. (I don't think I've read Hillel, but I may be misremembering). Maimonides was too fundie for my liking, although his Thirteen Principles are promoted by both Orthodox and Conservative Jews, promoted a little too much sometimes, in my opinion.

    As you read, I'm sure you will find that, as with Christianity, Judaism too, has many sects and splinters, all based on personalities/rabbis who were held up as being "maybe Messiah" (right up until the 1980s, and apparently there are even one or two hanging around the Orthodox circles today). Maimonides strikes me as very much in that tradition.

    That said, reading Maimonides does give one a fairly solid grounding in the thinking and perspectives of modern Judaism's adherents, for which I say, good on you! So long as that is what you are reading those texts for, and not merely just to glean more "proof" that the christological figure was a "true" Jewish messiah.

    I think you'll find, as you get deeper, into Maimonides particularly (he's quoted at some length on the Jews for Judaism site), that no, the mythological figure from the Christian narrative(s) could not, was not, and will never fit the bill, for the Jewish Messiah.

    Whereas most atheists would say this is the definitive debunking of Christianity (and I admit, that's how my rather flip earlier remark came over), there are those of us who go that one step further, and try to the see the narratives in light of a different body of texts.

    I.e., not as a fulfillment of the LXX/Septuagint, or the Jewish texts, but as a continuation of the Hellenistic texts, of Dionysus and Apollonius and even the Essene Joshua, legend of which was around, a hundred years before the Christ-cult got off the ground.

    This is, I suspect, where we part ways. But, at least in the tradition you are currently a part of, you get to acknowledge (albeit through a different filter, as we discussed on the other post) the turning Wheel of the Year, which is pretty much the only similarity that my own personal spirituality has, with professing Christianity, these days.

    Happy Samhain, Bob; I may be remembering my ancestors, and you may be remembering the Christian martyrs and saints, but we are both ushering in the beginning of the long, dark, sleep, with a single point of light amidst the darkness, in our own way. And there is not one thing wrong with that.

  9. Gah! Might as well be arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    If the bible is the best an all-powerful god can do, I pity all "believers".

  10. Gaudeamus igitur juvenes DUMB HUMUS


  11. "The attempt to disprove the apostolic origin of Revelation based upon literary factors is insufficient to offset the evidence in favor of John's authorship."

    What evidence?

    If there was any provenance/secular records for the historicity of such an "Apostle", it would help us greatly to believe this eclectic fantastical fanatical rambling raving apocalypticism.

  12. Baywolfe, "the Bible" is not the "best" an all-powerful God can do.

    But, for non-believers, that is all they get. When will people get the message that God is NOT trying to convert and persuade people at this time??!!

    What non-believers think is irrelevant to Him right now.

  13. Jorgheinz,

    Gaudeamus igitur
    Juvenes dum sumus.
    Post jucundam juventutem
    Post molestam senectutem
    Nos habebit humus.

    Ubi sunt qui ante nos
    In mundo fuere?

    Vadite ad superos
    Transite in inferos
    Hos si vis videre.

    Vita nostra brevis est
    Brevi finietur.
    Venit mors velociter
    Rapit nos atrociter
    Nemini parcetur.

    Vivat membrum quodlibet;
    Vivant membra quaelibet;
    Semper sint in flore.

    Vivant omnes virgines
    Faciles, formosae.
    Vivant et mulieres
    Tenerae, amabiles,
    Bonae, laboriosae.

    Vivat et respublica
    et qui illam regit.
    Vivat nostra civitas,
    Maecenatum caritas
    Quae nos hic protegit.

    Pereat tristitia,
    Pereant osores.
    Pereat diabolus,
    Atque nostrum subsannatio.


  14. Larry,

    Oh I got, and finally rejected, the even more ludicrous message of Herbert Armstong and all if his ill-bred splinter ilk.

    That plan is the product of a diseased mind, and is made even more facetious by deliberately proof-texting an already fallible document.

    Escape the con, and take your life back before it's too late.

  15. "But, for non-believers, that is all they get. When will people get the message that God is NOT trying to convert and persuade people at this time??!!

    What non-believers think is irrelevant to Him right now."

    But, Larry! According to Grace Communion International's new "transformed by truth" theology, that Kingdom of which you speak, is no longer coming! Now they burble on about Jesus being here and "in heaven" at the same time! Your paragraph above sounds more like Hulme's apocalyptic vision, than the new "washes-whiter-than-white" (as Gavin put it some time ago) "transformed" theology of the church.

    More proof of the lingering hypocrisy and two-tiered information system of the Worldwide Church of God/Grace Communion International, however. Keep posting, Larry! You're living proof the church is still nothing but one huge deception-factory!

  16. I truly have no idea how Baywolfe's statement relates to my post? Apparently, he doesn't like the Bible. Okaayyy.....

    As I said, it really doesn't matter.

    As for you, PH, your post shows that you are completely clueless regarding the beliefs of GCI.

  17. as larry said, PH...what non-believers think is irrelevant.

  18. The traditional view holds that John the Apostle—considered to have written the Gospel of John and Epistles of John—was exiled on Patmos in the Aegean archipelago during the reign of Emperor Domitian, and wrote the Book of Revelation there. Those in favor of a single common author of the Johannine literature point to evidence of similarities between the Gospel of John and Revelation. For example, both works are soteriological (e.g. referring to Jesus as a lamb) and possess a high Christology, stressing Jesus' divine side as opposed to the human side stressed by the Synoptic Gospels. In both the Gospel of John and in Revelation, Jesus is referred to as "the Word of God" (Ő λογος του θεου).
    Explanations of the differences among John's supposed works include factoring in underlying purposes, the target audience, the author's collaboration with or utilization of different scribes, and the advanced age of John the Apostle when he wrote Revelation.

    A number of Church Fathers express an opinion on the authorship of Revelation. Justin Martyr avowed his belief in its apostolic origin. Irenaeus (178 C.E.) assumed it as a conceded point. At the end of the second century, it was accepted at Antioch, by Theophilus, and in Africa by Tertullian. At the beginning of the third century, it was accepted by Clement of Alexandria and by Origen, later by Methodius, Cyprian, and Lactantius.

    Dionysius of Alexandria (247 C.E.) rejected it, upon doctrinal rather than critical grounds.

    Although the traditional view still has many adherents, many modern scholars believe that John the Apostle, John the Evangelist, and John of Patmos refer to three separate individuals.

    They point to several lines of evidence suggesting that "John of Patmos" wrote only Revelation, not the Gospel of John nor the epistles of John. For one, the author of Revelation identifies himself as "John" several times, but the author of the Gospel of John and the writer of the epistles of "John" never identify themselves by name. Also, while both the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation liken Jesus to a lamb, they consistently use different words for lamb when referring to him — the Gospel uses amnos, Revelation uses arnion. Lastly, the Gospel of John is written in nearly flawless Greek, but Revelation contains grammatical errors and stylistic abnormalities which indicate its author was not as familiar with the Greek language as the Gospel's author.

  19. continued...
    The Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, and Protestant canons, no two of which are alike, were fixed by modern councils. The Council of Trent (1645-1563) determined the Roman Catholic canon. While a majority were in favor of the canon of Augustine they were not agreed in regard to the character and classification of the books. There were four parties. The first advocated two divisions of the books, one to comprise the acknowledged books, the other the disputed books. The second party proposed three divisions-- the acknowledged books, the disputed books of the New Testament, and the Apocryphal books of the Old Testament. The third party desired the list of books to be named without determining their authority. The fourth party demanded that all the books, acknowledged, disputed, and apocryphal, be declared canonical. This party triumphed.
    At a council of the Greek church held in Jerusalem in 1672, this church, which had always refused to accept Revelation, finally placed it in the canon. The Greek canon contains several apocryphal books not contained in the Roman Catholic canon.
    Both divisions of the Protestant church, German and English, declared against the authority of the Apocryphal books. The Westminster Assembly (1647) formally adopted the list of books contained in the Authorized Version of the Bible.

  20. Uh, "Imaging", why do I get the impression that this is a cut 'n paste???

  21. "As for you, PH, your post shows that you are completely clueless regarding the beliefs of GCI."

    I'm only judging the beliefs of WCG/GCI by what you, as an alleged member of WCG/GCI, continue to put out on Gavin's blogs, Larry; if I'm somehow coming to the wrong conclusions about what the church believes, maybe it's time you started asking yourself what you, as a representative member of the church, are putting out to the Internet as "the face of GCI" and as representational of what it appears that the church believes, by your continual Armstrongist preaching, even though you claim to be a member of the "new and improved" cult.

  22. "as larry said, PH...what non-believers think is irrelevant."

    Charming. Somehow, I don't think actual professing Christians take that approach, however; otherwise,they would not thump their Bibles so fiercely, and insist that all be "converted" to their shiny-happy-Jebus.

    The attitude espoused above, by both yourself and Larry, is a cultic holdover, otherwise known as "doctrine over person" that fosters xenophobia, isolationism and cultic behaviours.

    Why Larry, as a "transformed by truth" church member, would continue to promote such a vile philosophy (Never mind the fact that he still preaches BI!) just goes to show that "the true church" hasn't been "transformed" one jot or one tittle....Senior and Junior just put lipstick on the pig (Literally!), so the cult would not be shut down, after Herbie died.

    Hypocrisy much?