Previous Heads and Horns
- Everywhere in the New Testament where it speaks of the Roman emperor
he is always referred to as Caesar. If John was speaking about Roman
emperors in Revelation seventeen, then why didn't he refer to them as
I suppose a reason for that could be because he borrowed the symbols
from Daniel to write a codified message to his first century
christian compatriots. The ones he wrote to were familiar with
Daniel, and being familiar with their present day political situation
they would put two and two together and understand what John was
talking about, whatever that was.
That brings up another question. The beast John saw had ten horns
(13:1, 17:3,7,12,16). This is the same number of horns as the fourth
beast of Daniel (7:7,8,20,24). John made it clear that the ten horns
he spoke of hadn't received a kingdom as yet (17:12). Were those to
whom John wrote supposed to understand that these were the same ten
horns Daniel spoke of, or were there supposed to be twenty horns, ten
from Daniel and those from John?
If they were supposed to be the same ones Daniel spoke of, then why
weren't the seven heads supposed to be the same seven that Daniel
spoke of? The difference of course is that Daniel saw four beasts,
while John saw one beast that seemed to be a composite of the four
(13:1). That's assuming that the beast of seventeen is the same or
almost the same as the one from thirteen.
Then there's the Dragon (12:3). He also had seven heads and ten
horns. Which seven heads and ten horns were these? Were John's
readers supposed to understand that these were an entirely different
set? Or perhaps these were the ones Daniel spoke of. Or were they
all the same ones? Would John's readers understand all of this
because they were familiar with Daniel and the political situaltion
John talked about? Did John make things clear from his use of
symbols from previous writings?
Do I expect too much from a first century apocalyptic vision, and
biblical scriptures in general?
- I don't think you expect too much. But I believe we don't put as much importance on the numerological symolism as John intended. Sevens tend to represent "completeness" and tens tend to represent "worldly power." I think John cared more about the ideas the number evoked than the precise list of emperors or kingdoms. Whether the real list was 6, 7, 8, or 9 emperors, and where the list list started was not nearly as important as the idea of "completeness" that John wanted to evoke. Fudging the exact list was OK. Consider the lists of the 12 tribes given in Rev. John did some juggling there to make sure the list was 12 long.
>Date: Fri, 06 Jun 2003 16:47:25 -0000
>From: "Alan Fuller" <rocsy@...>
>Subject: Previous Heads and Horns
>... <Stuff on 7s and 10s deleted for space> ...
>Do I expect too much from a first century apocalyptic vision, and
>biblical scriptures in general?