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(I’m going through the Bible backwards and illustrating my impressions, one verse at a time.)

And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

This verse hits a few milestones – it’s the first time God has been mentioned by name, the first verse that does not contain the word ‘Amen’, the first time the book itself has been referred to as prophecy, and the first time God has been invoked as a threat.

I’m not really sure what constitutes ‘taking away’ here – is God asserting copyright? Because he could learn a thing or two from the Creative Commons folks about non-ambiguity. Is he saying that quoting or reprinting only part of the book is punishable by getting kicked out of some places I’ve never heard of before?

Whatever he’s trying to say, this verse is definitely a threat. But since the threat is so unclear, it’s not actually that useful to me, if I want to understand God’s likes and dislikes. Right now all I know about the character is that he has some real estate that he’s very proud of, and he uses it as a cudgel to get his way.

Maybe it’s really, incredibly important that not one word of the book of this prophecy go missing. Divine revelation does seem to be budgeted strictly. But if that was the reason, why wouldn’t the author just say, “Look, you guys – if one word goes missing, X, Y, and Z bad things will happen” and trust us to do the right thing? I object to coercion.

At least, by default, I have a share. I’m not removing one word from the book of this prophecy – I’m reprinting the entire thing, and adding my own interpretation. I’m doing so specifically in order to understand the original prophecy. Surely no reasonable Supreme Being could object to that?

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