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Category Archives: The Bible In Hindsight

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

Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

…….

I had to cheat a little bit and read ahead (in some manuscripts, behind), because I couldn’t believe what I was reading. As far as I can tell, it means what it says. In the “holy city”, there are no dogs. For the same reason that there are no murderers – God doesn’t want them.

WHAT THE FUCK?!

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(I want to read the Bible and be sure I’m reading what’s there, not what I was taught is there. Therefore I am reading it backwards, stopping at each verse, and drawing a picture of what I think the verse is about. Then here, in this text area, I note any lingering questions I might have. This concludes our tour.)

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

It bothers me that I cannot figure out what this verse literally means. Obviously he’s comparing either himself or his ancestor / branch David to the bright morning star, but which is it? Are they both the star? What’s the significance of all this anyway?

This whole verse seems so unnecessary – like Jesus was feeling so insecure that he had to cut in and remind everyone how awesome he was, then disappear before anyone could react. It doesn’t fit into the narrative or flow seamlessly from the verses before or after – both are narrated by the author, not Jesus, and are on entirely different topics.

If Jesus is incredibly insecure, that would explain why all his friends fall over themselves to worship him.

Going backwards like this, I don’t have the context for these stories. I have to figure out each verse in isolation, knowing where things are headed, but with no idea where they’ve been. I find this is very helpful for me to see what’s really there, and what isn’t.

And what isn’t in this verse, is any useful information. It’s pointless formality – you can trust me, because Jesus Morningstar said so. Friend: This is quite simple. I’m not going to trust your vision more than I trust you. If your vision sounds crazy and incoherent, I will trust it less. The more mixed metaphors and dangling participles you throw in, the less convinced I’ll be that you actually know what the hell you’re talking about.

Some say the Bible is full of ancient mysteries. I say it’s full of bad communication.

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(I’m working through the Bible from back to front, one verse at a time, drawing what I see.)

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

I’m trying to remember where I recognize this scene from. I’m concerned that it may have been followed by a money shot.

If this verse were porn, that would explain why nobody goes by their real name. And why a bunch of strangers are all telling each other to come. It leaves open the question of where the one who desires takes the water of life – unless that’s meant to be the same person as the one who is thirsty. It’s all in the details.

If it’s not porn, then someone is extremely concerned with getting people to come – well, right, but in a different sense. I’m guessing this ‘water of life’ has something to do with the ‘tree of life’ we saw earlier, when God was denying a share of it to anyone who took away his words. If you lose your share of the tree of life, do you lose your share of the water of life also? Or just the tree? And where is all this in relation to the holy city?

I’m growing less and less confident that this book has the answers to my questions, but I shall press on.

I’m intrigued by this character of The Bride – this is the first woman I’ve been introduced to in the Bible so far. To whom is she married? She and the Spirit get to say a line together – which confuses me. How can a Spirit pronounce the word “Come”? Does it have a corporeal larynx? If so, in what sense is it a Spirit?

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(I’m going through the Bible backwards, one verse at a time, and drawing what I imagine it says. I use no outside context – only the words on the page.)

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book

Welp, I’m boned.

The whole idea of The Bible In Hindsight is to add to the words of the prophecy of this book. I want to understand it, so to make it fit into my head, I connect it to my own imagination. That is how I learn. Evidently it is frowned upon.

I don’t know what plagues are described in this book, not having read it yet. Maybe it describes a plague of happiness, or a plague of good vibes. I’d look awfully silly to have worried about this if a plague of superhuman confidence were added to me. I suppose I wouldn’t mind looking silly, though.

But since I got the feeling that the author was referring to rather more negative plagues, I have to ask – why? That seems like a really extreme reaction to something as simple as adding some words to a prophecy. Is this verse something God’s lawyers told him to put in, so that He had an excuse to randomly plague whomever He saw fit? I guess the next time I get sick, I know what to blame.

I don’t like this God character at all. I hope we get back to Jesus soon. At least he had grace for all (the saints). All God seems to have are threats.

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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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(I’m working my way through the Bible backwards, one verse at a time.)

He who testifies to these things says “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

Here’s what we know so far about this Lord Jesus character:

  • He has a particular kind of grace, which is meant to be upon all (or all the saints)
  • He testifies to “these things” (Presumably meaning the rest of the book, which I have not yet read)
  • He says he’s coming soon
  • The author of Revelation is excited for that to happen

Sounds like a great guy so far. Trustworthy, reliable, gracious, and punctual. What more could you ask for?

I mean.. A definition of “soon” might be nice. If his showing up really is going to be a big deal, I’d like to have a ballpark estimate of the time frame. Not the day or the hour, just.. I dunno, maybe an upper bound. “Surely, I am coming within the next million years.” Would that be too much to ask? Maybe he elaborates earlier.

I am intrigued by the use of Jesus as a credential – the author seems to be implying that this whole thing wasn’t his idea, it was the idea of Lord Jesus . The problem there, is that I have only the author’s word that his words are endorsed by Jesus. Lord Jesus may indeed be testifying to these things, but if he wasn’t, I’d never know. Maybe proof comes earlier.

At least I can be sure of one thing – the coming of Jesus must be happy fun times, for the author to get so excited. I can’t wait to reach the part where he explains what’s going to happen. First guess: Biggest party ever.

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So, here’s what this is: I wasn’t sure if I understood the Bible correctly, so I decided to go through it backwards, verse by verse, and illustrate my impressions as I went. I’m also coming at it with zero context – forgetting everything I half-remember about the stories, and the interpretations, and the doctrine. This way I can be sure I won’t miss anything. I only want to see what’s really there.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”

The “Amen” at the end is interesting, primarily because it comes at the end – of the verse, of the chapter, of the book, of the Bible. I’m assuming the first part of the verse is all that’s meant to be framed as a prayer, but I can’t be sure of that yet. I’ll remember this if anything crops up later (earlier) that I don’t understand.

From the rest of the verse, I know there’s a being named “Lord Jesus”, this being has something called “grace” associated with it, and that this grace is something that the author thinks everyone¬† (or in some manuscripts, all the saints) should have with them.

I don’t know about you, but I take a very different meaning from “grace be with all” and “grace be with all the saints” – the difference between unconditional love, and love for the in-group only. I don’t have any context yet, of course, but then we’ve only just begun (or in some manuscripts, ended).

The Bible I’m using doesn’t give me any more context for that footnote, and I won’t cheat and look for it elsewhere, but I already have lots of questions. Which manuscripts are more reliable? How can we know? Should I be worried that the very existence of multiple, contradictory interpretations prevents me from ever fully understanding the meaning of the text?

I’m sure humans can answer all my questions, but only with human answers. I’ll see if God’s Holy Word has anything to say on the subject. One verse at a time.

By the way, click here to purchase the Bible I’ll be using. If you’d like to follow along, and/or blog your own impressions, I would welcome the company.