Revelation is a letter written to Christians living in seven cities in Asia Minor. Most scholars date it to around 96 C.E. The author was a Christian visionary named John living on the island of Patmos, off the coast of Asia Minor.


See Steven Friesen, “Ephesus: Key to a Vision in Revelation,” BAR 19:03.



Ira Rifkin and Gustav Spohn, “Political Extremists Rally ‘Round Revelation,” The Oregonian, April 29, 1995 (Religious News Service). Agreeing with their claim does not imply that the majority of militia members are religious, or that the Book of Revelation is their primary motivating force. The claim is more modest: some within the militias appeal to the Book of Revelation as legitimation of their cause.


This apocalyptic worldview is typical of “visionary historical” apocalypses, one of two main categories of ancient Jewish and Christian apocalypses (the other category is “other-worldly journey” apocalypses). For the distinction and a classification of such books into two almost equal categories, see John Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination (New York: Crossroad, 1984).


For the historical circumstances and their social-psychological effect on early Christians, see Adela Yarbro Collins, Crisis and Catharsis: The Power of the Apocalypse (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1984).


Quoted in Rifkin and Spohn, “Political Extremists.”


The place of the final battle is named as “Armageddon” (ancient Megiddo) in Revelation 16:16; the vision of the battle itself is in Revelation 19:11–21.


In addition to the reasons cited in the rest of this article, there is one more: The symbolic language of the Book of Revelation refers to matters known to its late first-century audience. The original meaning of the book is denied when the symbolism is made to refer to our time (or some still future time). See my BR column, “Thinking About the Second Coming,” August 1994.


There are many excellent introductions to Revelation. See, for example, Adela Yarbro Collin’s essay in the Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), vol. 5, pp. 694–708.