Antalya Museum, Turkey/ET Archive, London/Superstock

A pensive visionary surrounded by images of the Apocalypse, St. John receives illumination from heaven in this 18th-century icon from the Eastern Orthodox Church. Often symbolized by an eagle (here, perched at the evangelist’s shoulder), the John who authored the Book of Revelation while exiled on the island of Patmos has frequently been identified with the author of the Fourth Gospel.

Whether this identification is correct or not, the author of Revelation clearly had a mastery of biblical texts and traditions. Drawing on his knowledge of Israel’s historic encounters at Megiddo, John creates a vision of the future that is steeped in the imagery of a wide range of Old Testament prophecies. In this way he seems to affirm that the God of ancient Israel is and will remain the one who controls the course of history.