The Structure of the Book of Revelation

Scholars agree that the Book of Revelation has the following parts: Prologue, Angel, Letters, Baseline Story, Riddle of God, and Epilogue. The longest part, the Baseline Story, is confusing. On the one hand, the Baseline Story shows clear narrative intent with its

specific time-expressions like what is due to flash and after these visions that signal successive sections[1]R

serial telescoping-out sets of seven, such as Spirits, seals, horns and eyes, thunders, Angels standing before God, and Angels bearing seven afflictions[2]R

many kais (and-s) that link serial events as the Hebrew vav consecutives (and-s) in the Old Testament do

accumulating images that advance meanings.

On the other hand, the blatantly awkward jumpy style of the Baseline Story fails to follow the flow of its flow its forecasts faithfully as a proper story should.

As a result, as many proposals as scholars exist for the structure of the Baseline Story. One useful proposal identifies three interruptions as textual pillars cutting into the Baseline Story and supporting the structure of the Baseline Story.[3] As a result the following modified structure emerges for the entire Book of Revelation:

1.18: Prologue: An unveiling

1.18: John starts unveiling:

1.919.5: The Angel tells John to record:

1.920: Whatever things you have seen—the Angel and his messages

 

2.13.22: Whatever things now are—his pending letters to the Seven-Churches

 

4.119.5: Whatever things are due to flash—the Baseline Story that follows

1.193.22: The Angel writes letters to the Seven-Churches

2.12.7: To Ephesus

 

2.811: To Smyrna

 

2.1217: To Pergamos

 

2.1829: To Thyatira

 

3.16: To Sardis

 

3.713: To Philadelphia

 

3.1422: To Laodicea

4.119.5: The Baseline Story:

4.111: A Door opens to an Enthroned-One, to four Living-Beings, and to 24 elders

 

5.114: The Enthroned-One and the Ram address the Revelation scroll

 

6.117: The Ram breaks the first six seals of the scroll

First Interruption:

7.18: Four angels endorse 144,000 for God

7.917: Martyrs praise God

7.15: The Temple appears

8.19.21: The Baseline Story continues:

8.15: The Ram breaks the seventh last seal from which seven Trumpet-Angels appear

 

8.612: The first four Trumpet-Angels sound

 

8.139.12: The fifth Trumpet-Angel sounds as the First Trump-Ta-Ra

 

9.1221: The sixth Trumpet-Angel sounds as the Second Trump-Ta-Ra

Second Interruption (Central Prophecy):

10.111.11: The mighty Seventh Angel prepares to sound

11.114: Two witnesses appear, disappear, are revived, and are martyred

11.1418: The seventh trumpet-angel sounds as the Third Trump-Ta-Ra

11.19: The Temple of God appears again

12.116.21: The Baseline Story continues:

12.118, 13.110, 13.1118, 14.15, 14.613, 14.1420 & 15.14: Seven serial visions play out

 

15.5–8: The Temple of God appears again

 

15.6–15.8: Seven Pitcher-Angels appear

 

16.1–16.21: The seven Pitcher-Angels pour their pitchers

Third Interruption:

17.118: The main Angel teaches how to interpret prophetic symbols

18.124: Babylon falls

19.15: People praise God for Babylon falling

19.4-5 & 19.6-22.5: The Riddle of God is explained, then fulfilled:

19.45: People praise God for Babylon falling

 

19.610: The wedding banquet of the Ram

 

19.1116: The Lord of lords and King of kings is proclaimed

 

19.1721: God’s great banquet takes place

 

20.110: The Millennium

 

20.1115: Spiritual life

 

21.121: New Jerusalem

 

22.15: The Tree of Life

22.621: Epilogue: An unveiling

22.621: John finishes unveiling the One Religion of God

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People praising God and the Temple link the interruptions together. Internal links tie together the Central Prophecy as the most important second interruption. One party (Baha’u’llah) is simultaneously its mighty Angel, its seventh Trumpet-Angel, its rod like a cane, and its Third Trump-Ta-Ra. Its sevenfold 1260–day time-prophecy that predicts the year 1844, studs it simultaneously with joy, mourning, and striving.[4]R Revelation sets the Central Prophecy, its most important text, at its center in the style of Old Testament books, like Leviticus that sets its most important Yom Kippur text in its central Chapter 16. No wonder that Baha’i Writings interpreting Revelation focus on its central Chapter 11.[5]A



[1] Rev. 4.1; 7.9, 9.12, 15.5, 18.1 & 19.1; also in 1.1–2, 19

[2] Rev. 1.4 x 2, 1.12, 1.16, 5.1, 5.6, 10.4; also in 8.2, 15.1

[3] Ben-Daniel, The Apocalypse in the Light of the Temple 217–25 (modified)

[4] For the main Angel, vv. 10.1; 10.7 & 11.15; 11.2; & 11.15; for the 1260–day time-prophecy, vv. 11.3, 12.6; 11.2, 13.5; & 11.9, 11.11 & 12.14

[5] ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, SAQ 11.45–61