The why behind this book
The why behind this book
This book is a graphic retelling of the book of Revelation. Through 420 illustrations, John’s visions are depicted verse-by-verse as clearly and objectively as possible.Thematic infographics conveniently offer unique, enlightening perspectives on themes like structure, place, and time.
The quest for a graphic overview
- An elusive principal framework
To begin with, it’s hard to see how all the different visions relate to each other. Are they in chronological order? Do they describe the same events from different perspectives? And how do the various “series”, e.g., the seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls, and three angels, relate to each other? It isn’t always clear, and that makes Revelation enigmatic and harder to approach.
Another complicating factor is the disagreement about whether the visions should be taken literally or understood as a metaphor. When you read “something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea” is it really talking about a literal mountain? Or should a passage like that be interpreted through the lens of Jewish symbolism, i.e., maybe it’s about a king or kingdom destined for destruction? Who’s to say?And should everything be taken literally or symbolically? Or should one passage be read literally and the other symbolically? And if that’s true, how do we decide where the dividing line is?
- Old Testament Allusions
A third complicating factor is that the book of Revelation refers or alludes to the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh) over 600 times. Does that mean mastering Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and all the minor prophets is a prerequisite to getting a good handle on Revelation? Is Revelation the cornerstone that culminates and explains every prophecy? Or should you also be able to understand Revelation as a standalone book?
- Time Frames
Complicating factor number four is time. A famous subject of contention is whether the book of Revelation addresses the past, present, or future or whether it’s a book of general principles meant for every generation. How you answer that question largely determines how you interpret Revelation as a whole.But even on a smaller scale, time makes things tricky. Time frames such as “about half an hour”, “1,260 days”, “42 months”, “a time, times, and half a time” are far too specific to be considered insignificant. It feels like John’s peculiar phrasing intends to convey something specific.
- Location settings
Certain location settings could also be confusing. For example, consider “a place prepared for her in the wilderness”, “the East”, and “the public square of the great city – which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt – where also their Lord was crucified”. What did John hope to convey with these?
The overwhelming number of mysterious characters is the last and perhaps greatest complicating factor. Just consider the four horsemen who pour out calamity on the earth, a whore and city called Babylon, a beast part lion, panther, and bear with seven heads and ten horns, 24 elders, the 144,000 “sealed”, and “a great multitude that no one could count”.All of the aforementioned complicating factors coincide in Revelation, making it a fascinating, nigh-impenetrable book. Unsurprisingly, that has made it the subject of rigorous study for over 2,000 years. And with the passing of the centuries, vastly different opinions and interpretations have arisen all over the world.
A page from architectural methodology
How infographics can help
Firstly, a simple illustration conveys a message quicker than writing does. Just consider the practical simplicity of road signs.
- Associations and making connections
Secondly, illustrations help you to draw associations and make connections. If a familiar image shows up in two different passages, that image can make it easier to relate the two. That also makes it easier to distinguish recurring overarching themes or principles.
- Visual touchstones
Thirdly, illustrations are easier to remember than words. Clear infographics will stay etched in your memory longer than words.
- Obtaining an overview
Lastly, the collection of illustrations and thematic infographics also helps create an overview of Revelation. Side by side, the illustrations and analyses provide a bird’s eye view. But put the pages of the book of Revelation side by side, and what do you get? A nice collage of words but no overview.
John’s visions are plotted for you verse by verse in 420 illustrations. Compact summary pages help visualize Revelation’s broad outlines. Thematic infographics zoom in to reveal elusive patterns, structures, and connections.
In Revelation Illustrated, Ruben van der Plas takes a revolutionary approach to exploring Revelation. He neatly and meticulously outlines the ancient text, successfully sidestepping having to take a theological side. This book offers a unique look at the Apocalypse accessible to anyone eager to tackle the Bible’s last book.
It’s your chance to catch a never before seen glimpse of the book of Revelation.