Cosmology in the book of Revelation
Jordaan, Gert J.C.
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The cosmology of the book of Revelation mainly involves God’s restored reign over the created universe (κόσμος). Throughout the book, the κόσμος is depicted according to its constituent parts, namely heaven, sea and earth. At first sight, this threefold description seems to stem from the ancient Jewish and mythological three-storied cosmological view of ‘up-above’, ‘here-below’ and ‘down-under’. However, this correspondence proves to be only superficial. Heaven is used by John not as much in spatial sense as in temporal sense: as symbolic reference to a divine point above time and history. Heaven is also a qualitative reference to a situation of complete obedient worship to God. Earth in John’s visions is mostly used as metaphor for sinful mankind under the rule of Satan. Yet, the earth remains part of God’s creation under his divine authority, and even becomes a refuge for the church in this dispensation. The sea in Revelation, when not denoting a physical space, is often equated by scholars to the abyss or the underworld. However, in Revelation the sea is mostly used as metaphor for the basic evil from which the beast originates and of everything immoral and impure. The last chapters of Revelation reveal that in the eschaton heaven, sea and earth will all be part of the new creation − renewed to the point where God’s reign is restored and acknowledged above all doubt throughout the κόσμος.
- Faculty of Theology