The Graduate Christian Fellowship invites you to:
Reading the Book of Revelation as a Witness to Jesus Christ
with special guest
Dr. Joseph Mangina
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology
An evening of eating, hearing, reading, discussing, discerning, praying, etc.
with the GCF community
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Chaplain’s office, Wycliffe College (basement)
6:00 – Dinner
7:00 (or so) – Something After Dinner – discussion, etc.
For centuries the Book of Revelation has intrigued and puzzled Christians. It has also fueled their imaginations, which should come as no surprise to us. With its rich cast of characters – sinister horsemen, devastating plagues, mysteriously sealed scrolls, epochal wars, a red dragon with seven crowned heads and ten horns, and that arch-villain, the Anti-Christ – Revelation is like the biblical equivalent of a superhero action cartoon. As the old saying (adapted) goes, if I could have a nickel for every interpretation of a horseman, beast, or Whore of Babylon that’s ever been offered, I’d be a rich man.
But what on earth (or in heaven, for that matter) does any of that have to do with us?
If your most recent engagement with the Book of Revelation has been the Left Behind Series; if you’ve ever wondered what’s up with all those bizarre references to plagues, horsemen and beasts; if you (and perhaps your pastor and your church) have simply and quietly left that part of the Bible out of your thought and discussion completely, because it seemed so impenetrable or irrelevant; I’ve got Good News for you – this week’s GCF is for you!
Our guest this week is Professor Joseph Mangina, who teaches theology at Wycliffe College, and who has recently published a book about Revelation that is getting rave responses:
“Joseph Mangina has sat patiently with every twist and turn in the Apocalypse. Drawing on conversation partners as diverse as Tolkien, Dylan, and Bonhoeffer, Mangina has produced a fine, rich commentary, one that not only instructs us about the Apocalypse but also urges us to listen to this vision as never before.”
“Mangina shows that Revelation is not an otherworldly book; it is a prophetic challenge and source of wisdom addressed to the church in this and every age.”
The Book of Revelation (or The Revelation to John) is more accurately called The Apocalypse of John. This places it within a much wider literary genre known as apocalyptic literature; the most prominent biblical examples are Revelation and the Book of Daniel, but other examples of this type of writing are scattered throughout the Old Testament prophets, and the New Testament, both in the teachings of Jesus and in the epistles. Broadly speaking, an Apocalypse – from the Greek apokálypsis, or “lifting of the veil” – is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of people by the falsehoods and misconceptions of their time, but revealed to a few. We can hear echoes of this in Jesus’ repeated urging – “Let anyone with ears listen!” – and his explanation for using parables, because “seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand” (Matt 13:13).
Joe Mangina’s thesis is that, more than anything, this book is about Jesus Christ, and for that reason it’s important that we understand its significance for us today. It’s not merely a collection of obscure portents of an ominous future, or a reference to long-past events that are no longer relevant to us. Like many recent scholars of Revelation, Joe’s hope is to continue in the tradition of the apocalyptic John, pulling back the curtains so that we can not only learn to see more clearly into the Book of Revelation, but more importantly, understand how its message should shape our lives as Christians in the 21st century.
So please join us this Thursday. You never know when you’ll get another comparable opportunity to unpack this often-neglected (or sensationalized) part of the Bible. And bring along any of your friends, Christian or otherwise, who find an evening of lively and enlightening discussion of a classic text with vivid characters and a gripping plot to be a worthwhile way to spend a Thursday night (with dinner included!).
Professor Joseph Mangina teaches Theology at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto. Born and raised in the U.S., he has taught at Wycliffe since 1998. Much of his work, including 2 books, has focused on the thought of Karl Barth, the great Swiss Protestant theologian. His theological interests include the nature of the church (ecclesiology), and the effort to overcome divisions among the churches (ecumenism). His most recent book is a commentary on the Book of Revelation (Brazos Press, 2010). Joe and his family attend the Anglican Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields where his wife, Elisa Mangina, is the assistant organist and choir director.