Sounds plausible to me. And I always wondered what John used when he wrote the revelations.
Some scholars believe he was not using anything. John Graves, in a footnote to his seminal work on the mythological roots of poetry, The White Goddess, said that the language John of Patmos employed was a trick designed to fool Roman snoops. He explained that the authors of the N.T. wrote in koine Greek, which had no punctuation marks, and that John most likely employed a letter-number system of correspondences (think of a primitive version of the Nazi "Enigma" machine) known as isopsepia. (Anyone reading who once studied Jewish mysticism will know of a similar practice in that tradition known as gematria.) By this notational trick, it so happens that To Mega Therion (Greek for The Great Beast) has correspondence to the same numeration as Nero Caesar. That's right, both phrases equal 666 in the Greek number-letter correspondence system.)
The idea that John's letter to the Eastern Churches dealt with current events, not the Resurrection (Rapture) is anathema to fundamentalist Christians, but they show little aptitude for understanding of history. (Not that they care: we're dealing with lunatics, folks.) So, while John might have been stoned when he wrote the book, its meaning may have nothing to do with End Times apocalypticism, which is all the rage in pop culture, with computer generated effects used to remind us of impending doom. Whenever a religulous nut tells me the apocalypse is near, I get a good laugh. If they persist, I say "Nero came and went. They made a fun movie about him, Quo Vadis? Peter Ustinoff is just brilliant as Caesar."
The writing, IIRC, is called apocryphal. As you say it's a form of coded language so that the writers wouldn't wind up tied to a cross bar until they died by the romans
Thank you, that made it much clearer!
James - That was Robert Graves, poet and amateur scholar of antiquity. The White Goddess has much that is interesting and much that is pure nonsense. Most contemporary scholars of the New Testament argue that John of Patmos really was not as clever as all that. His Greek is rough and almost deliberately ungrammatical in places, indicating that he probably was not fully fluent in Greek. Many phrases that sound strange in Greek turn out to be word-for-word translations of Hebrew phrases. A great book synthesizing what is currently known and surmised about Revelation is Jonathan Kirsch's A History of the End of the World. Another interesting account of Revelation from a literary figure is D.H. Lawrence's Apocalypse. Both Lawrence and Graves are working in the kind of synchretic approach to religion pioneered by the likes of J.G. Frazer (The Golden Bough). Lawrence focuses on much of the symbolism of Revelation, noting its origins in earlier Mediterranean and Middle Eastern religions. Where Graves and Lawrence seem to have things right is that John of Patmos was clearly writing about and for his own times. What "prophecy" exists in Revelation is mostly just "the world ends tomorrow" stuff early in the book, and by "tomorrow" he clearly meant very soon, not 2000 years later. Kirsch explains much of this, as does Bart Ehrman in God's Problem.
I very often get John Graves, my English composition teacher when I got my B.A., mixed up with Robert Graves, the famous English poet (he married Laura Riding, an American poet). That was my point, though: the silliness of misinterpreting the book and thinking it applies to current events. All ages have had their "signs and portents," and yet the world goes on....
Explains a LOT, don't it?
I still think that it's a big ol' mix of post-event boasting, deliberate lying (warlord Moses) and self delusion. Drug induced trips could fit right in. :-D
Praise the FSM and pass the doobie....
Does this mean if I smoke a shit load of weed I'll be a holy man? I know if I get really wasted I can talk to god ....except he looks like a large trout in a suit... is that normal?
Of course it is normal, however I should point out to you that trout seldom wear suits; they like underwear and overalls.