Feature: St John the Divine & the Apocalypse

A great deal of confusion and uncertainty surrounds the Book of Revelation. But don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. Well, maybe some of it is – the bits about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Battle of Armageddon and the final defeat of Satan, say – but biblical scholars broadly agree that Revelation should in fact be read as a denunciation of the era in which its author lived.

St John experienced his Revelation on Patmos at the end of the 1st century AD, making it too late for him to have been either John the Evangelist, the author of the Gospel according to St John, or John the Apostle, or John the Baptist. Instead he was simply a wandering Jewish/Christian prophet of whom very little is known, though he has acquired the titles of John the Divine, John the Revelator, John the Theologian and, most simply of all, John of Patmos. His actual Revelation took the form of a letter to seven Christian churches in Asia Minor, condemning the Roman subjugation under which they then suffered and predicting an imminent apocalypse in which the Roman Empire would be swept away.