What Is the Visionary Mode of the Book of Revelation? Movie Theater and/or Virtual Reality?

There are no published commentaries on the book of Revelation that I can recommend.  Commentators either begin with flawed presuppositions about the framework of the book (e.g. amillennial, historical premillennial, pretribulational) or they are not asking the right questions (e.g. atomizing the text).

One of these questions that is rarely investigated—and impinges on interpretive conclusions—is the nature of the visionary revelation of modes of image-processing.

Here is an excerpt from a thoughtful article by my friend Steve Hays, who, albeit, is amillennial (but I am working on him!).

1. Some books of the Bible draw heavily on visionary revelation (e.g. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, Revelation). It’s striking to me that scholars who write commentaries on these books rarely spend much time on the psychology of visionary revelation. They discuss genre, symbolism, schools of interpretation, rules of interpretation, yet they rarely explore the experience of visionary revelation, and how that might impact interpretation.

2. In theory, visionary revelation could employ two different modes of image-processing:

i) Movietheater model
Visionary revelation might be analogous to watching a movie. The viewer is stationary, while the scenery is in motion (or the illusion of motion). Like a movie theater, where you sit still, in front of a screen, watching a series of rapid fire images. One scene after another.

ii) VR model
Visionary revelation might be analogous to a VR program. Unlike watching a movie, this would be an immersive, interactive experience. The scenery is stationary while the observer is in motion (or the illusion of motion).

This is also analogous to those time-travel dramas where you can dial up a particular date in the past or future, maybe see a preview, step through a portal, and there you are–right in the thick of things.

The moviegoer model is an extension of looking at a still picture. The observer remains outside the picture. The VR mode is like stepping right into the picture. The observer finds himself inside the picture.

3. Does Scripture give any indication which of these models is closer to the truth? It’s possible that God uses both modalities at different times.

Visionary revelation includes revelatory dreams. Dreams are immersive, interactive. That would fit with the VR model. Likewise, in Ezk 40-48, the prophet is given a guided tour of the temple complex. He seems to be moving through the temple complex. That, too, would fit the VR model.

This may be dream-like, where certain details are fuzzy. Perhaps he doesn’t describe the temple ceiling, if there is a ceiling, because he does’t look up.





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