Episode 11 in Revelation: An Idealist Interpretation includes my first use of illustrations from the 11th through the 19th centuries depicting scenes from Revelation The focus in this episode is Chapter 6, St. John’s account of the opening of the
first six of the seven seals, including St. John’s vision of the Four Horses of the Apocalypse, the fate of the souls and martyrs “under the altar” and the great cataclysm of earthquake, sun darkening, and the moon and stars falling. I’ve illustrated both the Old and New Testament sources for these powerful and disturbing visions with quotations from Joel 2, Psalm 74:11 and Matthew 24:7, 9, 29-31. As with other episodes, the text is read first, followed by commentary and illustrations. Watch the Episode or Listen to the Podcast version
Unless you are a scholar of religious art, you most likely have never seen illustrations of Revelation painted before the Victorian era. For this and later episodes of the Revelation series, I have explored several collections in the archives in the West and in Russia. Each has an interesting history. Between 1000 and 1020 A.D., the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III commissioned a great work to illustrate certain Gospel passages and the Book of Revelation. The work is known as the Bamburg Apocalypse, prepared in the Scriptorium at Reichenau and now part of the Bamburg State Archives in Bamburg, Germany. These charming illuminations exhibit the strong influence of the Eastern Church artistic style in the period before the Renaissance and the Western preference for anatomically-correct art. In the
episode I used the illustration for the First Horse (the White Horse), which includes the Greek Cross in a circle which became a very popular symbol of Jesus Christ. In the Eastern tradition, the letters IX XC Ni Ka are superimposed, the first pair to the left and right above the bar and the second pair left and right below the bar. Consistent with Revelation 6, together they mean Jesus Christ Victor (or Conqueror) over Death.
Another set of Revelation illustrations is found in an 11th Century collection in Paris, the Saint-Sever Beatus, which is based upon an earlier set of illustrations from the 7th Century in Spain.
In future episodes of the Revelation series, I will use as many of these historic works as I can to illustration the various scenes in St. John’s narrative of his visions.
The Podcast Homily for Third Sunday After Trinity is relatively short, focused on 1 Peter 3:5b-11 and Luke 15:1-11, the first a lesson in the Christian virtues of humility and persistence under threat from the Evil One and the latter two parables, the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin. Listen to the Podcast Homily.
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