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    Quotables: Reversed Thunder

    October 12, 2011 by Brandy Vencel
    Reversed Thunder:
    The Revelation of John
    and the Praying Imagination
    by Eugene Peterson

    [T]here are many people who stubbornly refuse to read it, or {which is just as bad} refuse to read it on its own terms. These are the same people who suppress fairy tales because they are brutal and fill children’s minds with material for nightmares, and who bowdlerize Chaucer because his book is too difficult as it stands. {p. x}

    [T]he Revelation is a gift–a work of intense imagination… {p. x

    Everything in the Revelation can be found in the previous sixty-five books of the Bible. The Revelation adds nothing of substance to what we already know. The truth of the gospel is already complete, revealed in Jesus Christ. {p. xi

    The result of St. John’s theological work is a poem, “the one great poem which the first Christian age produced.” If the Revelation is not read as a poem, it is simply incomprehensible. The inability {or refusal} to deal with St. John, the poet, is responsible for most of the misreading, misinterpretation, and misuse of the book. {p. 5} 

    A good place to begin is to be courteous to St. john himself by honoring the fundamental concerns that we discern in his life and that come to expression in the Revelation: that his subject is God {not cryptographic esoterica}, and that his context is pastoral {not alarmist entertainment}. {p. 10} 

    The Revelation makes explicit what is true of all scripture: it originates as God’s word spoken and heard, or presented and seen. {p. 11} 

    The most-to-be feared attacks on the Christian faith go for the jugular of the word: twisting the word, denying the word, doubting the word. It is impressive how frequently the Psalmists denounced and cried out for help against lying lips and flattering tongues. Far more than they feared murderers, adulterers, usurers, and Egyptians, they feared liars. God made himself known to them by word, and it was by words that they shaped their response to him. When words are ruined, we are damaged at the core of our being.

    The subtlest and most common attach in the satanic assault on God’s ways among us is a subversion of the word. {p. 14} 

    The Revelation has 404 verses. In those 404 verses, there are 518 references to earlier scripture. If we are not familiar with the preceding writings, quite obviously we are not going to understand the Revelation. John has his favorite books of scripture: Ezekiel, Daniel, Zephaniah, Zechariah, Isaiah, Exodus. But there is probably not a single canonical Old Testament book to which he doesn’t make at least some allusion…

    The statistics post a warning: no one has any business reading the last book who has not read the previous sixty-five. {p. 23}

     Every line of the Revelation is mined out of rich strata of scripture laid down in the earlier ages. {p. 23}

    [John] does not merely repeat [scripture]–it is recreated in him. He does not quote scripture in order to prove something; rather, he assimilates scripture so that he becomes someone. {p. 23} 

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  • Reply AnnE Zimmerman May 22, 2019 at 5:18 am

    I am struggling to find the following quote of Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder
    “The many-dimensioned reality of salvation is preserved not by a truth that we must figure out, or by an ethical behavior that we must carry out, but in a meal to eat.”

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 22, 2019 at 10:05 am

      That doesn’t ring a bell, but it’s been eight years since I read the book, so it doesn’t mean it’s not there somewhere. Sorry I’m not more help! 🙂

  • Reply Brandy @ Afterthoughts October 13, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    It really is a very interesting book, and it if beautifully written, which is refreshing for a “theology” book. Peterson’s love for Scripture is contagious!

  • Reply Amber October 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    very interesting quotes! I want to read the book now.

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