[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

New Book: The Revelation of Saint John

May 24, 2006 10:35 AM
by Zack Lansdowne

The Revelation of St. John, the last book of the Bible, is sometimes called the Apocalypse or Book of Revelation. It has been a mystery ever since it first appeared about 2000 years ago because it is written entirely in symbols.

The traditional approaches to interpreting the Revelation could be characterized as "external-temporal," because they assume that the various episodes denote events that occur in the external world at definite past or future times. A few commentators, however, have used a psychological approach.

For example, Helena P. Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society, made the following point: "The fact is . . . the whole Revelation, is simply an allegorical narrative of the Mysteries and initiation therein of a candidate, who is John himself." (Isis Unveiled)

Edgar Cayce, a well-known medium, made a similar point: "Why, then, ye ask now, was this written (this vision) in such a manner that is hard to be interpreted, save in the experience of every soul who seeks to know, to walk in, a closer communion with Him? For the visions, the experiences, the names, the churches, the places, the dragons, the cities, all are but emblems of those forces that may war within the individual in its journey through the material, or from the entering into the material manifestation to the entering into the glory, or the awakening in the spirit." (Van Auken, Edgar Cayce on the Revelation)

Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship, made a related point:

"Certainly in the Revelation of St. John we are led by means of metaphor into the profound insights of the yoga science in which Jesus initiated his advanced disciple John, and others, whose consciousness thereby ascended to the exalted Self-realized state of the kingdom of God within." (The Second Coming of the Christ)

Blavatsky, Cayce, and Yogananda interpreted only a few symbols in the Revelation, and they did not attempt a verse-by-verse analysis of any chapter.

I have just published a new book called The Revelation of Saint John (Red Wheel/Weiser, 2006), which provides a verse-by-verse analysis of the entire Revelation. It uses a psychological approach of interpretation that takes every symbol as representing some aspect of an aspirant who is on the spiritual journey. When interpreted psychologically, the meaning that emerges from the Revelation is similar to the teachings of the Ageless Wisdom, such as found in Theosophy and especially in Blavatsky's Voice of the Silence.

The Voice of the Silence characterizes the spiritual journey as "the sevenfold Path" (p. 91) and gives instruction for each stage of the path. The Revelation also characterizes the spiritual journey as a sevenfold path, as shown by the seven churches, the seven seals, and the seven vials. In fact, according to my analysis, the descriptions of the seven stages in The Voice of the Silence match fairly well with the corresponding instruction given in the Revelation. My book provides an extensive set of footnotes that show the passages in the Voice and Revelation that correspond to each other.

My book is now available from Theosophical Society in America plans to publish an excerpt from it in the Nov.-Dec. issue of their Quest magazine.


Zack Lansdowne

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application