The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The author of this apocalyptic text names himself as “John”, which many Christians believe to be John the Apostle. However, modern scholars generally take a different view.
Martin Palmer, theologian and Director of the International Consultancy on Religion, shared his own thoughts during BBC Radio 4 broadcast “Apocalypse”.
He claims the man who actually wrote the text, also named John, was a Christian exile pretending to be one of Jesus’ disciples.
He said in 2003: “Traditionalists believe it was written by John the Divine, the beloved disciple of Jesus Christ – that’s why it was allowed in the Bible.
“But almost certainly it was written by an exceedingly disgruntled exile on the island of Patmos, who was a minor figure in the church.”
Mr Palmer went on to explain how this man may have been able to fool the church by pretending to be someone else.
He added: “If you wrote a slightly suspicious book in those days and you wanted it to get good publicity, you claimed it was written by someone much more famous.
“It wasn’t a complete con but it was a literary device at the time.
“He appears to have been a Christian who suffered under the renewal of persecution at the end of the first century.”
The text states that John was on Patmos – a Greek island – where it is argued he was exiled as a result of the anti-Christian persecution under the Roman emperor Domitian.
He is then said to have written about the apocalypse – the final chapter of the world – as a result of his frustration.
Justin Champion, Reader in the History of Early Modern Ideas at Royal Holloway College, University of London, detailed what he wrote.
He said during the same broadcast: “It is an incredibly fantastic piece of literature and you can find whatever you want in it.
“It also gives a very powerful and sometimes occluded view of how the world has got to where it is and where it will go.
“It is a very complex explanation of viles being emptied, trumpets sounding, seals being opened and lambs being saved – it’s gripping.
“If you believe this book is telling you about the future, you’ve got to read on.”