Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Danger of Domesticating the Apocalyptic Texts, Part 1

Cook gets a hearty “Amen” out of me at the start of this chapter. He says many want to domesticate the apocalyptic texts, particularly teachers so they can bring some sanity to them. These texts, to be honest, terrify me. I’m glad I have to teach them; I’d avoid them, otherwise. Cook continues: “[Domesticating the texts] means shifting the focus in reading away from a serious grappling with their over theological witness about God’s fantastic future work of re-creating reality” (p. 40). Since I don’t want to do that, I best listen to these three ways apocalyptic texts get domesticated.

Domestication #1: Spiritual and Symbolic Readings
Because most of us, at least in the West, don’t see much in terms of miracles, we may be quick to explain away the fantastic elements of apocalypse as simply symbolism and not having any real, tangible expression. They are signs of something big coming, but they’re exaggerated images of a less dramatic reality. But Cook, pointing to a reading from the Dead Sea Scrolls and then some Native American apocalyptic beliefs, argues that apocalypse is anticipating a creation-altering event. It is not exaggerated symbols; something tremendous is going to happen that will change reality. Set it to rights.

More questionable ways of reading apocalyptic texts forthcoming. Any thoughts on this one?

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