Enter: The Dragon Exegesis Of Revelation 12:1–6 -- By: Michael Dellaperute
JMAT 22:2 (Fall 2018) p. 90
Enter: The Dragon Exegesis Of Revelation 12:1–6
My remembrance of Dr. Bill Arp: I had the privilege of studying Greek under Dr. Arp while pursuing my PhD. My first impression of Dr. Arp was that of soft-spoken, elderly gentleman who disdained technology and paused for an inordinately long time before answering a question. I came to respect him as a man of God with a brilliant mind who could not only understand and explain complicated linguistic theory, but also remember the names and hometowns of his students. Dr. Arp genuinely loved the Lord and his word, and he created a hunger in the minds of his students. Along with introducing me to NT Discourse Analysis, Dr. Arp impressed on all his students the importance of determining the author’s intended meaning of a passage. This led to my exegetical work in determining the meaning of the Revelation 12:1–6 pericope and its place in the context of the book of Revelation as a whole.
“The Bible may be said to begin and end with the story of a Serpent. In the book of Genesis, a serpent, more subtle than any beast of the field, tempted the woman in Paradise; in the Book of Revelation a dragon stood before the woman to devour her child,” observes Edward Ulback.2 Although the contents of Revelation 12:1–6 have served to ignite the imagination of readers for generations, the meaning has befuddled the mind of many an interpreter. This cryptic vision includes complex symbolism such as a dazzling woman arrayed in celestial
JMAT 22:2 (Fall 2018) p. 91
bodies who births a son; the mysterious removal of the man-child destined to rule the nations; and a multi-headed dragon with a ferocious appetite and a tail powerful enough to dislodge stars from their heavenly abode. Yet the author’s single, intended meaning of the passage is both attainable and foundational for understanding the ensuing events of the Apocalypse.
The passage that innocently begins with the clause Καὶ σημεῖον μέγα ὤφθη ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ (Rev 12:1, UBS4) ends with the statement: καὶ ἐστάθη ἐπὶ τὴν ἄμμον τῆς θαλάσσης (Rev 12:18, UBS4).3 The treatment of this final clause is a matter of contention among modern translations.4 Several...
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