by Richard Beck
In a recent post I wrote about my leading a study on the book of Revelation at a local prison. In that post I discussed how one of the themes of Revelation is the contrast between two cities--Babylon and the New Jerusalem--and how the pastoral aim of Revelation is to call the people of God to "come out" from Babylon.
In this post I'd like to think a bit about one of the problems regarding how this contrast is made in Revelation. Specifically, one of the metaphors used to contrast Babylon and New Jerusalem is a Whore/Bride contrast. In Revelation Babylon is cast as a whore:
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”
Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. The name written on her forehead was a mystery:
BABYLON THE GREAT
THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
By contrast, New Jerusalem is compared to a virginal bride:
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