Why is this a 'New Approach to the Book of Revelation'?

The interpretation of the Apocalypse, or Book of Revelation, 'in the Light of the Temple' is presented as a new approach. Most current interpretations can be grouped into one of four different approaches, according to the understanding of its main theme, or ‘organizing principle’: in the Contemporary Historical (or Preterist) approach this is understood to be the history of the Roman Empire and its defeat by Christianity; in the Church Historical approach the organizing principle is the history of the Western Church, in the Idealist approach this is understood to be the meta-historical strife between the God’s kingdom and that of Satan, and in the Futurist approach the organizing principle is the future fulfillment of almost everything that is written in the text, including the millennial kingdom of Christ described in chapter 20.

The approach presented on this site is new, not only because it does not fit in any of these previous approaches, but especially because it acknowledges a new organizing principle. This approach can be called Theological, because its organizing principle is identified with the divine activity described in the text as taking place within God’s dwelling or Sanctuary. Interpreted by a comparison with corresponding aspects of the ancient Tabernacle and Temple, the text describes a liturgy which started with the death and Resurrection of Christ and is currently being celebrated in heaven; this liturgy continues until the end of history and represents a synthesis of the liturgy which was performed on the Day of Atonement in the former Temple at Jerusalem. Being the principal activity in God’s Sanctuary, the liturgy imposes its order on all the events prophesied in the Book of Revelation, uniting them in a single and coherent vision dominated by the theme of Atonement—the love of Christ which reconciles mankind with God. According to this approach, then, the ‘Apocalypse’ is essentially the revelation of the course of this liturgy of reconciliation and of its consequences for the lives of the peoples on earth.

In other ways, though, this approach is not so new, since it incorporates all the other approaches mentioned above: the Contemporary Historical approach is applicable to those parts of the text that are really contemporary with the author: the letters to the seven churches in Asia (Rev 2-3); the Church Historical approach is relevant for those aspects of the text that refer to the history of the church (e.g., Rev 17-20); the Idealist approach can be applied to the heavenly dimension of the text, especially when it refers to the spiritual, meta-historical, strife between the forces of God and those of Satan, and the Futurist approach is correct in that the greater part of the text remains to be fulfilled. It should be said, however, that the approach proposed here differs from all these in that it considers the main theme of the text to be the activity of God in history, focussing in a special way on the eschatological judgment and consummation. For this reason it is appropriate to distinguish it from the others by calling it the Theological approach.