The book of Revelation, which is more properly called the Apocalypse of Saint John, is the last book in the Christian New Testament, placed there because of its symbolic imagery of the end of time. The book does not carry a date, but most scholars assume that it emerged around 94–96 CE, late in the reign of the emperor Domitian of Rome, at a time when some Christians anticipated persecution. Revelation was addressed to Christian churches around the city of Ephesus, a major urban center in Asia Minor (modern-day western Turkey), where Christianity took root at an early date through the efforts of the apostle Paul.
The book encouraged Christians to endure impending persecution secure in the knowledge that Jesus Christ was in charge of the world and that the unfolding plan of history would see the victory of the Christian faith. However, some interpreters believe that the author intended to address primarily complacent and lax second-generation Christians to remind them that...
Two scenes depicting seven-headed beasts from Revelation (Library of Congress)View Full Size