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What/who have commentators historically believed the "four riders" of Revelation 6 were?

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Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange! We're a little different from other sites. I edited your question to bring it more in line with our community's expectations. – Dan Dec 23 '13 at 23:13
@Dan: I think the current version is way too broad. The original might have been too broad as well. Asking about prophecy usefully almost demands asking about a specific interpretive framework. – Jon Ericson Dec 28 '13 at 13:40
Sounds good @JonEricson I was trying to salvage it but I suppose this is still too broad. How can we narrow it down or should we VTC it? – Dan Dec 28 '13 at 17:00
@Dan then what happens to my and any susbsequent answer? – user3165 Dec 28 '13 at 21:25
@JonEricson is it really that broad? I read it as asking what were the historical influences of the 4 riders depicted as being - answerable, at least in part by my answer below. – user3165 Dec 28 '13 at 21:29

The following is a couple of historical perspectives from the literature. (These are not theological perspectives).

The first historical perspective is that the 4 riders of Revelation 6 were according to the article Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (This article also has many links at its end):

The first Horseman is represented by the Anti-Christ, who

He is crafty, spreading a false sense of God’s Will while hiding behind the facade of Divine favor.

The second Horseman, or red Horseman represents conflict and whose arrival

“to destroy peace on Earth and to sow fighting amongst the people.”

The third or black Horseman, represents famine and disease, which according to the article:

Under him, the wealthy thrive upon the misfortune of the poor, who are unable to pay for the items they need to survive.

the final Horseman, is Death, with the goal

to destroy all that has life on Earth.

The article uses the example of the Middle Ages, where famine, plague and war ravaged Europe, leading many to believe that the Apocalypse was upon them.

Digging a little deeper, for a second historical perspective, as to the possible influences that inspired the descriptions of the Four Riders, according to a brief article Albrecht Durer’s “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” (Hanna, 2010), based on a late 15th century illustrated book about Revelation 6 by Albrecht Durer who illustrated the following representation of the 4 Riders:

enter image description here

Image Source

an interpretation (not necessarily my interpretation) is the first Horseman were portrayed as Ottoman Turk cavalrymen (archer) who went and conquered Constantinople, then one of the greatest cities of Christendom.

The second horseman was represented as contemporary German mercenaries of the age about when Revelations was written (the one with the sword), these mercenaries were also known as the Landsknecht. These are an example that Durer used to represent those who made war.

The third horseman is interpreted by Durer as being those who had control over the food stores at the time of Revelation's writing (represented by the scales), which according to Hanna:

The power over what can be bought and sold can be as deadly as any sword or bow, and just as destructive.

Finally, the final Horseman, is interpreted by Durer as being the culmination of all the previous wrongdoings and

is the harvester of the crop sown bylust for conquest, war and famine.

(Hopefully, I am answering this question correctly):

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It seems to me the question is really too broad, but this answer is a valiant effort. It's certainly one (interesting) interpretation. – Jon Ericson Dec 28 '13 at 13:32
Please, downvoter(s) consider that this is a historical perspective from the literature, not a theological one. Keeping with this site's objectives of interpretations of the texts. This is the best I could do for such a broad, but interesting question. – user3165 Dec 28 '13 at 13:50
@Scrooge you've got my upvote, but as Jon has pointed out, this may be too broad. – Dan Dec 28 '13 at 16:59
Thank you @Dan, but it maybe a moot point if the question is closed/deleted – user3165 Dec 28 '13 at 21:21
@user3165, nahh it would likely just require a minor edit, and most likely it would be edited in a way to make your answer even more on topic. I wouldn't sweat it - things have been slow due to the holidays, but no one seems to have VTC'd or anything – Dan Dec 29 '13 at 21:42

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