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In Rev. 13:11 it says,"

And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon."

12And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

There are many interpretations for this passage: in the view of this author, there are 4 main views of Revelation, each with their various interpretations. So, how can we best understand this passage in light of the different views of interpretation? If you would include your different method(or mixture of methods) that would be helpful.

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Please see my comments here, here, and here, and finally here. –  Joseph May 9 at 23:05
    
@Joseph I appreciate your addressing this topic in other questions; what one commentor mentioned was it didn't particularly follow any hermeneutic. While I can relate to that(I have been 'accused' of the same thing), what "helps" others understand our position is having a "framework"(read-hermeneutic) to compare to. Dan wrote an 'exhaustive' list in one of his answers, does it correspond to these? Or is it a 'hybrid'? –  Tau May 9 at 23:58
    
@user2479 Are you asking for general information regarding Revelation 13.11-12 that works regardless of the four main views, or are you asking for specific information per the four views? I think your question is a bit unclear on what exactly you're looking for. –  Mark Edward May 13 at 19:38
    
@MarkEdward There are numerous and varied views swirling around these texts; the vast majority of them fall within the guidelines that I mentioned-even the 2 answers that have been given. It helps the rest of us if you state "....from the perspective of Partial Preteristism, this text must be seen to describe..". That way your hermeneutic is recognizable, and if you reach a conclusion that differs in some aspect, the rest of us can 'trace your steps' and examine other sources that may add(or detract) credence to your position. –  Tau May 14 at 2:58
    
@MarkEdward (cont)I have found that in addressing these "Revelations/Prophecy/Figurative Interpretation Type" questions on this site rely on "presuppositions" that are almost never stated, yet are crucial in understanding the answer provided. If you state your "Presuppositions"(read "hermeneutic") up front, the rest of us can track more clearly what you are suggesting, and avoid the "no recognizable hermeneutic" DV's and summarily dismissing questions such as these. –  Tau May 14 at 3:12

5 Answers 5

A quick recap of the apocalyptic genre

Sometime between 300-200 BC, the Jewish apocalyptic genre had emerged out of the existing prophetic literature. While these apocalypses differ in shape and subject matter, they do share a common set of features:

  • The main subject matter is a crisis in the author's present time, usually predicting some sort of divine intervention in favor of the people suffering from that crisis.
  • To lend credibility to their revelations about this crisis, the anonymous authors attributed their revelations to revered figures of Israel (Enoch, Jacob, Moses, Ezra, etc.).
  • Because these figures, of course, lived in the ancient past, these apocalypses would have the seer be instructed to seal up his revelations and hide them away. Thus their apocalypses would be 'discovered' only when the time was right, i.e. the time when the anonymous author actually wrote the book.

(For more on the act of 'sealing' an apocalypse, with examples, see this answer.)


The Revelation as a Jewish apocalypse

The Revelation has several features in common with the average apocalypse (see the list in this answer), so it is clear John is writing in the apocalyptic tradition. The book portrays a crisis, has deep symbolism, includes an angelic guide, etc. The only two differences are:

  • The author is not anonymous, and did not attribute his revelations to a revered figure from the past. It is nearly unanimous among critical scholars that the author is exactly who he says he is: a man named John, who believed the resurrected Jesus is the messiah of Israel, living sometime in the second half of the first century AD.
  • Because the author does not attribute his revelation to an ancient seer, he makes no pretense about the book being 'sealed' and hidden away through the ages until the time of his present crisis.

Regarding this latter issue, John makes it a point to open and close his Revelation on the same note: his prophecies 'must soon happen' precisely because 'the time is near'. He says this before describing any of his visions (Revelation 1.1-3) and repeats it after his visions come to their end (Revelation 22.6,10). As a direct consequence of this, John is explicitly forbidden from 'sealing' his prophecy (Revelation 22.10). From a text-critical standpoint, John could not be any clearer in telling his readers that the Revelation's subject matter concerns his own era, not necessarily one in the distant future.


The first beast of the Revelation

Keeping the Revelation in the author's geographical and historical context, we find several of the symbols point to the Roman Empire as the chief enemy of the book. (For a detailed look at these symbols, see this answer and this answer.)

The 'crisis' to which John was writing was that of the Roman Empire oppressing the emerging Christian church. By John's time, there was the recent persecution of Christians under Nero Caesar, as well as Nero's suicide, which rocked the empire into a year of disaster, before Vespasian took the reins and kept the empire from collapsing entirely. (It is generally agreed that Nero and his death, at the very least, are portrayed in Revelation 13.1)

Taking the whole sweep of the Revelation together, John appears to be leveling most of his criticism at the Roman Empire and its emperors, symbolized as the beast of the sea/abyss and its seven heads.


The second beast of the Revelation

Again keeping the Revelation in its geographical and historical, we remind ourselves that John was specifically addressing the Revelation to Christians in western Asia (i.e. modern Turkey). Out of all the empire, the Caesar cult was extremely popular in this region, including the very cities of the seven churches John was writing to.2

Politics and religion were deeply intertwined throughout the ancient world, so the mandatory allegiance to Roman authority included submission to the state religion (with rare exceptions, such as the Jews). The imperial cult also pushed for worship of Rome and the emperor. Around the turn of the century, we find references to localized attempts at stamping out the Christian movement, with the test of a 'true' Christian being someone who refused to participate in the state religion.3

John symbolizes the imperial cult as a second beast that enforces worship of the first beast. The first beast was the Roman Empire and its emperors, so the second beast is the empire's propaganda machine, the imperial cult.


Revelation 13.11-12 specifically

Verse 11: The first beast came from the sea, with one layer of this symbolism being that the Roman Empire came from across the Mediterranean Sea. In contrast, the second beast comes up from the earth; the emperor cult arises locally (in relation to the seven churches of Asia). The conflicting lamb/dragon symbolism indicates the imperial cult's deceptive religious influence.

Verse 12: The imperial cult enforces worship of the empire and its emperors, following the empire's unexpected survival after the Year of the Four Emperors.


Concluding summary

  1. Jewish apocalypses typically portrayed a crisis in the 'distant future' (actually the anonymous author's own time period).
  2. In contrast, the author of the Revelation cuts to the chase and says outright that his prophecies are about his own time period.
  3. The first beast of the Revelation altogether symbolizes the Roman Empire and its emperors, especially in its oppression of the emerging Christian movement.
  4. The second beast symbolizes the Empire's propaganda cult, which was very prominent in the Asia region, where the Revelation's primary recipients were located.

Footnotes

1 A diverse array of scholars take this position. For examples, see:

  • Richard Bauckham, The Theology of the Book of Revelation, p.37.
  • Bart Ehrman, The New Testament, p.478-481.
  • Elaine Pagels, Revelations, p.32-33.
  • N.T. Wright, Revelation for Everyone, p.122.

To the point that it's even included in annotated bibles:

  • The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p.437-438 footnotes.
  • The Jewish Annotated New Testament, p.484-485 footnotes.

2 For the prominence of the imperial cult in Asia, see: S.R.F. Price, Rituals and Power: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor.

3 For example, see Pliny's letter to Trajan. Pliny was writing from the Asia region.

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Thank you for your response! My guess is your answer is the Preterist view, given because of it's emphasis on fulfillment in the 1st century, along with the "Year of the 4 Emperors", which coincidentally happened in 69AD, a year before the "all things be fulfilled in this generation". Of course, this presumes an earlier date than 95AD for the writing of Revelations, and then of course the "highly allegorized" view of Christ's return to rule, as there can be no possible explanation for Christ's Physical Reign on earth. –  Tau May 18 at 2:57
    
No, not preterist or allegorical or anything. Just the general approach taken by the majority of 'critical scholarship'. –  Mark Edward May 18 at 16:01
    
Preterism generally supports the "critical scholarship" view, as they see the fulfillment or "back looking" position which the 'critical scholarship' view takes. However, I find no Preterists agreeing with the "164BCE" date; what is interesting is there is a lot of 'back-pedaling' by critical scholars after the recent discovery and translation of the Cave 4 Qumran scrolls-which afirm the MS texts. Since the date of 1 fragment was arrived at mid 2nd century BCE, it becomes very unlikely that the redactions thought to have occured, actually did. –  Tau May 20 at 4:52
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Preterism presupposes NT prophecy, including most or all of the Revelation, focused on and was fulfilled in the events leading up to 70 AD. Critical scholarship, which is not an explicitly Christian view like preterism is, makes no such presupposition about 70 AD. So, my answer is not from a 'preterist' perspective. It is not accurate to label it as such. (The date of Daniel is also irrelevant to the answer I provided.) –  Mark Edward May 20 at 5:11

The Revelation provides the reader two hermeneutic guidelines of interpretation.

Revelation 22:18-19 (NASB)
18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

The Greek word for "add" is ἐπιτίθημι, which means to place or overlay something (such as hands, yokes, or clothing on people or animals). The warning therefore is against exaggerating the prophecy of Revelation by "overlaying" superfluous meanings to the text. Those therefore who add to the words of prophecy will have the plagues of Revelation added to them; -- that is, they will suffer temporal consequences.

The Greek word for "take away" is ἀφαιρέω, which means to sever (ears); to take away (opportunity); or to dismiss (sins). The idea therefore is to minimalize the prophecy of Revelation by "cutting away" the meanings of the text. Those therefore who take away from the words of prophecy (minimalists) will have their access to the Tree of Life and the Holy City taken away; -- that is, they will suffer eternal consequences.

With these stern warnings in mind, we approach Revelation 13:11-12 with the hermeneutic that is "plain and normal."

Before the writings of the New Testament appeared, there were three characters in the Hebrew Bible whom the Jews had expected.

  1. The Prophet (Second Moses), described in Deut 18:15-16
  2. The Christ (Son of David), described in 2 Sam 7:10-16
  3. The Voice Announcing Messiah (Elijah), described in Mal 4:5-6

How and where these three characters would appear (from the perspective of the Hebrew Bible) was unknown. When John the Baptist appeared, the priests and Levites asked him if he were one of these three characters:

John 1:19-23 (NASB)
19 This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he *said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, so that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”

The two characters referenced in Revelation 13:11-12 are the False Prophet and the False Christ (Antichrist). The False Prophet performs the same miracles that Elijah performed (please compare Rev 13:13 with 1 Ki 18:38). He also administers the False Covenant (Rev 13:16), which stands against the Old Covenant (Deut 6:8). In this context the False Prophet therefore appears to be fulfilling the roles of The Prophet (Second Moses) and the Voice Announcing Messiah (Elijah). He will have a prominent role in the nation of Israel in the future.

In summary, the words of the Book of Revelation in this context are predictive prophecy. By referencing several passages from the Hebrew Bible, the interpretation of the preceding paragraphs neither "adds to" nor "takes away" from the words of the prophecy of this book. In other words, the hermeneutical approach is plain and normal.

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I would have to say that all 4 of the various interpretation categories would say their viewpoint falls within the admonitions of Rev. 22:18-19, yet they are widely distinct; so I would disagree that they are 'hermeneutics', rather they define the limitations of which a particular hermeneutic can be used. Your answer, as I understand it, seems to fall within the "Futurist/Dispensational" hermeneutic, is that a fair assessment? –  Tau May 14 at 3:26
    
What intrigues me about your answer is that it uses the "Old Testament" model to describe New Testament realities; in other words examining both OT and NT as One Revelation. This is more in line with the Historicist viewpoint, of which I am more predisposed to. When we say "We can ascertain what will happen in the future but what has happened in the past", we apply a 'historicist' viewpoint that guides our understanding. Do you accept this statement, or do you want to clarify for the sake of understanding your position? –  Tau May 14 at 3:38
    
@user2479 - The Revelation is the "Union Station" of the Bible. How can one possibly try to interpret the text without some very good familiarization of the Old Testament? Yes, of course, I agree with you. Historicist - but with the bias for "plain and normal" interpretation. –  Joseph May 14 at 12:04

Presuppositions Identified

Part of the reason for asking this question is to unveil the framework in understanding the various responses. While each answer is unique, and to the credit of each responder, they didn't argue their answer as a 'template' for one of the 4 Hermeneutical Approaches that I mentioned, nevertheless they 'took' one of the 4 approaches. Therefore, in order to "argue" for their interpretation, one has to understand the presuppositions that lead them to their conclusions.

Idealist

Robert Mounce summarizes the idealist view stating, “Revelation is a theological poem presenting the ageless struggle between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. It is a philosophy of history wherein Christian forces are continuously meeting and conquering the demonic forces of evil.”

A good example of this interpretation can be found from the source referenced by sambolic, Andrew of Caesarea:

Instead of engaging in fear mongering or fanning the fiâmes of anxiety, Andrew uses Révélation for an appropriate spiritual purpose: as a message of encouragement and hope. This may appear paradoxical in the context of the common perception of the Apocalypse and the related adjective "apocalyptic," but in fact, Revelation's original message and purpose (its CKOTCÔÇ)574 was one of hope and persévérance through tribulation. Andrew's commentary promotes and préserves the original purpose of Révélation: to encourage the reader to persévère and remain faithful, and hopefully to live a spiritually improved life. Révélation offers no promise of deliverance from tribulation, but hope always remains because of Christ.(taken from here page 144

Dr. Art Zannoni, a religious education instructor for the Archdioceses of Mpls.-St. Paul says it like this,"(from here)

This book provided hope for Christians who were being persecuted and can help people today to practice their faith in difficult times and live hopefully.

By taking an 'Idealist' view, one can be "absolved" from any definitive answer regarding an interpretation; in fact, all the views at some level acknowledge the struggle between good and evil, with the eventual outcome on the side of good. But why write a mere 'allegory' on a conflict thoroughly examined in previous parts of the Bible? Is God merely telling His followers, 'You're doing a good job, keep it up...'? Or, is there a level of understanding that many of the Early Church Fathers, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, were convinced we should have, even though they believed that 'understanding' wasn't available to them in their time?

Preterist

Preterism is defined as,"

A Christian eschatological view that interprets prophecies of the Bible as events which have already happened. Daniel is interpreted as events that happened in the second century BC while Revelation is interpreted as events that happened in the first century AD. Preterism holds that Ancient Israel finds its continuation or fulfillment in the Christian church at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. The term preterism comes from the Latin praeter, which is listed in Webster's 1913 dictionary as a prefix denoting that something is "past" or "beyond," signifying that either all or a majority of Bible prophecy was fulfilled by AD 70. Adherents of preterism are commonly known as preterists"(taken from Wikipedia)

Partial preterists believe that most of the prophecies of Revelation were fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem but that chapters 20-22 point to future events such as a future resurrection of believers and return of Christ to the earth.

What is important to understand about Preterist/Partial Preterism is that they equate the "church" with the "Israel of God", and therefore see no future role for the Nation of Israel; Israel has been "replaced" by the church. This is a subset of Covenant Theology, which basically defines God's dealings through Covenants: one of them is the Covenant of Works(Law), the other is the Covenant of Grace(unmerited favor). Since they consider Israel as "under the Law" vs "under Grace", they say that the "Covenant of Works" ended at the Destruction of the Temple in 70AD. So they define ALL eschatology within this framework; this is why the "Nero Caesar=Antichrist" and the view the Book of Daniel as written between 150-200BC; EVERYTHING must fit(whether it makes sense or not) within this Law v Grace framework. They view the "Modern Nation of Israel" not as fulfilling God's End-Time promise of restoration(see Deut. 30:1-7) but as a "cultural anomaly" to be given no more regard than to Burkina-Faso.

In regards to Preterism, Robert Mounce states,

The major problem with the preterist position is that the decisive victory portrayed in the latter chapters of the Apocalypse was never achieved. It is difficult to believe that John envisioned anything less than the complete overthrow of Satan, the final destruction of evil, and the eternal reign on God. If this is not to be, then either the Seer was essentially wrong in the major thrust of his message or his work was so helplessly ambiguous that its first recipients were all led astray.

Futurist/Dispensational

The key thing to note is that the Futurist/Dispensational view takes the Revelation scripture Literally, or until, as J.N. Darby-the Father of Dispensationalism states,"To do so would do violence to the text."

Both Futurists and Dispensationalists see a "Future" fulfillment of Revelations, and a return of Christ's physical reign on earth. They both see Christ's return to the Nation of Israel as fulfillment of both Old Testament and New Testament prophecies. Where Dispensationalists differ from Futurists is they see God's dealings as divided up in "Dispensations", and as we are now living in the "Church Age" or Dispensation, culminated in a "Pre-Tribulation Rapture", where Christ comes "in the air" to take the Church away 1st, then returns to rule Israel and any who survive a "7 year Tribulation" period. Therefore, they interpret the "Antichrist/False Prophet" as future individuals who will 'appear' on the scene AFTER the 'church' has left. Futurists, on the other hand, see both Israel and the church joined during the last days, as well as during the Millennial Reign. Christ may come before, during or after the tribulation for them; they view the Letter to the Church at Philadelphia as "protecting" versus "removing" them during this time.

The main criticism leveled against Futurists/Dispensationalists is they "shove everything into the future". Their "normal/Literal" interpretation of the Scripture precludes any understanding that isn't spelled out specifically in the text; just as the Preterist MUST see everything as happening in the 1st century, they MUST see everything happening in the last seven years. Any symbol mentioned must have a Literal(although representational) view, they frequently cite a 'future antichrist' appearing as a world leader who takes up his residence in Israel. They don't acknowledge any interpretation that sees past or present day circumstances as fulfillment of any symbolism-it must be shoved off into the future.

Historicist

Perhaps the most divergent, and widely misunderstood view is the Historicist. The Historicist view takes the Book of Revelations as being fulfilled throughout history, although there are various 'camps' which identify the symbols as meaning certain things; one of them was the "7 Headed 10 Horned Beast was the Roman Empire, and the Antichrist was the papacy. This view was espoused by the early Protestant reformers, so it is no wonder that little effort has been made to 'reconcile' the division; if you call someone the 'antichrist' you can assure yourself of future discord.

What the Historicist offers is a "continuous" unveiling of the Book of Revelations, versus an "all at the beginning", or "all at the end" view. The challenge is to find a "hermeneutic" to define the Figurative language used, and correlate it to a theme that one can readily identify, rather than the capricious whim of the interpreter.

Answer to Question

It is to this view that I propose an answer to the question of Rev. 13:11-12.

1) The way to understand Revelations is to understand God's dealings with man throughout history; therefore, the figurative language used in the Old Testament is relevant for the New Testament-it is "One Revelation".

The first principle, Scripture Interprets Scripture, is surely especially true for the Book of Revelation since at least half of its content is drawn from Old Testament concepts or text. When understanding what a "beast" is for example, we not only recall that Daniel established this symbolism for a National Ruler, but that Revelation 13 actually cites Daniel 7. To understand what Revelation means by "a Harlot" we recall that the Old Testament prophets repeatedly described Israel and Judah's breach of their covenant with God as "harlotry". The same goes for the use of numbers as symbols. Revelation cannot be understood without being familiar with the language of the Old Testament.(taken from Andrew Corbett here)

So instead of matching a 'theology' with symbols, we take the previously used symbols to understand the truths of Revelations. Therefore, the 10 horns of the "Beast" of Rev. 13:1 correspond to the "10 horns" of the Beast of Daniel 7:7; and we know they are 'kingdoms' because they are interpreted as that in Dan. 7:24. In previous answers that I gave, I defined the 7 Headed 10 Horned Beast as Secular Humanism, in this place and this I spell out why-from the hermeneutic previously described.

What is important is that this "Beast of the Earth"(False Prophet) operates in the AUTHORITY of the "Beast of the Sea"(Antichrist),

And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

Since this "authority" is "man-given", and not "God given", what "rises up from the earth", versus the "sea", which we are told in Rev. 17:15 are,"

And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.

The "Earth" here means 'earthly' or empirical, versus "sea" which are peoples. One is exercising it's authority over people, the other, over inanimate objects, yet they are BOTH exercising their authority against God.

The name of the "Beast" that represents authority over inanimate objects is Science, or better said, "Science falsely so-called"(I Tim. 6:20) as the Stoics, Epicureans, Pythagoreans opposed Paul and the Gospel, citing "knowledge"(Gnosis) of how they perceived the universe, versus the truth about God's creation. This "beast" has 2 horns like a lamb, meaning that it speaks 'meekly', and has no interest of it's own, it is a 'servant' of mankind, yet it "roars like a dragon" meaning, "If you dare oppose me, watch out!" We see from all the latest studies that predict and contradict, and yet no one asks "What right do you have to speak in the 1st place?" Evolution (without proof) is accepted as dogma, and Christianity is tossed in the cultural dustbin of time.

It performs great miracles, but apart from the auspices of God, as most scientists are avowed atheists. "Fire from Heaven" is seen as "God's approval" for it's actions(think Elijah and the prophets of Baal) and most believe,"...isn't it marvelous that we have all these technological advancements", yet all the while faith is being decreased, as well as abortion, euthanasia, wholesale destruction are advanced as part of it's agenda. The "image" that this "beast" creates is "Modern Man", or Modern Technological Society-free from the 'religious constraints' of an 'antiquated God'. I won't discuss the 'mark of the Beast' as it will consume much more space, but this 'beast' makes possible the idea of "World Dominion".

Summary

As you can see, there are a variety of views based on the presuppositions(hermeneutics) held. I believe the Historicist view, although most likely to be misused, provides the best opportunity to obtain the truth, as it does not confine it to one end of the historical spectrum or the other, but makes use of previously defined revelation to bring new insight.

Notes

Any sources not included in quotes come from here.

For a further understanding of Covenant Theology, here.

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I have further references to Futurist/ Dispensationalism: "Dispensationalism" by Charles Ryrie, "Things to Come" by Dwight Pentecost, "Prophecy in the New Millenium" by John Walvoord all describe the Dispensationalist viewpoint. C.M. Scofield of the Scofield Bible includes notes and an outline of Dispensationalism. –  Tau May 18 at 20:11
    
Factual note: the opinion that Daniel was written c.174 BC was developed by critics. The first known advocate of this view was Poryphyry, writing 'Against Christians' in the third century AD, and the opinion gained popularity after the European Enlightenment. It developed independently from preterism, and in my experience most preterists take the traditional opinion that Daniel was written c.530 BC. –  Mark Edward May 19 at 5:03
    
Sorry, typo: c.164 BC. –  Mark Edward May 19 at 14:52
    
I hate to be a nitpicker here, but after rereading this answer, the more unsatisfactory I find it. The descriptions of the idealist, preterist, and futurist approaches are all grossly misrepresentative. I've downvoted for this reason. I considered editing the answer to clean up the misleading generalities and straw mans, but this can't be done without altering the fundamental drive of the answer itself. –  Mark Edward May 20 at 5:22
    
@MarkEdward As I indicated in my remarks, there are 'nuances' to every position. And there vigorous disagreements in each camp, especially in the Historicist one. My purpose was to identify the "presuppositions" from which each answer is derived, NOT to re-state each answer, which to each author's credit, is unique and different. I'm curious why the 'non-Christian' remark to the "critical scholarship" view; most of the sources I've read at least 'claim' to have some basis in Christianity-albeit from a "textual-critical" view. Non-believers generally dismiss it as fantasy. –  Tau May 20 at 12:11

The second beast, also called the False Prophet, in Revelation, here in Rev 13. This is of course based upon my interpretational perspective.

Coming from a mild - preterist framework. While some Preterists see all events as fulfilled in or around 70Ad, mild Preterists hold that the majority of events were fulfilled in the first few centuries, through the fall of Rome. I personally see a literal, fulfilled millennium in the 'Middle Ages', as supported by Foxxes Book of Martyrs. Similar to the historicist view, but still Preterist in natire, my views locate a Domitian beast, as Nero back from the dead, with Nero's self inflicted sword to the neck the incurable head wound.

Advantages to this view are that Domitian is the 11th emperor if once counts the three short lived emperors in the year of four emperors (fulfilling Daniels vision), and he is eighth if omitted (these three can be said not to have reigned in Judea, fulfilling Revelation 16). Domitian was Vespasian's son, as was Titus before him. Titus reigned 2 years, 3 mo, thus, remaining for a short time. Domitian also had a 25' or so statue erected in Ephesus.

The case is made that this Second Beast perhaps represents the Imperial Cult, or, perhaps a leader in it (or both). This was the organization for instituting mandatory emperor worship.

In this way, not only do we find fulfillment for the details of Revelation 13, but we also see this group responsible for causing the people to worship the beast, Domitian.

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The reason why we do not have as many commentaries on the Revelation as other books is because the reading of the Revelation aloud in church was forbidden in the early church (I have here in mind the 59th and 60th canons of the Council of Laodicea, which so many other councils patterned themselves after). Indeed, Revelation barely made it into the canon of scripture. Christians had experienced enough fanaticism by the time the canon was made official (4th century) to know that spending time trying to figure out the coded messages of the work concerning THE END was not only not fruitful, it was a distraction to living a life mindful of ONE'S OWN END. Many ancient lists excluded Revelation from the canon, and most scholars cite it as the last book to be admitted to the canon. In the Eastern Orthodox Churches (and I exclude here Non-Chalcedonians such as the Copts), the effect of these lists and councils is still felt, as the Revelation is still not read in any liturgical setting.

Nevertheless, there are many ancient commentaries written on the Apocalypse. Here is a link to a list (which is not really complete, but mentions many of the most known works): http://www.kerux.com/doc/2302A5.asp

I would like to add, however, that what sits in my mind regarding this great work of the Apocalypse are two quotes. The first is that of Christ himself, who admonishes us that the Father alone knows the hour of these events. The second is that of St. Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd Century Bishop), who says that works of prophecy like the Revelation are best used in a manner that applies to an event that has already occurred a particular prophecy (in other words, to use it as a gauge of what's happening currently), rather than to imagine by reading those prophecies what may happen.

I know this does not answer your question directly, but the commentaries will. Andrew of Caesarea is a particularly interesting read, as it preserves much of the eastern tradition regarding the Apocalypse that was lost in the west. Best wishes.

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Thank you for your response! I don't know who the other DV's are(they should give an explanation and not just 'random' DV); I didn't. Actually, your answer(or non answer) falls into 1 of the 4 catagories; for a number of "Mainline" denominations, Revelations is a "letter to a church in difficult times" which was to encourage believers to persist to their final reward. They have no specific position on the different 'types and symbologies', other than to say, "it will all pan out....". –  Tau May 9 at 23:45
    
I'm just sorry I couldn't help more directly. I could quote the theories of those whose links I sent you to, but you will find that there is not an overwhelming consensus among them. And I don't trust my own judgment to presume what the meaning of the passage is. I hope you find what you're looking for. –  sambolic May 12 at 18:45
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Can you cite a source that verifies Revelation was 'forbidden' to be read aloud in early Christianity? –  Mark Edward May 14 at 17:08
    
Dear Mark: I edited the first paragraph to include that information. –  sambolic May 14 at 21:19

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