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Author: David Dillard-Wright

Identify the unique features of revelations as a form of religious communication.

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to this tutorial on revelations. A revelation is a special kind of literature in which a spokesperson claims to be speaking for God. It happens through an intermediary like an angel.

As an example, in Genesis 32, Jacob goes down to the River Jabbok. And he sends over his wives, his children, all of his possessions. And he's left there alone. And he wrestles with a man, which we are taking to mean an angel. And they wrestle all night long. It's a very strange story. He wrestles with the angel all night long. The angel hits him on the hip and sort of dislocates his hip. And then says, from now on, you're to be called Israel, which means he who has struggled with God.

So you have God at the top, who has a stand-in, an intermediary like an angel, then some sort of holy person or prophet and then the rest of humanity at the bottom. So it's a sort of telephone game in which a holy person claims to speak for God. And I would suggest there's a little bit of a power play here because the holy person wants to take on the radiance or the authority of God.

So we can view God as the author, that is the one who authorized the message. So God is, in the sense, the author of the narrative. The holy person, the prophet, is just a stenographer, like a court reporter, who just writes down what God says. And this is a way of claiming authority because if I am just Joe Bob, why should anybody listen to me. But if I can say, hey, don't blame me. I'm just speaking for the Almighty then the message is able to gain more traction and is able to reach an audience.

And the audience here are just-- they can either take on this passive role as listening to this authoritative message or they can walk away and decide that this person is deluded or crazy or something. But either way, revelation's a special type of literature in which the person doing the writing claims to speak directly for God.

We said that revelations are a unique form of religious narrative since they claim authority as the words of God. Revelations are generally delivered through an intermediary to a prophet or a holy person who then conveys the message to humankind. In religious studies, revelation is a direct communication from God. And in this context, an author is one who authorizes, permits, or approves-- in this case, God.

So Christians believe that although human hands wrote down the words in the Bible, God is the author and used human beings as instruments in its writing.

Thanks for watching.

Terms to Know

One who authorizes, permits, or approves. E.g., Christians believe that although human hands wrote down the words in the Bible, God is its "author" and used human beings as instruments in its writing.


In religious studies, a direct communication from God.