Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Wrath of John

I posted on this in 2010 and again in 2013, and thanks to the lectionary cycle, you get to read about it again. This past Sunday's particular reading, Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-12, creates what I call the "Abbrevelation of John". When read without the imprecatory verses, the Abbrevelation of John sounds sweet, soothing, and perfect for the unsuspecting Sunday church crowd. Unfortunately, most lectionary edits seem to result in this, a pasteurized scripture designed to keep the sheep peaceful.

The lectionary cycle is such that once a reading is written into the schedule, like clockwork, like a meteor shower, and sometimes like a bad penny in this case, every three years it keeps on re-appearing. So, I will repost this from May 16, 2010.

A Warning to the Writers of the RCL

I usually blog about the Sunday sermon, but this was really bugging me today.

This Sunday's readings highlight one of my pet peeves, and that is the problem of the "missing verses." We use the Revised Common Lectionary for the assigned readings, and quite frequently this presents us pewsitters with an expurgated version of the Bible. What they did today to Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-12 sounds innocent enough,
12 ‘See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work.
13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.’
14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.
******expurgated v 15***************
16 ‘It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.’
17The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’
And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come.’
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
******expurgated vs. 18-19***************
20 The one who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen

I wonder if they just wanted to make things sound pretty by cutting the verses of warning,
v. 15
"Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practises falsehood."

And also left out was the part that the RCL really, really should not have tried to expurgate, vs. 18-19
"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."

Uh oh...

So, if you did not hear the full text in church, and if your preacher did not point out the omissions during their sermon, please ask them if they believe that John's Revelation is important, and next ask them if they believe that God wants us to hear the whole thing, and finally ask them why they feed God's sheep skim milk instead of whole milk.

Then, advise them to read the whole text, or face the wrath of John. 


  1. Yikes. So my omitting v. 15, we are the folks warned about in v. 19. I was the lector at the early service, and I actually read the passage, as per the RCL. I am sure the rector never noticed this, never commented at all on the reading from Revelation. Dick Mitchell

    1. That is how it goes with most of the lectionary edits. The pewsitters don't know what they are missing. I think the long term spiritual effects of feeding the sheep skim milk are unhealthy and one of the factors in the decline of the mainstream denominations that use the RCL.

  2. As Revelation is in my reading cycle this month, I noticed that it begins with a blessing, Rev 1:3 "God will bless everyone who reads this prophecy to others, and he will bless everyone who hears and obeys it. The time is almost here.", and Revelation ends in the curse that got left out this past Sunday.

  3. The Book of Revelation contains “page after page of paranoid fantasy.” Rowan Williams in 'Open To Judgement.' My only regret is that Williams didn't step down sooner.

    1. Egads! Was that before or after he became Archbishop.

  4. I encourage you to look at my proposed daily office lectionary in my proposed BCP

    1. I have some proposals in mind as well, thanks for stimulating some thought on the subject.

  5. Pewster,
    'Open To Judgement' was published in 1994. Rowan Williams became Archbishop Of Canterbury in 2002.

    1. It sounds like the Crown Nominations Commission did not do its homework.