Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Seven Stars of the Apocalypse

Irish author and scholar Emmett O'Regan is one of the best when it comes to discussing scriptural prophecy in the context of science and history while remaining rooted in the deposit of faith. I could read his blog all day. To quote:
 In Rev 1:20, Christ states that the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and that the seven lampstands are the seven churches themselves.
As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
So the angels stand over the churches as the light that stands over the lampstands, and in a corporate manner they are also representatives of the seven churches, personifying their character or prevailing spirit. It is therefore important to note in this context that the seven "lampstands" mentioned in Rev 1 is based on the seven candelabra of the Jewish Menorah - which stood before the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem, following the stipulations given in Exod 25:31-40.

The seven candelabra of the Menorah are a distinctive feature, and notable for their perfect alignment. So if the seven stars held in the right hand of Jesus are to be equated with the seven angels of the seven churches, then it would logically follow that these stars in the hand of Christ are in perfect alignment - just like the seven lamps of the Menorah. Indeed the Menorah itself is highly reminiscent of an astronomical orrery depicting an alignment of the planets.

The ancients are known to have constructed devices to measure the motions of the planets, as was attested by the discovery of the Antikythera mechanism in 1900. The Antikythera mechanism, which was discovered in a shipwreck dating to the 1st century BC, is widely acknowledged to be the most sophisticated technological innovation in antiquity, and considered by many to be the earliest known example of an analog "computer". This device was primarily used for calculating the movements of the Sun, Moon and five planets - which some archaeologists have proposed were represented on the front panel of the mechanism by a series of precious gems and metals - much in the way the mountains composed of various gemstones in 1Enoch above may also have represented certain attributes of the planets.

In his De Re Publica, the Roman historian Cicero mentions that the Greek polymath Archimedes had constructed two different machines for predicting the movement of the planets. So there were a number of various devices used for measuring the motions of the planets contemporary to the composition of the Apocalypse, and a perceived relationship between the Menorah and an astronomical orrery is conceivable even in a 1st century AD context. Indeed, an association between an orrery and the Jewish Menorah was made as early as Clement of Alexandria, who writing circa 200AD, stated that the purpose of this seven-branched candelabra was to depict the movements of the seven wandering stars:
The lamp, too, was placed to the south of the altar of incense; and by it were shown the motions of the seven planets, that perform their revolutions towards the south. For three branches rose on either side of the lamp, and lights on them; since also the sun, like the lamp, set in the midst of all the planets, dispenses with a kind of divine music the light to those above and to those below.
(Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 5:6)
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