Apocalypse Then, Apocalypse Now

Reading the Book of Revelation

Course Description

Of all the books in the New Testament, Revelation is probably the one most discussed in American culture but at the same time the one least read and understood. Admittedly, Revelation is a difficult book to read, and no one has ever claimed to understand it completely. This course will explore the basic principles of sound interpretation of the Book of Revelation. It will look at how Catholics interpret Revelation in two main ways: by applying historical-critical methodologies and by exploring the rich traditional interpretations of the ancient Greek and Roman fathers (patristics). It will help you recognize that a symbolic narrative such as Revelation invites infinite interpretation, but that some of those interpretations are better than others.

Course Content

Unit 1

  1. Introduction to the Book of Revelation
  2. Revelation in the context of other ancient apocalypses.

Unit 2

  1. Chapters 1-5
  2. Authorship and social setting of the Book of Revelation.

Unit 3

  1. Chapters 6-11
  2. Interpretation of the seven-sealed scroll.

Unit 4

  1. Chapters 12-16
  2. Revelation 12; Revelation 13 and the number 666.

Unit 5

  1. Chapters 17-22
  2. Revelation as protest against the Roman Empire; interpretations of the book by the early Church Fathers.

Course Format

  • Created by Theology Professor.
  • Six weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • Lectures delivered by video player.
  • All lecture text available online in course.
  • Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic, internet links provided for all readings.
  • Written assignments (150-200 words) required.
  • Facilitator moderated chat sessions with students in course.

Required Texts

  • All course materials are available in the course.

Participation Requirements

  • View or read the lecture for each unit.
  • Read assigned texts; keep notes, questions, and comments for class discussion.
  • Participate in the class discussion using the Forums area: post at least 2 comments, questions, or responses per unit.
  • Write 150-200 words in response to the assignment in each unit.
  • Participate in at least 3 scheduled chat sessions throughout the course.
  • Complete the course evaluation.

Time Expectations

3 to 5 hours per week, depending on your learning style and schedule.

Course Certificate

A certificate of completion awarding 25 contact hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.

Meet the Developer

Dr. Leslie Baynes

Dr. Leslie Baynes

Leslie Baynes is associate professor of New Testament and Second Temple Judaism at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri. She earned her Master’s degree in theological studies at the University of Dayton and her Ph.D. in Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity at the University of Notre Dame (2005). Dr. Baynes’ research interests focus on apocalyptic literature, especially Revelation and 1 Enoch. Her first book, The Heavenly Book Motif in Judeo-Christian Apocalypses, was published by Brill in 2012. She has published many scholarly articles and essays as well as more popular work in venues such as The Wall Street Journal. She was named Regional Scholar by the national body of the Society of Biblical Literature (2008) and received Missouri State University’s Director’s Award for Outstanding Faculty Research (2013). Dr. Baynes is the chair of the “John’s Apocalypse in Cultural Contexts, Ancient and Modern” section of the Society of Biblical Literature, and she serves on the team revising the translation of the New Testament of the New American Bible.