I didn't say that did I? I think you tried to make that connection? The beast would be more likely to symbolise a world wide political system than the Romans as it supposedly rules over “every tribe and people and tongue and nation,” so it is greater than a single national government.
Revelation 13:7 7It was given power to wage war against God's holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation.
You may be looking at the wrong definition of fiction. I'm referring to fiction that is something that is invented or untrue.But I don't think fictional and historical are the only options. When the writer in Revelation uses a symbol, he is symbolising something he perceives as a real power acting in history, something that is, in that sense, historical and this is very different to what writers of fiction do. Some people have tried to use the word fiction in a very broad sense to include any narrative writing that is not known to be about actual historical events, but I think this over stretches the word by trying to adapt it to a positivist metaphysic. Fiction in the strict, and I would say proper, sense refers to a type of narrative writing developed between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which is founded on verisimilitude, that is to say making a story seem true, to fit into a real world, to include details as if it were true. As an early example you could look at the way Defoe gives details about where Crusoe's name came from. There are various techniques used to achieved this, so a writer may pretend he has found someone's account written in the first person or he may give a third person perspective but with accurate details from a particular time or place, or make up a time and place that is similar to a real one, like Hardy's Wessex or David Lodge's Rummidge. The persons in such stories will be human beings with plausible psychologies to account for their motivations. Neither The book of Revelation or the book of Genesis are attempting anything like that. The people in fiction are meant to by types, we recognise that there are people like that, but they are not symbols. In the book of Revelation the beings depicted are clearly symbols. Nero, if it is depicting him, is not literally a beast and neither is the Roman Empire he rules. The serpent in Revelation symbolises a malevolent power hostile to God's purposes, but there is no attempt to depict either Nero or the serpent as psychological realities.
You have to realise that this was an era where the majority of folklorish, apocryphal and psuedographical writings were the norm, not the other way around. It was also the reason why there were over 20 original gospels in the NT, they culled it down to 4 as the former had too much folklore to be taken seriously.
I meant that the majority of writings in that era were fictional pieces of fantasy and it was normal to write fantastic, deceptive stories where the authors were lying to promote their cause.It is quite hard to make sense of that first sentence. The majority is what there is most of and the norm is what is usual so to say the majority of something is the norm is tautological. I think you mean something like the majority of writings in that ere were folklorish, apocryphal and psuedographical. This still does not make a great deal of sense. Firstly, what era are you referring to, a short period such as the end of the first century when the NT writings are mostly thought to have been written or a much longer period like the first few Christian centuries. I guess you mean the majority of Christian writings not the majority of writings of any kind. The three categories you have lumped together are very diverse in meaning. By folklorish I am guessing you mean transmitted orally before being written down, and while this may be true of narrative writings it is not true of other types of writing like letters or homilies in any of the eras you may mean, and narative writings form a quite small part of surviving Christian writings. And in the case of narratives oral transmission cannot automatically be taken as an indicator of unreliability. The term apocryphal literally means hidden and derives from St Jerome. When considering the canon of the Old Testament there were certain books he felt should not be included and so were hidden. So, the term comes to mean not included in a canon. Yes, of the course the majority of Christian writings over the first few centuries were not included in the canon, but what a pointless thing to say! Again there is pseudographic material, material written under false names, and quite a lot of it, but generally the further you go back in history the less there is. The more the writings of people associated with Jesus or the apostles was valued the greater the temptation to ascribe later writings to them in the hope they would be accepted. The question of how much pseudographia relates back to that very early period I take to be still open.
See: https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/GospelsThere is no list of canonical books I am aware of that contains 20 gospels. By 180 Irenaeus was comparing the four gospels to the four winds so the idea of these four books having authority seems to have been well established by then. It is not very long since you were telling us that the original canon was that of Marcion which contains only one gospel. There cannot originally have been only one gospel in the canon and originally have been 20.
There are well over 20 gospels of Jesus Christ. However, the Catholic Church found it necessary to leave certain ones out. The gospel of Mary Magdalene, possibly the most famous Apocrypha for example, depicts her being second to Jesus rather than Peter. It also insinuates that Mary and Jesus were lovers, and forms the basis of alternative interpretations and conspiracies such as in Holy Blood, Holy Grail. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus asserts that the idea of hell is not for an eternity, rather a time that meets the severity of the punishment. A gospel according to Judas (dating to around the 3rd/4th Century AD) was discovered in the 1970s but has only really been studied since the late 90s. This alters the narrative slightly to portray Judas' actions towards the end of Jesus' story not as a betrayal, but as following the instructions of Jesus himself. Considering that it is canonical Christian belief that it was God's plan to have Jesus brutally murdered, this does make some sick and twisted sense.
In my view, they were lies, intended to deceive the reader.
Read Genesis to start with. It's full of lies designed to deceive the reader. Want some examples?It is not a view you have provided any evidence for though is it?
If you were talking of the earliest beliefs in many ancient middle eastern belief systems, the snake is a bringer and guardian of wisdom and knowledge (as you alluded to earlier). That can be one reason why the Gnostics believed that the god who created Adam & Eve wanted to keep them ignorant of knowledge, and the serpent is the hero here for leading Adam & Eve to knowledge, and becoming god-like in the process. Nowhere in the earliest writings of the Hebrew Bible does it mention a connection with the serpent and Satan, not even a hint of it! In Christianity nowhere does Paul say anything about the snake being Satan either. As I said earlier, how could it be mentioned if the concept of Satan wasn't known at those times?
Making stuff up, telling stories, is a technique human being use to discover the truth. Look at how you just used the technique yourself when you said, 'In my view, they were lies, intended to deceive the reader.' You are trying to imagine how, given your own beliefs, something like the New Testament documents could have come about and you are telling yourself, and me, a little story about what must have happened. Now we can check that story out to see if it is plausible but we do that by telling an alternative story. It is how human beings function. Not only would I say a talking snake is very different to a talking tree, I would say each snake or tree is different from the others. You may imagine that science has provided us with a way of thinking that is free of narratives and symbols but that is really just another story and a not very convincing one at that.
It's also mainly used deceptively to empower the authors.Nor do they think they are communicating facts which is another modern concept. The author of Revelation is trying to symbolise what he sees as realities. So, he uses the symbol of a serpent which he identifies with Satan, and which most people think he also identifies with the serpent in the garden. But both these symbols, the serpent in Revelation and the serpent in the garden, if that is implied here, are being used as signifiers not descriptors. To say they have differences therefore they cannot be the same is to misunderstand the type of writing you are reading.
If Satan was truly imagined by any of the authors of the Bible as the serpent in the garden of Eden, then it simply isn't very clear at all. For a major concept of Christianity, this should be as clear as a bell and not have to be pushed and shoved until it fits into what modern Christians believe as major component of their holy salvation.
For such an important concept, it SHOULD be crystal clear that the serpent is Satan. The facts are that it is never mentioned in the OT or the NT. Paul should have mentioned it somewhere, as he was the earliest source and the chief marketer of the Christian religion.Well firstly I did not say that and secondly you have adopted a very modernist approach to language, seemingly without being aware that it is only one possible approach and that it is one which on the whole people have felt compelled to reject. This all goes back to Descartes who sees the clear proposition as the ideal type of true knowledge (Hans Kung's way of putting it; he was advocating Hegelian dialectic in preference to single propositions at the time). This is developed via Locke and others and reaches its most extreme form in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus where he tells us magisterially 'what can be said can be said clearly'. Well as he realised later, it can't always. And even when it can this is often a result of a long process where idea that begin as vague perceptions move towards clarity through the reflections of a community over time.
If the earliest sources are silent and the concept of Satan, Heaven and Hell were not known at the time of writing this absurd story, you can only come to these conclusions; The magical talking snake that had its imaginary legs removed by your lord never was Satan and never even existed. Further to this, your lord and Eve also supposedly spoke to this magical snake, so this is another lie by the author and so that leaves Adam. He was supposedly created from dust and your lord breathed in his nostrils to give him life and later grabbed hold of his ribs to create Eve. Do you realise how silly this sounds?