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«Those who live on the earth»

Patmos (Grecce) Prasovouna
In the center of the southern peninsula of Patmos
Saturday, 17 August 2013

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The «Revelation», the last book of the New Testament, reads for the most part like the ultimate avenging-fantasy of a teenager deeply, dangerously deeply, wounded by the world. The text is similar to the noting in the diary of a person who runs amok. The «Revelation» is not about establishing some form of order or justice with force; instead, it is solely about punishment – which serves no purpose other than to demonstrate the unlimited strength of the punisher. Typical of the sadism inherent in the «Revelation» is, for instance, the command to locusts to not kill people swiftly but to torture them for five months (Rev. 9, 5): «And on each of these days the humans will seek death and will not find it, and will desire for death and death will flee from them.»


I do not know if there is another world religion which contains such a mean text in its holy scriptures.


But there are also passages in the «Revelation» that appear as if someone has grabbed the text and tried to give it a milder and more humane side. Like, for instance, in one place (Rev. 8. 13), an eagle suddenly flies through the heavens and cries out in a loud voice: «Woe, woe, woe to those who live on the earth...» - a rare moment of compassion and a downright filmic change of perspective. At this point we also realise that the end of the world does not affect animals. Perhaps they are not interesting enough to be tortured. Or, they are innocent – innocent ambassadors of perdition such as the horses of the apocalypse, innocent tormentors such as the locusts.


It is equally peculiar that in the eagle episode an observation of nature plays a role: eagles, which draw their circular flight paths high in the heavens, appear indeed to lay their eggs in the clouds and therefore not to be directly affected by a totally burnt earth. Such attentiveness to the world does not, as it were, fit in with the general tone of the «Revelation».


The «Revelation» is believed to have been penned by one John – who, in his own words, spent some time «on the island known as Patmos, for the sake of God’s word and Jesus’ testimony» (Rev, 1, 9). There, he received the command from God «to show his servants what must soon come to pass» (Rev. 1, 1). Often the stark, almost treeless, reputedly lifeless landscape of the isle is held responsible for the vision of John. But would an individual, who spends a while in a particular place, rather not discover how life, even in the most difficult of conditions, finds a way to triumph? And John had time on the isle of Patmos, or so we can assume, and would therefore rather have had to write about the miracles of nature. Well, perhaps John of Patmos was responsible for authoring only the eagle episode – but then who wrote the rest?



See also

  • Ein Rezept zur Episoda: Achladakia (Almond biscuits pear-shaped with orange blossom water and honey)
  • Episoda – a broadcast for Santa Lemusa (Introduction)
  • Biography of Peter Polter

First Publication: 8-8-2013