1. Most modern commentators conclude that the woman of chapter 12 is at one level Mary, the mother of Jesus; at another level Leto (cf. Boring, p. 151); while at another level, the people of God. Starting with the later interpretation in mind, extrapolate the meaning of as many of the following as you can:
· clothed with the sun, moon under her feet, twelve stars (12:1)
· pregnant, in labor (12:2)
· a red dragon, sweeping down stars ( 12:3)
· a male child, snatched away (12:5)
· fled into wilderness (12:6)
(If you have another theory regarding the identity of the woman, start from that and work through the related symbolism.)
2. What is the source of beastly images in 13:1-2? Who or what do these beasts represent? How does activity related to the beast affect ordinary people? Would the meaning have been clear to John’s first readers? Explain.
3. Make a diagram of the major characters in chapter 13. How are they related to each other? (Use arrows to show relationship; include brief summaries of roles/activities in your drawing).
4. What is the meaning of the apparently fatal wound that had been healed (13:3)? What is the meaning of “666” ()? (Consult two or three commentaries here.)
5. What is the “mark” (-17; cf. Deut. 6:8; Ezek. 9:4)? What is its relationship to 7:3ff?
6. Do you think chapter 13 was fully understandable to John’s first readers? What would you say to interpreters who identify imagery of chapter 13 with twentieth-century events and characters? What aspects of the text in chapter 13 point us to the time reference?
7. In his commentary, G. B. Caird argues that the harvest scene at the end of chapter 14 represents not God’s judgment upon unbelievers, but the unjust violence perpetrated on the martyrs. Evaluate his reasoning.