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The newspaper exegesis of Philip Galanis

Dear Editor,

I am looking forward to Nassau Guardian columnist Philip C. Galanis’ sequel to his May 13 “Disgraceful, Mr. Prime Minister” op-ed, in which Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis is raked over the coals for giving a polarizing political speech at Cousin McPhee Cathedral AME Church. Galanis has promised to write a follow-up column detailing “specific instances” of corruption within the Free National Movement (FNM).

Bahamians who keep abreast of the news are well aware of what Minnis stated in his address about the Progressive Liberal Party. Therefore, there’s no need to regurgitate what was said. For his part, I consider Galanis to be one of the top three columnists in The Bahamas. The Nassau Guardian’s Candia Dames and The Punch’s Nicki Kelly being the other two.

Like Dames and Kelly, Galanis has a firm grasp on the domestic and regional issues impacting The Bahamas. As a commentator in this regard, Galanis is A-list. As a biblical exegete, however, the Guardian columnist has a ways to go. In his recent op-ed, Galanis attempted to tie in Revelation 17:2, which states, “With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication,” with Minnis’ purported collaboration with the leadership of Cousin McPhee Cathedral AME Church.

According to Galanis, Revelation 17:2 “foreshadowed the relationship that would develop between the beast (governments) and the harlot (corrupt and politically compromised churches).” Minnis might be flattered to know that he is generally referenced in the Bible, albeit not in such an unsavory manner. Galanis’ interpretation amounts to nothing more than smear. The FNM administration and the Bahamian church are damned with faint praise.

To Galanis’ question of whether we are witnessing the fulfillment of Revelation 17:2, the answer is an emphatic no. Galanis has engaged in what the late Christian apologist Dr. Greg Bahsen coined “newspaper exegesis” – that is, interpreting Scripture in light of the newspapers and contemporary events. It would appear that each generation since the first century believed that they were witnessing the fulfillment of Revelation.

In his “Protestant Biblical Interpretation” Bernard Ramm defined hermeneutics as “the science and art of biblical interpretation”. Ramm further stated that the word hermeneutics is ultimately derived from Hermes the Greek god who brought the messages of the gods to mortals.

Judging from his March 18 eulogy of Monsignor Preston Moss, I am of the impression that Galanis is a practicing Roman Catholic. If I am correct, Galanis should know that the Catholic Church holds to an Amillennial/Preterist concept of the Book of Revelation, as opposed to the Historicist concept of Reformers John Calvin and Martin Luther – both of whom taught, ironically, that the Catholic Church is the fulfillment of Revelation 17:3.

Sixteenth century English historian John Foxe shared the same viewpoint regarding Catholicism being the harlot of Revelation 17 as Luther and Calvin in his “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs”. Their misinterpretation is based on Revelation 17:6, which states that the woman is intoxicated with the blood of the saints. Obviously the Inquisition influenced their understanding of the text in question. Galanis fails to take into consideration verse 6 also, as I doubt he is of the view that the Bahamian church has blood on its hands.

Like the Reformers and Foxe, Galanis completely ignored the time texts of Revelation 1:1, which says that the prophecy “must shortly come to pass”; Revelation 1:3, which says that the “time is at hand”; and Revelation 22:10, that says, “For the time is at hand.”

Galanis completely takes Revelation 17:2 out of its historical context by ignoring verses 8 through 11, which reads: “(8) The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. (9) And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, in which the woman sitteth. (10) And there are seven kings; five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must reign a short space. (11) And the beast that was, and is not, even he is of the eight, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.”

In verse 12 of the same chapter John interprets the 10 horns as being 10 kings. First century Rome was divided into 10 imperial districts or provinces. Based on my understanding of verse 10, the entire chapter of 17 was contemporaneous with the Apostle John during the first century before the destruction of the Herodian temple in 70 A.D.

In Revelation 11:1, John mentions the Herodian temple as currently standing. This is an important internal evidence that he received his groundbreaking prophecy prior to the destruction of this important edifice which gave to the Jews their religious and social identity, notwithstanding the oft repeated reference to Bishop Irenaeus’ ambiguous quote in Against Heresies about either John or his vision being seen during the reign of Domitian in 95 A.D. This purported evidence is often used by those from the Futurist camp, whether they are of the classical or dispensational school of thought. Regardless of what Irenaeus meant, however, he could’ve been wrong, as the late David Chilton argued in his volume “Paradise Restored”.

In Revelation 17:10, the five kings who are fallen are Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius. The “one is” is none other than Nero Caesar, whose name in the Hebrew, Neron Kesar, is numerically valued at 666, according to Revelation 13:18.

The other king referenced in Revelation 17:10 as reigning for a “short space” is Galba, who reigned for a grand total of seven months which coincided with the infamous Year of the Four Emperors. In verse 9, the seven mountains are also a reference to the seven hills of Rome: Aventine, Capitoline, Caelian, Esquiline, Quirinal, Palatine and Viminal Hills.

In verse 11, John says that the beast is of “the eight”. American Bible commentator Kenneth Gentry in his “The Beast of Revelation” argues brilliantly that the definite article prior to the word eight is a subtle reference of the advent of the Flavian dynasty after the demise of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. In Scripture, eight is symbolic of a new beginning.

This interpretation is interesting in light of Vespasian assuming leadership of the Roman empire after the assassination of Vitellius in 69 A.D. Chronologically, Vespasian was the ninth emperor of Rome. Yet from the standpoint of resuscitating a dying empire after the collapse of the Caesars, he is the eight – a new beginning. Consequently, the beast is first century Rome from a general standpoint; Nero Caesar, from a specific standpoint.

As for the harlot which collaborated with the beast, that is apostate first century Israel, at the risk of appearing to be antisemitic, which I am not. Bear in mind that John bar Zebedee penned Revelation. He was Jewish. John was an eyewitness of the Jewish leadership collaborating with the pagan Romans in the murder of Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity. Small wonder he calls his own nation a harlot, in the tradition of Ezekiel chapters 16 and 23 and the Book of Hosea.

Galanis’ speculation is eerily similar to the interpretive model of popular American Bible prophecy teachers Hal Lindsay, Edgar C. Whisenant, Tim Lahaye and John Hagee. In “The Late Great Planet Earth”, Lindsay speculated that the generation that witnessed the birth of the modern state of Israel in May 1948 might be the terminal generation. Seeing that a generation is equivalent to 40 years, it would mean that the pre-tribulation rapture will occur no later than 1988 – 40 years after the establishment of Israel. In Edgar Whisenant’s “88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be In 1988”, the late NASA engineer used the same line of argument as Lindsay. All in all, Galanis’ eisegesis suffers from the same setback as Lindsay and Whisenant: engaging in newspaper exegesis.

No Mr. Galanis, the Minnis administration is not the beast of Revelation, nor is Cousin McPhee Cathedral AME Church or the Bahamian church the harlot. I suggest that you reexamine your hermeneutics. Either that or stick to commenting on the political and social issues impacting The Bahamas.

– Kevin Evans

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