I dreamed up REV. 23 one day as I was thinking of where I would meet my husband Charles again since he passed from this world. It amused me that my incorrigible, irascible and impossible husband wouldn’t be caught dead (pardon the pun) in Paradise (not that he’d be entirely welcome there) as some of the most interesting people seem to be consigned to that other place. This led to more musing about what Heaven was like and concomitantly, what that other place was like.
I was aided in these musings by the fact that I was a Singaporean Methodist, a product of an American Methodist Missionary school and deeply steeped in biblical lore. So I turned, naturally, to the most detailed account of Paradise-on-Earth familiar to me, the divine visions of John of Patmos, author of the Book of Revelation.
Poring over the Book of Revelation over and over again (it’s a very short book), I couldn’t shake away the sense of unease that grew stronger with each read, that perhaps I wouldn’t be perfectly happy in a place of perfect happiness. As I began to explore why I felt uneasy, the framework for REV. 23, the final chapter of the Book of Revelation, began to take shape.
At first, my superstitiousness made me balk at developing the REV. 23 story. I wondered if I would be cursed with the plagues of Revelation because I was adding to the words of the Book of Revelation, indeed, writing an entirely new chapter. For those who do not know what I mean, here’s the quote from Revelation 22: 18-19:
“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
Then it occurred to me that perhaps John of Patmos was speaking through me about his last chapter, hitherto unwritten and unpublished, that I was merely the scribe chosen to write it down. That’s why John of Patmos is credited as the author of REV. 23.
For me, the Garden of Eden is part and parcel of Paradise-on-Earth. So naturally, REV. 23 segues back into Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Paradise. Hence the “beginning” of REV. 23 is really the End of the great saga recounted in the Bible, and its “end” is the Beginning of the Bible, reflecting the perfect circle that is life.