The wounded and healed head of the beast (Revelation 13:1-3) represents, according to Oecumenius ( Greek Commentaries on Revelation (Ancient Christian Texts) , 58-9 ), “the death-bearing wound that the devil received on one of its heads . . . because of the reverent worship of Israel.” Yet this wound was not a death-wound because of Israel’s “subsequent idolatry.”

The worship of the beast by all people also refers, Oecumenius thinks, to ancient history, not to the history of the church. All whose names were not written in the book of life worship the beast, but some names are written: “there were a few persons from both the Gentiles and from Israel who kept themselves pure from this cult, such as Job and his four friends, and Melchizedek, and from Israel the holy prophets and they who gave a pious witness in the Old Testament.”

This is consistent with the backward-looking emphasis of his entire commentary. He takes, for instance, the allegory of Revelation 12 as a straightforward recap of the birth story of Jesus. The woman is Mary, the wilderness is Egypt, and the scene of the woman in flight is just a vivid retelling of Matthew 2.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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