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I suppose that I am one of the few people who own an original copy, and it is without a doubt the most valuable book in my library. The author's entrance into the area of interest in the subject of prophecy caused him in the late 1800s to gather a library of nearly 150 books spanning the centuries all the way back at least to the third century, and the purpose of Guinness' book is largely to record the interpretations of all those other authors, showing what they thought the Book of Revelation meant in their day.
It is a very sobering book, since its thesis, very unlike the prophetic writings of our day (greatly expanded upon in the Preface) is that it is none other than the Roman Catholic Church, and specifically the Papacy, that is the Man of Sin, the dreaded Anti-christ of scripture. This interpretation is known today as the historicist method of interpretation, as distinct and antithetical to futurism, which holds that just about everything from chapter 6 of Revelation has yet to happen.
Guinness vigorously opposes that form of interpretation, using the opinions of the many authors over the centuries as evidence, coupled with his own views.
It should be mentioned that at the outset Mr. Guinness quotes extensively from a Philadelphia pastor, A.B. Barnes, who also set out in the early 1800s to write on Revelation, and the discoveries he made in the pursuit of that goal. In brief he compiled an extensive list of the words in the entirety of Revelation that could be used as symbols and then, using ONLY the scriptures, proceeded to assign meaning to those symbols. Then, taking each of those symbols contextually, he proceeded to write a 'history' of the Christian church, and was astounded to find in the reading of Gibbons' Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that it appeared that Gibbons had been liberally copying form Barnes' notes. This was especially meaningful because Gibbons was himself certainly not a believer and would not have knowingly written anything that could have been construed as supportive of the Christian religion.
The book is exceptional, and is divided into probably five or six subsections: pre-Constantine, middle ages, pre-Reformation, Reformation, French Revolution, and his own (Guinness') day.
Sadly, the reprint that has circulated on the internet was written using optical character recognition, and since the font is smaller than the original and pages are larger the pagination is horribly unlike the original book. And since the index is done in the same manner, the index is totally useless, since the pages in the index refer to the pages in the original.
Having said the above even the new reprint is worth reading, since the information, entirely apart from the footnotes and index, is nothing less than staggering to anyone who has an open mind, and wishes to know something of the true history of the Christian church as it relates to prophecy, and also to learn of the immensity of the persecutions by the Roman Catholic Church against anybody who dared to oppose it. In a word they were mercilessly exterminated, massacred en masse, in the bloodiest depiction of which the English language is capable, and that over a period of time spanning approximately 1200 years.
Get the book. It is worth the read.
David E. Gregory Sr.: 74
P.S. I must admit, having reviewed the main page I did not see that this was an ebook, and thus perhaps the pagination in the index will be accurate. If so, I do apologize, but if one orders the hard copy of the book from Amazon my remarks above will be in order.
LCSHs: Bible -- Prophecies -- Judgment Day. | Bible. -- N.T. -- Revelation.