Revelation, as an apocalypse, seems to be inherently invested in the future, and of course a certain rendering of the future founded not in the historical present of its writing, but a future that will be radically disconnected from the present day, and in effect, will be totally disruptive and transformative. As Kirsch writes, salvation in Revelation must await the reordering that the apocalypse will bring, which stands in contrast to the view of salvation in the gospels, as something actively achievable in the world in which we live today (58). Revelation finds little hope for ourselves on this earth; salvation, and the apocalyptic moment, seems in want of a site, a place, if this earth is insufficient for such purposes.
A destroyed earth, perhaps heaven, and a new world to be rebuilt upon that, present themselves as candidates for a place for the apocalypse, yet I found quite intriguing Kirsch’s discussion of John’s, Revelation’s named author, obsession with the body, and with a particular view of the body. The body carries a particular weight and importance for John, and if there is a significance to the body in Revelation, it is of a body which must be most ready for the apocalyptic event—in his rendering, this is a body which has been celibate. The sexual being is made, in vivid detail, into the foil of the saved; there is an investment in a certain strain of purity which can be achieved only by celibacy (Kirsch 79-81).
At first, that sex and the body, or rather the body that has not been sexually active, would be so significant, seems unsurprising—religion, and various Christian denominations, are known for regulating sex, perhaps as a means of control, perhaps as a method of gatekeeping and group defining—but then again, Revelation is a text that is wholly in the future moment, not invested in a present-day chance of redemption or salvation. The body is the active site, the place, from this present world which is retained into the next world of Revelation; whether or not the corporal body is said to continue into the future Revelation envisions, the body, and what one has done with the body, figures prominently in this apocalypse, as a key place to define and order the division of one world to the next. In a world made totally anew, a place with little space for any remnants of our present existence, the body carries a certain importance that struck me as an idea to flag, and to continue to explore further this semester.