Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Understanding the Apocalypse in Light of the Topography of Patmos

The Island of Patmos occupies an important position in the Sacred Geography of Christendom, but, unlike the other Holy Places, it is very seldom visited by strangers. There is no regular communication by steamboat. The inhabitants, even amid their poverty, do not turn the sacredness of the spot into a source of profit by organizing pilgrimages, and inviting the outside world to enrich them by paying for temporary hospitality, and for memorials of the journey.* The descriptions which have been published have been very few.** Yet the place is naturally of profound interest. The landscape, in any case, is that which was before the eyes of John. There remains, moreover, the farther question whether, during the revelation of the Apocalypse, he was conscious of surrounding objects in such a sense that this landscape was as it were the proscenium on which the figures of the vision appeared. The late Dean Stanley, in a beautiful passage in the Appendix to his Sermons in the East,*** seems to incline to such an idea:—