Greg Clarke on whether the world will literally end with a cosmic battle on the fields of Megiddo.
On the set of the Life of Jesus documentary, Greg Clarke discusses the end of the world, and the importance of treating the Bible as history and literature, rather than always reading it literally.
GREG CLARKE: Behind me at the fields of Megiddo, better known as ‘Armageddon’. Now, Armageddon is a place name that evokes images of the end of the world, the place where the cosmic battle between the forces of light and darkness is going to take place. This idea is gleaned from the book of Revelation, in Chapter 16, where it mentions in highly symbolic language that God’s wrath is going to be poured out on the fields of Megiddo.
But there’s a great lesson in how not to read the Bible to be learnt here. You see, the Bible is not really a blueprint for the when and the where of the future. Instead, books like Revelation are highly sophisticated documents using all sorts of literary techniques to tell their story. For Jewish readers, the idea of the battle at Megiddo would have immediately alluded to ancient battles that did take place here with the Canaanite and the Egyptian kings. It’s just like Jesus using images of Gehenna to represent hell, where Gehenna is a rubbish dump within Jerusalem where refuse is burnt. Immediately when you hear these place names mentioned, all these images of judgement, and condemnation, and battle are evoked. We ought to treat the Bible with this kind of respect: to treat it as history and literature, and not to read it literally and miss the point.