Quotations about:
    revelation


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Time will explain it all. He is a talker, and needs no questioning before he speaks.

[τὰ πόλλ’ ἀνάγκη διαφέρει τολμήματα]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Æolus [Αἴολος], frag. 38 (TGF)
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Added on 11-Jun-24 | Last updated 11-Jun-24
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“God is love,” as Scripture says, and that means the revelation is in the relationship. “God is love” means God is known devotionally, not dogmatically. “God is love” does not clear up old mysteries; it discloses new mystery. “God is love” is not a truth we can master; it is only one to which we can surrender. Faith is being grasped by the power of love.

William Sloane Coffin, Jr. (1924-2006) American minister, social activist
“Emmanuel,” sermon (1979-12-09)
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Sermon on Matthew 1:23.

Coffin had used very similar language in an earlier sermon, "Born to Set Thy People Free" (1977-12-04), on John 1:14:

God is known devotionally, not dogmatically. If as Scripture says, "God is love," then the revelation is the relationship. Christianity is not cleaning up old mysteries; it's the disclovsure of a new mystery. It is not a truth that you can master; it's only one to which you can surrender. Faith is being grasped by the power of love.
 
Added on 23-Oct-23 | Last updated 23-Oct-23
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On the subject of Biblical texts and examples to why you can’t do certain things with your body that you wish to, I find that absolutely absurd. I’ve always been extremely uncomfortable with the idea in any society that belief is based on revealed truth, that’s to say on a text like a Bible or a Qur’an, or whatever it is. It seems to me that the greatness of our culture, for all its incredible faults, is that we have grown up on the Greek ideal of discovering the truth, discovering by looking around us, by empirical experiment, by the combination of the experience of generations of ancestors who have contributed to our sum knowledge of the way the world works, and so on. And to have that snatched away and to be told what to think by a book, however great it may be in places, this is a book that says you can sell your daughter into slavery, it’s a book that bans menstruating women from within miles of temples. The fact that it also says that for one man to lie with another man is an abomination, is no more made relevant or important than the fact that you can’t eat shellfish.

Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry (b. 1957) British actor, writer, comedian
An Evening with Callow & Fry, Norwich (2003-12)
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Added on 19-Jul-23 | Last updated 19-Jul-23
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You gods who hold dominion over spirits,
you voiceless Shades; you, Phlegethon and Chaos,
immense and soundless regions of the night:
allow me to retell what I was told;
allow me by your power to disclose
things buried in the dark and deep of earth!

[Di, quibus imperium est animarum, umbraeque silentes,
Et Chaos, et Phlegethon, loca nocte tacentia late,
Sit mihi fas audita loqui: sit numine vestro
Pandere res alta terra et caligine mersas.]

Virgil the Poet
Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 6, l. 264ff (6.264-267) (29-19 BC) [tr. Mandelbaum (1971), l. 350ff]
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Virgil, the author, breaking the fourth wall and asking the spirits of the Underworld permission to tell of what happened to Aeneas down there.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

You Gods who souls command, and silent ghosts,
Phlegeton, Chaos, nights vast dismall coasts.
Grant I declare things heard, by your aid shew
What earth and darknesse long hath hid below.
[tr. Ogilby (1649)]

Ye realms, yet unrevealed to human sight,
Ye gods who rule the regions of the night,
Ye gliding ghosts, permit me to relate
The mystic wonders of your silent state!
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Ye gods, to whom the empire of ghosts belong, and ye silent shades, and Chaos, and Phlegethon, places where silence reigns around in night! permit me to utter the secrets heard; may I by your divine will disclose things buried in deep earth and darkness.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

Eternal Powers, whose sway controls
The empire of departed souls,
Ye too, throughout whose wide domain
Blank Night and grisly Silence reign,
Hoar Chaos, awful Phlegethon,
What ear has heard let tongue make known:
Vouchsafe your sanction, nor forbid
To utter things in darkness hid.
[tr. Conington (1866)]

Ye deities, whose empire is of souls!
Ye silent Shades, -- Chaos and Phlegethon!
Ye wide dumb spaces stretching through the night!
Be it lawful that I speak what I have heard,
And by your will divine unfold the things
Buried in gloomy depths of deepest earth!
[tr. Cranch (1872), l. 325ff]

Gods who are sovereign over souls! silent ghosts, and Chaos and Phlegethon, the wide dumb realm of night! as I have heard, so let me tell, and according to your will unfold things sunken deep under earth in gloom.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

O Gods, who rule the ghosts of men, O silent shades of death,
Chaos and Phlegethon, hushed lands that lie beneath the night!
Let me speak now, for I have heard: O aid me with your might
To open things deep sunk in earth, and mid the darkness blent.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

O silent Shades, and ye, the powers of Hell,
Chaos and Phlegethon, wide realms of night,
What ear hath heard, permit the tongue to tell,
High matter, veiled in darkness, to indite.
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 37, l. 325ff]

Ye gods! who rule the spirits of the dead!
Ye voiceless shades and silent lands of night!
O Phlegethon! O Chaos! let my song,
If it be lawful, in fit words declare
What I have heard; and by your help divine
Unfold what hidden things enshrouded lie
In that dark underworld of sightless gloom.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

Ye gods, who hold the domain of spirits! You voiceless shades! Thou, Chaos, and thou, Phlegethon, ye broad, silent tracts of night! Suffer me to tell what I have heard; suffer me of your grace to unfold secrets buried in the depths and darkness of the earth!
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

Gods of the world of spirit, silent shadows,
Chaos and Phlegethon, areas of silence,
Wide realms of dark, may it be right and proper
To tell what I have heard, this revelation
Of matters buried deep in earth and darkness!
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

Chaos, and Phlegethon! O mute wide leagues of Nightland! --
Grant me to tell what I have heard! With your assent
May I reveal what lies deep in the gloomof the Underworld!
[tr. Day-Lewis (1952)]

Gods who rule the ghosts; all silent shades;
And Chaos and infernal Fiery Stream,
And regions of wide night without a sound,
May it be right to tell what I have heard,
May it be right, and fitting, by your will,
That I describe the deep world sunk in darkness
Under the earth.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), l. 363ff]

You gods who rule the world of the spirits, you silent shades, and Chaos, and Phlegethon, you dark and silent wastes, let it be right for me to tell what I have been told, let it be with your divine blessing that I reveal what is hidden deep in the mists beneath the earth.
[tr. West (1990)]

You gods, whose is the realm of spirits, and you, dumb shadows,
and Chaos, Phlegethon, wide silent places of the night,
let me tell what I have heard: by your power, let me
reveal things buried in the deep earth, and the darkness.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

Gods of the world below, silent shades,
Chaos and Phlegethon, soundless tracts of Night --
Grant me the grace to tell what I have heard,
And lay bare the mysteries in the earth's abyss.
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

You gods
who govern the realm of ghosts, you voiceless shades and Chaos --
you, the River of Fire, you far-flung regions hushed in night --
lend me the right to tell what I have heard, lend your power
to reveal the world immersed in the misty depths of earth.
[tr. Fagles (2006), l. 302ff]

O gods who govern souls, O silent shades, Chaos, Phlegethon, and mute expanses of the night, let it be right to tell what I have heard, let me show what's buried deep in earth and darkness.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

 
Added on 18-Oct-22 | Last updated 21-Jun-23
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Whether the particular revelation which you suppose to have been made to yourself were real or imaginary, your reason alone is the competent judge. For, dispute as long as we will on religious tenets, our reason at last must ultimately decide, as it is the only oracle which God has given us to determine between what really comes from him, & the phantasms of a disordered or deluded imagination.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Miles King (26 Sep 1814)
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Added on 12-Sep-22 | Last updated 12-Sep-22
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At some point I believe one has to stop holding back for fear of alienating some imaginary reader or real relative or friend, and come out with personal truth. If we are to understand the human condition, and if we are to accept ourselves with all the complexity, self-doubt, extravagance of feeling, guilt, joy, the slow freeing of the self to its full capacity for action and creation, both as human being and as artist, we have to know all we can abou each other, and we have to be willing to go naked.

May Sarton
May Sarton (1912-1995) Belgian-American poet, novelist, memoirist [pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton]
Journal of a Solitary, “January 5th” (1973)
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Added on 16-Nov-21 | Last updated 16-Nov-21
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Things get bad for all of us, almost continually, and what we do under the constant stress reveals who/what we are.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire (1999)
 
Added on 22-Sep-21 | Last updated 22-Sep-21
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So you end up with divergent sects reading from subtly different versions of the same book — which in turn is a third-generation translation of something which might have been the original codification of an oral tradition — and all convinced that their interpretation overrides such minor obstacles as observable reality. Which still wouldn’t be a problem except that some of the readers think the books are an instruction manual rather than a set of educational parables, a blueprint instead of a metaphor.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Apocalypse Codex (2012)
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Added on 2-May-17 | Last updated 2-May-17
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Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.

Paul Klee (1879-1940) Swiss-German artist
“Creative Credo,” sec. 1 (1920)
 
Added on 31-Jan-17 | Last updated 31-Jan-17
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The good may prove to be a hidden form of evil. The evil may prove to be a new and not yet recognized form of the good.

Nikolai Alexandrovich Berdyaev (1874-1948) Russian religious and political philosopher
The Destiny of Man, 2.4.1 (1931) [tr. Duddington (1955)]
 
Added on 29-Dec-15 | Last updated 29-Dec-15
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Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem.

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer, literary scholar, lay theologian [Clive Staples Lewis]
A Grief Observed (1961)
 
Added on 30-Sep-15 | Last updated 30-Sep-15
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Albert grunted. “Do you know what happens to lads who ask too many questions?”

Mort thought for a moment. “No,” he said eventually, “what?”

There was silence.

Then Albert straightened up and said, “Damned if I know. Probably they get answers, and serve ’em right.”

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Mort (1987)
 
Added on 22-Jul-15 | Last updated 22-Jul-15
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Now because 18 months ago the first dawn, three months ago broad daylight, but a very few days ago the full sun of the most highly remarkable spectacle has risen — nothing holds me back. I can give myself up to the sacred frenzy, I can have the insolence to make a full confession to mortal men that I have stolen the golden vessel of the Egyptians to make from them a tabernacle for my God far from the confines of the land of Egypt. If you forgive me I shall rejoice; if you are angry, I shall bear it; I am indeed casting the die and writing the book, either for my contemporaries or for posterity to read, it matters not which: let the book await its reader for a hundred years; God himself has waited six thousand years for his work to be seen.

Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) German astronomer
The Harmonies of the World [Harmonices Mundi], Book 5, Introduction (1618)

Alt. trans.:
  • "It may well wait a century for a reader, as God has waited six thousand years for an observer." [in David Brewster, The Martyrs of Science; or, the Lives of Galileo, Tycho Brahe, and Kepler (1841)]
  • "It may be well to wait a century for a reader, as God has waited six thousand years for an observer."
  • "I feel carried away and possessed by an unutterable rapture over the divine spectacle of heavenly harmony ... I write a book for the present time, or for posterity. It is all the same to me. It may wait a hundred years for its readers, as God has also waited six thousand years for an onlooker." [in S Krantz and B Blank, Calculus: Multivariable (2006)]
  • "I am stealing the golden vessels of the Egyptians to build a tabernacle to my God from them, far far away from the boundaries of Egypt. If you forgive me, I shall rejoice.; if you are enraged with me, I shall bear it. See, I cast the die, and I write the book. Whether it is to be read by the people of the present or of the future makes no difference: let it await its reader for a hundred years, if God himself has stood ready for six thousand years for one to study him."
 
Added on 18-Feb-15 | Last updated 18-Feb-15
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The reason that fiction is more interesting than any other form of literature, to those who really like to study people, is that in fiction the author can really tell the truth without humiliating himself.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
(Attributed)
 
Added on 12-Dec-14 | Last updated 12-Dec-14
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There’re things we keep hidden from one another. Things we hide from ourselves. Things that are kept hidden from us. And things no one knows. You always learn the damnedest things at the worst possible times.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Changes (2010)
 
Added on 30-Sep-14 | Last updated 30-Sep-14
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What is the meaning of life? That was all — a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years. The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one. This, that, and the other….

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) English modernist writer [b. Adeline Virginia Stephen]
To the Lighthouse, Part 3, ch. 3 (1927)
 
Added on 16-Jun-14 | Last updated 16-Jun-14
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Least and last of all should I undertake to criticise works on the Apocalypse. it is between 50. and 60. years since I read it, & I then considered it as merely the ravings of a Maniac, no more worthy, nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter (1825-01-17) to Alexander Smyth
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On the Book of Revelation.
 
Added on 18-Jul-11 | Last updated 1-Jul-24
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Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour; a long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
Common Sense (14 Feb 1776)

Source essay
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Jan-20
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