Gustav Doré, The Vision of John on Patmos (ca. 1880)
I recently finished reading Paula Gooder’s book Only the Third Heaven? 2 Corinthians 12.1-10 and Heavenly Ascent, an academic monograph published in 2006. In the course of discussing other ancient texts about ascents into or visions of heaven, Gooder makes the surprising claim that the Book of Revelation identifies Christ as “an exalted angel.” She offers two arguments in support of this claim.
First, the opening vision of the Book of Revelation describes a figure “like a son of man” surrounded by “seven golden lampstands” (Rev. 1:12-13). Gooder jumps hastily to the conclusion that these seven lampstands “must be equated with the seven torches of fire burning before the throne of God.” This argument is quite peculiar. If the seven lampstands were equivalent to the “seven torches of fire” that were “before the throne” (4:5), one would think that the figure in the midst of the seven lampstands would be deity, not an angel. That having been said, the seven golden lampstands are definitely not to be equated with the seven torches of fire. Continue reading