Skip to main content

Deciphering the Book of Revelation

By Matt Abbott
Catholic Online

The Book of Revelation is perhaps the most mysterious book in Sacred Scripture. And there has been much speculation about it --some of it bordering on off-the-wall, but some of it serious and scholarly.

The following is the forward and a portion of a chapter from a forthcoming book which, in my view, falls in the latter category. The 333-page book, titled The Apocalypse-Letter by Letter: A Literary Analysis of the Book of Revelation, is a compilation of notes and letters written by the late Steven Paul, a Catholic scholar who died of cancer in 2000.

It has been put together by Paul’s brother-in-law, Steve Bowler, of Hudson, Mass.

“The book is not one of fancy or speculation, but rather an exegesis of what the Apocalypse means based on the Bible and the writings of the Church Fathers,” says Bowler. “It is an analysis of the Apocalypse, from a Catholic perspective, for those who are serious about Bible study.”

Bowler provided me with the following excerpts.


Dear Reader,

The last words of the author of this book were, “I understand now.” Steven Paul was much older than his sister, my wife. I met him at their parents’ home for one of many family gatherings that they held through the years. Steve would always start into a discourse, a debate, or a discussion depending on your point of view. Nearly every time it would turn to the Apocalypse and Steve would try his case with anyone who dared to challenge him. Steve would passionately quote from the Bible, from classical literature, history books, and books by the Church Fathers such as, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Tertullian, and others. As a casual Catholic by upbringing, I was astonished at the depth and breadth of the argument. One book that really struck Steve was The Book of Destiny, by Rev. Herman Bernard Kramer, [Tan Books, 1954], and this book owes much to it. Steve once said that Rev. Kramer was on the right track but missed some important clues.

As time went by, I began to look forward to these oratories. I’d never heard anything like it. How did he gain such knowledge and insight? My wife related that Steve had attended Our Lady Queen of Angels Seminary in the Los Angeles area but then enlisted in the Marines and served in the Vietnam War. He picked the toughest unit he could. While serving his country, he was diagnosed with cancer. Surgery and chemotherapy saved his life but required a long convalescence. Though given a short life expectancy, Steve beat the odds. During this period, Steve read many books. Literary analysis and the use of language became his passion. This infl uence will be evident in the book.

He studied religion, history, and classical literature and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1974 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from Boston University. In the evenings, he volunteered to teach English to refugees from South Vietnam. He also shoveled snow at the local parish and served as lector. We didn’t see him much over the first dozen years we were married. An occasional barbecue or holiday gathering was about it. Then we got word that his cancer had recurred and he was undergoing chemotherapy. He seemed to be improving but then disaster hit. While I was working as a consultant about three hour’s drive from home in 1996, I received a message from my wife. She was shaken and had trouble explaining to me that her brother, Steve, had been brought to the hospital with a ruptured colon and was not expected to survive the day. “He’s not going to get out of this one,” she said. Apparently, a thinning of the intestinal walls is one complication from the cancer treatment. I jumped in the car for the long three-hour drive home with a deep sense of sadness and remorse. The nagging feeling in the back of my mind was what a waste it would be if the knowledge Steve had of the Apocalypse and his faith would not be passed on, especially to my children.

And so I began to pray as my wife and children had been doing ever since Steve had become sick. I asked that if it were possible, for “with Him all things are possible,” [cf. Lk. 1:37], to spare Steven so he could pass along what he knew to my children and they in turn could preserve it. Due to my weak faith, I assumed this was folly but there was nothing else to do. I continued my drive and my conversation with the Lord.

When I got home, I expected to be greeted with the news of Steve’s passing but instead was informed by my wife that he was hanging on by a thread. The doctors were in a dilemma. He was too weak to operate on and too sick not to. His vital signs were unstable. They decided to operate and by some small miracle, he survived the night. The next few days, I watched the children while my wife and her family went to the hospital. They arranged for the sacrament ...

1 | 2 | 3 | 4  Next Page

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

1 - 10 of 10 Comments

  1. Jacqueline
    2 years ago

    if you know a lot so something about the Bible could you please tell me if there is something about seeing a black cross in the sky: I saw on a perfectly formed black cross on Saturday July 20th 2013 and do not know what it means of if it means anything special...
    Thank you so much for your opinion.

  2. Mary Kay Allanson
    2 years ago

    I just discovered this article today (February 18,2013) which made me wish to read the book talked about therein. Am I right to assume it is now in print? Where can I get a copy? Thank-you in advance.

  3. william van dusen
    3 years ago

    I was trying to find a small book of Revelation as to carry with me. Can you help? Thought I would read this article, glad I did---Thanks

  4. Terry
    3 years ago

    I have read this book and "the book of destiny" and between them, they unravel a lot of the mysteries. I regard them as recommended reading for all.

  5. Mr. Leigh Mueller
    4 years ago

    The Apocalypse-Letter by Letter: A Literary Analysis of the Book of Revelation by the Catholic Scholar, Steven Paul and compiled by his brother-in-law, Steve do I get this book after it goes to print? Please advise...

  6. Tony
    4 years ago

    You forgot to add the information about the tension in having the Church and State entwined and Charlemagne's tendency to push his limits by giving the Pope advice and even imprisoning him once.

  7. Derek
    4 years ago

    Hey... I don't know if the author will read this but I hope someone can see this...

    [source is from wikipedia]
    Israel and Judah were related Iron Age kingdoms of the ancient Levant. This history of Israel and Judah runs from the first mention of the name Israel in the archaeological record in 1209 BCE to the end of a nominally independent Judean kingdom in 6 CE.

    The two kingdoms arose on the easternmost coast of the Mediterranean, the westernmost part of the Fertile Crescent, between the ancient empires of Egypt to the south; Assyria, Babylonia, and later Persia to the north and east; and Greece and later Rome across the sea to the west. The area involved is relatively small, roughly 100 miles north to south and 40 or 50 miles east to west.

    [end of my source]

    The great whore rests on seven mountains...

    The LORD's 'empire' of the Old Covenant was based on Mount Sinai.
    The LORD's kingdom is now based off of Mount Zion.

    What great, overarching empires were there, oppressing God's chosen people?

    Egypt. Assyria. Babylon. Persia. Greece. Rome.

    What will be the seventh?

    Judging from Daniel's vision, of the feet made of iron mingled with clay, which the Rock not cut with hands will smash, the seventh great overarching empire will be a full-fledged United Nations: atheistic, scientific, and attempting to be monolithic -- yet the iron cannot stand strong with the clay.

    You see, the 'ten toes' of the feet in Daniel's vision correlates to the 'ten kings' in Revelation 17, which correlates to the 'tribulation ten days' warning given to the church Smyrna. (Also, the 'receive power one hour' correlates to the 'hour of temptation' spoken of to the church Philadelphia.)

    The number 'ten' is likely more symbolic than anything, representing all of the nations that will band together in the confusing times of natural disasters, depleting resources, and overarching lawlessness.

  8. Judie
    5 years ago

    Within minutes of my Mother's death, my Father says that he saw a "golden eye" looking at him. He has asked me to research this and find it in the Bible. I have looked in Revelations, thinking that was the best place and could not find it. There was something about a third eye. Do you know anything about an eye?

  9. Teddie Esch
    6 years ago

    this is a very special artical, and I am looking forward to reading the book. I just wish that more people would be as open to what God wants them to do as Steven was.

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful study with our Catholic community.

  10. Sue Vogel
    7 years ago

    When will this book be on the market? I am so anxious to get it!

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jonah 3:1-10
The word of Yahweh was addressed to Jonah a second time. 'Up!' ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 130:1-2, 3-4, 7-8
[Song of Ascents] From the depths I call to you, Yahweh: Lord, ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 10:38-42
In the course of their journey he came to a village, and a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

October 6 Saint of the Day

St. Bruno
October 6: Bruno was born in Cologne of the prominent Hartenfaust family. ... Read More