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The Throne Scene in Heaven (4:1—5:14)

John McPhee, in his 1965 biography of basketball great (later Senator) Bill Bradley, explains the book's title, A Sense of Where You Are. When McPhee asked Bradley about the mechanics of his spectacular no-look, over-the-shoulder shot, Bradley replied, "When you have played basketball for a while, you don't need to look at the basket when you are in close like this. . . . You develop a sense of where you are" (Bantam Pathfinder Edition [1967], 13). In its own way, reading the New Testament is just as demanding as playing basketball. Here too we try to develop a sense of where we are. At the end of the seven messages, it was easy to forget that we were still with John on the island of Patmos on the "Lord's Day" (1:9-10) because the risen Jesus had been speaking continuously since commanding John not to "be afraid" (1:17). Presumably John was busy writing down what he was told to write, but otherwise he had faded out of the story. He reasserts himself with the words after this I looked (4:1). How long after this? We are not told. Are we still on the island of Patmos? Is it still the "Lord's Day"? The text does not say. All we know is that a new vision is under way, introduced with the verb I looked, or "I saw" (Greek eidon; compare "I heard," 1:10, and "I saw," 1:12).

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