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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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Smoke is the visible vapour or volatile matter which escapes from a burning substance. It is one of the commonest categories of apocalyptic prophecy. In St. John’s imagery the smoke of incense (q.v. [Note: .v. quod vide, which see.] ), with (or rather ‘for,’ i.e. ‘in aid of’) the prayers of saints, goes up before God (Revelation 8:4). The heavenly temple is filled with smoke from the glory of God (Revelation 15:8, Isaiah 6:4), a symbol of the dark and mysterious side of His self-manifestation, representing perhaps the reaction of His holiness against sin. The prophet Joes’s omens of blood and fire and vapour of smoke (Acts 2:19 || Joel 2:30) may refer either to carnage and destruction in war or to lurid appearances in Nature. The smoke which issues from the opened pit of the abyss, darkening sun and air like the smoke of a great furnace (καμίνου), and resolving itself into demons in the form of locusts (Revelation 9:2 f.), was suggested either by the mephitic fumes emitted from chasms and caverns, or the clouds of vapour rising from hot springs, or the fire and smoke belched forth by volcances, all of which phenomena seemed to the pre-scientific mind to be connected with a subterranean Hades. Out of the mouths of the apocalyptic horses, which have the heads of lions, there come fire and smoke (Revelation 9:17), as from the mouth of Leviathan (Job 41:20; cf. Diomede’s horses, Lucret. de Rerum nat. v. 29). The smoke of the torment of Caesar-worshippers goes up for ever in sight of the holy angels and the Lamb (Revelation 14:11), a weird conception suggested by Enoch, xxvii. 2, 3, xlviii. 9, xc. 26, 27. The smoke of burning Babylon-Imperial Rome-resembling that of the cities of the Plain (Genesis 19:28), is seen from afar by the kings of the earth (Revelation 18:9) and all shipmasters and mariners (Revelation 18:17 f.), as it ascends for ever and ever (Revelation 19:3).

James Strahan.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Smoke'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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Friday, June 5th, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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