Aage Krohn, Det femte Evangelium

Krohn, Aage. Det femte Evangelium: Johannes’ Aabenbaring udlagt for vor Tid [The Fifth Gospel. The Book of Revelation Interpreted for Our Time]. København: Schønbergske Forlag, 1942. 222 pp.

This Danish commentary was one of several written in times of war (see more on Torm, Johannes’ Åbenbaring). Drawing on scholarly research, Krohn interprets Revelation as a writing highly relevant to the crisis, warfare, totalitarianism, and cultural breakdown of his own time. This commentary is especially interesting from a historical and cultural point of view rather.

Krohn, a Lutheran pastor in the Danish folk church, applies the message of the Book of Revelation to his time. He asserts that Revelation is relevant to churches and congregations that are in a situation similar to that of the first-century church. Thus, he uses Revelation not only as a religious writing of hope and consolation, but probably also as a tool of opposition to the Nazi occupation and totalitarianism.

According to Krohn, the visions are genuine, like the visionary material in other Biblical Scriptures (p. 22). Although Krohn accepts Irenaeus’ s Domitianic dating, he does not seem to accept apostolic authorship. Krohn only says that John is a “prophet” (p. 21).

Revelation is written for the church of God as a book of consolation in difficult times. To understand the meaning of life and history one must know the outcome of life and history. John saw the triumph of evil, but also the victory of good, Christ’s victory (pp. 20f). Krohn, however, emphasises the resurrection of Christ and the Christians (p. 16), which is relevant to all who live in a time of persecution and martyrdom (cf. p. 26f).

Hermeneutically, Revelation must be interpreted according to the proclamation of Christ and the other apostles (p. 22f) and from the perspective of the first Christians: persecution and martyrdom because of the Christians’ refusal to worship the emperor (pp. 23-25) and the risk of syncretism (p. 26) . “The state was no longer God’s servant, but wanted to be God itself” (p. 25). The people needs a religion, so the state invents a religion suitable for itself. The creed of this religion reads: “There is only one God, and the emperor is his prophet.” Christianity and Anti-Christianity is in confrontation with each other (p. 25). In his memoirs from 1938, the Danish Orientalist Johannes Østrup had also criticised the domineering position of the Nazis at the German universities: “It sounds quite Mohammedan: There is only one Hitler, and all of us are his prophets” (cited from K. Møller, Vejen til Damaskus, 2008, p. 109).

Commenting on the fall of Babylon, Krohn laments the contemporary culture. It is godless and morally disintegrating, and it will perish because God will destroy it. The only way to escape humanity from such judgement of God is to submit to the will of (the triune) God and worship Him alone (p. 194).

Krohn is pessimistic and rejects the idea of progress. The only hope for humanity is the coming of Christ (p. 195). He does, however, emphasise that God will not destroy the earth for good. The earth will be renewed and purified (pp. 206f).

Krohn rejects any premillennial interpretation, “belief in a Mohammedan Paradise,” and asserts that only the martyrs will enjoy the millennium, “a long period of time, appointed by God,” here on the earth (pp. 203-206).

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