Book of Revelation Allusions & Cultural References
Technically, the Bible is probably the most alluded to work, ever. Let's take a closer look.
Literary and Philosophical References
- The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe
This story turns imagery from Revelation on its head a bit. It opens with ominous judges standing among the candlesticks (like a scary version of Jesus in the beginning of Revelation). In the end, the blasts of trumpets mean salvation for the narrator, while they signal the start of even more destruction in Revelation. Touché, Poe. Touché.
- The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats
The title of this poem and its imagery are a sweet little nod to Revelation. If you consider a beast born in Bethlehem to be sweet, that is.
- At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners (Holy Sonnet 7) by John Donne
The apocalyptic imagery in this poem owes a debt to Revelation. The title comes right from 7:1, too—"I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the Earth"—except Mr. Donne knows the Earth ain't flat.
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The book's title was inspired, in part, by Revelation 14:19: "The angel swung his sickle over the Earth and gathered the vintage of the Earth, and he threw it into the great wine press of the wrath of God." We guess something good came out of all those gruesome deaths.
- The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
One of the letter-writing demons is named Wormwood, a shout-out to the star that fell to the Earth, poisoned the water supply, and killed loads of people in Revelation 8:11. Uncle Screwtape would be proud.
- The Left Behind Series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
This 16-book series tells the story of the end times where true believers are "raptured" up into Heaven. While everyone else is left wondering what happened, the Beast and the False Prophet (sans the multiple heads) try to take over the world.
- The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsay
This 1970 book compared current events to biblical prophecies to prove that we were living in the end times. The author even had a hunch that the world might end in the 1980s. Sure, the hunch was wrong, but it was really good for book sales.
Pop Culture References
This 1927 German silent film borrows from the Book of Revelation and even has one of the main characters dance seductively on the back of a seven-headed beast.
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Sarah Connor might not be clothed in the sun, but she does give birth to a son who saves the world. Add in the cyborg-filled doomsday hellscapes and you've got a biblical apocalypse in the making.
- 7 by Prince
An angel from Heaven? A plague? Rivers of blood? A new city with streets of gold? And he has a thing for 7s? Prince is borrowing pretty heavily from Revelation for the lyrics from his 1992 song.
- Lake of Fire by Nirvana
Where do bad folks go when they die? Kurt Cobain knows the answer, but only because the Book of Revelation said it first. Oh, and so did The Meat Puppets.
- The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden
Being marked with 666 apparently makes you rock.