The Book of Revelation is very difficult text to interpret. Just look at the many bizarre literalist interpretations out there already.
For instance, compare the Liturgical Interpretation or connections with Scott Hahn's book and M. H. Shepherd (see the recent thread http://www.byzcath.org/cgibin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=2&t=001064
with the following Historical Interpretation that is blatantly anti-Catholic:
AN ANTI-CATHOLIC HISTORICAL INTERPRETATION OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION:
Rev 1: An introduction to the book, showing Christ presenting Himself to John.
Rev 2: An overview of Church History (The Seven Churches)
Rev 4 and 5: Set the stage for what is about to follow.
Rev 6: The Roman Empire in decline (The Seven Seals and the Four Horsemen)
Rev 7: The spread of Christianity (The 144,000 chosen ones)
Rev 8: Fall of the Western Roman Empire (The first four Trumpets)
Rev 9: The rise of Islam; fall of the Byzantine Empire (Fifth and sixth Trumpet)
Rev 10: The Protestant Reformation (The Angel with the Little Book)
Rev 11: The French Revolution (The death and resurrection of the Two Witnesses)
Rev 12: The Christian Persecutions (The Woman and the Dragon)
Rev 13: The 1260 years of Papal dominance (The two Beasts and the number 666)
Rev 14 and 15: Prepares us for the description of the events of chapter 16.
Rev 16: Events of the last 200 years: (The Seven Vials)
- The gradual diminution of Papal temporal power (The first five Vials)
- The return of the Jews to Palestine (Sixth Vial)
- Fascism and Nazism (Unclean spirits like frogs)
- World War II and the Jewish Holocaust (The Battle of Armageddon)
- Events still future (Seventh Vial)
Rev 17: The Napoleonic Era (The woman Babylon and the scarlet Beast)
Rev 18: "Laments" the punishment of Babylon, the false Church
Rev 19: Recapitulates what has happened so far, after having celebrated the arrival of the true Church, or Bride of Christ.
Rev 20: Refers to a distant future attack against this glorious City, a thousand years after her arrival.
Rev 21 and 22: New Jerusalem is described in detail
I guess it depends on whether you are "inside' the Church on the "outside' looking in.
As for what is actually taught in the deacon program, I cannot give the details since I've only been in it for one year and never had the opportunity to study it there with brother deacon-students. I can only re-iterate what our Church tradition is:
Fact: The Apocalypse of John isn't read during our church services.
Fact: That same book is considered to be the inspired word of God (it is in our Bibles).
[ 02-07-2002: Message edited by: J Thur ]