The 8th Seal purports to break down the influences on John of Patmos, thus laying bare the meaning of the many symbols and metaphors that occur in the Abrahamic Book of Revelations. Relying of a field of study that he is the principle architect of, one which combines his study of astronomy, history, and religion, Don Cerow provides his insights into the context of the Book, as well as his thoughts on the prophecies contained therein. This reader remains skeptical, with significant reservations.

Much is made of the rigor with which Mr. Cerow has approached this work, and it is true that his notes are exhaustive on his process for working out his interpretations. However, it seems that this rigor is applied to well-trod ground. There is very little new to be described about the Vernal Equinox, for example, but it warrants a place of pride on the dust jacket that he approaches the "astronomical facts" of this celestial moment with science. Within the text, however, it is largely a rehash of what any student (or, relevantly, any student of astrology) would explain to you concerning the position of the bodies in the heavens at the time of the Equinox. This is then related, through logic I found confounding, to elements within the Book of Revelations to tease out underlying meanings to symbols. While I am in no position to judge whether anyone's opinions of the meaning of such an opaque book are correct or not, it is no builder of confidence to lay out such an odd map.

Similar logic is applied to drawing correlations between Biblical symbolism and astrological symbolism, and then using the second body of lore to decode the first. The obvious problem here is that anyone with a bit of poetry in their soul can make such connections; hardly an ounce of rigor is needed. Given the faith-based nature of this material, one might argue, rigor is hardly the most necessary ingredient. I would agree in the abstract, but in this specific case Mr. Cerow is hanging his hat on that very rigor with which he developed The 8th Seal.

Those who enjoy numerology and other side-wise approaches to understanding the Bible or other religious works may very well find much in The 8th Seal to stimulate new lines of their own thinking. In the main, however, I cannot recommend this book.

~review by Patricia Mullen

Author: Don Cerow
375 ppg; $26.95
2017; Ibis Press + Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC

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