In the late 1960s, my car broke down in the mountains of North Carolina, and I had to hitchhike home to the middle of the state.a I was picked up by an elderly couple driving an ancient Plymouth. After a little conversation, I discovered they were “Flat-Earthers,” by which I mean they did not believe the world was round.
I pressed them on this and asked, “Why not?”
The elderly man’s response was, “It says in the Book of Revelations [sic] that the angels will stand on the four corners of the earth. The earth couldn’t have four corners if it was round.”
The problem was that the gentleman had made a genre mistake. He though the Book of Revelation was intending to teach cosmology, but it’s not. It’s a piece of apocalyptic literature that teaches theology, history and ethics, and involves prophecy. In this particular passage (Revelation 7:1), the author, John of Patmos, is simply indicating that angels would come from all points of the compass.