God’s people perish without vision, the Hebrew Scriptures tell us (Proverbs 29:18). We might be tempted to think that the author was discussing nothing more than human foresight, but the fact is that visions and dreams were major means of revelation in biblical times. Visions were seen as messages from an outside, objective source that gave God’s perspective on the world or the future, or some part of it. Visions were certainly not seen as the product of an overactive imagination or some other aspect of the human psyche.
As we modern readers search for the historical Jesus or the historical Paul or the historical Peter or the historical John of Patmos, author of Revelation, we must not forget that they were all visionaries, or seers who could see things others could not.