Clarence Larkin (1850–1924) was a mechanical drafter and Baptist minister from Pennsylvania. His prophecy charts (of which this is an example) became influential among conservative evangelicals in the twentieth century.
Larkin espoused a theological position called ‘dispensationalism’. Dispensationalists argued that the Bible was a single, coherent narrative of God’s action through time. To understand the hidden meaning of Scripture as a whole, they thought it was necessary to understand how all its smaller, interlocking parts fitted together.
Dispensationalists thought Jesus was going to return soon. While they usually did not set specific dates for the Second Coming, they agreed that it would happen shortly—probably within their own lifetimes. They considered biblical prophecy to be ‘history written in advance’ (Larkin 1920: 5). They used the details of biblical prophecy to understand when and how the world would end.
This chart appeared alongside hundreds of others in Larkin’s book, Dispensational Truth. Its interweaving lines, Bible verse references, and bizarre figures aimed to make Revelation’s hidden meaning visible to the eyes.
Toward the bottom right of the chart stands an image of the ‘man of sin’ (labelled 'Anti-Christ') mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3–10. With small arrows, Larkin connects this image with two others: a horned creature bearing the caption ‘Daniel 7:7–8’ and a leopard-spotted, seven-headed, ten-horned image of the Beast of Revelation 13. In short, Larkin uses these images to argue that all three passages are describing the same figure: namely, the Antichrist, whose appearance on earth will occur just before Jesus returns. This ‘literal’ interpretation erases the distinctions between three very different parts of the Bible.
The chart presents a view of Gentile history from the time of the Tower of Babel to the future Millennial Kingdom of Christ. Its images, lines, and layout are precise—everything appears where it does for a reason. This chart creates a schematic view of the Bible’s relationship to history, and resembles a diagram of an early twentieth-century electrical device, such as a radio or phonograph. A visual map, the chart distills complex information into a densely coded, two-dimensional form.
Coates, Andrew T. 2018. What is Protestant Art? (Leiden: Brill)
Larkin, Clarence. 1920. Dispensational Truth (Fox Chase: Clarence Larkin Estate)
Pietsch, B. M. 2015. Dispensational Modernism (New York: Oxford Press)
13 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns and a blasphemous name upon its heads. 2And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. 3One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth followed the beast with wonder. 4Men worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months; 6it opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, 8and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. 9If any one has an ear, let him hear:
10If any one is to be taken captive,
to captivity he goes;
if any one slays with the sword,
with the sword must he be slain.
Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
11 Then I saw another beast which rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13It works great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of men; 14and by the signs which it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast, it deceives those who dwell on earth, bidding them make an image for the beast which was wounded by the sword and yet lived; 15and it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast so that the image of the beast should even speak, and to cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18This calls for wisdom: let him who has understanding reckon the number of the beast, for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty-six.