Originally Posted by Acockolypse Now
I'm more of a Preterist. (http://www.preterist.org/ if you've never heard of it).
I believe that John was writing about the Roman empire in a coded language (the apocalyptic symbolism of many Old Testament books) that could only be interpreted by other Jews that understood the context. In that way he wrote a very subversive book that predicted the overthrow of Roman rule by Christianity, a prophecy, by the way, that came true.
This. One thing to keep in mind when reading the Bible (or any other book for that matter) is that it is written for a specific audience and as a result context plays a huge role in interpretation.