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					Revelation 4-5

   Throne 4:2-6
    – Introduced 4:1
         Meta tauta is a transitional formula.
         Introduces new section
    – Previous concern: what has occurred on
      earth in the churches.
    – Now concerned with heavenly realities.
Revelation 4-5
   Open door
    – Possibly reflects ancient cosmology
    – Earth is surrounded by a vault of heaven, the
      dominion of the divine.
   Seer hears a voice.
    – Summoned to ascend, see things necessary
      meta tauta
    – Note usage 1:19
    – Chronological?
Revelation 4-5: The
Throne
   Described 4:2-6
    – Note description of throne
        In heaven
        One on the throne is described as jasper and
         sardis, and around the throne an emerald or,
         more accurately, a nimbus of emerald color
        See Ezekiel 1:26-28

        See 1 Enoch 18:8-11

        See 1 Enoch 14:18-22.
Revelation 4-5: The
Throne
   Similarities
    – Floor of crystal (see 4:6)
    – Lightning (see 4:5)
    – Cherubim of fire (Rev 4:6)
        Latter reminiscent of the four living creatures.
        Rev. 4:, the living creatures are in the midst
         of the throne.
        In Ezek. 1:22-26, they are separated from it.
Revelation 4-5: The
Throne
   Other Epiphany scenes
    – Ex. 19:16-25
    – Epiphanies of Zeus
       IL 8:1-5
       Od. 5:1-5

    – Portrayals of Jupiter on Roman coins,
      particularly in period of Domitian
Revelation 4-5: The
Throne
   Peculiarities
    – In most visions of the heavenly throne, or
      throne chariot, millions upon millions
      worship God.
    – In Rev 4 there are 4 living creatures and
      24 elders.
    – This is remarkable in visions of the divine
      throne, or throne chariot (Merkavah) in
      Jewish literature.
Revelation 4-5: The
Throne.
   The “Rainbow”
    – See Ezek. 1
    – Also, descriptions of near eastern
      divinities.
       Often surrounded by a “nimbus”
       Can be a rainbow or a halo, or a fire

       It surrounds the divine figure
Revelation 4-5: The
Throne
   Conclusions
    – Depiction of the throne derives primarily
      from texts of the Hebrew Bible, or Jewish
      documents, such as 1 Enoch.
    – Also imagery comprehensible to the wider
      Hellenistic/Roman world.
       Depictions of gods, especially Jupiter/Zeus.
       Nimbus.
Revelation 4-5: The
Throne
   Significance of imagery.
    – Similar to theophanies from the Hebrew
      Bible.
    – What is the impact on Jewish Christian
      readers?
    – Can be read as similar to theophanies in
      classical and near eastern texts.
    – What is the impact upon Gentile readers
    – What is it saying about the imperial cult?
Revelation 4-5: Around
the Throne
   Four Living Creatures (4:7-9)
    – See Ezek. 1:6-21
        What is similar?
        What is different?
Revelation 4-5: Around
the throne
   Creatures Ezek. 1:6-10
    – Each creature has 4 faces
    – Order of faces:
        Human
        Lion

        Ox

        Eagle
Revelation 4-5:Around
the throne
   Rev. 4:7
    – Each creature has one face
    – Are in following order
        Lion
        Ox

        Human

        Eagle
Revelation 4-5: Around
the throne
   Differences
    – Both conclude with face of an eagle.
    – Revelation, each creature has one face
    – Ezekiel, each creature has 4 faces
    – What accounts for the differences?
Revelation 4-5: Around
the throne
   How many wings do the creatures
    have in Ezekiel?
   How many in Revelation?
   Why?
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne
   In Ezekiel, each creature has four
    wings.
   In Rev. 4, the creatures have six
    wings.
   What accounts for the differences?
    – See 4:8
    – What happens here?
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne
   Not only do the creatures fly about,
    they sing in 4:8, whereas in Ezek. 1.
    they are silent.
    – They sing the Trishagion, “Holy, Holy,
      Holy …”
    – This imagery derives from Isa 6.
    – The description of the wings combines
      the imagery from Ezek 1 and Isa 6.
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne
   We see here an example of John’s
    method.
    – He does not quote Scripture, he alludes
      to it.
    – In the process, he simplifies the
      description of the four living creatures.
    – He combines two texts, and in the
      conflation provides a new description.
Revelation 4-5. Around
the Throne
   Is the description actually derived
    from the Hebrew Bible?
    – Most scholars say yes.
    – A minority, however, say no.
    – From where do they propose that John
      derives his imagery?
Revelation 4-5: Around
the Throne
   Astrological imagery (see Kraft, Boll,
    Malina).
    – Of twelve astrological signs, four are
      primary, and rule the others.
    – Thus, the four creatures are thought to
      represent four astrological signs.
    – Is this perspective valid?
Revelation 4-5: Around
the Throne
   Problem comes with the sign of the eagle.
    – It comes where one would expect the water
      bearer, Aquarius.
    – Scheme is based upon the precedent of ancient
      near eastern depictions of heavenly scenes
      combining astral and animal imagery.
    – Similarly, later synagogues have depictions of
      the zodiac, with Helios at the center and the four
      seasons at the side, in typical Hellenistic fashion.
Revelation 4-5. Around
the Throne
   Precedent.
    – In Qumran 4Q318 there is a zodiac
      calendar with a brontologion (“word of
      thunder”), associating thunder and
      zodiac.
    – Rev 4 can, thus, be placed on a
      continuum of Jewish zodiac speculation
    – Does this mean the four living creatures
      derive from zodiac themes?
Revelation 4-5: Around
the throne
   Zodiac as inspiration for 4 living creatures.
    – Probably, this is not the source of John’s
      description.
    – The simplest explanation is probably the best.
          John employs imagery from the Hebrew Bible.
          He combines Isa 6 and Ezek 1, with some reference to
           Ex. 19.
Revelation 4-5. Around
the Throne
   Does our conclusion about the four
    living creatures exclude the possibility
    that John employs astrological
    imagery?
   Not necessarily.
   There is one image where this is
    explanation is very plausible.
Revelation 4-5. Around
the Throne
   The twenty-four elders
    – Johns description of twenty four elders has
      caused much scholarly speculation.
          Are they representative of the twelve tribes of Israel
           combined with the 12 apostles (see Rev 21:12-14)
          Are they the twenty four priestly orders of 1 Chron
           24:7-18?
          Neither of these explanations explain the elders’ attire
             – Gold crowns
             – Dressed in white
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne
   Here the case for astrological derivation of
    the imagery makes more sense
    – John is utilizing the tradition of the heavenly
      court (Job 1-2; 1 Kings 22:19-23).
    – Ancient traditions include subordinate deities in
      the presence of the high god.
    – These divinities carry out the work of the high
      god (see again, 1 Kings 22:19-23)
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne
   The twenty four elders, then would
    represent the twenty four star gods of
    Babylonian speculation.
    – Astrological speculation is quite popular in the 1st
      century, and the imagery is available to John.
    – Also, we have seen that there are precedents for
      utilization of astrological imagery in 1st century
      Judaism.
    – Here, John applied astrological speculation with
      other imagery
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne
   Also the imagery of casting crowns.
    – From time of Augustus, emperors receive
      gifts from subject peoples.
    – The coloniae and municipa of Italy, for
      example, offered Augustus crowns,
      weighing about 35,000 pounds of gold in
      29 BCE (F Millar, The Emperorint he
      Roman World (31 BC-AD 357), 1977, p.
      141.
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne
   D. E. Aune concludes that since there
    is no parallel here in Jewish or
    Israelite literature, the only possible
    source of imagery is Hellenistic Roman
    custom (D. E. Aune, “Roman Imperial
    Court Ceremonial”).
   This theme is also linked to the hymnic
    praise, as we shall see shortly.
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne
   Lion who is a Lamb (5:5-7).
    – One of the most dramatic scenes of Rev.
      4-5 includes the description of the Lion of
      Judah (Rev 5:5), who becomes the slain
      Lamb, who takes the scroll and opens its
      seals.
    – From where does this imagery derive?
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne
   The scene has strong antecedents in both
    the Hebrew Bible, as well as in ancient near
    eastern and classical myth.
   The ancient creation myth describes a
    heavenly court in anxiety.
    – Who will defeat the chaos monster, Tiamat?
    – After this question [period of anxiety], Baal steps
      forward and accepts the task.
    – He engages and defeats the monster
    – As a result, he is installed as high god.
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne
   Hesiod’s Theogony.
    – Zeus accepts the role of leader of the
      gods.
    – He leads the gods in defeat of the Titans.
    – As result, he is established as ruler of the
      gods (2.881-84).
    – Likewise, the classic creation myth has
      Apollo commissioned to defeat Python.
    – He does so, and his honored.
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne
   Commissioning scene in the Hebrew Bible
    – 1 Kings 22:19-23.
          In the heavenly court, figures are assembled.
          The question is raised, who will go out and cause Ahab
           to come up to Ramoth Gilead?
          One says one thing, and then another [period of
           anxiety]
          Finally, one comes forward and has a plan, to put a
           lying spirit in the mouths of the prophets to deceive
           Ahab.
          This figure is commissioned to go on, accomplish this
           task, and bring about Ahab’s destruction.
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne
   Similarly, Job 1-2.
    – The satan provides a similar role.
    – The satan is asked of God what he has
      been doing.
    – He has been roaming the earth.
    – Has he considered God’s servant Job
    – The satan proposes a test.
    – God allows it.
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne
   Revelation 5:1-5
    – John sees a scroll with seven seals.
    – He is asked who is worthy to open the book and
      to break its seals.
    – None is worthy.
    – John weeps
    – He is told not to weep, because the Lion of
      Judah, the root of David, is worthy.
    – These are traditional names for the Messiah.
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne
   Rev. 5:6-8, the Lamb comes forward.
    – The lion becomes a Lamb, with seven
      horns.
    – The horn is a symbol of power.
       Yet, this power is unusual.
       It is not exercised through the crushing of
        enemies.
       It is exercised by being the lamb that is slain.
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne
   Why is this imagery unusual?
    – Example. In the “Animal Apocalypse” of 1
      Enoch, the messianic figure is a white bull
      with great horns.
    – This figure destroys the corrupt priests
      and enemies of God.
    – There is nothing in the text about the bull
      being killed.
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne
   In 4 Ezra 7:28-32.
    – The Messiah, God’s son, does die.
    – This is after reigning 400 years.
    – But so does the rest of creation, which is
      restored after seven days.
    – There is nothing about the messiah
      defeating God’s enemies by dying.
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne.
   Why is the lamb portrayed this way?
    – It is without precedent in Judaism
    – The Lamb is slaughtered, and receives the scroll,
      possibly a book of destiny.
    – Note, despite the fact 1:5 refers to Jesus as the
      “one who loved us and washed us from our sins
      in his blood” nothing in 5:6-8 or 5:9-14 mentions
      that the Lamb has redeemed people from their
      sins.
    – Sin offerings were goats and bulls.
Revelation 4-5. Around
the throne
   Work as slaughtered Lamb is not so much a
    sacrifice, but dying and through this act
    constituting a new people.
   Allusion seems to be to the Passover Lamb
    of Exodus, which is not seen as a sacrifice
    for sin.
   Lamb acts as a redeeming people, who
    creates a new people through his own
    sacrifice.
Revelation 4-5. Around
the Throne
   Further remarkable features of the imagery.
    – For its violent imagery
    – Despite the fact that the Lamb leads an army in 19:11-21
    – No battle scene is ever described.
    – Enemies of God assemble, and are destroyed by the sword
      that proceeds out of the mouth of the rider.
    – The heavenly army does not participate in the victory
    – What does this say about the Lamb’s victory (5:5)?
    – See L. L. Johns, Lamb Christology of the Apocalypse of
      John, 2003.
Revelation 4-5. Hymns of
praise
   Both Rev 4:11 and 5:9-14, we find hymns.
   Common features
    – Hymns of 4:11; 5:9 and 12 all begin with acclamation “
      worthy”
    – All give praise to God and to Christ for accomplishments,
      either in creation or redemption.
    – Both receive acclamation from an appropriate group.
    – God and Christ receive similar praise.
           L. Hurtado describes this as “binetarian worship.”
           See. R. Bauckham, “The Worship of Jesus,” in Climax of
            Prophecy, 118-49.
Revelation 4-5. Hymns

   In 4:11, four features to be noted.
    – Praise opens with, “worthy are you.”
    – Outline of God’s characteristics, for which
      praise is due.
    – Ceremony of prostration.
    – Attire of the elders.
Revelation 4-5. Hymns.

   Acclamation, “worthy” similar to that given
    by Roman Senate to the emperor.
    – This worthiness is inspired by a description of
      the throne.
    – Imagery of Rev. 4-5 reminds readers not only of
      theophany scenes from the Hebrew Bible, but
      also to the likening of the emperor to being the
      embodiment of Jupiter, particularly in the Roman
      East.
Revelation 4-5. Hymns

   Outline of reasons for praise in 4:11b-
    d is reminiscent of reasons for praise
    given to gods and humans in
    Quintillian, Inst. 3.7.6-9.
Revelation 4-5. Hymns
   “Oratory is directed primarily to the praise of gods and men,
    but occasionally to the praise of animals or even of inanimate
    objects. In gods, we first venerate the majesty of their nature
    in general germs, and then the power of each individually and
    any inventions which may have benefited the human race.
    Power is demonstrated of Jupiter in the governance of all
    things, of Mars in war … Some must be praised from their
    offspring, as Apollo and Diana to Latona. Some must be
    praised because born immortal, others because they won
    immortality by their valor, a theme which the piety of our
    sovereign has made the glory even of the present times (tr.
    by K. M. Krentz, in “Epideiktic and Hymnody: The New
    Testament and its World,” BR 40 [1995], 56).
Revelation 4-5. Hymns

   Quintillians criteria also apply to 5:9-
    14
    – The Slain Lamb accomplishes a task
      which makes him alone worthy to open
      the scroll by breaking its seals (5:1-5)
    – The Lamb is acclaimed with shouts of
      worthiness
    – The Lamb accomplishes his goal
Revelation 4-5: Hymns
   Similar language was ascribed to Domitian,
    who, in defeating the Chatti in Germany
    wages a war in behalf of Zeus (Jupiter).
   He restored peace to the empire.
   As Jupiter (Zeus) defeated the Titans with a
    thunderbolt, so Domitian has accomplished
    a victory, restoring order to the universe.
   Similar language is applied here to the slain
    Lamb.
Revelation 4-5: Hymns

   Ceremony of prostration, and
    acclamation of a multitude
    – Ceremony of prostration was the typical
      act of obeisance, either of a defeated
      enemy, or of subordinate ruler.
    – Likewise, the Senate, in its acclamation of
      an emperor, acted in behalf of the whole
      empire, the “universal consensus.
Revelation 4-5. Hymns
   In contrast to the fiction of universal
    consensus in the senatorial ritual, the Lamb
    receives true universal acclamation in Rev
    5:13.
    – This universal acclamation demonstrates the
      Lamb’s worthiness to receive praise as God’s
      agent,.
    – The language mirrors in reality what the Senate
      ascribes symbolically, and demonstrates the
      Lamb’s greater worthiness.
Revelation 4-5. Hymns

   The Attire.
    – The clothing of the 24 elders represents the
      vestments used by priests in Asia minor.
    – By imitating the attire, the Seer points the
      reader to the truth behind the appearances,
      what the imperial cult ascribes to the emperor
      and the empire, belongs only to God and Christ
      (see my article “Glory to God and to the Lamb,
      JSNT 83 [2001], 89-109).
Revelation 4-5.
Conclusions
   Why does John use this imagery
    – John is incorporating imagery from
      various sources.
    – The use of Hebrew Bible and Jewish
      tradition demonstrates that the God
      worshipped by Israel continues to act in
      God and Christ. The Christian church
      proclaims the continuation of what is
      begun in Israel.
Revelation 4-5.
Conclusions
   Astral imagery.
    – John “demythologizes” the cosmos.
        Astrological speculation was popular in the 1st
         century.
        By demoting astral deities to the role of
         “elders,” John states.
           – They are not gods in their own right.
           – They are elders, whose only task is to worship
             God.
           – Monotheism is not compromised, but affirmed.
Revelation 4-5.
Conclusions.
   Use of imperial imagery
    – John is hostile to the cult (see words to
      Pergamum and Thyatira, as well as Rev 12-13;
      17-18.
    – Utilizing imperial imagery, he throws them back
      in the face of the imperial cult.
          Only One deserves acclamation and praise.
          Rome’s claims are a shabby and faint imitation of the
           glory that belongs to God and Christ alone.
          All Rome claims illegitimately belong to God and Christ
           by right
          The rest of his vision establishes this fact.

				
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