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NT 620/720 Book of Revelation Lecture 1: – Syllabus – Canonical History and authorship – History of Interpretation – Genre and Structure Canonical History For more detail, see B.M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development and Significance. In the 2nd century, there were those who accepted Revelation and was accepted by some as on the same order as the epistles of Paul (Eusebius, EH 3.25.2) For others, it was rejected as spurious or contested works (see Eusebius, EH 3.25.2,4), along with Canonical history First mention is by Papias – He was the disciple of “John” in Ephesus. – Was this John the Apostle? – Was this another John, John the Elder? – The evidence is not clear Papias’ writings do not survive. What we have are recordings of what Papias said in Eusebius (EH 3.3.12) Canonical History Papias is also quoted by others – These include Andreas of Caesarea (quoting Papias on Rev. 12:7), Ignatius of Antioch in the early 2nd century, and Irenaeus of Lyons (ca 180). – Eusebius is not completely comfortable with Papias because of Papias’ chilism (from the Greek word for 1000, chilion). – Papias believed in a literal millennium, something Eusebius rejected. Canonical History One of the first clear references to Rev. is in Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho 81.14. – Justin discusses how John received Revelation. – Yet, that other apocalypse of the early church, The Shepherd of Hermas, makes no reference to John’s vision. Canonical History Reasons for Revelation to fall into disrepute. – Rise of Montanism in Asia minor led to a distrust of unregulated “movements of the spirit.” – In addition, Montanists held Revelation in high regard Canonical History Some leaders in the Eastern, or Greek speaking church, spoke against accepting Rev. – Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria (ca. 245-65). He was concerned about chiliastic (millennial) preaching within his diocese. Wrote a treatise against Rev. Noted the stylistic difference between Rev. and the Gospel and Epistles of John. Rejected Rev.’s authorship by John, Son of Zebedee His arguments would become influential with critics of 19th to 21st centuries Canonical Status Dionysius’ arguments had their greatest impact in Asia Minor and the Greek speaking church – Despite early acceptance, canonical status of Rev. was Questioned in Eastern Church, especially Syria. – Thus, Eusebius mentions two different opinions about Rev. Canonical Status In the Western Church, however, Rev. was accepted. – It is listed in the earliest canonical list, the Muratorian canon (named after its 18th century discoverer, a librarian named Muratori). – However, the Muratorian canon also lists among its disputed works Shepherd of Hermas and the Apocalypse of Peter. – Was the West more disposed to apocalyptic speculation than the East? Canonical status In the West, Rev. was accepted by churches in Gaul North Africa (which was related linguistically by the Latin language to the Western Church, as well as Italy) Tertullian accepts Rev. as canonical, both in his Catholic and Montanist periods. Canonical Status Even in the East, there are those who accept Rev. as canonical – Melito of Sardis, A.D. 190. – Toward the end of the 3rd and into the 4th centuries, there is growing acceptance of Rev in the East. This may be by growing acceptance in the West. Yet, there are some important figures in the East who, if they do not reject Rev., certainly never preach from or write on it. These include John Chrysostom (ca. 347-407), the famous bishop of Constantinople, and Theodore of Mopsueutia (d. 428) the great representative of the school of Antioch, which rejected Alexandrian allegorical interpretation of scripture. Canonical Status Rev. becomes canonical within both Eastern and Western Church. – Despite the disputes about Rev. in the East, the Western Church accepted Rev. as canonical – Yet, the Western Church had problems with the status of Hebrews, which was accepted by the Eastern Church – As a compromise, both Rev. and Hebrews were accepted into the common canon of East and West. Canonical Status Yet, Revelation’s status was still not universal. – While the Greek speaking Church, along with the Latin speaking Church accepted Rev., some of the minority churches did not – The Syriac Church, for example rejected Rev. – It is not found in the Peshitta, or the Syriac tr. of the NT (which has only 22 books). – It is occasionally preached upon, but not as canonical Canonical Status In the Armenian Church, there is no ms. of Rev. until the 13th century. History of Interpretation For More detail, see A. W. Wainwright, Mysterious Apocalypse: Interpreting the Book of Revelation. Abingdon: Nashville, 1993. As reflected in the canonical history, we can see that opinion about Revelation with the church has been between two extremes. – On the one hand, Revelation has been a source of great comfort to the church, especially in times of persecution. – On the other, There is great confusion. History of Interpretation We live in a continuum, which is indebted to the past. We need to listen to the voices which are helpful We also need to recognize the dead ends in the past that occur again and again History of Interpretation Different Conclusions: – Luther rejected Revelation, on the grounds that nothing is revealed. He did not see Christ preached. – In Calvin’s commentaries on the NT, 2 Peter and Rev. are the only two books he did not write a commentary on. – Adam Clarke admitted quite frankly he did not understand the book. History of Interpretation Different conclusions – Part of the reasons for rejection of Revelation in the “mainstream,” particularly of Protestantism, has been its use by marginal groups Joachim of Fiore taught a system of three ages, the Father (OT), the Son (NT up to his time) and the HS (initiated with Joachim’s teaching. He identified the pope as beast of Rev. 13. Thus, those groups of the church that have traditionally been most marginalized have been most willing to accept Revelation as authoritative History of Interpretation Early period: The Chilliasts (Justin Martyr to Hippolytus) – Justin Martyr was one of the earliest interpreters of John’s Revelation, or Apocalypse. He is best know for accepting a literal 1000 millennium (Rev 20:1-3). This belief is known as chilism, and those who hold to it are called chilliasts. History of Interpretation Likewise, Irenaeus in Against All Heresies (Adv. Har.) 5 interprets Rev. 20:1-3 literally. – Irenaeus, however, has a very interesting reason for accepting a literal millennium. – Unlike many writers of today, who seem to wish to escape the world, Irenaeus believed that creation was good, because God created it. – Yet, it was tainted by sin. – The millennium was necessary to redeem creation, to restore it to the goodness God intended. – If only later chiliasts had the same opinion. History of interpretation Hipppolytus – A student of Irenaeus – His work is available only in fragments It is rich in refs. To the antichrist legend, especially in Rev. 12. The children of the woman are believers. Witnesses of Rev. 11 are Enoch and Elijah (others said they were Moses and Elijah) 1st half of Rev. 13 refers to the Roman empire Allegorizes the number 666 (as did Irenaeus) There are seven periods of church history of 1000 years apiece, culminating in the millennium. History of Interpretation The author of the first commentary preserved for us is, Victorinus of Pettau (d. 303), who was the first to argue that the seven seals, trumpets and bowls were different aspects of the same events (recapitulation) were also accepted a literal millennium. – His importance is that his work was the first systematic commentary on Rev. – He also held Nero was the beast (the first to do so). – The two witnesses o f Rev. 11 were identified as Elijah and Jeremiah – 144,000 of Rev. 7 and 14 are Jewish Christians – His recapitulation theory, would be revisited in the 1930’s. History of Interpretation Alexandrian School. – Influenced by the Greco Roman Spirit, known as Hellenism. – Method: Homeric and Roman myths were allegorized to downplay immorality and violence of the gods. – Method was adopted by Philo of Alexandria to soften things in the Hebrew Bible offensive to a Greco Roman audience. Anthropomorphism, where human characteristics (hand, arm, etc.) or emotions (anger) are attributed to God Also, some of the violent imagery of the Hebrew Bible, creation story, etc. History of Interpretation Clement of Alexandria – 24 elders of Rev. 4 are the 12 tribes of Israel + the 12 apostles (this interpretation was revived in the 20th century). – Tails of the Locusts of Rev 9:10 are symbolic of destructive influence of immoral teachers. Origen – Rejected a literal interpretation of Rev. 20 as “Jewish.” – Demonstrated no interest in historical meaning of text. – Tended to interpret the text arbitrarily. Alexandrian method of remained dominant in the Eastern church. History of Interpretation Western Church: Late Antiquity to Middle ages. – Tychonius, Donatist of North Africa – Pivotal character – Interpretation adopted by Augustine, and became dominant for 1000 years. – Accepted recapitulation – Rejected a literal 1000 year millennium in Rev. 20. It is symbolic Represents the church History of Interpretation Joachim of Fiore (1195) – First new interpretation since Tychonius There are eight divisions to history The Church has three. – Law, or Father, Peterine period – Gospel or Son (Paul period), expected to end ca 1260. – Johannine period was the period of the Spirit – Joachim’s work was understood as anti-papal – Was accepted by Franciscan zealots, and altered to conform to problems they were facing, especially in the 14th century. At this time, the “spiritual” Franciscans (fratechelli) were in conflict with the papacy. This conflict is the background to Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose History of Interpretation 16 to 18th centuries – Protestant: Lutheran and Reformed. Developed the “Church historical” or “historical interpretation. There are four basic ways of interpreting Rev. – Futuristic looks to the future fulfillment, it understand that John was looking to a future for fulfillment (similar to what Joachim of Fiore expected). – Preterist: Rev. was addressed primarily to the needs of John’s day. – Symbolic: See Alexandrine fathers, who understood Rev. in symbolic terms. – Historical: Rev. provides an outline of all church history until the fulfillment. History of interpretation Protestant reformers and their successors saw Rev. as outlining the struggles of the church. – Protestant interpreters made few innovations, with the exception of Hugo Grotius, whose method was eclectic. – Special emphasis was given to Rev. 17. The harlot or Rev 17 was understood as the papacy. Thus, Rev. becomes an anti-papal tract. History of interpretation Pietistic interpretation – Tended to be spiritualizing, or symbolic interpretation Was even more arbitrary than the traditional Protestant interpretation For example, Johannes Bengel In his Gnommon, he developed a double millennium theory, the first was expected to begin around 1860. This is one of the more extreme examples of subjective speculation, but was also one of the most influential, since in many respects Bengel was the most influential pietist exegete. History of Interpretation Roman Catholic – Catholic exegetes were more interested in John’s historical circumstances. – Jesuits were especially active, and returned to interpretations of early western fathers, such as Irenaeus, Hippolytus and Victorinus. – Characterisitics Harlot of Rev 17 and bbylon (Rev 14:8; 18) = Roman Empire Rev 12-19 represent Church’s conflict with paganism Rev. 20-22 depict Roman Church’s triumph. History of Interpretation 19th century – Darbyite dispensationalism Method that is one of the most widely known, see especially T. LaHaye, the Left Behind series. Developed by J. N. Darby, Irish preacher, and the Plymouth Brethren Features: “secret rapture” (Rev 7:13-14) OT prophecies about Israel must be literally fulfilled. Church age is a parenthesis between Daniel’s 69th and 70th week. Hostility toward the Church History of Interpretation Source criticism – Began in 19th century – Most recent practitioners are J. M. Ford, in the AB, and David Aune in the WBC. – Noted Rev. is similar to Jewish writings, some of which were only recently discovered in the 19th century – Perceived a lack of Christian content in Rev. 4:1-22:5. Rev. a Jewish apocalypse with a Christian prefix and conclusion Other Christian elements interpolated History of Interpretation Source Criticism – John is a vision But this does not preclude that he was influenced by or incorporated sources. Visionary literature utilizes conventional language Sources are not, however, simply copied. They are transformed in the process. Source theories neglected unity of theme, grammar in Rev. 4:1-22:5, which corresponded to Rev. 1-3 and 22:6-20. Received devastating rebuttals by Bousset and Lohmeyer in the early 20th century. History of interpretation History of Religions – Begun with analysis of the OT, but also of Rev. by H. Gunkel in the 19th century. His classic, Schopfung and Chaos in Urzeit und Endzeit, or Creation and Chaos in the Beginning and End, has recently been translated. – His method is also employed by A. Yarbro Collins in The Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation; P.D. Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic; J. J. Collins in Apocalyptic Vision of the Book of Daniel – See my article, “Glory to God and to the Lamb,” and forthcoming (?) book on Rev. 4-5. How do we interpret Revelation? As you can see, there are many ways of interpreting Rev. We have not even touched on the socio- rhetorical, or the post-colonial. For a post-colonial reading of Rev. from the margins, note Blount’s Can I Get a Witness, the review of which will constitute a good portion of one of our sessions. Yet, even these readings owe much to the approach that we will outline below How do we interpret? Assumptions for this class: 1. Apocalyptic literature utilizes ancient motifs, and transforms them 2. John’s audience would have understood his references. We will attempt to isolate the tradition history. Then we will notice how John modified it. Genre Note Murphy pp. 17-33. Discussion: – What is the definition of an apocalypse on Murphy p. 18? – What is meant by eschatology? – What kind of worldview is understood by the term “apocalypticism (Murphy pp. 21-27)? – How may an understanding of the genre influence our teaching and preaching of Revelation? Genre All genre designations are, to some extent, artificial, being the constructions of modern scholars Why do we do it? Why is genre important Genre We consider genre because apocalyptic literature in general and Revelation in particular deals with concepts and language that is foreign to our way of thinking. We need to recognize that John had a purpose in writing Also, his purpose is to communicate the message of his vision To do this, he utilizes conventional language and imagery. These conventions are what we call a genre By understanding the genre, we will better understand what John is trying to do, and, thereby, communicate it better to our audience, avoiding the pitfalls of imposing upon John our way of thinking. Genre The definition on Murphy, p. 18 is derived from the definition of an apocalypse in Semeia 14 in the article by J.J. Collins, “Toward the Morphology of a Genre.” – This definition is very inductive – It was derived from examining examples of apocalypses from the 2nd or 3rd centuries BCE to the 3rd century CE – But, not all are happy with this definition. – There are some others Genre C. Rowland in, The Open Heaven – An apocalypse is a revelation of heavenly mysteries – This definition seeks to be more inclusive. – Yet it is too broad – There are, for example, Gnostic texts which reveal heavenly mysteries, but are not apocalypses. Genre D. Aune, in Semeia 36 further criticized the Semeia 14 definition – He concluded the definition was very inductinve – He also said it was not very helpful – His conclusions on how the genre of an apocalypse applies to Revelation is also found in his WBC commentary, pp. lxxxii: Genre According to Aune (Revelation [WBC], lxxxii), the genre of apocalypse as applied to Revelation is: – Form: a first-person prose narrative, with episodic structure, consisting of revelatory visions often mediated by a supernatural agent. – Content: communication of transcendent, eschatological perspective. – 3. Function: legitimize the transcendent authority of John’s message; mediates John’s vision through literary devices to both conceal and reveal John’s message; encourage recipients of message to continue to endure in faith. Genre Advantage of Aune’s method – It is more precise than other definitions, including Semeia 14 Disadvantage – It has the danger of being imposed upon the text rather than being drawn from it. Genre The Semeia 14 definition, for all its weaknesses, has the advantage of being concise enough to give the student a means of understanding the basic theme of an apocalypse. – At the same time, we must remember it is also artificial – It derives from an examination of materials that were written over a time span of 5-6 centuries. – Also, there was no unified “apocalyptic movement.” – So, for all its weaknesses, in this class we will utilize the Semeia 14 definition as a tool, recognizing that scholars can still arrive at something better in the future. Authorship Historically the church has held that Rev. was written by John the Son of Zebedee, the author of the Gospel and Letters of John. However, is this the case. – First, if we look at scholarship on the Gospel of John, especially R. Brown’s commentaries on the Gospel and Epistles of John in the Anchor Bible, we notice that it is highly unlikely that they were written by John the Son of Zebedee, although the tradition does go back to an early follower of Jesus. Authorship and Date We also noted how Dionysius of Alexandria noted that the difference in language between the Gospel, epistles and Revelation precluded authorship by the same person. This position was later adopted by critical scholars of the 19th and 20th century Authorship It is noted: – Nowhere does the “John” of Revelation claim to have been a disciple (see Rev. 1:1; 22:8). – John (Johannes) was a very common name, and we have numerous Johns in the NT, including, John the Baptist, John the son of Zebedee, John Mark, etc. – Charles, in his 1920 ICC commentary, noted a tradition that John, like his brother James, died rather early (see Mk. 10:39). However, the source Charles cites is late (9th century) Could it have been based upon an exegesis of Mk. 10:39? Authorship Another possibility is that Rev. was written by John, Son of Zebedee, but John and the Epistles come from someone else (John the Elder?). See C.K. Barrett’s commentary on the Gospel of John. Finally, not all scholars are agreed, and there have been a few who are still open to the possibility that Rev. was written by the same author as the Gospel and Letters of John, see I. Boxall in his 2006 commentary on Revelation in the BNTC. Authorship What we know: – The author is named John – He writes Greek in a very Semitic style – Thus, he is likely from Palestine – He is in exile to Patmos – He knows the details of the situation of each of the seven churches of Rev 2-3, so he is likely a person of some authority – His visionary work gives the impression he holds a prophetic office in the church Authorship Is he John the son of Zebedee – We don’t know – Does it matter, for the ultimate revelation is not of John, but it is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show to his servants the things necessary to happen quickly, and he indicated through his angel to his servant John” (My tr.) – The authority comes not through the one receiving it, but the one who gave it, God, to Christ, transmitted by his angel to John. Date The church fathers Irenaeus and Melito of Sardis are in agreement that Revelation was written during the reign of Domitian. – This situation best suits the situation of the churches of the letters – Particularly in 2:9; 3:9, where the church is definitely separated from the synagogue. – The mortal wound to one of the heads of the beast in 13:3, points either to the Nero Redivivus myth, or to the civil war of 69. Date The number 666, or 616 in 13:18 also points to the Nero figure – Does John utilize the “return of Nero” myth to warn of the coming evil ruler? – If so, does this correspond to a Domitianic date, since he was known by some as the “second Nero”? Date In the 19th century, some scholars said that the date of Rev. fits better with Nero’s reign. – There is no known persecution of Christians in Domitian’s reign. Melito did say Domitian was a persecutor, but this had more to do with his apologetic purposes, to show only bad emperors persecuted Christians. We have little evidence of persecution of Christians in Domitian’s reign, except for the exiling of prominent Roman women from court for “Jewish practices” (becoming Christians?) Date Rev 17:10, which speaks of 5 kings having fallen, one being, and one to come, is said to fit better with Nero. If you start with Augustus, the sequence of emperors is: Augustus, Tiberius, Calligula, Claudius, Nero … Nero is the 5th. But if you begin with Julius Caesar, as did Suetoniuis in The Twelve Caesars he is the 6th. Date However, the imperium is dated by all Roman writers as beginning with Augustus (Augustus was declared emperor, Julius Caesar was not emperor but dictator). It is possible that John used a source, either from the reign of Nero or Vespasian. – But this does not prove date – Apocalyptic writers often utilized materials from earlier ages (see 1 Enoch 5-11, which is an earlier story about the fall of angels incorporated into 1 Enoch). Date Finally, considering John’s love for the number “7” it is unlikely that we are dealing with a literal king list. – It is more likely symbolic – Which is how Rev. needs to be interpreted Date Conclusion – In this class we will accept the Domitianic date. – However, as with authorship, dogmatism is best avoided. Structure To Understand the text, it helps to know how it is structured. However, with Revelation, there are almost as many efforts to structure the text as there are interpreters. This is because John employs an “interlocking of texts” Structure This method is employed by Murphy, p. xvii. Notice, that Revelation is framed as a letter (1:4-6; 22:20b-21). You will also notice that 1:;7-8 is an introductory saying, followed by an inaugural vision (1:9-3:22) Structure Murphy, like most commentators, notes that something new happens with Rev. 4,, which introduces the apocalyptic visions proper. Murphy then notes two cycles (6:1-11:19 and 12:1-22:5. The number seven is an organizing principle, with the seven seals (6:1-8:5) seven and(8:6- 11:19) constituting the first cycle. Structure The second cycle is 12:1-22:5 – It begins with seven unnumbered visions (12a;1-15:4) – Seven Bowls (15;1; 15:5-1621) – A Babylon appendix (17:1-19:10) – Seven unnumbered visions (19:11-21:8) – And finally, a New Jerusalem appendix (21:9- 22:9). Structure Murphy’s structure is an adaptation of Yarbro Collins’s structure found in Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation, and also found in her 1983 book, Crisis and Catharis: The Power of the Apocalypse, and her article on, “Revelation, Book of,” in the ABD Structure According to Yarbro Collins, Rev. has five series in two overarching structures. – Seven seals 6:1-8:5 – Seven trumpets (8:2-11:19) – Seven unnumbered visions (12:1-15:4) – Seven Bowls (15:1-16:21) Babylon Appendix (17:1-19:10 – Seven unnumbered visions (19:11-21:8 Jerusalem Appendix (21:9-22:5) Structure The first sequence begins in 4-5, with the vision of the Throne of God and the Lamb, and the Lamb’s opening of the scroll in Rev. 5. The second sequence begins in Rev. 10, with the vision of the mighty angel, and John eating a little scroll (10:10) and being told “you must again prophesy” (10:11). Structure Thus, the second sequence begins in the midst of the vision of the seven trumpets. This is an inconsistency that plagues this structuring. Another is what to do with the “seven unnumbered visions,” since no two analyses correspond. Structure My approach – I structure Rev. around the three visions of the exalted Christ (see also M.E. Boring, Rev., who does something similar, but not exact. – After the introduction, the first section 1:9-3:22. It is introduced by the vision of Christ in 1:9-20. – The second section is 4:1-19:10, introduced by Rev. 4-5. It begins and ends with hymns Some of the language of the songs is very similar, and constitutes an “inclusion” or “inclusio.” Structure The final section is 19:11-22:9, the vision of the Judgment and the New Jerusalem. – It is introduced by the vision of the triumphant and victorious Christ in Rev 19:11-21. – It is the vision of the final judgment. Rev. concludes with 2:10-20, final exhortations and epistolary conclusion. Advantages The organization of the book is around visions of the exalted Christ. It avoids some of the artificial attempts to create 7 “unnumbered visions” – The number 7 is important in Rev. – However, when no one can agree what constitutes the two “unnumbered visions” or the Babylon and Jerusalem Appendixes, something is wrong – Also, the visions of the seals and the trumpets blend into what follows. For example, does the seven trumpets constitute the last of the seven seals (8:1- 2)?This is what Yarbro Collins refers to as the interlocking structure of Revelation. Structure Finally, the structure demonstrates three understandings of the church. – The church addressed, the church that shares its Lord’s words – The Church that shares in its Lord’s struggle with evil – The Church that shares in its Lord’s Triumph. Structure Note: – This is not the way most structure Rev., but I think it does justice to the fact that something significant happens in the exalted visions. For another example of how to structure Rev., see the introduction to Beale’s commentary on Revelation in the NIGTC. For next time Compare Rev 1:12-20 with Dan 7:9-14. – What attributes does John’s vision have in common with Daniel’s of the Ancient of Days (7:9-10). – What attributes does Daniel’s vision of Christ have in common with the one like a son of man (cf. Dan. 10:6- 7; Rev. 14) – What does the Risen Christ say about food sacrificed to idols in Rev. 2:14 and 20-21 (letters to Pergamum and Thyatira). Compare with 1 Cor 8 and 10. – Consider topics for the passage you wish to write on in your paper. Revelation 1 Rev. 1 – Begins as a letter, with a superscription and epistolary preface. Note what Murphy says (p.59): “Ancient Books often begin with a few words about their authors and content, as does Revelation (1:1-3; see Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-5; Josephus Ant. 1.1-26).” Murphy also notes the openings of Isaiah (1:1); Hosea (1:1) and Amos (1:1-2) Rev. 1. Why do ancient books begin this way? – Any thoughts? – Why would the author give this type of introduction? Revelation 1 Remember, ancient books did not have title pages. – Title pages are the product of the printing press. – Thus, what we would consider material appropriate for the t.p., ancient books would have as the opening, or the incipit. This procedure continued into the first years of printing, where a book would be introduced by an incipit p., and end with a colophon. – What is Revelations incipit, or superscription. Revelation 1 Incipit or superscript – First word: Apocalypsis Revelation begins with the phrase, “Apocalypsis Iesou Christou. This is the apocalypse, or uncovering, or revelation of Jesus Christ – Apocalypsis is the “uncovering,” or “unveiling.” – This is the manner in which Paul uses the term, see 1 Cor 1:7; 2 Thess. 1:7. Paul, for example, received his gospel by Revelation, or an unveiling (Gal. 1:12, 16). Revelation 1 In Revelation: “The heavenly world is unveiled for the divine because God wills to show his servants” the things that must happen quickly (see A. Oepke, “Apocalypsis,” TDNT 3:589) Thus, the opening word of the superscription refers to the Seer’s revelatory experience. Revelation 1 The sequence of the Revelation. – We usually refer to Revelation as “the Revelation of John.” – What does the superscription say? – Whose Revelation is it? – Who gives it? – What is John’s role Revelation 1 The Revelation is of Jesus Christ – The grammar here could refer to possession. – It can also mean the source. Ultimately, the Revelation is Christ’s, but who gives it to Christ? What does that tell us about Revelation? Revelation 1 The Revelation is Jesus’, but it is given by God. – Murphy is correct in noting that Revelation is theocentric. – The revelation is given to John by God. – Thus, to reject John’s vision is to reject God Revelation 1 The Revelation is transmitted by an angel to John. – Note here the definition of an apocalypse, that it is transmitted by an otherworldly agent. Here that agent is the angel. – This assures the readers of the validity of the witness, which we see in 1:2, what John sees is the word of God, and the witness of Jesus Christ. Revelation 1 In 1:3, there is the blessing, introduced by the term macarios. – Thus, the blessing is called a makarism. See the beatitudes of Mt. 5. – It is a blessing, and the first of 7 makarisms of the book of Revelation (see 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6 22:7, 14, see Murphy, p. 63). – The blessing is in expectation of Christ’s messianic reign, initiating God’s kingdom. – Who receives the blessing? What does it mean? Revelation 1 The blessing is to everyone reading the words of the prophecy, for those keeping the words of the book, for the time is near. – Note that as Murphy notes about the opening of prophetic oracles in the OT, so here, prophecy is not simply fulfilling morbid human curiosity about the future. – It is “forthtelling” more than foretelling. – In the prophetic books, a “foretelling,” usually a judgment, was presented so people would act upon it Revelation 1 Also note the word that is used for reading – In the ancient world, reading is not a solitary activity, see H. Gamble, Books and Readers in the Early Church – Reading is always out loud, the proper meaning of the Greek term anaginōskein. Reading is done by a reader to a group This is, in part, due to the fact that only about 10% of the population is literate. It is more proper to speak of readers/hearers That is also why it is appropriate to speak of rhetorical method in NT documents, because the methods of rhetoric apply to letter writing, especially for communal letters such as Revelation. Revelation 1 When prophecy “foretold,” the action was that judgment was impending, and the desire was for repentance. – See Jer.26:16-19. – This tradition continued as moral exhortation (paraenesis) in the NT. – John sees himself as part of that tradition Revelation 1 The warning in 1:3 is: that the prophecy is kept, for the time is near. – John understands that the time of fulfillment was near – There is an urgency to keeping the words of the prophecy of the book Yet, the time did not come. What does this mean for the validity of the book. How do we understand Revelation in light of non- fulfillment? Discuss Revelation 1 Rev. 1:4-8 Salutation, or Prooemium – Author: As mentioned earlier, John does not call himself John, son of Zebedee – He does not call himself John the elder. – He simply says, John, to the seven churches in Asia, Greetings, or grace, to you and peace. The term grace, “charis,” is typical in a letter, and can mean “greetings.” Revelation 1 Prooemium – The introduction is similar to that in Paul’s letters, because it also includes the term, peace. Peace here is not simply kindness, it has a Christian meaning. It refers to the eschatological peace that is given through Christ. The greeting is typical in what we know of Paul’s letters. Revelation is framed as a letter (1:4-8; 22:8-21). Why might this be the case? Revelation 1 In 1:4, we see that John gives peace “From the one who is being, who was being, and who is coming.” – The grammar here is unusual. – The preposition “apo” takes the genitive. – Yet, the words that follow are in the nominative case. The nominative case is the case of the subject of the sentence. Why does John violate the rules of grammar? Revelation 1 John employs in 1:4 something known as a solecism, or a unique construction. – See Beale, 100-108. – Beale notes that some scholars note that John utilizes “semitic” style, or simply poor Greek. – Beale notes that solecisms, however, are introductions to a possible allusion to the Hebrew Bible (see 1:20a; 2:27; 4:4; 5:6; 6:1; 13:3a; 17:3; 21:12-14) – John also uses “syntactic dissonance” to focus the reader’s attention. – This is done here Revelation 1 In 1:4, the reader/hearer is struck by the dissonance. – The message is “from” (apo) God, who is described in the nominative. – The description fits with the OT revelation to Moses in Ex 3:14, where God is described as “I am.” – God is always subject. – John is making a profound point here. Revelation 1 John’s point – God “Is” – God is the one who is eternal – He goes back to the Hebrew Bible, to say the God who spoke to Moses is also speaking to him. – John is also contravening imperial ideology In imperial ideology, Rome is eternal. The iconography of any Roman city made that plain, see S. J. Friesen, Imperial Cults and the Apocalypse and S.R.F. Price, Rituals and Power Revelation 1 The message is also from “The seven spirits before the throne” (cf. 4:5). – Who are the seven spirits? Are they angels, such as the archangels see R.H. Charles’ reference to the seven Babylonian astral deities.? See also Murphy’s references to 1 Enoch 20 (p.70) See also the reference to the seven stars in 3:1 Is this a Jewish formula, to which is attached a Christian meaning, i.e. changed into the Holy Spirit (cf. 3:1; 4:5)? Revelation 1 The message is also from Jesus Christ, who is referred to as the “first born (prōtokos) from the dead. – See 1 Cor 15:20 and Col 1:18 for similar view of Christ. Christ is the firstborn of those risen from the dead. He is the faithful witness He is ruler of the kings of the earth – Note, it is Christ who is ruler over the kings of the earth, not Caesar Revelation 1 Thus Jesus is described in exalted terms – The claims of Christ are immediately made evident – These are counter to the claims of empire – The basis of the claims are found in 1:5b. Jesus is the one having loved us He freed us from sins through his own blood – This prepares for the image of the slain Lamb in 5:6. – There, however, the Lamb is a conquering figure. – Here Jesus looses us from our sins through his blood. Revelation 1 In addition to washing believers from their sins through his blood, there is also reference to creation of kingdom, priests to God (see 5;10; 20:6) – The language borrows from Ex 19:6, which described Israel. – Here it describes the Christian community – This community is established through Christ’s work. This is the only overt reference to Christ’s sacrifice in washing believers from sins in Revelation. Rev 5:6 describes the Lamb’s being sacrificed as basis for opening the books, but bulls, not lambs, were the sin offering in the OT. In Rev. 5 the more likely image is Lamb’s conquest through sacrifice and slaughter, we will discuss that in more detail later Revelation 1 In Rev 1:6b: we read, that Christ makes believers: “a kingdom priests to God and his Father, to him glory and power forever..” – To whom is glory and honor ascribed, God or Christ? – It is likely ascribed to God – This same language is ascribed to God in Rev 4:11. – It is also ascribed to Christ in 5:9-13. – Perhaps the ambiguity is intentional. We certainly see an exalted Christology in Rev. Indeed, Rev. and the Gospel and letters of John have perhaps the highest Christology of the NT. That is already established in the proem. Revelation 1 Revelation 1:7 is a quote from Zech. 12:10, applied to Christ. – W. Bousset (Offenbarung Johannis) refers to this verse as the theme or motto for the entire work. – The Seer expects Christ to come, and all will see him. Revelation 1 Rev 1:8 concludes the proemium – It is God’s self-description of all, Alpha and Omega, that is “A-Z” Again, God is described as the one being, was being, and coming, see 1:4. Note the inclusion, or inclusio. God is also the Almighty, the pantokratōr. See the hymn of Rev 4:8. – In Rev. 22:13, Jesus will describe himself as Alpha and Omega as well. Revelation 1 First Epiphany Vision, Rev. 1:9-20 (cf. chs. 4-5; 19:10-21). – The recipient is John, a fellow worker in the “persecution and kingdom and endurance in Christ. – He was on Patmos Patmos is a barren island 5 X 10 miles. As a small island, it was a place of exile for prisoners, as described both in Strabo’s geography and Pliny the Elder’s Natural history Revelation 1 John is on Patmos “on account of the word of God and the witness of Jesus.” – John was probably exiled there, not on a missionary tour, as a minority of commentators suggest. – As mentioned earlier, this is likely a local persecution, since there is little evidence of an imperial one, a conclusion confirmed by the fact that 20 years later Pliny, governor of Bythinia, had to write to Trajan on instructions for how to deal with Christian (Epist. 96) – Yet, John looks forward and expects a general persecution of great tribulation for believers. Revelation 1 Rev. 1:10 – John is “in the Spirit.” Cf 4:2; 17:3; 21;10 See also Peter’s ecstatic vision in Acts 10:10. This is not something that happens on a normal basis It is similar to what happens to OT prophets, see 2 Kgs 3:15; 1 Sam 10:10 – It happens on the Lord’s day. This is the first day of the week, in memorial to the Lord’s resurrection It is in contrast to the Sabbath of the seventh day It is also contrasted to the celebration of the Emperor’s day, the first day of the month. – Again, not the contrast – Jesus, not Caesar is Lord. Revelation 1 Behind John is a voice as a trumpet – See Ezek 3:12 in the LXX, a text John may have in mind, using the identical word for “behind” (opisein). – See also Dan 10:6 The voice is overwhelming. Revelation 1 In 1:11, John is commissioned to write to seven churches, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicia – Why these 7 churches? – There were other churches in Asia Minor Note Murphy’s comments on p. 88. – These could be churches with which John was familiar – He certainly knows the details of the churches. – They also form a circle geographically, and sending a “circular letter” would be very easy. Revelation 1 John is commissioned to write – See the commissions to Old Testament prophets, Isa. 6; Jer. 1:4-9; Ex. 3:4-22. – See also 1 Enoch 1:1-3, where the writier speaks of Enoch recording his vision for distant generations. Revelation 1 In Rev. 1:12-16 John sees seven lampstands. In their midst is one “like a son of man” – The seven lamps are an OT cult symbol. – Are they similar to the minorah (see Ex 25:31- 32; Zech 4:2, 10. Revelation 1 Group work Compare Rev 1:12-20 with Dan 7:9-14. – What attributes does John’s vision have in common with Daniel’s of the Ancient of Days (7:9-10). – What attributes does John’s vision of Christ have in common with the one like a son of man (cf. Dan. 10:6- 7; Rev. 14) – Who is the “one like a Son of Man in Dan 7:9-14? – How has John “reconsidered” this figure for Rev. 1? Revelation 1 The “one like a son of man” in Dan 7 probably originally referred to a mythic figure (See J. J. Collins Daniel. Hermeneia Series) – This figure has been transformed into a reference to the people of God, i.e. Israel, see the interpretation of the vision in 7:26-27. Revelation 1 John’s response – He falls in a dead faint (1:17a) This is typical of visions of God in the O.T. (Isa 6:6; Ez1:28b; Ex3:6b). The vision or encounter with God leads to a moment of humiliation. John has a similar response This could be seen as a literary motif – But there is also something very real about this portrayal. – How can we come into the presence of Almighty God with anything other than fear and anxiety over our sin and unworthiness? – It is not our worthiness that allows us to come into God’s presence, but God’s grace, as we see in 1:17b-20. – What does this say about our attitude in worship? Revelation 1 He Lord’s response 17b-20 – He touches John (see Isa 6:6-7; Jer. 1:9; Ezek. 3:1-3. He is told not to fear The one like a Son of man identifies himself in 1:18 He then commissions John to write Explains that the seven stars are seven angels The seven lamps are seven churches John receives his prophetic commission and the message to the seven churches is introduced For next time Next time, we will study Rev. 2-3 and perhaps get into 4-5 – For Rev 2-3: – How is the risen Christ described to each of the seven churches – In the conclusion, what is each church said to repent of? – What is the promise to the conqueror. – What is the true state of Smyrna and of Philadelphia? Who is their opposition? – What is the true state of Laodicia? Note Murphy’s and Koester’s comments about Laodocia’s wealth. How does its spiritual condition contrast with that wealth? Revelation 2-3 Group Assignment: – Break into groups and discuss the following: – How is the risen Christ described to each of the seven churches – In the conclusion, what are churches commanded to repent of? – What is the promise to the conqueror. – What is the true state of Smyrna and of Philadelphia? Who is their opposition? – What is the true state of Laodicia? Note Murphy’s and Koester’s comments about Laodocia’s wealth. How does its spiritual condition contrast with that wealth? Revelation 2-3 Revelation 2-3 constitute the most commonly preached features of the Apocalypse – The reason is easy to understand – Rev. 2-3 are letters to each of the seven churches. – The question is, however, what kind of letters are they? – Also, do they represent letters to real churches, or letters to ideal churches, or to church ages? Revelation 2-3 Letters in the ancient world constitute a kind of rhetoric. – Advice on how to write letters was found in rhetorical manuals. – In the manuals, there are basic forms of rhetoric. – While pure forms are seldom found, the types of rhetoric fall into three categories: forensic, or judicial; epideictic and deliberative. Revelation 2-3 Forensic Rhetoric – This is the type of rhetoric that focuses on the past. – It is legal oratory, concerned with the bringing or rebutting of charges (see Quintillian 3.9). – Paul uses this style in 2 Cor. 10-13, when he attempts to defend his ministry to the Corinthian Church. Revelation 2-3 Epideictic – This is the rhetoric of praise or blame (Quintillian 3.4.12-13) – It involves, according to Quintillian,” “display rather than demonstration” (Quintillian 3.4.12) – The speaker addresses the current situation, or the past. – It is the type of speech given, for example, at a funeral, in praise of a hero, to commend or condemn an action, etc. Revelation 2-2 Deliberative rhetoric – This is where the speaker attempts to convince an audience on a course of action (Quintillian 3.8.1-6) – It attempts to advise on a course of action or persuasion. – In particular, it is an attempt to present to an audience that which is honorable or expedient (Quintillian 3.8.1- 2). – It is the type of rhetorical model utilized by Paul in 1 Corinthians. Revelation 2-3 From your reading, which type of rhetoric is used in Rev. 2-3? Is it forensic? Is it deliberative? Is it epideictic? Give evidence. Revelation 2-3 The rhetoric of Rev. 2-3 – See Murphy 104-106. Murphy refers to D. Aune’s article, “The Form and Function of the Proclamations to the Seven Churches (Revelation 2-3),” NTS 36 (1990) 182- 204. Likewise, Murphy’s analysis (99-103) is closely related to Aune’s in the latter’s commentary, 119- 124. Revelation 2-3 As in most cases in real life, our letters defy simple classifications – The seven letters are not only letters, they resemble imperial edicts. – As such, they combine forms, are a mixtum compositum, which combine features of epideictic (praise and blame), deliberative, (encouragement toward a course of action) and forensic (legal) rhetoric. Revelation 2-3 As edicts, the letters posses the follwing elements: – The adscripto, or destination of each letter. – The command to write, directed to the representative of each church, in this case, the church’s angel. – The praescripto, in the form of the command, “these things says,” an obsolete formula in Hellenistic Greek, similar to English “Thus saith,” so commonly found in the OT prophets. Revelation 4-5 Elements of the letters – There are the Christological redications. These give the authority of the one speaking. In this case, the authority of the sending the letter. Here it is the authority of the resurrected Christ. – Next is the narratio, or narration. (Murphy’s section, the “body” [p. 102] contains this and the next element) In Roman edicts, these are the portions that give reported information. In Rev. 2-3, this information is summed up in the “I know” clause. – Information need not bee reported. – The all knowing Christ already knows the situation Revelation 2-3 Elements of letters – Dispositio, the central section of each letter In this part of an imperial speech there is the command. Here, there is the exhortation to ethical behavior. It informs the readers/hearers of something about to happen, often translated, “I am about to …” or “I will …” 2:5, I come to you and I will remove your lampstand …;” 2:10 “the devil is about to …;” 2:16, “I will come quickly …” 2:22- 25 “I will cast …;” 3:2-4; “I will have come as a thief in the night …;” 3:9-11, “Behold, I will give to some from the synagogue of Satan …;” 3:16-20 “Behold, I stand a the door ….” Revelation 2-3 The proclamation formula, or the call to listen. – This concludes each statement with the phase, “the one having ears to hear, listen!” – It calls upon the readers/hearers to pay special attention to that which is said Revelation 2-3 The corrobotio, or the promise to the victor – This is the conclusion of the formulae – In prophetic tradition, it is an encouragement to ethical action. – In Roman edicts, it is a proclamation. – Here, it is the promise of victory. What purpose do these letters perform? Why do they have these elements. Revelation 2-3 The letters provide the reader with a contrast between Christ and Caesar. – The audience is familiar with this form. – It is one that is utilized in public proclamations from the governor and from the imperial cult. – Now, it is Christ who issues the decrees. – The contrast could not be stronger. It is not Caesar who has authority to issue the decrees. It is Christ alone, who is true Lord, who has authority to issue decrees to the churches. Imperial decrees, on the other hand, are mere Satanic imitation. Revelation 2-3 Letters to the churches – See C. Hemer, Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting. – Another resource is an old (a century ago), but good, W. M. Ramsay, Letters to the Seven Churches, although Ramsay includes much which is now dated, such as his assertion of Domitian’s role as a persecutor of the church. Revelation 2-3 Final note before we go into detail. – The letters to the seven churches betray a great amount of knowledge about the specifics of the church. – Hemer points to these features to indicate John’s intimate knowledge of the affairs of the churches. – He undoubtedly kept in close contact with the churches even during his exile. Revelation 2-3 Ephesus – From archeological research, we know the most about Ephesus, but our knowledge is incomplete. It was an ancient city, built at the mouth of the Cayster River, probably about 1100 BCE It was a cosmopolitan city, and was a center of the imperial cult. For more on this see S. J. Friesen, Twice Neocoros. Leiden: Brill, 1993. It also had a strong and active Jewish community, see Josephus Antiq. 188.8.131.523-4, which notes the granting of a petition by Rome that the Jewish community would not be molested for keeping the Sabbath. Revelation 2-3 Ephesus – Ephesus was also an active commercial center. Strabo noted it had the greatest emporium in Asia. Today, the city is some distance from the sea because of the silting up of the harbor from the Cayster River. This was also a problem in ancient times, and led to the movement of the city several times, not Rev. 2:5, that the Christians must repent, or their lampstand would be removed. Revelation 2-3 Ephesus – Religion It is noted for the cult of Ephesian Artemis, not the Greek Artemis, but a local fertility goddess. It was also prominent in the imperial cult, achieving not only a single imperial temple, or neocoros (temple warden), but two, and was known as being “twice noecoros. Revelation 2-3 Jewish elements – Note mention both of the “tree of life” (Gen 2:9) and the “Paradise of God” (Gen 2:8) (note: The LXX describes the primordial garden as a paradeisos, a term for an enclosed royal garden, or a park, including a hunting reserve (see Xenophon, Anabasis 1.2.7, see also J. Jeremias “Paradeisos,” TDNT 765- 73. – Hemer notes these as references to the very large Jewish community in Ephesus. – The reference to the “Paradise” or “Garden” of God. Revelation 2-3 Ephesus – There may also be some local color in this reference – In Ephesus was located the Asylum of Artemis, a place where criminals were granted sanctuary from the law, and, as a result, a nest of criminal activity. It included a garden. In contrast to this asylum is the asylum granted to the believer, who worships the true God, and will be granted “asylum” or residence in the Paradise of God. Revelation 2-3 Letter to Ephesus, Rev 2:1-7 – Characteristics of the Church. The Risen Christ knows its works He commends its endurance He commends that they are not able to endure false ones, who call themselves apostles, but are not. – See 2 Cor. 2:11 – See Didache 11-12, where true and false apostles are described. False Apostles are those who remain more than two days, ask for money, etc. Revelation 2-3 The Church of Ephesus is also condemned – The fact that they lost their first love. – Caird understands this as a loss of love to Christians in an unflagging zeal to root out heresy (Revelation of Saint John the Divine, 31-32). – It is often seen as a loss of first love for Christ Yet the two are related. When one looses focus on Christ and love for Christ, faith degenerates into a dead orthodoxy. So we are warned that we may be orthodox, but do we still love Christ and love other people? Revelation 2-3 Ephesus – Concludes with a warning to repent. – If no repentance, the candlestick will be removed. – This prediction has proven true, for today there is neither church nor city. – The promise is that the one who conquers will eat from the tree of life in God’s Paradise. Again, note the Jewish background Not only in Gen. 2 but also 1 En. 24-25 Eating is also a theme found in TLevi 18:11 One’s current attitudes determine eschatological destiny. Revelation 2-3 Smyrna. Rev. 2:8-11. – This city was founded as a greek Colony 100 BC and was captured by Lydian King Alyattes in 600 BC. – At this time, the Greek City ceased to exist. – Yet, the name Smyra continued – It became part of the Lydian empire, but was not a self governing Greek City, the Greek ideal. Revelation 2-3 The city was re-founded in the 2nd century BCE by King Lysimachus as a city and seaport It became a rival with Ephesus for the title “First [or greatest] city of Asia.” and was a faithful ally of Rome. Its first neocorate, or imperial temple was to Tiberius and Livia (Tiberius’ mother, Augustus’ 2nd wife). Its second neocorate was under Hadrian. Revelation 2-3 Smyrna. The letter – Christ is described as the “First and the last” (cf. 1:17). The eternal Lord knows the city’s and the church’s works. – He knows their poverty, but they are rich. – See especially v. 9. Not only does the Risen Christ know their persecution and poverty, but the hostility of the Jewish community. Jewish hostility in Smyrna toward Christians was noteworthy. Revelation 2-3 Smyrna – Later, in the middle 2nd century, the Jewish community would play a prominent role in the martyrdom of the Christian bishop Polycarp, even going so far as to gather the wood on the Sabbath for his execution pyre (Martyrdom of Polycarp 8, 13). – In the 1st century, Jews disassociated themselves from Christians, as we see in hostility of the synagogue in Acts, and in the 13th of the so-called 18 benedictions from the end of the 1st century. The heretics condemned are often thought to be Christians Revelation 2-3 Smyrna – The attitude of the synagogue in 2:9 indicates this hostility exists in Smyrna at the end of the 1st century. – Because of its hostility, the Risen Christ does not call the Jewish community the synagogue of God, but the Synagogue of Satan In light of over 1500 years of Christian persecution of Jews, we need to be careful about this language. Whenever people stand in the way of God’s purposes, they become the “synagogue of Satan. This can also be among those calling themselves “Christians” when they fail to demonstrate the love of Christ. Revelation 2-3 Smyrna – Call to endurance 2:10 warns of persecution, but promises it will be short. The church is told to endure until death. Thus, this testing is not the same as the demonic attack against those who bear the name of the Lamb (Rev. 7:2-4). The promise is those who endure will gain a “crown (stephanos, or laurel wreath given to victors at games, cf. 1 Cor. 9:25; Phil. 3:14; 2Tim 2:5), which denotes the eschatological reward of eternal life. The final promise is in 2:11: The one who conquers will suffer no harm from the 2nd death, i.e. final Divine judgment (Rev. 20:14). Revelation 2-3 Pergamum (2:12-17). – The city is on a huge granite citadel-hill, rising 1000 feet from the surrounding plain (Hemer, 78). – Its king, Attalus I (241-197) was the first king to refuse to pay tribute to the plundering Gauls, and was given the title “Soter” after he defeated them near the source of the Caicus River. Revelation 2-3 Pergamum – The city was also noted for its great library founded by Eumenes II (214-153 BCE) as a rival to Alexandria. It is here that the method of tanning animal hides for writing substance was developed. The name parchment derived from Pergamum, the city where the process was developed (D.S. Potter, “Pergamum ABD 5:229) Revelation 2-3 Pergamum – The city became a provincial capital of Asia, and for a time had the only official imperial temple, erected in honor of Augustus (29 BCE). – It was also the center for the cult of Asclepius, the Greek God of healing, imported from Sparta, symbolized by a serpent. Revelation 2-3 Pergamum – Characteristics Christ is represented as the one with a sharp two edged sword (rhomphaia, as opposed to the more usual Greek term for a sword, a machaira). See 1:16 and 2:16, as well as 19:15). The Risen Christ states “I know you dwell where Satan’s throne is.” – Is this a reference to the imperial cult? – Is this a reference to the Asclepius cult? – Is this a reference to both? Revelation 2-3 Pergamum – The church is commended on holding onto the name of Christ, even during persecution leading to the death of Antipas. This is likely the most severe local persecution any of the churches have endured to this point Antipas is the only martyr mentioned by name in Revelation – Yet, there are problems. Some hold to the teaching of Balaam. These are eating food sacrificed to idols, are accused of immorality, and holding onto the teaching of the Nicolaitans Revelation 2-3 Who are the Nicolaitans – These individuals are mentioned in Rev 2:6, 15. The references to Jezebel in 2:20-23 may also be a reference to this group. They seem to have similar issues as Pergamum, particularly, immorality and idolatry (see 2:14). – Lohmeyer (pp. 72-74) held that they were a syncretistic sect, representing an amalgamation of Christianity, Judaism, Greco-Roman religion, mystery cults, etc. – The imagery of immorality is derived from the OT allusion to Israel committing immorality with other gods. Revelation 2-3 Bousset (pp. 237-38) followed by many others, including Murphy, pp. 110-11, notes that what we might have here is a sort of “class conflict. – More prosperous Christians, by necessity, had to attend guild meetings, where meat was eaten. – This meat was sacrificed to idols – The allusion to immorality points to a common criticism of Greco- Roman polytheism, its attendant immorality. – Support appears to be the practice at Corinth in 1 Cor. 8, 10, where Christians apparently participated in cult meals, leading to Paul’s statements about not being able to eat from the table of the Lord and demons (1 Cor. 10:1-13, 20-25 [see J. Murphy- O’Connor, St. Paul’s Corinth, 161-67), cf. Rev. 2:13-16. Revelation 2-3 Nicolaitans – In light of parallels to the Corinthian experience, we can assume: That John in Rev. criticizes this practice of the more prominent members of the church. Evidence for this conclusion is found in 2:14, with the linking of the Nicolaitans with the figure of Balaam. Also note the references to the prophetess called “Jezebeel.” Note also John’s uncompromising stand. – This is a stand that can make contemporary Christians very uncomfortable, for John is calling on Christians to be faithful, even at the cost of their livelihood. – Failure to attend the guild meetings could lead to expulsion, and loss of one’s means of making a living. – How does this teaching affect us? What challenges does it present to comfortable Christians? Revelation 2-3 Pergamum – Charge to the Church of Pergamum (2:16) Judgment on those who adhere to the “teaching of Balaam” means judgment upon the whole church. Thus, the all for the whole church to “repent.” What does this mean for us? Revelation 2-3 Pergamum – The warning to repent is also a warning to us. Sin is not simply between “me and the Lord.” Rather, it has ramifications for the whole community. How many churches and ministries have been destroyed by the sins of a few, or even one? Revelation 2-3 Pergamum – The promise is given 2:17. To the one who conquers, the Risen Christ promises: Hidden manna. A white stone, on which is written a new name. What do these mean? Revelation 2-3 Pergamum – The white stone and hidden manna are likely eschatological symbols The image of hidden manna is probably similar to similar themes in rabbinic literature, a reference to the Messianic banquet (see Rev. 19:9). See Koester, 61. The white stone is more difficult. – Some have seen it as a sort of admission ticket. – Others see it as some sort of magical amulet, with a new name. – Murphy notes how Augustus received a “new name” bestowed by the senate, and tat white is used 21 times in Rev. symbolizing purity (pp. 132-33). Revelation 2-3 Thyatira. Rev. 2:18-29. – Thyatira, unlike the other cities mentioned in Rev. was built on a plain, without natural defenses. – Thus, Ramsey referred to it as the place of “Weakness made strong” – Hemer notes that it was originally a garrison city, built to control access to the Hermus and Caicos valleys. Revelation 2-3 Thyatira – The city was situated to enjoy prosperous trade, and was especially famous for its expensive purple dye (see Acts 16:14 on Lydia, a trader in purple cloth from Thyatira). – These features made the city rich. – At the same time, from John’s perspective wealth jeopardized the spiritual vitality of the Christian community Revelation 2-3 Thyatira. Rev. 2:18-29 – This is the longest of the letters to the seven churches. – It also has some of the most obscure data, because the letter presupposes detailed knowledge of the situation. – Commendation Rev. 2:18 Christ, with eyes of flames of fire and feet of burnished bronze (see Rev. 1:14-15). He knows their love faith, service, endurance, and that their latter works are greater than their first. Revelation 2-3 Thyatira – Yet, there is the woman Jezebel. She is obviously a prophetess. She is likely someone whose teaching is in opposition to John’s Her name is undoubtedly not really “Jezebel,” but she is designated by the name of Ahab’s wife. – In this way John emphasizes her spiritual apostasy, for Jezebel in 1 Kgs. 18-21; 2 Kgs. 9:30-37) Revelation 2-3 Thyatira – The Risen Lord notes that she has been given time to repent (2:21), but has not. – In extremely violent language, vv. 22-23 mentions how she will be thrown on the bed of her immorality and those who committed immorality with her, and kill her children. – This language has caused some today to find John’s language unacceptable. T. Pippen, for example, in Death and Desire sees John as a misogynistic male, whose authority is threatened by a strong woman. The language here, as well as in 17:15-18 is confirmation that John is a misogynist. Thus, Revelation has no validity for her. What is your opinion. Revelation 2-3 Thyatira – John’s use of the image of Jezebel. While the language here is very negative, John also uses very positive female images in Rev. 12 and 18-19 (the woman clothed in the clouds and the New Jerusalem). In fact, John utilizes conventional imagery to portray his message. While I would not endorse Pippen’s interpretation, her reaction tells us how people today will read Revelation, and indicates our need to translate the language into terms post-moderns, and post-modern feminists are willing to hear. John himself employs the same method, taking the language that his readers/hearers knew, and translated it into language they would here. One point we should notice is even in judgment, grace is present, for the resurrected Lord gave “Jezebel” time (with the implication of a long time) to repent. It is not John’s hatred, but the opponent’s interagency here that is at issue Revelation 2-3 Thyatira – When dealing with the image of Jezebel, we also need to remember that John is not interested in our desire to see “shades of gray.” There are no grays for John. All is black and white. He has the world view of first century apocalyptic. To be true to his message, we must admit that he views reality very differently than we do. Revelation 2-3 Thyatira – Who is Jezebel From the language, she is likely a leader of the “Nicolaitan sect. Thus, is she a competing prophetess within the community, or does she represent a competing community? Revelation 2-3 Thyatira – Promises (2:24-29) Those who do not hold onto this teaching, the Resurrected Christ will not “cast upon you another burden” (or, fullness) Rather, they will have authority over the nations. They will rule with a rod of iron. As the resurrected Christ received, so he will give the morning star. – This is an eschatological promise. – See Rev. 22:16, Christ is called the morning star. – His faithful rule with him. Revelation 2-3 Sardis. Rev. 3:1-6. – This is one of the two letters in which nothing positive is said about the church. – The city itself was on a lofty hill, almost inaccessible. – It had been the capital of Lydia – Yet, it was conquered twice in its history when the northern part was not guarded, and erosion opened pathways for invaders. One example is when Cyrus captured it, and took Croesus alive. Herodotus has a very detailed account of the victory Cyrus and the capture of the Lydian king. After 546, the city was no longer the capital of an independent nation. Revelation 2-3 Sardis – Sardis was in decline when John wrote Revelation. Like Philadelphia, in 17 CE it suffered a catastrophic earthquake. Tacitus (Ann. 48.2 mentions how it was the most severely damaged city. The city had a vibrant Jewish community, see Hemer. It also had a vibrant Greco-Roman religious life, with the Greek figure of Heracles being especially prominent. Revelation 2-3 Sardis – Characteristics Again, the Risen Christ, the one having the seven spirits of God and the seven stars, knows the works of the city’s Christians. – Like their city, they have a famous name, a name of being alive, but are dead – The call to be watchful is reminiscent of the failure of the city’s guards in early parts of its city. – Rev. 3:3 calls on the believers to remember what they have learned, for Christ will come as a “thief in the night” (cf. Mt 24:43ff; Mk. 13:35; Lk. 12:39; 1 Thess. 5:2, 4). Revelation 2-3 Sardis – Yet, there are a few who have remained faithful. – Promise To those who conquer, white robes (cf. Rev. 4:4). – Some see this as resurrected spiritual bodies (see Charles 1:82). Names will not be blotted out of the book of life (cf. Dan 7:10; 1 En. 47:3; 90:20; 4 Ezra 6:20 for books which name the faithful). Christ will confess their names before the Father (Mk 8:34- 9:1). Revelation 2-3 Philadelphia. Rev. 3:7-13 – Like Sardis, it was devastated by the earthquake of 17 CE. As late as three years later, much of the population were living in huts, fearing to enter the city. It was rebuilt but gifts from the imperial treasury. – Thus, from its history, the city knows what it is to be poor. – It was impoverished from natural disaster, and had to be rebuilt through imperial charity. Revelation 2-3 Philadelphia – The chief cult was that of Dionysius, the god of wine, but the main opposition to the church appears to have come from the Jewish community (Rev. 3:9). Revelation 2-3 Philadelphia – Characteristics. Again, Christ knows their works, and is called Holy and True (divine names) who ha the keys of David, a phrase with messianic significance. As one with keys, Christ has the special authority to open the door, which no one can shut (3:8; cf. 1 Cor 16:9; 2 Cor 2:12; Co. 4:3). – This is a term for Christian missionary work – But the power comes not by human effort, but through the power of the resurrected Christ. Revelation 2-3 Philadelphia – In 3:9, unbelieving Jews (“synagogue of Satan”) will be prostrated before them. This is a reversal of roles. – In the O.T. Gentiles come to Jerusalem to serve Jews (see Isa 2:2-4; 35;8-10) – Here, Jews serve the church. Revelation 2-3 Philadelphia – Promise. One keeping the word and enduring persecution will receive a crown. The one conquering will be a pillar in the temple of the New Jerusalem. Christ will write upon the person (pillar?) the name of God and the name of the city and the person’s new name Revelation 2-3 Philadelphia – The Promise It is interesting that the Christians are called the pillar of the temple of the New Jerusalem, when in Rev. 21:22 the New Jerusalem does not have a temple. – The New Jerusalem of Ezek. 40-48, however, does. – The Seer may be relying upon older tradition. – He may be reinterpreting it, where the presence of God with the people of God make them the temple (see 1 Cor. 3:16). Revelation 2-3 Philadelphia – What does it mean to be a pillar in the temple? Some commentators refer to the practice of priests of the imperial cult having statues of themselves erected within the temple (Charles 1:91; Bousset, p. 230). This imagery would certainly correspond with the contrast between the sealing of the 144,000 in Rev. 7:3 and the sign placed on the foreheads and hands of the beat in 13:15-17. In both cases, there is a contrast between the demonic impersonation by the imperial cult Murphy (p. 156) on the other hand, notes the fact that the community of the Dead Sea Scrolls called themselves the “temple of God,” and that Paul applies similar imagery to the Corinthian church in 1 Cor. 3:10. See also Gal. 2:9 where Peter and James are called “pillars.” Revelation 2-3 Laodicia (3:14-20) – Laodicia was a banking center, noted for its wealth – After being devastated by an earthquake in 60 CE, Laodicia made a point of rebuilding at its own expense. – It was noted for its wool industry, and its native sheep that produced a beautiful black wool. – Its medical school was famous, and especially its eye salve. – Yet, the city had a very poor water supply, and had to bring in water by aqueduct, since the waters around Laodicia were brackish, lukewarm and undrinkable. – Thus, we can understand the self evaluation of the church, as well as the people of Laodicia in general in Rev 3:16, “I am wealthy and have become rich.” Revelation 2-3 Laodicia – In 3:15, we see the title of the Risen Christ, who is the Faithful and True, the beginning of God’s creation. His evaluation is correct. The self evaluation of the Laodicians is deluded. They may see themselves as prominent, but it is nothing compared to the credentials of the Resurrected Christ. Revelation 2-3 Laodicia. – In 3:7, there is the self evaluation “I am rich and I have become rich, I have no need.” The language fits well with the residents of a city who paid for their own reconstruction. Yet, they do not know that the are miserable, pitiable, poor, blind and naked (3:17) – Every feature attacks something that the city of Laodicia prided itself on. – This pride is self sufficiency. – Such self sufficiency is an affront to God. Revelation 2-3 Laodicia – In the midst of condemnation, a word of life. In place of false riche, Christ offers: – True riches, refined with fired. – True white garments (contrasted with black wool?). – Salve to anoint their eyes (3:18). Note again, how each element corresponds to the wealth and prominence of Laodicia, in which the Laodician believers have false confidence. Revelation 2-3 Laodicia – The discipline is not capricious (3:19). Those who are loved are disciplined. Thus, Christ is standing at the door, inviting those on the other side to come to the eschatological banquet (19:9). Revelation 2-3 Conclusion – Rev. 3:21 can be seen as a conclusion not only to the letter to the Laodicians, but to all the letters. – To the one conquering, Christ gives a place to sit with him on the throne. – See 4:4; 20:4. – Finally a call which concludes every letter. – “Listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 2-3 Conclusion – Message of the seven letters. – Christ is exalted. – He is given attributes reserved for God in the OT, including authority to judge people’s hearts and motives. – Message of the letters, especially the blessings connect Rev. 2-3 with rest of Revelation. See 2:7, 11, 26-27,; 3:5, 21. Revelation 2-3 What the messages mean to us? – We are assured of Christ’s authority. – Also, repentance is held as an open possibility, even churches like Laodicia, which receive the greatest condemnation. – Third, we are warned about accountability of Christians for their behavior. – We must “listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. For next time Read Rev. 4:1-8:5 – What imagery used to describe God (Rev. 4) – What is used to describe Christ (Rev. 5) – Compare the hymns of 4:8 and 11 and 5:9-14. – What does universal obeisance mean? – Compare 5:1-4 an d1 Kings 22:9-22. What elements are similar? 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 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 terms, 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 , 56). Revelation 4-5. Hymns Quintillian’s 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 , 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. 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. For Next Time Read Revelation 6-10. What pattern can you find for the 7 seals? What pattern can you find for the 7 trumpets? Compare the first four trumpets with the 10 plagues of Egypt of Exodus 7:14-12:32. What is similar? Compare the little scroll of Rev. 10 with the scroll of Rev. 5. What is similar? What is different? Midterm Questions Question one: Required: In Murphy, pp. 17-21, there is the discussion of the literary genre of Apocalypse. From Murphy and class notes: – Define an apocalypse. – What is eschatology – What is the nature of the eschatology of apocalyptic writings? – What is the expectation of Revelation? – In what ways is Revelation similar to other apocalyptic writings? – Is there any way in which it is different? Midterm Questions Question 2. Either: From Koester, pp. 1-40. – What are some of the ways in which Revelation has been interpreted in the past? Include at least three examples. – What problems result from this type of interpretation? Midterm Questions Question 2: or, From Koester: What is the historical situation of Revelation? What is John’s response to Roman imperialism? How does Revelation move forward? Midterm Questions Question 3 Either: – Discuss John’s messages to the seven churches. – How do the messages reflect knowledge of local circumstances? – What is the Risen Christ’s challenge to the churches? – What is the Risen Christ’s encouragement to the churches. Midterm Questions Question 3: Or, using class notes and my article, “Glory to God and the Lamb,” discuss – The hymns of Revelation 4-5to God and Christ. – What OT themes are employed? – What imperial themes are employed? – How does John reinterpret imperial cult? – What elements in the hymns to Christ in Rev. 5 are similar to the hymns to God in Rev. 4? What is the significance? – What message is conveyed by the hymns? Discussion of B. Blount, Can I Get a Witness What is meant by the “cultural studies approach”? How does this method establish Blount’s conclusions? What is meant by “reading from place”? How does the “call to resistance” of the emperor cult influence the understanding of Revelation within African American Culture? How does the African American experience help in understanding Rev. 6:9-11? How does the way of weakness of the Lamb encourage communities of the weak, as exemplified by the African American Community? How do you respond to Blount’s understanding of the hymns of Revelation as songs of praise to God in the face of oppression? How does this work in our situation? Revelation 6:1-8:5 With ch. 6, John’s description of the eschatological events of the end begins. These descriptions contain much that is traditional. We will be presupposing recapitulation between the 7 seals, trumpets and bowls, a theory we discussed in the first lecture. Revelation 6:1-8:5 The vision of the 7 seals is introduced by a vision of the four horsemen (cf. Zech. 6:1- 8). In Zechariah, however, the horses draw four chariots. Zechariah employs mythological motifs. – The four chariots are the four winds. – They are the four winds. Revelation 6:1-8:5 Differences between Rev 6:1-8 and Zech 6:1-8 – In Rev, the horses are ridden, in Zech, they draw chariots. – The colors of the horses in Zech are red, black, white and “dapple-gray” (LXX poilikoi psaroi, much speckled, the Heb. is uncertain). – The colors in Rev, white, red, black and green. The last is a “death color.” Revelation 6:1-8:5 Thus, John may be utilizing the themes from Zech 6:1-8, and alluding to it, but he also includes other details. – Charles, 1:158, notes the Christian tradition of Woes (See Murphy, 202). – Matt 24:6-7, 9a, 29 Wars, international strife, famines earthquakes, persecutions, signs in heaven – Mk 13:-9a, 24-25 Wars, international strife, earthquakes, famines, persecutions, heavenly signs. – Lk 21:9-12a, 25-26 Wars, earthquakes, famines pestilence, persecutions, heavenly signs. – Rev 6:2-17, 8:1 War, international strife, pestilence (Death and Hades), persecution, heavenly signs. Revelation 6:1-8:5 John is, therefore, likely incorporating material from the Jesus tradition. – John also uses a preexisting sequence of seven for the visions of the seals, trumpets and bowls. – In the course, he transforms the traditions. They are no longer esoteric. They refer to events challenging the readers. Revelation 6:1-8:5 The seven seals: The four riders (6:1-8) – The vision of the seven seals follows a 4 + 3 pattern. – The same pattern is also found in the visions of the trumpets and the bowls. – For the seven seals, the first four refer to the “four horsemen” (more accurately, four horses) of the apocalypse – These are followed by the opening of the fifth and sixth seals, an interlude, and the opening of the seventh seal. Revelation 6:1-8:5 The first seal: White horse, rider with the bow (6:1-2). – In the history of interpretation, this rider has been equated with the rider of Rev. 19, who is Christ, since both ride a white horse. This is not supported by the text, see Murphy 204-05. In Rev 19, the rider is armed with a sword, proceeding out of the rider’s mouth. In 6:1-2, the rider is armed with a bow (toxon), see Josephus Ant. The word is not found elsewhere in the NT. This is not a weapon of the Romans, but mounted bowmen were employed by the Parthians. Revelation 6:1-8:5 The white horse. – The mounted bowman would be a frightening figure to John’s audience, equated as it was with the Parthians, as well as “barbarian” soldiers from the stepps of Eurasia. – The Parthians had also supported one of the Neronic pretenders to the throne . – The imagery combines Parthian practice with “conquering,” as seen in the image of the laurel leaf crown (stephanos), a symbol of victory either in athletic contests or in war. – The imagery, thus, could reflect the expectation of conflict with Parthia as one of the eschatological woes. Revelation 6:1-8:5 The Second Horse, Red, with a rider to take away peace (6:3-4) – Probably not referring to persecution of Christians – Rather, image of civil strife and prelude to the Parousia See Mt 24:7; Mk 13:8; Lk 21:10 as well as Jub 23:19; 1 Enoch 61:7; 4 Ezra 5:9; 6:4 13:31; 2 Baruch 48:32; 70:3, 6). For the image of the sword of the LORD, see Isa 27:1; 34:5 and Ezek. 21:3ff, where a sword is used in an eschatological sense. 1 Enoch 88:2, the sword is given to God’s enemies to use. The image of civil conflict would have been profound to readers of Revelation, remembering the three civil wars of the previous 100 years: (1) Julius Caesar vs. Pompey; (2) the assassins of Caesar and the 2nd triumvirate and; 3. between Marc Anthony and Octavian (later Augustus) Also note the conflicts arising in 69 CE with the death of Nero and the year of the “four emperors” (Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian). Revelation 6:1-8:5 Third Horse, Black, with a balance or a scale in his hand (6:5-6) – This is a symbol of famine The cost of wheat and barley are famine prices. A quart (choinix) is the daily ration for a person for one day. Regular prices would be 12 quarts (choinikes) of wheat for a denarius, and 12 choinikes of barley for ½ denarius (the denarius being the days wage for a laborer, barley is the food usually eaten by the working classes and poor). Revelation 6:1-8:5 The corresponding statement, not to touch oil and Wine is difficult. – Murphy (p. 207) follows earlier commentators (Bousset, p. 135) in noting Domitian’s decree in 92 CE, that farmers in Italy plant no new vineyards in Italy, and that half of those in the provinces be plowed under but he was forced to back down, particularly by cities in Asia Minor. – This information led Bousset to conclude that John came from an ascetic branch of Christianity. – Thus, he would have disapproved of the suspension of the edict. – His prophecies, thus, show the rich unaffected by their quest for luxury goods, but the poor suffering. – The prophecy is of a time of callous disregard of the poor and human need. – Yet, John could also be following a Jewish tradition of the eschatological woes, where wine and oil are plentiful, but staples are scarce. – Both are influenced by the very real situation of the ancient world, where famines occurred on a regular basis due to problems of food distribution, but oil and wine would be plentiful Revelation 6:1-8:5 The Fourth Horse, Green, or pale, ridden by death, and Hades follows (6:7-8) – The horse is the greenish color of a corpse. – Death hear means not death through pestilence, but the coming of the lord of death. Hade is personified, with his attendant companion, death. Both Death and Hades are given authority to kill by means of a sword (romphaia, here used in the literal sense), famine and wild beasts. See Ezek 5:16-17; 14:21. Revelation 6:1-8:5 Conclusion for the First Four Seals: – A reflection of the four chariots of Zech 6:188. – But the traditions are transformed The horses have riders. The imagery refers to the eschatological woes In imagery is tremendously powerful, captivating the reader in an “undulation of the visions of the riders” (Bousset, 269, my tr.) Revelation 6:1-8:5 Fifth Seal (6:9-11) – We move to another reality with the fifth and sixth seals. – No longer the impersonation of woes. – Now, we begin a discussion of the cosmic, other worldly dimensions of the seven seals. Revelation 6:1-8:5 With the fifth seals, the souls of those “slain for the word of God” are lying under the altar. – Here we see the martyrs. Incidentally, martus or witness (6:9), did not necessarily refer to a witness who died, that technical meaning would come later, under the influence of the Christians whose witness resulted in their death. – The martyrs are an offering to God. – In 6:10, there is the cry for justice from God, the ruler, or despotes (a term found in the NT only here and Lk 2:29; Acts 4:24; 2 Pet 2:1; Jude 4), but a common form of address to God in Hellenistic Judaism. Revelation 6:1-8:5 The martyrs cry for their blood to be avenged against “those inhabiting the earth.” – The vengeance is against those who oppose God’s servants. – How do you feel about this prayer? Revelation 6:1-8:5 The Saints under the altar. – The saints are given white garments (6:11) – They are told to be quiet for a time, until the number of their fellow martyrs is fulfilled. See also 2 Macc 7; TMos 8-10. – There is a number of martyrs which must be fulfilled before it is the end. Revelation 6:1-8:5 Sixth Seal (6:12-17)Cosmic disruptions. – Sn is darkened, the moon is as blood, stars fall as summer fruits, the heavens rolled up, the kings of the earth, the mighty, the chilliarchs, the rich, the strong, all, either slave or free, hide themselves, they call for the rocks to protect them from the wrath of the Lamb (note the irony of the imagery). – See Amos 8:9; Isa 13:10; Ezek 32:7-8. – John utilizes stereotypical imagery, reflecting the idea that the heavens form a vault above the earth. This idea is also basic in astrology. The idea of the overthrow of the heavenly bodies is also found in 1 Enoch 2:1; 41:5; 43:2; 49:16ff; TNaph 3:2; 4 Ezra 6:45 Revelation 6:1-8:5 The Sixth Seal – Yet, Revelation is not half over Why does John utilize the imagery of overthrow of the world at this point? Is this a reflection of a use of sources? Does it mean that we have an anticipation of the eschatological end? Any ideas? See Blount, 50-59. Revelation 6:1-8:5 Sixth Seal – The sixth Seal is likely a the first of the series of three recapitulations (seals trumpets and bowls). – These recapitulations do not reproduce every element. – Rather, they represent themes. Revelation 6:1-8:5 Interlude: Rev. 7:1-17 – 7:1-3 Seven angels hold the four corners of the earth (see 1 Enoch 28-36) Angeles are special ones, who have control over natural elements. See also 14:18 and 16:5. Also see Zech 6:5; Jer 49:36 and Dan 7:2 (the four winds). Angels bring about eschatological destruction Revelation 6:1-8:5 Before the destruction there is a sealing (7:2-3). – John likely is dependent upon apocalyptic tradition. – The angel calls out is from the east, or the rising sun. – Has some control over the cosmic events. – The servants of God are to be sealed upon their foreheads. Possibly as a protection against spiritual attack. Note the demonic parody in 13:16-17 The saints here, however are under the protection of God. Revelation 6:1-8:5 The 144,000 (Rev. 7:4-8). – The 144,000 are said to be from the 12 tribes of Israel. – There is something substantially differnet here. – The tribe of Judah heads the list (the tribe from which Christ comes, see also 5:5). – Dan is missing, according to rabbinic tradition, Dan is the tribe through which idolatry entered Israel, and is cursed. – The tribe of Joseph replaces Ephraim (one of Joseph’s sons). – Levi is included in the numbering. Levi usually is excluded from such numberings. Revelation 6:1-8:5 The 144,000 – The number here is not historical. – Rather, it is a picture of an ideal community. – This picture is demonstrated in a different way in 7:9-17. See my article in the Ashland Theological Journal Revelation 6:1-8:5 The Great Multitude (7:9-17). – See H. Ulfgard, Feast and Future. The imagery here is reminiscent of what goes before – The great crowd (5:13//7:9-10) – Clothed in white (7:9, 13, cf. 3:5; 6:11) – Praise of the angels and 24 elders of 7:12 (cf 4:8-11; 5:8-14). Revelation 6:1-8:5 Benefits for those before the throne (7:14- 17. – They serve God day and night. – Sun’s heat doe not afflict them (in contrast to those who fail to obey God in 16:8) – They are shepherded by the Lamb to the fountain of living water. – Have every tear washed away. Revelation 6:1-8:5 Rev. 7 Conclusion – The image of the heavenly worship reminds readers of the source of Judgment, God and the Lamb. – Judgment is, therefore, true. – A way of contrast is prepared between the sealing of the 144,000 and the sealing of those who worship the beast in Rev 13. – Readers are reminded what is at stake. Revelation 6:1-8:5 Seventh Seal (8:1) – On one level, the 7th Seal seems anticlimactic. – On another, it is profoundly significant. – The Seventh Seal is opened. There is a profound silence, for one half hour. It is not simply an interlude. We now see the expectation of what will occur next. – Praises have been suspended. – God’s judgments are coming. Revelation 6:1-8:5 The seven angels are introduced in 8:2-5 – See 1 Enoch 20, for the seven archangels. – Here these angels, although unnamed, fill a similar role as archangels, since they stand before God’s throne. The altar – An angel stands by the incense altar and takes a golden censer and places incense in it, the prayers of the saints, see the 5th seal (6:9-11). – Also see TLevi 3:6 for the prayers ascending. – God is answering the saints prayers (cf. 6:10). – The judgment is about to begin. Revelation 6:1-8:5 The seven angels and the angel next to the altar are preparatory for what will happen. The angels who stand before God’s throne initiate a judgment This judgment is also in response to the prayers of the saints. Before the judgment scene, there is a vision of heaven. This is similar to 4-5, which precede the 7 seals Judgment comes from God’s throne. Note also, an angel takes the fire and casts it on the earth, not the Lamb, in keeping with Jewish apocalyptic tradition Revelation 8:6-10:11 The Seven trumpets introduce the second description of the eschatological crises that precede Christ’s parousia. They are “folded into the preceding narrative through connections with 8:1-5 – 8:6 picks up the narrative of 8:2. – 8:3-5 constitute a liturgical interlude (Murphy, 236). Revelation 8:6-10:11 Once again, we find the pattern of 4 + 3. – The first four trumpets are reminiscent of the Egyptian plagues of Ex. 7:14-12:32. – The last three are the “Woes,” which have very different character. Yarbro Collins (Combat Myth) also notes the arrangement. – The trumpets follow a general pattern of persecution, destruction, judgment and salvation. Revelation 8:6-10:11 Themes – Persecution: Interlocking vision of 8:3-5. Is also implied in the 6th trumpet (9:13-21). – Destruction and judgment: the seventh trumpet 11:18 – Salvation: also the 7th trumpet. Heavenly scene (11:15-19) Liturgy (11:15-16) Revelation 8:6-10:11 First four trumpets are based upon the plagues of Egypt. – The plagues of that time are repeated in the eschaton. – These plagues demonstrate again that God judges unrepentant people. Revelation 8:6-10:11 First plague: hail and fire (8:7) – Is based upon Ex. 9:24. In the Egyptian plague, however, every plant growing in the plain is hit, and every tree growing in the plain is shattered (LXX reading). Here, only 1/3 of the trees are burned, and all the grass is burned. See also Joel 2:30 (3:3 LXX): “I will give wonders … earth, blood and fire and smokey vapor” See also 4 Ezra 5:8. Revelation 8:6-10:11 Second trumpet, the seas become blood (8:8-9). – See Ex 7:20-24., where the waters of the Nile become as blood. – A burning mountain of fire, reminiscent to what we see in apocalyptic otherworldly journeys, especially of the abode of the souls in hell (cf. 1 En 18:13-16). – The image is terrifying. – Connotations are fulfilled by 1/3 of the seas becoming as blood, and the living creatures dying. Revelation 8:6-10:11 Third trumpet, the Star Womwood falls into the fresh waters, and 1/3 of the rivers and wells. – Destruction is again reminiscent of Ex 7:20-24, where the waters of the Nile, and all the waters of Egypt become blood and undrinkable. – The star is not a natural phenomenon, but a eschatological catastrophe. – The sign attacks the waters, upon which all life depends. It has been objected that wormwood, while unpleasant, is not poisonous. Bousset, and others, however, are correct, in noting this is no regular wormwood, but an especially potent, eschatological variety. Revelation 8:6-10:11 Fourth trumpet: against the heavenly luminaries (8:12). – 1/3 of the sun, moon and stars are darkened. – We see here a reflection of the ancient concept that the heavenly lights are lamps, set in revolving orb of the sky. See also Ex 10:21-29, the ninth plague of Egypt. Also see Amos 8:9, where the sun sets at noon, striking the day in half. See also Mk 13:24; Mt 24:29; Lk 23:45. Also see Joel 2:10 LXX “Before their faces the earth will be obliterated and the heavens will be shaken, the son and the stars will be darkened together and the stars will loose their luster” Revelation 8:6-10:11 The first two woes (8:13-9:21) – The last three trumpets are of a different type, they are the three woes. – They are announced in 8:13 with the cry of the eagle (see 14:6 [an angel]; 19:17) The cry is “Woe, woe, woe to those dwelling upon the earth; i.e. to those who oppose God’s purposes. The eagle is described as flying in midheaven, the place the sun is at its zenith. From 9:12, we learn that the three woes are the last three trumpets. Unlike the first four trumpets, the woes attack people directly. Revelation 8:6-10:11 First woe; Fifth trumpet (9:1-12). – An angel is given keys to open the Abyss. The keys are to hell. See 2 Enoch 42:1; Rev. 20:1 – From the Abyss, smoke proceeds, as from a furnace. The smoke is from the furnace of hell It is appropriate that the creatures coming out of it are abominable. From the smoke comes locusts Revelation 8:6-10:11 The locusts – They are not like normal locusts, which eat plant life. – They are not to harm trees or grass. – They attack only those whom they have authority to attack: Those lacking the seal of God upon their forehead. They attack those who are already under demonic authority. – But they do not kill. They torment people for 5 months. The pain is so intense, people will seek death, but it will flee from them. Revelation 8:6-10:11 Description of the locusts (9:7-10) – As diabolic creatures, they have diabolical features. – The description of the swarm has two main points Locusts have power to harm. It lasts only 5 months. – The description is figurative, not literal. For example, E. Lemcio has found a portrayal of a sphinx from Asia Minor that looks very much like this description. – The source of the locusts’ authority (8:11) The angel Abaddon, tr. into Greek Apollyon,” Destruction.” – They represent destruction personified. – This is typical of Greco-Roman and Near Eastern mythology (myth not meaning “fairy tales, “ but symbolic portrayals of profound truth. – The locusts consume all (cf. Joel 1:4), but here their consumption is not merely as in nature, for mythic themes are attached to the figures of the Locusts. – The first Woe is past, two more are coming (8:12). Revelation 8:6-10:11 The Sixth Trumpet, the Second Woe (9:13-19). – A sound from the horns of the altar. Note Murphy’s description of the heavenly altar, based on earthly counterparts (246). – The sound from the altar instructs the sixth angel. The angel is to loose the four angels bound at the Euphrates. The source of the imagery is obscure, but see 1 Enoch 56:5-6 (see Murphy 247). Revelation 8:6-10:11 The angel unleashes a massive army of 200,000,000 from the east. – Even in our day, this is an unimaginable army. – In the ancient world, when armies foraged for food, we can hardly imagine the destructive forces envisaged. The army undoubtedly is based on the Parthians, the constant threat from the east as 1 En 56:5 makes evident. But they are more than the Parthians, they are not mere mortal enemies, they are demonic hordes (in addition to the fantastic number [9:16], see the description of their horses [9:17]). Revelation 8:6-10:11. Response to the first two woes (9:20-21) – The purpose of the woes is seen in 9:20-21. They are not simply the capricious actions of a vengeful God. They serve a purpose, to lead people to repentance. Even in judgment, there is grace. – The response, however, is not what it should be. People do not repent from their works, and idolatries, or murders or sorceries, or immoralities, or thefts. Rather, people become more hardened in their sin Revelation 8:6-10:11 Interlude or Intermezzo (10:1-11) – Yarbro Collins sees this chapter as the opening of a second cycle. – Murphy, likewise, considers this the recomissioning of the Seer, noting similarities with Rev 1 and 5 (see p. 250-51). – Murphy also notes the differences (p. 251). The rainbow (cf. Ezek 1;27-28 and Rev 4:3) The feet that are as pillars (note Ex 13:12; 14:19, pillars in the temple, – A more accurate description is that Rev 10 is a “proleptic digression” (Charles). – The angel not only prepares for Rev 11, but also declares, “there is no more delay.” Revelation 8:6-10:11 Vision of the Angel (10:1-4; cf. Dan 10:4) – The angel is not Christ. – Yet, has attributes of divine authority The rainbow, representative of rulers and divinities (cf. Rev 4:3 Clothed in a cloud a subtle representation of the angel’s authority as a ruler. – The angel has a scroll in his right hand Not the same as the scroll of Rev 5. This is a little scroll. It is opened. The Seer is the one who takes it. See Ezek 2:9-3:3. Revelation 8:6-10:11 The Seer hears the seven thunders. – He is about to write them down. – He is ordered not to, but to seal them up. Why is this? Part of the validity of the Seer’s message is not only in what he makes known, but also in what he hides. There are secrets to be kept (see 2 Cor 12:4-5). See Aune’s comments on 10:3-4. No revelation can be full disclosure of heavenly secrets, that leads to the sin of the fallen angels of 1 Enoch 5-11. Revelation 8:6-10:11 Oath of the Angel (10:5-70) – Stands upon the sea and land, with a little scroll in his and. Angel’s authority is hereby indicated. Yet, his authority does not derive solely from himself. – He swears by the One who created all The time is not yet fulfilled There is no more delay Note 6:11, the martyrdoms need to be fulfilled. Also, see 12:12, the dragon knows his tyme is short. In the secrets of God, the time is short. Revelation 8:6-10:11 Seer takes the 2nd book – See Ezek 3:1-3 Ezekiel takes the scroll, and states it is “sweet as honey.” John’s scroll is sweet to the mouth, but bitter to the stomach (Rev 10:9-10). Seems to symbolize that in addition to the initial joy of receiving God’s word is the bitterness of its contents, divine judgment. – Seer told to prophecy again. His words apply not only to the next chapter. It applies to the rest of the book. John’s call is repeated, emphasizing the Seer’s divine commission. Revelation 8:6-10:11 For Next Time: – Compare the two witnesses of Rev 11 with Zech 4:2- 14. What influence might Zechariah have had upon John. How is John’s framing of the vision similar to Zechariah? How is it different? – Compare the discussion of the two witnesses in Koester and Murphy. How do each of these commentators understand the witnesses? What may account for differences in emphasis? Revelation 11-15 Revelation 11 introduces a section that causes some problem for interpreters. – The vision of the measuring of the temple is an obscure reference. – Also, who are the two witnesses. Likewise, Rev. 12-13 cause problems. – The imagery has no parallels in Christian or Jewish writings. – From where is the imagery derived. Ch. 14 provide further judgment scenes Ch. 15 constitutes a heavenly liturgy. Revelation 11-15 Rev. 11:1-13 – Some, such as Charles, see this section as a new source, written before 70 CE – This section interrupts the 7 trumpets. – Yet, it is unlikely that John is employing sources. – Rather, he reinterprets earlier traditions in the light of and/or through his visionay experience. Revelation 11-13 Rev 11:1-13 in context. – John has likely been influenced by earlier tradition. In 11:8, we read of Sodom and Egypt, terms for wickedness in the OT (see Isa 1:9; 3:9; Ezek 16:46, 48, 49; Wisd of Sol 19:14-15) Yet, not only are these terms used, but the city is further defined as “where the Lord was crucified, indicating a Christian influence – Judaism did not know of a crucified Messiah – The language indicates, from the tense, that the Messiah has already come. – Imagery points not to the coming of the Messiah, but to his triumph Revelation 11-15 What purpose does Rev 11 serve? – May draw a contrast between the earthly temple, which is subject to conquest, and its surrounding environment, Sodom and Egypt, with the true temple of heaven, described in 11:19 – Since Jerusalem was already destroyed, a literal interpretation is precluded. – It has been understood as referring to Jewish conversion due to preaching of Moses and Elijah, as a proleptic digression (Charles 1:269-70). – Other commentators see this passage as not referring to two literal witnesses, but with the preaching of the church in the world (Caird). 1 candlesticks of 11:4 is related to the 7 candlesticks of 1:20. Does not explain the presence of the olive branch (cf Zech 4:2-14) Revelation 11-15 Rev 11:1-13 is possibly a symbolic contrast – Between the persecution of the witness of God, conversion of the Jewish nation and God’s triumph. – With the wrath of God upon the Gentiles, those opposing God, see 11:18 – Note 11:13, there is a great earthquake, and 1/10 of the city is destroyed, and 7,000 die – At this point, the rest become fearful and give glory to God. This is remarkable for Revelation. This is the one place where we encounter repentance by God’s opponents Revelation 11-15 In 11:14, we see that the 2nd woe is past. The third woe comes quickly. Yet, the blowing of the 7th (11:15) trumpet results in something unexpected – Is the blowing of the trumpet an introduction to the themes of Rev 12-22? – However, with 11:15, we see a conclusion, the kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ. – How is this a woe? Revelation 11-15 The answer to the above question is found in 11:18. – The nations rage, and wrath comes upon them. – The coming of God’s kingdom brings with it judgment, , which many will find as a woe. Revelation 11-15 Song of Rev 11:17-18 – Consists of 12 lines – Consists of the 24 elders’ thanksgiving, which is appropriate in light of the divine victory that is proclaimed. Revelation 11-15 Rev 11:19 introduces the heavenly temple. – The heavens open and the ark of the covenant appears, and with it lightenings sounds and thunders, and a great earthquake. See Rev. 4:5; Ex 19:16, 18; 1 Kgs 8:1, 6, 10. – There is also great hail (see Rev. 8:7) The heavenly temple of 11:19 is somewhat problematic, for in Rev 21:22, there is no temple of heaven. – Some Jewish groups expected the recovery of the ark when the Messiah returned (2 Macc 2;4-8; Rest of the words of Jeremiah 3:8) – The imagery could refer to the opening of the heavenly Holy of Holies, opening the heavenly presence of God, see the accompanying wonders (cf. Rev 4:5). – It is an awe inspiring scene. Revelation 11-15 Rev 12 – Imagery obscure, and many scholars see this imagery as based on ancient mythology. – Gunkel pointed out in Creation and Chaos in the Primeval Era and the Eschaton that the imagery of this chapter is neither Christian nor Jewish In neither tradition is the imagery described here found. Gunkel conjectured another source He concluded it reflected the traditions of the combat myth of Babylonian antiquity – The son of the woman reflects the birth of Marduk by the sun goddess – The rescue of the son is reminiscent of the gods’ protection of Marduk and his mother, the sun goddess. – The dragon represents the enemy of Marduk, Tiamat Revelation 11-15 Bousset followed Gunkel in that the imagery was from a non-Christian or non-Jewish source. – He saw the flight of the woman with eagle’s wings reminiscent of the Egyptian myth of Horus. Charles thought the imagery derived from the Apollo myth. – After Apollo is born, Leto flees to an island, and is protected by Neptune. – He comes to maturity, and destroys the chaos monster. Revelation 11-15 Yarbro Collins understands that these are variations on the theme of the combat myth. – They were transmitted through Jewish sources. – They were transformed by John. – Confusion arises because there were, in fact, a number of versions of the Combat Myth available in the 1st century. See Murphy, 283-86. Revelation 11-15 Rev 12:1-2 – The woman is about to give birth. She may originally have been the sun goddess. Here, however, the imagery is “demythologized” so she represents the messianic community. She embraces true Israel. She is with child, representing the sudden appearance of the Messianic age. Revelation 11-15 Rev 12:3-6 Conflict over the birth – A sign in heaven appears A great red dragon Characteristic of mythological representations. Its description is based on Dan 7:7, 24 It has 7 heads and 10 horns. See also the Beast of 13:1. The dragon sweeps down 1/3 of the stars of heaven. – See star myth, where heavenly monster kills 1/3 of the stars of heaven. – See also Job 3:8; 26:13; Isa 27:1. Dragon prepares to consume the male child, who is taken to heaven (12:4-5) – This portrayal is likely influenced by mythology. – There are no parallels in Christ’s life. Revelation 11-15 The flight of the woman (12:6) – This has numerous similarities to the flight of Isis after she gave birth to Horus. – But, the imagery is transformed. The woman represents the people of God. Here, likely the church. Thus, a shift of imagery, or completion. – The true people of God, true Israel, is now represented by the church, the true synagogue (? Cf. 2:9; 3:9)? – Or, the remnant of Israel? Revelation 11-15 War in Heaven (Rev 7-12; Murphy, 286-92) – In 7-9, we have the conflict between the archangel Michael and the dragon. It is interesting is that it is the archangel Michael that achieves victory. This fact has led to the conjecture that John employs a Jewish source here. The dragon is defeated. – He is identified with the Old Serpent, the Devil – See 2 Cor 11:3. – Devil is cast out of heaven, and sent upon earth. Revelation 11-15 When the devil is cast out of heaven, heaven rejoices Yet, the earth is told to mourn, because the dragon knows his time is short. Also see Isa 14 (see Murphy, 287). Also note that Salvation and power and kingdom are to Christ and to God. Revelation 11-15 The salvation of the believers is because the Devil is cast down. – Note what Murphy says (p. 290), that the victory is because the Devil is cast out of heaven. – The persecution of Christians, far from being a sign of defeat, is a sign of victory. – This is made plain in 12:11, where it states that they “conquered through the blood of the Lamb and their witness. – Also that they did not love their lives until death. “There is irony here for Christians who expected to be dragged before Roman courts, accused of crimes against the divine Caesar, and executed. They are told that precisely because they stood up to their accusers on earth, their accuser in heaven has been defeated” (Murphy, 291). Revelation 11-15 The war continues on Earth (12:13-17) – Again, themes of the Egyptian myth of Horus are present. The woman receives the wings of an eagle. She flees to the desert for a season, seasons and half a season (see Dan 7:25; 12:7) The dragon seeks to defeat the woman, but the desert rescues her. Revelation 11-15 The traditions are transformed, however. – The utilization of the language from Daniel indicates that persecution will only be for a short time. – The children are those who keep God’s commandments and have the witness of Jesus, specifically Christian concepts. – Some see this language as indicating that both earthly and heavenly realities are discussed in this chapter. – Another possibility is that the woman represents the Jewish Christian community, whereas her children are Gentile believers. Revelation 11-15 Rev 12:18 concludes this section, and introduces the next. – Some texts, including Syriac text of Philoxenus and the Vulgate, state “I stood by the shore of the see.” – Most critical texts follow the reading of P47, Siniaticus and Alexandrinus, and state “He stood by the sand of the sea.” The latter reading makes more sense. The dragon stands by the shore of the sea, the abode of chaos. The dragon calls forth the beast from chaos. Thus, the Roman persecution of the church derives from the dragon. It is ultimately a sign of Rome’s doom, as we shall see in Rev 13, 17, and 18. Revelation 11-15 Group work, Revelation 13 – How is this chapter often interpreted? – What are some popular representations of the imagery of: The 7 heads and 10 horns? The head that appears to die and is healed? The number (13:18) of 666? – How would John’s readers/hearers have understood this imagery? See readings from Murphy and Koester. – Why must we keep in mind John’s implied readers when interpreting Revelation? Revelation 11-15 The first beast arises out of the sea. – This beast is a servant of the dragon. – Its task is to persecute the Christian church. – It is no accident that the beast arises out of the sea. The sea is the ancient abode of chaos It is the source of destruction. – The beast also resembles the Dragon. It also combines the imagery of the beasts of Dan 7. All the anti-God empires of Dan 7 are summed up in the work of this one diabolic beast in Rev 13. Revelation 11-15 Identity of the first beast – Foerster (“therion,” TDNT) article states the beast cannot be Rome as a whole. Notes antithetical parallelism between God and the dragon, Jesus and the first beast, the seven spirits of God and the false prophet (divine Trinity contrasted with demonic trinity). The healing of the mortal wound (13:3-5) contrasts to the Lamb who is slain (5:6). Thus, the beast must refer to a human being. Revelation 11-15 Murphy, 297, following other commentators, including Bousset, conclude that the beast must be the Roman imperium. – Murphy notes the beast is an agent of the dragon – Also, in 13:4, the whole world follows the beast. – Bousset notes that one of the seven heads suffers a mortal wound, and thus John utilizes the Nero redivivus myth. – Murphy also notes how the beast rises from the sea in 13:1, as do the four beasts of Dan 7, which represent various powers (Murphy, 298). – Likewise, Rome’s religious claims (13:6) are clearly “an affront to God and blaspheme ‘his name’” (300). – Thus, we conclude that the beast from the sea is Rome, while the beast from the land in 13:11-14 is likely the imperial cult. Revelation 11-15 The beast from the sea (Rev 13:1-10) – The description resembles Dan 7:2-7 Like the beasts in Daniel, this one ascends from the sea. This beast, however, incorporates into one diabolical creature the description of the four beasts of Dan 7. – It is similar to a leopard – Has feet of a bear – Has mouth of the lion – See 4 Ezra 11:1, which opens the eagle vision, which is directed against the Flavian emperors, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. The eagle has 12 wings It also has three heads It comes up from the sea Revelation 11-15 The beast is called out of the sea by the dragon (13:1-2) – Thus, the beast resembles the dragon. – The dragon gives power to the beast. – Rome’s demonic character is accentuated In 13:3, one of the heads receives a wound, as though it is slaughtered, the antithesis of the Lamb in 5:6 – The parallel extends even to the wording, where the description includes “as though” (hos) and “slaughtered (perfect of sphazein) – We have a demonic imitation of the work of Christ. – Both are slain, but come back to life. – Some see this as the use of Nero redivivus myth – But could it instead/in addition a reference to the events of 69 CE, the year of the four emperors, when Rome itself seemed on the verge of collapse – However, the reference to the number in 13:18 gives more credence to the possibility that John is employing themes from Nero redivivus Revelation 11-15 Response of the world (13:3b-4) – The world is amazed and follows after the beast. – Note the contrast between the acclamation of Rev 4-5 and the response of the whole world, which worships the dragon The beast is empowered by the dragon Therefore, any compromise is impossible (cf. 1 Cor 10:21, which states that Christians cannot partake of the table of demons and of the Lord). The whole world’s worship of the beast is but pale imitation of the glory given to God in Rev 4-5; 11:16-18. Note also the irony, “who is like the beast, and who is able to make war with it. The war has already occurred, both in heaven and in Rev 5, and the beast, as well as the dragon is conquered. Revelation 11-15 Activity of the first beast (13:5-10. – It blasphemes God, in language reminiscent of Dan 7:25 – It acts for a short time, 42 months, in Dan the period is “times, time and half a time.” – Blasphemes the dwelling of God (13:6). Likely heaven. See Dan 8:8-12, the activity of the little horn, who boasts great things. – In Rev 13, however, the John’s use of Daniel are hardly reconizable. Revelation 11-15 There is enmity toward God (note 13:7-8) – 13:7 signifies hostility against the people of God. – Greek text here bears similarity to Theodotian’s translation of Dan 7:23. – Who gives the beast authority. The word is in the passive, likely a divine passive. Not even the beast’s activities are done without God’s passive consent, indicating the beast’s plans will not work out the way it intends, but to God’s purposes instesd. Revelation 11-15 The response of the world (13:8) – While the beast wages war against the saints, all whose names are not recorded in the Lamb’s book of life prostrate themselves and worship the beast. Book of life also mentioned in 3:5; 17:8 20:12 Only those whose name is recorded in the Lamb’s book of life will be able to resist the beast. Revelation 11-15 Exhortation to be faithful (13:10-11) – The exhortation of 13:9, “If someone has ears, listen,” is often found at the conclusions of Jesus’ parables in the gospel tradition, particularly parables focusing on God’s kingdom – The hymnic exhortation in 13:10 is difficult What could the statement about going into captivity, or being killed with the sword mean? Does it mean if one raises violent opposition to Rome, one will die? John is definitely not calling on Christians to resist violently, but he calls on passive resistance. This view is based on his firm assumption that the Christian’s vindication comes from God, who has power to destroy the beast. Revelation 11-15 Second Beast (13:11-19) – This figure arises form the land – It is subordinate to the first, and causes all to worship the first (13:12). Cf. Mk 13:22, about false prophets. Figure of second beast is somewhat enigmatic. – Why is it introduced here. – We see a diabolical imitation. As Christ’s work leads all to worship God So the 2nd beast compels the world’s inhabitants to worship the beast. Revelation 11-15 2nd beast causes miracles (13:13-19). – The language has mythological features, pointing to ancient imagery, especially the antichrist legend. – Also, see S. Scherrer, “Signs and Wonders in the Imperial Cult: A New Look at Rome Religious Institution in the Light of Rev 13-15,” JBL 103 (1984) 599-610. Also, see History Channel’s “Ancient Discoveries” series episode on temple technology.; – Scherrer points to the prevalence of manipulated wonders in both the Asclepious cult and on the part of Calligula. – Two wonders in particular are mentioned (13:13, 15). First, fire comes down from heaven. The source of this imagery is unclear (see Murphy 310). It also makes the statue to talk. We know of various kinds of mechanical devices used in the ancient world to cause such things as statues to move, talk, etc. As Murphy (310-11) points out, however, John does not accuse Greco- Roman cults, particularly imperial cult of trickery, but of diabolical inpiration. Revelation 11-15 The number of the beast (13:18). – This imagery has caused a great deal amount of speculation Ladd thought it symbolized human inadequacy. Lohmeyer thought it was magical, a triangular number. Swete understood it as a cryptogram. Yet, many critical scholars (including Bousset, Charles) see the image as a reference to the numerical equivalence of the name “Neron Caesar” This conclusion is confirmed by the textual variant, 616, which represents another way of numbering the name. Revelation 11-15 Only those having the mark of the beast can buy or sell. – Note what Murphy says (p. 312-13) about imperial coinage, bearing the image of the emperor. – Again, we see John’s uncompromising position, prohibiting even economic participation in the empire. – Does this represent a tradition similar to Judean Zealots, who refused to handle Roman coinage because it was “polluted” with the image of the emperor? – Does it represent a temple tradition, where Roman coins had to be exchanged for Tyrian currency, which lacked human images? Revelation 11-15 Sealing of the people (13:16) – All must bear the seal of the beast. – But, we must also look at 7:2 as well as 14:1-5. – The sealing of the inhabitants of the earth provides a counter-image to the sealing of the 144,000 in Rev 7 and 14. The saints are sealed with the seal of the Lamb. The inhabitants of the earth receive the seal of the emperor. Both are sealed. What type of seal will determine their destiny. Revelation 11-15 Lamb and the 144,000 (Rev 14:1-5 – Another of John’s contrasts. – In Rev 13, we see the description of the beasts and their followers. – Now we see an imagery of the elect awaiting salvation. See 4 Ezra 13:35, when the Son is revealed, he will stand upon Mt. Zion and be revealed (see also vv 32-36). Joel 2:32 (LXX 3:5 and Isa 4:5 contain the imagery of the elect gathering together at Mt. Zion. The 144,00 are those sealed in 7:1-8. They sing a new, spiritual song. The song is forbidden to others, however, because it is spiritual (see 2 Cor 12:4). Revelation 11-15 Who are the 144,000? See Rev 14:4-5. – They are virgins. This image has caused some problems. Charles thought it flatly contradicted the NT understanding of marriage. Bousset thought the imagery was literal So did Yarbro Collins (Crisis and Catharsis) Schussler Fiorenza, followed by Murphy (316-18) correctly, in my view, reject this literalism, and see the language as symbolic, like the rest of Revelation, and that John is employing language of purity and impurity to refer to absolute devotion to God and to the Lamb (see also 2:14, 21-23) – They follow the Lamb, who bought them out of humanity. – They have no lie in their mouths – They are unblemished. Revelation 11-15 Purpose of 14:1-5 – It is likely a contrast – The difference between the people of God and the people who follow after the Beast and the Dragon is highlighted. Thus another reason to be wary of attempts to take the sealing of Rev 13:17 literally It is, instead, a symbolic contrast with the sealing of God’s elect Revelation 11-15 Three Angels (14:6-13) – The angels fly in midheaven, i.e. at the point where the sun is at its height ad mid day – The call of the first angel (14:6-7) Calls on the people to worship God Reason for fearing God is the announcement of the coming judgment by the one who made haven, earth, the sea, fountains. Contrast the power of the Almighty God and the petty power of the beast (Rome). Revelation 11-15 The call of the second Angel (14:8) – Announces the fall of Babylon – For designation of Babylon, see also 1 Pet 5:13; Rev 16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21 – The cup of God’s wrath points to two things. It is the cup of Babylon’s own passion and immorality It is the cup of God’s wrath God’s wrath consists of the evils that Babylon brings upon itself. Revelation 11-15 Third angel (14:9-12) – If someone worships the beast and receives its stamp, one will drink the wine of God’s wrath. – The warning is to those who follow the beast, but also to God’s servants. They receive further warning against the danger of compromise. Compromise is not simply making accommodations to live in this world, it has eternal consequences. Revelation 11-15 Beatitude (14:13) – The blessing is pronounced upon those who die in the Lord. – In contrast to those who participate in the immorality of Babylon and the beast, who are cursed, is the blessing for those who are faithful. – At first sight, it appears a contradiction to be blessed to die, but also note those who wash their clothes white in the blood of the Lamb (7:14). – Such apparent contradictions make sense in the Apocalypse, since John sees from a heavenly, not an earthly perspective. Revelation 11-15 Summary – Announcements go from general to specific. From judgment To Babylon’s judgment To the judgment upon all who worship the beast. – How is this good news (14:6)? Because God is to pronounce judgment upon evil. Because God will vindicate God’s saints. Revelation 11-15 Judgment (14:14-20). – The vision opens with the description of one who is “like a son of man,” sitting upon a cloud. – See Dan 7:13, and note the crown, stephanon upon his head, cf. the crowns of the 24 elders in Rev 4. Revelation 11-15 Problems of the passage. – Another angel calls upon the one sitting upon the cloud to use his sickle and reap the harvest. – From the temple in heaven, another angel takes fire and cries in a loud voice to the one having the sickle to send it upon the earth and take the harvest of God’s vineyard. – The one on the cloud appears, therefore, to be another angel, not the exalted Christ. – Judgment also takes place outside of Jerusalem (see reference to the city in v 19) Revelation 11-15 The vision appears to contain elements foreign to his own Christology, which is made evident in Rev 19. Why? Revelation 11-15 Why does Rev 14:14-20 contain elements that appear contrary to John’s Christology? – One explanation is that John uses a Jewish source, derived from Dan. 7 – John understands the one sitting upon the cloud as Christ, but is using language of another source, and makes him appear subordinate – Why? Revelation 11-15 The passage likely reflects imagery the readers/hearers would understand. – It may contain images from the antichrist legend – John incorporates this imagery here, as an effort to communicate the certainty of God’s final judgment Revelation 11-15 Another theme in Rev. 14:6-20: God’s promises are fulfilled. – In 14:6-13, there is the announcment of judgment – Now, judgment is fulfilled. – The judgment is phrased in traditional language. – That language is comprehensible to John’s readers/hearers Revelation 11-15 Introduction to the Seven Vials or Bowls (15:1-8). – A new aspect of the vision is introduced, as seen by the opening phrase, “And I saw another great and amazing sign in haven.” This sign is the seven angels, having the seven plagues. By them the God’s wrath is completed. Revelation 11-15 Intermezzo, or, Interlude (15:2-4) – The victors stand by the sea. – They achieved victory of the beast and his image, and from the number of his name. They are victorious in not having submitted to the beast. They have gained victory through sacrifice of their lives. – They stand by a sea of glass The sea is the same as that mentioned in 4:6 It is in contrast to the sea from which the monster comes in 12:18-13:3 Here, unlike Rev 4:6, the sea is mingled with lightening and fire, see 2 Enoch 29:102. Combining water and fire is a miraculous divine feat. Revelation 11-15 The heavenly retinue sing the “Song of Moses,” but Ex 15 is not quoted Allusions are to Ps 11:2 (LXX) 139:14 (LXX) Amos 3:13 (LOXX) and E 34:15 (LXX). See also Ps. 86: 9 (LXX) and Deut. 32:4 (LXX) – It should be noted that the victors, or martyrs, sing the song of the Lamb. – The hymn is like primitive Christian hymns, praising God. – The hymn both concludes what has preceded and introduces what follows (W. Fenske, “Das lied des Moses …” ZNW 90 (1999) 261). – God is praised for his judgment. – Also, a scene of judgment is introduced with a scene of heavenly praise. Revelation 11-15 The vision of the heavenly temple: preparation for the seven bowls. – Scene begins with the temple of heaven, or heavenly tent or tabernacle. – This is the perfect tabernacle, of which the earthly one is a mere copy (see Ex 25:20, 40; Acts 7:44; Acts 8:5). – Out of the tabernacle, 7 angels proceed. See Ezek 9:2. As here, the angels of Ezekiel are dressed in linnen, and given duty of executing God’s wrath. Revelation 11-15 Appearance of the angels. – They are dressed in a similar manner as the One like a Son of Man in 1;13, in white with a golden girdle around the robe. The relation of the 15:6 and 15:1 is difficult. First, the angel mentions the plagues, no mention is made of the tabernacle. Now they proceed from the tabernacle, and are given the seven bowls, filled with God’s wrath. Probably another example of John’s love for parallel imagry. – With the appearance of the angels, the final wrath of God is prepared for. Revelation 11-15 When the seven angels receive the final plagues from the 4 living creatures, the tabernacle/temple fills with smoke – As in Isa 6:4; Ex 40:34; 1 Kgs 8:10-11, smoke signifies the presence of the Mighty and Powerful God. – When he is present, no one can enter the temple/tabernacle until the plagues are completed. – None can avert, even by prayer, the coming judgment. For Next Time Note the 7 plagues of Rev 16. – How do the plagues of the bowls and those of the trumpets compare? – How to the plagues of the bowls compare with the plagues of Egypt? – See Murphy, 337. Who mourn the fall of Babylon in Rev 18? – Where do they stand? – For what do they mourn? – What can be determined of John’s views of worldly wealth and power from these laments? What are some examples for conclusions? Revelation 16:1-19:10 With 16:1, is the beginning of the end. – The final phase of judgment begins with the 7 bowls – This section includes the elements mentioned by Collins, Persecution, 3rd bowl (16:4-7) – Judgment, 6th bowl (16:12-16) – Destruction is the 7th bowl (16:17-20) – Triumph and Salvation are found in 19:1-10). Revelation 16:1-19:10 Seven bowls. – As in Rev. 8-9, the imagery derives from the plagues of Egypt. – Plagues of Rev. 8-9 are: Hail and fire. 1/3 of the of the sea turns to blood. 1/3 of the fresh water sources are made bitter 1/3 of the stars ar darkened Diabolical locusts Great army from the angels bound at the River Euphrates Hail, thunder, lightnings earthquake Revelation 16:1-19:10 Plagues of the seven bowls of Rev. 16 are: – Foul and evil sores – Sea become blood – Fresh water becomes blood – Sun burns with scorching heat – Darkness – Euphrates dries up, road prepared for invasion by the king of the east, an army is gathered – Thunder, lightning, hail about weight of 1 talent. Revelation 16:1-19:10 Similarities – The second bowl and 2nd trumpet curse the sea, it becomes as blood. – Third bowl and trumpet curse the fresh water. In the trumpets 1/3 becomes as womwood. In the bowls, all become as blood. – Fourth bowl and trumpet curse the sun and stars. In the 4th bowl, the sun scorches, in the 4th trumpet, it is darkened. – The sixth bowl and trumpet refer to a mighty army coming from the region of the Euphrates – The seventh trumpet and bowl refer to heavenly signs and earthquakes, symbolizing judgment. Revelation 16:1-19:10 Differences between the trumpets and the bowls. – There is no parallel in the trumpets to the sores of the first vials, unless it is indirect, from the stings of the locusts. The 1st bowl is probably drawing on a different plague of Egypt, the 6th plague, the plague of boils (see Ex 9:8-12). – The symbol of the locusts in the 5th trumpet (Rev 9:1- 12) is unparalleled among the plagues of the bowls. Revelation 16:1-19:10 Analysis or Revelation 16 – Opening, Rev 16:1 Great voice addresses the angels – Since the temple is filled with the presence of God, it must be God’s voice – See also 1:10 for the voice calling John . – Word order is different, for here it is megales phones rather than phones megales Angels are told to pour out their bowls upon the earth, and thus bring God’s wrath upon the earth. Revelation 16:1-19:10 The First plague (16:2) – The plague of foul sores is reminiscent of the 8th Egyptian plague (Ex 9:8-12) the plague of boils – The plague comes upon those who bear the mark of the Beast, i.e. participate in the Caesar cult. Revelation 16:1-19:10 The Second plague (16:2) – This one attacks the sea. – Compare Ex 7:17-21, where the Nile becomes blood. – The sea has already been attacked in Rev 8:8-9, but there only 1/3 was affected, here the whole sea becomes blood. Revelation 16:1-19:10 The third bowl (16:4-7) – Angel pours out upon the fountains of water and they become blood (fresh water sources become blood) – The angel charged with the waters leads a hymn of praise (16:5-7) God judges the people for shedding the blood of martyrs by giving them blood to drink (see Isa 49:26; Ezek 38:21, where oppressors of God’s people are repaid in kind) Saints are Christian martyrs The “prophets” are likely special class of Christians In 16:7, the altar speaks. – See 6:9-11, where the martyrs of God are under the altar – The altar confirms the doxologies, and here is personified. – It represents the place where the martyrs are gathered Revelation 16:1-19:10 Fourth Bowl (16:8-9) – As with the first four trumpets, the first four bowls attack, in succession, the land, sea, fresh water, and the heavenly bodies. – The fourth trumpet darkens 1/3 of the heavenly bodies (see 8:12) – Here, the sun’s heat scorches humanity. – Response, 16:9 As in 9:20-21, no repentance. Rather, God’s name, to onama tou Theou is blasphemed. Even though God has authority over the plagues, the response is not simply sacrilegious, it is also self destructive. People refuse to repent and give God glory. Cf. 11:13, where after the earthquake God is glorified. Revelation 16:1-19:10 The fifth bowl (16:10-11) – See Ex 10:21-29, the plague of darkness on Egypt. – This plague comes upon the throne of the beast. – Caesar's empire is openly shown to be the enemy of God, and is plunged in darkness – People bite their tongues, accentuating their suffering. – Sores clarifies the cause of anxiety and pain, for it does not necessarily correspond to darkness – The plague also agrees with the first woe, when people are in great pain due to the sting of the locusts. – But here, it is in the midst of the darkness, after the sores and the scorching heat Revelation 16:1-19:10 Sixth bowl (16:12-16) – The rising of a great army from the east, perhaps reflecting the tradition of the Nero Redivivus – The objective of this demonic horde is the throne of the beast. The kings which gather are the same as10 kings of Rev 17 The original hearers/readers would remember the Parthian empire. Here the beginning of a theme, developed in Rev. 17, where demonic hordes attack the demonic throne The drying or stemming of the flow of the River is also found in Jos 3:13-15; Isa 11:15-16; 14:27; 51:10 and 4 Ezra 13:43- 47. The way is prepared for God’s action. Revelation 16:1-19:10 Sixth Bowl, cont’d. – The rising universal rebellion, as well as the rising of kings against the beast is depicted Demonic aspect seen in v 13, when three evil spirits like frogs spew out of the mouth of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet See the Zend religion, where frogs are understood as a source of plagues In 1614: the frogs are spirits which do signs – The enemies of God gather – The “great day of God” anticipates God’s judgment – The sentence anticipates the judgment of 19:11-21, confirming a recapitulary element in the visions of the seals, trumpets and bowls 16:15 is a common Christian exhortation or paraenesis, Christ comes quickly as a thief in the night (see 1 Thes 5:2; Mt 24?43 and parallels. Also see Rev 3:3 and 3:18 for similar ideas. Revelation 16:1-19:10 The sixth bowl, cont’d. – In 16:16, is mentioned the place where the nations gather for battle The name of the place translated to “mountain of Meggido. But Meggido is a plain John is probably reflecting on the tradition of the eschatological final battle occurring when demonic forces attack the mountain of God (see 14:20), or the fortified camp of the saints, preceding Satan’s demise in 20:9 Why name Armageddon was chosen, however, remains a myster. Revelation 16:1-19:10 The seventh bowl (16:17-21) – 7th angel pours out his bowl into the air. – It shows a great throne (circumlocution for God, showing Jewish reluctance to utter the term “God”) – Voice announces, “it has been done,” or, “it has happened” (single word in perfect gegonen, in an impersonal sense. – Voice is followed by heavenly signs of lightnings, sounds and thunders, as well as a great earthquake. – It is greater than any earthquake ever in human history – 1/3 of the great city falls. Then all of Babylon will receive God’s wrath – Judgment is not only on Babylon, but all the world. – In 16:21, again people blaspheme God Revelation 16:1-19;10 The Great Harlot of Babylon, Rev 17 Introduction, Rev 17:1-3a (contrast the woman of Rev 12; cf. Prov 13:13-18; 4:19, contrasted with Prov 7. The woman wisdom is contrasted with the “strange woman.” – One of the angels with the seven bowls speaks to John The revelatory angel appears again This is a traditional designation for Babylon Now it applies to Rome , see Apoc Barc 67:7, where reference is made to Babylon, which destroyed Jerusalem (incidentally, this imagery confirms a post 70 CE date for Revelation, since it is at this time that Rome, like Babylon, is known as the great destroyer of Jerusalem. Revelation 16:1-19:10 Introduction, Rev 17:1-3a, cont’d. – Judgment is to come upon the great harlot – Who has committed immorality with the kings of the world. – Who has intoxicated the inhabited all the inhabitants of the world with her immorality – “Through the seduction of Rome all the rulers of the world have been seduced” (Bousset, 403, my translation). Revelation 16:1-19:10 The vision 17:3b-18. – John sees a vision of a beast covered with blasphemous names. Like the beasts of Rev 12 and 13, it has 7 heasd and 10 horns. There is also a woman upon the beast, dressed in purple and red She also is dressed in gilded and precious stones She holds a golden cup full of blasphemous names. On her forehead is inscribed “mystery of Babylon – Some point to practice of Roman prostitutes, who wore names written on their foreheads, see Seneca Controv 1.2 and Juvenal 6.123 She is drunk with the blood of the saints Revelation 16:1-19:10 Rev. 17:3b-18, cont’d. – The beast and the woman are interpreted. John wonders, or is confused, which is rebuked. The beast ascended out of the pit, and goes to perdition, another reference to Nero redivivus? He amazes those not written in the book of the life from the foundation of the world. See 13:8, where it is the Lamb who is slain from the foundation of the world Revelation 16:1-19:10 Revelation 17:3b-18, cont’d. – The heads the woman sits upon represent the 7 mountains or hills The meaning here is undoubtedly Rome – As in other apocalyptic images, the symbolism can be multivalent, have more than one meaning, for the seven heads are also seven kings. Revelation 16:1-19:10 Rev 17:3b-18, cont’d. – Who are these seven kings? Does the enumeration begin with Julius or Augustus? Is John referring to an earlier source, perhaps from the time of Vespasian? There were more than six emperors by the time that John was writing, to come up with six one has to count only selected emperors, such as ignoring Galba, Otho and Vitellius, but every Roman Historian considers these to have been legitimate emperors If one starts with Julius, the first five emperors bring one to the time of Claudius, the 6th is Nero. Was the prophecy originally in Nero’s reign? Others say John is utilizing a source from Vespasian’s time, which began its enumeration with Augustus and omitted the three minor emperors of 69 CE. Credibility of this theory comes from the Eagle Vision of 4 Ezra 11-12, where the eagle has 3 heads (Flavian emperors) and 12 wings. But why reference to 7 kings instead of three? Why are Galba, Otho and Vitellius omitted? Revelation 16:1-19:10 Rev 17:3b-18 – Murphy’s solution (p. 361) follows a number of commentators, who see the number as symbolic. – The fact that the seven rulers are followed by an 8th, means that in the last, all the demonic forces of history are summed up in this last individual. Revelation 16:1-19:10 Revelation 17:3b-18, cont’d. – The figure of the 10 kings in 17:12 is undoubtedly is derived from Daniel 7:24 (see Murphy, 361). They have not yet received authority. They will receive authority as one kingdom from the beast. – Yet, in 17:13-14, the 10 kings receive one goal They attack the Lamb The Lamb, because he is Lord of Lords and King of Kings conquers them, and those with him called the elect. The Lamb and the Lamb’s followers, then, conquer the kings. Note, how the victory is achieved is not described – No battle scene is given – What does this signify for Christian victory over the forces of evil? Revelation 16:1-19:10 Rev 17:3b-18, cont’d – In 17:15-18, there is a civil war. The many waters, described as many people, crowds, nations and tongues. – The imagery is figurative – It is drawn from the description of historical Babylon The 10 horns and the beast hate the harlot, make war with her, and consume her flesh. Revelation 16:1-19:10 Group work – Tina Pippen notes the imagery of the destruction of the Lamb as indication of John’s misogynism – She says this is imagery which must be rejected, and is a reason why she rejects the message of Revelation. Compare the imagery of Rev 17 with the woman of Rev 12 Compare Babylon of Rev 18:1-8 and the New Jerusalem of 21:1-22:5. How does John incorporate binary images (good vs. evil)? What does this say about John’s use of traditional and/or figurative language? What is the danger of interpreting John’s language in an over literalistic manner? Revelation 16:1-19:10 Revelation 18, the Lament over Babylon (Rome) – Yarbo Collins has a detailed analysis of the songs in her book , Crisis and Catharsis – There is some debate if this is a taunt song or a dirge. – According to Yarbro Colins, this is a dirge, and I tend to agree. – See also9 Jer 50-51, the curse of Babylon and Ez 26, the destruction of Tyre. – Another motif is the biblical curse of foreign cities, such as Isa 13-23. Revelation 16:1-19:10 Rev 18:1-8 – Angel appears, again “After these things” (meta tauta), the proclamation of the fall of Babylon (Rome) leads to mourning on earth – Another angel, in distinction to the one(s) described in 17:1, 7, 15 In Rev 17, the angel is an interpreter Here, it is a strong angel, heralding God’s triumph Revelation 16:1-19:10 Rev 18:1-8, cont’d. – The angel announces Babylon’s fall – She was the dwelling place of demons and unclean spirits (cf. Isa 13:21-22; Jer:9:10, describing God’s judgment on Jerusalem) – Language is stereotypical – Babylon drinks from the wine of God’s wrath, as false prophets of Jeremiah’s day drink wormwood and poisoned water (Jer 25:15). From Babylon’s cup, all the nations and kings have drunk, and all, including merchants, have committed immorality with her (see 18:9-24) All the world, its rulers, mighty and merchants, are all guilty in the sin of Rome Revelation 16:1-19:10 Rev 18:1-8, cont’d. – The second voice calls out, calling on God’s people to exit Babylon. Language again is stereotypical, God’s people are to have nothing to do with Babylon, cf. Jer 50:8; 51:45; Isa 48:20; 52:11. – Reason for the cry is given in 18:5-8 Her sins have reached to heaven, she will be paid back double from the cup of God’s wrath For her glory, torture and grief are to be exchanged. As ancient Babylon, she is proud, thinking she will never be a widow or suffer grief, but instead plagues and fire kindled by God come against her (cf. Isa 47:8-9; Jer 50:31-32) Babylon’s (Rome’s) primary sin is her hubris, her exalted arrogant self opinion, commonly understood in the ancient world as an offence against God or the gods. Revelation 16:1-19:10 Cry of the Kings (18:9-10” – Reminiscent of Ezek 26:16-19, where the “princes of the sea” (Phoenician princes) lament over Tyre – Princes of the earth observe from a distance smoke rising, – They stand at a distance because of fear and pronounce a woe over her. – The disaster which overtook her is not that which one would expect in the course of human events, for she is destroyed in only one hour Revelation 16:1-19:10 Cry of the merchants (18:11-19) – Cry over cargo, which no one will ever buy again – Cargo types are listed in 18:12: gold, silver, precious stones, purple, silk, scarlet and citron wood, all luxury items. – Some necessities, such as wheat, cattle, sheep and horses are also listed. We do not have rebuke only for Rome’s love of luxuries Rome has misused trade, engaging in it for her glory Even necessities are used to make her rich Not for the legitimate needs of people. Revelation 16:1-19:10 Rev 18:11-19, cont’d. – In 18:13, other indictments. She traded in the souls of humans – Slavery was especially common in the Roman world – Among professions slaves engaged in were the gladiatorial games, a trade here that may be especially condemned here, from the phrase, “human souls” – In 18:14, the products for which the soul longed, and all that is bright and shining has fled. The city is described again in terms reminiscent of a harlot, trimmed in beautiful clothes and jewelry, munching on choicest fruit. What is mourned is not legitimate horror over destruction of the innocent, but that the beautiful harlot who has seduced them has lost her beauty. Revelation 16:1-19:10 Rev 18:15-16 – These verses are parallel to 18:9-10 Again, the merchants, like the kings, stand far off, watching the destruction of Babylon The kings cry because the great city is destroyed The merchants, because their markets for luxuries are gone. Notice especially, both these groups stand far off, or at a distance. – They do not want to get too close, lest they themselves are destroyed – They do not wish to be involved in her destruction – Babylon has lovers, but no friends Revelation 16:1-19:10 Rev 18:17, the cry that here wealth has been destroyed in one hour (see 18:10) In 18:17b-19, the pilots, those who sailed the ships, participate in in the weeping over Babylon – All ships were enriched by her. – Again, as in 18:10, 17, the note that in one hour she is destroyed, emphasizing the suddenness of her destruction Revelation 16:1-19:10 Conclusions about the Dirge. – Mighty and rich mourn over the fall of Babylon – They mourn because she was the source of their riches and power – Yet, they stand far off, careful to avoid a similar fate Revelation 16:1-19:10 In Rev 18:20-24, there is the response of heaven. – It is rejoicing. – The Apostles and prophets are called upon to rejoice – A strong angel takes a great millstone and casts it headlong into the sea, symbolizing Babylon’s utter destruction. Sounds of musicians and workers will never be heard in her again. The rejoicing of bride and bridegroom will also be silenced, for she led all astray by sorcery (pharmakeia), and she shed the blood of the saints – God’s perspective is different from that of humans – Humans see how Rome contributed to their wealth – Heaven sees Rome’s offences against God and all people, her lust for blood, and her opposition to God’s people – She receives what she gave out – Her judgment is correct – God’s judgment is vindicated Revelation 16:1-19:10 Rev 19:1-10, the Song of praise over Babylon’s fall. – The praise falls in four parts. – Each part is introduced by the Heb. term, “Halleluiah,” or “Praise to the Lord” Revelation 16:1-19:10 First shout of praise (19:1-2) – Occurs “after these things (meta tauta) – The shout comes from a crowd in heaven – A song of praise is indicated. – Is this the praise of the martyrs of 7:9-15? (see Caird) – It could be the praise of angels (Charles) – Or the praise of both (Bousset) – To what is the phrase, The salvation and the glory and power of our God” connected? Is the phrase connected to the attributes of 19:2? Are these independent phrases? – The message is that God’s judgment and righteousness are vindicated. The harlot is judged Therefore, heaven rejoices Revelation 16:1-19:10 The second song (18:3) – See 14:11; 18:8. 9, 18, with references to smoke ascending from Babylon. See also Isa 34:10, the smoke ascending from edom – The praise, halleluiah results from the observation of Babylon’s eternal destruction. The Greek kai here means “since, rather than ”and” Otherwise, the phrase would be a meaningless “Halleluiah and the smoke …” Rather the phrase is, “Halleluiah, because the smoke …” Revelation 16:1-19:10 The third song (19:4-5) – The 24 elders and 4 living creatures prostrate themselves before the throne of God (see Rev 4) – They sing halleluiah – In response, there is a voice from the throne It calls on all to worship God Is this the voice of the Lamb? Revelation 16:1-19:10 The fourth song (19:6-8) – Praises the initiation of God’s eternal reign. The opening sound is that of a voice of many waters (see 1:15, the voice of the son of man) This type of language earlier represented the host of Christians. – Call to the wedding feast The wedding feast of the bride has come – The bride is the Church – See the language of Hos 2 and Ezek 18 – Also see the parable of the wedding feast in Lk 14:16-24//Mt 22:1-10. – See also feast of Marduk and also Gnostic texts that use similar imagery – Giving of fine linen to the righteous and holy is reminiscent of Isa 61:10, as well as the white garments to those who conquer in Rev 3:5 Revelation 16:1-19:10 Invitation to the wedding feast (19:9-10) – John is instructed to write, “blessed are those who have been invited to the wedding of the Lamb.” This blessing is also called a macarism, from the Greek term for blessing, makarios. The one who is faithful and true is God. The call indicates the close relationship between God and the Church. – John’s response, in 19:10, is to prostrate himself to worship the angel He is warned not to do this The angel is only another servant. Angel worship is prohibited, for it draws focus away from God, see L. T. Stuckenbruch, Angel Veneration and Christology: a study in Early Judaism and the Christology of the Apocalypse of John. For Next Time Examine the third epiphany vision of Rev 19:11-20 – How is the Triumphant Christ described? – How is the final battle described? Look at Rev 20:1-3. – Where does the millennium take place? Look at the New Jerusalem of Rev 21:1-22:5. – What is the significance of “no more sea” (21:1)? – What is the significance of the various jewels in the walls? – How does the description compare with the new Jerusalem of Ezek 40-48? What is similar? What is different? Revelation 19:11-22:21 Rev 19:11-21, the Third Epiphany Vision – Vision of one upon a horse, 19:11-13 The heavens open up, reflecting ancient belief in the three tier universe The one riding on a white horse – Not the same as the first seal of Rev 6, where the rider and white horse are stereotypical symbols of conquest – Called Faithful and true (see 19:9 about the words of the invitation to the supper of the Lamb) – This one judges in righteousness (see Isa 11:1; Wisd Sol 18:15-16) Revelation 19:10-22:21 Description of 19:12-13 is loosely based on the description of the “one like a Son of Man in Rev 1 It is also a description of the divine warrior of Isa 63;1-3 (see the blood spattered garments in the later description) – Also, the figure has a name no one knows, see 1 En 69:13-15. – Blood smeared garments, Morris, the blood of Christ. Caird, the blood of the saints. Murphy, the blood is the blood of Christ’s enemies. The Nane is the word of God, see Jn 1:1-18. However, title logos for Christ only appears in the prologue of John’s Gospel, which some scholars see as based as a source and not intrinsic to John’s Christology. – Some scholars understand the underlying title, “Word of God” as going back to a source used by both the Gospel of John and Revelation – See also the importance of the logos concept both in Stoic philosophy and in Philo. – The figure here is undoubtedly Christ Revelation 19:11-22:21 The vision of the battle (19:4-21 – Armies of heaven follow the one on a white horse, dressed in fine linen (cf. 19:8) – From his mouth proceeds a sword, a romphaia oxeia, a two edged sword (see 1:16) Also see 4 Ezra 13, where the voice of the one who flies causes all who hear it to melt, as wax when touched by fire. The word of his mouth is the source of judgment. Revelation 19:11-22:21 The garments of the figure reads, “King of kings and Lord of lords. – Originally , this title was a Persian title. – Also, the Nero redivivus of Rev 13 claims authority for himself. – Now, the true King of kings and Lord of Lords reveals himself. Revelation 19:11-22:21 Angel stands in the sun and calls upon the birds of the air to feast (19:17-18) – The battle is accomplished, the enemies of God are vanquished. – But, no battle is described. The victory is not a military triumph The word of Christ strikes down God’s enemies. – The figure of the angel is somewhat obscure The angel calls on the birds of prey to feast See Ezek 39:17, in a similar scene the defeated enemies of God are an offering meal Imagery also reminiscent of the Babylonian creation myth, where Marduk feeds upon Tiamat – The victory is foreordained. There is no struggle. God’s triumphs Revelation 19:11-22:21 Final description (19:19-21) – Beast and his servants, the kings of the earth, come to make war against the one seated upon the horse. – Again, see the combat myth: the conflict between Marduk and Tiamat or Apollo and Python Revelation 19:11-22:21 The result of the “battle” (19:20-21). – See Dan 7:21 – The beast is thrown, along with the false prophet, are thrown into the lake of fire – Bousset understood the lake of fire to represent influence of Iranian mythology. Yet, the imagery has significant differences. There is no true cosmic dualism. No battle is described. The final battle is the consummation of what was already decided through the victory of the Lamb, who conquered through his blood. That announced earlier, especially in Rev 5; 6:12-17; 7:13- 17; 11:15-19, is now fulfilled. Revelation 19:11-22:21 Millennium and final judgment, Rev 20 – “We now come to a passage which, more than any other in the book, has been the paradise of cranks and fanatics on the one hand and literalists on the other” (Caird, Revelation of St. John the Divine, 249). Revelation 19:11-22:21 Group assignment – Discuss the description of the millennium in Rev 20:1-6 – Where does it take place? Does it occur on earth? – What happens? – Who is bound? – Why is this one bound? – What reasons are given, if any? Revelation 19:11-22:21 Millennial reign is not a Christian innovation, and is not new with John – Contemporary with John is 4 Ezra 7:28-30 The Messiah reigns 400 years He dies, along with all those living on the earth A general resurrection follows – In the Babylonian Talmud (3rd-6th cent CE, Sanhedrin 97b, the expectation of the Messiah reigning 5,000 years – 1 En 92:12-17, 93, divides the world into 10 weeks of indeterminate length. 7th is the apostasy 8t, to the righteous, who avenge themselves with the sword (91;12- 13) 9th wee, judgment is revealed 10th, eternal judgment to be revealed. Revelation 19:11-22:21 Imagery of the millennium is also found in Christian writings. – Epistle of Barnabas 15 – Irenaeus, Adv. Haer 5.28.3 For Irenaeus, the millennium must occur because God is redeeming creation Creation is good, and must be restored to its original state before the final judgment – Justin Martyr, Dial. Trypho 81 Revelation 19:11-22:21 Why is there the description of the millennium? – John does not simply incorporate a tradition. – It is essential to his message – Why? Irenaeus provides one answer Another is that the idea here is part of the Christian proclamation of Christ’s lordship. Revelation 19:11-22:21 Analysis of Rev 20:1-3 – Angel from heaven Has a key to the abyss and a great chain, not in his hand, but upon it The dragon, the devil (see 12:9) is bound The dragon is bound for a thousand years. – See Isa 27:1, the conquest of Leviathan – See 1 En 18:112-16 for hell as a great pit – See the binding of Azi Dahakta in the mountain Demvend in Persian religio Revelation 19:11-22:21 Rev 20:4-6 – The judgment scene – The throne, and the one upon it, see Dan 7:9 Here we have a description of the final judgment The vision is coming to an end – The description of those beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and on account of God’s word (a parallelism?) shows John’s special interest in the martyrs They reign with Christ 1000 years The martyrs are the only ones who participate in the 1st resurrection and reign with Christ 1000 years They are not subject to the second death Revelation 19:11-22:21 What is the nature of the millennium? – Nowhere in the book does it say that this occurs on earth – Traditionally, however, it has been understood to have earthly ramifications Either as a literal time after the judgment Or, as the history of the Christian church – The language is obscure, and it may be best to say that John understood that the martyrs have some special status, yet the nature of that status remains unknown Revelation 19:11-22:21 The Final Rebellion (20:7-10) – Satan is let loose – He goes out to all the earth, deceiving the nations – Gathers Gog and Magog (Ezek 38:1-39:16) Gog, originally understood as prince of Magog (a principality near the Black Sea, but in Ezekiel’s times used for the gentile enemies of God) Here, they are two different nations Revelation 19:11-22:21 Gog and Magog gater a number as great as the sand of the sea, and attack the “fortified camp” of God’s people They are defeated – Again, no battle is described – Only said that fire descends from heaven and consumes the forces outside the fortified camp – The devil is ceased, and joins the beast and false prophet in the lake of fire and sulpher, and they suffer for eternity Revelation 19:11-22:21 Final judgment (Rev 20:11-15) – In the sequence of crisis, judgment and salvation (20:7-15), 20:11-15 describes salvation – There is a great white throne, as a glassy light, see 4 Ezra 7:33; 1 En 90:20. The scene of 4 Ezra 7 follows the Messianic reign – 20:12, books are opened, see Dan 7:10. Also see 4 Ezra 6;30 See also Marduk’s destruction of Tiamat, after which he is entrusted with the “books of destiny: Revelation 19:11-22:21 Those not found in the Book of Life are cast into the lake of fire – Shows the judgment is considered here, in context of the general resurrection – See Mt 25:14-46 for another description – See also 1 Enoch 51:1-5 – Judgment separates the blessed from the condemned Revelation 19:11-22:21 Even the sea give up its dead (20:13) – Here we see the general resurrection, and yet also something more In Rev 13, the sea is the abode of chaos To die at sea, without a proper burial, was a terrible fate for the ancients. Now, the sea looses its authority – The old order is undermined – The new is beginning Revelation 19:11-22:21 The results of the judgment (Rev 20:14- 15) – Death and hell, the established penultimate enemies of God are thrown into the lake of fire – Those not found in the book of life are cast into the lake of fire See 1 En 90:20, 24 John accepts the Jewish eschatology, which views the final judgment as a firm and certain reality Revelation 19:21-22:21 New Heaven and New Earth – See Isa 65:17; 66:22; 4 Ezra 7:75 1 En 45:4- 5; 72:1; Manual of Discipline (1QS)4.25 – Beale, 1040-41, the new creation is qualitatively different from the old, as indicated by the Greek word for new Kainos, used here, means qualitatively new Neos means new in time Revelation 19:11-22:21 Does the qualitatively new earth mean that the world has come to an end? – This reading is the way apocalyptic is commonly understood. – Better way of looking at this is expressed by N.T. Wright, New Testament and the People of God; Jesus and the Victory of God Judaism values the created world So did early Christianity What we see here is not so much the destruction of the world But the recreation of the world to the state which was originally intended – On the other hand, H. Giesen, Offenbarung des Johannes understands that John does not look forward to a restoration of the present, “but to an absolute new creation ( see also 2 Pet. 3:4-13)” (my translation) Revelation 19:11-22:21 Sea is no more (Rev 21:1) – Why is the sea eliminated? – Sea is the cosmic source of evil (cf. 4:6; 12:18; 13:1; 15:2) – See Beale’s excursus, pp. 1050-1) – See also Murphy’s comments on 21:1 – See also Isa 57:20, with Rev 12:18 and 13:1 as the abode of the unbelieving nations Why is sea no more? – It represents the unbelieving nations – It is the repose of all that opposes God – Its elimination is vital – The language, remember, is symbolic, not literal Revelation 19:11-22:21 New Jerusalem (21:2-22:5 – Preliminary remarks Imagery of the New Jerusalem is indebted to Ezekiel’s description of the Holy City in Ezek 40-48 Yet, major differences – In Ezekiel, great attention is given to the temple and its sacrifices – In Rev 21:22, there is no temple, for the Lord Almighty and the Lamb are the temple – See also 1 Cor 3:16, where the church is the temple of God, and Mt 18:20, where two or three are gathered together, the Christ is in their midst Revelation 19:11-22:21 Descent of the New Jerusalem – In 21:2, the new (kainos, qualitatively new) Jerusalem descends – Is this a reflection of platonic philosophy, where the present world is an imitation heavenly reality (see Heb 7, on the priesthood of Mechizedek and Heb 9 on Christ’s priesthood, often said to reflect platonic ideals, but also see the Melchizedek scroll in the Dead Sea scrolls). – New Jerusalem descends from heaven Decked out as a bride We see here John’s contrast between the heavenly people of God, and the “inhabitants of the earth in Rev 12 and 17. Note the contrast with Babylon in Rev 18 She is adorned as a bride (see Rev 19:7, the wedding of the bride) Revelation 19:11-22:21 In every way, the new Jerusalem is contrasted with the claims of the now conquered Babylon – Her origin is heavenly, not earthly – She is a faithful bride, not a harlot – She remains forever, whereas Babylon was destroyed in a moment – She is where God dwells, not the deserted habitation of every unclean animal. Revelation 19:11-22:21 Proclamation of 21;2-4 – Every tear is dried and no more death (see Ezek 37:27 LXX and Jer 31:33 [LXX 38:33) – God’s intimate presence is with the people – Thee is to be no more sorrow – In 21:3-4, the announcement of the 7th trumpet of Rev 11:15-19 is fulfilled Source of the proclamation? – In 21:3a, John says, “I heard a great voice in heaven – See 14:15, where an angel from heaven is speaking – In 16:17, the voice comes from God’s temple, and is likely God’s – In 19:5, the voice is from the “throne of God.” – Here, God is speaking in the third person, see Beale 1046. Aune also note that this is a common circumlocution for God (p. 561) Revelation 19:11-22:21 Content of the proclamation – The dwelling of God is with humans God will dwell with them They will be his people and God will be their God God will dry away every tear No more death Neither Grief Nor crying or pain The former things have passed away – This proclamation reference to OT promises, Ezek 37:26-28; 34:30; Lev 26:11-12; Zech 2:11a Unlike Ezekiel, there is no temple in 21:22 See 7:17 for wiping the tears Revelation 19:11-22:21 Death will be no more, nor will there be any mourning – See Isa 25:8; 1 Cor 15:54. The conquest of death is fulfilled. “The final coming of God’s presence in fullness results in absolute peace and security from any form of suffering that characterized the old creation. Not surprisingly, the forms of affliction to be done away with are those mentioned in Isaiah’s prophecy” (Beale 1049) Revelation 19:11-22:21 The Promise (Rev 21:5-8) – In 21:5, the voice is from the One sitting upon the throne – 21:5 confirms that the voice of 21:3 is likely God – This word is trustworthy God makes all things new (see Isa 43:19a; Isa 65:17b) Again, this is kainos, new of an entirely different quality Revelation 19:11-22:21 John is commanded to write “These words are faithful and true” (21:5) – They are faithful and true because of the character of the one making the promise (see 22:6) – God is the God of truth ( Isa 65:16) – “In Greco-Roman divinatory harms there is a major concern, as there is here, with emphasizing the truth of the revelation implying the obvious possibility of unreliable revelations” (Aune, 1126, see Aune for references to the Greek Magical Papyrii) – Beale notes parallels to Dan 2, where Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream is “faithful and true.” Revelation 19:11-22:21 Rev 21:6, it has been accomplished – The Seer receives full assurance that God’s promises are fulfilled – The old world, with its afflictions, has passed away – The truth of the claim is based on the character of the one who makes it: God, who is Alpha and Omega See 1:8 There is here, an inclusions, tying the beginning and the end of the vision together Revelation 19:11-22:21 In 21:6, there is also the promise to drink from the fountain of the water of life – Note the contrast with the fourth bowl (Rev 16:8) – Also the contrast with the third bowl (Rev 16:4-7), where the inhabitants of the earth drink blood – Those who are the “inhabitants of the earth” drink noxious poisonous substances – The people of God, those who thirst, will drink from the cool nourishing waters of life (cf. the River of Life in Ezek 47:3-5) – See also Isa 55:1, “Ho, everyone “Ho thirsts, come to the water,” applied to wisdom in Sir 55:23-35 – See Rev 7:17, where the Lamb leads believers to the fountains of water, cf. Jn 7:37-38. Revelation 19:11-22:21 New details to the Promise given in Rev 21:7 – The promise is given to the one who conquers – See 2:7, 14, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21. – The promise emphasizes the need for faithfulness In contrast, the curse of 21:8 – Those outside are cowards, unfaithful, etc. – Those who participate in the imperial cult – It also includes lying, various forms of magic, illicit sexual activity; abortion defined as infanticide. These are excluded from God’s city (Aune 1132) Revelation 19:11-22:21 New Jerusalem (Rev 21:9-22)l) – See also 4 Ezra 9:38-10:24 A woman mourns the loss of her firstborn child Ezra rebukes her, reminds here of the greater sorrow of the destruction of Jerusalem – In 4 Ezra 10:25-28 The woman is transformed into a beautiful, radiant city Interpretation (4 Ezra 10:29-59) – Woman is Zion – For 3000 years the world existed without burnt offerings – Misfortune of the woman is the misfortune of Jerusalem – Ezra is given a vision of the heavenly Jerusalem’s radiant glory Revelation 19:11-22:21 The vision of the New Jerusalem – Introduced by one of the angels crying the 7 bowls – See Hos 2:19-20 and Isa 54:5 for image of people of God as God’s bride – In 21:10, the Seer is transported to a high mountain, to see the descent of Jrusalem – Her appearance is given in 21:11-14 The heavenly Jerusalem is radiant (Isa 60:1; Ezek 43:2) It appears like a precious stone, Jasper, like crystal Jasper, a transparent stone, symbolizing light See 4:3 Revelation 19:11-22:21 The walls are 144 cubits (12 x 2) high – That is, representing the 12 tribes and the 12 apostles. – See 21:12, 14 for this same imagery 21:12, states 12 gates are the 12 tribes In 21:14, the 12 foundations are the 12 apostles. – City walls have 3 gates on the eat wall, 3 on the north, 3 on the south and 3 on the west – The gates and the foundations demonstrate that the God of Israel is also the God of the church. – The imagery of the gates is similar to the imagery of Ezek 48:30- 35, where the walls of the eschatological Jerusalem are 4500 cubits, in a huge square. – John is interpreting and applying the imagery of Ezekiel Revelation 19:11-22:21 Measuring the New Jerusalem (21:15-21) – Rev 21:15, cf. Ezek 40:3, 5 In both, an angelic figure has a measuring rod In Ezek 40, the angel measures the temple (see Rev 11:1), now Jerusalem is measured – The city is a square (21:16, 17) See the description of the “Holy of holies” in the Jerusalem temple )1 Kgs 6:20; 2 Chron 3:8-9; 11QTemple) So, also, Jerusalem is a square, meaning that God dwells there Again, the contrast between Jerusalem and Babylon cannot be clearer The city is of fantastic size, 12,000 cubits in width, length and height, that is, 1500 miles in all 3 directions Revelation 19:11-22:21 The walls are inset with jewels (21:18-21) – The walls are also a foursquare pattern, but only 144 cubits high – They are puny in comparison with the city. – Does this mean that there is no real threat? – More likely, John is using heavenly, or symbolic, geography, the 144 cubits are 12 x 12, a symbol of faithfulness to God (see the 144,000 of Rev 7 and 14). – The description of the New Jerusalem provides a description of the presence of God with God’s people. Revelation 19:11-22:21 God’s presence with God’s people (21:22-27) – Unlike Ezek 40-48, where the temple is a central feature of Ezekiel’s vision, John specifically states in 21:22 there is no temple The temple is redefined It is no longer a sacred precinct It is God’s sacred presence – The thought of a Jerusalem without a temple would have been unthinkable to other Jews (see Hag 2:9) – See also Ref 14:15, with a reference to an angel coming out of the heavenly temple – Why no temple in 21:22 – One theory is based on 1 Cor 3:16, where the people of God is the temple of God – N.T. Write, as noted earlier, states that in early Christian thought the people of God are the temple (see Rev 3:12). – That Jerusalem is a perfect square seems to indicate that it is the Holy of holies, where God’s presence dwells perfectly. Revelation 19:11-22:21 God’s presence enlightens the holy city (21:23- 24) – Compare Isa 60:19-20, with a similar concept – God provides people with light – Luminaries are no longer necessary – Light is provided for the kings of the earth? Where do they come from, since they were destroyed in Rev 19-20 – The vision of Rev 21:22-27 may be a midrash or interpretation of Isa 60 – In Isa 60:3, 5, the nations come to Jerusalem – So now, all the rulers come to the new Jerusalem Revelation 19:11-22:1 New Jerusalem is secure (21:25-7) – Because there is no night, the city gates never need to be closed – They are always open, and nations bring in wealth (lit. glory), see Isa 60:11 – Nothing unclean (see Isa 35:8; 52:1; Ezek 33:29; Rev 22:15) can enter – Notice again, what defiles, idolatry or illicit sexual intercourse (see Lev 18:26-27, 29; 20:13; Deut 12:31; 20:18; 1 Kgs 14:24; Jer 7:10; 32:35; 42:22; Ezek 33:26) – Again, note the contrast with Babylon – Babylon holds a cup filled with all sorts of abominations (i.e. idolatries) and unclean immoralities (Rev 17:4) – In the new Jerusalem, nothing unclean can enter Revelation 19:11-22:21 Vision of the Water of life and the tree of life (Rev 22:1-5) – Water of life (see 21:6) flow from God’s throne It is a river (cf. Ezek 47:15), flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb On both sides of the river, the tree of life In Ezek 47, there are different trees, giving their appropriate fruit Here, it is one tree, giving twelve kinds of fruit The purpose both of the water and the fruit are to restore creation Revelation 19:11-22:21 In 21:5, there is no night – Contrast between the throne of the beast and the throne of God – The throne of the beast is plunged into darkness in 16:10-11 (cf. Ex 10:22) – In 22:5, there is constant light in the presence of God. Those serve God, and reign eternally Note again, the contrast between the followers of God and the followers of the beast Revelation 19:11-22:21 Sixth beatitude (Rev 22:6-7) – This reminds the readers/hearers that the words are faithful and true – The reason is that the source of the vision is God, who inspired the prophecy. God has sent an angel The angel is to show the people the necessity of keeping God’s word We end were we begin, with the reminder of the Parousia coming quickly in 22: 6-7 (cf. 1:1 and 22:12) Revelation 19:11-22:21 John’s response and the angel’s rebuke (Rev 22:8-9) – Again, as in 19:10, the seer bows in obeisance to the angel – Again, he is reminded to worship God – To some, this is a statement against angel worship If so, it demonstrates angel worship is inappropriate Worship is given only to God Worship to any other being is inappropriate, even to an angel of God. How much more so is it inappropriate for the people of God to participate in the imperial cult. Revelation 19:11-22:21 Epilogue: Rev 22:10-21 – The book is not to be sealed (22:10-11) This is opposite of Dan 12:4, which calls for the book to be sealed, a device common in apocalypses One reason may be that Revelation, unlike Daniel, does not see an end that is far off, but one which is near. – Like Dan 12:10, a word that the righteous are to remain righteous, but the unclean are to continue in their rebellion. The eschatological moment of crisis is near People must act How they act determines their destiny Revelation 19:11-22:21 Assurance: 22:12-15 – Jesus is coming quickly Note the subject changes It was God Now it is Jesus – Each will be repaid according to works For Jesus, now is referred to Alpha an Omega In 1:8; 21:6 God is Alpha and Omega In 1:17 Jesus is the First and the Last; in 22:13, Alpha and Omega. Note the consistent parallelism Revelation 19:11-22:21 In 22:14, the Seventh and last beatitude – Those who wash their clothes are blessed (see 7:14) – They have authority upon the tree of life and to enter the city In contrast in 22:15, are those outside – They are excluded – They include “dogs” magicians, immoral, murderers, idolaters and all those who love and do lies. Note, the importance of moral purity among ethical actions This is not a popular word for today, but is necessary if we are going to be faithful Revelation 19:11-22:21 Final words of Jesus (Rev 22:16-19 – Jesus sends his angel to the seven churches – In 22:17, the Spirit and the Bride say, “come.” An invitation to repent An invitation to partake of the water of life – In 22:19, the curse of sealing, common in ancient literature It is especially common in legal documents and treaties. Also note the conclusion of the Letter of ARisteas, warning not to ad to the new (LXX) translation. Revelation 19:11-22:21 Final words, (Rev 22:20-21) – John witnessed these things. This imagery is, again, drawn from the legal world John is a witness to these things. – Calls on Jesus to come quickly – John affirms the desire for Jesus to come, with the word, “Amen.” – Rev 22:21 is an epistolary ending, corresponding to the epistolary opening in 1:1. For Next Time Be sure to prepare you presentations for next time. Student presentations will be the bulk of our session. It will conclude with a final discussion from the class on: – What is the significance of what you have learned in this class for preaching and teaching? – How can you apply it. We will conclude with student evaluations.
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