2007 Book of Revelation

Session 1

Dislocated Locusts: Re-imagining a 4th Century CE Hearer's Response to Rev 9:1-12, Hermas Vision IV and Joel 1-2 According to Codex Sinaiticus

How might a fourth century CE hearer's interpretation of the Apocalypse be influenced by its reception in a codex format? More specifically, what effects might verbal resonances between the Apocalypse and its new textual neighbours in Codex Sinaiticus, notably its generic pairing with the 'apocalypse' of Hermas, have on an ancient hearer's interpretation of this text?

In this paper I will focus on Rev 9:1-12 (א), the ascent of the abyssal locusts, as a test case to consider the extent and significance of intertextual verbal echoes with Joel 1-2 (א) and the Shepherd of Hermas Vision IV (א). I will re-imagine how an ancient hearer, with a grammatical education, might creatively interact with the differing volumes of verbal echoes that resonate with Joel and Hermas, utilizing contemporary 'Alexandrian' exegetical principles, notably allegory.

Hearing Rev 9:1-12 (א) in this altered context distorts the identities of the abyssal locusts, and destabilizes their cosmological origins. The abyssal locusts are re-evaluated by my hearer-construct as an inhuman invading army, that will emerge in the coming tribulation. Overcoming this force remains viable, however, if one follows the guidance provided by Hermas and Joel - guidance which perhaps undercuts the inviolable portrayal of the hybrid-locusts that the rhetoric of Rev 9:1ff is at pains to articulate.

Session 2

William John Lyons (University of Bristol)

The Apocalypse According to Johnny Cash: Examining the 'Effect' of the Book of Revelation on a Contemporary Apocalyptic Writer

Taking its lead from Heikki Räisänen's work on the difficulties of defining the effective history of the Bible, this paper considers the impact of the book of Revelation upon a contemporary apocalyptic writer, the American songwriter and vocalist, Johnny Cash. It is argued that Cash's admission of his own interpretive limitations with regard to the Apocalypse in the liner notes to his 2002 album, The Man Comes Around, strongly suggests that he was reading the Bible and being personally affected by it, and not just 'parroting' the standard readings of the dispensationalist tradition in which he stood. The resulting indirect impact of Revelation through the mediation of the title song is then traced though its subsequent use in various media, notably YouTube videos, Zack Snyder's zombie film, The Dawn of the Dead, and the 2004 US presidential election.