2009 Book of Revelation

Session 1

Michael Naylor (University of Edinburgh)

Isotheoi Timai and the Worship of Jesus

Scholars have long posited that a reaction to the worship of the Roman Emperor, as expressed within the local context of Asia Minor, lays behind the various images related to the worship of the beast in the book of Revelation. While not all have agreed on the particular meaning and significance of the Roman Imperial Cult in the first century C.E. (and particularly as it relates to the persecution of Christians), many recognize the importance of this question for the interpretation of Revelation. Most studies in this area have focused upon possible parallels within the book of Revelation to materials drawn from the contemporary context in Asia Minor. This paper, while affirming the merits of this approach, will attempt to move beyond "polemical parallelism" to consider one key theological pattern. This paper will examine possible relationships between the worship of the emperor as isotheoi timai and the worship of Jesus as reflected in Revelation. After briefly introducing the state of the discussion regarding the relationship of Roman emperor worship and Revelation, this study will examine evidence for the understanding and significance of the honours given to the emperors as isotheoi timai. Next, consideration will be directed toward the language and imagery used in Revelation of the worship of Jesus. Finally, suggestions will be offered concerning implications for the assessment of John's Christological convictions as reflected in the book of Revelation.

Session 2

Andrew Harker

Prophetically called Sodom and Egypt: The affective power of Revelation 11:1-13

From the initial beatitude (Rev. 1:3) to the final warning (Rev. 22:18-19) the Apocalypse of John clearly presents itself as an affective, transformative text. The aim of this paper is to clarify how one portion of the text – Revelation 11:1-13 – functions as emotive, performative language. Clarification is aided by comparison with 1 Corinthians 15 – a passage different in genre but similar in topic. It is suggested that the most helpful way to explain the distinctive power of Revelation's language is through attention to metaphor. Attention is focussed here not so much on historical reference as on literary and linguistic effect. The particular affective power of John's language is found to be accomplished substantially through metaphor that is original, open-ended, substantive-based, topic-suppressing and allusive. This is metaphor as a form of spiritual diagnosis, an apocalypse of the (prophetically) true Sitz im Leben of the hearers – Sodom and Egypt.

Session 3

The Mouth of the Abyss on the Face of the Deep': An Exegetical Study of the Cosmic Geography of Rev 9:1-12

The fifth trumpet blast verbally depicts the emergence of a swarm of hybrid locusts from the well of the abyss (Rev 9:2-3). Whilst the subterranean origin of these creatures is regularly noted, far less attention is paid to the terrestrial location of the entrance to the abyss. Where does the implied author of Revelation situate the mouth of the underworld abyss on his 'mental map' of the cosmos? What difference might this make to an interpretation of Rev 9:1-12?

In this paper I propose that the 'well of the abyss' emerges at the NW perimeter of the disc-earth (cf. I En 17:7-8). This topographical location picks-up, and accentuates, pre-existing associative connections between Joel's locusts and Ezekiel's 'enemy from the North' (cf. Ezek 38-39; Joel 2:20, Amos 7:1 LXX).

The cosmic geography of Rev 9:1ff provides new evidence in support of the thesis that Revelation's locust-army, and locust-king (Rev 9:11), refract Joel's vision through the lenses of Amos 7:1 LXX and Ezek 38-39. Rev 9:1ff accentuates the extent of the 'Northern' origins of the hybrid locusts in order to intensify their chthonic identities, with the result that they function as underworld analogues to the celestial courtiers (Rev 4-5; cf. Tyconius, Commentary on Revelation, § 214).