2010 Book of Revelation

Session 1

Steve Finamore (Bristol Baptist College)

Not Made With Hands - The Heavenly Temple in Hebrews and Revelation

The paper discusses the idea of the heavenly and/or eschatological Temple. The theme is traced from the trial scenes in the synoptic gospels, through its treatment in the Pauline letters and into the Letter to the Hebrews and the Book of Revelation. Its argument is that our understanding of the latter two books might be enhanced if they were allowed to inform one another.

The Letter to the Hebrews posits the existence of a heavenly Temple and discusses the ministry of the ascended Jesus within it. Much of the action within the Book of Revelation takes place in and from a heavenly Temple. Hebrews suggests that one of the actions of Jesus, as heavenly High Priest, is to cleanse the heavenly Holy of Holies. This may offer support to the suggestion that Revelation alludes to similar activity. Septuagint texts frequently cited in the New Testament are considered as part of the background to these ideas.

In addition, evidence from Philo and other sources is used to suggest that the Temple was understood by some to correspond to the human body and that the Holy of Holies represented the human will, soul or conscience. Hebrews' concern for the cleansing of the Holy of Holies may thus be related to its understanding of the work of Jesus in terms of the cleansing of the conscience and the sacrifice of the will.

Furthermore, the cultic focus of this understanding of Revelation suggests solutions to some interpretative problems such as the identity of the elders of Chapter 5.

The conclusion suggests that while the two works allow that the Temple has different correspondences, they may nevertheless inform one another because both can be understood in cultic terms.

Gordon Campbell

Facing fire and fury: one reading of Revelation's violence

Just as contemporary readers of the Book of Revelation adopt differing interpretative stances towards this text, applying a variety of reading strategies to their task, so they offer a corresponding range of responses to those aspects of the Apocalypse's story and imagery that incorporate violence. In dialogue with a representative sample of such treatments, the present contribution takes a mainly literary-theological approach to some of the relevant textual data, focussing particularly on a climactic sequence in which narrated violence is a prominent feature. In striving to interpret this violence responsibly - or, one might say, to manage it - this paper will also explore the extent to which the Book of Revelation may provide its implied hearers or readers with resources for managing its own violence.

Session 2

Dr Paul Middleton (University of Chester)

Male Virgins, Male Brides: A reconsideration of the 144,000 'who have not dirtied themselves with women' (Rev 14.4)

Revelation 14.4 presents a notorious interpretative problem, with Swete describing the verse as 'one of the most understood in the Bible'. The contextual taleau (14.1-5) notes the 144,000, sealed by the Lamb and redeemed from the Earth, 'have not dirtied themselves with women, for they are virgins (parthenoi)'. Aside from the problem that the redeemed are exclusively male, the apparent denigration of marriage and the presentation of women as merely potential polluters of holy men have drawn scholarly attention. Whilst R. H. Charles dismissed the verse as a pro-ascetic interpolation, some see celibacy metaphorically representing abstinance from 'Beast worship', whilst others suggest the injuction is to temporary celibacy, and stands in the tradition of purification before Jewish Holy War.

This paper builds on the holy warrior reading, arguing the 144,000 are martyr-soldiers. Additionally, by exploring marital metaphors, and particularly bridal imagery applied to men in Paul, Deutero-Paul, and especially the Martyrdom of Sergius and Bacchus, the paper will argue that the primary reason for John noting the groups' continence is that he imagines the redeemed as not only guests at the marriage supper of the Lamb, but brides.

Revelation and the book of Genesis

Revelation has been referred to as the "Climax of prophecy" and numerous studies have been devoted to its use of such books as Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Zechariah. But what of its relationship to the first book of the Bible? This paper will first explore the major allusions to Genesis found in Revelation. It will then consider whether this evidence can sustain the view that the author was knowingly 'completing' or 'fulfilling' the plan of God as outlined in the book of Genesis. Lastly, it will consider the meaning effects (intentional or not) of representing the first and last books of the Bible (though it was rarely so in early canonical lists and manuscripts).

Session 3

Joseph Poon

Why the Influence of Daniel 7 on Revelation 13:1-10 is minor

Many biblical scholars argue that in terms of its imagery, the beast from the sea in Rev 13:1-10 originates, at least in part, in the four monstrous figures in Dan 7:2-27, and therefore conclude that the beast from the sea is an allusion to the four figures in Daniel. The argument leads many to identify the seven heads of the sea monster in Revelation 13 as seven Roman emperors and by so doing to date the book, since the four monstrous figures in Daniel 7 represent four different kingdoms. But scrutiny of the two passages indicates the flaw of this approach. This is because, although the ultimate motif behind the two passages is the tradition of Chaoskampf, the two authors came up with the imageries of their own figures through different trajectories for different purposes; there is quite a big difference between the four great beasts in Daniel 7 and the beast from the sea in Revelation 13, in terms of their sources, their traditions, and their themes in context. In this paper I aim to argue that using the Chaoskampf tradition as the ultimate template, the authors of Revelation and Daniel created their mythic figures independently with their own unique styles as well as flexibility. Thus, the influence of Daniel 7 on Revelation 13 is minor. With this finding, the study demonstrates the pattern through which apocalyptic writers employed the Chaoskampf tradition to produce their works in different contexts.

Sean Ryan

"The Testimony of Jesus" (Rev 1:2) & "The Testimony of Enoch" (Jub 4:18-19): A Reconsideration of the Generic Self-designation of the Apocalypse

Recent emic approaches to the genre of Jubilees (Campbell 2005; cf. VanderKam 2001) suggest that this work presents itself as both a "second law", supplementing the Pentateuch, and a "testimony" (of Moses) (Jub 1:7-8). For the author of Jubilees, this latter category places the work in continuity with an earlier "testimony" of Enoch (cf. Jub 4:17-19, 21-23), comprising portions of a number of extant Enochic booklets - The Book of the Watchers (I En 6-11, 12-16), The Astronomical Book (I En 72-82), The Second Dream Vision (I En 85-90) and perhaps also The Apocalypse of Weeks (I En 93:1-10; 91:11-17) (Nickelsburg 2001, VanderKam 1984). Both "testimonies" document calendrical and eschatological wisdom deriving from a heavenly source and entrusted to a privileged witness (Enoch, Moses).

Eschewing the anachronistic etic generic category of "apocalypse", this short paper undertakes a comparable emic reassessment of the genre of the Apocalypse. To what extant might the phrase "the testimony of Jesus" (cf. Rev 1:2; 1:9; 12:17; 19:10; 20:4) function as a generic self-designation? Does the Apocalypse present itself, at least in part, as a written "testimony" of Jesus, comparable to the former revealed "testimonies" of Enoch and Moses (Jub; I En 1-36; 72-82; 85-90)?