2017 Book of Revelation

Session 1

Paul Middleton (University of Chester)

The Violence of the Lamb: Beyond the Incongruity of the Lion/Lamb Image in Rev 5.6

Much scholarly ink has been spilled on the apparently incongruous Christological imagery of Revelation 5. John has been told that the Lion of Judah has conquered (5.5), but when he looks he sees not a roaring lion but a slaughtered Lamb (5.6). The scene has been called ‘one of the most mind-wrenching and theologically pregnant transformations of imagery in literature’ (Boring) and ‘a violent wrenching of the visual image’ (Laws). Most readings of this scene seek to a greater or lesser degree seek to solve the conundrum by interpreting one image (usually the lion) through the dominant lens of the other (normally the lamb).  This paper argues that such readings attempt to solve a problem that is not really there. The Lamb does not contrast with John’s overall Christological image of the proto-martyr who died, was exalted, and reigns as violent judge. In other words, whatever preconceived notions readers may have regarding the non-aggressive temperament of lambs, this view is not shared by John!

Beate Kowalski (TU Dortmund University)

Composite Allusions in the Revelation of John?

Sean Adams and Seth M. Ehorn have published a collection of articles which deal with composite citations in Antiquity. Apart from developing a methodological definition, the various authors deal with Jewish, Graeco-Roman and Early Christian uses. Since only a very few scholars have explored the issue before (E. Hatch 1889, F. Johnson 1895, J. Mánek 1970 and more recently D.-A. Koch and C. Stanley) this volume corresponds to a gap of research. Central research issues concern a precise definition of composite quotations, the analysis, the composing technique, origin and reason of composite quotations. Are composite quotations intentional or unintentional? What is the creative performance of composite quotations?

Both editors have excluded composite allusions from further investigations since a definition of allusions is disputed among scholars. Nevertheless, allusions characterise the last book of the New Testament, the Revelation of John whilst direct quotations cannot be found (introductory formulas are missing). Almost one-third of the entire text alludes to OT writings, in particular to the prophetic books. Quite frequently John alludes to common OT motives (e.g. from the Exodus tradition) which are used by the prophets who already have combined two or more OT traditions. John continues with this process of rewriting, reusing and combining OT motives, traditions, ideas etc.

The short paper will discuss the phenomenon of OT allusions. Examples will be given in order to develop a definition of composite allusions as they are used in the Revelation of John. Furthermore, John’s selection and combination of OT books will be outlined.

Session 2

History and 'Apocalyptic' in the book of Revelation

Discussions of ‘salvation history’ and ‘apocalyptic’ in the New Testament have usually proceeded along the lines of seeing these two categories as mutually exclusive, often deploying the geometric metaphors of ‘linear’ versus ‘punctiliar.’ The voice of the New Testament’s only literary apocalypse must be brought to the table in this important debate. Certainly, Revelation has much to say about the interruptive nature of divine action, but what it also shows us is that the relationship between the discontinuity of divine ‘invasion’ and the continuity of (salvation) history is more nuanced and interpenetrative than such oversimplified schemes have allowed. Unlike some other apocalyptic texts (e.g. Daniel 2, 7, 9; 1 Enoch 85—90, 93; 2 Baruch 53—74) the book of Revelation does not contain a ‘historical survey’ as such. But that is not to say that it is silent on the question of history. This paper will examine key aspects of Revelation’s imagery which must be load-bearing in any attempt to articulate an ‘apocalyptic’ theology of history in the New Testament.

‘I Am Throwing Her Down’ (Rev 2:22): The Portrayal of Womanhood, Sexuality and Power in the Book of Revelation

The Book of Revelation features four major characters who are each described as being a ‘woman:’ the Woman Jezebel (Rev 2:20-23); the Woman Clothed with the Sun (Rev 12:1-6, 13-17); the Woman Babylon (Rev 14:8; 16:19; 17:1-19:4) and the Wife of the Lamb, the New Jerusalem (Rev 19:7-8; 21:1-22:5, 17). Using a feminist hermeneutic of suspicion and reconstruction, this paper analyses the portrayal of womanhood in the presentations of these four women, and discusses the ramifications of this analysis for the book’s construction of gender, sexuality and power.

Session 3

Paul Dimmock

Christ or an Angel? A Re-Interpretation of “The Son of Man” in Rev 1.13-19

For the past two thousand years of biblical scholarship, interpreters, both lay and priestly alike, have agreed (!) upon the identity of one figure from the Apocalypse of John; “one like a son of a human” more commonly known as “the Son of Man” of Revelation chapter one. While many scholars admit to the influence of and similarities to Jewish angelophanies, all extant ancient and modern commentators conclude that the identity of this figure must be the exalted Jesus.

Conversely, I would like to raise the possibility that this human-like figure is not Jesus in his glorious heavenly form, but rather a messenger angel sent by Jesus, on behalf of himself and God. This hypothesis has been heavily influenced by the words of Rev 1.1: “he sent his angel to make it known to his servant John”. The essence of my argument focusses on textual analysis of Jewish-Christian angelophanies and apocalyptic works, including the book of Revelation itself.

Topics to include in discussion are; the so-called title of “Son of Man”, the description of the form of the figure, which seemingly blends aspects of YHWH and Jesus, alongside the reaction of John and the message of this one like a son of a human.