Session 1: Intertextuality & Revelation
Clair Hutchings-Budd, University of Sheffield, ‘Locating the intercessor in Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens’
To present work in progress on the intertextual relationship between the Book of Revelation and the novel Good Omens, drawn from my PhD thesis Liminal personae as intercessory agents in four novels by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. In my thesis I approach Pratchett and Gaiman’s collaborative novel Good Omens as an intertextual engagement with Revelation. Focusing on the character of Adam Young I consider how the narrative positions him as an intercessory agent who rejects his destiny as prophesised by scripture.
By applying Victor Turner’s anthropological studies of liminal personae during rites of passage to the conflict that is generated by the onset of adolescence between Adam’s occult status as the Antichrist and his human upbringing, and exploring how the boy creates, and in turn is shaped by the Foucauldian heterotopia of Tadfield (functioning as a prismatic reality that refracts other geographical and imaginative landscapes), I consider how this interplay of identity and environment in Good Omens is intrinsic to the text’s construction of Adam as an intercessory agent.
Luise Roessel, University of Glasgow, ‘Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens: Fantasy, reception history, and the Book of Revelation’
Relying heavily on Hans-Georg Gadamer’s and Hans Robert Jauß’s concepts of Wirkungsgeschichte and Rezeptionsgeschichte, biblical reception history is not only interested in the biblical texts themselves, but also considers their further cultural, artistic, and social influence and use. In this context, as Natasha O’Hear and Anthony O’Hear have argued, the Book of Revelation with its unique ‘visionary nature, frequent references to ‘seeing’, and highly symbolic language’ has always been particularly prolific (284-5). However, despite a growing reception historical interest in the Book of Revelation, fantasy adaptations of the Apocalypse are surprisingly overlooked by the field. In this paper, I will therefore examine Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens (1990), a post-modern fantasy novel which is not only ironically re-writing the biblical Apocalypse, but also effectively deconstructs humanity’s ongoing relationship with the biblical texts. Thus, the novel enables a deeper understanding of reception history’s potential, which goes beyond the field’s usual self-definition; a definition which, as I will argue, has its roots in an insufficient and misguided translation of Gadamer’s and Jauß’s groundbreaking hermeneutical terminology.
Wilson Bento, Vrije Universiteit, ‘Between Mentor and Heroes: Viewing Jesus’ function as the sage or mentor archetype in Revelation 1-3’
Narrative Analyses of the Book of Revelation made helpful contributions to our understanding of how the book tells its story. However, most analyses start from the premise that the characters that represent Jesus in the story embody the role of the protagonist. In this paper, I propose that a more appropriate approach is to view these characters as taking on the function of the mentor or sage archetype, leading the churches to be viewed as the heroes in the book. For this purpose, I will use the works of Christopher Vogler and other Film Studies specialists to explore Jesus’ role in the first three chapters and whether he establishes the visionary report as a call to adventure to the heroes of the story.
Session 2: Open Session
Daisy Andoh, University of Edinburgh, ‘”He is coming with the clouds”: The Journey of the Son of Man From Daniel to Revelation’
Scholarship has acknowledged that the book of Revelation is full of allusions to the Hebrew Bible. It has been accepted that when John describes Jesus as ‘one like the son of man’ in Revelation 1:13, John is referencing the same phrase found in Daniel 7:13.
However, anachronistic readings of Revelation as text disconnected from its Jewish heritage demonstrate that what is still contested in scholarship is what John means by his use of the Danelic phrase. This paper does not aim to prove who the ‘Son of Man’ is in Daniel but through Greek and Hebrew exegesis of Daniel and Revelation alongside historical and literary criticism, I will bring a fresh perspective to how John’s use of the title demonstrates who he believes Jesus to be. In this paper, I argue that John’s theophany only makes sense when read intertextually. I seek to demonstrate that John uses this phrase as an outworking of his Messianism, reforming the use in Daniel and situating Revelation firmly in the genre of Jewish apocalyptic literature.
Alan Le Grys, ‘Manliness is next to Godliness’
This paper explores the way in which John constructs an ethic of Christian virtue which appears to be closely related to the Roman idea of military virtue. Drawing on an extensive cluster of images from, and allusions to, the Hebrew Bible, John appears to mirror various assumptions from the imperial mindset about manliness – fierce loyalty, fearless aggression towards enemies, and a determination to ‘conquer’ or dominate opponents. These implied ‘virtues of manliness’; help to explain not only the levels of aggressive behaviour embedded in the discourse, but also John’s implied attitude towards women, as well as other issues central to contemporary ethical thinking, such as John’s somewhat dismissive attitude to the environment, apparently regarded as entirely disposable. Interacting with masculinity studies as well as feminist and eco-theology, this paper moves finally to reflect on the continuing legacy of this ethical stance and its implications for continuing Christian appropriation of this text.
Irene Barbotti, Trinity College Dublin, ‘“Renew the Works of Heaven and Earth”: Reshaping the Liturgical Qumran Fragment 4Q434a in Light of Revelation 21’
This research aims to highlight a possible link between the liturgical fragment 4Q434a and Rev 21, moving from their similar announcements of the renewal of heaven and earth in 4Q434a 2-3 and Rev 21:1. According to Lange’s and Weingold’s work (2011), 4Q434a represents the sole case where the cosmological renewal featured by Isa 65:17 is the object of an allusion in the Second Temple Jewish literature. Moreover, it is attested twice in the NT (Rev 21:1; 2 Pet 3:13). Moving from a historical-critical approach which will privilege the intertextual connections, this research will focus on two elements: (1) the relation between 4Q434a and Isa 65; and (2) the other similarities between 4Q434a and Rev 21, as the punishment of the wicked (4Q434a 2; Rev 21:8), ‘Jerusalem as a bride’ (4Q434a 6; Rev 21:2) and the ‘throne’ (4Q434a 7; Rev 21:3.5). Two outcomes are expected. (1) to provide new information on this liturgical fragment in the light of these apocalyptic aspects, and (2) to identify further useful data in the research on the relation between the DSS and Revelation.
Session 3: Joint Session with the New Testament and Christian Theology Group
Invited panel discussion on Jamie Davies, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary (Smyth & Helwys, 2023).