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The Book of Revelation, often simply known as Revelation or by a number of variants expanding upon its authorship or subject matter, is the final book of the New Testament and occupies a central part in Christian eschatology. Written in Koine Greek, its title is derived from the first word of the text, apokalypsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation". The author of the work identifies himself in the text as "John" and says that he was on Patmos, an island in the Aegean, when he "heard a great voice" instructing him to write the book. This John is traditionally supposed to be John the Apostle, although recent scholarship has suggested other possibilities including a putative figure given the name John of Patmos. Most modern scholars believe it was written around 95 AD, with some believing it dates from around 70 AD.
The book spans three literary genres: epistolary, apocalyptic, and prophetic. It begins with an epistolary address to the reader followed by an apocalyptic description of a complex series of events derived from prophetic visions which the author claims to have seen. These include the appearance of a number of figures and images which have become important in Christian eschatology, such as the Whore of Babylon and the Beast, and culminate in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The obscure and extravagant imagery has led to a wide variety of interpretations: historicist interpretations see in Revelation a broad view of history; preterist interpretations treat Revelation as mostly referring to the events of the apostolic era (1st century), or--at the latest--the fall of the Roman Empire; futurists believe that Revelation describes future events; and idealist or symbolic interpretations consider that Revelation does not refer to actual people or events, but is an allegory of the spiritual path and the ongoing struggle between good and evil.
The author of the work provided no title for it. However, a title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalypsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation". It is also known as the Book of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine or the Apocalypse of John, (both in reference to its author) or the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ (in reference to its opening line) or simply Revelation, (often erroneously called Revelations in contrast to the singular in the original Koine) or the Apocalypse. The word "apocalypse" is also used for other works of a similar nature in the literary genre of apocalyptic literature. Such literature is "marked by distinctive literary features, particularly prediction of future events and accounts of visionary experiences or journeys to heaven, often involving vivid symbolism."
As a result, the author of Revelation is sometimes referred to as John of Patmos.
Justin Martyr (c. 100–165 AD) who was acquainted with Polycarp, who had been mentored by John, makes a possible allusion to this book, and credits John as the source. Irenaeus (c. 115–202) assumes it as a conceded point. At the end of the 2nd century, it is accepted at Antioch by Theophilus (died c. 183), and in Africa by Tertullian (c. 160–220). At the beginning of the 3rd century, it is adopted by Clement of Alexandria and by Origen of Alexandria, later by Methodius, Cyprian, Lactantius, Dionysius of Alexandria, and in the 5th century by Quodvultdeus. Eusebius (c. 263–339) was inclined to class the Apocalypse with the accepted books but also listed it in the Antilegomena, with his own reservation for identification of John of Patmos with John the Apostle, pointing out there were large differences in Greek skill and styles between the Gospel of John, which he attributed to John the Apostle, and the Revelation. Jerome (347–420) relegated it to second class. Most canons included it, but some in the Eastern Church rejected it. It is not included in the Peshitta (an early New Testament in Aramaic).
The traditional theory holds that John the Apostle—considered to have written the Gospel and the epistles of John—was exiled on Patmos in the Aegean archipelago during the reign of Domitian, and there wrote Revelation. However, other ancient witnesses (such as the Old Syriac Version, 2nd century) put John's time on Patmos during the reign of Nero. Those in favor of apostolic authorship point to the testimony of the early church fathers (see "Early Theories" above) and similarities between the Gospel of John and Revelation. For example, both works are soteriological and possess a high Christology, stressing Jesus' divine nature as opposed to the human nature stressed by the Synoptic Gospels. In the Gospel of John and in Revelation, Jesus is referred to as "the Word of God" (Ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ), although the context in Revelation is very different from John. The Word in Rev 19:13 is involved in judgment but in John 1:1 the image is used to speak of a role in creation and redemption.
More recent methods of scholarship, such as textual criticism, have been influential in suggesting that John the Apostle, John the Evangelist and John of Patmos were three separate individuals. Differences in style, theological content, and familiarity with Greek between the Gospel of John, the epistles of John, and the Revelation are seen by some scholars as indicating three separate authors. The English Biblical scholar Robert Henry Charles (1855–1931) reasoned on internal textual grounds that the book was edited by someone who spoke no Hebrew and who wished to promote a different theology from John's. As a result, everything after 20:3, he claims, has been left in a haphazard state with no attempt to structure it logically. Furthermore, he says, the story of the defeat of the ten kingdoms has been deleted and replaced by 19:9-10. John's theology of chastity has been replaced by the editor's theology of outright celibacy, which makes little sense when John's true church is symbolised as a bride of the Lamb. Most importantly, the editor has completely rewritten John's theology of the Millennium which is "emptied of all significance."
John Robinson in "Redating the New Testament" (1976) has heavily criticised Charles' position and accepted apostolic authorship, dating John's Gospel before the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD. He also argues that John's "poor" Greek is a literary device since Galileans were known to have excellent Greek. He says: "The Greek of the Apocalypse is not that of a beginner whose grammar and vocabulary might improve and mature into those of the evangelist. It is the pidgin Greek of someone who appears to know exactly what he is about[.]"
It has also been contended that the core verses of the book, in general chapters 4 through 22, are surviving records of the prophecies of John the Baptist. In this view, the Lamb of God references and other hallmarks of Revelation are linked to what is known of John the Baptist, though it must be confessed that little information about him is known.
According to early tradition, this book was composed near the end of Domitian's reign, around the year 95 AD. Others contend for an earlier date, 68 or 69 AD, in the reign of Nero or shortly thereafter. The majority of modern scholars accept one of these two dates, with most accepting the Domitianic one.
Those who favour the later date appeal to the earliest external testimony, that of the Christian father Irenaeus (c. 150-202), who wrote that he received his information from people who knew John personally. Domitian, according to Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 263–339), started the persecution referred to in the book. While some recent scholars have questioned the existence of a large-scale Domitian persecution, others believe that Domitian's insistence on being treated as a god may have been a source of friction between the Church and Rome.
The earlier date, first proposed in modern times by John Robinson in a closely argued chapter of "Redating the New Testament" (1976), relies on the book's internal evidence, given that no external testimony exists earlier than that of Irenaeus, noted above, and the earliest extant manuscript evidence of Revelation (P98) is likewise dated no earlier than the late 2nd century. This early dating is centered on the preterist interpretation of chapter 17, where the seven heads of the "beast" are regarded as the succession of Roman emperors up to the time of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, Caligula through Vespasian.
Some interpreters attempt to reconcile the two dates by placing the visions themselves at the earlier date (during the 60s) and the publication of Revelation under Domitian, who reigned in the 90s when Irenaeus says the book was written.
According to Denzinger, Revelation was accepted into the canon at the Council of Carthage of 397 AD; according to McDonald & Sanders it was added at the later 419 council. Revelation's place in the canon was not guaranteed, however, with doubts raised as far back as the 2nd century about its character, symbolism, and apostolic authorship.
Second century Christians in Syria rejected it because Montanism, a sect which was deemed to be heretical by the mainstream church, relied heavily on it. In the 4th century, Gregory of Nazianzus and other bishops argued against including Revelation because of the difficulties of interpreting it and the risk of abuse. In the 16th century, Martin Luther initially considered it to be "neither apostolic nor prophetic" and stated that "Christ is neither taught nor known in it," and placed it in his Antilegomena, i.e. his list of questionable documents, though he did retract this view in later life. In the same century, John Calvin believed the book to be canonical, yet it was the only New Testament book on which he did not write a commentary. It remains the only book of the New Testament that is not read within the Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox Church, though it is included in Catholic and Protestant liturgies.
According to Merrill Unger and Gary N. Larson, in spite of the objections that have been raised over the years, Revelation provides a logical conclusion, not just to the New Testament, but to the Christian Bible as a whole, and there is a continuous tradition dating back to the 2nd century which supports the authenticity of the document, and which indicates that it was generally included within the, as yet unformalized, canon of the early church.
The epistolary aspect is characteristic of the beginning part of the book, from 1:4 to the end of chapter 3. In 1:4-9, John addresses the reader directly, whereas in chapters 2-3, John addresses each of the seven Anatolian churches as if he were their bishop.
In terms of being apocalyptic, there is no clear evidence that the author drew from noncanonical Jewish apocalyptic literature, even though Revelation has been compared with other non-biblical Jewish writings from 200 BC to AD 200. Revelation makes use of symbolism and visions, mentions angelic mediators, has bizarre imagery, declares divine judgment, emphasizes the Kingdom of God, prophesies a new heaven and a new earth, and consists of a dualism of ages, in other words a present world and a World to Come.
In terms of being prophetic, the author of Revelation uses the words: prophecy, prophesy, prophesying, prophet, and prophets twenty-one times in these various forms throughout the text. No other New Testament book uses these terms to this extent.
Using the Greek Septuagint, John makes 348 allusions, or indirect quotes, from 24 of the canonized books of the Hebrew Bible, predominantly from Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Psalms. The narrative of the terrifying and boastful beast that rises out of the ocean, has many horns which represent kings, and which is thrown into the fire, derives from Daniel 7. The beast from the Book of Revelation combines body traits from all four beasts mentioned in Daniel 7. The description of the angel who gives the revelation derives from Daniel 10:5-6; the four horsemen derive from Zechariah (Zechariah 6:1-8); the lampstands and the two olive trees that represent two men derive from Zechariah 4:1-14; the four living beings derive from Ezekiel 1 and Ezekiel 10; the edible scroll that tastes as sweet as honey derives from Ezekiel 2:8-3:2; the marking of people on the forehead to determine who will be harmed and who will be spared derives from Ezekiel 9:3-6; and the locusts that look like horses and have teeth like those of lions derive from the book of Joel.
There are approximately 230 Greek manuscripts available for the reconstructing of the original reading of the Apocalypse. Major texts used are: the uncial scripts - Codex Sinaiticus (4th century), Codex Alexandrinus (5th century), and Codex Ephraemi (5th century); the papyri, especially that of p47 (3rd century); the minuscule (8th to 10th century); the church father quotations (2nd to 5th centuries); and the Greek commentary on Revelation by Andreas (6th century). 
Some have argued that the author originally wrote Apocalypse in Aramaic and it was later translated into common Koine Greek. However, the Semitic words and phrases used throughout the book are evidence that Revelation is good “Jewish Greek” as used in 1st century Palestine. Though not proven, this hypothesis may explain the numerous grammatical imperfections of the text.
In terms of literary structure, Revelation consists of four visions, each involving John “seeing” the plan of God unveiled,[1:9; 4:1, 17:1, 21:9] with an epilogue that concludes the book.[22:6-21] 
In terms of content, the structure of Revelation is built around four successive groups of seven: the messages to the seven churches, the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and finally, the seven bowl judgments. The repeated occurrence of the number seven contributes to the overall unity of Revelation. While several numbers stand out: 3, 4, 7, 10, 12, 24, 144, 1000, the number seven appears to have a special significance. In fact, there are twenty-four distinct occurrences of the use of "seven." Seven is considered the number of perfection in Christianity.
One half of seven, 3½, is also a conspicuous number in Revelation: two witnesses are given power to prophesy 1,260 days, or exactly 3½ years, according to the Hebrew year of 360 days;[11:3] the witnesses are then killed, and their dead bodies lie in the streets of Jerusalem for 3½ days;[11:9] the "woman clothed with the sun" is protected in the wilderness for 1,260 days, or 3½ years;[12:6] Gentiles tread the holy city underfoot for 42 months, or 3½ years;[11:2] and the beast is given authority to continue for 42 months, or 3½ years.[13:5]
Details surrounding the narrator of Revelation lead the reader to view him as a Jewish Christian. Thus, the story must be related to the point of view of the author-in-text. The main plot of Revelation is the battle between good and evil, God and Satan.
The story starts with the introduction of the main character, John of Patmos, followed by a series of events that lead to the resolution of the main problem, which is the defeat of evil and the establishment of a New Jerusalem. The hero, or protagonist, is Jesus. Satan is the antagonist, the ultimate adversary.
The setting presents elements that are external to the main character, conveying messages through archetypal imagery and symbolism.
In order of appearance:
Revelation has a wide variety of interpretations, ranging from the simple message that we should have faith that God will prevail (symbolic interpretation), to complex end time scenarios (futurist interpretation), to the views of critics who deny any spiritual value to Revelation at all.
In the early Christian era, Christians generally understood the book to predict future events, especially an upcoming millennium of paradise on earth. In the late classical and medieval eras, the Church disavowed the millennium as a literal thousand-year kingdom. With the Protestant Reformation, opponents of Roman Catholicism adopted a historicist interpretation, in which the predicted apocalypse is believed to be playing out in church history. A Jesuit scholar countered with preterism, the belief that Revelation predicted events that actually occurred as predicted in the 1st century. In the 19th century, futurism (belief that the predictions refer to future events) largely replaced historicism among conservative Protestants.
Most of the interpretations fall into one or more of the following categories:
Other interpretations are as follows:
Eastern Orthodoxy treats the text as simultaneously describing contemporaneous events (events occurring at the same time) and as prophecy of events to come, for which the contemporaneous events were a form of foreshadow. It rejects attempts to determine, before the fact, if the events of Revelation are occurring by mapping them onto present-day events, taking to heart the Scriptural warning against those who proclaim "He is here!" prematurely. Instead, the book is seen as a warning to be spiritually and morally ready for the end times, whenever they may come ("as a thief in the night"), but they will come at the time of God's choosing, not something that can be precipitated nor trivially deduced by mortals. This view is also held by many Catholics, although there is a diversity of opinion about the nature of the Apocalypse within Catholicism.
Book of Revelation is the only book of the New Testament that is not read during services by the Eastern Orthodox Church. In the Coptic Orthodox Church (which is not in communion with the Eastern Orthodox church but is liturgically similar), the whole Book of Revelation is read during Apocalypse Night or Bright Saturday (6 days after Pascha).
This interpretation, which has found expression among both Catholic and Protestant theologians, considers the liturgical worship, particularly the Easter rites, of early Christianity as background and context for understanding the Book of Revelation's structure and significance. This perspective is explained in The Paschal Liturgy and the Apocalypse (new edition, 2004) by Massey H. Shepherd, an Episcopal scholar, and in Scott Hahn's The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth (1999), in which he states that Revelation in form is structured after creation, fall, judgment and redemption. Those who hold this view say that the Temple's destruction (70 AD) had a profound effect on the Jewish people, not only in Jerusalem but among the Greek-speaking Jews of the Mediterranean. They believe The Book of Revelation provides insight into the early Eucharist, saying that it is the new Temple worship in the New Heaven and Earth. The idea of the Eucharist as a foretaste of the heavenly banquet is also explored by British Methodist Geoffrey Wainwright in his book Eucharist and Eschatology (Oxford University Press, 1980). According to Pope Benedict XVI some of the images of Revelation should be understood in the context of the dramatic suffering and persecution of the churches of Asia in the 1st century. Accordingly, the Book of Revelation should not be read as an enigmatic warning, but as an encouraging vision of Christ's definitive victory over evil.
Adventists maintain a historicist interpretation of the Bible's predictions of the apocalypse.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (July 2010)|
The esoterist views Revelation as bearing multiple levels of meaning, the lowest being the literal or "dead-letter." Those who are instructed in esoteric knowledge enter gradually into more subtle levels of understanding of the text. They see the book as delivering both a series of warnings for humanity and a detailed account of internal, spiritual processes of the individual soul.
Christian Gnostics, however, are unlikely to be attracted to the teaching of Revelation because the doctrine of salvation through the sacrificed Lamb, which is central to Revelation, is repugnant to Gnostics. Christian Gnostics "believed in the Forgiveness of Sins, but in no vicarious sacrifice for sin ... they accepted Christ in the full realisation of the word; his life, not his death, was the keynote of their doctrine and their practice."
James Morgan Pryse was an esoteric gnostic who saw Revelation as a western version of the Hindu theory of the Chakra. He began his work, "The purpose of this book is to show that the Apocalypse is a manual of spiritual development and not, as conventionally interpreted, a cryptic history or prophecy." Such diverse theories have failed to command widespread acceptance. But Christopher Rowland argues: "there are always going to be loose threads which refuse to be woven into the fabric as a whole. The presence of the threads which stubbornly refuse to be incorporated into the neat tapestry of our world-view does not usually totally undermine that view."
The radical discipleship interpretation asserts that the Book of Revelation is best understood as a handbook for radical discipleship; i.e., how to remain faithful to the spirit and teachings of Jesus and avoid simply assimilating to surrounding society. In this interpretation, the primary agenda of the book is to expose as impostors the worldly powers that seek to oppose the ways of God and God's Kingdom. The chief temptation for Christians in the 1st century, and today, is to fail to hold fast to the non-violent teachings and example of Jesus and instead be lured into unquestioning adoption and assimilation of worldly, national or cultural values - imperialism, nationalism, and civil religion being the most dangerous and insidious. This perspective (closely related to liberation theology) draws on the approach of Bible scholars such as Ched Myers, William Stringfellow, Richard Horsley, Daniel Berrigan, Wes Howard-Brook, and Joerg Rieger. Various Christian anarchists, such as Jacques Ellul, have identified the State and political power as the Beast.
There is also a perspective that holds that the book of Revelation describes a spiritual battle that took place while Jesus was on the cross and in the grave. Some Primitive Baptists believe this to be the intended meaning.
Many literary writers and theorists have contributed to a wide range of theories about the origins and purpose of the Book of Revelation. Some of these writers have no connection with established Christian faiths but, nevertheless, found in Revelation a source of inspiration. Revelation has been approached from Hindu philosophy and Jewish Midrash. Others have pointed to aspects of composition which have been ignored such as the similarities of prophetic inspiration to modern poetic inspiration, or the parallels with Greek drama. In recent years theories have arisen which concentrate upon how readers and texts interact to create meaning and are less interested in what the original author intended.
Charles Cutler Torrey taught Semitic languages at Yale. His lasting contribution has been to show how much more meaningful prophets, such as the scribe of Revelation, are when treated as poets first and foremost. He thought this was a point often lost sight of because most English bibles render everything in prose. Poetry was also the reason John never directly quoted the older prophets. Had he done so, he would have had to use their (Hebrew) poetry whereas he wanted to write his own. Torrey insisted Revelation had originally been written in Aramaic. This was why the surviving Greek translation was written in such a strange idiom. It was a literal translation that had to comply with the warning at Revelation 22:18 that the text must not be corrupted in any way. According to Torrey, the story is that "The Fourth Gospel was brought to Ephesus by a Christian fugitive from Palestine soon after the middle of the first century. It was written in Aramaic." Later, the Ephesians claimed this fugitive had actually been the beloved disciple himself. Subsequently, this John was banished by Nero and died on Patmos after writing Revelation. Torrey argued that until 80 AD, when Christians were expelled from the synagogues, the Christian message was always first heard in the synagogue and, for cultural reasons, the evangelist would have spoken in Aramaic, else "he would have had no hearing." Torrey showed how the three major songs in Revelation (the new song, the song of Moses and the Lamb and the chorus at 19: 6-8) each fall naturally into four regular metrical lines plus a coda. Other dramatic moments in Revelation, such as 6: 16 where the terrified people cry out to be hidden, behave in a similar way.
Christina Rossetti was a Victorian poet who believed the sensual excitement of the natural world found its meaningful purpose in death and in God. Her The Face of the Deep is a meditation upon the Apocalypse. In her view, what Revelation has to teach is patience. Patience is the closest to perfection the human condition allows. Her book, which is largely written in prose, frequently breaks into poetry or jubilation, much like Revelation itself. The relevance of John's visions belongs to Christians of all times as a continuous present meditation. Such matters are eternal and outside of normal human reckoning. "That winter which will be the death of Time has no promise of termination. Winter that returns not to spring ... - who can bear it?" She dealt deftly with the vengeful aspects of John's message. "A few are charged to do judgment; everyone without exception is charged to show mercy." Her conclusion is that Christians should see John as "representative of all his brethren" so they should "hope as he hoped, love as he loved."
Recently, aesthetic and literary modes of interpretation have developed, which focus on Revelation as a work of art and imagination, viewing the imagery as symbolic depictions of timeless truths and the victory of good over evil. Elisabeth Schuessler Fiorenza wrote Revelation: Vision of a just world from the viewpoint of rhetoric. Accordingly, Revelation's meaning is partially determined by the way John goes about saying things, partially by the context in which readers receive the message and partially by its appeal to something beyond logic. Professor Schuessler Fiorenza believes that Revelation has particular relevance today as a liberating message to disadvantaged groups. John's book is a vision of a just world, not a vengeful threat of world-destruction. Her view that Revelation's message is not gender-based has caused dissent. She says we are to look behind the symbols rather than make a fetish out of them. In contrast, Tina Pippin states that John writes "horror literature" and "the misogyny which underlies the narrative is extreme." Professor Schuessler Fiorenza would seem to be saying John's book is more like science fiction; it does not foretell the future but uses present-day concepts to show how contemporary reality could be very different.
D. H. Lawrence took an opposing, pessimistic view of Revelation in the final book he wrote, Apocalypse. He saw the language which Revelation used as being bleak and destructive; a 'death-product'. Instead, he wanted to champion a public-spirited individualism (which he identified with the historical Jesus supplemented by an ill-defined cosmic consciousness) against its two natural enemies. One of these he called "the sovereignty of the intellect" which he saw in a technology-based totalitarian society. The other enemy he styled "vulgarity" and that was what he found in Revelation. "It is very nice if you are poor and not humble ... to bring your enemies down to utter destruction, while you yourself rise up to grandeur. And nowhere does this happen so splendiferously than in Revelation." His specific aesthetic objections to Revelation were that its imagery was unnatural and that phrases like "the wrath of the Lamb" were "ridiculous." He saw Revelation as comprising two discordant halves. In the first, there was a scheme of cosmic renewal "great Chaldean sky-spaces" which he quite liked. Then the book hinged around the birth of the baby messiah. After that, "flamboyant hate and simple lust ... for the end of the world." Lawrence coined the term "Patmossers" to describe those Christians who could only be happy in paradise if they knew their enemies were suffering hell.
Modern biblical scholarship attempts to understand Revelation in its 1st century historical context within the genre of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature. This approach considers the text as an address to seven historical communities in Asia Minor. Under this interpretation, assertions that "the time is near" are to be taken literally by those communities. Consequently the work is viewed as a warning not to conform to contemporary Greco-Roman society which John "unveils" as beastly, demonic and subject to divine judgment. There is further information on these topics in the entries on higher criticism and apocalyptic literature.
The acceptance of Revelation into the canon is itself the result of a historical process, essentially no different from the career of other texts. The eventual exclusion of other contemporary apocalyptic literature from the canon may throw light on the unfolding historical processes of what was officially considered orthodox, what was heterodox, what was even heretical. Interpretation of meanings and imagery are anchored in what the historical author intended and what his contemporary audience inferred; a message to Christians not to assimilate into the Roman imperial culture was John's central message. Thus, his letter (written in the apocalyptic genre) is pastoral in nature, and the symbolism of Revelation is to be understood entirely within its historical, literary and social context. Critics study the conventions of apocalyptic literature and events of the 1st century to make sense of what the author may have intended.
During a discussion about Revelation on 23 August 2006, Pope Benedict XVI remarked: "The seer of Patmos, identified with the apostle, is granted a series of visions meant to reassure the Christians of Asia amid the persecutions and trials of the end of the first century."
Nineteenth-century agnostic Robert G. Ingersoll called Revelation "the insanest of all books." Thomas Jefferson omitted it, along with most of the Biblical canon, from the Jefferson Bible, and wrote that at one time he considered it as "merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams." Friedrich Engels claimed that the Book of Revelation was primarily a political and anti-Roman work.
Martin Luther changed his perspective on Revelation over time. In the preface to the German translation of Revelation that he composed in 1522, he said that he did not consider the book prophetic or apostolic, since "Christ is neither taught nor known in it." But in the completely new preface that he composed in 1530, he reversed his position and concluded that Christ was central to the book. He concluded, "As we see here in this book, that through and beyond all plagues, beasts, and evil angels, Christ is nonetheless with the saints and wins the final victory."
There is much in Revelation which uses ancient sources. Although the Old Testament provides the largest reservoir for such sources, it is not the only one. For example, Howard-Brook and Gwyther regard the Book of Enoch (1 Enoch) as an equally significant but contextually different source. "Enoch's journey has no close parallel in the Hebrew scriptures."
Until recently, academics showed little interest in this topic. But this was not the case with popular writers from non-conforming backgrounds. They liked to intersperse their text of Revelation with the prophecy they thought was being promised fulfilment. For example, an anonymous Scottish commentary of 1871 prefaces Revelation 4 with the Little Apocalypse of Mark 13, places Malachi 4:5 (Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord) within Revelation 11, and writes Revelation 12:7 side-by-side with the role of 'the satan' in the Book of Job. The message is that everything in Revelation will happen in its previously appointed time.
Steve Moyise uses the index of the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament to show that "Revelation contains more Old Testament allusions than any other New Testament book, but it does not record a single quotation." Perhaps significantly, Revelation chooses different sources than other New Testament books. Revelation concentrates on Isaiah, the Psalms and Ezekiel and neglects, comparatively speaking, the books of the Pentateuch which are the dominant sources for other New Testament writers. Methodological objections have been made to this way of proceeding. Each allusion may not have an equal significance. To counter this, G. K. Beale sought to develop a system that distinguished 'clear', 'probable' and 'possible' allusions. A clear allusion is one with almost the same wording as its source, the same general meaning and which could not reasonably have been drawn from elsewhere. A probable allusion contains an idea which is uniquely traceable to its source. Possible allusions are described as mere echoes of their putative sources.
Yet, with Revelation, the problems might be judged more fundamental than this. John seems to be using his sources in a completely different way to the originals. For example, John borrows the 'new temple' imagery of Ezekiel 40 to 48 but uses it to describe a New Jerusalem which, quite pointedly, no longer needs any temple at all because the new city is now God's own dwelling-place. Ian Boxall writes that Revelation "is no montage of biblical quotations (that is not John's way) but a wealth of allusions and evocations rewoven into something new and creative." In trying to identify this something new, he argues that Ezekiel provides the 'backbone' for Revelation. He sets out a comparative table listing the chapters of Revelation in sequence then identifying against most of them the structurally corresponding chapter in Ezekiel. The interesting point is that the order is not the same. John, on this theory, rearranges Ezekiel to suit his own purposes.
Some commentators argue that it is these purposes - and not the structure - that really matters. G. K. Beale believes that, however much John makes use of Ezekiel, his ultimate purpose is to present Revelation as a fulfilment of Daniel 7.
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Book of Revelation
Books of the Bible