Apocalyptic Literature
Background: Jewish Apocalyptic
Definition: a genre of revelatory literature with a
narrative framework, in which a revelation is
mediated by an otherworldly being to a
human recipient, disclosing a transcendent
reality which is both temporal, insofar as it
envisages eschatological salvation, and
spatial insofar as it involves another,
supernatural world.
Apocalyptic Literature
APOCALYPTIC
Definition made Simple
The narrative of a vision, granted to a seer,
through a mediator, concerning end times.
Apocalyptic Literature
Ezekiel
ch. 1.1-25 the four living creatures
ch. 1.26-28the enthroned figure
ch. 2.1-3.4 eating the scroll
ch. 3.5-15 stubborness of the
people
Apocalyptic Literature
Daniel 7-12
four beasts
heavenly court
the Ram and the Goat
Daniel's prayer, Gabriel
visions of war
secret message
The Book of Revelation
Historical Background to Revelation
Nero persecutes Christians in Rome (54-68)
Laodician earthquake (61)
Destruction of the Temple (70)
Seige of Masada (72)
Eruption of Vesuvius (79)
Empire wide persecutions by Domitian (81-96)
The Book of Revelation
What it is
symbolic
revelatory
a message of hope
not
literal
prophetic
a message of doom
The Book of Revelation
Small group
the letters to the 7 churches
The Book of Revelation
The Seven Churches of Revelation
Ephesus - population of a quarter million, had one of 7 wonders - the great temple of Diana, Paul had warned
it against false preachers and of persecution ( the presence of the temple of Diana meant an active trade in
silver statues, as her worship was depleted by conversion, the silversmiths feared a loss of revenue)
Smyrna - ancient commercial center, original temple of goddess Roma, had a temple to Emperor Tiberius, the
martyr Polycarp was bishop there
Pergamum - capital of province of Asia, large temple to Zeus with continual animal sacrifices being burned,
heresy of Nicolaitans
Thyatira - commercial center with many trade guilds
Sardis - industrial center, had been home of King Croesus, had been destroyed by earthquake in 17 AD,
references to vigilance are appropriate in the letter addressed to it as it had twice been defeated due to its own
negligence
Philadelphia - demolished by same earthquake as Sardis in 17 AD, rebuilt with imperial subsidy; had a
synagogue strongly hostile to Christians
Laodicea- rich commercial center, struck by earthquake in 61 AD, famous for black wool; the letter to this
church accuses them of being tepid in their faith because of their wealth
Each of these churches can also be seen to represent various dangers to faith: loss of love, fear of suffering,
doctrinal compromise, moral compromise, spiritual death, inconstancy, tepidness. (Metzger, p. 46)
The Book of Revelation
Ch . 4-5 images:
open door
God enthroned
24 elders
4 living creatures
Lamb with 7 horns and 7 eyes
scroll with 7 seals
(Ezek 1.4-14, Is. 6.1-8)
The Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation
The Four Horsemen
“God does not approve of famine and death and hell, but
they are what must follow if people persist in opposing
God's will.” (Metzger 58)
The Book of Revelation
Chapter 8
The 7 Trumpets
The 7 angels: from Jewish tradition (Tobit, Enoch) :
Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Michael, Sariel, Gabriel, Remiel
natural disasters had been prevalent –
the earthquake which destroyed Laodicea in 61
the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 (destroying Pompeii)
fractional destruction is symbolic of divine mercy,
awaiting the repentance of the remnant
The Book of Revelation
The 10 Plagues of Exodus
Blood
Frogs
Gnats
Flies
Boils
Pestilence
Locusts
Hail
Darkness
Death of the 1st born
The Book of Revelation
Allegorical Imagery in Chapter 11
witnesses
Sodom
Egypt
3 1/2 days
the Ark in the Temple
The Book of Revelation
Seven visions
the woman, the dragon, heavenly battle
the 1st beast (the Roman empire)
the 2nd beast, 666
the Lamb and the 144,000 “virgins”
3 angels
harvesting the earth
heavenly liturgy
The Book of Revelation
the 7 bowls, poured out on those who have refused to repent
Armageddon
Babylon, the Whore - (Rome will Fall!)
the triumph of God through Christ's Word
Gog and Magog, in Ezekiel and in Rabbinic tradition – the
enemies of God
The Book of Revelation
16.17 “It is done.”
21.6 “They are accomplished.”
the Feast of the Lamb