Reading Revelation in Context - John’s Apocalypse and Second Temple Judaism

Reading Revelation in Context: John’s Apocalypse and Second Temple Judaism
The present volume offers a welcome series of accessible studies that illustrate both the importance and the possibility of throwing light on what has been and continues to be one of the most influential writings in the New Testament on Christian and even contemporary culture: the book of Revelation.
The book of Revelation has a long history of being celebrated as a key source for knowing the final course of history and of being discredited for its potential to provoke extreme forms of religiosity. Although the book styles itself as an apocalypse, that is, as a disclosure "of Jesus Christ" (Rev 1:1), it is frequently regarded as one of the most baffling and difficult early Christian writings to interpret. And yet, the epistolary forms that frame the work (chs. 1-3 and 22:21) suggest that it was written to be sufficiently transparent to audiences of Christ believers among a series of churches in Asia Minor. Thus, in order to communicate, the book demanded a high level of engagement among its hearers and readers, who were expected to receive it with knowing discernment and to adhere to its exhortations (1:3; chs. 2-3; 13:9; 14:12; 18:4; 22:18-19). A significant factor in understanding the apocalypse would have been knowing something about the symbolic imagery on which it drew and how that imagery functioned in its new literary context. Despite offering some interpretive guidance for some of the images (e.g., 1:20; 13:18; 17:9-14), the symbols remain essentially multivalent in character and resist being reduced into exclusionary single meanings that result from one-to-one decoding. Instead, through "participatory imagination," late first-century AD audiences in Asia Minor were invited to position themselves within or in relation to the book's symbolism.
Many of the symbols and images in Revelation are reminiscent of, if not directly drawn from, sources that John, the named author, regarded as sacred, whether in the Hebrew Bible or literature from the Second Temple period. While not any one of these sources is ever formally quoted through introductory formulae such as "it is written," "as it says," or "thus," almost every verse of the text employs language that alludes to one or more of them. Scholars have, in particular, observed in Revelation the presence of tradition associated with Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Exodus, and Zechariah, while significant influence and/or parallels have also been noted, for example, with parts of 1 Enoch (Book of Watchers, Book of Parables, Animal Apocalypse, Epistle of Enoch), 4 Ezra, Joseph and Aseneth, Apocalypse of Zephaniah, and a range of texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Finally, words and phrases recall writings found in other parts of the New Testament (the Synoptic Gospels, Gospel of John, and the Pauline Epistles). Some of the connections with sources outside the New Testament and what they mean are amply and beautifully illustrated by the essays in this volume.

Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, and Jason Maston - Reading Revelation in Context: John’s Apocalypse and Second Temple Judaism

ZONDERVAN ACADEMIC, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2019. - 204 pp.
ISBN 978-0-310-56623-6 (softcover)
ISBN 978-0-310-56624-3 (ebook)

Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, and Jason Maston - Reading Revelation in Context: John’s Apocalypse and Second Temple Judaism - Contents

Foreword by Loren T. Stuckenbruck
  • 1. The Parables of Enoch and Revelation 1:1-20: Daniel's Son of Man (Benjamin E. Reynolds)
  • 2. The Epistle of Enoch and Revelation 2:1-3:22: Poverty and Riches in the Present Age (Mark D. Mathews)
  • 3. The Testament of Levi and Revelation 4:1-11: Ascent to the Heavenly Throne (David A. deSilva)
  • 4. 4 Ezra and Revelation 5:1-14: Creaturely Images of the Messiah (Dana M. Harris)
  • 5. 2 Maccabees and Revelation 6:1-17: Martyrdom and Resurrection (Ian Paul)
  • 6. Psalms of Solomon and Revelation 7:1-17: The Sealing of the Servants of God (Ronald Herms)
  • 7. The Testament of Adam and Revelation 8:1-13: Heavenly Silence (Jason Maston)
  • 8. The Animal Apocalypse and Revelation 9:1-21: Creaturely Images during the Great Tribulation (Ian Boxall)
  • 9. Jubilees and Revelation 10:1-11: Heavenly Beings Bearing Heavenly Books (John K. Goodrich)
  • 10. 4 Ezra and Revelation 11:1-19: A Man from the Sea and the Two Witnesses (Garrick V. Allen)
  • 11. The Life of Adam and Eve and Revelation 12:1-17 The Rebellion of the Satan Figure (Archie T. Wright)
  • 12. 4 Ezra and Revelation 13:1-18: Blasphemous Beasts (Jamie Davies)
  • 13. The Damascus Document and Revelation 14:1-20: Angels Marking Out the Two Ways (Ben C. Blackwell)
  • 14. Words of the Luminaries and Revelation 15:1-16:21: Plague Septets and Deliverance from Exile (Benjamin Wold)
  • 15. Joseph and Aseneth and Revelation 17:1-18: Women as Archetypes of Rebellion and Repentance (Edith M. Humphrey)
  • 16. The Epistle of Enoch and Revelation 18:1-24: Economic Critique of Rome (Cynthia Long Westfall)
  • 17. Psalms of Solomon and Revelation 19:1-21: Messianic Conquest of God's Enemies (Michael J. Gorman)
  • 18. The Book of the Watchers and Revelation 20:1-15: Redemptive Judgment on Fallen Angels (Elizabeth E. Shively)
  • 19. 4 Ezra and Revelation 21:1-22:5: Paradise City (Jonathan A. Moo)
  • 20. The Apocalypse of Zephaniah and Revelation 22:6-21: Angel Worship and Monotheistic Devotion (Sarah Underwood Dixon)
Passage Index
Subject Index
Author Index


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