|Revelation 12:1 - 13:1(a) Class Discussions 4/24/2000|
Roloff: In Rev 12, John "poses the question of the presence and work of the evil one only after it has made it clear that God the Creator and sovereign ruler is Lord of history, and that his commission upon Jesus Christ for the discharge of his sovereign will is the only strength that determines and brings about the end event" (139).
Boring : Rev 12-14 are a "cosmic operatic drama" (12-13, "the powers of evil at work in the present"; 14, "the victory of God in salvation and judgment" [Note: victory is pronounced already in 12:8-12, even though dragon will continue to make war for a time]
Charles: Rev 12 could not have been envisioned (in a prophetic sense) by a Christian because it crosses the boundaries of orthodoxy in its depiction of Jesus Christ (no interest in his earthly life) and of Michael (not Christ, who has only a passive role) as the one to defeat Satan. John borrowed from existing mythology and left out the elements he could not accommodate, allegorized others.
Class Discussion: In all of his treatment of Revelation, Charles seems intent on keeping his analysis separate from any theological implications whatsoever.
12:1 And a great sign became visible (appeared) in heaven: a woman clothed in the sun, and the moon (was) beneath the feet of her and upon the head of her (was) a crown (stephanos, the wreath/headdress worn by attendants of royalty or divinity) of twelve stars,Krodel: Joseph's dream in Gen 37:9 (also in Roloff)
Charles: Philo and Josephus interpret the twelve tribes of Israel astrologically - Levi is the sun, Judah the moon, twelve rays of light (the stars, representing the twelve tribes) are under the feet of the goddess
12:2 And in womb (she was) having (idiomatic, she was pregnant), and she cries out suffering birth-pangs and being tormented by birth-pangs (in order) to give birth.Moyise: birth-pangs as metaphor for the suffering of a people - OT refs. Isa 9:6, 13:8, 37:3, 66:7; Jer 4:31
Boring: Dead Sea Scrolls (1QH 3:4) describe woman (Israel, the elect) bringing forth the Messiah; island of Delos near Patmos was the scene of Leto's giving birth to Apollo, son of Zeus (she goes there to escape the dragon Python, whom Zeus kills.)
12:3 And (there) became visible another sign (word order of 12:1 reversed) in heaven: and look, a great dragon, red (as fire), having seven heads and ten horns and upon the head of him seven crowns (diademata, the crown worn by royalty or divinity),Roloff: the child is a challenge to the dragon's "claim to world dominion" (147)
Boring: "God the hidden actor" - passive voice throughout Rev 12, emphasizing that everything is done under the sovereignty of God (Satan has no independent power); instantaneous move from birth of Messiah to death and resurrection.
Charles: Egyptian myth of the goddess Hathor, who gives birth to Osiris's son Horus; Osiris is killed by the dragon Typhon (Set) and Hathor escapes to the island of Chemnis; later Horus kills Set.
12:6 And the woman was fleeing into the desert, where she has there a place being prepared by God, in order that there she might be nursed (here, "they might nurse her", indefinite 3rd pers. pl; Rev 12:14 has pres. mid. pass. trepho; nourished, taken care of) a thousand two hundred sixty days (cf 42 months, 11:3).Krodel: Exod 19:4, "I bore you on eagle's wings" (Roloff adds, in ref. to Rev 12:14, Deut 32:11). Woman not to be identified with Mary, who in Acts 1:14 is still in Jerusalem after ascension of Jesus; NT does not support her other children having been singled out for special persecution; she is the "faithful church." The desert is not a forbidding wilderness but a place of safety and refuge from the idolatrous culture.
12:7 And (there) was taking place an armed conflict in heaven, Michael and the angels of him (were) the ones making war with the dragon. And the dragon made war and the angels of him,Charles: Weiss held the view that Michael et al are not waging a war that has anything to do with the birth of the Messiah (two independent stories/sources) - no direct final battle between the Messiah and the dragon is disclosed at end of drama.
12:8 And (but) they were not strong enough (did not win out, prevail), nor was a place found for them any longer (cf Rev 18:21-23) in heaven. Roloff: God's adversary has neither place nor rights where the Lamb has dominion (148).
12:9 And he was cast down (cf Rev 12:4), the dragon, the great one, the serpent (cf Rev 12:14; word for healing serpent in temple at Aesclepius), the ancient one (i.e. who existed from the beginning), the one being called the Devil and the Satan (the Adversary), the one leading astray (deceiving, causing to wander) the whole (complete; contemporary Greek sources would use pases to describe a ruler's domain) household (earth's human inhabitants), he was cast down into the earth, and the angels of him with him, they were cast down.Boring: "the expulsion of Satan from heaven is the result of the victory of Christ on earth" (not a cosmic fallen "hyper-ambitious angels" story).
12:10 And I heard a great voice in heaven saying: Now (cf Rev 14:13, with "from"="from now on") were taking place the salvation and the power and the kingdom of the God of us and the authority of the Christ of him, for he has been cast down, the accuser (only NT use) of the brothers of us, the one accusing them in front of (i.e. at the tribunal of) the God of us day and night.Krodel: the great voice is the heavenly court: "The victory song in heaven is the prophetic interpretation of Satan's expulsion."
Boring: what happens in heaven reflects what happens on earth - "the life and death of Jesus, the witness of Christians who are ‘faithful unto death' (2:10)".
Class Discussion: There is no picture anywhere in Jewish apocalyptic literature at all similar to this.
12:11 And they overcame him on account of the blood of the LambCharles: use of "heavens" here indicates borrowing from a Semitic source (John employs singular in Rev 12:1,3,7,8,10) - plurality of heavens a view not held by John, but appears in Pauline epistles, Heb, frequently in OT, Test of XII Patr, 2 Enoch, etc.
12:13 And when the dragon saw that he had been cast down into the earth, he persecuted (P47 supports the substitution "having gone away, he chased out") the woman who was giving (had given) birth to the male child.Beale: The "threefold time formula from Daniel [12:7] is deducible especially from 12.4-6, where the period begins from the time of Christ's ascension and refers to the church's time of suffering (so also 12.14)." - cf references to 1260 days, or 42 months; the faithful who "keep the word" are under the care of God throughout the time of persecution.
12:15 And the serpent was casting down (spewing) out of the mouth of him, backward (i.e. rejecting by casting backward, cf Ps 50:17 [LXX 49:17]) from the woman (i.e. behind the woman) water like a river, in order that he might make (create) her one-borne-along-by-a-rapid-river (cf phora, rapid motion or driving impulse, from phero).Boring: the dragon's efforts to exercise creative force are a parody of the Creator
Charles: "potamophoreton" borrowed from Hesychius; no Semitic parallels. He suggests that an immediate historical context for Rev 12:15-16 is the flight of Christians to Pella before the fall of Jerusalem; if source is Jewish, the flight of elite Jerusalem Jews to Jabneh in that same time period. But in terms of imagery, he writes: "In the war between land and water mythological features are discovered which have no longer any significance in their present connection."
12:16 And the earth was made to cry out (in anguish or for help, cf Matt 27:46) for the woman and the earth opened the mouth of her(self) and was swallowing up the river which the dragon was casting down out of the mouth of him(self).Roloff: enmity between serpent and the seed of the woman in Gen 3:15.
12:18 or 13:1a And he (the dragon) came to stand upon the sandy shore (cf Rev 20:8, fig. "too many to be counted") of the sea.Roloff: the dragon goes to the sea to look out over the domain of Roman world power
Krodel: Chapter 12 has the formal structure of A (12:1-6), B (12:7-12), A' (12:13-17): A and B begin in heaven and end on earth, A' recapitulates and expands 12:6 by further describing the persecution of the 1260 days. Rev 12:12 discloses the third woe (announced in 11:14 and completed in 16:17).
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|Revelation 13:1-18 Class Discussions 4/28/2000|
|(AM) Rough Translation
13:1 And I saw from the sea a beast going up, having ten horns and seven heads and upon its horns ten crowns and upon its heads a name of blasphemy.The Beast of the Sea 13:1-10
Roloff - "The basis for the vision is the tradition of the antichrist, the counter-Messiah that appears at the end-time. A preliminary stage of this tradition is found for the first time in Daniel." (p154) "In the New Testament the technical term antichristos appears only in 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; and 2 John 7, but the concept is more widespread." (p154) "[John] did not want to illustrate a course of historical events, but rather to characterize the contemporary Roman Empire: for him it is clearly the demonic power." (p155) "The entire scene is laid out as a distorted counterpart to the heavenly inauguration of the lamb to the world dominion in chap. 5." (p155) Compare verses: 5:7 & 5:12 to 13:2; 5:9 to 13:7; 5:12 to 13:4; 5:6 to 13:3. "
What is specifically intended by the healed wound of the one head? This is most often explained as a reference to the popular legend…of the return of Nero." (p156) Yarbro-Collins has a similar understanding.
Boring - "The beast is ‘allowed' to make war on the saints and to ‘conquer' them (13:7). Here is another example of the realism of John. He holds out no false hope of rescue from death
for those who remain faithful. John has the stories of Daniel in mind (cf. 13:15; Dan. 3:5-
6), where the faithful are rescued from death at the hands of the evil empire." (p160).
13:11 And I saw another beast coming up from the earth, and it had two horns like a lamb and it was talking like a dragon.The Beast from the Earth 13:11-18
Boring - "As the first beast was characterized by political features, the beast from the land appears clothed in all the accoutrements of religion: it works miracles, promotes worship, looks
somewhat like the Lamb, encourages folk to make an image of the beast and worship it, is
designated the ‘false prophet.'" (p161) "As a sign of ownership and security, the Lamb
marks his followers on the forehead with the seal of the living God, his name and the name
of his Father (7:1-8; 14:1-5). The beast imitates the Lamb, marking his followers on the
forehead or the right hand. For John, there are only these two groups, these two choices -
everyone bears one mark or the other, and conspicuously!" (p161).
Boring believes John wanted his readers to think of a particular individual. Using gematria, every letter of the alphabet was represented by a number. Nero is the likely candidate since "Neron Caesar" in Hebrew adds up to 666. Some people object to this interpretation since John was writing in Greek and because an "Nun" must be added. However, John elsewhere makes wordplays with Hebrew (9:11; 16:16) and the additional "Nun" attached to Nero has been found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. John foresees a new persecution and warns his readers of a Nero-like oppressor who will come. Boring also believes 666 has generic significance. Since the number "seven" represents completeness, 666 would represent the penultimate incompleteness, idolatry, non-fulfillment, and evil itself (p162-164). Roloff also outlines the gematria theory and the complete/incomplete theory. He describes one other theory but believes that it is faulty (p166).
Ellul: comments that the "666" is the "inversion" of the incarnation. In this he is somehwat akin to Boring with his "penultimate incompleteness."
Class Comment: Connection to the throne room scenes from chapters 4 and 5. John's apparent intent is the "cult" of the Caesar. Historical context can be a looking glass, showing more than meets the eye. The critique of a particular situation can have different and deeper significance. The reference on the Web site to Steven J. Sherrer's work -"Signs and Wonders in the Imperial Cult: A New Look at a Roman Religious Institution in Light of Rev. 13:13-15" doesn't push onward theologically. It leaves us just looking at the historical context at the surface. As seen below, Roloff pushes on, contending that it really isn't just the Caesar, but anything that offers itself as an alternative to God is a throne that pretends to a sovreignty. This issue of historical critque would be worthwhile for ongoing discussion. Suggested further consideration is pages 145-155 from Roloff.
Ellul provides a theological reflection - first, that the beast has to be seen in the total "concept" of political power; second, that propoganda or words are used by political powers, not just religious powers; and third, that in the incarnation, God joined in with creation, thus the dragon and the beast are struggling against BOTH God and creation.
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|Revelation Chapter 18:1-13 Class Discussions 5/5/2000|
(PS) Rough Translation:
18:1 After these things I saw another heavenly messenger coming down out of the heaven having great authority and the earth was illuminated out of the glory of him.Comments:
Roloff: points out that this verse repeats the angel's announcement in 14:8 that Babylon will indeed fall. This chapter is then the fulfillment of the anticipation which is created in chapter 4 of the coming judgment. He references this situation in Babylon with Isaiah 13:21-22.
The cup here may be symbolic of God's judgment and also represents idol worship. The use of the cup as wrathful is very reflective of the Old Testament use of the word. It is only used in this manner in the New Testament in the book of Revelation.
Class Discussion: It may also be a connection to the cup reference along the road to Jerusalem - "Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?"(Mk 10:39)
Roloff: notices that the kings are onlookers of the destruction and not in the midst of it, even though they were part of the down fall of Babylon. This is perplexing since all who were part of the problems of the city should have been within the walls at the time of the destruction.
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|Revelation Chapter 18:14-24 Class Discussions 5/5/2000|
18:14 And the fruit of you (sg) of the yearning of the soul went away from you (sg), and all richness and shining things died away from you and no longer not at all you will find them (= these things).At v. 14 John has again picked up the narrative which has almost been lost in the laments of the merchants, each group of which see the fall in their own terms.
18:15 The merchants of these (things), the ones having become wealthy from her (it?) from afar they will stand on account of the fear of her (its?) torment, weeping and mourningvv. 15-19 Mounce points out that in these verses we see the effect the desolation has on Rome's political and commercial allies.
18:20 Be well disposed upon her, O heaven and the holy ones and the apostles and the prophets because God judged your (pl.) judgment out of her."v. 20 is an odd insertion, and seems to imply a call to rejoice over the chaos, but Mounce feels it is simply a form which apocalyptic can take, and not as some writers would have it, "a call for the church to rejoice of the suffering of the unrighteous."
Mounce: says we should interpret this verse as a parallel to 12:12, and then we can identify the saints, apostles, and prophets as "you who dwell in the heavens" (Mounce 336) i.e., it is the church glorified that should rejoice, not the believers on earth. There is not total agreement, however, on why the rejoicing. Mounce points us to a discussion by C. Caird: (Revelation pp. 228-30) where he conjectures about a setting in which Babylon is judged quid pro quo for being guilty of "perjury". So the good news for the righteous is that God has turned the evidence against believers back upon the accuser. In other words, what she has extracted from her victims, God has extracted from her. He points back to v. 6, "Give back to her as she has given" as support although the verse actually ends with "pay her back double for what she has done." (my comment). His translation reads, "God has imposed on her the sentence she passed on you."
18:21 And one strong heavenly messenger lifted a rock as a great millstone and he threw (it) into the sea saying: "Thus with a mighty impulse Babylon the great city will be thrown and it may not all be found yet."vv. 21-24 There is a new emphasis here from the external affects of the desolation to the internal affects. Especially, Mounce points out, is the emphatic expression of denial of a future for the city, by the use of the double negative ou me with the addition of epi... The music has stopped, and the sounds the tradesmen have stopped. The economy has stopped, there is no food. Mounce refers back to Jeremiah when he describes the years of Israel's exile as a time when God will banish from the "the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of the bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp." (Jer. 25:10). This imagery comes out of John's "extensive acquaintance with the prophetic literature of his Jewish predecessors."
v. 23 Mounce notes that while the connection between the clauses in this verse is not clear, either or both are causes for the judgment which has befallen the city.
Mounce makes one last interesting offering: That while the end has not come in the ensuing two millennium since the text was written, that Rome exemplified the forces which will eventually play a major role at the end of time, and that the portrayal "of the fall of Rome describes the final judgment that will usher in the eternal state.
He goes on to say that it is incumbent on us even at this later time to interpret those "same figures in the eschatological setting toward which we are rapidly moving." He contends that the secular society in power at the end will demand that Christians wear the "mark of the beast", and that because some will not, persecution will follow, but that the Lamb will return to claim the faithful and "Babylon" will be defeated.
Class Discussion: be cautious not to identify these references too closely with the historical Rome, as that does not seem to be what the author of Revelation is intending. As Bousett reminds us John's view was not toward Domitian's Rome, but seeing history and evil as God sees it.
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|Revelation Chapter 19:1-10 Class Discussions 5/5/2000|
The Hymnic Finale
Roloff: There is more hymnody here than anywhere in Rev; there are at least 5 pieces. This was probably taken from the church in Asia Minor's worship (210).
Class comment: Note that this hymnic finale is not using the "ode" concept, but is structured
as a hymn.
19:1 After these things I heard as a great voice of a large/great crowd in the heavens saying,Alluluia #1
Roloff: This is the first time usage of the OT word "hallelujah" in a Christian sense. It's a cry of victory for what God has done. (211)
Talbert: v. 1-5 This is the fifth scene of the Judgment of the Harlot (vision 6)
Nestle-Aland: v. 2 Rev 16:7 "true and righteous (are) the judgments of you"
AJ: v. 1 Who is this "great crowd"? It doesn't seem to be angels; they haven't been referred to
as a "crowd." However, in 7:9 people are referred to by this phrase.
19:3 And a second time they have said (Perf),Roloff: Smoke is the smoke of judgment.
v. 4 speaker = elders and living beings
19:4 And fell the 24 elders and the 4 living beings and worshiped God, the one sitting on the throne, saying,N-A: Rev 4:6 the elders and the living beings
AJ: The "amen" seems to indicate heavenly agreement with earthly praise.
19:5 And a voice from the throne went out saying,
Sweet: "Praise our God" is "hallelujah" in Greek
Mounce: The voice from the throne represents one of the heavenly beings surrounding the throne.
Aune: This is a Divine unction - God stating that it is appropriate for the servants to praise God.
AJ: Whose is this voice from the throne? We have God on the throne (4:3) and the Lamb standing in the midst of the throne (5:6). Are these the words of God or of the Lamb? That does not seem to make sense; would God speak in third person to say "Praise God"?
N-A: 21:3 "a great voice from the throne saying..."
19:6 And I heard as a voice of a large/great crowd and as a voice of many waters and as a voice of strong/mighty thunders saying,Roloff: 1) praise because God reigned; this refers to the Almighty
2) praise because of the Lamb; this refers to Jesus
"The white linen signifies the gift and promise of salvation on the basis of the atoning death of Jesus"(212). Jesus is the bridegroom.
Talbert: V. 6-10 are the "Opening Scene in Heaven."
Sweet: "Rejoice and exult" - a reference to Psalm 118:24, the last Hallel Psalm.
N-A: v. 6 - "voice of him as the voice of many waters" Rev 1:15
AJ: v. 6 We've had this description of "a voice" before. In 1:15 it is the voice of one "like
a son of man" who has a voice like many waters. But in 14:2 we have the voice from heaven described as sounding
like both waters and thunders.
19:9 And he says to me, "Write! (Impv) Blessed (are) the-into-the-supper-of- the-wedding-of-the-lamb-having been called ones. And he says to me, "These the true words of the God are." 19:10 And I fell before his feet to worship him. And he says to me, "See not; your (sing.) fellow slave I am and of your brothers, of the ones having/holding the witness/testimony of Jesus, God worship! (Impv) For the witness/testimony of Jesus is the spirit of the prophecy."
Roloff: The voice is one of an angel.
Talbert: the angelic instruction has 3 parts:
Sweet: Matt 22:3ff
AJ: Is the one speaking an angel? Are angels considered to be "fellow slaves"? They do God's bidding, but are they ever referred to as slaves...?
Class Discussion: This concept of angel as fellow-slave may be more a link to the heavenly presence in
the church, to the "douloi" of the churches. cf Mark 10:45
Talbert - Excursus on the Four Women in Revelation
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