John of Patmos Revelation Criticism - Essay

J. P. M. Sweet (essay date 1979)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Sweet, J. P. M. Introduction to Revelation, pp. 1-54. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1979.

[In the following excerpt, Sweet examines the imagery of Revelation, discusses its probable date of origin, and supplies some social background for its text.]



If the whole book was read aloud at one sitting (which would take about an hour and a half), it would have made its impact on its first hearers as a whole, like a poetic drama or an opera; indeed one should perhaps regard it as more like music than rational discourse. In that case the repetitions, delays and...

(The entire section is 9701 words.)

James L. Blevins (essay date summer 1980)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Blevins, James L. “The Genre of Revelation.” Review and Expositor 77 (summer 1980): 393-408.

[In the following essay, Blevins contends that the structure of Revelation was based on that of Greek tragedy, including its chorus and staging.]

Scholars find it difficult to pinpoint the peculiar literary genre of the book of Revelation. Recent studies have shown the relationship of Hellenistic biographies to the genre of our New Testament Gospels.1 Less recent work has demonstrated the affinities between Greek letter writing style and that of Paul.2 However, the genre of Revelation remains elusive. Charles...

(The entire section is 6965 words.)

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza (essay date 1985)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Fiorenza, Elisabeth Schüssler. “Visionary Rhetoric and Social-Political Situation.” In The Book of Revelation: Justice and Judgment, pp. 181-203. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985.

[In the following essay, Fiorenza concentrates on the first five verses of chapter 14, particularly in assessing the meaning of “the 144,000 followers of the Lamb on Mount Zion.”]

Our visions, stories and utopias
are not only aesthetic:
they engage us.

Amos Wilder

In his summary of the overall outline and analysis of the Apocalypse, W. Bousset stresses that Rev. 14:1-5 was not taken over from a source but that it is formulated...

(The entire section is 10032 words.)

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza (essay date 1989)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Fiorenza, Elisabeth Schüssler. “Revelation.” In The New Testament and its Modern Interpreters, edited by Eldon Jay Epp and George W. MacRae, pp. 407-27. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1989.

[In the following essay, Fiorenza presents an overview of Revelation scholarship from the 1960s and 1970s.]

Ernst Lohmeyer summed up the scholarly efforts during the research period 1920 to 1934 with the observation that very few early Christian writings have been so greatly courted by scholars but have so thoroughly eluded their methods of interpretation. The elusive meaning of Revelation might be one of the reasons why serious critical scholarship has largely...

(The entire section is 8242 words.)

M. Eugene Boring (essay date 1989)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Boring, M. Eugene. Introduction to Revelation: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, pp. 1-62. Louisville, Ky.: John Knox Press, 1989.

[In the following excerpt, Boring presents an overview of some textual, language, and interpretative issues concerning Revelation.]


Unlike other writers of apocalyptic books, John gives his own name and writes in his own person, rather than under the assumed name of some figure of the past (cf. discussion of apocalyptic literature below). Such an assumption of another name was not necessary, for John and his churches no longer believed that the prophetic gift of the...

(The entire section is 11397 words.)

Leonard L. Thompson (essay date 1990)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Thompson, Leonard L. “Historical Setting and Genre,” “The Social Setting of Apocalypses,” and “The Seer's Vision of an Unbroken World.” In The Book of Revelation: Apocalypse and Empire, pp. 11-34; 74-93. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

[In the following essays, Thompson provides background on the apocalypse genre and its social setting and discusses the seer's vision of the world and its boundaries.]


[Now] I shall discuss in detail aspects of the local situation in and to which John writes the Book of Revelation. Here we need only some basic orientation to the origins of the book...

(The entire section is 26448 words.)

David A. deSilva (essay date winter 1992)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: deSilva, David A. “The Revelation to John: A Case Study in Apocalyptic Propaganda and the Maintenance of Sectarian Identity.” Sociological Analysis 53, no. 4 (winter 1992): 375-95.

[In the following essay, deSilva interprets Revelation as having been a call for Christian revolution against Rome and its ideology.]

The phenomenon of the apocalyptic movement continues to picque the interest and challenge the understanding of the sociologist of religion, both in its contemporary and historical occurrences. Careful study may be impeded, however, by certain presuppositions about the rise of apocalpyticism and its function in a given situation. These...

(The entire section is 11549 words.)

Jan Lambrecht (essay date 2000)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Lambrecht, Jan. “Final Judgments and Ultimate Blessings: The Climatic Visions of Revelations 20,11-21,8.” Biblica 81, no. 3 (2000): 362-85.

[In the following essay, Lambrecht focuses on two sections of Revelation, initially dealing with the final judgment and second death and then with the visions of the new creation and the new Jerusalem.]

Rev 20,11-21,8 can hardly be called a self-contained pericope, nor even a text unit. Within the major section 16,17-22,5 (seventh bowl and completion) the passage 20,11-15 concludes the text unit of the final judgment which deals with the destruction of the beast, the false prophet and the dragon,...

(The entire section is 9925 words.)

François Bovon (essay date October 2000)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Bovon, François. “John's Self-Presentation in Revelation 1:9-10.” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 62, no. 4 (October 2000): 693-700.

[In the following essay, Bovon explains that John's self-definition in Revelation is purposeful in terms of narrative success.]

This paper will not be a historical inquiry into John's personality; nor will it be a philological analysis of the author's style.1 In line with the tradition of French literary criticism,2 I would like to observe what Philippe Lejeune calls the “autobiographical pact,” namely, the implicit agreement which an author or narrator makes with his or her readers...

(The entire section is 3615 words.)