Essay about Reading The Book of Revelation

Essay about Reading The Book of Revelation

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The Book of Revelation, the final book of the Christian biblical canon, is perhaps one of the most complex and polyvalent biblical texts accessible to modern readers, and has been the source of many differing and divergent interpretations and readings. This is due in large part to the richly detailed language and imagery the author has placed within the book as well as the vast array of content. Both of these features function within the text to produce a book that is extremely difficult to describe within the traditional literary conceptions of genre and structure, which, as we shall see, feed into the complexity and multiple interpretations that can be drawn from it. With all this in mind, it will be the purpose of this essay to explore the Book of Revelation, examining the nature of its structure and content as well as the generic framework(s) the text function within. Following this, we will also survey one of the major ways people have read Revelation, namely the scientific/positivist understanding, and outline some of the strengths and weaknesses of this approach in relation to other models.

The examination of the Book of Revelation by those seeking to understand and explain its structure has been one of the most difficult tasks undertaken by biblical literary critics. As a result of this, there are multiple understandings of the way in which the author of Revelation has laid out the book, focusing on different aspects and particularities within it. While there is no scholarly consensus on the matter of structure in this book , there do appear to be two primary schools of thought that, while not unified, centre around the theories of recapitulation and the ‘series of seven’. Several major scholars , to varying d...


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...lark, 1993.
Beale, G. K. "The Book of Revelation." In The New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans/Carlisle Cumbria: Paternoster, 1999.
deSilva, David A. "What Does John Really Want? The Rhetorical Goals of Revelation." In Seeing Things John's Way: The Rhetoric of the Book of Revelation, 65-91. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 2009.
Fiorenza, Elisabeth Schussler. "Babylon the Great: A Rhetorical-Political Reading of Revelation 17-18." In The Reality of Apocalypse: Rhetoric and Politics in the Book of Revelation, edited by David L. Barr, 243-269. Atlanta, GA: SBL, 2006.
Linton, Gregory L. "Reading the Apocalypse as Apocalypse: The Limits of Genre." In Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers, edited by Eugene Lovering, 161-186. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1991.
Woodman, Simon. The Book of Revelation. London: SCM Press, 2008.

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