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BIBLIOTHECA EPHEMERIDUM THEOLOGICARUM

LOV ANIENSIUM

LIII

L' Apoca1ypse johannique


et l' Apoca1yptique
dans 1e Nouveau Testament
PAR

J. LAMBRECHT

G.R. BEASLEy-MURRAY - P .-M . BOGAERT - O. BÖCHER - R.F. COLLINS


J. COPPENS - B. D EHANDSCHUTTER - M. DE JONGE - J. DELOBEL
A.S. GEYSER - L. HARTMAN - T. HOLTZ - Y. lANSSENS - T. KORTEWEG
E . LÖVESTAM - J . LUST - G. MAYEDA - G. MUSSlES - F. NElRYNCK
R. PESCH - P. PRIGENT - M. R ESE - E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA - U . V ANNl
AP. VAN SCHAlK - M. WlLCOX - A. Y ARBRO COLLINS

S.A., LEUVEN
Je) UNIVERSITY PRESS
L'APOCALYPSE JOHANNIQUE
ET L'APOCALYPTIQUE
DANS LE NOUVEAU TESTAMENT
BIBLIOTHECA EPHEMERIDUM THEOLOGICARUM
LOVANIENSIUM
LIII

L'Apoca1ypse johannique
et l'Apoca1yptique
dans 1e Nouveau Testament
PAR

J. LAMBRECHT

G.R. BEASLEy-MuRRAY - P.-M. BOGAERT - O. BÖCHER - R.F. COLLINS


J. COPPENS - B. DEHANDSCHUTTER - M. DE JONGE - J. DELOBEL
AS. GEYSER - L. HARTMAN - T. HOLTZ - Y. JANSSENS - T. KORTEWEG
E. LÖVESTAM-J. LUST-G. MAYEDA-G. MUSSIEs-F. NEIRYNCK
R. PESCH - P. PRIGENT - M. RESE - E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA - U. VANNI
AP. VAN SCHAlK - M. WILCOX - A YARBRO COLLINS

Editions J. DUCULOT, S.A., LEUVEN


GEMBLOUX (Belgique) UNIVERSITY PRESS
Toutes reproductions ou adaptations d'un extrait quelconque de ce livre
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reservees pour tous pays.

© Editions DUCULOT, PARIS-GEMBLOUX et LEUVEN UNIVERSITY PRESS,


B-3000 LEUVEN/LouVAIN (1980).
(Imprime en Belgique sur les presses Duculot) D. 1980,0035.25

ISBN 2-8011-0296-2
Avant-propos

Le present volume contient les actes de la XXXe session du Colloquium


Biblicum Lovaniense (28-30 aout 1979). En ce qui regarde le projet et le
deroulement de ce Colloque qu'il me sumse de renvoyer a 1'Introduction au
volume The Book o[ Revelation and Apocalyptic in the New Testament. On y
trouvera egalement un apen;:u des sujets traites. Les etudes qui figurent dans ce
recueil suivent 1'ordre de leur presentation dans 1'Introduction: en premier lieu
les sujets qui traitent de l'Apocalypse, ensuite les etudes qui concement le reste
du Nouveau Testament.
Nous regrettons que, pour des raisons diverses, les contributions de J.
Ponthot, J. Giblet, A. Sand, F.J. Botha et F. Rousseau ne nous sont pas parve-
nues. La conference de E. Lövestam, consacree a la deuxieme epitre de Pierre,
paraitra dans les Melanges B. Reicke; a sa place nous publions, du meme
auteur, une etude sur Mc 13,30 et par. Quant ft la discussion publique entre R.
Pesch et F. Neirynck, nous presentons d'abord le texte lu par Pesch aux Jour-
nees bibliques, suivi du Nachtrag qu'il y ajouta par apres, ensuite le texte de
Neirynck et sa re action au Nachtrag.
11 est evident que toutes les questions posees par 1'Apocalypse et 1'Apocalyp-
tique dans le Nouveau Testament ne pouvaient pas etre abordees. Nous espe-
rons neanmoins que les etudes ici rassemblees, tant par la variete des sujets que
par la rigueur de la methode mise en reuvre, contribueront a une meilleure
intelligence de ces textes des plus difficiles mais qui ne cessent de nous interro-
ger. Les tables des auteurs et des citations faciliteront la consultation du
volume.
Je remercie sincerement tous ceux qui ont contribue a la reussite de ce
Colloque, plus particulierement les auteurs de ce volume et ceux qui ont aide a
preparer les textes pour 1'impression.
Leuven, le 1 fevrier 1980 Jan LAMBRECHI
Table des matieres

J. LAMBRECHT (Leuven), The Book o[ Revelation and Apocalyptic in


the New Testament. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11-18

PREMIERE PARTIE

L'Apocalypse

U. VANNI (Roma), L'Apocalypsejohannique. Etat de la question 21-46


P.-M. BOGAERT (Louvain-la-Neuve), Les apocalypses contempo-
raines de Baruch, d'Esdras et de lean ................... . 47-68
y. JANSSENS (Louvain-la-Neuve), Apocalypses de Nag Hammadi 69-75
J. LAMBRECHT (Leuven), A Structuration o[ Revelation 4,1-22,5 . 77-104
E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA (Notre Dame), Apokalypsis and Pro-
pheteia. The Book o[ Revelation in the Context o[ Early
Christian Prophecy .................................. . 105-128
L. HARTMAN (Uppsala), Form and Message. A Preliminary
Discussion 0[« Partial Texts ) in Rev 1-3 and 22,6ff. ....... . 129-149
J. DELOBEL (Leuven), Le texte de I'Apocalypse: Problemes de
methode ... ........................................ . 151-166
G. MUSSIES (Utrecht), The Greek o[the Book o[ Revelation ... . 167-177
J. LUST (Leuven), The Order o[ the Final Events in Revelation
and in Ezekiel ...................................... . 179-183
A. YARBRO COLLINS (Chicago), Revelation 18: Taunt-Song or
Dirge? ............................................ . 185-204
M. WILCOX (Bangor), Tradition and Redaction o[ Rev 21,9-22,5 . 205-215
A.P. V AN SCHAlK (Nijmegen), "AAAO\;" aYYeAo\;" in Apk 14 ..... 217-228
J. COPPENS (Leuven), La mention d'un Fils d'homme angelique
enAp14,14 ........................................ . 229
P. PRIGENT (Strasbourg), Le temps et le Royaume dans l'Apoca-
lypse .............................................. . 231-245
T. HOLTZ (Halle-Saale), Gott in der Apokalypse . ............ . 247-265
M. DE JONGE (Leiden), The Use o[ the Expression tJ XQlaro\;" in
the Apocalypse o[lohn . .............................. . 267-281
8 TABLE DES MATIERES

B. DEHANDSCHUTTER (Leiden), The Meaning o[ Witness in the


Apocalypse ............................................ 283-288
O. BÖCHER (Mainz), Das Verhältnis der Apokalypse des
lohannes zum Evangelium deslohannes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 289-301

DEUXIEME PARTIE

Le Nouveau Testament

AS. GEYSER (Johannesburg), Some Salient New Testament Pas-


sages on the Restoration o[ the Twelve Tribes o[ Israel . ..... . 305-310
M. RESE (Münster), Die Rolle Israels im apokalyptischen Den-
ken des Paulus ...................................... . 311-318
G. MAYEDA (Tokyo), Apocalyptic in the Epistle to the Romans
- An Outline ...................................... . 319-323
R.F. COLLINS (Leuven), Tradition, Redaction, and Exhortation
in 1 Th 4,13-5,11 .................................... . 325-343
J. COPPENS (Leuven). Le katechon et le katechön: derniers
obstacles ci la parousie du Seigneur Jesus ................ . 345-348
T. KORTEWEG (Leiden), « You will seek me and you will not find
me») (ln 7,34). An Apocalyptic Pattern in lohannine Theology 349-354
R. PESCH (Freiburg), Markus 13 .......................... . 355-368
F. NEIRYNCK (Leuven), Marc 13. Examen critique de /'interpre-
tation de R. Pesch ................................... . 369-401
E. LÖVESTAM (Lund), The " yeved av<" Eschatology in Mk 13,30
parr. .............................................. . 403-413
G.R. BEASLEy-MuRRAY (Louisville), lesus and Apocalyptic:
With Special Re[erence to Mark 14,62 .................. . 415-429
Abn!viations .......................................... . 431
Table des auteurs ...................................... . 433-439
Table des citations ..................................... . 440-458
JOURNEES BIBLIQUES
DE LOUVAIN
1979
The Book of Revelation
and Apocalyptic
in the New Testament

In 1965 the topic of the Louvain Biblica1 Conference was De Jesus aux
evangiles. Tradition et rMaction dans les evangiles synoptiques. Successive1y,
in 1968 Luke, in 1970 Matthew and in 1971 Mark were treated. The subject
of the 1973 Colloquium was Jesus aux origines de la christologie, which
then concluded the study of the Synoptic gospels. In 1975, attention was
turned to the gospel of John, and in 1977 the Acts of the Apostles. In no
sm all way due to the initiative of Prof. J. Coppens I, one of the founders of
the Louvain Colloquium, the organizing committee chose for 1979 the
Book ofRevelation. Not only does the Apoca1ypse form part ofthe Corpus
johanneum, but currently, apocalyptic in general and the often neglected
Apocalypse in particular are subjects of increasing interest 2. With this
choice therefore the committee intended to meet a seemingly real need.
Although it was agreed upon that the Colloquium should not deal expli-
citly with the wide field of O.T., intertestamental and post-Biblical -
Jewish or Christian - apocalyptic texts, the original proposal was enlarged
upon in a twofo1d way. One main paper was required to treat 2 Baruch and
4 Esdras, two works which stern from roughly the same period as the
Apocalypse of John, and the other apocalyptic passages in the New Testa-
ment also called for examination and investigation.
Those who presented the main papers and the directors of the four
seminars were invited by the committee. In addition, time was provided for
twelve short papers, scheduled within four simultaneous groupings. Con-
trary to most previous years, no special evening sessions were reserved for
general discussions, the carre/ours, but instead a short question time fol-
lowed each individual conference. Much consideration, therefore, had to be

1. Cf. his article L'Apocalyptique. Son dossier. Ses criteres. Ses elements constitu-
tifs. Sa portee neotestamentaire, in ETL 53 (1977) 1-13.
2. Cf. recently the special issue of Foi et vie 75 (1976) no. 4 (= Cahiers bibliques,
15) : four " etudes sur l'Apocalypse de Jean" and a good bibliography; the special
issues on apocalyptic literature of CBQ 39 (1977) no. 3 (six articles) and of Semeia
(1979) no. 14 (seven articles) ; the conference volume : Apocalypses et theologie de
/'esperance. Congres de Toulouse 1975 (Lectio divina, 95), Paris, 1977; and the
conference on apocalyptic at Uppsala, August 1979.
12 J. LAMBRECHT

given to the timing. For almost each of the thirty or so papers, a summary
was available beforehand. 135 participants registered for this multilingual
and ecumenically-minded Biblical Colloquium ; and most of these partici-
pants enjoyed both the fine accomodations and meals which were pro-
vided at the Pauscollege of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
A wide range of subjects were treated. In this survey attention is given
first to the Book of Revelation and then to apocalyptic in the New Testa-
ment.

I. The Book of Revelation

1. A number of conferences considered what could be called, broadly


speaking, introductory questions concerning the Apocalypse. U. Vanni
(Rome), who in 1971 devoted his doctoral dissertation to the investigation
of Revelation's structure 3 and has since published numerous articles on
this book, presented the state of the question. An overview, arranged
according to the different questions, was given of the main contributions
since 1963, the date of A Feuillet's well-known work 4.
P.-M. Bogaert (Louvain) 5 dealt with the contemporaneous - after
70 AD. - apocalypses of 2 Baruch, 4 Esdras and John. His working
hypo thesis was that the Christian Book of Revelation made use of 2 Ba-
ruch, a Jewish apocalypse, and that the Jewish author of 4 Esdras knew
John's Apocalypse. In order to prove this, he analysed within these works
first the images of the twelve tribes and the river, together with the episto-
lary genre, then the references to Daniel and the Messianic figure, and,
finally, the image of the heavenly Jerusalem. In a short paper Yvonne
Janssens (Louvain) 6 surveyed and characterized the Gnostic Apocalypses
of N ag Hammadi.
The much debated problem of the structure of the Book of Revelation
was treated by mys elf 7. I proposed a structuration ofRev 4,1-22,5 which

3. La struttura letteraria deli' Apocalisse (Aloisiana, 8), Rome, 1971.


4. L'Apocalypse. Etat de la question (Stud. Neotest. Subsidia, 3), Paris-Brugge,
1963.
5. Cf. his studies Apocalypse de Baruch. Introduction, traduction du syriaque et
commentaire (Sources chretiennes, 144-145), Paris, 1969; La ruine de Jerusalem et
les apocalypses juives apres 70, in Apocalypses et theologie de l'esperance (see n. 2),
pp. 123-141.
6. Cf. her article Evangiles gnostiques in Archiv für Papyrusforschung 22 (1974)
229-247.
7. I have recently written in Dutch three short articles on the Apocalypse : De
Kwade en het kwaad in Aggiornamento 9 (1977) 192-196; Apokalyps 11, 1-14: uitleg
en actualisatie and De verrijzenis van de twee getuigen in Apok. 11, 1-14: theologische
reflectie in De sluier opgelicht ? Apokalyptiek in Oud en Nieuw Testament, Leuven,
1979, pp. 62-80 and 81-94.
REVELATION AND APOCALYPTIC 13

attempts to represent in a visual way how through his encompassing tech-


nique John combines recapitulation and progression and thus creates an
impressive and coherent whole.
Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza (Notre Dame), who after her doctoral
thesis 8 often retumed to the Book of Revelation, situates this book, gen-
erally understood as a slightly Christianized form of Jewish apocalyptic,
within the context of early Christian prophecy. John should be seen as the
leader of a specific prophetic-apocalyptic school or circle whose members
lived within the communities of Asia Minor. At least two other directions
or schools can be identified : the realized eschatology of the Jezebel group
and the school represented by the Pastoral Epistles which defend the
patriarchal household order. All three reflect post-Pauline development in
Asia Minor.
In the English-speaking seminar directed by L. Hartman (Uppsala) and
entitled Form and Message. A Discussion o[ Form and Forms in the Apoca-
lypse o[ lohn, special attention was given to Rev 1-3 and 22,6-22, and in
particular to the sm aller forms (the partial texts of these passages) and
their function within the context. M. Goulder (Birmingham) was unfortu-
nately at the last minute prevented from coming to Louvain to deliver his
brief communication on the Apocalypse as a year's cycle of prophecy.
In his conference Le texte de l'Apocalypse: problemes de methode,
J .. Delobel (Leuven) explained why textual criticism of the Apocalypse
should not reckon too much with spectacular innovations. He discussed the
very particular situation of the text of this book and by means of examples
(esp.2, 1 and 13, 10) illustrated some ofits methodological problems.
Finally, two short papers should also be included in this first paragraph.
G. Mussies (Utrecht), whose major linguistical study on the Apocalypse is
weIl known 9, again took up this subject and added a number ofinteresting
remarks on the Greek ofthis book. J. Lust (Leuven) compared the order of
the final events in Revelation and the book of Ezekiel ; special attention
was given to Rev 19-22 and Ez 37-48.

2. Most invited speakers had been asked not only to deal with general
themes butalso to analyse texts or passages from Revelation. Wehave
already noted how, e.g., L. Hartman took his point of departure from
Rev 1-3 and 22,6-22. The three following participants also investigated
specific text units. Adela Yarbro Collins (Chicago), who has published a
dissertation 10 and several articles on the Apocalypse, chose ch. 18 : Is this

8. ·Priester für Gott. Studien zum Herrschafts-und Priestermotiv in der Apokalypse


(Neutest. AbhandI., 7), Münster 1972.
9. The Morphology of Koine Greek as Used in the Apocalypse of St. John. A
Study in Bilingualism (SupplNT, 27), Leiden, 1971.
10. The Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation (Harv. Dissert. Re!., 9), Mis-
soula, 1976.
14 J. LAMBRECHT

chapter a taunt-song or a dirge? Because of family circumstances she


could not be present at the Colloquium, but her manuscript had arrived,
and in it the author carefu1ly analyses the form and origin of the small sub-
units - the many dirges ! - ofthis chapter as well as the editor's intention
to creatively rewrite and combine his material into a new whole. Rev 18 as
a redacted unity is decidedly no longer a dirge! M. Wi1cox (Bangor) inves-
tigated the tradition and redaction of Rev 21,9-22,5. In his opinion the
passage is not a mere creation by John but depends upon Jewish tradition-
al material which, however, the author sharply revises. A. P. van Schaik
(Nijmegen) TIconducted the Dutch-speaking seminar which was concerned
with Rev 14. In particular, two expressions from that chapter were dis-
cussed. Does "another " in the expression " another angel"
(vv. 6.8.9.15.17.18) perhaps point to another time, the end-time, and not
just to another, different angel? The utterance by the angel of prophetie
words valid in that time may confirm this opinion. In " seated on the c10ud
one like a son of man" (v. 14), the expression" son of man ", here as in
I, 13, is not used as a Christological title but functions as an element within
the Christophany 12.

3. In the French-speaking seminar, directed by J. Ponthot (Louvain) 13,


a specifie text, Rev 11, was also focussed upon, although the discussion
really concerned the whole Book of Revelation. The question was asked
whether lohn the Seer primarily intends to predict the course of eschatolo-
gical events or, rather, uses his visions and symbols, whose historie al
sequence is fictitious, with the actual ecc1esiological aim of exhorting his
fellow Christians. Since Ponthot and others think that in John's view the
Christians still living on earth are also in an anticipatory way already
present in heaven, the innerworldy category of' time' is broken. This and
similar themes were also dealt with by P. Prigent (Strasbourg) 14 in his
conferenee Le temps et le Royaume dans l'Apocalypse. From an analysis of
Rev 21, 1-22,5 it c1early appears that the coming of Christ, who has al-
ready come, is announced. The speaker stated that the human categories of
time and spaee are unable to express the newness of existence given by
God and that therefore God's Kingdom can be spoken of as future only in
an improper way.

11. Cf. his commentary De Openbaring van Johannes (Het Nieuwe Testament
vertaald en toegelicht), Roermond, 1971.
12. A short note on Rev 14, 14, La mention d'un Fils d'homme angelique in
Ap 14, 14, is offered to the Congress Volume by J. Coppens who suggests a non-
Christological use of the expression.
13. Together with P. Prigent, J. Ponthot has translated the Book of Revelation
for the" Traduction CEcumenique de la Bible".
14. See note 13. P. Prigent has published a great number of studies on the
Apocalypse. His commentary in the series " Commentaire du Nouveau Testament"
. is ready for the press.
REVELATION AND APOCALYPTIC 15

T. Holtz (Halle-Saale) 15treated God and M. de Jonge (Leiden) Christ


in the Book of Revelation. The first speaker very much emphasized the
theocentric character of the Apocalypse and Christ's place within this
conception. The second investigated the use of the expression "the
Christ" and therefore studied especially 11, 15-19; 12, 10-12 and 20, 4-6.
The expression functions in texts which deal with God's and his Messiah's
future rule (or with the victory already won).
A. Sand 16 introduced and moderated the German-speaking seminar.
Its topic was Die widergöttlichen Mächte in der Apokalypse nach lohannes.
Wh at specific texts in Rev speak of the anti-divine powers ? Wh at precisely
is said of them ? What kind of attitude should be adopted in the communi-
ties over against these powers ? At the end of this third, more thematic and
theological paragraph the short papers of B. Dehandschutter (Leiden) The
Meaning 01 Witness in the Apocalypse and of F.J. Botha (Pretoria) Symbo-
lism 01 Numbers in the Apocalypse 01 lohn ought also to be mentioned.

4. Finally, two papers examined the Book of Revelation in its relation


to the other Johannine writings. In Das Verhältnis der Apokalypse des
lohannes zum Evangelium des lohannes, O. Böcher (Mainz) 17 discussed an
extensive dossier of similitudes between the two works and formulated his
prudent conclusions which pointed not to the same author but to a com-
mon tradition. J. Giblet (Louvain) raised the question of the extent to
which the eschatology of the Johannine Epistles is related to that of the
Book of Revelation. The figure of the antichrist was given careful atten-
tion.

11. Apocalyptic in the New Testament

It was, of course, impossible to treat all the apocalyptic passages in the


New Testament; moreover, even all of those which were treated were not
investigated in an equally thorough way. Our overview, however, again
witnesses to the broad spectrum of topics. Before referring to the four main
fields in the N.T., let us, because of its general theme, first mention the
short paper of A.S. Geyser (Johannesburg) Some Salient New Testament
Passages on the Restoration 01 the Twelve Tribes 01 Israel. In his view, not
only several passages ofthe gospels (esp. Matthew) but also texts in James,

15. Cf. his dissertation, Die Christologie der Apokalypse des Johannes (TU, 85),
Berlin, 1962; 2nd ed., 1971 (with Nachtrag).
16. A Sand has published the study Zur Frage nach dem' Sitz im Leben' der
apokalyptischen Texte des Neuen Testaments, in NTS 18 (1971-1972) 167-177.
17. Cf. his introductory work Die Johannesapokalypse (Erträge der Forschung,
42), Darmstadt, 1975 (with a good bibliography). He is preparing a commentary on
the Book of Revelation for the series " Evangelisch-Katholischer Kommentar zum
Neuen Testament ".
16 J. LAMBRECHT

Acts and Revelation confirm that the Judean church prepared itself and
awaited the physical restoration of the Twelve Tribe Kingdom in Jerusa-
lern and the ancestral triballands. It was Jesus who by creating and com-
missioning the twelve apostles triggered the 'ingathering' of the twelve
tribes.

l. Originally four conferences were planned regarding the Corpus


paulinum. Because of illness M. Rese (Münster) was unable to read his
short paper Die Rolle Israels im apokalyptischen Denken des Pau/us. None-
theless, we are glad to be able to include the text in the Congress Volume.
Juliana Casey (St. Meinrad), who in 1976 defended her doctoral disserta-
tion at Leuven, Eschatology in Heb 12, 14-29, was to examine the apocalyp-
tic bias of this passage, but a new appointment forced her to decline her
initial acceptance. In a short paper G. Mayeda (Tokyo) dealt with Apoca-
lyptic in the Epistle to the Romans. Paul's belief in the new creation and
his expectation of the parousia in the near future, together with the situa-
tion of constant threat and danger, led hirn to be profoundly apocalyptic in
thought.
R.F. Collins (Leuven) 18 discussed tradition, red action and exhortation
in 1 Th 4, 13-5, ll. According to this speaker, this important passage is a
Pauline creation. Paul has freely made use of traditional material, includ-
ing not a few apocalyptic motifs, in order to supply what was lacking in the
faith of the Thessalonians and to encourage them to live in accordance
with their eschatological conditions. In this paper reference was also made
to the parallel passages of 1 Cor 15,52 and Rom 13, ll-14. J. Coppens, for
the first time because of illness not present at the Conference, is preparing
for the Volume a short note on 2 Th 2, 12 19 •

2. The lohannine writings were explicitly dealt with by O. Bächer and


J. Giblet (see under 14). Here the brief communication of T. Korteweg
(Leiden) ought also to be mentioned. This speaker investigated one verse
from John's gospel: "You will seek me and you will not find me" (7, 34).
He called it an apocalyptic problem in Johannine theology.

18. Cf. his studies on 1 Th: The Church o[the Thessalonians, in Louvain Studies
5 (1974-1975) 336-349; The Theology o[ Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians in
Ibid. 6 (1976-1977) 315-337; Apropos the Integrity o[ 1 Thes in ETL 55 (1979) 67-
\06.
19. Cf. his two previous articles on 2 Th 2: Le "mystere " dans la theologie
paulinienne et ses paralleles qumraniens in A. DESCAMPS (ed.) Litterature et theologie
pauliniennes (Recherehes bibliques, 5), Brugge, 1960, pp. 142-165, esp. pp. 149-150
and 163-165; English translation in J. MURPHy-O'CONNOR (ed.) Paul and Qumran.
Studies in New Testament Exegesis, London, 1968, pp. 132-158; and Les deux
obstacles au retour glorieux du Sauveur, in ETL 46 (1970) 383-389.
REVELATION AND APOCALYPTIC 17

3. E. Lövestam (Lund) was asked to consider the Second Letter 0/


Peter. His paper, Eschatologie und Tradition im 2. Petrusbrief, paid special
attention to chapter three and its affinity to Mt 24.

4. The Synoptic Gospels had a somewhat more prominent place in the


Colloquium. In the presence of G.R. Beasley-Murray, L. Hartman and
myself, three authors who worked on the Marcan Apocalyptic Dis-
cource 20, R. Pesch (Frankfurt), himself a specialist on the subject, compa-
red some items of his 1968 dissertation with those of his commentary from
1977 21. Pesch today emphasizes very much that in Mk 13 as weIl as in the
rest of his gospel the evangelist is a conservative editor depending heavily
on sources. The full text of the respondent to this paper, F. Neirynck
(Leuven) 22, was given in advance to the participants ofthe Colloquium. In
it four points are critically reviewed : the flight to PeIla, the conc1usion of
the so-called pre-Marcan Apocalypse (13, 28-31), the sign (13, 24-25), and
the introduction of the pre-Marcan discourse (13, 3-4). After a short sum-
mary of these points by the respondent, the discussion between Pesch and
Neirynck was opened. It c1early reflected different evaluations of Mark's
redactional activity : " in dubio pro traditione " over against " in du bio pro
textu". Other participants then joined in the discussion 23.
F. Rousseau (Montreal) 24 devoted a short paper to the structure of
Mk 13, 24-25 and its parallels. And E. Lövestam, the speaker on 2 Pet, has
also offered a study on Mk 13, 30 parf. for the Congress Volume.

20. G.R. BEASLEy-MuRRAY, Jesus and the Future. An Examination olthe Criti-
cism 01 the Esehatologieal Discourse, Mark 13, with Special Relerenee to the Little
Apoealypse Theory, London, 1954; A Commentary on Mark Thirteen, London,
1957; L. HARTMAN, Propheey Interpreted. The Formation 01 Some Jewish Apoealyp-
tie Texts and olthe Esehatologieal Discourse Mark 13 par. (Coni. BibI., NT-Ser., I),
Lund, 1966; J. LAMBRECHT, Die Redaktion der Markus-Apokalypse. Literarische
Analyse und Strukturuntersuchung (AB, 28), Rome, 1967; Die Logia-Quellen von
Markus 13, in Bib 47 (1966) 321-360.
21. Naherwartungen. Tradition und Redaktion in Mk 13, Düsseldorf, 1968; Das
Markusevangelium (Herders Theol. Komm. NT), Vol. II, Freiburg-Basel-Wien,
1977, pp. 264-318 : " Mk 13 : Die eschatologische Rede".
22. Cf. his review artic1e of Lambrecht and Pesch Le disco urs anti-apocalyptique
de Me., XIII, in ETL 45 (1969) 154-164, and L'Evangile de Mare. Apropos d'un
nouveau eommentaire, in ETL 53 (1977) 153-181 ; L'Evangile de Mare (II). Apropos
de R. Peseh, Das Markusevangelium, 2. Teil, in ETL 55 (1979) 1-42.
23. We mayaiso mention besides that of F. Neirynck (see previous note) some
other reviews: J. GNILKA, Mark 13 in der Diskussion in BZ 13 (1969) 129-134
(Hartman, Lambrecht, Pesch); L. HARTMAN, review in Bib 49 (1968) 130-133
(Lambrecht); J. LAMBRECHT, Die 'Midraseh-Quelle' von Mk 13, in Bib 49 (1968)
254-270 (Hartman) ; and review in Theol. Rev. 65 (1969) 457-459 (Pesch) ; S. LE-
GASSE, Le Discours esehatologique de Mare 13 d'apres trois ouvrages reeents in Bull.
Litt. Eccl. 71 (1970) 241-261 (Hartman, Lambrecht, Pesch); D. WENHAM, Reeent
Study 01 Mark 13, in Tyndale Bull. 71 (1975) 6-15; 72 (1975) 1-9 (among others:
Hartman, Lambrecht, Pesch).
24. Cf. his La strueture de Mare 13, in Bib 56 (1975) 157-172. He has also pub-
18 J. LAMBRECHT

Finally, with special reference to Mk 14,62 G.R. Beasley-Murray


(Louisville) 25, who obligingly replaced the absent Adela Yarbro Collins,
treated the topic Jesus and Apocalyptic. Apocalyptic eschatology is present
in Jesus' proc1amation. However, Jesus' apoca1yptic is peculiar because of
the radicality of his stress on the coming of God and its relation to his own
ministry. The speaker then pleaded for the historicity of Jesus' trial, of the
Son of Man-sayings and, in particular, of Mk 14,62 which, combining
exaltation and coming, may be described as apoca1yptic because of the
uniqueness of God's intervention embodied in it.

The discussions during this Colloquium were generally very lively and,
inevitably, often too short. Differences in approach and opinion were
manifest, not only with regard to Synoptic exegesis (tradition-redaction !)
but also in relation to a basic understanding of the Apocalypse (e.g. its
eschatology: real future or anticipated victory). It is hoped that the present
publication of the texts will enable readers to both concretize and nuance
this brief, necessarily general survey. May the Congress Volume also
confirm the impression of many participants that this thirtieth Colloquium
Biblicum Lovaniense was a successful and exegetically fruitful meeting.

Waversebaan 220 J. LAMBRECHT S.J.


B-3030 Leuven (Heverlee)

lished a study on the Book of Revelation: L'Apocalypse et le milieu prophhique du


Nouveau Testament. Structure et prl?histoire du texte (Recherehes, 3), Toumai-Mont-
real, 1971.
25. See n. 21; and also his commentary The Book o[ Revelation (New Century
Bible), London, 1974.
PREMIERE PARTIE

L'APOCALYPSE JOHANNIQUE
L'Apocalypse johannique
Etat de la question

I. Introduction

Le titre de cette communication veut rappeier le livre bien connu


d'A. Feuillet publie en 1963: L'Apocalypse. Etat de la question. S'inserant
dans le courant de reconnaissance de l'apocalyptique et, plus particuliere-
ment, de l'interet renouvele pour I'Apocalypse de Jean, le livre de Feuillet
devait trouver une audience des plus favorables, apportant a ce mouve-
ment une contribution remarquee, comme en temoignent les traductions et
les nombreux compte-rendus dont il a ete l'objet.
Notre but est d'abord de suivre, dans ses grandes lignes, le developpe-
ment des etudes sur l' Apocalypse depuis la publication du livre mentionne
et de proposer ensuite une esquisse synthetique de la situation teIle qu'elle
se presente aujourd'hui.

11. Le developpement des etudes


sur I'Apocalypse a partir de 1963

Meme pour une presentation panoramique qui se veut toutefois rela-


tivement complete, la complexite des etudes publiees au cours de ces
demieres annees exige un schema de presentation plus articule que celui
de Feuillet. Apres un rapide aper~u sur les etudes bibliographiques et les
ouvrages d'introduction, nous concentrerons notre attention sur les ques-
tions litteraires et l'hermeneutique pour aborder enfin les etudes situant
l'Apocalypse dans son milieu historique et religieux, notamment sous
l'aspect de ses rapports avec l'Ancien et le Nouveau Testament. Sur cette
toile de fond, les apports plus specifiquement theologiques ainsi que les
nombreux commentaires publies ces demieres annees pourront ressortir
avec plus de relief. Finalement, nous prendrons en consideration les etudes
plus particulieres et limite es en vue d'une prise de contact plus analytique
et immediate avec le texte meme et les problemes que son interpretation
pose aujourd'hui avec le plus d'acuHe. Quelques breves remarques plus
generales conclueront notre expose.
22 U. VANNI

III. Bibliographie et introductions

Comme pour d'autres domaines du Nouveau Testament, nous dispo-


sons, pour l'Apocalypse, de monographies et de bulletins bibliogra-
phiques I qui constituent un instrument de travail tres valable, surtout -
nous nous referons particulierement a l'reuvre de O. Böcher - quand le
travail a ete pense dans la perspective d'une histoire de l'exegese.
Les introductions sont necessairement liees a l'epoque qui les a vues
naHre. Meme dans des ouvrages d'introduction, on constate que la rede-
couverte de l'apocalyptique fut liee a la problematique des correspon-
dances et divergences entre l'Apocalypse de Jean et la grande ecole apoca-
lyptique. Sur ce point, ces travaux devaient conclure massivement a la
forte originalite de S. Jean 2.
P.S. Minear, apres Feuillet, suscita un grand interet par sa contribution
aux introductions a l'Apocalypse, notamment par son etude des visions de
l'Apocalypse, comme l'indique le titre de son ouvrage 3.
Poursuivant de maniere plus systematique ses recherches sur l'etat de la
question, Feuillet, dans une suite d'articles (dont le titre est, par lui-meme,
une explication: Jalons pour une meilleure intelligence de l'Apocalypse),
nous a donne une introduction, peut-etre, la plus elaboree jusqu'a ce jour.
Les problemes litteraires, exegetiques, historiques, theologiques s'entre-
melent en une masse impressionnante d'informations. Meme si le lecteur
n'en sort pas convaincu, les details qu'il y trouve le poussent a approfondir
continuellement sa recherche 4.

1. O. BÖCHER, Die Johannesapokalypse (Erträge der Forschung, 41), Darmstadt,


1976; U. VANNI, Rassegna bibliografica sull'Apocalisse (1970-1975), dans Rivista
Biblica 24 (1976) 277-301.
2. Le probleme a et{: traite explicitement par P. PRIGENT, Apocalypse et apoca-
lyptique, dans Rev. Sc. Rel. 47 (1973) 280-299. L'auteur a montre, en analysant
plusieurs points de contact, l'originalite de I'Apocalypse johannique (Je phenomene
de la pseudonymie est absent; la part de l'esoterisme et du symbolisme est plus
modeste; la pi ace centra1e reservee a la figure du Christ change la perspective
dualis te ; la conception de I'histoire para!t plus proehe du prophetisme de I' Ancien
Testament que du determinisme de l'apocalyptique juive, etc.). R. BAUCKHAM, The
Martyrdom o[ Enoch and Elijah: Jewish or Christian? dans JBL 95 (1976) 447-458,
souligne l'originalite de I'Apocalypse par rapport a l'apocalyptique juive. Celle-ci
aurait ete influencee par I'Apocalypse de Jean: l'idee du martyre d'Elie serait
derivee de l'episode des deux temoins.
3. P.S. MINEAR, I saw a New Earth. An Introduction to the Visions o[ the Apoca-
lypse, Washington, 1969.
4. Sous le titre plus general Jalons po ur une mei/leure intelligence de l'Apoca-
lypse, I'auteur a publie d'abord une serie de quatre articles: Vue d'ensemble sur la
revelation johannique dans Esprit et Vie 84 (1974) 481-490; Le prologue et la vision
inaugurale (chapitre 1), ibid. 85 (1975) 65-72 ; Les leUres aux eglises (chapitres 2 et 3),
ibid., pp. 209-223 ; Introduction ci la partie prophetique, ibid., pp. 432-443. Ensuite a
L' APOCALYPSE JOHANNIQUE 23

Moins detailh'!s que les articles de Feuillet, d'autres travaux d'introduc-


tion presentent une orientation globale qui veut aider a la comprehension
de l'Apocalypse, en mettant a profit les contributions que la recherche de
ces dernieres annees offre dans les differents secteurs : nous pensons, par
exemple, aux introductions de H. Gollinger, de M-E. Boismard et a celle
que nous avons nous-meme tente d'esquisser 5. Par ailleurs, nous trouve-
rons dans les commentaires dont nous parlerons des introductions d'un
niveau parfois tres remarquable.
Enfin, quelques travaux d'introduction presentent des orientations
assez claires : tout en assurant leur fonction de premiere prise de contact,
ces ouvrages soulignent des aspects que leurs auteurs jugent significatifs :
la dimension fondamentale de l'Apocalypse y est situee dans l'esperance,
dans son aspect liturgique, sa perspective eschatologique ou son symbo-
lisme 6.

IV. L'henneneutique de I'Apocalypse

Toutes les introductions traitent plus ou moins explicitement de I'her-


meneutique de I'Apocalypse. Les nombreuses acceptions que ce terme a
acquises aujourd'hui ne doivent pas nous dispenser de preciser la nature et
la fonction qu'il doit avoir dans le cas de l' Apocalypse. Par souci de clarte,
nous pouvons d'abord parler de I'hermeneutique en soi, c'est-a-dire de
l'orientation methodologique generale adoptee dans l'interpretation de
l'Apocalypse ou, plus precisement, des differents paliers suivant lesquels se
developpe le processus d'interpretation. Nous pouvons ensuite parler
d'une hermeneutique appliquee, telle que nous la trouvons dans les travaux
qui tentent d'articuler l'Apocalypse dans son rapport immediat a la vie.
En ce qui conerne l'hermeneutique comme telle, le developpement de
l'interpretation de I'Apocalypse sera different selon que l'on adopte

paru, toujours dans Esprit et Vie, une autre contribution dans la meme ligne:
Quelques enigrnes des chapitres 4 a 7 de l'Apocalypse. Suggestions pour l'interpreta-
tion du langage irnagine de la revelationjohannique, 86 (1976) 455-459.471-479.
5. H. GOLLINGER, Die Kirche in der Bewahrung. Eine Einführung in die Offenba-
rung des Johannes (Der Christ in der Welt, l3), Aschaffenburg, 1973; M.-E. BOIS-
MARD, L'Apocalypse de Jean, dans A. GEORGE, P. GRELOT, Introduction a la Bible,
Torne 111/4, Paris, 1977, pp. l3-55. Cf. P. PRIGENT, Flash sur l'Apocalypse, Neuchä-
tel-Paris, 1974; U. VANNI, Apocalisse. Una assernblea liturgica interpreta la storia
(LOB, 2.15), Brescia, 1979, pp. 7-26.
6. Cf. G.R. BEASLEy-MuRRAY, Highlights of the Book of Revelation, Nashville,
1972. Ce livre, qui reproduit une serie de conferences donnees par 1'auteur, insiste
sur 1'esperance comme theme fondamental de 1'Apocalypse. T. KONSTANTINOS, 'H
'AnoKllAV'lflc; rou 'Iwavvov, Athenes, 1973, offre une presentation rythmee du texte
pour en faciliter l'usage liturgique. V. ELLER, The Most Revealing Book of the Bible.
Making sense out of Revelation, Grand Rapids, 1974, croit deceler dans la dimension
eschatologique et surtout dans le temps de la fin les deux fils conducteurs de toute
l' Apocalypse.
24 U. VANNI

comme methode fondamentale celle de l'histoire du passe, de l'histoire


contemporaine de l'Apocalypse ou celle de l'eschatologie imminente ou
rHeree au futur de l'Eglise. D'un cöte, une exposition claire de ces metho-
des est utile po ur prendre conscience de la differenciation des options
hermeneutiques 7. D'un autre cöte, l'application simultanee de ces dif-
ferentes methodes, pourvu qu'elle soit faite avec fair-play et serenite,
manifeste, a travers le resultat des conclusions divergentes, a quel point il
est important d'appronfondir la perspective de depart 8.
L'hermeneutique de l' Apocalypse, dans son developpement interpreta-
tif, rencontre inevitablement la question des symboles. Que ce soit sous la
forme de l'analyse minutieuse des elements symboliques particuliers 9 ou
sous un aspect plus general 10, on se rend compte de l'importance de ce
probleme.
Au-dela de la question symbolique comme telle, nous rencontrons celle,
plus generale, du mecanisme qui regle le developpement du processus
hermeneutique. Faisant suite a certaines affirmations de principe, interes-
santes mais encore trop generales ou abstraites 11, quelques tentatives ont
ete faites dans le but de preciser davantage cette demarche hermeneutique
dans le cadre d'une perspective « sapientielle » •
. 0 voij~ 6 EXffiV O"o<piav (17, 9) serait l' activite par laquelle est decode le
symbole: celui-ci, une fois mis par ecrit et ainsi devenu I.lI)O"tllQlOV, exerce

7. Cf. B. MARCONCINI, Differenti metodi nell'interpretazione dell'Apocallisse,


dans Bibbia e Oriente 18 (1976) 121-131.
8. On en trouve un exemple typique dans G.R. BEASLEY-MuRRAY, H.H. HOBBS,
R.F. ROBBINS, Revelation. Three Viewpoints, Nashville, 1977. Les trois points de vue
que les auteurs exposent essayent d'appliquer a l'interpretation d'ensemble de
I'Apocalypse sont: « premillennial perspective» (Beasley-Murray), « a millennial
position » (Hobbs) et 1'« apocalyptic character» (Robbins).
9. Un exemple particulierement reussi et qui montre combien il est utile de
s'engager dans cette direction est presente dans I'etude de R. BAUCKHAM, The
Eschatological Earthquake in the Apocalypse of John, dans NT 19 (1977) 224-233.
On trouvera d'autres indications dans A. FEUILLET, Quelques enigmes des chapitres 4
ci 7 de I'Apocalypse. Suggestions pour !'interpretation du langage imagine de la revela-
tion johannique, dans Esprit et Vie 86 (1976) 455-459. 471-479.
10. Cf. D. EZELL, Revelations on Revelation. New Sounds fram Old Symbols,
Waco, 1977. Ce livre concentre son attention sur 1e changement de sens que la croix-
resurrection produit dans les symboles usuels de I'Ancien Testament. Voir aussi
M. VELOSO, Simbolos en el Apocalipsis de San Juan, dans Revista Biblica 38 (1976)
321-338. Apres avoir brosse un apen;u panoramique des differents systemes d'inter-
pretation, I'article etudie le dynamisme que les symboles semblent acquerir dans
I'Apocalypse et debouche sur des conclusions a orientation nettement theologique
(perspectives historique, ecclesiale et christologique).
11. Cf. par exemple N. GENTON-SUNIER, Exegese spirituelle de la Bible. Apoca-
lypse de Jean, Boudry-Neuchätel, 1975. L'auteur presente une methode d'exegese
spirituelle qui aboutit a une prise de conscience de I' Absolu realisee soit par I'assem-
blee, soit par l'individu. L' Apocalypse est ainsi reinterpretee sous ce point de vue ;
mais la juste exigence hermeneutique d'un contact direct avec la vie n'empeche pas
que l'on s'enlise aisement dans les sables mouvants du subjectivisme ...
L' APOCALYPSE JOHANNIQUE 25

sur le lecteur une certaine pression qui suscite l'interpretation ; un examen


de 1'horizon historique s'impose ensuite en vue de preciser quel type d'i-
dentite (si identite il y a), sociologique, politique, etc. entre dans le para-
digme theologique qui se degage du symbole, examen qui entraine un
certain nombre d'operations appropriees 12.
Pour 1'hermeneutique appliquee, differents essais ont ete tentes d'une
application immediate du texte a la vie. Abstraction faite des applications
purement fantaisistes s'egarant toujours et inevitablement dans le morbide
et 1'etrange, il existe une tendance qui s'efforce de reconduire « saine-
ment » 1'Apocalypse dans 1'actualite de la vie. Certains travaux se sont
efforces de situer 1'Apocalypse dans le milieu liturgique qui 1'a vue naHre.
A 1'ouvrage de R. Gutzwiller deja cite par Feuillet 13, nous ajouterons les
meditations sur l' Apocalypse de D. Barsotti 14. Plusieurs commentaires
vont dans le meme sens.
Ce passage a la vie est une exigence intrinseque de l' Apocalypse. Cepen-
dant, a 1'instar de l'hermeneutique, dont nous parlions plus haut, qui
risquerait de dem eurer abstraite et vide de sens si elle ne subissait la con-
trepreuve d'une interpretation appliquee, 1'application elle-meme t<;>mbe-
rait facilement dans la partialite et deviendrait sans couleurs en stagnant
dans le vague si elle ne tenait pas compte des indications plus techniques
de l'exegese. Autrement dit, une application simpliste, teIle que nous la
trouvons dans certains ouvrages, ne parvient pas a saisir quelle est 1'appli-
cation specifique de 1'Apocalypse a la vie.

V. Les aspects litteraires

L'hermeneutique est Me aux etudes litteraires et en depend : teIle est


l'affirmation fondamentale qui se degage du livre recent de K.A. Strand 15,
representant 1'aboutissement du vaste mouvement des travaux litteraires
de ces dernieres annees. Ces differentes contributions qu'on peut rassem-
bier sous le titre assez generique d' « etudes litteraires », se sont multipliees
a un point tel qu'elles marquent de leurs caracteristiques le tableau actuel
des ouvrages sur l' Apocalypse.

12. Cf. U. VANNI, La riflessione sapienziale come atteggiamento ermeneutico


costante nell'Apocalisse, dans Rivista Biblica 24 (1976) 185-197.
13. R. GUTZWILLER, Herr der Herrscher. Christus in der geheimen Offenbarung,
Einsiedeln-Zürich-Köln, 1951. Cf. A. FEUILLET, L'Apocalypse. Etat de la question
(Stud. Neotest. Subs., III), Paris-Bruges, 1963, p. 57.
14. D. BARSOTTI, Meditazione sull'Apocalisse, Brescia, 1966.
15. K.A. STRAND, Interpreting the Book of Revelation. Hermeneutical Guidelines
with Brief Introduction to Literary Analysis, Washington, 31976. Le changement du
titre - dans les deux editions precMentes on lisait The Open Gates of Heaven - est
significatif: il souligne l'interet renouvele pour les problemes litteraires, tels que le
milieu litteraire, les symboles, les analyses litteraires (structures chiastiques, etc.).
26 U. VANNI

La structure du livre est l'un des principaux problemes abordes par


l'etude litteraire. La question fut d'abord traitee sur des bases exclusive-
ment litteraires 16, traitement qui a abouti a foumir pour toute l' Apoca-
lypse une eventuelle trame litteraire de base. Apres les precisions critiques
de CH. Giblin et d'autres qui s'ensuivirent 17, la recherche a ete poursuivie
de differents cötes. Combinant la methode d'analyse litteraire classique et
la methode structurale modeme dans une vision theologique ou l'eschato-
logie occupe une place privilegiee, E. Schüssler Fiorenza parvient a etablir
une structure concentrique de l'Apocalypse particulierement detaillee 18.
F. Rousseau propose du livre une division en stiques fixes d'apres le
rythme de la recitation, en la basant sur une enquete sur les couches litte-
raires eventuelles qui, sous l'influence du milieu prophetique du Nouveau
Testament, auraient donne lieu au texte actuel de l'Apocalypse 19.
L'etude de la langue s'est developpee de fa90n originale et stimulante
dans deux directions qui furent l'objet de nombreuses critiques : nous nous
referons ici au livre de A. Lancelotti et a l'ouvrage de G. Mussies.
Si la proposition de Lancelotti de voir dans. le substrat du texte des
formes verbales hebralques - notamment la forme wayiktol - permet
d'elucider brillamment certains problemes touchant le temps des verbes,
par contre, si on l'applique d'une maniere systematique, elle provoque et

16. Cf. U. VANNI, La struttura letteraria dell'Apocalisse (Aloisiana, 8), Roma,


1971. Une analyse minutieuse des donnees litteraires qui semblent etre en relation
avec la structure du livre amene a la division suivante : I, 1-3: prologue; 1,4-3,22:
premiere partie; la deuxieme partie (4, 1-22, 5) se subdivise en cinq sections : 4, 1-5,
14; 6, 1-7, 17; 8, 1-11, 14; 11, 15-16, 16; 16, 17-22,5. Entre les deux parties, et plus
specialement entre les sections de la deuxieme partie, il y a un mouvement qui va en
s'accroissant et qui aboutit a la situation eschatologique. Un epilogue, sous forme de
dialogue liturgique idealise, conc1ut le livre: 22, 6-21.
17. C.H. GIBLIN, Structural and Thematic Correlations in the Theology oi Revela-
tion 16-22, dans Bib 55 (1974) 487-504.
18. E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, apres avoir developpe ses conceptions en une
premiere etude - The Eschatology and Composition oi the Apocalypse, dans CBQ 30
(1968) 537-569 -, a approfondi recemment le sujet: Composition and Structure oi
the Book oi Revelation, dans CBQ 39 (1977) 344-366. Voici le schema de structure
qu'on y trouve: A: I, 1-8; B: 1,9-3,22; C: 4, 1-9,21; 11, 15-19; D: 10, 1-15,4;
C': 15, 1.5-19, 10; B': 19, 11-22,9; A': 22,10-21. La partie plus specifiquement
theologico-politique se trouve ainsi au centre du livre (10, 1-15, 4). Le livre meme
aurait la forme typique d'une lettre apostolique comme nous en rencontrons dans le
milieu chn!tien primitif. On peut objecter que la structure concentrique n'explique
pas le mouvement de progression qui semble propre a l'Apocalypse. Les deplace-
ments operes dans le texte, meme partie1s et motives, font naHre le souPlion qu'il
s'agit d'un schema trop logique et apriori.
19. F. RoussEAu, L'Apocalypse et le milieu prophhique du Nouveau Testament.
Structure et prehistoire du texte. (Recherches, 3), Paris-Tournai-Montreal, 1971 (voir
l'appendice 3 : Le texte de l'Apocalypse selon un plan nouveau et une disposition des
versets en stiques, pp. 177-218).
, APOCALYPSE JOHANNIQUE 27

cree de tels problemes que l'hypothese de 1'ouvrage en devient fort proble-


matique 20. L'etude de Mussies 21 est tout autant soignee et originale: en
prenant pour base du texte le codex A, 1'auteur en examine dans le detail
1'orthographe, la phonetique et 1'usage des verbes. Pour deconcertant qu'il
puisse paraitre, notamment par le reours a une technique nouvelle issue du
structuralisme linguistique, ce travail presente toutefois un avantage incon-
testable : il met en contact immediat avec 1'ensemble des multiples pro-
blemes que souleve le systeme employe par le codex A.
N. Turner, quant a lui, nous a donne un precis synthetique du style de
l' Apocalypse 22.
Le langage de l'Apocalypse constitue pour 1'analyse linguistique struc-
turale un domaine interessant de recherche. Ce probleme qu'avaient deja
aborde les etudes de Mussies et de Schüssler Fiorenza, a ete traite pour lui-
meme par J. Calloud, J. Delorme et J.-P. Duplantier qui, en appliquant au
texte les categories de Greimas, ont pu mettre en evidence la <dogique »
particuliere de 1'Apocalypse dans 1'enchainement des actions par rapport a
la narration 23.
Deux autres problemes connexes aux questions traitees par les etudes
litteraires ont attire 1'attention des chercheurs : celui du genre litteraire et
celui de la date de composition de l'Apocalypse.
L'Apocalypse est-elle un livre apocalyptique? C'est la question que
posait J. Kallas, en jouant intentionnellement sur les mots. Et il concluait
par 1'affirmative pour la structure formelle et par la negative po ur ce qui
regarde le contenu. L'Apocalypse serait, au-dela de son revetement litte-
raire, un livre de prophetie 24.
Abstraction faite de la question historique de la succession temporelle
de ces deux formes, le rapport de simultaneite entre 1'apocalyptique et la
prophetie a 1'interieur de l'Apocalypse constitue un probleme serieux non
encore completement resolu. B. Corsani a eu le merite d'attirer 1'attention
sur cette question majeure qu'il resoud de maniere assez nette dans le sens
prophetique 25.

20. A. LANCELLOTTI, Sintassi ebraica nel greco dell'Apocalisse. 1 : Uso delle forme
verbaU, Assissi, 1964.
21. G. MUSSIEs, The Morphology of Koine Greek as Used in the Apocalypse of St.
lohn. A Study in Bilingualism, (SuppINT, 27), Leiden, 1971.
22. N. TURNER, Style = l.H. MouLToN, A Grammar of New Testament Greek,
Vol. IV, Edinburgh, 1976, pp. 145-159.
23. J. CALLOUD, l. DELORME, l.P. DUPLANTIER, L'Apocalypse de lean: Proposi-
tions pour une analyse structurale, dans Apocalypses et theologie de l'esperance
(Lectio divina, 95), Paris, 1977, pp. 351-381. Mais peut-on appliquer a I'Apocalypse
les model es de Greimas sans alterer la physionomie du livre?
24. J. KALLAs, The Apocalypse - An Apocalyptic Book ? dans lBL 76 (1967) 69-
80.
25. B. CORSANI, L'Apocalisse di Giovanni: Scritto apocalittico, 0 profetico? dans
Bibbia e Oriente 17 (1975) 253-268.
28 u. VANNI

Mais on ne se fI!signe pas aussi facilement 11 eliminer l'Apocalypse du


grand courant litteraire auquel elle a donne son nom : ses traits caracteris-
tiques en font un chef d'ceuvre 11 part sans qu'on soit pour autant autorise 11
l'exclure de l'apocalyptique. Cette position defendue par J.J. Collins 26 -
avec des justifications fort discutables, en particulier en ce qui concerne la
conception negative de la pseudonymie - semble partagee par la plupart
des experts.
Pour la date de composition, les dernieres propositions avance es repren-
nent, avec des arguments nouveaux ou reajustes, les deux positions tradi-
tionnelles. Certains acceptent, avec une certaine marge, l'indication don-
nee par Irenee 11 la fin du regne de Diocletien.
La composition du livre daterait ainsi des environs de l'an 95. c.J. He-
mer, F. Stagg qui ont traite incidemment du probleme, sont favorables 11
cette date, en accord avec la plupart des specialistes 27. La date alternative
qui si tue la composition de l'Apocalypse avant le regne de Diocletien, a ete
revendiquee par J. Stolt qui a suggere d'interpreter l'indication d'Irenee
comme une reference 11 l'auteur encore en vie et non 11 la composition de
son livre. Stolt a suggere de reculer la date de composition au temps de
Claude 27b. W.G. Baines a propose les annees 72-73 et l'identite d'un
auteur juifsectaire voyant en Jesus un sauveur national manque 28.
Une proposition radicale documentee situant la date de l'Apocalypse
entre la fin de l'an 68 et le debut de l'an 70 a ete recemment formulee par
J.A.T. Robinson, eveillant un interet non negligeable 29.

26. J.J. COLLINS, Pseudonymity, Historical Reviews and the Genre 0/ the Revela-
tions 0/ John, dans CBQ 39 (1977).329-343. L'auteur s'efforce de montrer comment
l'absence de la pseudonymie et de propheties ex eventu ne suffit pas po ur exc1ure
I'Apocalypse de Jean du genre apocalyptique. On peut cependant se demander s'il y
a reellement absence de pseudonymie lorsque les donnees litteraires q ui suggerent
la pseudonymie sont les memes dans I'Apocalypse de Jean que dans les autres ecrits
(mention du nom et de circonstances detaillees au debut, le discours toujours a la
premiere personne, etc.). La presence de la forme pseudonymique, quelle que soit
l'interpretation qu'on en propose, serait un element en faveur du genre litteraire
apocalyptique.
27. c.J. HEMER, Unto the Angels o/the Churches. 1. Introduction and Ephesians;
2. Smyrna and Pergamum, dans Buried History 11 (1975) 4-27.56-83. F. STAGG,
1nterpreting the Book 0/ Revelation, dans Review and Exposition 72 (1975) 331-343.
27b. J. STOLT, Om dateringen a/ Apokalypsen, dans Dansk Teologisk Tidsskrift
40 (1977) 202-207.
28. W.G. BAINES, The Number 0/ the Beast in Revelation 13: 18, dans Heythrop
Journal 16 (1975) 195-196. L'artic1e, trop bref pour pouvoir traiter a fond le pro-
bleme qu'i! se propose d'etudier, se borne a signal er la possibilite de l'equivalence
de 666 avec VESP AUG P M COS III.
29. J.AT. ROBINSON, Redating the New Testament, London 21977, pp. 221-253.
L'ampleur de l'information, une independance radicale a l'egard de toutes les
modes litteraires et historiques, enfin la remarquable desinvolture avec laquelle
l'auteur rHute les argumentations contraires font de cet essai l'un des plus interes-
sants et des plus accessibles sur ce sujet. Une discussion detaillee depasserait les
L' APOCALYPSE JOHANNIQUE 29

AA Bell a examine cet argument en le completant de mises au point


ulterieures qui le conduisent a preciser les annees 68-69 3U.
La question de l'auteur de l'Apocalypse semble moins preoccuper la
recherche de ces demieres annees. On se limite aux generalites fort pru-
dentes sur une ecole johannique qui n'est pas davantage specifiee.
Enfin, tout le materiel constitue par les hymnes de l' Apocalypse a ete
traite dans une monographie soignee 31 ; d'autres etudes ont approfondi les
caracteristiques semantiques en evolution de certains termes comme l.lIIQ-
'l"U~ KUQtUKT] 1l1.U';QU 32. Le caractere poetique du livre a egalement Ne
etudie, il est vrai d'une maniere fort approximative et dans des etudes qui,
pour la plupart, ne sont pas d'exegetes 33.
Nous dirons, en conclusion, que l'epanouissement - le terme n'est pas
trop fort - des etudes litteraires de ces seize demieres annees sur l' Apoca-
lypse a permis de redecouvrir la nature litteraire de l'Apocalypse.

VI. L'Apocalypse et son milieu historico-religieux

La dimension historique indispensable a une juste comprehension de


l' Apocalypse ne parait pas moins importante que la dimension litteraire.
L'enracinement historique dem eure necessaire a toute perspective, qu'elle
soit exegetique ou theologique. Les etudes historiques recentes sur le
milieu historique de l' Apocalypse se regroupent en deux cercles concen-
triques. Le premier couvre le champ de l'histoire civile et palenne.

limites qu'impose un etat de la question et serait, d'ailleurs, sans resultats appre-


ciables: Robinson developpe avec rigueur et genie l'a priori selon lequelle Nouveau
Testament a He fI!dige en entier avant l'an 70. Car c'est precisement ce qui est en
discussion.
30. AA BELL, The Date of John's Apocalypse. The Evidence of Some Roman
Historians Reconsidered, dans NTS 25 (1978-1979) 91-102. Mais on peut objecter:
l'interpretation strictement historique des donnees reperees dans l'Apocalypse et qui
de soi pourraient etre de caractere simplement allusif ou evocateur, n'a-t-elle pas ete
poussee trop 10in par Bell commme par Robinson?
31. K.-P. JÖRNS, Das hymnische Evangelium. Untersuchungen zu Aufbau, Funk-
tion und Herkunft der hymnischen Stücke in der J ohannesoffenbarung (Stud. N .T., 5),
Güters\oh, 1971.
32. Cf. AA TRITES, Md(twr;; and Martyrdom in the Apocalypse: A Semantic
Study, dans NT 15 (1973) 72-80: on constate dans l'Apocalypse une evolution
semantique : du sens juridique vers un sens plus personnel et pouvant impliquer la
mort. Pour KUQtUKTt TtIlEQU voir U. VANNI, Il « Giorno dei Signore.» in Apoc. 1, 10,
giorno di purijicazione e di discernimento, dans Rivista Biblica 26 (1978) 187-199:
l'expression Sv 'tij KUQtUKij TtIlEQq semb1e etre la charniere d'une evolution linguis-
tique qui, tout en partant d'une terminologie hebralque (( le premier jour apres le
sabbat », 1 Co 16,2; Ac 20,7) debouche sur l'adjectifsubstantive KUQtUKlt, que l'on
rencontre au debut du deuxieme siede (cf. Didache, 14, 1).
33. Cf. par exemple C. ANGELINI, L'Apocalisse, Torino, 1972, qui parle d'un
« capolavoro di poesia, capolavoro di oscurita » (p. X). Mais une etude serieuse de
l'aspect poetique de l'Apocalypse ne peut se limiter ades affirmations generales.
30 u. VANNI

P. Prigent 34, dans une mise au point documenU:e, adegage la veritable


dimension des composantes historiques de ce milieu. Au temps de Domi-
tien, il n'y avait pas de persecutions legalement organisees et le culte impe-
rial, loin d'etre contraignant, consistait davantage en des manifestations de
soumission et de loyaute envers l'empereur. Le contexte religieux general
semble marque par des tendances messianico-religieuses, parmi lesquelles
il faut compter la legende de Nero redivivus d'une importance particuliere
pour l'Apocalypse. Sans qu'elle soit effectivement en vigueur, la persecu-
tion etait rendue inevitable par le refus des chretiens d'adorer les divinites
nationales representees par 1'empereur l(()Qto~, ce qu'une lecture adequate
des signes des temps pouvait prevoir et que 1'auteur de 1'Apocalypse aurait
pu faire.
Le second cercle concentrique couvre le champ de 1'histoire religieuse
que vient eclairer la connaissance plus generale du milieu historique.
L'eternelle question des NicolaHes a ete etudiee a la lumiere d'un mouve-
ment gnostique influent, identique ou tout au moins parallele a celui que
nous trouvons dans les epitres de Pau1 35 . D'autres auteurs ont prefere
insister sur le syncretisme des NicolaHes pour y voir 1'eIement determinant
qui caracterise le milieu religieux de l'Apocalypse 36.
Les etudes de Cullmann sur 1'ecole johannique devaient immanquable-
ment rejaillir sur les travaux du milieu de 1'Apocalypse. L'idee d'une
communaute dont les exigences et les aspirations auraient ete a la source
de ce livre a paru d'emblee seduisante 37, notamment parce qu'elle permet-
tait de resoudre le probleme des points de contact entre l' Apocalypse et le
4e evangile et de comprendre leur climat liturgique.
lei encore, 1'enthousiasme risque de devenir unilateral et de nuire a
1'histoire: reduire le milieu de l'Apocalypse a une ecole johannique man-
querait les caracteristiques propres du livre et tomberait dans la superficia-
lite 38.

34. P. PRIGENT, Au temps de l'Apocalypse, dans Rev. Hist. Phi!. Rel. 54 (1974)
455-483 (= 1. Domitien); 215-235 (= II. Le culte imperial au I er siecle en Asie
mineure) ; 55 (1975) 341-363 (= III. Pourquoi les persecutions ?).
35. Cf. E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Apocalyptic and Gnosis in the Book o[ Revela-
tion, dans 1 BL 92 (1973) 565-581.
36. Cf. W.M. MACKAY, Another Look at the Nicolaitans, dans Evang. Quart. 45
(1973) 111-1l5.
37. Cf. D.M. SMITH JR., lohannine Christianity: Some Reflections on its Charac-
ter andDelineation, dans NTS 21 (1974-1975) 222-248.
38. E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, The Quest tor the lohannine School: The Apoca-
lypse and the Fourth Gospel, dans NTS 23 (1976-1977) 402-427. Cette etude est
encore remarquable POUT la question plus specifique du rapport entre I'Apocalypse
et le 4' Evangile.
L' APOCALYPSE JOHANNIQUE 31

VII. L' Apocalypse et I'Ancien Testament

Pour orienter la connaissance du milieu religieux de l' Apocalypse vers


une exegese adequate du texte, il faut encore resoudre le probleme du
rapport precis de l'Apocalypse et de I'Ancien Testament. 11 ne suffit pas
d'affirmer le principe d'une pn!sence de I'Ancien Testament dans I'Apoca-
lypse ou encore de se contenter d'une enumeration des attestations de
I'Ancien Testament dans I'Apocalypse, comme l'a fait W. Dittmar 39.
Relayant la premiere tentative de Feuillet 40, A. Vanhoye a ouvert une
voie en procedant a l'examen impartial et objectif des textes d'Ezechiel
utilises par l'auteur de l' Apocalypse 41. Dans le sillon ainsi trace, d'autres
etudes se sont attelees a examiner l'usage qui y est fait d'Esafe 42, en parti-
culier du second Esafe 43. On peut ainsi resumer les resultats obtenus:
l'utilisation de l' Ancien Testament va de la reprise strictement litterale a la
pure reminiscence en passant par une gamme assez etendue de possibilites
intermediaires. Le texte de rHerence est presque toujours le texte hebreu et
non celui de la Septante. L'auteur est parfaitement conscient des themes
sous-jacents qu'il utilise et reinterprete en chretien. Comme l'observe
F. Jenkins dans une etude recapitulative particulierement c1aire, l'auteur
de I'Apocalypse, dans une grande familiarite avec la terminologie et les
images veterotestamentaires, parvient a une adaptation creatrice en fonc-
tion du but qu'il recherche 44.
La mise au jour de cette attitude creatrice conduisit a approfondir les
points de contact si bien que furent mis en lumiere, a titre d'hypotheses, de
nouveaux aspects suggestifs. Feuillet, par exemple, presente le ch. 12
comme un remaniement radicalement chretien du protoevangile 45. La
categorie negative des ßa<HAEi~ '[f]~ yf]~ est ici rehabilitee : ils entrent dans
la Jerusalem cHeste, comme le souligne fortement V. Eller 46. L'auteur de

39. W. DITTMAR, Vetus Testamentum in Novo, Göttingen, 1903, pp. 263-279.


40. A. FEUILLET, Le Cantique des Cantiques en l'Apocalypse, dans Rech. Sc. Rel.
49 (1961) 321-353. La dependance de la Septante sur laquelle l'auteur fonde ses
conclusions n'est pas demontree et, a l'examen - voir par exemple pp. 324-334 a
propos d'Ap 3, 20 -, apparait improbable.
41. A. VANHOYE, L'utilisation du Livre d'Eukhiel dans I'Apocalypse, dans Bib 43
(1962) 436-472.
42. Cf. B. MARCONCINI, L'utilizzazione dei T(extus) M(asoreticus) nelle citazioni
isaiane dell'Apocalisse, dans Rivista Biblica 24 (1976) 113-136.
43. Cf. A. GANGEMI, L'utilizzazione dei Deutero-Isaia nell'Apocalisse di Gio-
vanni, dans Euntes Docete 27 (1974) 109-144.311-339.
44. F. JENKlNS, The Old Testament in the Book 0/ Revelation, Grand Rapids,
1976.
45. A. FEUILLET, Der Sieg der Frau nach dem Protoevangelium, dans Int. Kath.
Zeitsehr. Communio 7 (1978) 26-35.
46. V. ELLER, How the Kings 0/ the Earth Land in the New Jerusalem: «The
World») in the Book 0/ Revelation, dans Katallagetel Be Reconciled 5 (1975) 21-27.
32 U. VANNI

l'Apocalypse se rattache ainsi a la categorie veterotestamentaire des


« paiens », tout en la depassant dans une vision des choses radicalement
renouvelee.
Faut-il recourir aux Targoumim et aux traductions juives correspon-
dantes pour approfondir le rapport entre l'Apocalypse et l' Ancien Testa-
ment? Dans une etude consacree au rapport entre le Nouveau Testament
et le Targoum palestinien, M. McN amara a attire notre attention sur la
possibilite d'une derivation targoumique de certaines expressions de l' Apo-
calypse 47. Les resultats de l'analyse, critiquement etablis, d'emblee eclai-
rants et allant dans le sens d'une derivation plus ou moins directe, sem-
blent confirmer l'originalite creatrice de l'auteur, meme dans son rapport
aux eventuelles traditions targoumiques et darts son contact immediat avec
le texte hebreu.

VIII. L'Apocalypse et le Nouveau Testament

Une des questions les plus delicates est le rapport de l'Apocalypse avec
le milieu du Nouveau Testament.
A moins de ceder a l'unilateralite, on ne peut manquer d'affronter ici
une antinomie qu'il est malaise de depasser. Si le milieu geographique
identique suggere une homogeneite specialement avec Paul et Jean, par
contre les points de contact authentiques sont plutöt sporadiques et ne
peuvent eire etablis qu'apres une recherche circonspecte et approfondie.
La chronologie aussi entre en ligne de compte.
R.H. Mounce, par exemple, rapproche Ap 3, 14 TJ uQxl'] 1:TJC; X1:icrEülC; de
Col 1, 18 ÖC; ecrnv uQXTJ et conclut a une dependance de l'Apocalypse. Ces
similitudes peuvent etre cependant expliquees plus generalement et de
maniere plus convaincante par un substrat (liturgique) commun 48.
J. Garrett Jr., avec beaucoup de circonspection, a examine le rapport de
Rm 13, 1-7 avec Ap 13 pour arriver ala conclusion - au seul niveau d'un
message applicatif - que le rapport entre le chretien et l'autorite y est
dialectique, rapport oscillant de la resistance al'obeissance loyale 49.
Autre piste feconde, celle qui s'interesse aux points de contact entre la
gnose de Corinthe et celle contre laquelle polemique l'Apocalypse.

47. M. McNAMARA, The New Testament and the Palestinian Targum to the
Pentateuch (AB, 28), Roma, 1966. La partie concernant l'Apocalypse se trouve aux
pages 97-125. La difficulte chronologique de la datation plus tardive par rapport a
I'Apocalypse reste sans une solution convaincante.
48. R.H. MOUNCE, The Book o[ Revelation (New Int. Comm. N.T., 17), Grand
Rapids, 1977, pp. 124-125.
49. J.c. GARRETT JR., The Dialectic o[ Romans 13:1-7 and Revelation 13, dans
Journal o[ Church and State 18 (1976) 433-442; 19 (1977) 5-20. Il s'agit d'une etude
comparative de deux textes paralleles, etude menee du seul point de vue du con-
tenu, sans que le probleme d'une dependance possible soit effleure.
L' APOCALYPSE JOHANNIQUE 33

Po ur les contacts avec les milieux johanniques et particulierement avec


le 4e evangile, des points de convergence et divergence ont ete indiques
sans qu'il soit encore possible d'en dresser le bilan definitif.
R. Bauckham, quant a lui, s'est attaque au probleme encore plus com-
plexe du rapport de I'Apocalypse et des evangiles synoptiques par le biais
de l'etude de l'image du voleur teIle que l'utilise I'Apocalypse et teIle
qu'elle est illustree chez Luc. Sa conclusion ne laisse pas de surprendre:
l'Apocalypse « deparaboliserait » par rapport a Luc, les images parabo-
liques se perdraient dans la pratique nivellante de la parenese, stade
qu'attesterait l'Apocalypse 50.

IX. La theologie biblique de I'Apocalypse

La relecture chretienne de I'Ancien Testament et les contacts profonds


entrevus avec le Nouveau Testament nous introduisent a la theologie de
l'auteur: on ne pouvait, en fait, relire d'une maniere aussi raffinee et
approfondie l' Ancien Testament sans que soient thematisees y compris
inteIlectuellement les dimensions chretiennes les plus centrales.
La theologie de I'auteur de l'Apocalypse part de l'experience, d'abord
liturgique. Differentes contributions a l'etude de la liturgie de I' Apocalypse
ont ete publiees au cours de ces dernieres annees 51. Ont ete mis en evi-
dence les points de contact avec les elements liturgiques les plus significa-
tifs de la communaute chretienne primitive, en particulier avec le bapteme,
au point de decouvrir dans le texte meme de l'Apocalypse - voir Ap 1,5-6
- les traces d'une profession de foi baptismale. Les allusions multiples et
plus ou moins explicites sont aujourd'hui generalement acceptees 52.
Les nombreuses attestations liturgiques, notamment exprimees dans les
termes de la liturgie juive, ont suggere de chercher la source de la liturgie
de l'Apocalypse dans l'Ancien Testament.
Toutefois, etant donne la conscience aigue et quelquefois polemique de
l'auteur de l'unicitedu peuple de Dieu, selon laquelle les chretiens seraient
les veritables juifs, on est amene a etudier 1'0riginalite chretienne de la
liturgie de I'Apocalypse. Ainsi a-t-on pu mettre en lumiere la structure
dialogale typique de l'assemblee chretienne du lecteur et du groupe a
l'ecoute, en Ap 1, 4_8 53 . Tout particulierement, l'interet s'est porte sur
l'expression « Jour du Seigneur » qui a ete etudiee sous ses aspects et ses

50. R. BAUCKHAM, Synoptic Parousia Parables and the Apocalypse, dans NTS 23
(1976-1977) 162-176.
51. Cf. specialement P. PRIGENT, Apocalypse et liturgie, Neuchätel, 1972.
52. Cf. P. VON DER OSTEN-SACKEN, « Christologie, Taufe, Homologie» - Ein
Beitrag zu Apc 1, 51, dans ZNW 58 (1967) 255-266.
53. Cf. U. VANNI, Un esempio di dialogo liturgico in Ap 1, 4-8, dans Bib 57 (1976)
453-467.
34 u. VANNI

themes les plus differents - allusion a la resurrection, au jugement 54 - et


il a ete propose de l'interpreter comme une experience de purification et de
discernement se prolongeant a travers tout le livre et en analogie avec celle
que propose la Didache pour l'assemblee chretienne 55.
La liturgie de l' Apocalypse n'est pas fermee sur elle-meme : son dyna-
misme typique la projette au-dela de l'assemblee comme telle et la met en
contact avec la realite de I'histoire. Cest ainsi qu'a travers la thematique
liturgique emergent les grands themes theologiques de I'Apocalypse. Ces
themes, en partie communs aux autres livres du Nouveau Testament, sont
cependant elabores d'une maniere propre.
Cela est particulierement vrai po ur ce que nous pouvons appeler l'etat
liturgique permanent des chretiens que l'auteur designe par le terme
« pretre ». Cette categorie theologique importante, deja presentee dans les
milieux chretiens de la fin du Ier siede, I'Apocalypse la developpe de fa~on
hardie, la reliant a I'Exode et la rattachant a la categorie du Royaume. Dn
essai magistral, il faut le reconnaitre, de E. Schüssler Fiorenza, a etudie
tous les aspects de ce theme, rassemblant une quantite considerable de
materiaux et les examinant avec rigueur et darte 56. Sans doute, certaines
questions demeurent ouvertes et font toujours 1'0bjet de discussions : s'agit-
il d'un sacerdoce et d'un Royaume purement eschatologiques, comme le
soutient Schüssler Fiorenza ? Ou bien s'agit-il d'un sacerdoce deja present
et effectif au sein du peuple chretien, comme l'affirme Feuillet avec de
nombreux recenseurs de l'ouvrage de Schüssler Fiorenza ? Et encore : quel
rapport y a-t-il entre la redemption exprimee et enracinee dans le sacer-
doce et la dimension socio-politique 57? Tous ces aspects devront etre
ulterieurement darifies. 11 resteque la theologie du sacerdoce de l' Apoca-
lypse s'est developpee d'une maniere definitive et irreversible et n'appelle
que des complements futurs.
Toujours en relation etroite avec la liturgie, un autre theme theologique
doit etre envisage: le theme de la prophetie. Synthese originale entre

54. Cf. W. RORDORF, Der Sonntag. Geschichte des Ruhe- und Gottesdiensttages
im ältesten Christentum (ATANT, 43), Zürich, 1962 (l'auteur analyse Ap 1, 10 aux
pp. 203-212). W. STOTT, A Note on the Word KYRIAKl[ in Rev. i. 10, dans NTS 12
(1965-1966) 70-75; K.A. STRAND, Another Look at 'Lord's Day , in the Early Church
and in Rev. i. 10, dans NTS 13 (1966-1967) 174-181.
55. Voir la note 32 (deuxieme partie).
56. Cf. E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Priester für Gott. Studien zum Herrschafts- und
Priestermotiv in der Apokalypse (Neut. Abh., 7), Münster, 1972.
57. A. FEUILLET, Les chretiens pretres et rois d'apres I'Apocalypse. Contribution ci
/'etude de la conception chretienne du sacerdoce, dans Rev. Thomiste 75 (1975) 40-66.
La comparaison entre Ap 1, 5-6 et le serviteur d'Esaie (Es 53) est stimulante, bien
que discutable. En ce qui concerne le theme du sacerdoce, on peut se demander si
une certaine precompn!hension ne porte pas l'auteur a insister davantage sur le
sacerdoce ministeriel par rapport au sacerdoce commun et a proposer de l'un
comme de l'autre une interpretation liturgique peu conciliable avec l'engagement
social et politique du chretien.
L' APOCALYPSE JOHANNIQUE 35

l'apocalyptique et la prophetie, l'Apocalypse est apparue a bien des specia-


listes, meme sous l'angle litteraire comme nous l'avons vu, comme presen-
tant un corps apocalyptique et une ame prophetique, incluant l'incidence
que peut avoir le prophete sur la realite historique immediate 58. Selon
certains auteurs, il faudrait situer cette prophetie dans le cadre de l'Ancien
Testament ou tout au moins y designer sa source et son inspiration, plutöt
que de recourir au milieu prophetique du Nouveau Testament 59. D'autres
auteurs, au contraire, insistent sur ce milieu prophetique du Nouveau
Testament et y voient la source indiscutable du prophetisme de l'Apoca-
lypse 60. Question difficile a trancher. D. Hill, partisan de la derivation
veterotestamentaire se reporte a la communaute du Nouveau Testament et
souligne que, meme si la communaute doit etre consideree comme prophe-
tique en puissance, les prophetes y forment un groupe a part Oll Jean
interfere.
La prophetie s'enracine dans l'esprit de prophetie, lequel assure par son
action au sein de 1'Eglise, l'authenticite de la continuite christologique 61.
En revalorisant l'esprit de prophetie, les etudes ont ete conduites a
affronter directement le theme theologique de l'esprit dans 1'Apocalypse 62.
L'Esprit, et probablement ce que designe 1'expression « les sept
esprits », se refere au Christ: c'est l'Esprit meme du Christ ressuscite qui
est actif dans la vie de l'Eglise. La christologie de l' Apocalypse - comme
le faisait deja remarquer Feuillet - est l'un des domaines Oll les specia-
listes de l'Apocalypse ont le plus etendu leurs recherehes.
Mais depuis seize ans, le developpement de ces etudes est devenu
exceptionnel. Deux monographies ont affronte l'argument christologique :
celle de T. Holtz 63 et celle de J. Comblin 64. La diversite des methodes
adoptees - chez Holtz domine l'attachement a la precision philologique
et, d'une maniere generale, une rigueur hautement scientifique, chez
Comblin les affirmations sont fondees plutöt sur des intuitions person-
nelles - rend particulierement stimulante la confrontation que les deux
auteurs font de leur position respective (a la fin de l'edition fran~aise de
Comblin, a la fin de la 2e edition allemande de Holtz). Les deux ensembles

58. Cf. J.-M. GONzALEZ-RUIZ, Apocalipsi 0 pro/ecia? Una lectura actualizada


dei dar~en llibre de la Biblia, dans Qüestions de Vida Cristiana 66 (1973) 29-39.
59. Cf. D. HILL, Prophecy and Prophets in the Revelation 0/ St. lohn, dans NTS
18 (1971-1972) 401-418.
60. Cf. F. ROUSSEAU (voir note 19).
61. Cf. J. MASSYNGBERDE FORD, «For the Testimony 0/ lesus in the Spirit 0/
Prophecy» (Rev 19, 10), dans Irish Theol. Quart. 42 (1975) 284-291.
62. Cf. F.F. BRUCE, The Spirit in the Apocalypse, dans B. LINDARS, S.S. SMALLEY
(ed.), Christ and Spirit in the New Testament. Fs. C.F.D. Moule, Cambridge, 1973,
pp. 333-344.
63. T. HOLTZ, Die Christologie der Apokalypse des lohannes (TU, 85), Berlin,
21971.
64. J. COMBLIN, Le Christ dans l'Apocalypse, Paris-Tournai-Rome-New York,
1965.
36 U. VANNI

debouchent inevitablement sur des perspectives theologiques differentes


que l'on pourrait, en simplifiant, synthetiser dans le dilemme suivant: le
Christ, Seigneur de la communaute ou Fils de I'homme ?
L'impulsion donnee a la recherche par ces deux monographes a eu des
effets ulterieurs sur la recherche. U.B. Müller a voulu reexaminer le rap-
port entre le Messie et la figure enigmatique du Fils de l'homme, tels qu'ils
apparaissent dans I'Apocalypse de Jean et dans les apocalypes juives 65.
H. Schlier a insiste sur la relation du Christ et de I'histoire 66, F. Bovon
dans un tableau synthetique, a resume avec bonheur les differents aspects
de la figure du Christ 67.
A c6te de ces ouvrages plus synthetiques, l'exigence d'un approfon-
dissement sectoriel a ete fortement marque : voir, par exemple, l'etude de
la passion dans l'Apocalypse. Sans etre jamais decrite, celle-ci est toujours
presente sous la forme discrete d'allusions particulierement evocatrices 68.
L'etude du titre 6 XQlcrtOC; qu'a faite S. Sabugal 69 en est un des meil-
leurs exemples. L'originalite du titre uQviov ne pouvait manquer d'attirer
l'attention des specialistes: une etude monographique complete nous
manque encore, mais nous disposons d'apports valables qui laissent pres-
sentir l'originalite,du traitement de cette figure importante dan l'Apoca-
lypse 70.
Du Christ de l' Apocalypse on va vers l'Eglise, faisait justement remar-
quer L. Cerfaux 71. L'Eglise de l'Apocalypse fut en effet l'objet passionne
des etudes dans les annees 50. Voir par exemple, la solide monographie de
A. Satake qui a repris a nouveaux frais le probleme de la fonctionnalite
interne relative a la communaute ecclesiale de l'Apocalypse 72.
D'autres etudes se sont attachees a determiner l'image globale de
l'Eglise dans l'Apocalypse et meme - nous faisons allusion a l'article
stimulant de P.S. Minear - a fixer de plus pres la conception d'un devenir

65. U.B. MÜLLER, Messias und Menschensohn in jüdischen Apokalypsen und in


der Offenbarung des Johannes (Stud. N.T., 6), Gütershoh, 1972.
66. H. SCHLIER, Jesus Christus und die Geschichte nach der Offenbarung, dans
Einsichten. Es. G. Krüger, Frankfurt a.M., 1962, pp. 316-333.
67. F. BOVON, Le Christ de l'Apocalypse, dans Rev. Theol. Phil. 21 (1972) 65-80.
68. Cf. U. VANNI, La passione nell'Apocalisse, dans La sapienza delta croce, 1,
Torino-Leumann, 1976, pp. 169-175.
69. S. SABUGAL, EI titulo 0 XQIO-rO, en el Apocalypsis, dans Augustinianum 12
(1972) 319-340.
70. Cf. N. HILLYER, "The Lamb" in the Apocalypse, dans Evang. Quart. 39
(1967) 228-236; G.E. LADD, The Lion is the Lamb (Apoc), dans Eternity 16 (1965)
20-22; W.c. VAN UNNIK, "Worthy is the Lamb ». The Background of Apoc. 5, dans
A. DESCAMPS, A. DE HALLEUX, (ed.), Melanges bilbiques. Es. B. Rigaux, Gembloux,
1970, pp. 607-611.
71. L. CERFAUX, L'Eglise dans l'Apocalypse, dans J. GIBLET (ed.), Aux origines
de l'Eglise (Recherehes Bibliques, 7), Bruges, 1965, pp. 111-124.
72. A. SATAKE, Die Gemeindeordnung in der Johannesapokalypse (ATANT, 21),
Neukirchen, 1966.
L'APOCALYPSE JOHANNIQUE 37

de 1'Eglise 73. On trouve chez Schlier un traite synthetique 74. Pour l'ins-
tant, sans 1'apport decisif et marquant d'autres themes theologiques,
1'etude du theme ecclesiologique semble etre arrive a saturation.
Si la recherche sur l'Eglise semble ainsi marquer le pas, il en va autre-
ment de la thematique theologique du rapport de la communaute eccle-
siale de 1'Apocalypse avec le monde exterieur: ce qu'on a appele la theolo-
gie politique.
Elle semble enracinee dans 1'experience historique de 1'auteur. La
domination romaine - comme l' a souligne A. Yarbro Collins - fait surgir
1'exigence d'une option specifiquement religieuse entrainant sa traduction
dans un engagement social et politique. L'exemple des zelotes aurait mar-
que la communaute de l'Apocalypse ou son auteur, lui rappelant la domi-
nation absolue de Dieu sur 1'histoire et la necessite pour les chretiens d'y
collaborer sous les formes de la prihe et de la resistance passive 75.
Mais la theologie politique de 1'Apocalypse ne peut etre limitee a une
reflexion sur une experience passee et clöturee. Elle contient en outre des
propositions nouvelles qui doivent etre comprises et developpees exacte-
ment : face a 1'antiroyaume - comme le souligne Schüssler Fiorenza 76 -
represente par les dominateurs romains, le chretien doit faire un choix en
faveur du veritable royaume. Meme si celui-ci ne se realisera que dans la
phase eschatologique, le chretien rache te et libere, y compris au plan
social, doit assumer resolument et des maintenant ses responsabilites.
L'interpretation qui voit dans le troisieme sceau le symbole de 1'injus-
tice sociale se situe elle aussi dans cette ligne de la theologie politique qui
s'elabore aujourd'hui concemant l'Apocalypse 77.
L'eschatologie demeure toujours une des dimensions les plus fonda-
mentales de l'Apocalypse. Cette dimension a ete developpee de maniere
autonome comme theologie au-dela du probleme de la parousie qui est
toujours d'actualite mais qui est surtout liee au martyre 78. Deja, en 1962,
S. Bartina proposait un essai d'interpretation theologique de 1'eschatologie

73. P.S. MINEAR, Ontology and Ecclesiology in the Apocalypse, dans NTS 13
(1965-1966) 89-105.
74. H. SCHLIER, Die Kirche nach der Offenbarung des Johannes, dans Mysterium
salutis. IVI1: Das Heilsgeschehen in der Gemeinde, Einsiedeln-Zürich-Köln, 1972,
pp. 200-214.
75. A. YARBRO COLLINS, The Political Perspective of the Revelation of J ohn, dans
JBL 96 (1977) 241-256.
76. E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Religion und Politik in der Offenbarung des
Johannes, dans Biblische Randbemerkungen. Fs. R. Schnackenburg, Würzburg,
21974, pp. 261-272; Redemption as Liberation: Apoc 1, 5f and 5, 9f, dans CBQ 36
(1974) 220-232.
77. Cf. U. VANNI, Il terzo «sigillo» dell'Apocalisse (Ap 6, 5-6): simbolo
dell'ingiustizia sociale? dans Gregorianum 59 (1978) 691-719.
78. I.H. MARSHALL, Martyrdom and the Parousia in the Revelation of John, dans
Studia Evangelica. IV (TU, 102), Berlin, 1968, pp. 333-339.
38 U. VANNI

de 1'Apocalypse 79. Soustraite au cauchemar de la parousie imminente,


cette vision tMologique n'etait point abstraite et separee de l'histoire.
Quelles qu'en soient les interpretations plus detaillees, l'eschatologie parait
toujours liee au devenir de 1'histoire, ayant avec elle un rapport constant de
reciprocite.
La recherche sur 1'histoire s'est developpee dans differentes directions.
Ont ete approfondis le concept typique de temps lineaire propre a'l'Apoca-
lypse 80, le concept d'histoire et 1'enracinement dans 1'histoire egalement
propres a l'Apocalypse, le sens chretien de 1'histoire eclaire par la figure du
Christ 81.
Le fait qu'elle soit visee dans une perspective eschatologique met tou-
jours 1'histoire en relation avec la fin. Synonyme de conclusion, cette fin
implique le jugement de Dieu, comporte une certaine tension avec la situa-
tion presente, selon des aspects qui ont ete mis, de maniere assez inegale,
en evidence 82.
Les etudes les plus recentes sur l'eschatologie nous offrent les positions
differentes dans une discussion sereine. J.A. Adams 83, par exemple, parle
d'un millenarisme realise. J.W. Roberts 84 nous met en garde contre une
pretendue homogeneite de 1'eschatologie de 1'Apocalypse et contre la
tendance a interpreter toutes les allusions apparemment realistes qu'on y
decouvre en les appliquant a la destruction de Rome ou a la fin du monde.
A.J. Bandstra 85, tout en admettant la presence dans l'Apocalypse de
1'eschatologie, ne la considere pas inseparable du developpement de l'his-
toire du salut qui, seul, lui donne sa dimension et son equilibre.
S. Zedda 86 nous donne un expose assez clair et nuance SUT 1'eschatolo-
gie de l'Apocalypse dans son ensemble.

79. S. BARTINA, La escatologfa dei Apocalipsis, dans Estudios Bfblicos 21 (1962)


297-314.
80. Cf. M. RISSI, Was ist und was geschehen soll danach. Die Zeit- und Ge-
schichtsauffassung der Offenbarung des Johannes (ATANT, 46), Zürich-Stuttgart,
21965; M.V. ÜRNA, Time and History in the Apocalypse, dans Cross and Crown 20
(1968) 185-200.
8l. Cf. M. HOPKINS, The Historical Perspectilles of Apocalypse 1-11, dans CBQ
27 (1965) 42-47 ; J. SEYNAEVE, Le sens chretien de l'histoire d'apres le lillre de l'Apoca-
Iypse, dans Rell. Clerge Africain 21 (1966) 217-234.
82. Cf. W. THÜSING, Die theologische Mitte der Weltgerichtsllisionen in der
Johannesapokalypse, dans Trier. Theol. Zeitschr. 77 (1968) 1-16; E. FIORENZA, The
Eschatology and Composition of the Apocalypse, dans CBQ 30 (1968) 537-569.
83. J.E. ADAMS, The Time is at Hand, New-Jersey, 1970.
84. Cf. J.W. ROBERTs, The Meaning ofthe Eschatology in the Book 0/ Rellelation,
dans Restoration Quart. 15 (1972) 95-110.
85. A.J. BANDSTRA, History and Eschatology, dans Caillin Theol. Journ. 5 (1970)
180-183.
86. S. ZEDDA, L 'Escatologia dell'Apocalisse, dans L'Escatologia biblica. 11, Bres-
cia, 1974, pp. 427-515.
L' APOCALYPSE JOHANNIQUE 39

Mentionnons deux autres tMmes deja ebauches mais dont l'examen


approfondi pourra enrichir l'exegese de l'Apocalypse: le tMme de Dieu
dans l'Apocalypse 87 et celui Oll Dieu est oppose a san antagoniste demo-
niaque : Dieu et Satan dans l'Apocalypse 88.
La theologie biblique de l' Apocalypse parait donc avoir atteint sa pi eine
maturite. On en veut pour preuves les tentatives faites pour une presenta-
tion d'ensemble de tout le cadre theologique de l'Apocalypse. 11 y avait la
une lacune qui se trouve comblee et que l'on trouve encore dans certaines
theologies devenues a juste titre des c1assiques du genre, teIles celles de
Bultmann et Conzelmann.
Mentionnons parmi ces essais celui de L. Goppelt 89 qui a reserve une
place remarquable a la theologie de l' Apocalypse tout en suivant une
methode essentiellement analytique et historique corpme pour les autres
livres du Nouveau Testament. Nous avons nous-meme eherehe a identifier
le fil conducteur unifiant toute la theologie de l'Apocalypse dans l'expe-
rience de l'assemblee eccIesiale, se purifiant dans la soumission au juge-
ment du Christ et s'effor~ant de lire adequatement son heure 90.

x. Les commentaires

Les developpements des etudes litteraires ainsi que celui de la theologie


biblique ont ete investis dans les nombreux commentaires parus au cours
de ces seize demieres annees.
La premiere tache qui s'imposait consistait a recueillir ce materiel fort
varie : ce que fit brillamment C. Brütsch dans la cinquieme edition de son
livre La clarte de l'Apocalypse et dans la traduction allemande qui lui fit
suite, rassemblant au bas de son explication de texte un fichier-commen-
taire impressionnant collationnant les differentes interpretations de chaque
passage 91.
Une simple enumeration, mt-elle plus ou moins complete, ne pouvait
suffire. Une synthese etait indispensable.

87. Cf. A. VÖGTLE, Der Gott der Apokalypse, dans J. COPPENS (ed.), La notion
biblique de Dieu. Du Dieu reve!e au Dieu des Philosoph es (BETL, 41), Leuven-Gem-
bloux, 1976, pp. 377-398.
88. Cf. J. KALLAS, God and Satan in the Apocalypse, Minneapolis, 1973.
89. L. GOPPELT, Theologie des Neuen Testaments. 2. Vielfalt und Einheit des
apostolischen Christuszeugnisses, Göttingen, 1976, pp. 509-528 ( = Die Christen in
der nachchristlichen Gesellschaft der Eindzeit nach der Offenbarung des Johannes).
90. U. VANNI, Messaggio teologico dell'Apocalisse, dans 11 messaggio della sal-
vezza. 8. Opera giovannea e lettere cattoliche, Torino-Leumann, 1978, pp. 387-400.
91. Cf. C. BRÜTSCH, La clarte de l'Apocalypse, Geneve, 51966 (la lraduction en
allemand a eIe publiee en 1970).
40 U. VANNI

Des tentatives dans ce sens furent faites qu'on appn!ciera. Je me con-


tente de rappeier le commentaire de G.ß. Caird 92 et celui de N. Domin-
guez qui s'est efforce d'interpreter l' Apocalypse selon la cle de l'interpreta-
tion ecclesiologique 93. Par leur bibliographie, les « excursus» et leurs
positions originales, se distinguent la deuxieme edition du commentaire de
E. Lohse 94 et les commentaires de H. Kraft 95, W. Barclay 96 et
R.H. Mounce 97.
On pourrait ranger dans ce tableau le commentaire de J. Massyngberde
Ford s'il n'etait pas marque par des positions assez indefendables : il attri-
bue la red action d'une partie de I'Apocalypse au cercle de Jean-Baptiste et
surtout il opere des transpositions du texte qui, de l'avis de la plupart des
critiques, pesent negativement sur la valeur globale de l'ouvrage 98.
Enfin, de nombreux commentaires de haute divulgation furent publies,
commentaires assez varies par leur tendance et leur niveau mais qui, dans
l'ensemble, temoignent de la capacite evocatrice de I'Apocalypse, y com-
pris au niveau de la pastorale. Les commentaires de A Farrer 99 et de
G.E. Ladd 100 se distinguent par leurs introductions simples, par des
options appuyees sur la competence des auteurs et par la clarte de leur
exposition. Hs contribuent a faire apprecier et aimer l'Apocalypse.
H existe d'autres exemples multiples et varies: depuis la concision
soignee de la Traduction <Ecumenique de la Bible 101, jusqu'au commen-
taire rapide de A Lancelotti 102 mais dont l'interet reside dans les traduc-
tions proposees d'apres la theorie du substrat des formes hebrai"ques,
jusqu'a la relecture spirituelle serieuse de E. Schick 103 et au commentaire
mot a mot de AP. van Schaik 104 et de H.H. Hobbs 105.
92. G.ß. CAlRD, A Commentary on the Revelation of St. lohn the Divine (ßlack),
London, 1966.
93. N. DOMINGUEZ, Apocalypsis lesu Chrsti. Commentarium Ecclesiologicum,
Madrid, 1968.
94. E. LOHSE, Die Offenbarung des lohannes (N.T. Deutsch, 11), Göttingen,
21966.
95. H. KRAFT, Die Offenbarung des lohannes (HNT, 16a), Tübingen, 1974.
96. W. BARCLAY, The Revelation oflohn, Philadelphia, 1976.
97. R.M. MouNcE, The Book of Revelation (New Int. Comm. N.T., 17), Grand
Rapids, 1977.
98. J. MASSYNGBERDE FORD, Revelation. Translation, Introduction and Commen-
tary (Anchor Bible, 38), Garden City, 1975. Voir l'analyse detaillee et nuancee de
O. ßÖCHER dans TLZ 102 (1977) 654-656 et le compte-rendu de U. VANNl dans Bib
60 (1979) 449-450.
99. A F ARRER, The Revelation of St. lohn the Divine, Oxford, 1964.
100. G.E. LADD, A Commentary on the Revelation oflohn, Grand Rapids, 1972.
101. Traduction recumenique de la Bible, Paris, 1972.
102. A LANCELLOTTI, Apocalisse, Roma-Torino, 1970.
103. E. SCHICK, Die Apokalypse (Geistliche Schriftlesung, 23), Düsseldorf, 1971.
Le livre a ete traduit en plusieurs langues.
104. AP. VAN SCHAlK, De Openbaring van lohannes, Roermond, 1971.
105. H.H. HOBBS, The Cosmic Drama. An Exposition of the Book of Revelation,
Waco,1971.
L'APOCALYPSE JOHANNIQUE 41

L'impression que donne finalement ce tableau est ce1le d'une polypho-


nie. La plupart des commentaires s'harmonisent spontanement les uns aux
autres. Cet equilibre, nous le devons au sage ec1ectisme adopte qui degage
ces ouvrages des positions apriori qui auraient pu les limiter au depart.
Mosalque polychrome, riche en erudition, trouvailles, suggestions et
approfondissements.

XI. Les differents passages de I'Apocalypse

L'etat de la question serait incomplet si nous omettions de considerer le


travail analytique opere sur les differents passages du texte de l' Apoca-
lypse. Examinons de plus pres quelques exemples.
L'ensemble des sept lettres suscite toujours des etudes, que ce soit dans
le sens de la recherche ou de l'actualisation 106.
L'enigme des deux ternoins du chapitre onze est encore discutee 107. Le
plus etudie des passages de l' Apocalypse est le texte du chapitre douze sur
le grand signe. La monographie de P. Prigent, publiee en 1959 et mention-
nee par Feuillet traitait de I'histoire de son interpretation: ce11e de H. Gol-
linger parue en 1971 108 etait plus specifiquement exegetique. D'autres
artic1es posterieurs ont attire l'attention sur la structure du symbole - ainsi
que sur les problemes poses par son origine 109 - et sur 1a lumiere que
projette sur l' exegese 110 le processus de decodification.
Infatigable, Feuillet a continue de fournir son apport a 1'exegese de
nombre de passages de 1'Apocalypse, proposant des solutions originales et
stimulantes : le chevalier du premier sceau serait la figuration du jugement
de Dieu, la priere du cinquieme sceau renverrait aux martyrs de toute

106. On peut signal er, entre autres, les etudes suivantes : R. PESCH, Offenbarung
Jesu Christi. Eine Auslegung von Apk 1, 1-3, dans Bibel und Leben 11 (1970) 15-29;
A. GANGEMI, L'albero delta vita (Ap 2, 7), dans Rivistia Biblica 23 (1975) 383-397 ;
C.J. HEMER, The Sardis Letter and the Croesus Tradition, dans NTS 19 (1972-1973)
94-97.
107, Voir par exemple A. GREVE, 'Mine to vidner '. Etfors(Jg pd at identijicere de
to jerusalemitiske vidner (Apok. 11, 3-13), dans Danks Teologisk Tidsskrift 40 (1977)
128-138. Les deux ternoins seraient les deux Jacques, le « frere du Seigneur}) et
I'apötre; M. BLAcK, The 'Two Witnesses' of Rev. 11:3[ in Jewish and Chi-istian
Apocalyptic Tradition, dans E. BAMMEL, c.K. BARRETT. W.D. DAVIES (ed.), Donum
Gentilicium. Fs. D. Daube, Oxford, 1978, pp. 227-237.
108. H. GOLLINGER, Das «grosse Zeichen» von Apokalypse 12 (Stuttg. BibI.
Monogr., 11), Würzburg, 1971. .
109. A. YARBRO COLLINS, The Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation (Harv.
Diss. Re!., 9), Missoula, 1976.
110. Cf. J. PlKAZA, Apocalipsis XII: el nacimiento pascual deI Salvador, dans
Salmanticensis 23 (1976) 217-256 ; U. VANNI, La decodijicazione deI« grande segno»
in Apocalisse 12, 1-6, dans Marianum 40 (1978) 121-152.
42 U. VANNI

l'humaniH:, la moisson et les vendanges auraient le sens positif de pre-


mices, la cuve foulee « hors de la ville » se refererait a la passion du Christ,
etc. Ill.
Le chapitre vingt, avec le royaume millenaire et les affirmations sur la
premiere resurrection, est l'un des plus discutes et controverses. Bien
qu'elle ne soit pas satisfaisante ni partagee du moins par la plupart des
exegetes, une solution a ete approchee a grands renforts de travaux dans ce
sens.
Le royaume millenaire a une dimension a la fois celeste et terrestre : il
progresse vers son but eschatologique. Plus precisement, il apparait comme
le resultat d'une reelaboration d'Ez 37-48 et d'autres traditions posterieures
milries dans le courant de l'apocalyptique juive : il est l'expression globale,
sans implication chronologique, de toute l'evolution de l'histoire du
salut 112.
La premiere resurrection est strictement reliee au royaume et en fait
meme partie integrante. Comment doit-on l'entendre ? Les reponses sont
extremement variees et leur ingeniosite trahit le defaut d'une solution
adequate: J.A. Hughes affirme qu'il s'agit de l'etat de l'äme 6levee au ciel
et sans corps 113 • R.L. Alorich attribue a l'expression « premiere resurrec-
tion » le sens d'une resurrection superieure a celle des damnes 114, etc.
Un autre passage Oll s'est porte l'interet des specialistes est la conc1usion
de l'Apocalypse. M. Rissi, de son cote, a etudie tout l'ensemble 19, 11-22,5
alors que la plupart des recherehes se sont specialement concentrees sur les
chapitres 21-22. Le monde nouveau est interprete comme le resultat de
l'action creatrice de la parole, commen~ant avec l'Ancien Testament et
plus particulierement avec l'Alliance 115.

111. A. FEUILLET, Le premier cavalier de I'Apocalypse, dans ZNW 57 (1966) 229-


259 ; Les martyrs de l'humanite et I'Agneau egorge. Une interpretation nouvelle de la
priere des egorges en Ap 6, 9-11, dans NRT 99 (1977) 189-207; La moisson et la
vendange de I'Apocalypse (14, 14-20). La signification chretienne de la revelation
johannique, dans NRT94 (1972) 113-132.225-250.
112. Cf. E. FIORENZA, Die tausendjährige Herrschaft der Auferstandenen (Apk
20,4-6), dans Bibel und Leben 13 (1972) 107-124; D.C. SMITH, The Millennial Reign
of Jesus Christ. Some Observations on Rev. 20:1-10, dans Restoration Quart. 16
(1973) 219-230.
113. J.A. HUGHES, Revelation 20, 4-6 and the Question of the Millennium, dans
Westminster Theol. Journ. 35 (1973) 281-302.
114. Cf. R.L. ALORICH, Divisions of the First Resurrection, dans Bibliotheca
Sacra 128 (1971) 117-119. La discussion entre J.R. Michaels et M.G. Kline apropos
de l'identification de la premiere resurrection avec l' etat intermediaire (Kline ) ou
avec un royaume terrestre du Christ, montre a 1'evidence la complexite du pro-
bleme. Cf. J.R. MICHAELS, The First Resurrection. A Response, dans Westminster
Theol. Journ. 39 (1976) 100-109, suivi de la reaction de M.G. KLINE, ibid., pp. 110-
119.
115. M. RISSI, The Future ofthe World. An Exegetical Study of Revelation 19, 11-
22, 5, London, 1972.
L' APOCALYPSE JOHANNIQUE 43

La dimension eschatologique des chapitres 21 et 22 est aujourd'hui


communement accept6e, meme si, comme H. Mottu l'a fait remarquer
avec finesse, l'eschatologie parait quasiment projetee dans l'espace, substi-
tuant au schema « avant-apreS» le schema « au-dessus-en-dessous », 11
travers ce que 1'0n doit considerer comme une « manifestation » plus que
comme une « revelation » de Dieu 116.
P. Prigent a etudie avec soin les allusions au bapteme et 11 l'eucharistie
que semble contenir le chapitre 22 117 •
Le t~xte sur les pierres precieuses (Ap. 21, 18-21) a fait 1'0bjet de l'etude
minutieuse de U. Jart qui en a illustre l'usage diversifie dans les theopha-
nies, en a montre le point de depart probable dans Es 54, 11-12 et l'evolu-
tion 11 travers l'influence greco-romaine. Chaque pierre precieuse est c1as-
see selon son equivalence mineralogique actuelle. Ce sujet a ete recemment
repris et developpe par O. Böcher 118.

XII. Bilan et perspectives

Au terme de notre enquete, nous pouvons 11 present marquer les faits


saillants ou les questions qui ressortent du tableau de la situation actuelle,
pour indiquer ainsi les resuItats acquis et 1'0rientation uIterieure de la
recherche.
1. Les etudes litteraires, apres avoir connu une phase d'amateurisme
aujourd'hui depassee, se sont acheminees dans une voie scientifique.
Aucune exegese serieuse ne peut desormais les ignorer.
Dans quelle direction ces etudes scientifiques s'orientent-elles? Une
premiere voie semble etre celle de la methode structurale. Celle-ci est
susceptible en effet d'apporter un peu de c1arte dans de nombreux pro-
blemes et surtout 11 faire surgir toutes les nuances du texte « signifiant », en
valorisant des particularites grammaticales et semantiques de I'Apocalypse
11 premiere vue etranges.
A cet egard, beaucoup d'espects interessants demeurent encore 11 ec1air-
cir, notamment la langue grecque de l' Apocalypse et ses virtualites expres-
sives particulieres.
En rapport avec les etudes litteraires, on peut s'interroger sur l'etat de la
critique textuelle de l'Apocalypse. Excepte l'allusion dans 1'0uvrage de

116. H. MOTTU, Trace de Dieu: la manifestation, dans Bull. Centre Prot. Et.
25,4s (1973) 40-55.
117. P. PRIGENT, Une trace de liturgie judeo-chrbienne dans le chapitre XXI de
I'Apocalypse de lean, dans Rech. Sc. Rel. 60 (1972) 165-172.
118. U. JART, The Precious Stones in the Revelation o[ St. lohn XXI, 18-21, dans
Studia Theologica 24 (1970) 150-181; O. BÖCHER, Zur Bedeutung der Edelsteine in
OfJb 21, in Kirche und Bibel. Fs. E. Schick, Paderborn-München-Wien-Zürich, 1979,
pp. 19-32.
44 U. VANNI

G. Mussies - qui, nous I'avons vu, se limite au codex A - la recherche ne


se pn!occupe plus de cette question. Depuis les etudes c1assiques de
J. Schmid, est-on vraiment parvenu a un degre de certitude maximum? Ou
bien une lacune reste-t-elle a combler entrainant un travail a l'evidence
difficile?
L'elucidation et I'approfondissement de la structure est certes une täche
difficile. L'une des difficultes reside dans une certaine pluralite de
methodes dans laquelle s'organise la recherche. Feuillet, recemment, expri-
mait le souhait de disposer d'une structure a la fois litteraire et theolo-
gique, allant jusqu'a en proposer un schema 119. Mais pourra-t-on trouver
une structure litteraire vraiment adequate au texte sans que soient appro-
fondis les aspects strictement litteraires, a travers une eventuelle elabora-
tion structurale et en evitant la seduction d'un equivalent theologique
forge a la häte ?
Finalement, le style de l' Apocalypse, qualifie a juste titre par Boismard
d' « inimitable )}, ne merite-t-il pas d'etre creuse davantage comme le fit par
exemple Dornseif, dans le domaine c1assique, pour le style de Pindare ?
2. L'hermeneutique est un autre secteur dans lequella recherche scien-
tifique parait devoir se developper. Apres les artic1es stimulants mais
discutables de G.ß. Caird 120, d'autres essais ont suivi, excellents parfois
mais sans qu'on puisse disposer encore d'un systeme hermeneutique
coherent et complet qui couvre de maniere satisfaisante le champ theo-
rique Oll le livre est articule a la vie.
Pour l'etablissement du systeme hermeneutique, I'une des voies les plus
interessantes est, a coup sur, I'approfondissement du symbole. Les contri-
butions actuelles ont a nouveau attire l'attention sur la densite propre du
symbolisme de I'Apocalypse, son rapport a la liturgie 121 jusqu'a I'aspect
psychologique de la concentration de son auteur 122. 11 conviendra de
preciser la portee des principaux chiffres utilises dans l' Apocalypse en
l'ec1airant en fonction de la connaissance que nous avons de l'ecole apoca-
lyptique: les bouleversements cosmiques, le symbolisme theriomorphe,
chromatique, arithmetique et anthropologique - et leur rHerent dans la
realite. 11 faudra aussi examiner la structure a laquelle recourt l'auteur
dans la construction et l'expression de son symbolisme: une structure a

119. A. FEUILLET, Jalons pour une meilleure intelligence de l'Apocalypse. Intro-


duelion ci la partie prophi!tique, dans Esprit et Vie 85 (1975) 432-443, spec. pp. 437-
438 (voir le sous-titre : Idee generale de la structure, ci la lois litteraire et doctrinale, de
l'ensemble de l'Apocalypse).
120. G.B. CAIRD, On Deciphering the Book 01 Revelation, dans ExpT 74 (1962-
1963) 13-15.51-53.82-84.103-105.
121. Cf. P. PRIGENT, Le symbole dans le Nouveau Testament, dans Rev. Sc. Rel.
49 (1975) 101-115.
122. Cf. D.W. CAIN, Artistic Contrivance and Religious Communication, dans
Religious Studies 8 (1972) 29-43.
L'APOCALYPSE JOHANNIQUE 45

differents niveaux que certains preferent dire « en mouvement » 123. Com-


ment passe-t-on d'un niveau a 1'autre? Quelles sont les phases de deve-
loppement du symbole? Que doit ajouter au symbole le sujet qui le deco-
difie et quelle en sera 1'incidence sur l'exegese? Nous disposons deja de
quelques elements de reponse mais qui appellent encore une recherche
systematique plus complete encore qui fait defaut pour le moment.
Dans le champ theorique Oll le livre est articule a la vie, s'inscrit la
fonction deja evoquee du dialogue liturgique initial Oll est concerne un
auditoire aux reactions vives et protagonistes. Quelle serait la physionomie
de 1'Apocalypse si 1'on attribuait la totalite du livre a un groupe protago-
niste dont le röle est surtout marque dans le dialogue introductif? Autre-
ment dit, on doit s'attendre ace que bien des pages de 1'Apocalypse appa-
raissent sous un jour nouveau, si 1'on tient compte, gräce aux indications
de 1'analyse structurale, du rapport, decisif pour une reuvre litteraire, que
le lecteur ou 1'auditeur a vis-a-vis du texte. En lisant, par exemple, le cha-
pitre 18 comme une drame liturgique se deroulant idealement devant un
groupe d'assistance et de participation, le developpement litteraire du texte
change radicalement et gagne en interet.
En touchant la vie, le texte tend a la modifier. Le message ethique et
moral de l' Apocalypse garde un interet notable, comme le suggerent les
catalogues de vices ainsi que d'autres themes de theologie morale qui n'ont
pas encore ete abordes de maniere satisfaisante 124. L'abondance et la
qualite des contributions de ces dernieres annees donnent a esperer que la
theologie biblique, dans la progression de son developpement, pourra
egalement combler cette lacune.
3. L'etude des relations entre 1'Apocalypse et le reste de 1'Ancien Testa-
ment doit etre completee. Ce n'est qu'apres avoir etendu 1'etude compara-
tive minutieuse deja faite pour quelques livres aux autres livres de l' Ancien
Testament - notamment ceux qui y sont attestes, comme le livre de
1'Exode, de maniere recurrente et significative - que 1'on pourra se rendre
compte exactement de la presence de 1'Ancien Testament dans 1'Apoca-
lypse, de son poids et surtout de la maniere originale dont l'Apocalypse en
fait une relecture chretienne.
Une observation analogue peut etre faite apropos des relations de
l'Apocalypse avec le Nouveau Testament. Quand 1'etude des rapproche-
ments aura ete etendue, au-dela du 4" evangile et des synoptiques, a Paul,
aux epitres de Pierre, de Jude, de Jacques et aux Hebreux, nous pourrons
mieux comprendre 1'une et 1'autre, notamment par la maniere precise dont
1'ecole apocalyptique peut les unir.

123. J. ELLUL, L 'Apocalypse. Architecture en mouvement, Bruges, 1975.


124. On dispose seulement de l'etude synthetique de U. VANNI, I peccati neU'
Apocalisse e neUe lettere di Pietro, di Giacomo, di Giuda, dans La Scuola Cattolica
106 (1978) 372-386, spec.1a partie se rHerant a I'Apoca1ypse, pp. 372-379.
46 U. VANNI

4. Le travail comparatif plus rapproche des modeles apocalyptiques


extrabibliques - en plus du rapport de l'apocalyptique juive et de 1'apoca-
lyptique chretienne - urge le developpement d'autres secteurs en cours de
developpement: il y a une apocalyptique indienne, islamique et meme
lai'que 125.
5. L'abondance de commentaires, meme de niveau eleve, ne doit pas
cependant masquer 1'absence et le besoin du commentaire, d'une qualite
comparable a ceux de Charles et AHo, qui puisse integrer d'une maniere
convaincante tous ces apports des differents secteurs qui interviennent,
certes, dans de nombreux ouvrages mais qui demeurent erratiques sans
etre elabores en une synthese nouveHe.

XIII. Conclusion

Cette presentation illustree court le risque d'etre limitative. Ce qu'il


importe de voir, c'est le developpement global de l'interet et du niveau
auquel sont parvenues au cours de ces seize dernieres annees les etudes sur
l'Apocalypse.
En 1963, A. FeuiHet ecrivait, non sans une pointe d'amertume, en
publiant le livre deja mentionne: « L'Apocalypse de S. Jean exerce aujour-
d'hui moins d'attrait qu'autrefois sur les exegetes de profession » 126. Fort
heureusement, cette constatation est de nos jours desormais depassee.
L'Apocalypse exerce une attraction particuliere sur 1'homme moderne, en
raison d'un climat de crise ambiant. Mais la redecouverte du livre est
surtout le fait des specialistes et des exegetes.
Seule, l'histoire jugera avec exactitude la portee de 1'engouement actuel.
Si le travail scientifique, tout en gardant et intensifiant sa rigueur, pouvait
cependant s'orienter vers 1'etude du vecu, les etudes sur 1'Apocalypse
seraient sur le point de prendre un tournant decisif.

Piazza della Pilotta 4 U. VANNI


00187 Roma (Italia)

125. Cf. par exemple le livre tres discute de E. DE MARTINO, La fine del mondo.
Contributo all'analisi delle apocalissi culturali, Torino, 1977.
126. L'Apocalypse (voir note 9), p. 109.
Les Apocalypses contemporaines
de Baruch, d'Esdras et de Jean

Les commentateurs modernes de I'Apocalypse johannique n'ignorent


pas les deux grandes apocalypses juives contemporaines, I'Apocalypse
syriaque de Baruch (II Baruch) et I'Apocalypse d'Esdras (IV Esdras 3 ä. 14).
Cependant ils s'en servent peu et ne leur reconnaissent aucune affinite
particuliere avec l' Apocalypse neotestamentaire.
Un seul travail d'envergure a deliberement englobe dans son champ les
trois ecrits apocalyptiques, celui de Ulrich B. Müller, Messias und Men-
schensohn in jüdischen Apokalypsen und in der Offenbarung des Johannes
(Gütersloh, 1972). Le diagnostic de l'auteur sur la parente des trois reuvres
est justifie. Les reserves que j'aurai ä. faire sur deux points ne devraient pas
faire oublier l'originalite de l'angle de vue et la fecondite de la voie ouverte
et exploitee par U.B. Müller.
Avec Traugott Holtz 1 et beaucoup d'autres en ce qui touche l'Apoca-
lypse johannique, avec de serieux commentateurs pour IV Esdras, ä. la
suite de travaux sur II Baruch confirmant l'avis le plus repandu, j'estime
que les trois ecrits apocalyptiques transmis sous les noms de Baruch,
d'Esdras et de leim sont des reuvres ä. ce point composees et coherentes
que, meme lä. Oll l'utilisation de sources est parfaitement vraisemblable, il
est impossible de reconstituer celles-ci materiellement, encore moins d'en
retrouver les intonations doctrinales distinctes. C'est une premiere reserve
ä. l'egard de l'ouvrage de u.B. Müller, d'autant plus necessaire que, pour
lui, l'incorporation de Überlie[erungseinheiten serait une des ressemblances
fondamentales entre les trois ecrits 2. 11 sera possible d'apprecier plus loin
le type de fidelite dont ils font preuve ä. l'egard de Daniel. 11 n'en va pas
autre~ent pour des modeles qui avaient moins d'autorite. Les trois auteurs
expriment, sur le fond de la doctrine re~ue, juive ou chretienne, un mes-
sage de circonstance 3.

1. T. HOLTZ, Die Christologie der Apokalypse des Johannes (TU, 85), Berlin,
1962, 1971 2, pp. 244-246. Voir aussi O. BÖCHER, Die Johannesapokalypse (Erträge
der Forschung, 41), Darmstadt, 1975, p. 35.
2. U.B. MÜLLER, Messias und Menschensohn in jüdischen Apokalypsen und in der
Offenbarung des Johannes (Studien zum Neuen Testament, 6), Gütersloh, 1972,
230 p. ; voir pp. 13, 16-17,215-216.
3. Ce travail poursuit les comparaisons amorcees au terme d'une precedente
etude: P.-M. BOGAERT, La ruine de Jerusalem et les apocalypses juives apres 70, dans
48 P.-M. BOGAERT

Une deuxieme reserve ressortira de la suite de l'expose, mais il est utile


de l'annoneer. Au heu de eonsiderer que, dans les trois apoealypses, la
figure traditionnelle du Messie est eontaminee par eelle du Fils de
l'Homme, il est plus efficient de eonsiderer que les trois ceuvres eonsti-
tuent, au moins en partie, des releetures de Daniel dans lesquelles le
royaume ultime (eelui qui suit les quatre royaumes animaux) est le heu
d'insertion de traditions messianiques developpees a partir d'autres heux
seripturaires.

Apocalypses et theologie de l'esperance. Congres de Toulouse, 1975 (Lectio Divina,


95), Paris, 1977, pp. 123-14l.
- Pour 1a bibliographie de II Baruch et IV Esdras, je renvoie a cet article et a
G. DELLING et M. MASER, Bibliographie zur jüdisch-hellenistischen und intertesta-
mentarischen Literatur 1900-1970 (TU, 106 2), Berlin, 1975.11 faut y ajouter: M. DEL-
COR, Mythologie et apocalyptiques, dans Apocalypses et theologie de l'esperance...
(Lectio Divina, 95), Paris, 1977, pp. 143-177; J. STIASSNY, L'occultation de l'apoca-
lyptique dans le rabbinisme, ibid., pp. 179-203; AJ. SALDARINI, The Uses 01 Apoca-
lyptic in the Mishna and Tosefta, dans CBQ 39 (1977) 396-409.
- Pour II Baruch ajouter: P.S. VAN KONINGSVELD, An Arabic Manuscript 01
the Apocalypse 01 Baruch, dans Journ. lor the Study 01 Judaism 6 (1975) 205-207 ;
E. BRANDENBURGER, U.B. MÜLLER, AF.J. KLIJN, Himmelfahrt Moses. Die grie-
chische Esra-Apokalypse. Die syrische Baruch-Apokalypse (Jüdische Schriften aus
hellenistisch-römischer Zeit, 5, 2), Gütersloh, 1976 (11 Bar par AF.J. KUJN);
E. HAMMERSHAIMB, etc., De gammeltestamentlige Pseudepigrapher, i oversaettelse
med indledning og noter, Copenhague, fasc. 8, 1976, pp. 827-886 (11 Bar par P.
Seidelin) ; H. SCHMID et W. SPEYER, art. Baruch, dans Jahrbuch lür Ant. u. Christen-
tum 17 (1974) 177-190.
- Pour IV Esdras: M.E. STONE, A New Manuscript 01 the Syro-Arabic Version
o[ the Fourth Book o[ Ezra, dans Journ. tor the Study o[ Judaism 8 (1977) 183-184;
R. RUBINKIEWICZ, Un fragment grec du IV' Livre d'Esdras (Ch. XI et XII), dans Le
Museon 89 (1976) 75-87 (latin traduit en grec); J.M. MYERS, land II Esdras
(Anchor Bib1e, 42), New York, 1974; M.E. STONE, Concordance and Texts 01 the
Armenian Version o[ IV Ezra (Oriental Notes and Studies, 11), Jerusalem, 1971,
XVII-346 p. ; B. FISCHER, Novae Concordantiae Bibliorum Sacrorum iuxta Vulgatam
Versionem critice editam, Stuttgart, 1977, XVII p.-5699 col. (IV Esd latin) ; M. PHI-
LONENKO, L'ame ci l'etroit, dans A CAQUOT et M. PHILONENKO (ed.), Hommages ci
A. Dupont-Sommer, Paris, 1971, pp. 421-428; D. BOYARIN, Penitential Liturgy in 4
Ezra, dans Journ. tor the Study o[ Judaism 3 (1972) 30-34; E. BREECH, These Frag-
ments I Have Shored Against My Ruins: The Form and Function 014 Ezra, dans
JBL 92 (1973) 267-274; D. MUNOZ LEON, EI 4 0 de Esdras y el Targum Palestinense
(Las dos primeras visiones: 3, 1-6, 34), dans Estudios Biblicos 33 (1974) 323-355 ; ID.,
EI 4 0 de Esdras y el Targum Palestinense (La tercera vision: 6, 38-9, 25), ibid. 34
(1975) 49-82; AP. HAYMAN, The Problem o[ Pseudonymity in the Ezra Apocalypse,
dans Journ. tor the Study o[ Judaism 6 (1975) 47-56; S. GERO, «My Son the Mes-
siah ». A Note on 4 Esr. 7, 28-29, dans ZNW 66 (1975) 264-267 ; O.H. STECK, Die
Au[nahme von Genesis I in Jubiläen 2 und 4. Esra 6, dans Journ. lor the Study o[
Judaism 8 (1977) 154-182; M. PHILONENKO, La sixieme vision de IV Esdras et les
«Oracles de Hystaspe », dans F. RAPHAEL, etc. (ed.), L 'Apocalyptique (Etudes d'his-
toire des religions, 3), Paris, 1977, pp. 127-135.
- Pour l'Apocalypse, 1e petit ouvrage de O. BÖCHER, Die Johannesapokalypse
(Erträge der Forschung, 41), Darmstadt, 1975, avec sa bibliographie, peut rendre de
precieux services.
LES APOCALYPSES CONTEMPORAINES 49

La majorite des commentateurs datent l'Apocalypse johannique de la


fin du regne de Domitien (81-96) 4. Quant aux apocalypses juives de
Baruch et d'Esdras, rares sont ceux aujourd'hui, je crois, qui cherchent a
les dater autrement qu'entre 70 et 135, la plupart s'accordant pour mettre
II Baruch en 95 ou 96 et IV Esdras en 100. Supposons qu'ils ont raison. 11
suffit au depart de cette etude que les trois apocalypses soient contempo-
raines. Pour chacune prise separement, l'opinion commune propose une
date voisine de 100.
Voici alors l'hypothese de travail. Meme s'il etait vrai, dato non con-
cesso, que les ressemblances entre les trois apocalypses ne vont pas au-dela
de ce que notent les commentateurs les plus attentifs, il y aurait lieu d'etu-
dier dans quels rapports triangulaires elles se presentent. Parmi les reuvres
apocalyptiques datables entre Antiochus IV Epiphane et Bar-Cosiba, ces
trois-ci forment un groupe qui se reconnaitrait meme si les dates etaient
par ailleurs inconnues 5.
On peut ameliorer encore le cas. L'Apocalypse de Jean est ecrite en
grec. On ne discute plus guere ce point aujourd'hui. La recherche porte a
juste titre sur les phenomenes de bilinguisme qui affectent sa langue 6.
L'Apocalypse de Baruch, elle aussi, peut avoir ete composee en grec. Per-
sonne n'a reussi a prouver qu'un original semitique est requis, et il y ades
indices du contraire. Mais plus fermement il faut affirmer que II Baruch,
ecrit pour des Juifs vivant dans l'Empire romain, n'a pujouer son röle que
s'il a du moins ete promptement traduit en grec 7. Les marques
d'archaYsme 8 du syriaque imposent l'existence du grec au plus tard au
In e siecle. Pour IV Esdras, la preuve d'un original semitique n'est pas non
plus indiscutable 9. Du moins doit-on tenir que le grec, cite deja par Cle-
ment d'Alexandrie et a l'origine des tres anciennes versions latine et

4. Voir O. BÖCHER, Die Johannesapokalypse, pp. 36-41. - J'ajoute que les mots
d'Irenee (Adv. Haer. V, 30, 3) ad finem Domitiani imperii (pros tai telei... ) peuvent
s'entendre de l'issue du regne, et pas seulement de la partie finale du regne. N'est-il
pas vraisemblable du moins que la diffusion du livre se soit faite apres la mort de
Domitien?
5. V.B. MÜLLER, Messias und Menschensohn, p. 13.
6. Voir par ex. W. RAMM, dans Jahrbuch für Ant, u. Christentum 21 (1978)
198-204 (a propos de G. MUSSfES).
7. Apocalypse de Baruch. Introduction, traduction du syriaque et commentaire
par P.[-M.] BOGAERT (Sources Chretiennes, 144-145), Paris, 1969, t. I, pp. 353-380.
8. Ibid., t. I, pp. 71-72.
9. La grande complexite de la transmission de IV Esdras rend la solution de
cette question, toujours delicate, presque insoluble. Que l'on songe: en plus des
versions en d'autres langues, il existe trois versions arabes. Sur la troisieme, voir
M.E. STONE, A New Manuscript of the Syro-Arabic Version of the Fourth Book of
Ezra, dans Journ. for the Study of Judaism 8 (1977) 183-184. Les variations du bon
connaisseur qu'est Bruno Violet, l'hesitation entre un original hebreu ou arameen,
l'existence de references a la Septante la ou elle est differente de l'hebreu invitent a
ne pas se prononcer trop vite. Les travaux de J. BLOCH n'ont pas ec1airci la ques-
50 P.-M. BOGAERT

syriaque, devait exister a la fin du n e siecle. Ici aussi l'auteur, ecrivant


peut-etre a Rome 10 et presque certainement dans la Diaspora, ne pouvait
atteindre ses lecteurs que par le truchement du grec. Argument supplemen-
taire, 13. OU les Apocalypses grecques de Baruch, d'Esdras, de Sedrach et les
Paralipomena Jeremiae dependent de II Baruch et de IV Esdras, c'est du
grec qu' elles dependent 11.
Le champ de travail est, on le voit, plus restreint que celui couvert par
U.B. Müller. Celui-ci a voulu jeter les bases d'une histoire de la figure du
Messie depuis Daniel jusqu'a l'Apocalypse, et il a eu recours necessaire-
ment, a cote des documents incorpores selon lui aux trois apocalypses, a
d'autres ecrits anterieurs a 70, po ur degager quelles etaient par comparai-
son avec eux l'originalite et la dependance des trois grandes apocalypses
d'apres 70. 11 s'agit maintenant d'autre chose.
Peut-on degager de l'examen de ces trois apocalypses des indices de
relations mutuelles, etant admis - c'est l'hypothese de travail - que des
relations entre elles seraient vraisemblables meme si rien ne les trahis-
sait ? Ces relations, elles sont unanimement reconnues pour II Baruch et
IV Esdras; le sens seul en est discute. L'audace, c'est d'y ajouter l'Apoca-
lypse de lean, pour decouvrir non pas qu'elle est une apocalypse juive,
mais au contraire qu'elle est engagee dans une joute theologique et litte-
raire entre juifs et chretiens.
Nous nous arreterons tout particulierement au mecanisme des images.
C'est un choix dont nous sommes conscient qu'il est reducteur et dont nous
esperons qu'il sera efficace. Si l'hypothese fonctionne pour les images et
leur transformation, il sera temps de l'eprouver sur les idees. Commencer
par les idees, c'est prendre le risque du cercle vicieux.

I. Les Douze Tribus, le Fleuve et le genre epistolaire

Les apocalypses de Baruch et d'Esdras s'accordent pour attester la


division des Douze Tribus en deux groupes, l'un facilement accessible,
l'autre inaccessible ou presque, au-dela d'un fleuve qui, comme jadis le
lourdain, divise le peuple juif. En revanche, la vision johannique suppose
accomplie la reunion des Douze Tribus. L'Apocalypse johannique
n'innove pas sur ce point. On peut renvoyer a Ac 26, 7 ; Mt 19, 29 et par. ;
Mt 24, 30, et a l'adresse de l'Epitre de lacques, par ailleurs si proche de

tion: Was there a Greek Version 0/ the Apocalypse 0/ Ezra ? dans Jewish Quarterly
Review 46 (1955-1956) 309-320; The Ezra Apocalypse, was it written in Hebrew,
Greek or Aramaic ? ibid. 48 (1957-1958) 279-294.
10. C'est la these de B. VIOLET, Die Apokalypsen des Esra und des Baruch in
deutscher Gestalt (Die Griech. Christi. Schriftsteller, 32), Leipzig, 1924, p. L.
11. Voir B. VIOLET, Die Esra-Apokalypse (IV Esra) (Die Griech. Christi.
Schriftsteller, 18), Leipzig, 1910, p. LIX.
LES APOCALYPSES CONTEMPORAINES 51

celle de la lettre de Baruch (11 Bar 78, 1). Quant a 11 Baruch et IV Esdras
(13, 39-50), ils ont de bons paralleles dans Flavius losephe (Al XI, § l33) et
dans la litterature rabbinique.
11 faut maintenant examiner les connotations dans chacune des trois
apocalypses.

A. BARUCH SEPARE DES DEUX GROUPES DE TRIBUS

En II Baruch, l'Euphrate (77, 22) ou le Fleuve (78, 1) 12 separe l'auteur


des neuf tribus et demie destinataires de la lettre. La division d'Israel en
deux groupes est constatee et regrettee (78, 4) : l'un est a Babylone, c'est-a-
dire dans l'Empire romain; l'autre est a l'Orient. C'est bien la ce
qu'exprime losephe: « Mais l'ensemble du peuple des Israelites demeura
chacun dans son pays. Aussi arriva-t-il que deux tribus se trouvent en Asie
et en Europe obeissant aux Romains et que les dix tribus soient au-dela de
l'Euphrate jusqu'a ce jour, innombrables multitudes impossibles a compter
(Al XI, § l33) ». Cette remarque confirme, s'il etait necessaire, l'equiva-
lence Babylone-Empire romain 13.
Baruch se place lui-meme entre les deux groupes, puisqu'aux deux il
doit envoyer une lettre. Cependant illui faut un messager special, un aigle,
pour s'adresser aux tribus au-dela de l'Euphrate, peu ou pas accessibles,
tandis que pour ceux de Babylone il recourt a trois hommes, ce qui parait
naturel des lors que les destinataires ne sont pas hors de portee.
11 faut dire aussi des maintenant que II Baruch attribue la destruction
de la Ville et l'incendie du Temple a quatre anges obeissant a un cin-
quieme (11 Bar 6, 4 a 8, 5). « Ainsi les ennemis ne pourront se glorifier et
dire: C'est nous qui avons detruit le rempart de Sion, nous qui avons
incendie le Lieu du Dieu tout-puissant (7, 1) ». A vrai dire, il s'agit la non
d'un recit historique, mais d'une vision (6, 3-4), que plusieurs ecrits ulte-
rieurs, les Paralipomena Jeremiae et la Pisqa 26 de la Pesiqta Rabbati
specialement, ont lue comme fait d'histoire. L'origine apocalyptique de
cette maniere de raconter la destruction du Temple me parait evidente et,
puisqu'il ne faut pas creer d'etres sans necessite, je prHere penser que c'est
l'auteur de II Baruch qui l'a inventee pour servir avec des moyens d'apoca-
lypticiens ses preoccupations religieuses. Cet element de l'affabulation ne
servira pas tout de suite. Ici il n'est pas mis en relation avec les Douze
Tribus et le Fleuve.

12. Ainsi le texte de l'ensemble de II Baruch dans le manuscrit de I' Ambro-


sienne. Les ternoins de la lettre seule ajoutent ici « Euphrate ».
13. Les Antiquites Juives sont contemporaines de 11 Baruch, de IV Esdras et
de I'Apocalypse johannique. Toutes ces reuvres datent de la demiere decennie du
siede.
52 P.-M. BOGAERT

B. ESDRAS AVEC UN GROUPE DE TRIBUS


ET LOIN DE L'AUTRE

Dans IV Esdras, le visionnaire est installe a Babylone meme, e'est-a-dire


a Rome ou du moins dans l'Empire. Et il ne fait qu'evoquer les neuftribus
et demie au-dela du Fleuve (13,39-50). Faisant done lui-meme partie de la
Diaspora romaine, il n'a nul besoin d'envoyer une lettre. Et effeetivement
il n'en est pas question.
Le Fleuve est l'Euphrate. En 13, 43, i1 est explieitement nomme 14. Le
Tres-Haut a jadis interrompu son eours pour laisser les exiles partir au
bout du monde. Aux derniers temps, il en interrompra de nouveau le eours
po ur leur permettre de revenir. Une telle evoeation de la reunifieation
d'Israel par le rassemblement mysterieux des douze tribus n'est pas pre-
sente dans II Baruch; elle etait matiere a diseussion ehez les doeteurs
tannaltes 15.

C. JEAN ET LES DouZE TRIBUS RllUNIES

L' Apoealypse johannique mentionne le grand fleuve Euphrate dans


deux passages qui se repondent, la sixieme trompette (9, 14) et la sixieme
eoupe (16, 12). L'Euphrate est iei aussi une frontiere entre l'Orient et
l'Oeeident et, d'apres la geographie du temps, entre l'Orient parthe et
l'Oeeident romain 16. Son röle n'est pas de separer deux groupes de tribus
puisque, dans la perspeetive neotestamentaire, les Douze Tribus sont vues
reunies. L'enumeration des tribus se lit, elle, dans le sixieme seeau (7, 4-8 ;
voir 21, 12), eomme aussi les mentions de l'Euphrate se lisaient dans la
sixieme trompette et dans la sixieme eoupe. Comme en II Baruch et IV
Esdras, tribus et Fleuve sont done eorrelatifs.
Ce premier signe de parente doit attirer notre attention sur un seeond
qui lui est lie. Le sixieme see au et la sixieme trompette utilisent tous deux
une eurieuse image. Le danger imminent est tenu en suspens par quatre

14. En 13, 40, le syriaque precise seul, mais le eontexte (Ja deportation de
Salmanasar) ne Iaisse aueun doute.
15. Apocalypse de Baruch ... (Sourees Chretiennes, 144), t. I, pp. 341-343; voir
aussi TgPsJon sur Ex 34, 10 dans R. LE DEAUT, Targum du Pentateuque. II.
Exode et Levitique (Sourees Chretiennes, 256), Paris, 1979, p. 271.
16. Voir M. ROSTOVTZEFF, dans The Cambrige Ancient History. XI, Cambridge,
1936, pp. 106 et 137-140. Les rois d'Orient attendant de se deehainer (Ap 16, 12)
sont des Parthes ou des allies des Parthes. Un modus vivendi relativement stable
existe entre Romains et Parthes depuis J'intronisation de Tiridates eomme roi
d'Armenie par Neron et jusqu'au regne de Trajan, done sous les Flaviens (ibid.,
p. 107).
LES APOCALYPSES CONTEMPORAINES 53

anges auxquels commande un cinquieme. Ces quatre anges sont compa-


rabIes aux rois de la sixieme coupe, car ils sont comme eux retenus par le
Fleuve et donnes comme venant de l'Orient 17.
Les enchainements d'images se resument de la maniere suivante :

Sixieme see au Sixieme trompette Sixieme eoupe


(septenaire (septenaire du (septenaire du
du declenehement, du deferlement, de la
peril contenu) tiers detruit) destruetion totale)

Quatre anges et un ange Quatre anges et un ange Les rois (16, 12)
(7, 1-2) (9, 14)
L'ange monte de [eavalerie (parthe) Les rois viennent de
l'Orient (7,2) (9, 14») I'Orient (16, 12)
Les Douze Tribus (7,4- Le grand fleuve Le grand fleuve
8) Euphrate (9, 14) Euphrate (16, 12)
L'ange retient (7, 2-3) --> Les quatre anges--> L'Euphrate asseehe livre
enehaines et liberes passage (16, 12)
(9, 14-15)

Les elements caracteristiques des trois sixiemes temps apparaissent


deux fois d'une maniere identique et la troisieme d'une maniere correla-
tive. De plus, il y a progression: les quatre anges sont d'abord retenus, puis
liberes, puis läches par dessus l'Euphrate.
Avec le commentaire de L. Cerfaux et J. Cambier et plusieurs autres 18,
il faut tenir que, selon la regle de l'antidatation fictive sur laquelle se fonde
toute l'apocalyptique, l'auteur de l'Apocalypse johannique ecrit bien ä. la
fin du regne de Domitien, mais se donne lui-meme comme le temoin des
evenements de la Guerre Juive qui constituent donc son present. Avec les
memes commentateurs et d'autres, il faut tenir aussi que les sixiemes temps
constituent en tout etat de cause le present du visionnaire, les quatre pre-
miers temps decrivant un passe simplifie et lointain, le cinquieme un passe
encore saisissable et le septieme l'issue.
Des lors, il est raisonnable de suivre S. Giet lorsqu'il interprete les
quatre anges enchaines sur l'Euphrate de la sixieme trompette (Ap 9, 13-

17. Equivalenee etrange, mais pas si obseure qu'i! peut sem bier. Dans une
apoealypse syriaque attribuee it Esdras (F. BAETHGEN, Beschreibung der syrischen
Handschrift «Sachau 131 » auf der Königlichen Bibliothek zu Berlin, dans ZA W 6
(1886)193-211; voir p. 205) les quatre anges (Ap 9, 14-15) sont identifies it des rois.
18. L. CERFAUX et J. CAMBIER, L 'Apocalypse de saint Jean lue aux chretiens
(Leetio Divina, 17), Paris, 1955, p. 152. Voir aussi P. TOUILLEUX, L'Apocalypse et les
cultes de Domitien et de Cybele, Paris, 1935; A. FEUILLET, L'Apocalypse. Etat de la
question (Studia Neotestamentiea. Subsidia, 3), Paris et Bruges, 1963.
54 P.-M. BOGAERT

15) en reference ades evenements de la Guerre Juive 19. L'on accordera


cependant que 1'image est bien etrange ici alors qu'elle etait limpide en II
Baruch 20 •
Tout s'explique mieux si 1'Apocalypse johannique a repris une image
deja acclimatee avant lui au genre apocalyptique, dans un contexte Oll son
interpretation est evidente.
La leeture de S. Giet confirmee sur ce point, il est possible d'aller plus
loin et de 1'etendre aux deux autres sixiemes temps en raison du paralle-
lisme. Les trois sixiemes temps decrivent crescendo l'imminence, le signal et
la realisation de la destruction de Jerusalem selon une affabulation, quatre
anges commandes par un cinquieme, empruntee a 1'apocalyptique juive et,
plus precisement, a II Baruch Oll elle est naturelle et limpide.

Vers une nouvelle formulation


de ['hypothese de travail

On peut des lors proposer en un ordre logique provisoire les relations


entre deux des trois apocalypses. Cet ordre, confirme par d'autres constata-
tions, peut fond er l'ordre chronologique: II Baruch avant l'Apocalypse
johannique.
Ecrit en Israel pour les deux grandes parties du judalsme en exil, II
Baruch ne connal't cependant pas la reunion des Douze Tribus dans sa
vision de l'histoire en cours 21. Son interet se tourne vers la destruction de
la Cite Sainte dont il veut souligner le caractere providentiel. Si Dieu ne
1'avait pas voulue et executee par ses anges, elle n'aurait pas eu lieu. Le
Temple n'est plus, la Loi dem eure (11 Bar 48,24 et 85, 15).
Pour l' Apocalypse johannique comme pour d'autres ecrits du Nouveau
Testament, les communautes chretiennes constituent le nouvel Israel;
toutes tribus reunies, elles ne connaissent pas de division ou de fron tiere.
L'Euphrate symbolise la ligne de demarcation entre les deux forces poli-
tiques de 1'epoque, non entre deux parties du peuple saint. C'est de
1'Orient que viennent les quatre anges-rois, executeurs des a:uvres divines
au sixieme temps, images reprises a 1'apocalyptique juive (II Baruch), mais
privees dans leur nouveau contexte de la logique qui les gouvernait. Mises

19. Les quatre anges representeraient les contingents non romains, principale-
ment montes a cheval, venus renforcer la XII' legion de Cestius. Voir S. GIET,
L'Apocalypse et l'histoire. Etude historique sur I'Apocalypse johannique, Paris, 1957,
pp. 7-9.34-36; A. propos d'un ouvrage recent sur l'Apocalypse, dans Revue des
Sciences Religieuses 38 (1964) 71-92; Retour sur l'Apocalypse, ibid. 38 (1964) 235-
264. La non-perception du principe de l'antidatation fictive a conduit S. Giet a une
solution trop compliquee. Mais on aurait tort de ne pas lire attentivement ses
travaux.
20. Voir ci-dessus p. 4.
21. Pour II Baruch, l'union des douze tribus est un fait passrele (78, 4; 84, 3).
LES APOCALYPSES CONTEMPORAINES 55

au service d'une vision nouvelle de l'histoire, elles attestent certes la


volonte chez l'auteur de se referer a l'eschatologie juive, mais e1les font
prevoir a quel point la perspective d'ensemble est modifiee.
L'Apocalypse de Baruch s'acheve par une lettre adressee aux tribus
inaccessibles. Elle est elle-meme, mais sans la forme epistolaire, la seconde
lettre, adressee aux tribus de l'Empire romain, selon ce qui est dit en 77, 17
et 19 22 .
J'expliquerais volontiers le double recours de l'Apocalypse johannique
a la forme epistolaire par une imitation de II Baruch 23. Les sept lettres de
Jean aux Eglises d'Asie correspondent a la lettre finale de Baruch aux
tribus orientales, tandis que l'adresse et la souscription qui font de l'Apoca-
lypse tout entiere une lettre mettent en evidence le fait que II Baruch etait
lui-meme tout entier considere comme une lettre.
Que1 est alors le rapport chronologique de IV Esdras avec les deux
autres?
La chronologie relative de II Baruch et de IV Esdras a ete abondam-
ment discutee, et la critique litteraire n'est pas d'un grand secours. Il me
parait parfaitement defendable de prendre au serieux la date suggeree en
tete des deux ecrits et de mettre II Baruch avant IV Esdras 24. C'est donc le
rapport entre IV Esdras et l'Apocalypse johannique qui doit etre evalue.
l. Les Douze Tribus. La tradition neotestamentaire n'envisage que les
tribus reunies. Elle se distingue nettement de la tradition tannaHe qui

22. En 1969, au moment ou j'aehevais ma dissertation doetorale sur l'Apocalypse


syriaque de Baruch (Sourees Chretiennes, 144-145), je n'avais pas eneore pu demon-
trer que le livre eanonique de Barueh (Bar 1-5) n'a ete estime distinet de Jeremie
qu'au In e s. apres J.c. dans le monde gree et plus tard ehez les latins. D'ou l'hypo-
these (t. I, p. 80) que l'auteur de Il Baruch aurait voulu ne pas porter ombrage iL un
eerit baruehien anterieuT. Mais Il Baruch est bien le premier eerit iL porter le nom
de Barueh (pace H. SCHMID et W. SPEYER, art. Baruch, dans Jahrbuch für Ant. u.
Christentum 17 [1974) 177-190): voir P.-M. BOGAERT, Le nom de Baruch dans la
litterature pseudepigraphique : l'Apocalypse syriaqiie et le livre deuterocanonique, dans
W.c. VAN UNNIK (ed.), Litterature juive entre Tenach et Mischna (Reeherehes
bibliques, 9), Leyde, 1974, pp. 56-72; ID., La tradition des oracles et du livre de
Jeremie, des origines au moyen age, dans RTL 8 (1977) 305-328. Voir aussi l'excellent
travail de E. Tov, The Septuagint Translation of Jeremiah and Baruch. A Discussion
of an Early Revision of the LXX of Jeremiah 29-52 and Baruch 1:1-3:8 (Harvard
Semitie Monographs, 8), Missoula, Montana, 1976, et le C.T. dans RTL 9 (1978) 342-
347.
23. Elisabeth SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA amis en evidenee la trame epistolaire de
l'ensemble de l'Apoealypse. Voir surtout: The Eschatology and Composition of the
Apocalypse, dans CBQ 39 (1977) 344-366. - L'epistolographie merite plus d'atten-
tion qu'elle n'a eveille jusqu'ici. Voir E. LOHMEYER, Probleme paulinischer Theolo-
gie. 1. Briefliche Grussüberschriften, dans ZNW 26 (1927) 158-173; O. ROLLER, Das
Formular der paulinischen Briefe. Ein Beitrag zur Lehre von antiken Briefe
(BWANT, IV, 6), Stuttgart, 1933. Pour I'heure, P.S. ALEXANDER annonce un travail,
iL paraitre dans Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Nov. Test., vol. IV, sect. 4c.
24. Apocalypse de Baruch ... (Sourees Chretiennes, 144), t. I, pp. 284-288.
56 P.-M. BOGAERT

connait seulement la division des tribus en deux groupes. Or IV Esdras est


le plus ancien texte datable a evoquer le retour des neuf tribus et a lier ce
retour a l'avenement du Messie. Ne donne-t-il pas sur ce point une reponse
juive a la visionjohannique des cent quarante-quatre mille?
2. Le Fleuve. En II Baruch, l'Euphrate est une frontiere, non un ob-
stacle. Telle est la realite politique du temps et la nature des choses. Aucun
miracle n'est requis pour traverser l'Euphrate. Cette maniere de voir suffit
a expliquer la premiere mention de l'Apocalypse (9, 14). Les quatre anges
enchaines representent une armee massee aux frontieres et bientöt lancee
par dessus. Mais en Ap 16, 12, l'Euphrate doit etre asseche pour que le
passage soit possible. Le Fleuve devient une barriere. Ne peut-on penser
que Jean s'est souvenu ici de ce que dit Flavius Josephe du fleuve Sabba-
tique en Phenicie (BJ VII, §96-99) ou de ce que dit Pline l'Ancien dans
l' Histoire naturelle (XXXI, 24) dediee a Titus en 77 ?
A un obstacle militaire, IV Esdras va ajouter une signification theolo-
gique. Lorsque les tribus s'en vont en exil, le Tres-Haut doit assecher
I'Euphrate (13, 44), et il fera de meme a leur retour (13, 47). A ce stade,
I'Euphrate est devenu un nouveau Jourdain dont le cours s'interrompt
pour faire entrer le Peuple sur sa terre (Jos 3, 13-17) 25. IV Esdras est le
premier ecrit a lier la tradition sur le retour des tribus lointaines a celle sur
le Fleuve mysterieux. Cette conjonction est connue de la litterature rabbi-
nique 26.
L'exemple choisi a montre sur un point precis que l'Apocalypse johan-
nique pouvait dependre de II Baruch et que IV Esdras parait connaitre
l' Apocalypse johannique. L'hypothese de travail proposee au depart peut
donc etre completee par une seconde. Bien des indices en dehors du pre-
mier exemple retenu montrent que les innovations de IV Esdras par rap-
port a II Baruch portent sur des images et sur des interpretations d'images
utilisees par l'Apocalypse johannique. A l'Apocalypse juive de Baruch
repond ou correspond l' Apocalypse chretienne de Jean, et cette demiere
est a l'origine d'une nouvelle composition apocalyptique juive, IV Esdras.
La ou IV Esdras se distingue de II Baruch, l'eventualite d'une reponse a
la vision chretienne de J ean peut etre envisagee.

11. La reference aDaniel et la figure du Messie 27

Implicite ou explicite, la reference a Daniel constitue un des traits les


plus certains de la litterature apocalyptique d'origine 28. Elle porte princi-
palement sur les figures du chapitre 7, les quatre betes et l'etre comme UD

25. Paral. Jeremiae 8 pourrait avoir repris cette image.


26. Voir ci-dessus la note 15.
27. En plus du travail de U.B. Müller, il faut mentionner l'article de
M.E. STONE, The Concept oi Messiah in IV Ezra, dans J. NEUSNER (ed.), Religions in
LES APOCALYPSES CONTEMPORAINES 57

fils d'homme, les dix comes de la quatrieme bete, les quatre tetes de la
troisieme, etc. Ces figures ont pris une certaine autonomie, sans que cepen-
dant soit oublü!e leur origine danieIique.
Entre la figure du Fils de l'Homme et le Messie, des liens theologiques
ont pu se nouer et se denouer, dont il est difficile de retracer l'histoire. 11
importe d'examiner ici dans quels rapports se situent les trois apocalypses
d'apres 70 quand elles se referent aux images de Daniel et aux traditions
messianiques.

A. LEs ANTITHESES MONSTRES-HUMAIN ET MONSTRES-ANlMAUX

Une observation s'impose de prime abord. Alors que l'affabulation


danielique est fondee sur r1position entre des animaux monstrueux et un
personnage humain 29 et I le II Baruch (39-40) le suit sur ce point 30,
l'Apocalypse johannique (passim) et IV Esdras (11-12) y ont substitue une
opposition entre animaux. Dans l'Apocalypse, les betes ont vis-a-vis d'elles
un agneau 31; dans IV Esdras (11-12), l'aigle (romaine) est interpellee par
le lion (de Juda) 32. La modification est significative. 11 est improbable que
les deux auteurs l'aient introduite independamment. Le sens de l'emprunt
ne ressort pas directement de cet exemple.

Antiquity. Essays in Memory 01 E.R. Goodenough (Studies in the History of Reli-


gions. Supp!. to Numen, 14), Leyde, 1970, pp. 295-312. Pour Michael Stone, les
donnees sur la figure du Messie dans IV Esdras ne sont pas contradictoires si I'on
tient compte de l'utilisation par l'auteur de documents traditionnels. Stone part du
fait que le Nouveau Testament et les Paraboles d'Henoch montrent que l'expression
« Fils de l'Homme » est vite devenue une formule et un titre. Dans la vision de IV
Esd 13 (contredistinguee de l'interpretation de l'ange), « homme » renvoie imme-
diatement a Dn 7, 13. Mais l'interpretation n'a pas retenu ce trait, parce qu'il n'etait
plus reconnaissable pour I'auteur et ses lecteurs (pp. 307-308). Avec u.B. Müller, on
peut penser que l'ecart entre vision et interpretation est deliMre. Nous crayons de
plus (voir ci-dessous) que la presence de la figure danielique comme un fils
d'homme en IV Esdras tient a sa presence dans l'Apocalypse de Baruch. A noter que
ni l'un ni l'autre n'utilise le titre huios anthr6pou. Bien que l'auteur de l'Apocalypse
ait dO le connaitre, il retourne a Daniel et ajoute homoion.
28. La plupart des apocalypses d'apres 135 ne sont que des extases ouvrant sur
les cieux et les enfers.
29. Voir par ex. A. CAQUOT, Les quatre betes et le «Fils d'Homme» (Daniel 7),
dans Semitica 17 (1967) 37-71.
30. Le Messie de 11 Bar 39-40 qui succede aux quatre empires n'a rien que
d'humain. Aucun trait animal n'intervient pour le decrire.
31. Il importe peu ici de savoir si arnion doit s'entendre du belier ou de l'agneau
et si la christologie de l' Apocalypse fait ou non reference au Serviteur souffrant,
puisque, de toute maniere, l'Agneau est dit immole (5, 6.9.12; 13, 8) et la bete le
plagie (13, 3).
32. Cette cinquieme vision de IV Esdras comporte en 12, 11 une reference
explicite au eh. 7 du livre de Danie!.
58 P.-M. BOGAERT

B. FILS D'HOMME ET MESSIE

Consideree independamment de la theorie des quatre empires, la figure


du fils d'homme est l'objet de traitements distincts.
Ulrich B. Müller 33 estime pouvoir reconnaitre en 11 Bar 53 (voir surtout
les vv.l et 8, l'eclair au faite du nuage) une rHerence a Daniel (7, 13) et il
note que l'auteur, qui l'interprete du Messie, recupere cette image de
l'eschatologie universelle au profit du messianisme national. La question
est plutöt de savoir si, oui ou non, il y a acette place reference a Dn 7, 13.
L'identification repose sur la mention du nuage. Or l'imagerie essentielle-
ment aquatique de la vision de Baruch (le nuage se transforme en douze
eaux ou fleuves, fastes et nHastes, qui obeissent a l'eclair paru au faite)
n'apparait guere comme une relecture de Dn 7. J'ai jadis rapproche la
vision de 11 Bar 53 du poeme pascal des Quatre Nuits etudie par le P. R. Le
Deaut. 11 faut sans doute renoncer acette explication 34. Pour assurer la
rHerence a Dn 7 en 11 Bar 53, U.B. Müller 35 fait appel a la ressemblance
entre 11 Bar 53 et IV Esd 13, qui lui s'y rHere certainement. Qu'il y ait des
ressemblances dans le messianisme des visions ne prouve rien. Mais on
peut etre sensible au fait que la figure humaine de IV Esd 13, 2-3, comme
l'eclair et son nuage, monte de la mer, et j'ajouterai que, dans les deux
apocalypses, il s'agit de la sixieme vision. Meme ainsi l'argumentation est
tenue. 11 n'est nullement evident que la figure d'un fils d'homme ou du Fils
de l'Homme soit a lire en filigrane dans 11 Bar 53. Que l'orage avec eclair
declenche la pluie a partir d'un nuage monte de la mer me parait une
image parfaitement coherente ; elle est interpretee du Messie, sans qu'une
rHerence au Fils de l'Homme soit requise.
L'Apocalypse johannique, elle, identifie deliberement, en fonction de sa
christologie, d'une part le Fils de l'Homme et l'Ancien des Jours 36, d'autre
part le Fils de l'Homme, le Messie et le Serviteur souffrant ou l'Agneau 37.
Les traits humains et l'immolation sont exprimes dans la representation de
33. Messias und Menschensohn, pp. 134-141.
34. Apocalypse de Baruch (Sources Chretiennes, 145), t. 11, pp. 99-100; mais voir
R. LE DEAUT, Targum du Pentateuque. 11. Exode et Levitique (Sources Chretiennes,
256), Paris, 1979, pp. 98-99.
35. Messias und Menschensohn, pp. 138-139.
36. Voir par ex. J. COMBLIN, Le Christ dans I'Apocalypse (Bibliotheque de
theologie. Theologie biblique, III, 6), Tournai, 1965, p. 49. La vieille version grecque
de Daniel (mss 967 et 88) parait deja identifier Fils de I'Homme et Ancien des
Jours: J. LUST, Daniel 7, 13 and the Septuagint, dans ETL 54 (1978) 62-69. 11 n'est
donc pas sur que l'auteur de I'Apocalypse ait innove sur ce point, qui allait d'ailleurs
dans le sens de sa propre christologie.
37. Le Nachtrag (pp. 241-257) de la deuxieme edition de l'ouvrage de T. HOLTz,
Die Christologie der Apokalypse des Johannes (TU, 85 2), Berlin, 1971, evalue les
ouvrages de J. Comblin et de U.B. Müller.
LES APOCALYPSES CONTEMPORAlNES 59

l'agneau, les traits divins peuvent l'etre par reference a Dn 7. La christolo-


gie de l' Apocalypse incorpore sans effort les formes les plus diverses du
messianisme juif.
Quant a IV Esdras, dans sa sixieme vision (ch. 13), c'est bien a la figure
humaine de Dn 7, 13 qu'il se rapporte. V.B. Müller 38 a raison de noter
qu'elle est interpretee dans la ligne messianique propre aux deux apoca-
lypses juives. 11 n'en reste pas moins que IV Esdras a en propre avec l'Apo-
calypse johannique de faire fonctionner independamment l'imagerie ani-
male et la figure humaine, toutes deux issues de Dn 7. Dans les deux cas, il
eilt ete logique d'opposer dans la meme vision les royaumes monstrueux a
celui du Fils de l'Homme ; dans les deux cas, une figure d'animal, agneau
ou lion, donne la replique, tandis qu'une autre vision est consacree au Fils
de l'Homme. Ici le sens de la dependance peut apparaitre avec une cer-
taine vraisemblance.
Quoi qu'il en soit du detail, V.B. Müller a montre la reticence du
judalsme a inclure et puis a garder dans sa representation du Messie les
traits issus de la figure du Fils de l'Homme danielique 39. Si de plus, et a la
difference de V.B. Müller, l'on considere que seul IV Esdras presente de
tels traits (et non II Baruch), n'est-il pas tentant de croire que IV Esdras a
recours acette image pour repondre d'un point de vue juif a l'utilisation
qu'en avait faite l'Apocalypse johannique ? Celle-ci en revanche ne faisait
que developper une titulature solidement enracinee dans les Evangiles et
n'avait pas besoin d'autres justifications.

C. INTERPRETATION DES APPENDICES, CORNES, AlLES ET TETES

11 y a aussi a examiner les caracteristiques des quatre betes.


L'Apocalypse de Baruch est seule a rappel er en clair la succession des
quatre royaumes (sans les nommer toutefois), ce qui la dispense d'identi-
fier le quatrieme, Rome evidemment 40. L'Apocalypse johannique et IV
Esdras ont en commun qu'ils poussent la precision jusqu'a appliquer les
appendices des betes, comes, ailes, tetes, aux empereurs romains. L'idee
sera retenue, par l'Epftre de Barnabe, par exemple 41. Elle n'est pas absolu-
ment sans precedent, puisqu'il y a un phenomene similaire (mais different)

38. Messias und Menschensohn, pp. 140-142.


39. Messias und Menschensohn, p. 218.
40. Dans les targums (Gn 15, 12), Edom (= Rome) est le quatrieme royaume,
apres Babel, la Medie et la Grece. Voir R. LE DEAuT, Targum du Pentateuque. I.
Genese (Sources Chretiennes, 245), Paris, 1978, p. 171; voir aussi Apocalypse de
Baruch (Sources Chretiennes, 145), t. H, pp. 17 et 73.
41. Ep. Barn. 4, 4-5. - Un maitre hebreu duquel saint Jeröme dit avoir beau-
coup appris comparait les douze ailes des deux Seraphins d'Isaie 6 aux douze
derniers rois de Juda (Jeröme, Ep. 18, 10; PL 22, 367-368).
60 P.-M. BOGAERT

en Dn 11. Ici encore, il ne semble pas possible que l'idee ait surgi indepen-
damment sous une forme si voisine. Quel est le rapport entre les deux
applieations, differentes dans le detail, mais fondees sur le meme principe ?
Dans l'Apocalypse johannique, l'element significatif est constitue par
les tetes au nombre de sept (17, 9-11) qui representent d'abord les sept
eollines (de Rome evidemment) et puis sept ou huit empereurs. En IV
Esdras (11-12), I' element signifieatif est la serie des douze ailes dont la
deuxieme est dite avoir vecu plus du double que la plus longue des autres
(soit Auguste), l'Aigle lui-meme etant Rome. Les trois tetes sont les Fla-
viens. Jusque la l'accord est facile. Les commentateurs se heurtent aux huit
ailerons, empereurs ayant regne brievement et se groupant en deux, quatre
et deux, selon l'interpretation. Comme les tetes, ces huit ailerons peuvent
etre comptes parmi les empereurs deja design es par des ailes. Correspon-
dant ades rois falots, ils ne peuvent se rapporter a la meme serie que
l'Apocalypse johannique, qui eompte a partir d'Auguste jusqu'a Titus et
Domitien.
II Baruch n'intervenant pas ici, quels rapports observe-t-on entre l' Apo-
calypse et IV Esdras ? Les deux ecrits ne distinguent pas les quatre betes.
La quatrieme peut donc heriter des caracteristiques des trois premieres
(voir deja 11 Bar 39, 5), et effectivement tetes et ailes sont des attributs de la
troisieme, Dn 7, 6. Est-ce un hasard?
Dans son application des appendices de la bete aux empereurs romains,
l'Apocalypse johannique ne bouleverse guere les images de Daniel. La
seule modifieation importante tient au nombre de tetes. Trois elements
restent stables de Daniel a Jean: les comes, les tetes, le nombre dix pour
les comes. La reference a Daniel n'est done pas moins evidente que celle
aux sept collines de Rome.
IV Esdras prend une plus grande liberte. Aussi l'auteur a-t-il soin de "-
eiter Daniel (IV Esd 12, 11) et de preciser qu'il s'agit du quatrieme
royaume, sans quoi l'aigle ferait penser au premier (Dn 7, 4), et les ailes
jointes aux tetes au troisieme (Dn 7, 6). Aucun nombre n'a son equivalent
en Dn 7 ; aucun appendice (tete, aile, aileron) n'est caraeteristique de la
quatrieme bete. Plus loin de Daniel, mais plus precis que Jean sur le detail
des douze empereurs et des trois Flaviens, IV Esdras indique de plus Rome
par le choix de l'animal, l'aigle.
Eneore une fois, est-il reellement probable que les auteurs aient appli-
que independamment aux empereurs romains les appendiees de la qua-
trieme bete danielique avec reeapitulation des appendices de la troisieme ?
Et s'il y a dependance, ce qui a ete dit montre assez que l'interpretation
johannique est un intermediaire logique et opportun entre Dn 7 et IV
Esdras.
11 est possible de preeiser. Si Jean se pi ace fictivement au moment de la
destruction de Jerusalem, il peut dire avec raison que le sixieme roi regne
(Vespasien, a compter depuis Auguste et sans les candidats de l'annee 69).
LES APOCALYPSES CONTEMPORAINES 61

Mais puisqu'il ecrit vers 96, il connait un huitieme roi (17, 10-11), Domi-
tien, la bete, et il sait que le septieme, Titus, n'a regne que brievement (de
79 a 81). C'est la l'interpretation commune, et a mon sens limpide, une fois
admis le principe de l'antidatation fictive, fondamental dans la grande
apocalyptique historique depuis Daniel.
Sur la base de ce systeme simple, IV Esdras en a edifie un autre, com-
pIe xe, de douze rois 42, parmi lesquels se distinguent les Flaviens, les plus
nefastes (les trois tetes), et les rois ayant vecu brievement (subalares, penna-
culae), particularites en germe dans la serie johannique. De plus il remonte
a Jules Ces ar (ami des Juifs), puisque Auguste est certainement son
deuxieme empereur. Surtout il connait deux subalares posterieurs aux
Flaviens, Nerva (96-98) et Trajan, dont le regne est en cours 43.
La dependance de IV Esdras par rapport a l' Apocalypse johannique me
parait vraisemblable.

111. La Jerusalem celeste

Entre les elements de la quatrieme et de la sixieme vision d'Esdras


relatifs a la Cite celeste succedant a la J erusalem rasee et la vision de la
Jerusalem nouvelle de I'Apocalypse johannique, il y a une similitude de
fonction 44 et d'image telle qu'on ne peut eluder la question des liens de
dependance entre les deux descriptions. Certes pour le fond, II Baruch est
infiniment plus proche de IV Esdras. Mais la recherche porte ici sur les
images. Aussi II Baruch restera-t-illargement hOfS du champ.

A. LA REVELATION DE SION DANS IV ESDRAS

Brievement, des la In e vision (7,26-27), la revelation de Sion est annon-


cee, contemporaine de celle du Messie. « Et voici que viendra le temps. Et
quand viendront les signes que je t'ai predits, la cite maintenant invisible 45

42. Ce chiffre douze peut fort bien avoir son origine dans les douze temps de II
Bar 26-27. Comme en IV Esd 11, 23, il y a rupture apres le sixieme temps pour
designer la Guerre Juive.
43. On peut se demander si les deux subalares font ou non partie des douze
ailes. Il est silr, en toute hypothese, qu'elles succedent aux Flaviens (11, 24 interprete
en 12, 21 et surtout en 12, 29).
44. Ce röle est consolateur avant tout. Pour IV Esdras, E. BREEcH, These Frag-
ments I Have Shored Against My Ruins: The Form and Function 0/4 Ezra, dans
JBL 92 (1973) 267-274, l'a montre en insistant sur le fait que les images et les con-
ceptions eschatologiques sont ici au service de cette fin. La consolation des commu-
nautes eprouvees par la persecution est aussi une des fins de I'Apocalypse johan-
nique.
45. Il y a un petit probleme de critique textuelle. On doit recuser ici l'accord
latin-syriaque qui compare la cite a une fiancee. Voir P.-M. BOGAERT, La ruine de
62 P.-M. BOGAERT

apparaitra, et la terre se montrera qui est aujourd'hui a l'eeart. Et tout qui


aura ete libere des maux dits plus haut verra mes hauts faits. Car mon fils,
le Messie, apparaitra avee eeux qui sont avee lui ... ».
La IV e vision est eentrale po ur notre theme eomme elle l'est pour toute
l'apoealypse. Esdras rencontre en vision une femme qui n'a enfante
qu'apres trente ans de mariage. Ensuite, apres avoir eleve son fils et lui
avoir trouve une epouse, elle le perd le jour de son mariage. Desormais elle
refuse de retourner dans sa eite ehez son mari qu'elle a quitte 46. Esdras lui
reproehe de pleurer la mort de son fils plutöt que Sion et illui ordonne de
rejoindre eite et mari. Elle refuse. Esdras prononee alors une lamentation
sur Sion (10, 21-23). Sur quoi la femme est transfiguree en une eite. C'est la
fin de la vision, dont l'ange Uriel donne l'interpretation. La femme est
Sion; son fils est le eulte offert a Jerusalem depuis Salomon; la sterilite
designe l'epoque anterieure a Salomon ; la mort du fils est la destruetion de
Jerusalem. Lui sueeedera une eite eonstruite par Dieu.
La VI e vision, eelle de la venue du Fils de l'Homme (ipse homo cum
nubibus caeli), reprend en le developpant le theme evoque a la In e : « Mon
fils 47 sera revele ... 11 se tiendra sur le sommet du mont Sion. Sion, elle, sera
venue et se montrera prete et eonstruite, de la maniere dont tu as vu que la
montagne etait seulptee sans main d'reuvre (sine manibus) 48 (IV Esd l3,
32-36; voir l3, 6) ». Dans la Cite du Tres-Haut se rassembleront les tribus.
On trouve done plusieurs themes lies a des images: la revelation de la
Jerusalem eeleste 49, Jerusalem symbolisee par une fernrne, les epousailles,
le lien entre l'avenement du Messie et eelui de la Jerusalern eeleste, Jerusa-
lern pleurant ses enfants. Aueun de ces themes n'est absolument neuf. Pris
separement, ehaeun peut remonter bien avant la Guerre Juive et a ses
raeines dans l'aneienne prophetie.
Un point fait diffieulte. Si eQmme le declare l'interpretation de la
vision 50, la naissanee du fils eorrespond a l'instauration du eulte a Jerusa-
lerusalem ... , p. 134. Si l'on voulait avaliser l'accord latin-syriaque (generalement
excellent), la suite de notre raisonnement impliquant la reference a l'Apocalypse
johannique n'en serait que plus probant.
46. Voir quelques observations sur cette image dans G. STÄHLIN, Das Bild der
Witwe. Ein Beitrag sur Bildersprache der Bibel und zum Phänomen der Personifika-
tion in der Antike, dans lahrbuchfür Ant. u. Christentum 17 (1974) 5-20.
47. La conjecture de S. GERO, «My Son the Messiah »: A note on 4 Esr 7, 28-29,
dans ZNW 66 (1975) 264-267, n'est pas necessaire. Le grec pais pouvait s'entendre
de serviteur ou de fils.
48. Le theme correspond au mot acheiropoietos.
49. A la difference de l'Apocalypse johannique, qui emploie volontiers kainos
(pour Jerusalem, pour le nom, pour le cantique, pour le ciel et la terre), il n'y a
aucun emploi de nouus dans IV Esdras (concordance de dom Boniface Fischer), en
particulier pour designer Jerusalem. Cela tient a la doctrine juive, exprimee en 11
Bar 4, 2-6, selon laquelle la Jerusalem celeste existe aux origines, gravee sur les
paumes du Tout-Puissant.
50. 11 y amatiere a discussion sur la question de savoir a quelle place, dans la
vision ou dans l'interpretation, dans les questions ou dans les reponses, l'auteur de
LES APOCALYPSES CONTEMPORAINES 63

lern 51 et si son education correspond au temps OU Jerusalem est habitee, la


destruction du Temple s'expliquerait adequatement par la seule mort du
fils. 11 reste un element non explique dans la vision: le fils, symbole du
culte et du Temple, meurt le soir de son mariage en entrant dans la
chambre nuptiale 52.
On pourrait penser que l'entree dans la chambre nuptiale exprime la
fleur de l'age. Au moment ou le fils arriverait en äge de se marier, le voilä.
emporte. On expliquerait ainsi l'anonymat dans lequel reste l'epouse. Mais
il resterait que l'image elle-meme est incongrue. Le fils, sa naissance, sa vie
et sa mort representent le culte ä. Jerusalem : et aedifieauit Salornon ciuita-
tern et obtulit oblationes. Tune fuit quando peperit sterilis filiurn (10, 46). On
peut concevoir que le culte represente la fecondite de Sion, mais l'image
reste etonnante, meme dans une apocalypse. L'impression doit prevaloir
que quelque chose nous echappe 53. Que signifie le mariage du fils ?

B. LA JERUSALEM NOUVELLE
DANS L'ApOCALYPSE JOHANNIQUE

L'Apocalypse johannique s'acheve avec la vision de la Jerusalem nou-


velle descendant d'aupres de Dieu. Quelle que soit la structure que l'on
propose pour l'Apocalypse, il est clair que la vision du eh. 21 s'oppose ä.

IV Esdras fait intervenir la doctrine ou l'avis qu'il estime juste. Recemment W. HAR-
NISCH, Verhängis und Verheissung der Geschichte. Untersuchungen sum Zeit- und
Geschichtsverständnis im 4. Buch Esra und in der syr. Baruchapokalypse (FRLANT,
97), Göuingen, 1969, a suivi l'avis de E. Brandenburger et de W. Mundle selon
lesquels c'est la reponse (I'interpretation de l'ange) qui represente I'avis de l'auteur
face au scepticisme du personnage, Esdras, qu'il met en scene. L'avis de A.P. HAY-
MAN, The Problem of Pseudonymity in the Ezra Apocalypse, dans loum. for the Study
ofthe ludaism 6 (1975) 47-56, reprenant en le nuan~ant l'avis de H. Gunkel, est que,
dans la situation de crise OU se trouve Esdras (comme Job avant lui), doute et foi
so nt simultanement possibles et traditionnellemerit voisins. D'autres auteurs (ainsi
M.E. STONE, The Concept of Messiah ... , p. 306) estiment que les discordances entre
vision et interpretation au eh. 13 s'expliquent par la preexistence de la vision. Je
crois, pour ma part, que l'ecart est voulu, la du moins OU il existe vraiment.
51. En IV Esd 10, 46, Salomon est dit avoir construit la cite et offert des obla-
tions. Cite est ici inattendu. Une version arabe a remplace eite par autel, et une autre
ajoute temple a cite. 11 s'agit de corrections selon le sens. S'il y a faute, elle remonte
tres haut. Tous les ternoins s'accordent a parler d'offrandes.
52. Vieille aporie. Voir deja H. GUNKEL, in E. KAUTZSCH, Die Apokryphen und
Pseudepigraphen des Alten Testaments. 11. Die Pseudepigraphen des Alten Testa-
ments, Tübingen, 1900, p. 344. Gunkel rappelle aussi en note que J. Wellhausen
avait pense au Messie (Skizzen und Vorarbeiten VI, 1899, p. 219, n. I).
53. On pourrait envisager un instant d'identifier le fils au Messie a venir dont le
regne est provisoire dans 11 Baruch et IV Esdras et dont IV Esd 7, 29 dit explicite-
ment qu'il doit mourir. Mais ici la destruction de Jerusalem est passee. H. Gunkel
faisait deja cette objection a la suggestion de J. Wellhausen. Elle estjustifiee.
64 P.-M. BOGAERT

celle des eh. 17 et 18 decrivant la chute de Babylone 54. La fiancee prete


pour son epoux s'oppose a la grande prostituee soumise aux rois de la
terre, comme aussi d'une maniere generale l'Agneau s'oppose a la Bete.
L'image des epousailles est menee progressivement. En 19, 7 et 9, les
noces de l' Agneau sont annoncees, son epouse evoquee, mais non desi-
gnee. En 21,2, l'epouse est nommee. C'est Jerusalem qui descend d'aupres
de Dieu. En 21,9-10, le lien entre les deux termes de l'image est fait: « Je
te montrerai la fiancee, l'epouse de I'Agneau ... , et il me montra la cite
sainte, Jerusalem ». Le cortege de I'Agneau a rencontre celui de l'epouse, si
1'0n peut ainsi parler.
Correlative a !'image des epousailles, une autre a aussi son prix: « Mais
de temple, je n'en vis point dans la cite, car son temple, c'est le Seigneur
Dieu le Tout-Puissant, ainsi que I'Agneau (21, 22) ».
Dans cette symphonie d'images, la Jerusalem detruite ne joue presque
aucun röle. L'usage de l'adjectifKatv6~ (21, 1.2.5; voir 3, 12) qui n'a pas de
correspondant dans IV Esdras 55 suppose neanmoins une reference impli-
cite a une Jerusalem connue et, en 1'0ccurrence, ancienne.

C. COMPARAISON DES DEUX SYSTEMES D'IMAGES

La ressemblance entre les deux ecrits apocalyptiques contemporains est


plus surprenante que ce que 1'0n a note jusqu'ici. Elle n'est pas seulement
dans la presence simuItanee des memes images ou de la meme typologie,
elle est aussi dans les articulations de ces images, peu communes et meme
uniques.
Certaines differences s'expliquent d'emblee par l'origine, juive ou chre-
tienne, de chacune des deux reuvres. La lamentation d'Esdras sur la Ville
et le Sanctuaire detruits (10, 21-23) est caracteristique dujudaYsme d'apres
70, et la Jerusalem reveIee par Dieu constitue l'element correspondant de
consolation. En revanche, il n'est guere question de Rome dans ce con-
texte. L'Apocalypse johannique, de son cöte, oppose Babylone (ou Rome)
a Jerusalem. C'est une perspective differente qui suppose aussi d'autres
relations avec le pouvoir 56.

54. Elisabeth SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Composition and Structure oi the Book oi


Revelation, dans CBQ 39 (1977) 344-366 (voir p. 361), accepte le schema propose
par CH. GIBLIN, Structural and Thematic Correlations in the Theology oi Revelation
16-22, dans Biblica 55 (1974) 487-504:
a : 17,1-19,10
b : 19, 11-21,8
a': 21,9-22,9
55. Voir ci-dessus la note 49.
56. Quelle qu'ait ete l'attitude de Domitien vis-a-vis des Juifs et des chretiens
(elle fut du moins odieuse), on observera que les epreuves dont les apocalypses font
etat ne sont pas identiques. L' Apocalypse johannique parait bien etre ecrite au sortir
LES APOCALYPSES CONTEMPORAINES 65

C'est la meme difference que l'on retrouve dans la commune utilisation


d'un personnage feminin pour symboliser Jerusalem. Esdras re~oit la
vision d'une femme eploree, bien tot transfiguree en une cite. En revanche,
Jean aper~oit une cite glorieuse en laquelle il reconnait l'epouse de
l' Agneau. Meme registre d'images, mais utilise ades fins distinctes.
Certaines ressemblances sont aussi normales et attendues: Jerusalem
representee par une femme dont l'epoux est divin, par exemple. D'autres
relevent de categories eschatologiques parentes bien que distinctes:
l'avenement du Messie sur la montagne de Sion, au creur de la Jerusalem
celeste.
Sur trois points, la ressemblance est inattendue.
l. Le theme du mariage de Dieu et de son peuple est largement
repandu. Celui des epousailles du Messie et de Jerusalem n'est pas que je
sache autrement atteste dans le judai"sme, meme si les temps messianiques
sont souvent presentes comme des noces 57. Toutefois la christologie de
l'Apocalypse johannique est caracterisee par l'extension a l'Agneau de
toutes les prerogatives divines. L'Agneau est a cote de Dieu (7, 9.10 ; 14,4;
21, 22; 22, 1-3). Rien d'etonnant donc si, dans la typologie johannique,
l'Agneau est aussi epoux, d'autant qu'elle peut avoir sa source ailleurs dans
le Nouveau Testament (Ep 5, 21-32; Jn 3, 28-29). Dans IV Esdras, en
revanche, la distinction entre Dieu et le Messie est soigneusement gardee.
D'ou vient alors l'idee des noces du fils ?
Un detail de vocabulaire peut avoir son prix dans le contexte. IV Esdras
decrit apres la revelation du Fils (13, 32) celle de Sion : Sion autem ostende-
tur omnibus parata et aedificata (13,36). Certes le verbe (prae)parare (f:tot-
l1a~co) n'est pas rare dans le contexte apocalyptique 58, mais on sera peut-
etre frappe de la ressemblance avec Apoc 19, 7 « son epouse s'est prepa-
ree }) et 21,2 « Jerusalem ... prete comme une epouse }).
2. En Ap 21, 22, le Temple est remplace par Dieu et l'Agneau. Une
telle idee ne peut surprendre ; elle s'inscrit dans la ligne de la parole de
Jesus identifiant son corps au Temple (Jn 2, 19-22); elle est une des mul-
tiples marques qui invitent a tenir l'Apocalypse pour johannique, a defaut"
de pouvoir l'attribuer a Jean l'evangeliste 59. Le christianisme d'apres 70 a
d'une persecution sanglante. Les Apocalypses de Baruch et d'Esdras repondent
plutöt au decouragement suivant la defaite de 70 et ses sequelles. En revanche, on
peut comprendre IV Esd 3, 2 et 33 (voir aussi 11 Bar 11, 1-2) comme des indices de la
(relative) prosperite des communautes juives dans l'Empire et a Rome, comparee a
la misere des Juifs en Israel. Symptomatiques de leur installation geographique, les
attitudes de II Baruch et IV Esdras vis-a-vis de Rome: rien d'explicite chez IV
Esdras (qui vit dans l'Empire), opposition declaree chez II Baruch (qui vit en Israel).
57. STRACK-BILLERBECK, I, 517-518.
58. Ap. 8, 6; 9, 7.15; 12, 6; 16, 12; 19, 7; 21, 2; IV Esd 5, 28; 7, 70; 8,
52(bis).59.60; 13, 11.36; 14,24.
59. La pseudepigraphie Hant l'une des lois de l'apocalyptique, la signification
de l'attribution de l'Apocalypse a Jean ne peut etre la meme que celle de l'Evangiie.
Mais le caractere johannique de l'Apocalypse est indubitable.
66 P.-M. BOGAERT

du voir d'ailleurs dans la destruction du Temple une confirmation de la


caducite du judaisme.
En revanche, rien ne permet de prevoir l'equivalence fils unique -
temple (ou offrandes) dans IV Esdras. Elle ne se laisse pas expliquer
exhaustivement, et l'emprunt a l'Apocalypse johannique est a envisager.
3. Le me me raisonnement peut-il se faire sur la mort du fils au jour de
ses noces? Julius Wellhausen y avait pense 60.
Accordons un instant que IV Esdras ait construit sa quatrieme vision en
ayant sous les yeux les derniers chapitres de l' Apocalypse. 11 doit alors
connaltre certains aspects exterieurs du christianisme, sans en partager la
foi. Supposons qu'il veuille faire contrepoids chez ses coreligionnaires au
messianisme chretien, messianisme accompli, preche par l' Apocalypse et le
christianisme. La vision se lit alors ainsi. Esdras, dans son extase, rencontre
la communaute chretienne (la femme eploree) vivant du souvenir de la
mort de Jesus (le fils). Cette communaute a quitte sa cite et son mari (Jeru-
salem et son Dieu). Esdras lui reproche de pleurer un homme au lieu de se
lamenter sur Jerusalem et il l'invite a rejoindre la cite et son mari. Elle
refuse. Esdras lui-meme pleure sur le Temple, et voici que la femme dispa-
ralt transformee en une cite glorieuse.
TeIle n'est pas l'interprHation proposee par l'ange Uriel. Dans notre
hypothese de travail, l'interpretation d'Uriel est destinee a ecarter, en
l'orientant sur le probleme du Temple et du culte, celle qui devait venir a
l'esprit du lecteur de IV Esdras s'il etait averti du christianisme. Le fils
pIe ure, dit a peu pres Uriel dans son interpretation, n'est pas le Messie des
chretiens, l'Agneau immole et epoux, mais le lieu de culte construit par
Salomon, aujourd'hui en ruine. La femme qu'Esdras s'efforce de consoler
n'est pas la communaute chretienne, mais Sion que Dieu lui-meme va
reconstruire.
Alors que l'Apocalypse johannique fait du Temple l'image de la per-
sonne de Jesus, IV Esdras fait a rebours du fils l'image du temple et du
culte. Dans l'inversion du rapport de la realite a l'image, une difference
fond amen tale s'exprime, qui s'explique bien si IV Esdras est une reponse
juive al' Apocalypse johannique 61.

60. Voir ci-dessus la note 52.


61. Dans cette perspective, la mention explicite en IV Esd 7, 29 de la mort du
Messie, lit Oll II Baruch evoque seulement un regne temporaire (30, 1), pourrait
aussi constituer une reponse voilee au christianisme. Je ne partage pas l'avis de
U.B. MÜLLER (Messias und Menschensohn, pp. 142-144) pour qui les mots « et il
retournera dans la gloire >} en 11 Bar 30, 1 constituent une interpolation chretienne.
LES APOCALYPSES CONTEMPORAINES 67

Conclusion

Le probleme principal de la recherche apocalyptique reste un probleme


de methode 62. Une hypothese de travail vraisemblable et suggeree par la
chronologie, ä. savoir que les deux apocalypses juives et l'apocalypse chre-
tienne ont trop de signes de parente pour s'etre ignorees, a debouche sur
cette autre que IV Esdras differe de II Baruch lä. ou il repond ä. l'reuvre
johannique.
Les ressemblances stylistiques et ideologiques entre II Baruch et IV
Esdras, d'une part, sont unanimement reconnues. Les similitudes d'images
entre IV Esdras et l' Apocalypse johannique, d'autre part, m'ont paru plus
fondamentales qu'on ne le dit generalement. Les unes et les autres s'expli-
quent dans un schema triangulaire. L'Apocalypse chretienne de Jean
connait celle, juive, de Baruch ; l'Apocalypse, juive, d'Esdras connait celle,
chretienne, de Jean. Dans les deux cas, il s'agit de repondre ä. une reuvre
preexistante par une reuvre similaire. On trouverait certainement des
traces d'opposition reciproque, mais il s'agira de determiner avec nuances
en quoi l'opposition consiste 63. Et cela est premature.
A l'interieur des deux hypotheses de travail, c'est essentiellement sur
des images et leur mecanisme que s'est exercee notre investigation, car
l'affabulation est une donnee essentielle du genre apocalyptique. Il a paru
possible de suivre le chemin de certaines pieces detachees de l'affabulation,
conquerant progressivement leur autonomie. Le point de depart, tant pour
les mecanismes que pour l'affabulation, est le livre de Daniel. Avec IV
Esdras s'acheve le temps de la grande apocalyptique historique.
Econome de moyens, l'hypothese de travail (particulierement sous sa
deuxieme formulation) rend compte d'un maximum de faits. L'interpreta-

62. Voir R. MARTIN-AcHARD, L'Apocalyptique d'apres trois travaux recents, dans


Revue de Theologie et de Philosophie 20 (1970) 310-318, qui cite J.M. SCHMIDT, Die
jüdische Apokalyptik. Die Geschichte ihrer Erforschung von den Anfängen bis zu den
Textfunden von Qumran, Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1969.
63. Il n'y a pas de polemique dans JI Baruch. En revanche, l'Apocalypse
s'oppose aux communautes juives. Les deux seules cites irreprochables parmi les
sept, Smyme et Philadelphie, ont en commun d'etre opposees ades « synagogues de
Satan » composees de « ceux qui se disent juifs, mais ne le sont pas ». A Smyme,
I'epreuve donnee comme presente ou imminente est le fait de ces gens-la. Contre
l'opinion qui prevaut, H. KRAFT, Die Offenbarung des Johannes (HNT, 16a), Tübin-
gen, 1974, pp. 60-61, 81-82, pense a un groupe de « craignant Dieu » ayant des liens
avec la communaute chretienne et qui se seraient fait passer pour Juifs afin d'echap-
per a la persecution. Dans cette ligne, les 144.000 sont des judeo-chretiens. Cette
interpretation me parait difficile a tenir. Pour l'auteur de I'Apocalypse, la commu-
naute chretienne est le verus Israel.
68 P.-M. BOGAERT

tion de I'Apocalypse johannique peut s'en trouver, non pas renouvelee,


mais simplifiee. Si l'hypothese est exacte, elle doit aussi s'etendre aux
donnees plus subtiles de la doctrine 64.

Abbaye de Maredsous P.-M. BOGAERT


B-5642 Denee

64. L'Apocalypse johannique connait l'eschatologie en deux temps (Jours du


Messie et Monde a venir) propre aux tanna"ites, a II Baruch et a IV Esdras. Avec le
judai"sme, elle a en commun l'expression « seconde mort » (M. McNAMARA, The
New Testament and the Palestinian Targum to the Pentateuch [AB, 27), Rome, 1966,
pp. 117-123). En revanche, l'expression « premiere resurrection » (20, 5) parait
propre a Jean. Distincte de la resurrection generale qui, dans le judai"sme et dans
l'Apocalypse, inaugurera le « Monde a venir », la premiere resurrection, reservee
aux seuls temoins morts pour le Christ, in augure les « Jours du Messie », le mille-
nium. Des lors le millenium est le temps de I'Eglise. Jean applique de maniere
consequente I'eschatologie juive a sa foi : Jesus est le Messie, son regne a commence.
Mais ce regne est marque par sa propre resurrection et celle des temoins privilegies
(voir aussi Mt 27, 52). 11 faut donc ajuster le systeme, et Jean distingue une « pre-
miere resurrection ».
Apocalypses de N ag Hammadi

La bibliotheque de N ag Hammadi nous a conserve au moins cinq


Apocalypses. Le Codex V en contient deja quatre a lui seul : l'Apocalypse
de Paul, deux Apocalypses de Jacques et l'Apocalypse d'Adam. La cin-
quieme, l'Apocalypse de Pierre, occupe la troisieme place dans le Cod. VII.
Une sixieme, celle de Dosithee, figure dans ce meme Cod. VII, en cin-
quieme place. En realite, le titre qui lui est donne en colophon est celui des
Trois Steles de Seth. Nous y reviendrons.
D'autre part, Porphyre, parlant de chretiens heretiques qui etaient
partis de la philosophie ancienne, ecrit dans sa Vita Plotini (§ 16): « Ils
montraient les apocalypses (U1tolCu).(nvw;) de Zoroastre, de Zostrien, de
Nicothee, d'Allogene, de Messos, et d'autres semblables ». Celles de Zos-
trien et d' Allogene semblent bien se trouver dans notre « collection ».
Enfin, d'autres ecrits de Nag Hammadi presentent des caracteres d'« a-
pocalypses » ou « revelations» de type gnostique sans en porter le titre.
Peut-etre sont-elles parmi ces « autres semblables » dont parle Porphyre.
Mais commen~ons par les ecrits portant explicitement le titre d' « apoca-
lypses ».

1° L'Apocalypse de Paul (NH V, 2), tres courte (7 pages), s'inspire sans


doute de l'extase decrite en 2 Co 12, 2-4, mais aussi de traditions apo-
cryphes. Elle n'a rien a voir avec l'Apocalypse grecque de Paul connue
jusqu'ici, mais serait peut-etre a identifier, selon H.Ch. Puech I, avec
l'Ascension de Paul (perdue) mentionnee par Epiphane (Pan.38, 2, 5) dans
sa notice sur les Cai"nites et les « Gnostiques ». Dans l'Apocalypse de NH,
Paul, en route vers Jerusalem, rencontre, sur la « montagne de Jericho »,
un petit enfant, appele dans la suite « l'Esprit (Saint) », qui l'emmene vers
les Douze Apotres et va l'accompagner (comme l'ange interprete dans
l'apocalyptique juive) jusqu'au lOe ciel. D'apres Epiphane, l'Ascension de
Paul s'arretait au 3e ciel, tandis qu'a NH, ce 3e ciel n'est que mentionne
comme point de depart. Du 4e au 6e ciel, Paul assiste au jugement des
ämes. Au 7e , un dialogue s'engage avec un vieillard vetu de blanc et assis
sur un trone de lumiere ; sur un signe de l'Esprit, le vieillard laissera pass er

1. H.-eh. PUECH, Les nouveaux ecrits gnostiques decouverts en Haute-Egypte,


dans Coptic Studies in Honor o[ Walter Ewing Crum, Boston, 1950, p. 135.
70 Y. JANSSENS

Paul. Les cieux suivants sont simplement cites : au 1Oe , Paul salue ses « co-
spirituels », et l'Apocalypse s'arrete brusquement la. Le theme de l'ascen- .
sion et du jugement des ämes a des paralleles dans la litterature apocalyp-
tique juive. Mais le caractere gnostique de cette ascension est indubitable
et la scene du jugement aux 4e et se cieux trahit aussi un certain syncre-
tisme populaire.

2° La (Ire) Apocalypse de Jacques (NH V, 3), beaucoup plus longue


(20 pages), est une apocalypse en ce sens qu'elle contient les enseignements
secrets du Seigneur a Jacques le Juste, frere du Seigneur (apparaissant ici
aussi comme disciple de Jesus et comme prototype du gnostique). La
revelation est presentee dans un cadre narratif fictif, en forme de dialogue.
Le theme general est la souffrance et l'ascension de l'äme apres la mort.
Une allusion a la crucifixion divise l'ecrit en deux dialogues : le premier se
situe a l'avant-veille de la Passion, et le deuxieme apres la Resurrection. La
crucifixion et ses suites apparaissent comme l'agonie par laquelle tout
gnostique doit passer. Le Seigneur raffermit Jacques et lui enseigne les
reponses qu'il devra donner aux archontes lors de son ascension. 11 precise
cependant qu'aucune souffrance ne peut atteindre le Seigneur ni son
disciple.
Les rapports de cette Apocalypse avec le gnosticisme sont evidents.
Certains traits sont compatibles avec le judeo-christianisme ou avec le
christianisme primitif de la Syrie. Cette Apocalypse de J acques pourrait etre
un produit dujudeo-christianisme Syrien mele d'elements gnostiques.

3° La (2e) Apocalypse de Jacques (NH V, 4) n'est pas toujours facile a


interpreter, vu l'etat lacuneux du manuscrit. Le pretre Marim, un des
proches (peut-etre meme un parent : O'UYYEvfJ~), est venu faire un rapport
au pere de Jacques le Juste (Theudas ?). Tout ce qui suit semble avoir ete
rapporte (et mis par ecrit '1) par ce pretre. Quoi qu'il en soit des details -
sur lesquels les exegetes ne parviennent pas a se mettre d'accord - Jac-
ques a re~u une revelation de Jesus ressuscite. 11 y a donc bien ici une
« apocalypse », ou, mieux peut-etre, un « discours de revelation » : imme-
diatement apres le titre, on lit: « Cest le discours - ou « la parole » : le
mot copte, comme le grec A6yor" ales deux sens) - que Jacques le Juste
pronon~a a Jerusalem ». Jacques rapporte les paroles de Jesus, peut-etre
dans un discours au peuple avant son martyre - comme Etienne au
chap. 7 des Actes des Apötres - Jacques est d'ailleurs lapide, lui aus si.
Avant de mourir, il adresse a « Mon Dieu et mon Pere » une fort belle
priere. L'auteur de cet ecrit a fait un large usage des traditions judeo-
chretiennes. Mais l'ensemble garde un caractere gnostique: Jacques y
apparait pratiquement comme un sauveur gnostique, a qui Jesus « revele
des choses que ni les cieux ni les archontes n'ont connues », et qui est
charge d'ec1airer ceux-Ia seuls qui « appartiennent» a Jesus - a l'exc1u-
sion des « etrangers ».
APOCALYPSES DE NAG HAMMADI 71

4° L'Apocalypse d'Adam (NH V, 5), contrairement aux trois ecrits


precedents - qui avaient tous une nette co1oration chretienne - ne porte,
tout au plus, que de legeres traces d'influence chretienne. C'est une revela-
tion transmise par Adam a son fils Seth. Adam lui-meme la tenait de trois
visiteurs celestes, qu'on a compares aux trois hommes apparus a Abraham
a Mambre (Gn 18, 1), mais aussi aux trois Uthras du mandeisme. C'est
l'opinion de A. Böhlig, par exemple, qui voit dans notre « Apocalypse »
une source pre-chretienne issue d'une gnose judeo-iranienne 2. Mais ici
encore, les exegetes sont partages. Resumons l'reuvre : Apres avoir rappele
les premiers temps passes au Paradis et la chute causee par la jalousie du
Createur, Adam expose une prophetie concernant tout l'avenir de l'huma-
nite, des elus en particulier. Par trois catastrophes (le Deluge, le Feu, puis
les persecutions), le Createur, Sadas, allait s'efforcer de detruire la race des
gnostiques. Mais chaque fois, il y aurait une demarche salvatrice venue
d'en-haut. Le troisieme temps d'expiation est celui des contemporains de
l'auteur. Face aux persecutions, une nouvelle figure salvatrice est envoyee :
celle de 1'« Illuminateur» (<pfficrtf]Q). 11 sera persecute par les puissances du
monde, mais finira par triompher. Sa venue est soulignee par un long
passage hymnique, qui est un exemple remarquable de syncretisme gnos-
tique. L'ensemble est bien une apocalypse : revelation faite par des etres
surnaturels - a Adam au co urs d'une vision - portant sur les origines et
sur la fin des temps - et meme en un temps de persecutions. Mais c'est
une apocalypse gnostique: la narration d' Adam a Seth prend la forme
d'une tradition secrete - ces paroles ne sont pas ecrites dans un livre et
sont cachees sur une haute montagne - les personnages, et meme les
episodes, sont empruntes a la Genese, mais interpretes dans une perspec-
tive gnostique.
S'il n'y avait vraiment aucun element chretien dans cette apocalypse,
nous aurions ici un exemple fort interessant de gnose pre-chretienne. Mais
d'autres hypotheses ont ete emises 3 et il est sans doute encore trop tot po ur
condure.

5° L'Apocalypse de Pierre (NH VII, 3) n'a rien de commun avec l'Apo-


calypse de Pierre dont l'existence est signalee des la fin du II e siede, et dont
nous possedons des fragments en grec, une version complete en ethiopien
et un remaniement tardif en arabe. C'etait en effet une Parousie de Jesus et
une description detaillee de l'enfer et du ciel. Tandis qu'a NH, nous avons
affaire a une revelation gnostique particuliere a Pierre, dont voici le
resurne : Pendant la Semaine Sainte probablement, Pierre re~oit dans le
Temple la revelation de l'essence reelle de Jesus. 11 voit Jesus, entoure de
lumiere celeste, qui lui fait des revelations sur l'avenir proche et lointain. 11

2. A. BÖHLIG, Mysterion und Wahrheit, Leiden, 1968, pp. 149s.


3. Cf. p.ex. R.McL. WILSON, La gnose et le Nouveau Testament, Paris, 1969,
pp. 237s.
72 Y. JANSSENS

voit ainsi l'arrestation, la trahison, le proces, l'execution et la glorification


de Jesus. Atout cela se mele unehistoire critique du Christianisme primi-
tif. A plusieurs reprises, le Sauveur encourage Pierre, lui montrant entre
autres que ce n'est pas lui, Jesus le Vivant, qui souffre sur la croix, mais un
corps d'emprunt. 11 ajoute: « C'est a toi qu'ont ete donnes ces mysteres,
po ur les connaitre par reveIation ». Et encore: « Ce que tu as vu, tu le
transmettras a ceux-d'une-autre-race (UAAOYEVfl';), qui ne sont pas de cet
eon ». Nous avons peut-etre ici une des apocalypses les plus proches de
l'apocalyptique juive - y compris l'anti-datation : la Passion est soi-disant
annoncee alors qu'elle a deja eu lieu. Mais au point de vue du fond, l'ecrit
est nettement gnostique (docetisme, salut reserve aux seuls elus gnostiques,
soumis ades « maitres d'erreur », dans un monde hostile aux ämes immor-
telles). Ce qui est pourtant remarquable, c'est le röle positif attribue a
Pierre, premier appele, charge de transmettre la reveIation. Parmi les
adversaires, seul Hermas est explicitement nomme (en rapport avec le
pardon des peches ?).
6° L'Apocalypse de Dosithee (NH VII, 5) porte comme titre, en colo-
phon: « Les Trois Steles de Seth ». Mais un preambule precise: « La
reveIation de Dosithee, des trois Steles de Seth, pere de la race vivante et
inebranlable, (steles) qu'il a vues et dont il a pris connaissance. Et apres les
avoir lues, il s'en est souvenu. Et illes a transmises aux eIus, telles quelles,
comme e1les etaient ecrites en ce lieu-Ia ». A vrai dire, l'auteur n'emploie
pas le mot grec U1tOKUAU'l'l~, comme c'etait le cas dans les cinq « apoca-
lypses» precedentes, mais son equivalent copte, qu'il vaut sans doute
mieux traduire par: « reveIation ». Et le mot reapparaitra encore tout a la
fin du texte (avant le titre): « Emerveillez-vous ... de cette revelation! »
Quant au nom de Dosithee, il ne figure que dans cette premiere ligne du
preambule. Les exegetes y voient generalement un personnage mythique,
maHre de Simon le Mage et fondateur legendaire de la Gnose.
Notre ecrit est en realite un hymne en trois parties, adressees a trois
grandes entites celestes gnostiques : le Pere (Ger-Adamas), Barbelo (Vierge
mäle) et le Pree.xistant (l'Inengendre). 11 n'y a donc pas ici une apocalypse
au sens juif ou judeo-chretien. L'intention de l'auteur est cependant de
presenter une serie de paroles secretes, dont le sens et l'interpretation sont
reserves a ceux qui en sont dignes. En ce sens, il y a bien « reveIation ». Un
autre ecrit de NH, Zostrien, qui est probablement aussi une « apocalypse »
(cf. infra), fait allusion a ce genre de steles: « J'ecrivis trois tablettes
(1tI)~o~) et les laissai en vue de la connaissance (yv&crt~) pour ceux qui
viennent apres moi, les eIus vivants ... ». De plus, on a releve des points de
contact des Trois Steles de Seth avec certains traits de la philosophie de
Plotin. 11 est donc vraisemblable que notre ecrit soit l'une de ces « autres
apocalypses » connues de Plotin et de son ecole (cf. supra).
Et ceci m'amene a parler - brievement ! - de deux autres « apoca-
lypses » mentionnees par Porphyre: ce1les de Zostrien et d'Allogene.
APOCALYPSES DE NAG HAMMADI 73

Zostrien (NH VIII, 1), le plus long traite de NH (132 p. !), presente une
serie de revelations faites par des etres superieurs concernant la nature du
domaine celeste. Apn!s avoir relate les questions initiales troublantes
soulevees par Zostrien, le traite decrit la visite de l'ange de la connaissance
du Tout eternel, qui sera son guide dans le voyage celeste decrit ensuite.
Au cours de son ascension, Zostrien est instruit des nombreuses puissances
celestes et de leur röle respectif: le Triple-Puissant Esprit Invisible et les
emanations divines comprenant la Vierge Barbelo, les trois grands Bons (le
KaA.u1tt6~, le 7tQ(otocpavf]~ et I'UI)tOYEvf]~) et beaucoup d'autres. Zostrien
retourne ensuite dans le monde sensible, ecrit sa connaissance sur trois
tablettes et preche le salut liberateur de lumiere et de connaissance.
Bien que le mot ne figure pas dans le texte, il s'agit bien ici d'une « apo-
calypse » gnostique, qui pourrait etre celle de Zostrien mentionnee par
Porphyre. Un argument decisif, releve principalement par Puech, et
F. Wisse 4, est l'emploi frequent de termes techniques assez etranges (tels
que 7taQoiK'rlcrt~, avtitu7to~ et JlEtaV01a) a la fois en Zostrien et chez Plotin
(Enn. 11 9, 6 : description de la doctrine gnostique). Plotin connaissait donc
Zostrien ou un ouvrage analogue. Ce qui est plus problematique, c'est le
cryptogramme grec dans le colophon, qui se lit (immediatement apres
ZOSTRIANOS) :
« Paroles de Verite de
Zostrianos - Dieu de
Verite - Paroles de Zoroastre ».
On peut supposer que Zostrien rapporte les reveIations qu'il aurait re~ues
lui-meme de Zoroastre. Les exegetes les plus autorises admettent generale-
ment que le nom de Zoroastre aurait ete ajoute dans le cryptogramme pour
« rehausser le prestige de l'apocryphe, et en renforcer l'autorite ». Notre
ecrit est donc bien l'apocalypse de Zostrien et non celle de Zoroastre (men-
tionnee aussi par Porphyre - cf. supra).
L'Allogene (NH XI, 3) est un discours de revelation dans lequel un
certain Allogene expose a son fils Messos les revelations qu'il a re~ues
d'une divinite feminine, loue!. Ces reveIations sont des descriptions mytho-
logiques des puissances divines, et en particulier du premier Bon, Barbelo.
La seconde partie decrit, en langage plus philosophique, l'ascension
d'Allogene comme une reveIation progressive par les Luminaires celestes.
On s'est demande parfois, ici aus si, s'il s'agissait de l'apocalypse d'Allo-
gene, ou de celle de Messos - elles sont mentionnees toutes deux par
Porphyre. 11 est vraisemblable que nous avons plutöt affaire a celle d'Allo-
gene. Ce nom, l' « Btranger » ou « Quelqu'un d'une autre race », est parfois

4. H.-Ch. PUECH, En qu€te de la Gnose, Paris, 1978, t. I, pp. 110-116; A. BÖHLIG,


F. WISSE, Zum Hellenismus in den Schriften von Nag Hammadi, Wiesbaden, 1975,
pp. 59-61. Cf. aussi lH. SIEBER, qui traduit pour la premiere [ois Zostrien dans
I.M. ROBINSON (ed.), The Nag Hammadi Library in English, Leiden, 1977, pp. 368-
393.
74 Y. JANSSENS

identifie avec Seth, comme representatif de la race spirituelle Sethienne.


L'ecrit pn!sente d'importants traits communs avec plusieurs textes gnos-
tiques (3 StSeth, Zostr, Marsanes et l'Anonyme de Bruce surtout) mais
aussi avec le Neo-platonisme (transcendance de l'Un Inconnu par
exemple).
Nous ne pouvons plus que caracteriser en quelques mots trois autres
ecrits de NH faisant peut-etre partie des « autres apocalypses » mention-
nees par Porphyre.
a) Le Concept de notre Grande Puissance (NH VI, 4) est en somme une
apocalypse gnostique chretienne ou une apocalypse chretienne a tendances
gnostiques. Elle contient de nombreux motifs apocalyptiques. La Pensee
de la Grande Puissance revele elle-meme l'histoire du monde a ses enfants.
L'Eon chamel a ete detruit par le Deluge; l'Eon naturel ou psychique,
pendant lequel apparait le Sauveur, sera detruit par le feu : seules les am es
des gnostiques seront sauvees. Viendra alors l'Eon futur indestructible,
dans lequelles gnostiques vivront dans la beatitude etemelle.
b) La Paraphrase de Sem (NH VII, 1) est une vraie « apocalypse »,
comme le fait supposer le preambule: « La paraphrase qui fut faite au
sujet de l'Esprit inengendre. Ce que Derdekea(s) a revele ä moi, Seth,
selon la volonte de la Grandeur ». Le terme « paraphrase » parait donc
bien etre ici l'equivalent de « ce qu'a revele ». La revelation est faite par
Derdekeas, « fils de la Lumiere infinie incorruptible », ä Sem, « le premier
etre sur la terre », tandis qu'il est ravi dans une extase « au sommet de la
creation, pres de la Lumiere qui a brille sur tout l'Univers ». Cest la mise
en scene caracteristique du genre apocalyptique. La revelation conceme la
cosmogonie, la soteriologie et l'eschatologie. Derdekeas est presente
comme un Sauveur gnostique qui donne la Vie aux elus en leur apportant
la Gnose.
c) Marsanes (NH X, 1) occupe tout le Codex X (72 pages), selon les
dernieres hypotheses. Mais ce codex est un des plus deteriores de toute la
collection. Ce qui en rend evidemment l'interpretation fort difficile.
B.A. Pearson, qui en donne la premiere traduction, dans le volume de
1.M. Robinson 5, y voit une apocalypse attribuee ä un prophete et vision-
naire gnostique connu par d'autres sources, sous le nom de « Marsanes » et
« Marsianos ». On y reconnait en tout cas l'ascension d'un visionnaire. Les
lecteurs sont encourages ä comprendre qu'eux aussi pourront accomplir
leur ascension vers Dieu. Le vocabulaire de cette section est tres proche de
celui d'Allogene. Viennent ensuite des revelations concemant la significa-
tion mystique des lettres de l'alphabet. Le contenu et le vocabulaire de
Marsanes offrent des points de contact interessants avec la philosophie
neo-platonicienne (l'auteur s'ecarte visiblement du dualisme gnostique
tradi tionnel).

5. Op.cit., pp. 417-426.


APOCALYPSES DE NAG HAMMADI 75

Tout ceci permet de supposer, avec Pe ars on, que nous aurions bien la
encore une des « apocalypses » mentionnees par Porphyre.
n faudrait mentionner aussi d'autres ecrits de NH qui presentent un
caractere apocalyptique ou qui contiennent au moins des sections apoca-
lyptiques ... Les limites du present article ne me permettent plus de le faire!

Une breve conclusion seulement. Ce qui apparait le plus clairement,


c'est que les gnostiques affectionnaient le genre litteraire apocalyptique (au
moins un cinquieme de NH sont des « apocalypses » !). Ceci sans doute
pour mieux etayer leur doctrine. Le schema de ces apocalypses est en
general assez proche, me semble-t-il, de l'apocalyptique judeo-chretienne.
Une difference cependant, c'est le secret qui est souvent recommande au
voyant, et qui ne peut etre reveIe qu'aux elus gnostiques ou « co-spiri-
tuels ».

153, rue de la Paix Yvonne JANSSENS


B-6080 Montignies-sur-Sambre
A Structuration of Revelation 4, 1-22, 5

In a passage from his commentary, Victorinus of Pettau while emphasi-


zing the phenomenon of repetition also mentions the absence of structure
in Rev : " Nec requirendus est ordo in apocalypsi, sed intellectus requiren-
dus " I. And R.H. Mounce, one of the la test commentators on Rev, refers
to the divergent views found in structural proposals and utters a somewhat
pessimistic warning : "This rather complete lack of consensus about the
structure of Revelation should caution the reader about accepting any one
approach as definitive" 2.

I. The Book as a Whole

1. A DOUBLE CONSENSUS

Nonetheless with regard to the structure of Rev, a general double con-


sensus exists among N.T. exegetes. Everybody seems to acknowledge both
its Prologue and Epilogue, and its twofolddivision. The real difficulties
begin with the structure (or absence of structure) in 4, 1-22, 5.

1. J. HAUSSLEITER (ed.), Victorini Episcopi Petavionensis opera (CSEL, 49),


Wien-Leipzig, 1916, p. 86. Cf. H.B. SWETE, The Apocalypse oi St John, London,
3d ed., 1909, p. XLI: "Archbishop Benson relates that 'in answer once to the
question, Wh at is the form the book presents to you ? the reply of an intelligent and
devout reader was, It is Chaos' ".
The term" structuration " is used at the risk of coining a new word in order to
suggest a measure of subjectivity in the exegete's analysis and findings (cf. also a
structuration), whereas " structure " would rather imply objective certainty concern-
ing a plan consciously intended by the author of Rev.
2. The Book oi Revelation (New Int. Comm. NT, 17), Grand Rapids, 1977, p. 46.
Cf. Adela YARBRO COLLINS, The Combat Myth in the Book oi Revelation (Harv.
Diss. Rel., 9), Missoula, 1976, p. 8 : " In current research on the Book of Revelation,
there is very lilde consensus on the overall structure of the work and how that
structure should be interpreted. There are almost as many outlines of the book as
there are interpreters ".
78 J. LAMBRECHT

a) Prologue and Epilogue

The fact that the content of Rev is framed by a prologue and an epi-
logue - a concentric, cyclic feature - is universally recognized. There is,
however, no agreement conceming the extent ofboth sections. We propose
1, 1-3 for the Prologue and 22, 6-21 for the Epilogue.
Some exegetes prefer to consider I, 4_8 3 as part of the Prologue; still
others add even I, 9-20. Thus, the Prologue would consist of a superscrip-
tion (vv. 1-3), a salutation and doxology (vv. 4-8), and the inaugural vision
(vv. 9-20). If one considers 22, 21 as an epistolary benediction, an episto-
lary inclusion has to be assumed (compare I, 4-8 with 22, 21), and the
whole book, then, is presented as a ' letter' 4. However, it seems preferable
to link 1, 4-20 with the letter to the seven churches of chs. 2-3. All of these
churches are al ready named in I, 11. Moreover, the titulature of Christ at
the beginning of each letter is frequently reminiscent of that used in I, 4-
20. And Rev I, 4-5: " John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace
to you and peace ... " serves as it were as the salutation (name of sender and
of the addressees, greeting) of all the letters. Compare also the commission
to write in I, 19 with the same commission at the beginning of each letter
(2,1.8.12.18;3,1.7.14)5.
From 22, 6 onward the reader has the impression that the author is
concluding the whole of his writing : " The Lord, the God of the spirits of
the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take
place. And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is he who keeps the words of
the prophecy of this book. I lohn am he who heard and saw these things ...
00 not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is
near" (vv. 6-8.20). These verses clearly point back to I, 1-3:" The revela-
tion of Jesus Christ, which God gave hirn to show to his servants what must
soon take pI ace ; and he made it known by sending his angel to his servant
John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of lesus
Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of
the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is writ-
ten therein; for the time is near". CH. Giblin sees 22, 6-9 (and even
further) as the conclusion of the section 21, 9-22, 5 (Heavenly Jerusalem)

3. So recently F. HAHN, Zum Aufbau der Johannesoffenbarung, in Kirche und


Bibel. Festgabe für Bischof Eduard Schick, Paderborn, 1979, pp. 145-154, esp. p. 147.
4. Cf. Elisabeth SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Composition and Structure of the Revela-
tion of John, in CBQ 39 (1977) 344-366, pp. 364-365: " ... the whole book is pat-
terned after the epistolary framework which represents an inclusion " (consisting of
I, 1-8 and 22, 10-21). See also YARBRO COLLINS, Combat Myth. pp. 5-8.
5. But against this opinion one may refer to 22, 16a : "I ( = Jesus) have sent my
angel to you with this testimony for the churches". Because of the mention of the
churches in the Epilogue one may feel prompted to think that I, 4-20 or, at least, I,
4-8 pertain to the Prologue.
A STRUCTURATION OF REV 4, 1-22,5 79

just as 19,9-10 concludes 17, 1-19,8 (BabyIon). "Rev 22, 6ff. should not be
isolated from its preceding literary context by being compartmentalized as
an' epilogue ' " 6. Giblin hirns elf, however, has to admit that the content of
the verses 22, 6-15 does more than conclude the section on the Heavenly
lerusalem (= phenomenon of' escalation '). In contrast to Giblin, we think
it possible that lesus, and not the angel of21, 9, is the speaker of22, 5 (and
7). Moreover, in 22,7 and 20, as in 22, 18-19, the mention of' this book'
refers to the whole writing, and the motif of' nearness ' in 22, 6 and 7 links
vv. 6-9 with vv. 10-20. The whole of 21, 6-21 forms the Epilogue of the
entire book.

b) The two main parts

Rev consists of a comparatively short epistolary and a long visionary


part: the letters to the seven churches (1, 4-3, 22) and the predictions
concerning the end (4, 1-22,5). The division stands, even if 1, 19 cannot be
used as a proof-text for it. The Greek text of this verse runs: YQU\jIOV ouv Ci
daE<; Kai Ci daiv Kai Ci /li;AAEt YEvi;a9at /lEta tauta. As to its bearing on the
overall structure of the book, three opinions have been proposed, the last
of which seems to be the most probable one. (1) W.c. van Unnik 7 has
shown that in 1, 19, lohn uses and rewrites a conventional formula refer-
ring to past, present, and future. The formula " that which was, is and shall
be" and variants exist not only among Christians but also in texts ofGreek
and Roman authors. They reveal a certain aspect of' prophecy '. "It was
the privilege of' the prophets, granted by divine inspiration, to have an
insight into this mystery which they alone could declare, not in part, but as
a whole "8. Instead of "what was" lohn writes " what you saw". "The
author changes the first clause in a very typical manner, stressing the
visionary character of his prophecy" 9. Does this verse indicate a threefold
division: 'what you saw' (a reference to the vision, 1,9-16), 'what is' (a
reference to the present condition of the church, chs. 2-3), and ' what is to
take pI ace hereafter ' (a reference to the visionary part, chs. 4-22) ? Such a
threefold division, however, is not at all apparent.
(2) According to a number of exegetes, John's rewriting of' what was'
into 'what you saw' destroyed the threefold division of the formula.
" Write what you saw " points back to " wh at you see" in 1, 11, and con-
tains the following two relative clauses. The first Kat in 1, 19 is epexegetic.

6. eH. GIBLIN, Structural and Thematic Correlations in the Theology 0/ Revela-


tion 16-22, in Bib 55 (1974) 487-504, quotation on p. 491. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA,
Composition, p. 361, approves of this and therefore makes the Epilogue start with
22, 10 (see note 4).
7. A Formula Describing Prophecy, in NTS 9 (1962-1963) 86-94.
8. Ibid., p. 93.
9. Ibid., p. 94.
80 J. LAMBRECHT

"Write, therefore, things you saw (= you are about to see), that is, both
what is now and what lies yet in the future" 10. Since the same voice of 1,
12 says in 4, 1 : avaßa &ÖE, Kai öEi~(ü crot ä öd YEvEcr9m IlE't"u 't"ai:i't"a and
omits thus "what is now", several exegetes hold that 1, 19 points to a
twofold division of the book : 'what is ' (the letters, chs. 2-3), and 'what is
to take place hereafter ' (the visionary part, chs. 4-22) ll.
(3) However, both the present and future aspects are found in each
main part. There is also prediction in the letters and there are likewise
sections referring to the present church situation in the visionary part.
Rev 1, 19 certainly distinguishes present and future but it can hardly be
brought forward as a proof-text for the otherwise already c1ear twofold
division ofthe book 12.

2. THE BASIC PROBLEM

" The basic structural question is whether John intended his readers to
understand the visions recorded in his work in a straightforward chrono-
logical sense or whether some form ofrecapitulation is involved" 13.

a) Recapitulation

The already quoted third century Victorinus is famous for his recapitu-
lation theory. According to him, e.g., " quicquid ... in tubis minus dixit, id
in fialis propensius dixit" 14. Victorinus had many followers. We may
quote a sentence of Augustine : " Et in hoc quidem libro, cuius nomen est
apocalypsis, obscure multa dicuntur. .. ; maxime quia sie eadem multis
modis repetit, ut alia atque alia dicere videatur, cum aliter atque aliter
haec ipsa discere vestigetur" 15. There certainly is much recapitulation in
Rev (e.g. trumpets and bowls), but not pure, simple repetition. We have a

10. So more or less MOUNCE, Revelation, p. 82.


11. For a discussion of the expression Ii OE1 (IlE"-"-El) YEvEcr8ul and its commenta-
tors, see U. VANNI, La struttura letteraria dell'Apocalisse (Aloisiana, 8), Rome, 1971,
pp. 116-119.
12. G.R. BEASLEy-MuRRAY, The Book 01 Revelation (New Cent. Bible), London,
1974, p. 68, writes: "It accords more with the actual contents of the prophecy to
recognize that what is and what is to take place hereafter applies to the entire book,
for there is a perpetual movement between past, present, and future in the visions.
The belief that what is to take place herealter rightly describes chapters 4-22 has
been a cause of frequent misunderstanding of the visions through their supposed
exc1usive reference to the future ".
13. MOUNCE, Revelation, p. 45.
14. HAUSSLEITER (ed.), Victorini opera, p. 86.
15. De civitate Dei, XX, 17. See Sancti Aurelii Augustini. De Civitate Dei. Libri
ID-XXII (Corp. Christ. Ser. Lat., 48), Turnhout, 1955, pp. 728-729.
A STRUcrURATION OF REV 4, 1-22,5 81

type of recapitulation whi6h at the same time manifests intensification


(already so Victorinus !), yet does not exclude progress. With his study
"Die Komposition der apokalyptischen Visionen in der Offenbarung
Johannis", G. Bornkamm 16 re-introduced in our days a recapitulation
approach. He argues for the parallel structure of 8, 2-14, 20 and 15, 1-19,
21 (trumpets and bowls: chs. 17-18 composed in conscious contrast to
chs. 12-13; paralleis between 14, 1-20 and 19, 1-21). The first seetion is
provisional, vague and fragmentary, and points forward to the second
which is final, clarifying, climactic and refers back to the first 17. For Born-
kamm chs. 6-7 are an overture ; the scroll itself cannot be read until the
seventh seal is broken (8, 1) : the revelation proper starts with 8,2 18 .

b) Linearsequence

The fact that both the seventh seal and the seventh trumpet do not have
a specific content but seem to include all that follows, together with the
intensification with and within each plague-septet, corroborates our suspi-
cion that Rev may present a consecutive development : first repeated, cli-
mactic punishments ; then judgment of Babyion, Beasts and Satan; finally
the new creation. Punishment is God's vindication ofthe persecuted Chris-
tians. But, manifest repetition militates against a purely straightforward
course of events. Moreover, the continuous narrative seems to be interrup-
ted over and over again, not so much by numerous hymns and explana-
tions, but by intercalations, insertions : see chs. 7; 10-11 ; 12-14. What is
the literary, structural function of these passages of which some appear to
be rather retrospective and others prospective ?

16. Die Komposition der apokalyptischen Visionen in der Offenbarung Johannis,


in ZNW 36 (1937) 132-149; also in ID., Studien zu Antike und Urchristentum.
Gesammelte Aufsätze II (Beitr. Ev. Theol., 28), München, 2nd ed., 1963, pp. 204-220
(Nachtrag on pp. 221-222).
17. Ibid., p. 208: "Die erste Reihe is voller Anklänge an Ereignisse, die erst
später deutlich werden, die zweite voller Rückbeziehungen ; sie sammelt und häuft
früher angeklungene Motive und vereinigt sie zu geschlossenen Bildern, während
die erste Reihe ausgesprochen fragmentarischen Charakter hat". W.G. KÜMMEL,
Einleitung in das Neue Testament, Heidelberg, 19th ed., 1978, p. 411, agrees with
Bornkamm, "obwohl auch diese Erklärung nicht alle Rätsel der Abfolge der
Voraussagen löst..."; he calls the two sections "Vorbereitung und entgültiges
Geschehen ".
18. This is hardly correct since not the reading of the book but the breaking of
the seals commands the beginning of God's punitive action. Cf. e.g. A. WlKENHAU-
SER, Die Offenbarung des Johannes (Regensb. NT, 9), Regensburg, 3d ed., 1959,
p. 56: " Da aber mit dem Beginn der Siegelöffnung der Ablauf der Endereignisse
einsetzt, gehören doch wohl auch die Siegel-Plagen zu dem Inhalt des versiegelten
Buches ".
82 J. LAMBRECHT

3. PROCEDURE

There is no need to repeat here the history of research on the structure


of the Apocalypse. U. Vanni devoted the long first chapter of his doctoral
dissertation 19 to such a survey, and more recent data can be found e.g. in
Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza's article "Composition and Structure" or
Adela Yarbro Collins' dissertation 20. These three authors also extensively
discuss the elements in Rev which are structurally relevant 21. Regarding
the recapitulation phenomenon Yarbro Collins indicates the two funda-
mental options for explaining it: " Either it results (a) from the compila-
tion of sources, or (b) from the literary design of the author. Within option
(b) are two further alternatives. First, the literary design ofthe author may
be thought to describe a linear sequence of events. Second, it might be
thought to describe the same events several times in different ways " 22.

19. Struttura, pp. 7-104: " Storia dei probierna". Here reference may be made
to three other recent works on the structure of Revelation: HAHN, Zum Aufbau;
F. ROUSSEAU, L'Apocalypse et le milieu prophhique du Nouveau Testament. Structure
et prehistoire du texte (Recherehes, 3), Paris-Tournai-Montreal, 1971 (extremely
hypothetical !) ; J. DE VUYST, De structuur van de Apokalyps, Kampen, 1968.
20. For Schüssler Fiorenza, cf. esp. pp. 345-358. For Yarbro Collins, cf. Combat
Myth, esp. pp. 5-16. See also M.-E. BOISMARD, in A. GEORGE-P. GRELOT (ed.),
Introduction cl la Bible, Tome III, Vol. IV, Paris, 1977, pp. 23-32.
21. For Vanni, see Struttura, pp. 105-167. He deals with seven elements: (1)
Prologue and Epilogue, (2) the expression ä ÖEl (~EA.A.Et) YEvEcrSUt, (3) the septets,
(4) the three Woes, (5) the injunctions to prophesy, (6) the typical formula acrtQunui
Kui (j>rovui Kui ßQovtui, (7) the doxologies.
For Schüssler Fiorenza, see Composition, pp. 359-362: "Techniques of Compo-
sition ". She discusses the author's way of referring to the O.T., his use of a common
stock of symbols and images, his pre-announcements, cross-references, contrasts,
and use of numbers and numerical structures, his interruptions by interludes and
intercalations. The technique of intercalation is essential for the understanding of
the author's composition: "The author of Revelation does not divide the text in
separate sections or parts, but joins units together by interweaving them with each
other through the method of intercalation. It is therefore more crucial to find out the
joints of the structure which interlace the different parts than to discover ' dividing
marks' " (p. 362).
For Yarbro Collins, see Combat Myth, pp. 5-44. Special attention is given to
recapitulation and the device of interlocking (e.g. 8, 3-5 is an insertion between 8, 2
and 8, 6, " a transitional vision because it alludes back to the fifth seal and forward
to the ... trumpets ", p. 17).
Cf. also e.g. E.-B. ALLO, L 'Apocalypse (EB), Paris, 3d ed., 1933, pp. LXXVIII-
XCVI : " Les procedes de composition litteraire de I'Apocalypse".
22. Combat Myth, p. 8. See also the considerations of HAHN, Zum Aufbau,
pp. 146-147, regarding his thesis: "Für das Verständnis des Aufbaus der Johannes-
offenbarung ist es entscheidend wichtig, dass zwischen traditionell geprägten Ab-
schnitten mit weitgehend vorgegebenen Material und der Kompositiondes Propheten
Johannes unterschieden wird" (p. 146). H. KRAFT, Die Offenbarung des Johannes
A STRUcrURATION OF REV 4, 1-22,5 83
The overall plan 23 whieh Yarbro Collins herself adopts eombines her
own investigation of what she ealls the author's teehnique of interloeking
and the many literary indieations brought together by A. Farrer 24. Her
, numerieal ' outline is based on the series-of-seven prineiple and empha-
sizes therefore the reeapitulation aspeet of Rev. Besides the four numbered
series of the letters, seals, trumpets, and bowls, two unnumbered series of
seven visions (in 12, 1-15, 4 and 19, 11-21, 8) are deteeted. Moreover,
Yarbro Collins admits at the same time a twofold division of the book,
"two great eycles ofvisions": 1,9-11, 19 and 12, 1-22,5. The eycles are
parallel, more or less in the same way as Bomkamm presented his two
symmetrie seetions : the first more veiled, the seeond more fully de-
seribed 25.

(Hand, NT, 16a), Tübingen, 1974, admits a compilation of sources ; however, he


holds that the author hirnself has changed his initial outline several times. He
states " ... dass es nicht möglich ist, die Apokalypse als strikte Durchführung eines
einheitlichen Entwurfs zu verstehen. Natürlich ist immer eine Aufspaltung des
Buches in sieben mal sieben Visionen oder in eine andere runde Zahl möglich, aber
das Ganze ist doch übersichtlich genug, um zu zeigen, dass ein geometrischer
Bauplan nicht vom Verfasser beabsichtigt war, sondern dass ihm der Stoff unter den
Händen gewachsen ist" (p. 14). For a discussion ofKraft, see SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA,
Composition, pp. 349-350.
23. Combat Myth, p. 19:
I. Prologue 1, 1-8
preface 1, 1-3
prescript and sayings 1, 4-8
2. The seven messages 1, 9-3, 22
3. The seven seals 4, 1-8,5
4. The seven trumpets 8,2-11, 19
5. Seven unnumbered visions 12, 1-15,4
6. The seven bowls 15,1-16,20
Babyion appendix 17, 1-19, 10
7. Seven unnumbered visions 19, 11-21,8
Jerusalem appendix 21,9-22,5
8. Epilogue 22, 6-21
sayings 22, 6-20
benediction 22, 21
The difficulty of this structuration lies with the uncertainty regarding the two
, unnumbered ' series. The same applies to the proposals of the seven series of
sevens - each differing somewhat from the others - presented by J.W. BowMAN,
The First Christian Dr7l:na, Philadelphia, 1955; (Book of) Revelation, in Interpreter's
Dict. Bible, IV, pp. 58-71 ; R. LOENERTz, Plan et division de l'Apocalypse, in Angeli-
cum 18 (1941) 336-356; The Apocalypse 0/ John, London, 1947; and, recently,
L.c. SPINKS, A Critical Examination 0/ J. W Bowman's Proposed Structure 0/ the
Revelation, in Evang. Quart. 50 (1978) 211-222.
24. A Rebirth 0/ Images. The Making 0/ St John's Apocalypse, Glasgow, 1949;
The Revelation 0/ St. IIJ:hn the Divine, Oxford, 1964.
25. This proposal of a twofold division is conditioned, among other ways, by
Yarbro Collins' view of the contents of the Little Seroi!. These are given in the
second seetion, not in eh. 11: "The relationship between the two great cycles of
visions is thus characterized by the fact that each of the major recurring elements is
84 J. LAMBRECHT

Schüss1er Fiorenza's structuration is thorough1y , concentric ' 26. In her


opinion the three criteria most decisive far the structuring of the book are
(1) the seven pattern, (2) the two scroll visionS" and the christo10gica1 vision
in 1,12-20 and 19, 11-16 and (3) the method ofinterca1ation." Ifthe epis-
to1ary framework defines the comp1ex literary type of Reve1ation, then the
pattern of inclusion or symmetry has to be shown as the architectonic
pattern of the who1e work " 27.
Instead of further considering these two recent outlines, we present in
this study our own structuration proposal. In view of the double consensus
mentioned above 28 and considering the fact that the prob1ematic of the

sketched in the first cycle and then described more fully in the second. It does not
thus seem to be accidental that the sealed scroll characterizes the earlier visions,
while an open seroll introduces the later series" (Combat Myth, p. 43). Cf. SWETE,
Apocalypse, pp. XL-XLIV.
26. Composition, p. 364 :
A 1, 1-8
B 1,9-3,22
C 4,1-9,21; 11, 15-19
o 10, 1-15,4
C' 15, 1.5-19, 10
B' 19, 11-22,9
A' 22, 10-21
"This concentric ABCOC'B'A' pattern of Revelation shows that the whole book
is patterned after the epistolary framework which represents an inclusion. Insofar as
the center of the pattern is the prophetie serolI, the structure of the book underscores
that the main function of Revelation is the prophetie interpretation of the situation -
of the community" (pp. 364-365). A different but already concentric outline was
proposed in an earlier article: The Eschatology and Composition ofthe Apocalypse in
CBQ 30 (1968) 537-569 (see outlin.e on p. 561). Cf. Composition, p. 363 for the
reasons why the changes are made.
Yet, although between 1,9-3,22 and 19, 11-22,9 there are correspondences (as
between nearly all seetions in Rev) and these two seetions can, to a certain extent, be
characterized as promise and fulfilment (cf. p. 364), it is extremely hard to admit for
BB' and equally for CC' a clearly concentric structure intended by the author. For
another critique of Schüssler Fiorenza, see K.A. STRAND, Chiastic Structure and
Some Motifs in the Book of Revelation, in And. Univ. Sem. Stud. 16 (1978) 401-408,
esp. pp. 404-407. Although Strand proposes his own concentric-symmetry model, he
prefers a chiastic structure between an historie al series (A, 1, 1-11 ; B, 1, 12-3,22; C,
4, 1-8, 1; 0, 8, 2-14, 20) and an eschatologicaljudgment series (0',15, 1-18,24; C',
19, 1-21,4; B', 21, 5-22, 5 ; A', 22, 6-21). Strand refers to his Interpreting the Book of
Revelation, Worthington, OH, 1976, pp. 43-52, a study unavailable to me. Cf. also
SPINKS, Critical Examination, pp. 218-219, who arranges his seven sections in a
concentric pattern.
27. It should be duly recognized that in both articles Schüssler Fiorenza stresses
the unity of content and form. In Composition, pp. 363-364, she also reminds the
reader of the distinction between a structural interpretation of the surface level
( = architectonic outlook) and the structuralist analysis of the actantiallevel.
28. See pp. 1.-4. Cf. e.g. recently HAHN, Zum Aufbau, p. 149: "Die Johannesof-
fenbarung hat also neben den Rahmenstücken in 1, 1-3.4-8 und 22, 6-21 nur zwei
Hauptteile: 1,9-3,20 und 4, 1-22,5 ". But see also note 25.
A STRUcrURATION OF REV 4, 1-22,5 85
concurrent recapitulation-linear sequence hardly affects the first epistolary
part, we limit the proposal to 4, 1-22, 5. Within the third part of his book,
Vanni distinguishes and analyses five relatively autonomous sections in
4, 1-22, 5 29 • It would seem to us that a number of valuable and valid
insights are offered. At the same time, while the main divisions are in
accordance with these insights, one cannot es cape the impression that
Vanni's plan as a whole does not do full justice to the results of his investi-
gation 30. It is the purpose ofthis study to sketch an outline which better
visualizes most ofhis conclusions. The comments which follow explain our
structuration and, moreover, also by means of our own views, try to con-
firm this outline as well as to justify some ofits more subtle junctures.

11. Outline of Rev 4, 1-22, 5

A 4-5: Introductory Vision of the Scroll


(1) 4: the One sitting on the throne 4, 5a
(2) 5: the Lamb taking the scroll sealed with seven seals
B 6-7: First Six Seals
(1) a: 6, 1-8: first four seals
b: 6,9-11: fifth seal
c: 6, 12-17: sixth seal
(2) intercalation: 7: those sealed on earth ; martyrs in heaven
C 8, 1-22,5: Seventh Seal and Trumpets
A 8, 1-6: Introduction
(1 ) 8, 1: seventh seal
(2) 8, 2: 7 angels receiving 7 trumpets

29. Rev 4,1-5,14; 6,1-7,17; 8, 1-11, 14; ll, 15-16, 16; 16, 17-22,5.
30. An analogous remark can be made regarding Hahn's study which reached
me while completing my own investigation. His outline of 4, 1-22, 5 (see pp. 153-
154) is equally fivefold :
a) c. 4 Thronsaal Gottes
c. 5 Übergabe des versiegelten Buches an das Lamm
b) 6,1-7,8 1.-6. Siegel
7, 9-17 Ausblick auf die Vollendung
8, I 7. Siegel
c) 8,2-11, 14 1.-6. Posaune (mit Eingangsabschnitt in 8, 3-5)
11,15-13,18 7. Posaune (mit himmlischem Lobpreis in 11, 15-19)
14, 1-20 Ausblick auf Vollendung und Weltgericht
d) 15, 1-16, 16 1.-6. Schale (mit Eingangsabschnitt in 15,2-5)
16, 17-19, 10 7. Schale (mit himmlischem Lobpreis in 19, 1-10)
e) 19, 11-20, 15 Parusie, tausendjähriges Reich und Weltgericht
21, 1-22,5 Vollendung
86 J. LAMBRECHT

(3) 8, 3-5: prayers of the saints in heaven 8, 5d


(4) 8,6: the angels making ready to blow the trumpets

B 8,7-11, 14: First Six Trumpets


(1) a: 8, 7-12: first foUf trumpets
+ 8, 13: eagle erying : Woe, woe, woe to ...
b: 9, 1-11: fifth trumpet
+ 9, 12: first Woe has passed ; two still to eome
e: 9, 13-21 : sixth trumpet
(2) intercalation: 10, 1-11, 13: the litde open seroll ; the 2 witnesses
+ 11, 14: seeond Woe has passed ; third soon to eome

C 11, 15-22,5: Seventh Trumpet and Bowls

A 11,15-16, 1: Introduction
(1) 11,15-19: seventhtrumpet 11,19c
intercalation:, 12: Woman and Child, and Dragon-Satan
13: the two Beasts
14: three visions
(2) 15, 1: 7 angels with 7 plagues
(3) 15,2-4: song ofthe vietorious
(2) 15, 5-8: the angels reeeiving seven bowls
(4) 16, 1: the ange1s ordered to po ur out the bowls
B 16, 2-16: First Six Bowls
(1) a: 16, 2-9 : first four bowls
b: 16, 10-11 : fifth bowl
e: 16, 12-16: sixth bowl
(2) (cf. intercalation in 12-14)
C 16, 17-22,5: Seventh Bowl and Completion
(1) Babyion (16,17-19,10)
a: 16, 17-21: seventh bowl 16, 18-21
b: 17, 1-18: interpreting angel (Whore, Beast, waters)
e: 18, 1-24: fallen Babyion (visions and auditions)
d: 19, 1-8: fallen Babyion (celebration in heaven)
e: 19,9-10: angel and Seer
(2) Finaljudgment (19, 11-20, 15)
a: 19, 11-21: the two Beasts (the eoming ofChrist)
b: 20, 1-10: Dragon-Satan (millenium)
e: 20, 11-15: the dead (judgment-throne)
(3) New Jerusalem (21, 1-22,5)
a: 21, 1-8: New ereation, descent ofthe New Jerusalem
b: 21,9-22,5: interpreting angel (Bride)
A STRUCTURATION OF REV 4, 1-22,5 87

111. Explanation and Confinnation

1. SOME CHARACTERISTICS

a) The encompassing technique.

Our outline of 4, 1-22, 5 is meant to be a visiual presentation of the


principle of encompassing. The two seven-series of seals and trumpets are
open-ended. They contain all that folIows: Aseals: 4, 1-22, 5; A trum-
pets: 8, 1-22, 5 ; and ß bowls: 11, 15-22, 5. This rather perplexing structu-
ration means that notwithstanding paus es and repetitions the progress is
assured. There is in this seetion a definite linear development. The three
major units A, A and a partly overlap 31. Yet, a elose analysis could
demonstrate that each ofthem is conceived as a unity. For A (seals), see
e.g. the inelusion of chs. 4-5 with chs. 19-22 by means of the mention of the
four animals and the 24 elders (19, 4-5), Christ (esp. 19, 11-21), and God
(esp. 20, 11; 21, 5-8; cf. 22, 1-3: "The throne of God and of the
Lamb ") 32. For A (trumpets), see the striking parallel presentation of
31. Cf. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Composition, p. 36: "Since the three plague
septets do not simply repeat each other but evolve from and expand each other, they
are open cyc1es. The narrative movement of the seven sealed scroll is therefore best
diagrammed as a conical spiral moving from the vision of the Lamb's enthroniza-
tion as the eschatological ruler to that ofthe parousia, Christ's coming ". HAHN,
Zum Aufbau, p. 149, also recognizes the • encompassing technique ': "Der Inhalt
des siebten Siegels ist nicht das halbstündige Schweigen im Himmel (8, I) ... , son-
dern die in 8, 2-22, 5 beschriebenen Ereignisse. Entsprechend ist die in 15, I begin-
nende Sieben-Schalen-Vision der siebten Posaunen-Vision eingegliedert" and
p. 153: " ... der kunstvolle Aufbau der einzelnen Zyklen, die einander zu- und
untergordnet sind, so dass die siebte Siegel-Vision den gesamten Komplex 8, 1-22, 5
und die siebte Posaunen-Vision analog den Abschnitt 11, 15-22, 5 umfasst". See
also l. LEVIE, L 'Apocalypse de Saint Jean devant la critique moderne, in Nouv. Rev.
Theol. 51 (1924) 513-525.596-618, who assurnes that Rev contains 7 septets (see his
outline on pp. 616-618): " ... le septieme moment a comme fonction unique de
dec1ancher une nouvelle serie de sept... chacune des series comprend comme parties
toutes les series suivantes ... Chaque serie de sept ne s'acheve que ... par l'emboite-
ment des series suivantes" (p. 603); and R. LOENERTZ, Plan et division, who on
p. 338 presents a • stratified ' outline, somewhat analogous to ours and holds that
Rev consists of 7 septets : lohn" a savamment enchaine l'une a l'autre les series 2 a
7 en faisant jouer a chacune des cinq dernieres le röle de septieme subdivision dans
la serie precedente ( = l'emboitement)" (p. 337). ALLO, Apocalypse, pp. LXXXII-
LXXXV, understands his" loi de l'emboitement" in a different way: the author
announces, i.e. anticipates a theme, e.g. 11, 7 vis-a-vis ch. 13. Cf. also the term
.. dove-tailing" used by SPINKS, Critical Examination, p. 215.
32. Cf. also the corresponding Twelve Tribe-motif ( = new Israel) in 7, 4-8 and
21, 12. For the twelve precious stones of the wall's foundations in 21, 19-20, see
88 J. LAMBRECkT

trumpets and bowls (cf. chart on pp. 10-11). We should also point to the
link between 11, 7 and 13, 1-8 (the Sea-Beast). In 7, 9-11 the martyrs ask
" how long before thou will judge and avenge our blood " and are told " to
rest a little longer ", but in 8, 2-5, thus at the beginning of ~, it appears that
with the fire-censer thrown on the earth God's vindication is set in motion;
it will not be completed until chs. 21-22. As far as ~ is concerned, the
inclusion formed by Satan and the Beasts in chs. 12-13and 19-20' unites'
the section 33. Further, the seventh trumpet is thought of as the real com-
pietion : " ... the angel... swore ... in the days of the trumpet call to be
sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God ... should be fulfilled "
(10, 5-7); at the sounding of this trumpet, voices in heaven proclaim :
" The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of
his Christ" (ll, 15 ; cf. vv. 17-18). The completion comprises 11, 15-22, 5.
And in 15, I it is said that the seven angels with the seven plagues (bowls)
are the very last" for with them the wrath of God is ended". For the
'unifying' force of 17, 1-3 and 21, 9-10, see further in the text (p. 92).

b) Recapitulation

The recapitulation technique is also prominent. It is reflected in the


outline by a threefold repetition of the same letters. A ~ A mean introduc-
tion, !! !!!! the six first plagues, and C f ~ the globäf end-event. The
increased underscoring should indicate the progressive movement in the
narrative. Due attention is to be given to the recurring grouping in the B I
element (a: the first four plagues, b: the fifth, c: the sixth) 34. The most
striking parallelism in Rev is, of course, the three septets of plagues : seals,
trumpets, and bowls. The following chart reflects both repetition and
progression.

O. BÖCHER, Zur Bedeutung der Edelsteine Offb 21 in Fs Schick (see note 3), pp. 19-
32.
33. Cf. YARBRO COLLINS, Combat Myth, pp. 28-31, who points out the inclusive
character of her second cycle ( = Rev 12-22).
34. The grouping of the first four plagues may go back to the four animals : each
time in 6, 1.3.5. and 7, oneof the living creatures is heard.
It should be admitted that in 16, 2-21 this grouping into 1-4/5/6/7 is not so
evident: the fifth bowl is almost as short as the first four bowls, and the seventh
bowl is not open-ended. Yet, because of the cosmic unity symbolically constituted
by earth, salt water, fresh water and sun (first four bowls ; cf. 14, 7: " ... and worship
hirn who made heaven and earth, the sea and the fountains of water") and the
apparent (albeit not totally perfect) parallelism between trumpets and bowls, this
structuration may be retained. For a critique, see the balanced remarks of ALLO,
Apocalypse, pp. XCI-XCII, and VANNI, Struttura, pp. 47-50, where he discusses
Bornkamm's parallelization of trumpets and bowls.
A STRUCTURATION OF REV 4, 1-22,5 89
Chart: Synopsis ofthe Plagues

SEALS (eh. 6) TRUMPETS (ehs. 8-9) BOWLS (eh. 16)

4-5 : 8,2-6 : 15, 1-16, 1 :


God, seroll with 7 seals seven trumpets seven bowls
Lamb takes seroll seven angels seven angels
6,1-2 8, 7 (Ex 9, 13-25) 16,2 (Ex 9,8-12)
white horse hail, fire (with blood)
rider with bow on the earth on the earth
eonquering and to eon- 1/3 bumt (trees, grass) evil sores upon men
quer with mark

2 6,3-4 8,8-9 (Ex 7, 14-25) 16, 3 (Ex 7, 14-25)


bright red horse great mountain (with
rider with great sword blood) in the sea into the sea
to take away peaee 1/3 sea into blood blood
1/3 sea creatures die sea creatures die
1/3 ships are destroyed

3 6,5-6 8, 10-11 16,4 (Ex 7, 14-25)


blaek horse great star (Wormwood)
rider with balance on 1/3 rivers, fountains into rivers, fountains
voiee : a quart of 1/3 waters into worm- blood (to drink)
wheat... three quarts of wood
barley... (no harm to oil many men die
and wine)
-16,5-7: hymn

4 6. 7-8 8,12 (Ex 10:21-29) 16,8-9


pale horse strike
rider : name is Death on 1/3 sun, moon, stars on the sun
followed by Hades 1/3 light darkened sun seorches men
power over 1/4 earth *men do not repent,
to kill with sword, curse
famine, pestilenee, wild
be asts
+ 8, 13 : Eagle, three
woes

5 6. 9-11 9, 1-11 (Ex 10, 1-20) 16,10-11 (Ex 10, 21-29)


Souls under the altar: star (with key ofpit)
How long before judg- on earth on the throne of the
ment? beast
white robes smoke from pit darkens darkness in his kingdom
until the number should sun, air men in anguish
be completed locusts torture (but do *men do not repent,
not kill) men without curse
seal for 5 months (no
harm to grass .. .)
king: Abaddon
+ 9, 12: first woe passed
two still to come
90 J. LAMBRECHT

6 6,12-17 9, 13-21 16,12-16 (Ex 7,26-8, ll)


great earthquake 4 angels at river Eu- on the river Euphrates
sun, moon, stars, sky phrates released (+ eav- dry = way for kings
mountains alry) from the east
everyone hiding to kill 1/3 of mankind three foul spirits of triad
Day has eome 3 plagues: fire, smoke, assemble kings of Ar-
sulphur mageddon
*rest do not repent
- 7, 1-8 : those sealed - 10 : litde seroll - 16, 15 : saying of
- 7, 9-17: great multi- - 11 : two witnesses Jesus
tude + 11, 14: seeond woe
passed
one soon to eome

7 8,1 11,15-19 16,17-21 (Ex 9,13-35)


silenee (half an hour) 10ud voiees in heaven: into the air
kingdom of the Lord ... great voiee from the
hymn temple: I t is done ; fall
heaven open, ark ofBabylon
flashes oflightning ... flashes of lightning ... flash es oflightning ...
(8,5d) (11,1ge) (16, 18-21)
*men eurse God
- 12: Woman and Dra-
gon
- 13 : Two Beasts
- 14: Three Visions

c) Notable differences

Because of the irrefutable progression in the narrative, recapitulation


and repetition cannot be perfeet. So A is the absolute beginning of the
visionary part, and not the seventh element of a previous septet (as a and
aare). One is impressed by the solemnity of this opening vision. Compare
the presence of God and the Lamb in it with the function of the angels in
the introductions to A and A. The remarkable structural unity of chs. 4 and
5 is to be emphasiz;d 35. tn these chapters the beginning of God's judg-
ment is anticipated. God has the scroll and the Lamb will take it from

35. The ehapters differ: God - Christ. A twofold division is generally admit-
ted. Cf. (1) d80v in 4, 1 and 5, 1 ; (2) the hymns in both eh. 4 and eh. 5 eonclude
what preeedes ; (3) eh. 4 presents itself as rather statie, whereas in eh. 5 there is more
action, i.e. God's eommissioning ofthe Lamb with the seroll.
The unity of the ehapters, however, is eonstituted by (1) the term li~lOC; (a Leit-
motiv of eh. 5 - see vv. 2.4.9.12 - which already appeared in 4, II ; (2) the " One
who is seated on the throne" in eh. 4 but also in 5, 1.7; (3) the presenee in both
A STRUcrURATION OF REV 4, 1-22, 5 91

God. The scene is utterly solemn: the way God and his entourage is
depicted ; the dramatic situation to which the Lamb brings a final answer ;
the manifold respectful responses in the hymns. Heaven and earth are
involved. The Seer, present in heaven, is in the Spirit; he sees and hears. In
Rev 4-5 the central event is 5, 6-7: " And ... I saw a Lamb standing, as
though it had been slain ... and he went and took the scroll from the right
hand of hirn who was seated on the throne" 36. The end of ch. 5 is elabor-
ated in a heightening crescendo.
f necessarily differs from !2 and C. ~ is the absolute end; it offers the
completion. The last septet is no longer open-ended. f contains the last
definitive punishment, the universal judgment, the new creation, i.e. the
final consummation with its negative and positive sides. Although we must

chapters of the four living creatures and the twenty-four e1ders ; (4) and 5, 13-14
where God and Christ are acc1aimed together.
According to K.J. JÖRNS, Das hymnische Evangelium. Untersuchungen zu Auf
bau, Funktion und Herkunft der hymnischen Stücke in der Johannesoffenbarung
(Stud. NT, 5), Gütersloh, 1971, pp. 23-76, a major break exists between 4, 8 and 9.
He formulates four interesting remarks: (1) In 4, 8c the term tQXOIl€VO<; does not
designate the eternal essence of God (as is done by " who was and who is ") but
points to a future imminent action of God. (2) The phrase ö'tUV orocrOIJOW (4, 9 ;
future tense !) is not" iterative" but refers to a specific future event : " When ( = as
soon as ; not: whenever) the living creatures will give glory ... to hirn who is seated
on the throne ... , then the twenty-four elders will fall down ... " (4, 9-10). (3) 4, 9-11
announces a new start: something is going to happen which will e1icit the re action
of both the living creatures and elders. Jörns opines that we have to postulate here
that this event is : the One seated on a throne taking the scroll in his right hand. In 4,
2-3 the scroll is not yet mentioned ; 5, 1 reads : " And I saw in the right hand of hirn
who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with
seven seals ". It is logical to suppose that according to John's conception God took
the scroll probably after 4,8. (4) The whole of 4,9-11 can be identified as" antipho-
nal " ( = alternating singing), which as a whole is itself a hymnic response to God's
action, precisely the taking of the book. V. 9 renders in an indirect way the hymn
sung by the living creatures ; vv. 10-11 contain the gestures of adoration and the
" responsorial " a~tO<;-hymn on the part of the elders : because God once created,
He is able to act again in the end-time and worthy to receive for this honor and
glory ...
36. For a rejection of the "enthronement" hypothesis (cf. e.g. E. LOHMEYER,
Die Offenbarung des Johannes [Handb. NT, 16), Tübingen, 2d ed., 1953, pp. 51-53;
T. HOLTz, Die Christologie der Apokalypse des Johannes [TU, 85], Berlin, 1962
[2nd ed., 1971 with Nachtrag), pp. 27-54: "Die Inthronisation des Lammes "), see
W.c. VAN UNNIK, "Worthy is the Lamb". The Background of Apoc. 5, in A. DEs-
CAMPS; A. DE HALLEUX (ed.), Melanges bibliques en hommage au R.P. B. Rigaux,
Gembloux, 1970, pp. 445-461, esp. pp. 446-448, who hirnselfpoints to the Hellenistic
motif that only "worthy" persons are allowed to know the secrets which stand
written in the sealed, esoteric heavenly books.
H.-P. MÜLLER, Die himmlische Ratversammlung. Motivgeschichtliches zu Apc 5,
1-5, in ZNW 54 (1963) 254-267, elucidates, it would seem convincingly, the parallel
pattern between the " himmlische Ratversammlung " and Rev 5.
92 J. LAMBRECHT

beware of the tendeney to find a too logieally stringent division or parallel-


ization 37, in :a
C three seetions ean be identified: (I) the fall ofBabylon (16,
17-19, 10), (2) the final battles and the universal judgment (19, 11-20, 15),
and (3) the vision of the new ereation and New Jerusalem (21, 1-22, 5).
Seetions (I) and (2) present the negative eompletion while seetion (3) is
deeidedly positive. There is within ~ clearly a progressive development.
Moveover, a striking parallelism eXlSts between 17, 1-3 and 21, 9-10. In
both passages" one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls " approa-
ehes and invites the Seer, and leads hirn away in the Spirit into a wilder-
ness or to a mountain and shows hirn the woman-mother of the harlots or
the Bride-wife of the Lamb 38. This symmetrie feature unifies ~ and links it
with,Ö and!!. However, while in 17, 7-18 all that the Seer in 17, 3b-6 saw is
explälned by the angel, in 21, 10-22, 5 only the eonseeutive aetions of
showing are indieated without explieit interpretation by the angel; and
whereas in 19, 9-10 at the end of the Babyion seetion the same angel re-
appears, the analogous mention ofthe angel in 22,6.8-9 already belongs to
the Epilogue.

d) The Woes

In the outline the three verses whieh mention the W oes are indieated by
means ofthe sign +. They are 8, 13: "Then I looked, and I heard an eagle
erying with a loud voiee, as it flew in midheaven, ' Woe, woe, woe to those
who dweIl on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets whieh the three
angels are about to blow ! ' "; 9, 12 : "The first woe has passed ; behold,

37. Very attractive is e.g. the following sophisticated concentric structuration of


Rev 18:
A 1-3: angel (vision and speech)
B 4-20: voice (audition)
A' 21-24: angel (vision-account of symbolic action and speech).
In section B there are three double Woes, that of the merchants framed by those of
the kings and the shipmasters. Since the Wo es are, moreover, preceded and
followed by exhortations in the second person, the structure of B can be digrammed
as folIows:
a 4-8: exhortation (for the Christians on earth)
b 9-19: dirges
(I) kings (9-10)
(2) merchants (l1-l7a: 11-13114115-l7a)
(I ') shipmasters (l7b-19)
a' 20: exhortation (for those in heaven, only ?).
But is the parallelism between the two angels (A and A') intended ? And can the
whole of B be considered as a unit of the same audition ? Cf. e.g. J. SWEET, Revela-
tion (Pelican), London, 1979, p. 264, and esp. Yarbro Collins' extensive discussion of
eh. 18 in this volume, pp. 185-204, esp. pp. 192-199.
38. See the thorough discussion of GIBLIN, Structural and Thematic Correla-
tions, pp. 488-491 : " Paired Angelic Disclosures ".
A STRUCTURATION OF REV 4, 1-22,5 93

two wo es are still to come" ; and 11, 14: "The second woe has passed ;
behold, the third woe is soon to come ".
The first Woe is identified with the fifth trumpet ; the second with the
sixth. No indication is provided as to where the third Woe ends. This is
presumably beeause ofthe open-endedness ofthe seventh trumpet, encom-
passing all that follows 39. With regard to the strueture, the fact that it is
explieitly stated in 11, 14 that the seeond Woe has passed proves that for
John this Woe as weIl as the sixth trumpet eontains, in a eertain sense, not
only 9, 13-21 (the sixth trumpet proper) but also eh. 10 and 11, 1-13 40.
From this we may further deduce that eh. 7 equally somehow belongs to
the sixth seal (and chs. 12-14 to the seventh trumpet ?). Since the Woe-
sentences heighten the internal unity of ä and ~ they dearly possess a
structural value.

e) Thunderstorms and Earthquake

In his recent study R. Bauekham writes : " The earthquake is one of the
major images of the End in the Apocalypse, far too often passed over as a
conventional apocalyptic image of no great interest " 41. He distinguishes
between an earthquake as a sign of the approaching end (cf. Mk 13, 8), an
earthquake as aeeompanying the eoming of God as King and Judge, and
an earthquake whieh itself forms part of the final judgment. It is the
seeond and, espeeiaIly, the third type of earthquake whieh are of interest to
uso
In the visionary part of Rev there is aseries of four formulae, each of
which eontains at least the three following elements: "peals of thunder,
voices, and flashes of lightning". The series, however, is progressively
expanded:
4, 5a: Kui (;K ,oi) 9Q6vou {;K1tOQEuov,m acr'Qu1tui Kui q>covui Kui ßQov-
,ui.
8, 5d: Kui {;YEVOV,O ßQov,ui Kui q>covui Kui acr'Qu1tui Kui crEtcrJlOC;.
11, 19c : Kui tYEVOV,O acr'Qu1tui Kui q>covui Kui ßQov,ui Kui crEtcrjlOC; Kui
XUAUl,U JlEyUAT\.

39. Otherwise G.R. BEASLEy-MuRRAY, Revelation, p. 187: "(The third Woe


coincides with the events of the seventh trum pet, yet it is not described.) There is no
need ... to identify the third Woe with the seven bowls or the like". -
40. Cf. HAHN, Zum Aufbau, p. 150: "Waren in 6, 1-8 die vier ersten Siegel-
Visionen durch das Erscheinen der Reiter enger zusammen gehalten - see our
note 34 -, so werden hier umgekehrt die drei letzten, im Vergleich zu 8, 7-12
erheblich breiter ausgeführten Visionen als die drei' Wehe' zusammengeschlossen
(vgl. 9, 12; 11, 14)".
41. The Eschatological Earthquake in the Apocalypse o[ John, in NT 19 (1977)
224-233, quotation on p. 224. See also VANNI, Struttura, pp. 141-148: "Una for-
mula tipica: acr'tQu1tui Kili !provui Kui ßQov'tUl.
94 J. LAMBRECHT

16, 18-21,' Kai eYEVoV'w uO"l{lU1tai Kai eprovai Kai ßQoVtai, Kai crEtcrJlO~
eYEvEto IlEya~ olo~ OUK eYEWW uep' oi'i liv8Qro1to~ eYEWW e1ti Tii~ Yii~
'tT]AtKOi)TO~ crEtcrllO~ oihro JlEya~. The great city was split into three parts,
and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered great Babyion, to
make her drain the cup of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled
away, and no mountains were to be found. Kai XUAa~a IlEYUAT] dl~ TaAav-
naia KamßaivEt eK TOi) oUQavoi) e1ti tou~ uv8Qffi1to\)~. Kai eßAacrepi]JlT]crav
01 liv8Qro1tot TOV 8EOV eK 'tii~ 1tAT]Yii~ 'tii~ xaA6.~T]~, ön IlSYUAT] ecr'tiv i]
1tAT]y1) aUTii~ crep68Qa.
A first distinction is needed between 4, 5a and the other three expres-
sions. Rev 4, 5a is the shortest (without earthquake and hail) and has the
present tense: eK1toQEuOV'tUl (cf. eYEvovTO in the other passages). "The
theophany is confined to heaven, judgement on earth is not yet in view,
and so the earthquake would be inappropriate. But the later references
back to 4, 5 serve to anchor the expectation of God's coming to judge and
rule the world in this initial vision of his rule in heaven " 42. The position of
the last three expressions is very much the same: each time after the
seventh element of the septet. 8, 5d comes after the seventh seal (8, I) and
is expanded with an earthquake 43. 11, 19c comes after the seventh trumpet
(11, 15) and is further expanded with hail 44. 16, 18-21 presents an exten-
sive depiction which, strictly speaking, does not come after the seventh
bowl (16, 17) but in vv. 19-20 is so mingled with the punishment of Baby-
Ion that the formula forms part of the final judgment itself. Altough Baby-
Ion is the judgment's center, its effect is universal, cosmic. God's wrath is
ended: compare v. 19 with 15, l. Since the seventh bowl (16,17-21) imme-
diately follows the first six bowls, it is precisely this expanded thunder-
storm-and-earthquake formula, with its special attention to Babylon's de-
struction (YEYOVEV, v. 17; finally!) 45 as well as Its universal dimension
whichjustifies the break between 16,16 and 17, i.e. the beginning ofk'
42. BAUCKHAM, Earthquake, p. 227.
43. Ibid., p. 332: " The eschatological earthquake in the Apocalypse is not the
tired apocalyptic clich<:: so many commentators have thought it to be ".
44. Hail, mentioned in 11, 19c and 16, 18 "is an expected intensification of the
description of a great thunderstorm " (ibid., p. 228). " At each point lohn uses the
allusion to Sinai to suggest that the End has been reached, though not yet exhaus-
tively described. The progressive expansion of the formula accords with the increas-
ing severity of each series of judgments, as the visions focus more closely on the End
itself and the limited warning judgments of the trumpets give place to the seven last
plagues of God's wrath on the finally unrepentant " (p. 228).
45. The perfect tense ytYOVEV stands in contrast to the numerous aorists (tyt-
VEto) for the preceding plagues. It points to the real end! Yet, 16, 17-21 is only the
beginning of the Babyion section (16, 17-19, 10). On the climactic character of the
seventh bowl, see VANNI, Struttura, pp. 127-130. With others, he thinks that the
expression" upon the air" (16, 17) is more than a mere " meteorological " indica-
tion. The air which surrounds the world is the residence of the demons and from this
sphere they influence the earth. If this understadning is accepted, the climactic
nature of the seventh bowl is even more increased.
A STRUCTURATION OF REV 4, 1-22,5 95

Both the evident climactic arrangement and the intended repetition at


the end of each series manifest that the expression for John is a stylistic
device and as such helps to structure the visionary part of Rev. Note fur-
ther that each mention is linked with the throne of God or his temple. 4, 5a
reads : " From the throne of God issue flashes of lightning, and voices and
peals of thunder " ; for 8, 5d see the mention of God's throne in 8, 3 ; for
11, 19c see the introduction ofv. 19ab : " Then God's temple in heaven was
opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple" ; and for
16, 18-21 see the preceding v. 17:" The seventh angel poured his bowl into
the air, and a great voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying,
, It is done ! '''. The references to throne and temple, like the thunder-
storm-and-earthquake expressions, underline the transcendent origin and
character ofthe eschatological punishment 46.

2. THE SO-CALLED INTERCALATIONS

Before dealing explicitly with so me hymnic material a word must be said


on the passages which are considered as intercalations. Like many hymns,
they too seem to break the pattern of continuous narrative. Three ' clus-
ters' can be pointed out: 7, 1-17 (see B 2); 10, 1-11, 13 (see !!.1); and 12,
1-14, 20 (see ~, after D. What is their connection with the immediate
context? What is their- function in the whole of the visionary part of .
Rev 47?

a) 7, 1-17

The position of the first intercalation, eh. 7, is after the climactic sixth
seal (6, 12-17) and immediately before the seventh (8, 1). In 7, 1-8 the 144,
000 ' servants of our God ' on earth are sealed ; in 7, 9-17 the great multi-
tude of Christian martyrs in heaven is shown 48. Both pericopes point back

46. Ibid., pp. 142-148: "il richiamo al trono di Dio (4, 5; 8, 3), al tempio (11,
19), a tutti e due insieme (16, 17) ribadisce il collegamento che la nostra expressione
mette in luce tra la trascendenza, la sacralita divina, le preghiere dei santi egli
interventi di Dio nella storia umana "(p. 148). He conc1udes his investigation of the
expression: "L'esame ... mostra quindi uno sviluppo lineare e un inglobamento
progressivo .e agglutinante, fino a un massimo, dopo il qua1e attendiamo la solu-
zione finale" (p. 148).
47. Some authors would inc1ude chs. 17-18. These chapters, however, like 19, l-
Wand 21, 9-22, 5, function as various comments on the event narrated in the
immediate context. See our outline.
48. Rev 7, 9-17 is, properly speaking, not" ein Ausblick auf die eschatologische
Vollendung" ; so HAHN, Zum Aufbau, p. 150, and cf. SWEET, Revelation, p. 7: " ...
not a different group from the hundred and forty-four thousand but the Israel of
God seen in its ultimate inc1usiveness and fulfilment". In our understanding the
passage points to a situation already existing in heaven.
96 J. LAMBRECHT

to the fifthseal, the martyrs' prayer for vengeance (6, 9-11). In 6, 11 the
martyrs in heaven (cf. 7, 9-17) are told "to rest a litde longer until the
number of their fellow servants (oi crUVÖOUAOl; cf. toUe; ÖOUAOUe; toü 9wü
in 7, 3) and their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as
they themselves had been ". They are each given a 'white robe' (6, 11 ; cf.
the same expression in 7, 9.13.14). The second pericope (7, 9-17) is,
moreover, clearly linked with chs. 4-5 through the naming of " our God
who sits upon the throne" and "the Lamb" (v. 10; see also
vv. 12.14.15.17) and the mention of angels, the elders and the four animals.
In view of all these literary connections and contextual contacts, eh. 7 can
hardly still be considered as an heterogeneous insertion 49. With both its
pericopes the author of Rev intended to interrupt the narrative of the seals
just before the last seal is broken, in order to pay attention to the protec-
tion of the persecuted Christians and also to the actual situation of the
martyrs.

b) 10, 1-11, 13

It cannot but strike the reader that the second 'intercalation',


chs. 10-11, stands at the same structuraljuncture as the first (compare B 2
with B 2), i.e. after the sixth trumpet (9, 13-21) and before the seventh (11,
15; v. 14 is a Woe-sentence). In 10, 1-11 it is said that ' another' (cf. 5, 2)
mighty angel comes down from heaven and gives to John the Seer a litde
open scroll which has to be eaten by John. This scene is best understood as
John's receiving a message from God. In 10, 11 John is told to prophesy
again about many peoples and nations and tongues and kings. A great
number of exegetes 50 are of the opinion, righdy we think 51, that the
passage 11, 1-13, with the Seer's prophetie action of measuring and not-
measuring certain seetions of the temple (vv. 1-2) and his depiction of the
appearance of the two witness-prophets (vv. 3-13), offers the contents of
the ' litde open scroll '. In this view chs. 10 and 11 form asolid unity.
The Woe-sentences of 9, 12 and 11, 14 qualify both the sixth trumpet
and this intercalation, it would seem, as the second Woe ; the two sections

49. For even more data, cf. VANNI, Struttura, pp. 188-191.
50. Otherwise e.g. YARBRO COLLINS, Combat Myth, pp. 26-27: The revelation of
the contents begins in 12, 1. See also our note 25.
51. F or a good and original discussion of this question, see V ANNI, Struttura,
pp. 135-139. According to his interpretation of 10, 4, the Seer is not yet allowed to
write down what the seven thunders have said (content = seventh trumpet, cf. 10, 7
and 15, 15-19). As soon as the seventh angel blows his trumpet there will be no more
delay (cf. 10, 6-7). As to the " Litde SerolI", other than in eh. 10 this diminutive is
used nowhere else; its contents therefore are limited. The scroll is open, has to be
eaten, and the injunction to prophesy follows immediately. All this points to 11, 1-13
as the contents of this " Little Scroll ".
A STRUcrURATION OF REV 4, 1-22,5 97

are thus formally eonneeted. Whatever the meaning of 10, 4 may be, vv. 5-
7 explieity refer to the seventh trumpet. The angel solemnly swears that
there will be no more delay, that "in the day of the trumpet eall to be
sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God, as he announeed to his
servants the prophets, will be fulfilled". One ean safely assume that in
ehs. 10 and 11, as in eh. 7 regarding the seals, prior to the end of the
depressing list of the trumpets with their negative effeet on the unfaithful
part of mankind, the author wants to positively point out that the Chris-
tians, although perseeuted, will be taken eare of and proteeted by God : the
two witnesses, representing the Christian eommunity of the end time, will
be raised and go up to heaven ! Their aetivity is situated before the sound-
ing ofthe seventh trumpet (11, 15) 52.
One should, however, ask wh ether, unlike eh. 7, this seeond intereala-
tion is not oeeasioned by the motif of non-repentanee stressed for the first
time in 9,20-21 53 , verses whieh immediately preeede eh. 10. Aceording to
10, II John the Seer has to prophesy again on the subjeet of the nations.
Aeeording to 11, 3 the two witnesses do prophesy for forty-two months.
And in 11, 13de it is stated that at the sight of God's vindieation of his
witnesses, , the rest' of the unfaithful people are terrified and " give glory
to the God of heaven " (do they repent 1). It would therefore seem that by
this inserted and retarding passage (ehs. 1O-11), the author not only
eneourages his fellow Christians but also wants to point out God's dealings
with the ' hostile ' world and thus emphasize both men's sinfulness and the
righteousness of God's judgment. Whatever the ultimate origin of ehs. 10-
1I may have been, they too are skillfully integrated into the strueture of
the book.

e) 12, 1-14, 20

What about the third cluster, the long ehs. 12-141 With its threefold
division (vv. 1-6; 7-12; 13-18) 54 eh. 12 depiets the struggle between the
Dragon (= Satan) and the Woman. Ch. 13 deals with the two Beasts, the
Sea Beast, Satan's representative (vv. 1-10) and the Land Beast (= the
false prophet; vv. 11-18). In 16, 13-14 Dragon, Beast and False Prophet are

52. HAHN, Zum Aufbau, pp. 150-151, explains 10, 1-11, 13 according to an even
more" continuous" sequence: "Was zu Beginn der sechsten Vision beschrieben
ist. wird durch das machtvolle Wirken der beiden eschatologischen Propheten in 11,
3-13 fortgesetzt" (p. 150).
53. For the other references to non-repentance, see the chart of the synopsis of
the plagues, pp. 89-90: sign * in the fourth, fifth, and seventh bowls : 16,9.11.21.
54. Cf. A.P. VAN SCHAlK, De Openbaring van Johannes, Roermond, 1971, p. 126,
Vv. 7-12 look Iike an insertion. Hildegard GOLLINGER, Das" grosse Zeichen" von
Apokalypse 12 (Stuttg. BibI. Mon., 11), Würzburg-Stuttgart, 1971, pp. 114-115,
writes: "In dem eingeschobenen Erzählblock der Verse 7-12 erweitert sich die
98 J. LAMBRECHT

mentioned together: their foul, demonic spirits go out to the kings of the
whole world to assemble them for the batde on the great day. That chs. 12-
13 belong together can also be seen from 12, 18, an obviously transition al
verse (cf. ' Sea ' in 12, 18 as weIl as in 13, 1).
Ch. 14 should be divided into three sections : vv. 1-5 (the Lamb and the
140,000 on Mount Zion); vv. 6-13 (the messages of three angels); and
vv. 14-20 (the double announcement of the harvest). The Urst section, 14,
1-5, clearly refers back to 7, 1-8, but ' those sealed ' are now gathered on
Mount Zion ; they alone are able to learn the ' new song' of the martyrs in
heaven (cf. 7,13-17). The angelic messages ofthe second section (14,6-13)
contain a call to repentance to the inhabitants of the world ; they announce
the fall of Babyion, warn and encourage. In the third section (14, 14-20)
the imminence of the final punishment is suggested by the ' anticipatory ,
past tenses of the verbs.
In the whole of this cluster (chs. 12-14) much attention again is given to
persecutors and persecuted. Retrospective as weIl as prospective language
is present 55, but the author's main thrust concerns the actual critical situa-
tion and the impending final confrontation of godly and demonic forces. It
would seem that, before the last series of plagues starts, this third and
largest intercalation, once again, sets the scene of conflict, encourages
fellow Christians to fidelity, and makes evident the responsibility and
culpability of those who are going to be punished.
Can reasons be found to explain why chs. 12-14 differ from ch. 7 and
chs. 10-11 regarding the place in the structure? The third intercalation
does not stand in B 2 but after A l. This position is somewhat strange,
indeed. One would expect that after 11, 15-19 (seventh trumpet) the series
of bowls (15, 1-16, 1) would be introduced immediately 56 as is the case
with the trumpets (see 8, 2-6 after 8, 1). Three considerations may help to
justify to a certain extent this peculiar ' irregular ' position. First, the con-
nections between ch. 11 and chs. 12-13 could have prompted the author to
pi ace these chapters together (compare the duration of the witnesses'
prophecy in ch. 11 with that of the Woman's stay in the desert in ch. 12,

Perspektive und die Zahl der Akteure. Nun geht es nicht mehr ausschliesslich um
die beiden Einzelgestalten Frau und Drache, sondern um das 'Lager', das sie
vertreten ". Yet, the unity of ch. 12 is not to be denied : "Der Apokalyptiker mag
verschiedene Quellen für Offenbarung 12 verarbeitet haben, aber in der vorliegen-
den Form - und nur diese kann Ausgangspunkt für die Frage nach der Einheit des
Kapitels sein - ist das Kapitel eine bewusst komponierte, bruchlose Einheit"
(p. 116).
55. Retrospective speech: see e.g. the battle of Satan in heaven in eh. 12;
prospeetive: see 14, 8 (the fall of Babyion) and 14, 14-20 (the depiction of the
esehatological harvest).
56. Mark the "inclusion" formed by 11, 14 and 15, 5; in both verses the ope-
ning of the temple in heaven is mentioned. Compare also 12, 1.3 with 15, 1, the only
places in Rev where the expression" a (great) sign in heaven " occurs.
A STRUCTURATION OF REV 4, 1-22,5 99

and note also, that in both ch. 11 and ch. 13 the same Sea-Beast is men-
tioned). Second, it is possible that the author did not want to interrupt his
last series of seven plagues, since the seventh bowl is no longer open-end-
ed. Third, the positioning of this intercalation at the beginning of C (11, 15-
22, 5) is perhaps motivated by the chiastic inclusion it so forms. Compare
the activity ofSatan and the two Beasts in chs. 12-13 with the order oftheir
beingjudged in chs. 19-20: the two Beasts and Satan.

From this short analysis of the structural function of the so-called


intercalations in Rev a twofold conclusion can be drawn. (1) Their integra-
tion into the context reflects careful consideration by the author. (2) And
the retarding or delaying function of all three clusters in respect to the train
of thought is very similar. Attention is paid to the persecuted Christians for
the sake of encouragement and the scene of demonic opposition is depic-
ted, as it were, to justify God's punishment. In view of our analysis, there-
fore, it can hardly be maintained that these intercalations are structurally
disturbing insertions. Although they do interrupt the continuous narrative,
they do not break the overall pattern of the book.

3. HYMNIC MATERIAL

It is well-known that the clear determination of times and dates in a


vision is often a hazardous matter. The Seer narrates what he saw or heard
in past tenses, or sometimes vividly by means of present and future tenses.
The reader, however, has to ask hirnself how the contents relate to the
point of time where he stands. What is already past time? What corre-
sponds with the actual circumstances? Where does real prophecy start?
The difficulty is often increased by 'ante-dating '. Apocalyptic authors
write as if they were present at events in aperiod (much) earlier that the
one they live in 57.
The question of our final paragraph, however, is yet a somewhat dif-
ferent one ; it concerns the time not of history but of the story-Une of Rev.
Some hymnic material does not present an easyanswer, but the question
has its structural implications and should, therefore, be answered.
There is a fair consensus regarding the commentary character of the
hymns in Rev 58. Two passages, above all, deserve our attention: 11, 15-19

57. In theirexplanation of 17, 9-11 some exegetes hold that whereas the Apoca-
lypse was written at the end ofDomitian's reign (81-96), John suggests as the (ficti-
tious) date of its composition the beginning of the Vespasian period (69-79).
58. Cf. e.g. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Composition, pp. 353-354 : " Recent studies of
the hymnic materials in Revelation have convincingly demonstrated that the hymns
comment and complement the visions and auditions of the book. They function thus
in the same way as the choruses in the Greek drama preparing and commenting
100 J. LAMBRECHT

and 15, 1-16, 1 59 . Both eontain hymnie material whose retrospeetive or


prospeetive qualities are not self-evident. If our analysis of ehs. 12-14 is
eorreet, the two passages belong together as Aland 2 3 2 4 (ef. Aland
2 3 4 in Rev 8, land 2-6) 60. Both passages possess past tenses as weH as
future 61.

a) 11, 15-19

In the ' seventh trumpet ' two smaH units are to be distinguished. (a) In
v. 15a we read: "Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet " ; a reaetion
follows, loud voiees in heaven proclaim : " The kingdom of the world has
beeome the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shaH reign for
ever and ever" (rest of v. 15); v. 16 then depiets how the elders worhip
God and vv. 17-18 offer their thanksgiving. (b) V. 19 forms the seeond
unit: God's temple is opened and the ark of his eovenant is seen; this
theophanie event is aeeompanied with " flashes of lightning, loud voiees,
peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail ".
A number of exegetes view this passage as depieting the end of his-
tory 62. We may quote E.-B. AHo: "11 n'y a plus d'avenir. .. Dieu et le
Christ n'ont plus a 'venir', la parousie a eu lieu ". Aeeording to this author
we are eonfronted here not with a " passe prophetique, prolepse, antieipa-
tion", but with a "passe litteral" 63. Others, however, admit that the

upon the dramatic movements of the plot" (see also p. 360). However, R. DEICH-
GRÄBER, Gotteshymnus und Christushymnus in der frühen Christenheit. Untersuchun-
gen zu Form. Sprache und Stil der frühchristlichen Hymnen (Stud. Umwelt Nt, 5),
Göttingen, 1967, p. 47, emphasizes the parenetical character as weil: " So dienen
die Hymnen der himmlischen Gemeinde dazu, den Blick der irdischen Gemeinde
von der sie umgebenden Drangsal zu lösen und auf das Ziel der himmlischen
Herrlichkeit zu lenken, damit auch sie einmal in der Schar der Überwinder steht
und in ihre Lieder einstimmt. Der irdische Gottesdienst aber, den der Apokalypti-
ker wohl als Spiegelbild des himmlischen begreift, ist der Ort, an dem sich die
Gemeinde proleptisch in diese Situation versetzt ".
59. The hymn in 12, 10-12 is decidedly retrospective and, in v. 12, prospective.
The peculiarity here is not a shift from ' anticipation ' to prospective view, but rather
the fact that in vv. 10-11 the martyrs are suddenly associated with God and his
Christ in a struggle which is situated in heaven.
60. Cf. also the reflections ofHAHN, Zum Aujbau, pp. 151-152.
61. Cf. also" Lord God Almighty »» in 11, 17 and 15,2 and the motif of king-
ship in both passages.
62. Otherwise W. HADORN, Die Offenbarung des Johannes (Theol. Hand-
komm. NT), Leipzig, 1928, p. 126, according to whom a heavenly event is meant
here. Cf. KRAFT, Offenbarung, p. 161: "Die Zeitlage der hier genannten Heilstaten
Gottes stimmt nicht mit der irdischen Geschichte überein. Denn die himmlische
Wirklichkeit ist auf Erden noch nicht sichtbar geworden ". It would seem that this is
the situation of 12, 7-12.
63. L'Apocalypse, pp. 167-169. Of course, Allo knows that for the reader the
author's past tense is future reality, but Allo thinks here of the story sequence. Some
exegetes connect this interpretation with their view of the twofold structure of
A STRUcrURATION OF REV 4, 1-22,5 101

passage still deals - at least partially - with future events. R.H. Charles,
e.g. comments : "The heavenly voices (v. 15) celebrate the divine conquest
ofthe world as ifit were already achieved. The words are therefore prolep-
tic, as are those ofthe thanksgiving ofthe 24 Elders in 11, 16-18" 64.
Some data in the passage seems to suggest that to a great extent the
events presented as past in fact are not only 'prophecy' in the readers'
history but also' prolepsis, anticipation ' as far as the story-line is concer-
ned. How can we explain this ?
K.-J. Jöms assumes that in v. l5cd ~ytvEtO it ßacrtAEia is retrospective.
This proc1amation is areaction to what the first six trumpets have brought
about. God's kingly rule over the world has begun: "Ein Drittel des
Kosmos ist durch die vorausgegangenen Plagen der Posaunenvisionen
bereits zerstört. Der Herrschaftsantritt Gottes hat schon begonnen. Es
stehen also Teilrealisierung und Vorgriff auf die Vollendung nebeneinan-
der" 65. But is ~ytvEtO not even more retrospective with regard to the
sounding of the seventh trumpet (v. 15a)? And since the seventh trumpet
contains in nuce the rest of the book (cf. 10, 7), the whole of v. 15 is in
essence decidedly prospective, ~ytvEtO itself still anticipatory. That - and
how - the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of God and his
Christ will be extensively depicted in the following chapters.
The verb EtAT]<pac; of v. 17 is probably to be taken as areal perfect and
the aorist ~ßacriAEucrac; seems to be inceptive (" you have begun to
reign ") 66. These two verbs are c1early proleptic 67. Prolepsis is equally
present at the beginning ofv. 18 68 . But the verb f]AeEv has, besides it 6Qyf],
also 6 KUlQ6C; as subject. f]AeEV ... 6 KUlQ6C; and the three infinitives KQlei']-
Vul, ÖOÜVul and öla<peEiQUl which depend on KUlQ6C;, are suddenly no

Revelation. The first section of the visionary part ends here. L. CERFAUX-J. CAM-
BIER, L 'Apocalypse de saint Jean lue aux Chrhiens (Lect. Div., 17), Paris, 1955, p. 99,
write with regard to 11, 15-19: "Finale pathetique ! On s'imaginerait aisement une
Apocalypse se terminant sur cette vision ouverte sur l'eternite ".
64. The Revelation of St. John (Int. Crit. Comm.), Edinburgh, Vol. I, 1920,
p. 294. Cf. W. BOUSSET, Die Offenbarung Johannis (Meyer), Göttingen, 6th ed.,
1906, p. 331 : " Es liegt auch hier ( = v. 15) eine völlige Prolepsis vor. .. ".
65. Das hymnische Evangelium, p. 92 ; cf. also p. 105.
66. For G. MUSSIEs, The Morphology of Koine Greek as Used in the Apocalypse
of St. John. A Study in Bilingualism (SuppINT, 27), Leiden, 1971, p. 265, n. I, this
concomitant aorist could have a perfective value.
67. Note also the absence of 6 tQX6IlEVOC; in v. 17a. VANNI, Struttura, p. 159,
comments: " ... la sua omissione induce a supporre che il futuro non esiste piu ".
68. The grammatical construction is co-ordinate. While in the translation the
second Kui can be omitted, the first has a causal-temporal sense; dlQyicr9"crav is
best translated as a pluperfect so as to express its anteriority vis-a-vis ~A9EV:
"(Since) the waters had raged, thy wrath came". Cf. MUSSIES, Morphology, p. 271 :
the "confective" aorist cOQyicr9"cruv is very elose to a pluperfect. See also JÖRNS,
Das hymnische Evangelium, pp. 100-101, for a similar, yet somewhat differing view.
102 J. LAMBRECHT

longer proleptic. The time has already arrived for those events to hap-
pen 69. V. l8cd does not present an anticipatory survey. With v. l8cd and,
no doubt, also with v. 19, we are back on the line ofthe story, back into the
narrative development.
To be sure, the sounding of the seventh trumpet brings the narrative in
proximity to the end, i.e. to the final completion. And precisely this justi-
fied the use of proleptic tenses in vv. 15 and 17-18. It appears, however,
that the author respected the peculiar structure of his work: the second
half of v. 18 and the whole of v. 19 suggest that he realized how at this
particular juncture in his book the last phase of events only starts.

b) 15,1-16,1

A useful comparison of Rev 15, 1-16, 1 with 8, 2-6 (A 2 3 4) can be


made 70. In A 2 3 24 the second element (15, 1 and 5-8) is doubled in a
rather strange way : while in vv. 1 and 6 the seven angels already have the
plagues, in v. 7 they are given bowls full of God's wrath.
Wh at about the third element? Both 8, 3-5 and 15, 2-4 contain a liturgi-
cal event in heaven. In 8, 3-5 the prayers of the saints, mingled with the
smoke of the incense, rise before God ; they are the martyrs' prayers for
vengeance (see 7, 9-11) ; they seem to be heard since in v. 5 the throwing of
the censer with fire inaugurates God's punishment. In 15, 2-4 we have the
" song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb ", sung by
those who emerge victorious over the Beast. Who are these people ? We
are reminded of 14, 1-5 where the 144.000 on Mount Zion are distinguis-
hed from the saints in heaven. The ' new song' of these last cannot be
learned except QY those who have been redeemed from the earth. It would
seem that in 15, ~ the expression 'Wu<; vlKronu<; 71 points in a proleptic way
to the presence ofthe 144,000 in heaven.

69. See also the present participle ötu<p9dQovta<;, end v. 18. CHARLES, Revela-
tion, I, pp. 295-296, points out that v. 18 is prospective and corresponds with pas-
sages from chs. 19-22: "There is progressive movement in these words - the
recognition of a development of events in their true order. After the dose of the
Millennial Kingdom mentioned in the preceding verse the song refers to the twofold
uprising of nations ('tu l:9vT] cbQytcr9T]cruv: cf. 19, 19; 20, 8-9ab), and their destruc-
tion (i'jA9Ev TJ oQYTJ crou: cf. 19,21; 20, 9c), the judgment of the dead (0 KUtQO<; 'tmv
vEKQmv KQt9fjvut: cf. 20, 11-15), the final recompense of all the righteous in the
New Jerusalem, which together with the new heaven and the new earth should
become their etemal abode (Kui öoßVUt 'tov Iltcr90v wi<; ÖOUAOt<; crou ... 'tOi<; IltKQoi<;
Kui 'tOi<; W:yo.AOt<;, cf. 21, 1-4; 22, 3-5)".
70. Cf. BORNKAMM, Komposition, pp. 208-209; STRAND, Chiastic Structure,
pp. 406-407.
71. That this verb refers back, not only to the " saints " of 8, 3-5 (and thus of 7,
9-17 and 6, 9-11), but also to the 144,000 sealed (7, 1-8; 14, 1.3-5) is suggested by the
object of" God conquered over", viz. " the Beast and its image and the number of
A STRUCTURATION OF REV 4, 1-22,5 103

Anticipation was already evident in the proleptic aorist e'tEMcr911 of 15,


I : with the seven plagues God's wrath is ended ; the ultimate outcome is
viewed as already achieved. The beginning of the hymn in v. 3 is equally
proleptic. This, however, no longer appears to be so in v. 4. With " who
shall not fe ar and glorify thy name, 0 Lord ? .. ", notwithstanding
e<pavEgffi911crav (end v. 4), the story-line again emerges 72, very much as
was the case in 11, 17-18 from v. 18c onward. Wh at follows in 15,5 (the
temple is opened) suggests that this prospective point of time is not essen-
tially different from that of 11, 19 (the temple is opened). Aland A 2
belong together ! The aorists in vv. 5-8, like döov in v. la, are the normal
vision-tenses which point to events in the imminent future.
A elose study of this hymnic material as weIl as of the so-called interca-
lations seems to confirm the author's perculiar, yet captivating structura-
tion of the visionary part of his work, the Book of Revelation.

4. CONCLUSION

Is our outline "jusLone more subjective enterprise " 73 ? We think not.


Through his encompassing technique the author of Rev combines recapit-
ulation and progression, and it was just this essential feature of his compo-
sition which had to be made visible in the outline. Moreover, it would seem
that our stratified presentation can prove that the visionary part of Rev is
by no means a patchwork of unconnected traditions but an impressive
coherent whole 74, the work indeed of a great mind.
Of course, the author has made use of various tradition al mythical
elements and has often woven different Scriptural references together. But,
from all this he created his own new and powerful interpretation of world
his tory and its end. In his composistion there is, no doubt, much paral-
lelism and symmetry. Yet, redactionally speaking, a strictly linear, chron-
ological reading is needed. Repetition itself functions as gradation. This is
most evident both within each series of the plagues and within the three
series as a whole. The trumpets are worse than the seals, the bowls are
worse than the trumpets. The utilization of Ex increases ; the motif of the

its name" : all data which in ch. 13 serve to depict the persecution of the Christians
stillliving on earth.
72. JÖRNS, Das Hymnische Evangelium, p. 138, calls the whole of 15, 3b-4
proleptic: " Auch dieser Hymnus dient... dazu, noch vor Beginn der Katastrophen,
die nun die totale Dimension annehmen werden, Evangelium zu verkünden ... Der
Hymnus ... greift... weit über den Kontext hinaus ".
73. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Composition, p. 365.
74. Cf. the still too minimalistic opinion of SWEET, Revelation, p. 44 : " ... in our
view the author was in general control of his materials, and a loose structure can be
discerned ".
104 J. LAMBRECHT

refusal of repentanee oeeurs with greater frequeney in the bowls; judg-


ment against the enemies intensifies. While the seals and the trumpets only
announee eatastrophes, the bowls whieh are full of God's wrath are the
very instruments eausing the plagues. The last bowl is the end. This grada-
tion includes progress. Moreover, the whole visionary part is eharaeterized
by temporal development 75. Within it, the Seer deseribes a fortlaufendes
Geschehen (Hahn): from the ever more severe punishment for God's
enemies to salvation for the perseeuted Christians.
The very question thus does not lie on the literary level but on that of
future reality. Are not the three septets of inereasing plagues, preeisely
beeause of both their frequeney and their repetitive eharaeter, meant by
the author to suggest that his literary presentation does not equal literal
eoneretization in future history ? If the answer to this question is yes - and
we think it is - the repetition feature is intended by lohn to weaken the
straightforwardness ofhis presentation. Through this feature he wams as it
were his readers that future historieal realization will not neeessarily follow
his literary artifieial propheey 76.
The author's grandiose message is prophetie. It announees God's final
vietory ; it is intended for his fellow Christians as waming information, as a
summons to perseveranee, and as eneouragement. The all-important
theme of his writing is that God is the mightier One and that lesus Christ,
the Lamb that was slain, has already eonquered 77.

Waversebaan 220 lan LAMBRECHT S. l.


8-3030 Leuven (Heverlee)

75. Cf. ALLO, L'Apocalypse, p. XCIII. LEVIE, L'Apocalypse, p. 600, e.g. writes:
"Une des decouvertes les plus interessantes, les plus captivantes, que fait tout
lecteur attentif de I'Apocalypse, est de voir se substituer au chaos tumultueux qu'il
attendait, un ordre rigoureux, une remarquable progression dramatique " ; see also
p.606.
76. By e.g. twice mentioning " the great river Euphrates" (sixth trumpet : 9, 14;
and sixth bowl : 16, 12) John seems to suggest that not two separate historical events
are to be expected. On the other hand, in 9, 14-15 the (same?) four angels, who were
retained in 7, 1-3, i.e. after or within (?) the sixth seal, are released, and the sixth
bowl is c1imactic over against the sixth trum pet : all this again proves the progres-
sion on the literary level.
77. The methodically sound book of J.M. COURT, Myth and History in the Book
of Revelation, London, 1979, reached us after the completion of this study. Accord-
ing to Court's ordering of the plagues (see chapter three, The Plagues Sequences,
pp. 43-83, there is " no system of recapitulation, but a consecutive account of the
his tory of salvation and judgement " (p. 81). He holds that " each of the first five
seals relates to an issue of concern for the churches of Asia Minor in the reign of
Domitian " (p. 160); the Seer then moves from local and past or centemporary
coneerns to eosmie and future expeetations: sixth seal, six trumpets (meant as
prophetie eall to repentanee), seven bowls (systematic punishment and vindication).
Apokalypsis and Propheteia
The Book of Revelation
in the Context
of Early Christian Prophecy

In recent years scholars have paid renewed attention to the phenome-


non and institution of early Christian prophecy 1. Not only form-critical
and tradition-historie al studies have attempted to recover genuine prophet-
ie expressions within the NT texts but history of religions and redactional-
theological analyses have also sought to delineate the historical impact and
theological significance of early Christian prophecy. Far from being con-
clusive these studies have highlighted the illusive character of early Chris-
tian prophecy. Scholarly investigations are severely limited not only by the
sparsity of sources for early Christi an as weIl as contemporary Jewish and
Greco-Roman prophecy, but also by the theological presuppositions and
theoretical models used for the historical reconstruction of these sources.
Theologically scholars have tended to insist on the word- and kerygma-
character of early Christian prophecy and theoretically they have em-
ployed the Pauline understanding of prophecy to construct the model of
genuine early Christian prophecy. Methodologically scholars have formu-
lated a fairly comprehensive definition of prophecy 2 as a yard-stick for
early Christian texts that speak of prophecy.

* The research for this paper was supported by a NEH summer grant.
\. Cf. especially the contributions in J. PANAGOPOULOS (ed.), Prophetie Vocation
in the New Testament and Today (NTSuppl, 45), Leiden, 1977; the introductory
discussions in G. DAUTZENBERG, Urchristliche Prophetie. Ihre Erforschung, ihre
Voraussetzungen im Judentum und ihre Struktur im ersten Korintherbrief (BWANT,
104), Stuttgart, 1975, pp. 15-41; U.B. MÜLLER, Prophetie und Predigt im Neuen
Testament (SNT, 10), Gütersloh, 1975, pp. 11-19; E. COTHENET, Prophetisme dans le
NT, in DB Suppl, VIII (1972), cols. 1222-1337; J. REILING, Hermas and Christian
Prophecy (NTSuppl, 37), Leiden, 1973; E.E. ELLIS, Prophecy in the Early Church, in
IDB Suppl. Vol. (1976) 700f; and the discussion ofthe SBL seminary group on early
Christian prophecy; cf. the SBL 1973 and 1974 Seminar Papers (Scholars Press).
2. Cf. the working definition of " prophet" within the Hellenistic world dis-
cussed by the SBL seminar. See M.E. BORING, What are We Looking For?, in SBL
1973 Seminar Papers, Vol. 11, pp. 142-154 and the review of this discussion by
BORING, The Apocalypse as Christian Prophecy, in SBL 1974 Seminar Papers,
Vol. 11, pp. 43-62, especially note 5.
106 E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA

Since Rev very explicitly claims to be a work of early Christian proph-


ecy one would expect that scholars would study the book as a primary
source for early Christian prophecy. Yet for the most part this is not the
case. Rigid differentiations between OT-Jewish and early Christian proph-
ecy, between apocalypticism and prophecy, and between prophecy as
kerygmatic event and as visionary-ecstatic expression prevent the analysis
of Rev as a source for the historical reconstruction of early Christian
prophecy in Asia Minor at the end of the first century CE. The question as
to whether Rev is a genuine work of early Christian prophecy is cut off
too quickly because of the assumption that as an apocalyptic, visionary
account Rev cannot be at the same time a literary expression of early
Christian prophecy. Moreover, the so-called " Jewish" character of the
book leads to its classification with Old Testament prophecy or Jewish
apocalypticism. Therefore even the most recent commentaries on Rev do
not situate the work in the context of early Christian prophecy 3 but only
discuss it with reference to Jewish apocalyptic literature. This refusal to
accept John's apokalypsis Jesou Christou as a paradigm of early Christian
prophecy is summed up in the following statement:
" ... there is no word or passage in the New Testament whieh ean in
my opinion, be classified beyond doubt or question as prophetie
utteranee. The one possible exeeption is the eontent of the book of
Reve1ation and espeeially the letters of Rev. 2-3 : but the words of
lohn, and indeed his experienee ... are so remarkably unlike those of
other New Testament speakers or writers and so strikingly like those
of the Old Testament prophets that one may be justified in regarding
hirn as unique : at the very least it is unwise to regard hirn as typieal
ofNew Testament prophets " 4.
Although scholars may differ in the exegesis of specific passages in Rev,
they do not doubt that the book speaks about prophets and prophecy. Not
exegetical analysis but the overall interpretation and evaluation of the
exegetical-historical information is a matter of dispute. Those scholars who
acknowledge Rev as a work of Christian prophecy attribute it to the primi-
tive church in Palestine or Syria because of its Jewish-apoealyptic charac-
ter. Even though the final redaction of Rev addresses Christian communi-
ti es living in an originally Pauline missionary area, Rev's relationship to

3. An exception is the popular commentary of G.R. BEASLEy-MuRRAY, The


Book 0/ Revelation, London, rev. ed., 1978, pp. 19-29. F. ROUSSEAU, L'Apoealypse
et le milieu prophhique du NT, Montreal, 1971, is more concerned with the struc-
tUTe and redactional history of Rev and therefore diseusses only in very general
terms Revelation in the context of early Christian propheey (cf. pp. 130-146).
O. BäcHER, Die Johannesapokalypse (EdF, 41), Darmstadt, 1975, does not mention
prophet/prophecy or Rev's position in the context of early Christian theology as a
special concern of scholarly diseussion.
4. D. HILL, Christian Prophets as Teaehers or Instruetors in the Chureh, in
J. PANAGOPOULOS (ed.), Prophetie Voeation, pp. 108-130, esp. p. 130.
APOKALYPSIS AND PROPHETEIA 107

the Post-Pauline or other Christian traditions of Asia Minor is virtually not


diseussed. Yet our informations about New Testament and early Christian
propheey for the most part comes from this area.
The paper will therefore raise the question whether the historieal-theo-
logical claim of Rev to be a prophetie expression of early Christianity in
Asia Minor is justified. However before this question ean be fruitfully
explored, it has to be diseussed whether or not the author of Rev ean be
grouped among the Christian prophets and whether his book is a genuine
expression of early Christian propheey. The first seetion of the paper
therefore will diseuss whether John is to be grouped with the OT prophets
and understood as similar to the Teaeher of Righteousness at Qumran. The
second part will raise the question whether the sharp distinetion between
early Christian propheey as refleeted in the Pauline letters and propheey in
Rev ean be maintained. Finally the last seetion will attempt to develop an
interpretational-heuristie model that ean understand Rev in the eontext of
early Christian propheey in Asia Minor at the end of the first eentury CE.
This model will ehallenge the exclusive alternatives" prophetie or apoea-
lyptie, Old Testament or early Christian propheey, Paul or Revelation,
Palestine or Asia Minor " underlying the seholarly evaluations and eon-
struetive models for early Christian propheey.

I. Revelation's Affinity to Old Testament Prophecy

In his various eontributions David Hill 5 has insisted that John is very
mueh like the prophets of the OT beeause his work is coneerned with
salvation history and the interpretation of the OT. Like the classieal
prophets and in partieular the Teaeher of Righteousness at Qumran John
claims an authority whieh sets hirn apart from the Christian prophets and
plaees hirn above the Christian eommunity. In order to evaluate this thesis,
its theologieal presuppositions and exegetical postulates must be examined.

First: It is claimed that John's self-understanding and authority is not


that of an early Christian prophet but is more like that of the classieal
prophets. His affinity with the Old Testament prophets is evident in John's
use of Seripture. The allusions to Old Testament texts, espeeially to those
of the classical prophets intend " to show that the history of the ehureh
unfolds in eonformity with the witness of Seripture" 6. Therefore HilI
agrees with Feuillet 7 that Rev represents a re-reading (une relecture) ofthe

5. Ibid., pp. 119-122; Prophecy and Prophets in the Revelation 0/ St John, in


NTS 18 (1971-1972) 401-418; On the Evidence 0/ the Creative Role 0/ Christian
Prophets, in NTS 20 (1973-1974) 262-274, esp. pp. 269f.
6. Prophecy and Prophets, p. 417.
7. A. FEUILLET, L'Apocalypse: Etat de la question, Paris, 1963, p. 65.
108 E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA

Old Testament in the light of the Christ event. This understanding of Rev
as a Christian interpretation of the Old Testament is also shared by
H. Kraft who maintains :
" Wenn man einmal weiss, dass die Johannesapokalypse nichts sein
will als Auslegung des Alten Testamentes, dann wird man auch jede
Erklärung von Einze1fragen danach beurteilen, ob sie dieser grundle-
genden Beziehung hinreichend Rechnung trägt" 8.
However one must ask whether the author of Rev was really interested
in adding an " inspired volume " to the traditional prophetie corpus and in
proving that the " OT prophecies are fulfilled in the events in which he
and his fellow Christians are involved ". It speaks against such an hypothe-
sis that the author of Rev does not onee introduce his OT materials with a
formula eitandi nor does he correctly quote them. In the whole book we
find only one explicit reference to the OT. In 15, 3 it is stated : " They sing
the song of Moses, the servant of God ". Yet the song which follows is not
conneeted in any literary way with the song of Moses in Ex 15 or Dt 32, but
is an amalgamation of various OT themes. Therefore Rev does not even
onee quote the OT. John uses OT text as he uses Jewish apoealyptie, pagan
mythologieal or early Christian materials in an allusive " anthologieal"
way. He does not interpret the OT but uses its words, images, phrases and
patterns as a language arsenal in order to make his own theologieal state-
ment or express his own prophetie vision. He takes over whole OT text
sequenees as patterns for his own original eompositions but never refers to
the OT as authoritative Seripture. Although HilI aeknowledges that Rev
refers to the OT prophetie books " allusively" and "not by direet eita-
tion ", he nevertheless likens Rev's use of Seripture to the Seriptural expo-
sition in Aets. However he negleets to note that in Aets 13, 14-43 the OT is
employed quite explieitly.
His conclusion that although a prophet of the "NT era ", John should
be understood as similar to the Teaeher ofRighteousness at Qumran, must
also be questioned. While the Teaeher of Righteousness had the authority
to give a " definitive elueidation of the revelation given to Moses and to
the words of the prophets (IQpHab 7, 4f)", Rev does not claim the same
authority for John. A eomparison between the two very similar passages
1QpHab 7, 4f and Rev 10, 7 ean elueidate this. Aeeording to 1QpHab 7, 4f
God had revealed to the prophet Habakkuk the esehatologieal events but
not the end of time; God has made known however to the Teaeher of
Righteousness " all the mysteries of the words of is servants, the proph-
ets ". The parallel passage 1QpHab 2, 5-10 also stresses that God ap-
pointed the Teaeher of Righteousness so that he eould interpret all the
words of the prophets who have announeed the events of the last days.

8. H. KRAFT, Zur Offenbarung des Johannes, in ThRNF38 (1973) 81-98, p. 85.


APOKALYPSIS AND PROPHETElA 109

Thus the prophetie aetivity of the Teaeher of Righteousness eonsists in the


knowledge and interpretation of the mysteries of God proclaimed by the
classieal prophets 9.
Rev does not attribute to lohn the same prophetie authority. lohn's task
is not the exposition and interpretation of the OT prophets but the pro-
phetie proclarnation about many peoples, kings and nations. At the sound
of the seventh trumpet " the mystery of God as he announeed to his ser-
vants the prophets " will be fulfilled (Rev 10, 7). Rev does not distinguish
either between lohn and the prophets or between the OT and Early
Christi an prophets. The observation that Rev's use of Seripture resembles
that of Qumran is eorreet. However Rev shares this use of Seripture not
just with Qumran but also with other apoealyptie writings.
"This 'anthologieal' style is not foeused on Seripture itself. Onee
again Seripture is only a language. And indeed in any given part of
the broad framework, the apoealyptie teaehing c10aked in this ' an-
thological' style is struetured by events of the eontemporary history
of the author... " 10.
Therefore Rev's use of the OT links it to lewish apoealyptie and early
Christian propheey. The author of Rev is not bent on the exposition and
explieation of the OT as authoritative Seripture. Not the OT prophets but
his own historical-theologieal situation is the loeus of revelation. Yet exaet-
ly in using the OT in such an apocalyptie 'anthologieal' fashion Rev
proves to be a genuine expression of early Christian prophecy. Aceording
to K. Stendahl the apocalyptic style rests on the conviction that "the
prophetie spirit ereates ; it does not quote in order to teaeh or argue "11.
Therefore early Christian propheey has to be distinguished from early
Christian homily and exegesis 12. Whereas early Christian homily foeuses
on the interpretation and exposition of Scripture and tradition, early
Christi an propheey announces judgment or salvation. While the homily is
the interpretation of the divine word in Seripture, propheey claims to be
the revelation and authority of the Kyrios. lohn's use of the OT therefore
characterizes Rev not as an exposition of classical prophecy but as a
genuine early Christian prophetic-apocalyptic writing. As the " words of
prophecy ", Rev does not aim at didactic instruction but at prophetie
proclarnation that uses among other language-materials also the classical

9. Cf. the translation of G. VERMES, The Dead Sea Serolls in English (Pelican),
Harmondsworth, 1968, pp. 236-239, and the discussion in DAUTZENBERG, Urchrist-
liche Prophetie, pp. 62ff, far the literature.
10. D. PATTE, Early Jewish Hermeneutic in Palestine (SBL Diss., 22), Missoula,
1975, p. 172.
11. K. STENDAHL, The School 01 St. Matthew and Its Use 01 the Old Testament,
Philadelphia, 2nd. ed., 1968, p. 159.
12. For this distinetion cf. U. B. MÜLLER, Prophetie und Predigt, pp. 237~239.
110 E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA

prophets. The allusions of Rev to the OT are an indication that Rev shares
in the style and conviction of apocalyptic literature.

Second: Nevertheless Hill maintains that Rev is not apocalyptic in


character. Although John takes over the " apparatus of apocalyptic ", the
book is not an apocalyptic work but similar to OT prophecy. Not apoca-
lyptic pessimism that views the present time as evil and corrupt but the
idea of Heilsgeschichte underlies its view of history. Whereas the prophetic
vocation interprets history as Heilsgeschichte, the apocalyptic perspective is
interested " only in the last generation and the events immediately preced-
ing the end" 13. Although he concedes that it is almost impossible to
distinguish adequately between apocalypticism and prophecy, he accepts
G. von Rad's 14 delineation and definition ofthe two phenomena.Accord-
ing to von Rad the apocalyptists were not concerned with God's action in
history, whereas the prophets understood history and their own time as the
locus of God's revelation and action. According to this distinction Rev is
clearly an expression of prophecy insofar as the author speaks to his own
time and community. Nevertheless Rev is according to this distinction also
an expression of apocalypticism since the author is interested in history
only as the last time before the end. It seems therefore doubtful that this
distinction which von Rad formulated with respect to classical prophecy
and Jewish apocalypticism can also be used to differentiate between early
Christian prophecy and apocalypticism, especially since in New Testament
times Jewish apocalyptic writers understood themselves as prophets.
I have shown elsewhere that the main concern of Rev is not salvation
history but eschatology 15. History is completely submerged in eschatology
and receives its significance from the imminent end. In line with Jewish
apocalyptic literature John characterizes his own situation and his tory as
unjust and evil, a time of powerlessness and persecution. He does not
merely use the style and language of Jewish apocalypticism but also shares
the apocalyptic mood and pessimistic evaluation of the present world and
his tory. Nevertheless in distinction to Jewish apocalypticism John does not
explain the tribulations and sufferings of the present time with reference to
the fact that time and world have become old and are reaching their end (4
Esd 5, 55), but rather with reference to the fact that the Christians are
redeemed from the nations. Yet not so much John's conviction that God
intervenes on behalf of God's people in history as proclaimed by the OT
prophets, but rather his belief that the end time has been inaugurated in the

13. D. HILL, Prophecy and Prophets, p. 405.


14. G. VON RAD, Theology ofthe Old Testament, H, London, 1965, pp. 303ff. ; cf.
also W.R. MURDOCK, History and Revelation in Jewish Apocalypticism, in Interp 21
(1967) 167-187.
15. Cf. my article The Eschatology and Composition of the Apocalypse, in CBQ
30 (1968) 537-569.
APOKALYPSIS AND PROPHETEIA 111

death and resurreetion of Jesus Christ eonstitutes the heart and inspiration
of his propheey. Not beeause of his eoneeption of Heilsgeschichte but
beeause of his Christology John ean discard pseudonymity, ex eventu
propheey, and surveys of world history. John's authority as a prophet is
derived preeisely from his apoealyptieally eoneeived Christology. It is Jesus
Christ, the first-born of the dead 16, from whom the author reeeives the
" words of propheey " announeing the imminent end of history and tribu-
lation. Rev's understanding of propheey is apoealyptie insofar as it is
bound to the imminent return of the resurreeted Lord who now speaks to
the Christi an eommunity through the prophets. Its theologieal impact
derives from the apoealyptie eonvietion of living in the last times and of
the impending esehatologieal salvation in the very near future.
This apoealyptie-prophetie eonvietion of Rev is expressed not only
eontentually but also formally in the strueture of the book. The literary
strueture and visionary aeeounts of Rev do not follow a ehronologieal but a
topicalorder 17. Sinee Rev does not progress in historieal-sueeessive fash-
ion but reveals in ever new images and visions the present time of the
eommunity as the esehatologieal end-time, it is impossible to reeonstruet a
historieal-ehronologieal development of events. The prophetie visions and
auditions of Rev are not predietions of future events nor are they ealcula-
tions of the end-time. Esehatologieal vision and apoealyptie propheey have
the funetion to strenghten and eonsole the Christian eommunity experiene-
ing perseeution and suffering beeause of its witness to God's and Christ's
power and kingship in this world.

Third : The seholarly alternative, either prophetie or apoealyptie, that is


derived from the diseussion of Jewish apoealyptie origins should not be
applied to Rev. As the " words of propheey" the book is rooted in early
Christian apoealyptie experienee and eonvietion. Apoealyptie language
and imagery are not just Einkleidung but they are eonstitutive for the
theologieal perspeetive and self-understanding of Rev as early Christian
propheey.
Nevertheless the exclusive alternative formulation "either (OT)
prophetie or apoealyptie" eontinues to muddle seholarly diseussions of
Rev. In his influential article on propheey and prophets in TDNT, G. Fried-
rieh claims that Rev marks the transition from early Christian propheey
to apoealyptie. Rev's view of propheey is radieally different from that of

16. Rev 1,5 cf. also Col I, 18b and I Cor 15, 20. In the inaugural vision Christ is
characterized as the one " who died and is alive " and who has the " keys of death
and Hades" (I, 18 ; cf. 2, 8) For the importance of the resurrection-faith for the
development of early Christian apocalyptic, cf. my forthcoming artic1e The Elusive
Presence. The Phenomenon o[ Early Christian Apocalyptic.
17. Cf. my articies, Eschatology and Composition, pp. 560-569 and Composition
and Structure o[the Revelation o[ John, in CBQ 39 (1977) 344-366.
112 E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA

the Pauline letters wich express the " authentie" understanding of early
Christian prophecy. Whereas paraenesis is central for early Christian
prophecy in the Pauline literature, predictions are the center of the pro-
phetic-apocalyptic work of John.
" The many visions and auditions make him more of an apocalyptic
seer than a primitive Christian prophet. The prophet is very different
in Paul. He certainly receives revelations but he is not characterized
by visions and auditions which transport hirn out of the world. His
chief mark is the Word which God had given hirn to proclaim. The
prophet in the Pauline congregations is not the seer but the recipient
and the preacher ofthe Word " 18.
P. Vielhauer's somewhat ambivalent treatment and evaluation of Rev
also maintains adefinite seperation between apocalyptists and prophets.
" As far as their vocation is concemed, the prophets were not Apoca-
lyptists but charismatic leaders of the churches, and the se er John did
not compose the Apocalypse in his capacity as prophet - for the
other prophets mentioned by hirn wrote no such books - but at the
direct command of the exalted Lord, and that means with authentie
prophetie consciousness " 19.
However Vielhauer does not elaborate how John could have written
Rev " with authentie prophetie consciousness " but not in " his capacity as
a prophet". Such contradictory statements seem to be due to the widely
accepted scholarly assumption that the early Christian prophets could not
have been seers and apocalyptists even though the seer John claims to be
an early Christian prophet and his work is the only extensive extant source
of early Christian prophecy.
D. Hill takes over Vielhauer's characterization of Rev. Although he
concludes his analysis of early Christi an prophecy with the statement that
we cannot identify any early Christian utterance with certainty as a
prophetie utterance, he nevertheless maintains that the words of Rev are
"remarkably unlike those of other New Testament speakers or writers ".
In distinetion to the author of Rev the prophets in the Pauline churches
were community prophets and did not believe themselves " ealled to add
any inspired volume to the prophetie corpus". Because of his interest in
proving that John was unlike any other early Christian prophet, he accepts
the foregone conclusion that the early Christian prophets were not apoca-
lyptic seers but community prophets and as such they did not write
prophetie books 20.

18. G. FRIEDRICH, in TDNTVI, p. 851.


19. P. VIELHAUER, Introduction, in HENNECKE-SCHNEEMELCHER, New Testament
Apocrypha, 11, Philadelphia, 1965, p. 607.
20. HILL, Prophecy and Prophets, pp. 415ff.
APOKALYPSIS AND PROPHETEIA 113

However our extant sources on early Christian propheey do not provide


suffieient information to setde this question with eertainty. The assumption
of the form erities that prophetie expressions must always be short oraeular
utteranees and that Schriftlichkeit is the hallmark dividing prophecy from
apoealyptie eannot be substantiated. We know that contemporary Jewish
apoealyptie writers understood themselves and their works in terms of
prophecy 21. At the time of the NT the works of the classical prophets had
long been written down and had become Seripture. Because OT classieal
propheey was known as "literary propheey ", the writers of apocalyptie
works eould understand their aetivity and authority as a eontinuation of
that of the classieal prophets. Literary aetivity eonstitutes only a differenee
in degree but does not destroy the prophetie eharaeter of apocalyptie
works 22.
The claim of Rev to be early Christian propheey has therefore to be
taken seriously. Its main objeetive is not the re-interpretation of the OT
Seriptures nor the ealculation of the end-time events, but the prophetie
eommunieation of the apokalypsis Iesou Christou to the seven eommunities
mentioned. The book's goal is not instruetion in OT-Jewish apoealyptic or
early Christian traditions but prophetie proclamation and paraenesis. Rev
therefore should not be misunderstood as an only slighdy Christianized
form of Jewish apoealyptie theology 23 but must be valued as a genuine

21. IV Ezra 12, 42 stresses: " For of all the prophets thou alone art left to us, as
a cluster out of the vintage, as a lamp in a dark place, as a heaven of safety for a
ship in storm ". In 14, 22 the prophet Ezra prays: "If, then, I have found favor
before thee, send into me the Holy Spirit that I may write all that happened in the
world since the beginnings ". And Ezra is told : " And when thou shalt have finished
some things thou shalt publish, and some thou shalt deliver in secret to the wise.
Tomorrow at this hour thou shalt begin to write" (14, 26). For the translation, cf.
R.H. CHARLES, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, 11, Oxfötd, repr., 1966, pp. 615-622.
Similar injunctions to write are also found in Hen vis 2, 4.2; 5, 1-5; Jub 32, 21-26 ;
Hen 81, 5-7.
22. Cf. G. TUCKER, Prophetie Speech, in Interp 32 (1978) 31-45, esp. pp. 32f:
The prophetie book represents " the final stage in the development of the tradition
and a quite distinct genre of literature with certain typieal features". Cf. also his
Prophetie Superscriptions and the Growth of a Canon, in G.W. COATS, B.O. LONG
(ed.), Canon and Authority. Essays in Old Testament Religion and Theology, Phila-
delphia, 1977, pp. 56-70. The same is pointed out by K. BERGER, Apostelbrief and
apostolische Rede. Zum Formular frühchristlicher Briefe, in ZNW65 (1974) 190-231,
esp. p. 213: "Häufig weisen diese Briefe Formen auf, die sieh nicht von denen
prophetischer Rede im Kontext unterscheiden, und damit besteht bereits hier
zwischen Brief und Rede prinzipiell Kongruenz. Öfter ist der Brief nur Mitteilung
der vorher empfangenen Wortoffenbarung. " Schriftlichkeit is thus a common
characteristicum of the prophetie letters, the apocalypses and the apostolic letters
and underlines their revelatory character.
23. Cf. R. BULTMANN, Theology ofthe New Testament, 11, London, 1955, p. 175 ;
C.H. DODD, The Apostolic Preaching and Its Development, London, 2nd ed., 1944,
pp.40f.
114 E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA

expression of earlyChristian prophecy whose basic experience and self-


understanding is apocalyptic. If this is the case then we must understand
Rev in the context of early Christian theology and community.

11. Rev and Early Christian Prophecy

Those scholars who acknowledge Rev as early Christian apocalyptic


prophecy tend to regard it as an alien element in the theological context of
Asia Minor. Rev's Sitz im Leben is a Jewish-Christian conventicle whose
traditions are those of the primitive Christian community of Jerusalem or
of Palestine-Syria. Therefore, Rev does not reflect the theology and com-
munity structures of the Christian church in Asia Minor at the end of the
first century CE.
According to Akira Satake 24 the Christian community understood the
community prophets within the framework of Jewish-apocalyptic tradi-
tions. Like the wise of Jewish apocalypticism they transmit and interpret
the OT-Jewish traditions. Whereas the existence of the community
prophets is due to Jewish apocalypticism, the self-understanding of John is
clearly determined by the revelation of the resurrected Lord. The commu-
nities of Rev therefore can be characterized as a " Jewish Christian con-
venticle" whose traditions and prophecy are rooted in Jewish' apocalypti-
cism and whose structures preserve the primitive Christian community
order of the church in Palestine.
His review of the Christian community order found in Acts, Colossians,
Ephesians, 1 Peter, the Pastoral Epistles, Ignatius, the Johannine Epistles,
and in the letter of Polycarp concludes that one cannot speak of the Chris-
tian community order in Asia Minor. Yet despite the variety in the forms
of church leadership none of these writings reflect a church order similar to
that of Rev where the community prophets appear to be the only official
leaders (Amtsträger) of the churches. Although the church structure of the
Johannine Epistles shows affinities to that of Rev, it is nevertheless dif-
ferent insofar as the Johannine Epistles do not mention prophets as leaders
of the communities.
Such a charismatic leadership of prophets was however present in the
primitive church of Palestine. Acts mentions prophets active in the church
of Jerusalem and in the Jewish-Hellenistic community of Antioch in Syria.
The Logia-source Q and the pre-Matthean tradition also indicates the
leadership of prophets in the primitive Palestinian or Syrian church.
Satake, therefore, conjectures that J ewish-Christians who left Palestine
after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish War have introduced

24. A. SATAKE, Die Gemeindeordnung in der Johannesapokalypse (WMANT, 21),


Neukirchen, 1966.
APOKALYPSIS AND PROPHETEIA 115

their prophetic church order in Asia Minor by founding their own Chris-
tian communities. Satake's study however does not discuss the leadership
of prophets known from the Pauline letters nor does he explore the rela-
tionship of Rev's Jewish-Christian communities to those of the Pauline
mission.
Ulrich Müller's 25 study of the problem therefore correctly points out
against Satake's thesis that the origin and continuation of such a Jewish-
Christi an conventicle is difficult to imagine in the traditionally Pauline
missionary area of Asia Minor. Therefore Müller stands the thesis of
Satake on its head when he claims that not the communities but John and
his prophetic circle represent a primitive Palestinian theology and commu-
nityorder.
" Die Lösung des Problems ergibt sich, wenn man sich klar macht,
dass das Gemeindebild des Propheten Johannes nur die eigene
Anschaung wiedergiebt, nicht aber den wirklichen Zustand in den
Gemeinden. Johannes nennt nur die charismatischen Funktionsträ-
ger der Gemeinde, weil dies seiner Konzeption von Gemeinde, die
aus nicht-kleinasiatischer Tradition stammt, entspricht... Ein Bezug
zu tatsächlichen Vorgängen in den angeschriebenen Gemeinden ist
nicht erkennbar" 26.

This conclusion is based on the assumption that Gemeindeprophetie no


longer existed in the churches of Asia Minor. Therefore he understands
Rev's references to prophets not as references to Christian prophets within
the communities of Asia Minor but to all prophets who mediate eschato-
logical revelation. The author himself was an itinerant prophet and not a
prophetic community leader in Asia Minor. His understanding of the
function of the prophets points to a Sitz im Leben in the primitive commu-
nity of Palestine or Syria reflected e.g. in Matthew or the Didache that is
rooted-in primitive Christian apocalyptic expectations of the imminent
end.
As Bauer 27 and Satake do Müller concludes that Rev's prophetic
apocalyptic theology is an alien element in the theology and community
order of Asia Minor at the end of the first century CE. According to Acts,
the Pastoral Epistles, and especially Ignatius, the Asian church already

25. V.B. MÜLLER, Zurfrühchristlichen Theologiegeschichte. Judenchristentum und


Paulinismus in Kleinasien an der Wende vom ersten zum zweiten Jahrhundert n.Chr.,
Gütersloh, 1976.
26. Ibid., p. 31.
27. W. BAUER, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, Philadelphia,
1971, p. 84: "The Apocalypse does not leave us with a particularly impressive idea
of what sought to replace the Pauline gospel in the ' ecclesiastically oriented ' circles
at Ephesus. Aside from Revelation's being a book of comfort and faith to threat-
ened and persecuted Christi ans, ... there remains for the most part a Jewish Christia-
nity, presumably of Palestinian origin ".
116 E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA

knew institutionalized ecclesial offices and no longer could tolerate a


charismatic, prophetic church leadership. The author of Rev however
differs from the theology of the Asian churches not just in his prophetic
understanding of church leadership but also in his eschatology that is
steeped in OT-apocalyptic traditions and stresses the imminent parousia of
the Lord. lohn re-activates primitive Christian apocalyptic expectations in
order to counter either " realized " eschatology or the growing acceptance
of the delay of the return of Christ. Therefore lohn introduces the early
Christian apocalyptic hyios tou anthropou Christology that was alien to
Christian theology in Asia Minor.
Although U. Müller's attempt to take seriously Rev's claim to Christian
prophecy and to situate the book within the theological context of early
Christian development is rather persuasive, its methodologie al assump-
tions and conclusions are open to question.

First: It is questionable that the letters of Ignatius provide a descriptive


and historieally accurate account of the actual situation in the churches of
Asia Minor at the turn to the 2nd century CE. Since lohn and Ignatius
wrote with only a short interval between each other 28, both cannot reflect
the same church order. Ignatius' empha$is on the authority of the bishops,
presbyters and deacons does not square with the fact that Rev does not
mention any church leaders except the prophets. Since Ignatius does not
mention any prophets within the eommunities of Asia Minor, in his time
prophetic community leadership must have been abandoned or must have
never existed within the Christi an communities of Asia Minor that are
addressed by Ignatius and Rev. Müller therefore maintains that the author
of Rev and his prophetic followers were not community but itinerant
prophets whereas Satake claims that the churches of Rev are as lewish-
Christi an conventicles not identical with those whom Ignatius addresses.
However both scholars do not question the presupposition that Ignatius
reflects the actual episcopal church order of the churches in Asia Minor.
Although this historical assumption is shared by many scholars, it must
be questioned because it does not take seriously the Tendenz and literary-
historical function of the Ignatian letters. Not only does it not take into
account that Ignatius might reflect a Syrian-Palestinian church order and
not the actual situation in Asia Minor, while Rev claims to be at horne in
the Christi an communities of Asia Minor. This assumption also does not
take seriously the polemical character ofIgnatius' 29 (or the Pastoral Epis-

28. Cf. H. KRAFT, Die Offenbarung des Johannes (HNT, 16a), Tübingen, 1974,
pp. 87-94, for a discussion of the community situation reflected in the seven mes-
sages of Rev and in the Ignatian letters.
29. Such an approach to Ignatius is developed in W. SCHOEDEL'S paper Ignatius of
A ntioch and a Social Description of Early Christianity, which he prepared for the
SBL/ AAR Social World ofEarly Christianity group.
APOKALYPSIS AND PROPHETEIA 117

des') emphasis on a non-prophetie ehureh order. Sueh a polemie emphasis


seems to have beeome neeessary not beeause the authority of the bishop or
presbyter was unehallenged but exaet1y because it was not aeeepted
without question. The letters indicate that some eommunities eelebrated
the eueharist and eonducted their eommunallife without paying too much
attention to the bishop.
Although early Christian prophets are not mentioned and propheey
seems to be limited to OT propheey, we find at least one indieation that
Ignatius attempts to claim prophetie aetivity and power for the bishop. In
the letter to the Philadelphians he asserts that he spoke as a prophet in
Philadelphia.
" When I was with you I cried out, I spoke with a loud voice, God's
own voice: 'Pay attention to the bishop and the presbytery and
deacons. ' ... The Spirit made prodamation, saying this : 'Do nothing
apart from the bishop ' ... " 30.

Sinee some members of the eommunity in Philadelphia seem to have


suspeeted this prophetie announeement as a fra ud, Ignatius insists that he
did not reeeive his information about the divisions in the eommunity from
any human being but from the Spirit. It is interesting to note that Ignatius'
prophetie proclamation is in its form very similar to the sterotypieal for-
mula eoncluding the seven messages in Rev 31 : Whoever has ears to hear,
let them hear what " the Spirit says to the ehurehes ". The same formal
elements are also found in the esehatologieal announeement in Rev 14,
13b: " Blessed indeed, says the Spirit... ". Ignatius thus claims prophetie
inspiration and prophetie form for his eentral theologieal emphasis on the
authority of the bishop. He, the bishop, speaks as a prophet. However sueh
a claim to propheey would not have been neeessary ifin the Asian ehurehes
the offiee and funetion of the bishop already had replaeed that of the
.prophet. The opposite seems to be the ease. Only beeause prophets and
propheey had great authority in the Asian ehurehes is it neeessary to legiti-

30. Ignatius, Phi!. VII. 1-2 ; cf. R.M. GRANT, The Apostolic Fathers. Ignatius of
Antioch, IV, London, 1966, pp. 104-105. Cf. also J.L. ASH, Jr., The Decline of Ecstat-
ic Prophecy in the Early Church, in Theological Studies 37 (1976) 227-252, esp.
pp. 234f, who points out that Polycarp as weil as Melito of Sardis - both venerated
bis hops - were considered to have been prophets. He shows that in Asia Minor
Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Montanism had great appreciation for the charisma of
prophecy.
31. Cf. T. HOLTZ, Die Christologie der Apokalypse des Johannes (TU, 85), Berlin,
1962, pp. 208-211 ; F. HAHN, Die Sendschreiben der Johannesapokalypse, in Tradi-
tion und Glaube. Fs. K.G. Kuhn, Göttingen, 1972, pp. 380f; U.B. MÜLLER, Prophetie
und Predigt, pp. 48-56. A direct utterance of the prophetie Spirit is also mentioned in
Rev 22, 17; Acts 13,2; 21, 11 ; 1 Tim 4, I; Herrn. Mand. 11,5.6.8; and Montanism.
For a review of these passages cf. H. WEINEL, Die Wirkungen des Geistes und der
Geister im nachapostolischen Zeitalter bis auf Irenäus, Freiburg, 1899, pp. 83-96.
118 E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA

mate the authority of the bishop as the unifying center of the community
explicity with a " word of prophecy ".
Thus Ignatius' polemic arguments indicate that monarchical episcopacy
only graduaHy captures and re pI aces the office of the prophet and the
authority of prophecy within the churches of Asia MinoT. The last stage in
the composition of the Didache (15, 1-2) 32 reflects the same transition
from dependence on the prophets to the leadership of bis hops and deacons
who perform " the task of the prophets ". The community is admonished
not to disregard or to ignore them since they have the same honorable
standing as the prophets and teachers. Such an appeal becomes, however,
only necessary if the community tends not to acknowledge the authority of
the bishops and deacons as equal to that of the prophets. The fact that Rev
does not mention local officers of the communities and only speaks of
prophetie ecclesial leadership could be a sign that the author and the
communities to whom he writes te nd to disregard and ignore these officers
as unimportant. This would explain why Ignatius has to claim the authori-
ty of God for his demand to respect and obey the bishop.

Second: Crucial for U. MüHer's modification of Satake's interpretation


is his sharp distinction between itinerant and community prophets. As
itinerant prophets lohn and his prophetie circle do not re fleet the actual
situation within the Asian communities. However this widespread distinc-
tion between itinerant and Gemeindepropheten cannot be sustained 33.
Neither the Didache nor Rev itselfsupport this distinction.
The Didache knows of itinerant prophets and apostles who are sup-
posed to stay only one day within the community. Like Rev the Didache
does not clearly distinguish between prophets and apostles but seems to
understand their function to be very similar to that of the teachers. " Implic-
itly at least the 'apostles' are identified with the prophets through the
unexpected use of' false prophet' (not' false apostle ' ... ) in 11, 5-6" 34. As
in Rev so in the Didache the itinerant prophet speaks "en pneumati".
However the Didache is quite clear that the itinerant prophet has the
option of settling down within the community and of becoming a Gemein-
deprophet. If this happens then the community is responsible for the proph-
ets financial support and has to give such a prophet the "first fruit"
offering that was due to the lewish Highpriest. Only if no prophet lives in
their midst, must the community give the first fruits to the poor (13, 1-7).

32. Cf. R.A. KRAFT, The Apostolic Fathers: The Didache and Barnabas, III,
London, 1965, p. 64; J.-P. AUDET, La Didache. Instructions des apo/res, (EB), Paris,
, 1958, pp. 200-206.
33. For this distinction cf. especially A. VON HARNACK, Die Lehre der zwölf
Apostel, nebst Untersuchungen zur ältesten Geschichte der Kirchenverfassung und des
Kirchenrechts (TU, 11, 1-2), Leipzig, 1884, pp. 93-158.
34. R.A. KRAFT, Apostolic Fathers, pp. 170f.
APOKALYPSIS AND PROPHETEIA 119

Rev also knows of itinerant apostles and speaks of a eommunity


prophet who had gathered diseiples around her 35. As the eommunity
addressed by the Didaehe so the ehureh in Asia Minor has the right to test
the itinerant apostles and prophets. The eommunity of Ephesus is eom-
mended that it has rejeeted those itinerant teaehers who eall themselves
apostles. Sinee the eommunity is also praised for hating the Nieolaitans we
ean assume that the itinerant apostles belonged to the prophetie eircle of
the Nieolaitans. Rev's polemies against the adherents of the teaehings of
" Balaam " at Pergamum (2, 14) and against the prophet teaeher at Thya-
tira who is labelled lezebel indicate that the Nieolaitans were aetive in
several of the eommunities to whom Rev is addressed. Both in Pergamum
and in Thyatira they are still members of the eommunity. Although we do
not know mueh about the Nieolaitans, it is obvious that they are a riyal
prophetie group sinee Nieolaus is mentioned among the seven Hellenists of
Aets ofwhom at least four were eonsidered to be prophets by the tradition.
The expression ta tekna autes (2, 23) eharaeterizes lezebel as the head
of a prophetie "sehool ", eircle or "house ehureh "36. The expression
" ehild of someone " must be distinguished from the expression" ehildren
of God " that denotes all Christians. Being a ehild of someone means to
belong to someone's fellowship or to be a diseiple of someone. Thus Paul
ealls the Corinthians, the Galatians, and Onesimus his ehildren beeause
they are his eonverts. In a similar fashion the followers of the prophets are
their "ehildren ". The prophetess lezebel and her diseiples were still an
aetive part of the eommunity at Thyatira in whieh lohn also seems to have
had some at least potential followers (2, 24f). lohn stresses that he has
made attempts to win her over to his own theology but without any sue-
eess. Therefore we ean assume that in Thyatira the prophetie eircle of
lezebel rivaled the influenee of lohn who diseredits this group beeausepe
eonsiders its teaehings to be false and dangerous for the Christian eommu-
nity. Not the influenee of the loeal bishop but that of a riyal prophetie
group is eombatted by lohn.
The analysis of the texts about the prophetie eircle of the Nieolaitans
indieates that the seholarly alternatives "either itinerant or eommunity
prophets " or " either apostles or prophets " should be abandoried sinee it

35. For a diseussion of Jezebel and the Nieolaitans cf. my article Apocalyptic and
Gnosis in the Book of Revelation and Paul, in JBL 92 (1973) 565-581.
36. For the diseussion of the "sehool " eoncept cf. my article The Quest for the
Johannine School: The Apocalypse and the Fourth Gospel, in NTS 23 (1976-1977)
402-427. R.E. BROWN, The Community of the Beloved Disciple, New York, 1979,
seems to have aecepted my suggestion: "to assume that at the end of the first
eentury in Asia Minor various Christian schools or eircles lived side by side within
the Christian eommunity " (p. 426), but develops it for the Johannine communities in
terms of" house ehurehes " rather than " schools ". The relations hip of the prophet-
ie " sehools " or eircles of Jezebel and John to the " house churches " of the Johan-
nine Epistles and the " Paraclete " advoeates needs to be explored.
120 E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA

is not substantiated by the texts. Moreover it indieates that not the episeo-
pal ehureh order but the riva1ry between different prophetie eircles is the
problem addressed by Rev, sinee at least two different prophetie eircles eo-
existed within the eommunities of Asia Minor to whom Rev is addressed.
Therefore it is unlikely that the " angels " to whom the seven massages are
written are the loeal bis hops or elders of these ehurehes 37, espeeially sinee
Rev does not mention bis hops elswhere. U. Müller's 38 suggestion that
John addresses the seven messages to " angels " beeause he does not want
to mention the offieialloealleaders of the ehurehes also lacks any support
from the text.
That the seven messages are sent to " angels" has formal as well as
eontentual reasons. From a formal-struetural point of view the seven
messages or letters are integral elements of the inaugural vision so that 1,
12-3, 22 is a literary unit. As heavenly-visionary writings they are addressed
to "angels" who are clearly representative of the whole eommunity.
Within the literary framework of the vision the reeipients of the words of
propheey are visionary figures, while otherwise the words of propheey are
direetly addressed to the ehurehes. The puzzle that the resurreeted Lord
speaks through a human person to heavenly beings therefore is probably
due to the framework of the literary vision.
Such a formalliterary interpretation ofthe problem beeomes even more
plausible when we eonsider the great affinity of the apoealyptie angelus
interpres to the Christian prophet. Rev. 19, 10 and 22, 9 39 insist that the
angelus interpres does not stand above the Christian prophets but that he is
a " fellow servant " of John and his prophetie followers. The " angels " of
the eommunities have the same funetion as the Christian prophets namely
to make known the martyria Jesou to the Asian eommunities. Therefore the
angelus interpres is not only a " fellow servant " of the Christian prophets
but also a " fellow servant " with all those in the eommunities " who keep
the words of this book" (22, ge) Sinee the funetion of the seven angels is
the same as that of John and of the other prophets, namely to eommuni-
eate the prophetie message of the resurreeted Lord, the seven angles seem
to be the visionary counterparts of the prophets in the eommunities. Such a
suggestion is supported by 22, 16: "I Jesus have sent my angel to you

37. Cf. J. SICKENBERGER, Die Deutung der Engel der sieben apokalyptischen
Gemeinden, in RQ 35 (1927) 135-149; SATAKE, Gemeindeordnung, pp. 150-155.
KRAFT, Offenbarung, pp. 50-52, thinks of actual messengers who would bring the
letters from Patmos to the communities.
38. V.B. MÜLLER, Theologiegeschichte, p. 34.
39. Cf. my book Priester für Gott. Studien zum Herrschafts- und Priesterbegriffin
der Apokalypse (NTA, 7), Münster, 1972, pp. 238-248; F.F. BRUCE, The Spirit in the
Apocalypse, in B. LINDARS, SS. SMALLEY (ed.), Christ and the Spirit in the New
Testament. Fs. C.F.D. Moule, Cambridge, 1973, pp. 333-344; J. MASSYNGBERDE
FORD, For the Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy, in IrTQ 42 (1975) 284-
291. However an association with Penetecost seems to be unlikely here.
APOKALYPSIS AND PROPHETEIA 121

(hymin) with this testimony for the churches ", where clearly a circle of
prophets is named as the recipients of the prophecy for the churches. Thus
lohn seems to be the leader of a group of prophets who like lezebel are
members of the seven communities to whom Rev is written.
Such an hypo thesis does justice to Hill's observation that lohn has an
exceptional position among the other prophets. This exceptional position
seems to be similar to that of Paul who also understood his call to be like
that of the OT prophets. This hypo thesis also does justice to the insight of
Satake that Rev must have been addressed to a small group since its lan-
guage and imagery would not have been accessible to all the members of
the Asian churches. Finally it can take into account Müller's insight that
Rev is steeped in lewish-apocalyptic traditions without having to separate
the prophetic circ1e of lohn from the seven communities. Therefore it must
be explored how Rev's lewish-apocalyptic theology relates to the theologi-
cal situation of the Christian community in Asia Minor at the end of the
first century CE.

IH. The Prophecy of John


in the Theological Context of Asia Minor

Satake and Müller have argued not only that Rev's stress on prophetic
leadership does not square with the episcopal-presbyteral church order of
Asia Minor but also that the theology of Rev was alien to the Christi an
churches of the Post-Pauline tradition. Because of its Old Testament,
apocalyptic-l ewish language and traditions, Rev is widely regarded as an
only "slightly christianized ludaisrn". It must therefore be explored
whether the book could have been understood by Christians of Asia Minor
at the end of the first century CE.
Because ofits lewish-apocalyptic character Rev is usually understood to
be a product of lewish-Palestinian Christianity. Therefore scholars explore
aB possible lewish-apocalyptic traditions but pay only little attention to its
interrelation with early Christian theology. Studies comparing Pauline and
Post-Pauline theology are virtually completely lacking. Because of its
traditional ascription to the apostle lohn, Rev is at the most discussed in its
relations hip to the lohannine writings and understood to belong to the
" lohannine school " 40. Scholars have not sufficiently explored the book's
affinity to Pauline and Post-Pauline theology and especially its connection
with early Christian prophecy mentioned in the Pauline literature, al-
though the final redaction ofthe book c1early addresses communities living
in an area where Pauline and Post-Pauline writings are at horne. Therefore,
the foBowings remarks raising the question of the relationship of Rev to

40. Cf. my article The Quest for the J ohannine School for the arguments.
122 E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA

the theological understanding of the Pauline and Post-Pauline tradition


must remain tentative and suggestive.

First: Müller is quite correct in maintaining that Rev is steeped in early


Christian apocalyptic traditions and that its announcement of the im-
minent return of the Lord should be understood in the context of early
Christian apocalyptic prophecy. However the origin and basis of John's
imminent eschatological expectation does not prove that it is " ein ziemli-
cher Fremdkörper in den Gemeinden des kleinasiatischen Raumes" 41.
Yet he himself concedes that such an imminent expectation which is pro-
voked by the historical situation ofpersecution and suffering, is also found
in 1 Peter. He overlooks, however, that 1 Pet 4, 7 and 17 reflect a paraenetic
pattern that is not only found in Rev but also in the Pauline and Post-
Pauline as well as in other late NT writings 42. This paraenetic pattern is
therefore not limited to a single geographical area or church but wide-
spread. Its carriers were probably early Christian prophets who already
mediated to Paul Jewish apocalyptic traditions. It is therefore likely that
the communities of Asia Minor would have known this prophetic-apoca-
lyptic pattern and have been familiar with its already formulaic imminent
expectation.
Müller argues that the communities were not familiar with apocalyptic
near-expectation because their eschatological zeal had died down and they
like Col and Eph emphasized the "already , of eschatological salvation.
He thus seems to assume that such an emphasis on realized eschatology
was completely shared by the communities of Asia Minor. However it is
more likely that not the churches but the prophetic circle of the Nicolaitans
advocated such a realized eschatological interpretation and that Rev was
written to counter their eschatological emphasis. I have shown elsewhere
that the author of Rev attempts to correct the realized eschatological
implications of the baptismal tradition with his emphasis on the imminent
judgment and salvation and his call for endurance and steadfast resistance.
Thus Rev's stress on futuristic-apocalyptic eschatology functions in a
similar way as Paul's "eschatological reservation" 43 or the stress on
apocalyptic eschatology in the Post-Pauline tradition.
Müller's main argument for the Palestinian provenance ofRev's theology
however is the use ofthe" hyios tou anthropou tide ".

41. MÜLLER, Theologiegeschichte, p. 40.


42. Cf. I Th 5, I; Phil4, 4-6; Rom 13, 11-14; Hebr 10,23-31; Jas 5, 7-11; I Jn
2, 18f; Rev 22, 12 and also Barn 4,9; 21, 3; Ign Eph 11, I; 2 Clm 12, I; 16,3.
L. GOPPELT, Erster Petrusbrief(Meyer XlIII), Göttingen, 1978, pp. 281f.
43. Cf. E. KÄSEMANN, On the Topic of Primitive Christian Apocalyptic, in
R.W. FUNK (ed.), Apocalypticism (JThCh, 6), New York, 1969, pp. 99-133 ; and my
articles Apocalyptic and Gnosis in the Baok af Revelatian and Paul, in JBL 92 (1973)
565-581, and Eschatology ofthe NT, in IDB Suppl. Val, pp. 271-277.
APOKALYPSIS AND PROPHETEIA 123

" Aufs Ganze gesehen wird man sagen müssen, dass die Menschen-
sohnvorstellung in ihrer ursprünglichen Form zur Zeit der Abfassung
der Apk keine Rolle mehr in Kleinasien gespielt hat. Die betonte
Herausstellung ihrer Inhalte durch den Propheten lohannes lässt an
eine Abhängigkeit aus anderen urchristlichen Traditionsbereichen
denken" 44.
However one must question whether it is correct that the author intended
to introduce into Asia Minor the hyios tou anthröpou Christology which is
not found in the Pauline tradition and was avoided by Luke. It seems
rather that lohn also evades the titular meaning. He does not use this
Christological title as a title but qualifies it in the apocalyptic fashion
although the title must have been known to hirn from the synoptic tradi-
tion. That the apocalyptic qualification of the tide in 1, 13 and 14, 14 with
homoion is not just stylistic but theologically intended becomes evident
when we consider 1, 7 and 3, 5c. An analysis of 1, 7 shows that Rev shares
its OT text-combination as weIl as its eschatological tenor with the Mat-
thean form ofthe parousia announcement in the so-called Synoptic Apoca-
lypse 45. It is thus likely that lohn deliberately omitted the hyios tou anthrö-
pou title because it was not familiar to the Christians in Asia Minor.
Moreover, Rev 3, 5c seems to know the eschatological Q-tradition Lk 12,
811Mt 10, 32 but does not refer to the " offspring of humanity ", although
the original text would have provided this title. The analysis of the text
seems thus to indicate that Rev omits or qualifies the hyios tou anthröpou
title because this traditional Christological tide was not familiar to its
audience.
Positively it must be pointed out that Rev's Christology is structurally
very much similar to that of the Pauline and Post-Pauline tradition. Like
Paul Rev does not speak of the life of Jesus but stresses the death and
resurrection. Especially the arnion-Christology of Rev develops an early
Christi an tradition which is found in Paul and Post-Pauline Christianity
(cf. I Cor 5, 7; I Pet 1, 18t) 46. Moreover, several ofthe Christological titles
especially of the messages are at horne in the Pauline and Post-Pauline
traditions 47. The same is true for the expressions of redemption found in
the key-passages Rev 1, 5f and 5, 9f 48. Although the structural similarity in

44. MÜLLER, Theologiegeschichte, p. 44.


45. For a detailed discussion cf. my book Priester für Gott, pp. 185-192, and my
article The Quest for the Johannine School, pp. 420-423 ; for lohn's familiarity with
synoptic traditions cf. L.A. Vos, The Synoptic Traditions in the Apocalypse, Kampen,
1965.
46. MÜLLER, Theologiegeschichte, p. 46, with reference to T. HOLTZ, Die Christo-
logie, pp. 44-47.
47. See HAHN, Die Sendschreiben, pp. 367ff.
48. Cf. my article, Redernption as Liberation: Apoc. 1:5[ and 5:9[, in CBQ 36
(1974) 220-232.
124 E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA

their Christo10gy does not prove that Rev is dependent on the Pau1ine and
Post-Pauline traditions, it does nevertheless indicate that Rev's theology is
not strange to the communities of Asia Minor but has some affinities to
them. It is therefore methodologically not justified to ascribe to these
communities one type of eschatology but to Rev another. A better model
seems to provide the hypothesis that two riyal eschatological-prophetic
directions, namely that of the Nicolaitans and that of John, compete for
the theological acceptance and attention of these communities.

Second: Such an interpretation of Rev is also able to shed new light on


the prophetic claim and formal execution of the work by the author.
Recent research on prophecy in early Christianity has challenged the
traditional distinction between Gemeindeprophetie whose representative is
Paul and apoca1yptie prophecy whose representative is John. Instead
sc hol ars have come to recognize that early Christian prophecy belongs to
the context of early Christian apocalyptic 49. Early Christian propheey is
expressed in apoealyptie form and early Christian apocalyptic is earried on
by early Christian prophets. Early Christian propheey is an eestatie expe-
rience "en pneumati" and the revelation of divine mysteries. Paul's
characterization of prophecy already reflects early Christian apocalyptie
theology which he has reeeived through early Christian prophets. Thus
Rev as " the words of prophecy " shares the eontent and function of early
Christian apocalyptic prophecy. Paul and John share the same prophetic-
apocalyptic traditions, which are also found in the synoptic or Johannine
tradition. J. Baumgarten 50 mentions as thematic complexes ofPre-Pauline
and Pauline apoealyptic prophecy: Expectation of the parousia and the
last judgment, resurrection and eternal life, exaltation and translation,
angelology and demonology, eosmos and new ereation, enthusiasm and
imminent expectation. It is apparent that all these thematic unities and
topics eonstitute also the eontent of Rev. Moreover, not only Rev's content
but also Rev's prophetic functions are similar to early Christian prophecy
as found in Paul. While J. Panagopoulos 51 enumerates five functions ofthe
prophetie word: eschatological, addressing a specific conerete situation,
revelatory word of the resurreeted Lord, paraclesis of the chureh and
multidimensional in form, E. Cothenet 52 speaks of three main funetions :

49. Cf. H.A. GUY, New Testament Prophecy. Its Origin and Significance, Lon-
don, 1947, pp. 104-112; H. KRAFT, Die altkirchliche Prophetie und die Entstehung
des Montanismus, in ThZ 11 (1955) 249-271 ; ID., Vom Ende der urchristlichen
Prophetie, in J. PANAGOPOULOS (ed.), Prophetie Vocation, pp. 162-185.
50. J. BAUMGARTEN, Paulus und die Apokalyptik. Die Auslegung apokalyptischer
Überlieferungen in den echten Paulusbriefen (WMANT, 44), Neukirchen, 1975.
51. J. PANAGOPOULOS, Die urchristliche Prophetie: Ihr Charakter und ihre Funk-
tion, in ID. (ED.), Prophetie Vocation, pp. 1-32.
52. E. C01;~ENET, Prophetisme et Ministere d'qpres le Nouveau Testament, in La
Maison-Dieu (IQ71) nr. 107, pp. 29-50, esp. pp. 40-44.
APOKALYPSIS AND PROPHETEIA 125

"la prophetie apocalyptique, l'exhortation prophetique (la paraclese) ",


and "la benediction prophetique". Without question Rev shares these
fun.ctions of early Christian prophecy: it is an apocalyptic-eschatological
revelation of Jesus Christ; its main purpose is exhortation and strengthen-
ing ofthe communities ; it is to be read in the communal worship assembly ;
and finally it is not individual but communal prophecy.
Formally, the author ofRev seems consiously to imitate the form ofthe
Pauline letter and thus indirectly to claim the authority of Paul for his
work of prophecy. The prescript 1, 4-6 has a fully developed and stylized
form which is very similar to that of Galatians 53. Especially the opening
salutatio with the peace greeting resembles the Pauline pattern. The con-
cluding greeting in 22, 21 again imitates that of the Pauline letters. K. Ber-
ger 54 has pointed out that the Gattung of the letter, tractate, and apoca-
lypse cannot be clearly differentiated. He argues that the seven messages of
Rev are a good example of the Gattung" prophetic letter". Thus it is
important to recognize the great difference in form between the seven
letters and the epistolary framework ofRev. This difference in form under-
lines that John understands his prophecy not only in general as a prophetic
letter but explicitly characterizes it as a circular, authoritative apostolic
letter which is patterned after the already traditional Pauline letter form.
The observation that apocalyptic elements are often found in the prescript,
proemium and final greetings 55 of the genuine Pauline letters becomes
here significant.

Third: Not only the Pauline letter-form but also the title apokalypsis
Jesou Christou suggests that John understands his prophetic claim as akin
to that of Paul. Since on the one hand the noun apokalypsis appears only
here in Rev whereas the verb apokalyptein is completely missing and on
the other hand the full name of Jesous Christos occurs only in 1, 1.2.5 in
connection with martyria or martys it is clear that the expression apokalyp-
sis Jesou Christou is chosen deliberately as a headline. Although the author
seems to prefer the terms martyria/martyrein when expressing his own
understanding of Christian prophecy and revelation, he nevertheless does
not entitle his work martyria but apokalypsis Jesou Christou. The signifi-
cance of this choice is often overlooked because Rev is usually seen as the
paradigm of apocalyptic literature and therefore the title is taken for grant-
ed. However, we have no evidence that the title apokalypsis had already
become a terminus technicus for characterizing a certain type of revelatory
literature. Therefore it is doubtful that the author chose this title in order to
qualify his prophecy as an apocalyptic document.

53. Cf. my book, Priester für Gott, pp. 168-173.


54. BERGER, Apostelbrief, pp. 190-231.
55. BAUMGARTEN, Paulus und die Apokalyptik, p. 232.
126 E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA

The terms apokalypsis/ apokalyptein are rare in the OT, occur only
seldom in the gospels, and appear outside the gospels exclusively in the
Pauline and deutero-Pauline literature 56. The Pauline provenance of
apokalypsis is underlined by the fact that the full title apokalypsis Jesou
Christou occurs only in the Pauline and Post-Pauline tradition. Whereas 1
Cor 1,7; 2 Th 1,7 and 1 Pet 1,7.13 (cf. 4, 13) points to the revelation of
Jesus Christ in the parousia, Gal 1, 12.16 speaks of the appearance of
Christ in avision to Paul. Gal 1, 12 restates 1, 1 in inisisting that Paul
received the gospel not through human intermediaries but through a
revelation of Jesus Christ, who is " the present Christ and whose presence
is identical with the content ofthe Pauline gospel" 57. Gall, 15-16 describes
Paul's vocation in analogy to the call of the OT prophet and in specifi-
cally Christian terms. Paul's claim that his calling took the form of a reve-
lation of Jesus Christ, points to a visionary experience. R.D. Betz is correct
that Paul did not distinguish so sharply as modern exegetes do between
verbal and visionary revelation or between extern al (1 Cor 9, 1 ; 15,8) and
internal (v. 16: "in me") revelatory experience 58. The appearance of
Jesus Christ in avision is synonymous with the revelation of the gospel to
Paul.Paul refers also in Gal 2, 2 and especially in 2 Cor 12, 1.7 59 to his
visionary and ecstatic experiences. Rowever whereas in 2 Cor 12, 7 apoka-
lypsis characterizes the ecstatic, visionary experience which has unutterable
character, in 1 Cor 14,6 it is classified together with knowledge, prophecy
and teaching as intelligible speaking that has to complement the speak-
ing in tongues. Thus apokalypsis denotes a visionary, ecstatic experience
similar to prophecy.
It seems therefore to be probable that lohn deliberately has chosen the
title apokalypsis Jesou Christou in order to characterize his own experience
as a Christian prophetie experience similar to the call-experience of Paul.
Thus the headline as well as the prescript of Rev indicate some familiarity
with Paul's letter to the Galatians. As according to 1 Cor the Christian
prophets, so does John receive his revelation " en pneumati". This revela-
tion is an experience of lesus Christ who now is present and speaks to the

56. apokalypsis; Rom 2, 5; 8, 19; 16, 25; 1 Cor 1, 7; 14, 6; 14, 26; 2 Cor 12,
1.7; Gal 1, 12; 2, 2; Eph 1, 17; 3, 3; 2 Th 1,7; 1 Pet 1,7.13; 4, 13. apokalyptein:
Rom I, 17.18; 8, 18; 1 Cor 2, 10; 3, 13; 14, 30; Gal 1, 16; 3, 23; Eph 3, 5; 2
Th 2, 3.6.8 ; 1 Pet 1, 5.12; 5, 1.
57. H.D. BETZ, Galatians (Hermeneia), Philadelphia, 1979, p. 71.
58. Op.cit.,69-72.
59. Cf. A.T. LINCOLN, Paul the Visionary: The Setting and the Significance o[
the Rapture to Paradise in II Corinthians XII. 1-10, in NTS 25 (1978-1979) 204-220,
and H. SAAKE, Paulus als Ekstatiker. Pneumatologische Beobachtungen zu 2 Kor xii
1-10, in NT 15 (1973) 153-160. Rev 10, 3f seems to come dose to 2 Cor 12, 4, espe-
cially since the arrheta rhemata practically are synonymous with mysteria.
APOKALYPSIS AND PROPHETElA 127

Christian community through the prophet. Thus the meaning-range of


apokalypsis in the Pauline and Post-Pauline tradition correctly circum-
scribes the content ofRev.

In conclusion : I have attempted to argue that Rev must be understood


as a literary product of early Christian prophecy. As such it must be situa-
ted within the theological context of Asia Minor that was greatly deter-
mined by Pauline and Post-Pauline theology. Neither John's theological
self-understanding nor the church order reflected in Rev contradict such
an assumption.
Rev not only shares many language affinities with the Pauline and
Post-Pauline literature but also claims Pauline literary form and an author-
ity similar to that of the apostle. This might be the reason why John never
gives hirnself the title prophet but calls hirnself doulos 60. In choosing this
title John characterizes his authority to be similar not only to that of the
OT prophets but also to that of Paul. However, it is significant that John
does only allude to Pauline style and authority but does not explicitly claim
the name of Paul for his work as the writers of the Pauline school have
done. John writes his book in his own name and claims his own prophetic
authority because prophecy and prophetic leadership were still highly
respected in the churches of Asia Minor at the turn of the first century CE.
Not the episcopacy or presbyterate but a riyal prophetic " school " or circle
competes with John and his followers for acceptance and influence in the
churches.
In arguing for Pauline allusions and imitation I do however not want to
maintain that the "school" of John is commensurate with the Pauline
" school " which Conzelmann 61 posits as existing in Ephesus. I only want
to stress that John was familiar with the Pauline tradition and at horne in
the communities of Asia Minor. Since Rev also reflects synoptic apocalyp-
tic traditions and is familiar with some so-called " Johannine" materials, it
cannot be claimed for the Pauline " school ". Instead it transmits apocalyp-
tic early Christian traditions and suggests the existence of a prophetic-
apocalyptic " school " or circles. Early Christian prophetic groups seem to
have interpreted and expanded Christian apocalyptic-eschatological tradi-
tions and materials. Since Paul already had access to such apocalyptic-
eschatological traditions handed down through early Christian prophets,
we are justified to assurne a historical continuum running from Pre-Pauline

60. Cf. also Jas I, I ; 2 Pet I, I ; Jude 1, 1.


61. Cf. H. CONZELMANN, Paulus und die Weisheit, in NTS 12 (1965-1966) 231-
244. Conzelmann conjectures that the " school of Paul " has received and elaborat-
ed on traditional Jewish wisdom traditions.
128 E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA

prophetic-apocalyptic circ1es to Rev, Papias, and the Montanist movement


in Asia Minor 62.

Department of Theology Elisabeth SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA


University ofNotre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556 (U.S.A.)

62. H. KÖSTER, Gnomai Diaphoroi. The Origin and Nature o[ Diversification in


the History o[ Early Christianity, in J.M. ROBINSON, H. KÖSTER,. Trajectories
Through Early Christianity, Philadelphia, 1971, pp. 154f, envisions four riyal Chris-
tian groups active at the turn of the first century in Ephesus. The originally Pauline
church (Eph ; Luke/ Acts), a Jewish Christian" school " dedicated to the interpreta-
tion of the OT (Cerinthus), a heretical sect (the Nicolaitans), and finally the Jewish-
Christi an conventicle of Rev. However Köster does not discuss Rev's relationship to
the " continuous line running from the apocalyptic trend in Paul's church at Thessa-
lonica (2 Th) to the rise ofMontanism".
Form and Message
A Preliminary Discussion of
" Partial Texts"
in Rev 1-3 and 22,6 ff.

It is a complicated procedure to try to understand a text of antiquity


that sterns from a cultural situation different from ours I. In this paper I
will discuss some particular aspects of one phase in that procedure with
regard to some texts in the Book of Revelation, viz. those of the form-
critical analysis. My discussion is not a traditional form-critical one, howe-
ver, because my approach to some extent is inspired by certain methods of
analysis which have been elaborated by scholars in linguistics and literary
criticism. One typical feature of these methods is that they stress the fact
that the text is the main instrument in a communication from the author to
his reader.
To regard Rev as an instrument of communication means that we assess
the present text of the book. Such an approach does not invalidate, e.g.,
attempts to reconstruct the prehistory of the text, looking for sources 2, or
studies of the history of different motifs, tracing them back, for example, to
the Keret-texts 3, or works conceming the redaction process or the history
of traditions 4. But it gives one reason to ask how far such studies inform us
of wh at the texts communicated. Let us, e.g., assurne that in Rev 1, 5 the
writer has changed an original aorist tense of a traditional baptismal con-
fession into a present, so that we now read agaponta 5. Such a change may

I. I use the word " understand " in a common-sense manner.


2. See, e.g., the commentaries by W. BOUSSET (Krit.-exeg. Komm. z. NT, 1896),
R.H. CHARLES (Int. Crit. Comm., 1920), or J. MASSYNGBERDE FORD (Anchor B,
1975).
3. E.g., BOUSSET, Comm.; F. BOLL, Aus der Offenbarung Johaannis, Leipzig,
1914, E. LOHMEYER, Comm. (Handb. z. NT, 1926); H.-P. MÜLLER, Die himmlische
Ratsversammlung. Motivgeschichtliches zu Apc 5, 1-5, in ZNW 54 (1963) 254-267.
4. For the passages we are going to discuss see esp. E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA,
Priester für Gott (Neutest. Abh., 7), Münster, 1972, and F. HAHN'S article referred to
in note 53, below.
5. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, op. cit., who refers to P. VON DER OSTEN-SACKEN,
'Christologie, Taufe, Homologie' - Ein Beitrag zu Apc. Joh 1, 5 f, in ZNW 58
(1967) 255-266, p. 256.
130 L. HARTMAN

very well tell us something ab out the writer's ideas. But when we regard
the text as a communication, this change, as a change, becomes significant
only in so far as we find it reasonable to assurne that the traditional for-
mula belonged to the common background of both author and reader. If
so, this background formed part of the referential frame wh ich determined
and conditioned the communication.
This communication perspective also has a bearing on form criticism,
particularly in so far as the latter is to serve the understanding of a text.
Classical NT form criticism concentrated on the prehistory of the individ-
ual forms and traditions, mainly with respect to the gospels, but also with
respect to the epistles. This is something different from studying the forms\
within an existing text. This is already true for the gospels 6, and even more I
so for other texts which do not represent traditions to the same extent as
the gospels. To study the forms within a text should mean that one tries to
evaluate how passages that are shaped according' to more or less estab-
lished literary patterns are related to each other and interplay in a text's
conveyance ofits message.
Text-linguistics may prove helpful for the analysis of the relationships
between the different passages of a text. Not least, E. Gülich and W. Raible
have, with a communication perspective in mind, analyzed how ele-
ments of narrative texts are organized 7. They speak of Teiltexte of dif-
ferent degrees which co-operate whithin the whole of the text and which
have an organization that can be seen from different" gliedernde" signs
on the textual surface. While a simple" he said " can be regarded as such a
Teiltext, so also can the dialogue in which the "he said " is embodied,
although it would be one of a high er degree 8. The passages on which
biblical scholars are used to putting different" form" labels can easily be
regarded as such Teiltexte, and this is where traditional form-criticism and
text -linguistics of this kind can meet.
In the following I will try to adapt and apply some observations of
Gülich and Raible to certain chapters of Rev. I will use the English "par-
tial text" for " Teiltext ", and, furthermore, restrict myself to dealing with
" Teiltexte " that correspond to " paragraphs ". Most of these paragraphs
represent " forms " in the traditional form-critical sense of the word. It
should be borne in mind, however, that my discussion can be only prelimi-

6. E. GÜTTGEMANNS, Offene Fragen zur Formgeschichte des Evangeliums (BeitT.


EvT, 54), München, 2nd ed., 1971, pp. 186 ff.
7. E. GÜLICH, W. RAIBLE, Textsorten-Probleme, in Linguistische Probleme der
Textanalyse (Inst. f. Deutsche Spr. Jahrb. 1973, Schriften, 35), Düsse1dorf, 1975,
pp. 144-197; id., Überlegungen zu einer makrostrukturellen Textanalyse, in T.A. VAN
DIJK, l.S. PETÖFI (ed.), Grammars and Descriptions. Studies in Text-Theory, Berlin-
New York, 1977, pp. 132-175.
8. E.g., E. GÜLICH, W. RAIBLE, Linguistische Textmodelle (Uni-Taschenb., 130),
München, 1977, pp. 53 ff., 92 ff.
FORM AND MESSAGE 131

nary and tentative. One reason is that I do not take into account the struc-
ture ofRev as a whole, although it is to be expected that one can ultimately
form an opinion about the function of the partial texts only after one has
reached a grasp ofthe whole 9. (Another reason for stressing the tentativity
of the following suggestions is that their author can, at the most, be regard-
ed as an amateur in the area of text -linguistics.)
The most important devices for demarcating a passage as a unit, a
paragraph, are signals on the text's surface which organize the text (Gliede-
rungsmerkmale) 10. But this organisation of a text can also be dependant
upon or even mainly controlled by text-external conventions, e.g., literary
" form" -conventions, which make it natural for areader to delimit a
partial text in a certain way 11.
The Gliederungsmerkmale just mentioned not only separate partial
texts, but they mayaiso indicate in which hierarchical relations hip they
stand to each other, and how they interplay within the whole 12.
Literary conventions outside of the text, of the kind just mentioned,
mayaiso contribute to the reader's structuring of the units. Here the genre
concept enters the picture. One essential aspect of it is that, within a text
that represents a genre, there is a two-way interplay between the whole and
the partial texts. The parts interact and are organized hierarchically, thus
constituting the whole. But this whole determines, as representing a genre,
the parts, their intertextual functions, their function vis-a-vis the reader,
their role in the communication ofthe message 13.
Gülich and Raible present the following hierarchy of organizing signals
(Gliederungsmerkmale) 14 :

1. Meta-narrative (or meta-communicative) clauses, which delimit


the narrative as a whole, dealing with communication on lower
levels.
2. Substitution on a meta-level, i.e., reference to a text or apart of it
as a communication through nouns like " story", " tale ", etc.
3. Episode demarcators (Episodenmerkmale), i.e., signals concerning
time, change of time, localization and re-Iocalization.
4. Changes in the constellation of main actors.

9. There are several ways of explaining the structure of Rev; see, e.g., the
suggestion and discussion of other contributions in E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Compo-
sition and Structure ofthe Revelation ofJohn, in CBQ 39 (1977) 344-366.
10. See GÜLICH, RAIBLE, Linguistische Textmodelle, p. 54.
11. See GÜLICH, RAIBLE, Überlegungen, p. 151.
12. GÜLICH, RAIBLE, Linguistische Textmodelle, pp. 42 ff., 54 f.
13. E.g., K.W. HEMPFER, Gattungstheorie (Uni-Taschenb., 113), München, 1973,
pp. 92 ff.
14. E. GÜLICH, Ansätze zu einer kommunikationsorientierten Erzählungsanalyse
(am Beispiel mündlicher und schriftlicher Erzähltexte), in W. HAUBRICHS (ed.),
Erzäh/forschung (Z. f. Literaturwiss. u. Linguistik, Beih., 4), Göttingen, 1976,
pp. 224-257, esp. p. 242 f. A somewhat broader presentation in GÜLICH, RAIBLE,
Überlegungen, pp. 140 ff.
132 L. HARTMAN

5. Renominalization, i.e., the phenomenon that a main aetor is re-


introdueed with a noun or his proper name. This signal often go es
together with no. 4.
6. Adverbs and eonjunetions whieh relate clauses or partial texts to
eaeh other.
7. Other signals that ean have a text-organizing funetion in some
languages are the ehanges between eertain tenses like the impar-
lait and passe simple in Freneh, and, furthermore, substitution on
a level of abstraetion. The latter should be distinguished from 2
above, in that here " das Substituens einen grässeren Bedeutungs-
umfang hat als das Substituendum 15 ".
W e now turn to our texts. In dealing with each passage I will ask three
groups of questions: 1) How is the passage delimited from its context ?
Wh at " form" has it, i.e., does it follow any established literary conven-
tion, and how is it shaped ? 2) What literary function does it have, and how
does it interplay with the context? Here, as weIl as under 1) above, we will
have to take into cinsideration not only Rev but also material that presum-
ably belongs to or bears witness to the referential background of author
and reader. 3) Do the observations under 1) and 2) have any relevance for
the message of the text?
Rev 1, 1-2. 1) The two verses are delimited from v. 3 by having different
subjects. The " form" of the passage is that of a titulus 16. As such it should
give the title of the book, mention something about its content and inform
about the author. In this case, however, it teIls the reader about the writer
and about the origin of that which he has written. John, the writer, is
introduced in the third person. This way of introducing the divine messen-
ger is similar to that in which Enoch is presented in 1 En and, e.g., Jere-
miah and Amos in their books in the OT 17. The text is not unlike the
beginning of, e.g., 1 En :
The words of blessing of Enoeh, with whieh he blessed the righteous
eleet who will be present on the day of tribulation to remove all the
enemies, and the righteous will be delivered. He took up his parable
and said - Enoeh a righteous man whose eyes were opened by God,
saw the vision of the Holy One in the heavens ....
That is, the titulus of Rev is rather normal in style and content 18.
2) Obviously these clauses are meta-communicative. They stand, so to

15. GÜLICH, RAIBLE, Überlegungen, p. 142.


16. H. KRAFT, Comm. (Handb. z. NT, 1974), ad loc.
17. Cp. also Gr Bar 1, 1 f. : " A narrative and revelation of Barueh, eoncerning
the ineffable things whieh he saw by eommand of God. Bless, Oh Lord ". See also
Ape Abr, tide, and Ape Mos 1, 1.
18. That the author is not pseudonymous as in other apoealypses hardly matters
- see J.J. COLLINS, Pseudonymity, Historical Reviews and the Genre 0/ the Reyela-
tion 0/ John, in CBQ 39 (1977) 329-343.
FORM AND MESSAGE l33

speak, beyond the following text, introducing it and characterizing it 19.


The introductory lines quoted from 1 En have a similar function.
3) In dealing with the whole book and following traditional patterns in
so doing, vv. 1-2 provide the reader with some basic information and give
hirn a certain expectation and attitude as he approaches that which fol-
lows. The mann er ofrevelation is intima ted : hosa eiden. Not least does the
tide render a most heavy authority to what follows by its chain of transmis-
sion: from God to Christ, to his servants 20. This is then specified: the
links dosest to the reader are God's angel and John, whose testimony is
thus God's words.
Rev 1, 3. 1) As mentioned above, v. 3 stands apart from vv. 1-2 by
having a different subject. The same is true in its relation to v. 4ff. Its form
is that of the macarism, and it is the first of seven macarisms in Rev 21.
Even if they are right who think that a redactor has inserted the macarism
of 1, 3 in order to arrive at the number of seven, this can hardly justify a
judgment like " aus diesem Grund ist die vorliegende Seligpreisung nichts-
sagend 22 ". As compared to the other six, this macarism is peculiar in that it
not only blesses the addressees (or rather a third person who apparently
should be a representative of the addressees), but also the person who
fulfils the cultic function of readingthe text at the Christi an service 23.
Mk l3, 14 par. is a parallel as an exhortation to the reader to pay attention.
The grammatical construction of the macarism 24 is somewhat odd in its
joining a singular and aplural subject under a singular makarios. Further-
more, it represents a longer variant of a macarism, i.e., it has an appended
statement of the reason for the macarism, as in Mt 5, 3 : " blessed are the
ones who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven ". A ma-
carism that is quite similar to the one in our text, but in a shorter form, is
Lk 11, 28: "blessed are the ones who hear the word of God and guard
it" 25.

19. GÜLleH, RAIBLE, Überlegungen, p. 140 f.


20. In the light of Rev 2, 20; 7, 3, and 19, 2 " the servants " should denote not
only the prophets. See the comm. by LOHMEYER, E. LOHSE (NT Deutsch, 3rd ed.,
1971) and KRAFT, and cp. the ones by BOUSSET and W. HADORN (Theol. Hand-
komm. z. NT, 1928), ad loc.
21. Also Rev 14, 13 ; 16, 15; 19,9; 20, 6; 22, 7.14.
22. KRAFT, ad loc.
23. This rare mentioning of the reader may go together with the fact that the
author is not pseudonymous ; in, e.g., I En or Apc Esdr the real author certainly has
contemporary readers in mind as receivers and users of his text, but wearing the
mask of, let us say, Enoch, he must use a more indirect style, stating as in 1 En that
the blessing of the patriarch is " not for this generation but for a remote one " (1, 2).
24. For the form criticism of macarisms see J. DUPONT, Les beatitudes I (EB),
Paris, 1969, pp. 274 ff. ; G.Chr. KÄHLER, Studien zur Form- und Traditionsgeschichte
der biblischen Makarismen (typed diss., Jena), Jena, 1974 (abstract in TLZ 101
[1976]77-80.)
25. In Rev 14, 13 an explaining c1ause is added, and something similar is also
found in 22, 14, although there in the form of a hina-c1ause.
134 L. HARTMAN

2) Vv. 1-2 were characterized as meta-communicative clauses. Also the


macarism of v. 3 certainly stands on a meta-level as compared to the fol-
lowing text. If w. 1-2 take into account the text of Rev, one may say that
v. 3 also does so, but in addition, and above all, it does so with regard to
the actual communicative act in which the text is made to work, i.e. the
reading in the community.
With the wording " the words of the prophecy " the macarism takes up
the expressions in w. 1-2 that refer to the coming text (" revelation ",
" show", " signified ", "witnessed God's words and the testimony of Jesus
Christ ") and specifies them : what follows is a prophecy.
A direct mentioning of the reader like the one in v. 3 is peculiar. But an
indirect reference to the reader concerning the importance of the book is
not uncommon in apocalyptic texts, although as a rule, the phenomenon
occurs at the end of the text, as also in Rev 22, 7.18 f. One should, however,
remember that both at the beginning of a text and at its end one finds
oneself on a bord er where it may be natural to survey the text as a whole.
So the instruction that Gabriel gives Daniel in Dan 9 is introduced by this
exhortation : " und erstand the matter and consider the vision" (9, 23). Cp.
also a few lines from the ending of Apc Esdr: (Ezra prays :) " give all who
copy this book and keep it and remember my name and celebrate my
memory, give them blessing from heaven " (7, 9) 26.
There are, however, texts which in other ways take the reader into
account and which do so at the beginning, pointing to the importance of
what follows. Such is the case in 1 En 37, 2 ff., were Enoch says :
This is the beginning of the words of wisdom which I lifted up my
voice to speak and say to those who dwell on earth : Hear, men of old
time, and see, you that come after, the words of the Holy One which I
will speak before the Lord of Spirits. It were better to declare them
only to the men of old time, but even from those that come after we
will not withhold the beginning of wisdom. Till the present day such
wisdom has ne ver been given by the Lord ofSpirits as I have received
according to my insight, according to the good pleasure of the Lord
of Spirits by whom the lot of eternallife has been given to me 27.
Thus, it seems to me, the function of Rev 1, 3 is similar to that of other
expressions at the beginning and at the end of similar texts, viz., to under-
line the importance of the text.
Maybe a certain light can be shed on the appearance of precisely a
macarism at this place, if one takes into account the fact that macarism and

26. See also I En \04, 11 ff. ; Gr Bar 17, 4; 2 Bar 86 ; Apc Sedr 16, 6, and cp.
Arist § 311 ; 4 Ez 14, 46 f. For rabbinic paralleis see D. DAUBE, The New Testament
and Rabbinie Judaism, London, 1956, pp. 424 ff.
27. See also I En 92, 1 ; 4 Macc 1, 1 ; Lk 1,3.
FORM AND MESSAGE 135

blessing are closely related and almost interchangeable 28. The macarism at
this place may have a parallel in the benediction which, in the synagogue
service, preceded the Scripture reading 29. A similar practice may have left
its traces in the first lines of Gr Bar I, 1 : eulogeson despota 30.
In sum, as an utterance about the subsequent text and ab out the expli-
citly mentioned reader and his listeners, v. 3 renders further content to the
readers' expectation. Though without exact paralleis in terms of place and
contents, it has the same function as other passages at the beginning or the
ending of texts which are meant to impress their importance on the reader.
3) Far from being " nichtssagend" this macarism draws the reader into
the text itself, and thus also confronts hirn personally with the authority
that, according to v. 1 f., is the origin of the revelation. In traditional usage
a macarism tended to promise divine grace or salvation to the one who
fulfilled the conditions given 31. Here such gifts are bound to the "keep-
ing" of the following prophecy 32. All this renders an awful weight to a
book so introduced.
Rev 1, 4-5b. I) These lines are separated from the preceding verses
through the shift of person and the adoption of a fixed form, that of an
epistolary address. The weIl established convention that a letter should
begin in this way works as a strong demarcator that draws a clear border-
line between vv. 3 and 4. No adverbs or conjunctions knit the address to
vv. 1-3, nor are there any pronouns or articles that connect it to what
procedes, although ho martus brings ten martyrian Iesou Christou to mind.
As normal, the address includes the mention of the writer, the addressee,
and a salutation. The salutation is expanded in a manner found in the
Pauline letter form.
The passage contains several triads: the salutation is given from the
Holy Trinity, God has a threefold name, and Christ receives three attri-
butes. Both the divine name and Christ's attributes are somewhat singled
out by being kept in the nominative in spite of the goveming apo.
2) and 3). With v. 4 we enter a new level of communication. The
writer appears on the stage in first person, addressing his addressees. His
name is explicitly mentioned. The fact that this name is the same as the
one of the " servant " of v. 1 indicates to the reader that he is now going to
receive the testimony of the word of God with which this servant was

28. See, e.g., A. LEFEVRE, Malediction et benedietion, in Diet. de la Bible. Suppl. 5


(1957) 746-751; E. LIPINSKI, Maearismes et psaumes de eongratulation, in RB 75
(1968) 321-367, esp. p. 321 f.
29. See H. STRACK, P. BILLERBECK, Kommentar ... IV, München, 1926, pp. 159,
168. Presumably this custom has a continuation in the blessing of the deacon before
his reading the gospel in the Mass.
30. Cp. also Apc Esdr 1, 1.
31. E.g., KRAFT, ad loe.
32. Cp. also 1 En 99, 10.
136 L. HARTMAN

commissioned (v. 2). The epistolary address has the effect of making the
rest of Rev appear as a letter until its final greeting in 22, 21.
The letter was an established form of Christian communication 33. We
come across it also in Jewish apocalypticism, where, in the subscriptio of
the Chester Beatty ms, the last part of 1 En (91 ff.) is called the Epistle of
Enoch. Furthermore, 2 Bar ends with the Epistle of Baruch (78-86), which
also is transmitted separately in the ms tradition 34.
Seen against its context the address intro duces the "word of God "
announced in vv. 1-3. John writes God's words to the receivers. I.e., the
form serves the aim to bridge the distance between God and man.
Rev 1, 5c-6. 1) Without any connections with vv. 4-5b on the surface of
the text, vv. 5c-6 are a unit by themselves, being a doxology to Christ,
which is terminated, as normal, by an " amen ". It is noteworthy that the
doxology is directed to Christ, and that it, as such, is rather developed in
that it expands on his work. In other early Christian literature there are
some Christ-doxologies in the later epistles (e.g., 1 Pet 4, 11; 2 Tim 4,
18) 35, but they are of the shorter type: " to hirn be the glory for ever and
ever, amen ". A longer form is represented by the one to God in 1 Tim 1,
17 : " to the king of the ages, the immortal, invisible, only God - to hirn
be honor and glory for ever and ever, amen" 36. Actually Rev is the only
writing in the NT in which one directs expanded doxologies to Christ.
Furthermore, no examples ofit are to be found in the Apostolic Fathers.
This doxology appears at the pi ace where the Pauline letter form usual-
ly has a thanksgiving. But the difference is relatively sm all between our
doxology and some examples from the Pauline tradition. Thus, the eulogy
of 2 Cor 1, 3 ff. praises God's mercy and comfort, and the one of Eph 1,
3 ff. blesses God for the realization of his eternal salvific counsel. And in
Gal 1, 5 the address finishes in this way: " ... our God and Father, to
whom be the glory for ever and ever, amen ". Le., in Gal there is a doxolo-
gy and no thanksgiving 37.
Outside the Christian tradition, although in its milieu, the Epistle of
Baruch (2 Bar 78 ff.) begins in a way that may remind of our text. After the
salutation the text goes on : " I bear in mind ('hyd), my brethren, the love
of hirn who created us from old and never hated us, but above all educated
us ".

33. As gene rally in Antiquity see, e.g., H. RAHN, Morphologie der antiken Litera-
tur, Darmstadt, 1969, pp. 157 ff.
34. To the Epistle as separately transmitted see P.-M. BOGAERT, Apocalypse de
Baruch 1-11 (Sourees ehret., 144-145), Paris, 1969, I, pp. 67.72 f.; 11, p. 140 f.
35. Also Heb 13,21; 2 Pet 3, 18; 1 CI 20, 12; 50, 7.
36. Also Eph 3, 21 ; ep. 2 Cl 20, 5.
37. Gal 1, 5 is diseussed in eonneetion with Rev 1, 5 f. by SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA,
Priester, pp. 172 f. The laek of the thanksgiving is usually explained as due to Paul's
attaek against his adversaries in this letter. Cp. also H.D. BETZ, The Literary Compo-
sition and Function 0/ Paul's Letter to the Galatians, in NTS 21 (1974-1975) 353-379.
FORM AND MESSAGE 137

The material in the address (1, 4-5b) may be traditional to some ex-
tent 38. Some of these traditions may have had an original Sitz im Leben at
baptism 39. But it is by no means given that this original Sitz im Leben
meant anything in terms of what the wording communicated when the
material had been recast into its present context.
2) The convention established by the Pauline epistolary form makes a
doxology at this place natural. The three hemas refer to the writer and to
his addressees in the preceding address. There might have existed a literary
fashion that a praise of God at the outset of a letter should have some
bearing on the theme of the corpus of the letter 40. Such a relations hip is
evident, e.g., in the example from the Epistle of Baruch cited above, and
something similar could possibly be expected also in Rev.
3) A couple of problems which bear on the message of the doxology
and its relations to a wider context have appeared : on the one hand the
question of how far an original Sitz of the recast traditions colors their
meaning in the present text, on the other, how far a convention existed that
a praise in an epistolary introduction puts forward things to be dealt with
later on. If the latter can be affirmed, this doxology, together with the
preceding address, has a steering effect on the understanding of the follow-
ing pages.
Rev 1, 7. 1) V. 7 could be termed a prophetic saying. It is separated from
v. 6 through amen. As a rule commentators take v. 7 together with v. 8, but,
as a matter of fact, the two verses are separated by nai, amen and by the
rather abrupt introduction of v. 8. The speaker is still the letter-writing
John, although the saying is a conflation of OT passages and represents a
traditional early Christian interpretation of the OT. It concerns an unmen-
tioned third person who " comes with the skies ". No doubt the subject is
the same as that ofthe preceding doxology, Jesus Christ.
2) In asking for the function of this verse in its context, we may start by
quoting Lohse's statement on it (although he takes it together with v. 8) :
" ohne Übergang werden an den Eingangsgruss die Verse 7 und 8 ange-
schlossen, um den Inhalt des Buches anzukündigen" 41. W. Bousset and
E. Schüssler Fiorenza call the two verses the "motto" of the book 42.
Leaving aside for the moment the function of v. 8, it is natural to ask
whether such a suggestion can be substantiated for v. 7 by some kind of
genre analysis. I cannot provide anything of this sort here, but I will ad-
duce a couple of other texts in which we come across a manner of struc-

38. See SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Priester, pp. 198 ff.


39. See SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, op. eit., pp. 203 ff.
40. See e.e. CARAGOUNIS, The Ephesian Mysterion (CB, NT Ser., 8), Lund,
1977, pp. 50 ff. ; P.T. O'BRIEN, Introductory Thanksgivings in the Leiters o[ Paul
(NTSuppl, 49), Leiden, 1977, p. 263.
41. LOHsE, Comm., ad /oc.
42. BOUSSET, Comm., ad /oc., SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, CBQ 39 (1977) 358, refer-
ring to her Priester, pp. 180-198.
138 L. HARTMAN

turing the beginning of a book so that it contains a passage which may


have a " motto" -like function 43.
Thus, the first chapters of the Book of Zechariah contain the following :
a) an introduction in conventional style: in such and such a year the word
of Yahweh came to so and so, saying ... , b) a call to conversion, c) visions.
Here the sayings under b) may have a place that recalls the " motto" of
Rev 1, 7. The beginning of the fifth book in 1 En can also be mentioned. 1
En 92, 1 is a short prescript, then 92, 2-5 says: "let not your spirit be
troubled ... for the Holy and Great One has appointed days for all things.
And the righteous one shall arise from sleep ... ". Then the Ten Weeks
Apocalypse is introduced : Enoch has been shown everything in a heavenly
vision and has read the heavenly tablets.
It seems to me that both the passage in Zech 1 and the one from 1 En 92
have a function that is reminiscent of the one Rev 1, 7 may have 44, viz.,
they give an important hint at where the accents of the following shou1d be
found. As with Rev, essential features of 1 En 92, 2 ff. return at the end of
the book (104, 1 ff.). One may discuss wh ether " motto" is the best term to
describe its function ; at any rate it seems plausible to regard the verses as
a kind of solemn ente ring into the corpus of the writing which gives an
indicator as to where important accents in what follows are to be found.
3) If my deliberations concerning the "motto" -function are correct,
they should have some consequences for the understanding of the whole
work. But then one should have to find a balance in comparison to vv. 4-6,
for which I suggest~d that they could reflect certain aspects of the book.
Rev 1, 8. 1) V. 8 is a self-predication by God himself, introduced in the
quotation formula by the same divine attributes as in the epistolary ad-
dress in v. 4. It has the theme of" coming" in common with v. 7.
In his commentary to the Gospel of lohn 45, R. Bultmann has differen-
tiated four different forms of egö eimi formulas, viz. 1) die Präsentations/or-
mel, answering the (explicit or implicit) question "who are you ? ". In the
answer the speaker introduces himself. 2) Die Qualifikations/ormel, an-
swering the question "what are you ? " by stating " I am this or that " or
" I am the sort of man who". 3) Die Identifikations/ormel, " in which the
speaker identifies himself with another person or thing ". 4) Die Rekogni-
43. K. BERGER, Exegese des NT (Uni-Taschenb., 658), Heidelberg, 1977, p. 29,
understands the sayings as " Gerichtsankündigungen " which he thinks have a fixed
pI ace in the beginning of compatible writings, such as 1 En 1,3-9; Mic 1, 3 ; Nah 1,
2 ; Zeph 1, 2 ff. ; Am 1, 2. Although I would tend to agree with his general approach
of explaining the arrangement by the "Form ", I am not so convinced that his
interpretation is correct. Also the texts adduced can very weIl be understood in the
way I suggest as to Rev.
44. For a source analysis of 1 En 92 see F. DEXINGER, Henochs Zehnwochenapo-
kalypse und offene Probleme der Apokalyptikforschung (Studia post-biblica), Leiden,
1977, pp. \OHf.
45. R. BULTMANN, Das Evangelium des Johannes (Krit.-exeg. Komm. z. NT),
Göttingen, 1941, p. 167 f.
FORM AND MESSAGE 139

tions/ormel, in which, in contradistinction to the previous cases, the ego is


the predicate. It answers the question " who is the one expected, asked for,
talked about? ".
A problem is how to balance the type of conte nt of the predication and
its context. This is evident, e.g., from the fact that Bultmann refers to Rev
1, 17 (" I am the first and the last ") as a Präsentations/ormel, but to Is 44, 6
(" I am the first and the last ") as a Qualifikations/ormel. It seems that,
although it is not worked out, the context is given the upper hand in Bult-
mann's distinctions, and rightly so. In Rev 1, 17 the context presents an
epiphany that raises an implicit question answered by the formu1a. But Is
44,6 is introduced by a quotation formu1a: "Thus says Yahweh ... ", and
the preceding context contains divine promises of a salvation to be brought
about by Yahweh. So Is 44,6" qualifies " the God who speaks through his
prophet in the context.
What, then, about the context ofRev 1,8? It hardly gives cause for any
kind of implicit question "who are you? " as in 1, 17. So we are left with
the second and third types, as it is evident that 1, 8 is no Rekognitions/or-
mel. I think that v. 8 is best labelled a qualification formu1a. " Alpha and
omega" is evidently pictoria11anguage and does not identify the Almighty
with two 1etters, nor is he identified with that which the imagery denotes,
viz., the beginning and the end.
2) and 3) To call 1, 8 a Qualifikations/ormel is already saying some-
thing of its possib1e function in the context. He who gives hirnself this
" qualification " is the one from whom the greeting in v. 4 is given, "who
is, who was, and who comes ". He is also the God who, according to 1, 1,
" gave the revelation to show that which will happen soon ", and the God
behind "the word ofGod" ofwhich John was a witness (v. 2).
It seems difficult to establish the existence of a convention which could
make in particular a divine self-predication natural at this p1ace. Yet its
position is so salient - together with v. 7 inserted between the doxo10gy
and the clearly demarcated new start in 1, 9. The only literary convention
we possibly have for our guidance is the one of the Qualifikations/orme!.
The self-predications of Is, the contents of which are simi1ar to ours (Is 44,
6 ; 48, 12), seem both to underline the divine authority behind the prophe-
cies in the context. Although it begins as a " Präsentations/ormel " the self-
predication at the beginning of the apocalyptic part of Apc Abr (ch. 9) may
help us a bit further :
A voice came to me speaking twice : " Abraham, Abraham ". And I
said: " Here am I ". And he said : " Behold, it is I : fear not, for I am
before the worlds, and a mighty God who has created the light of the
world. I am a shield over you ; and I am your helper. Go, take me a
young heifer... And in this sacrifice I willlay before you the ag es (to
come), and make known to you what is reserved ... ,,46.

46. E.T. by Box.


140 L. HARTMAN

At the outset of the apocalyptic part of Apc Abr, this self-presentation


of God indicates the authority behind the coming revelation, but there is
also a clear connection between the contents of the predication and those
of the apocalypse.
All in all, the foregoing deliberations may suggest the following as to
the function of I, 8 : it states the authority of " the words of prophecy "
here introduced, an authority that holds the history, the secrets of which
will be revealed. Furthermore, this all-mighty God is also, somehow, the
authority behind the " coming " of v. 7. Thus the self-predication is also
coupled to the " motto" ofv. 7.

We have now dealt with the eight verses that commentators commonly
designate as the introduction of Rev. Is there any "hierarchy" among
these partial texts? Obviously vv. 1-3 are the first partial text of the first
degree, dealing on a meta-level with the letter, 1, 4-22, 21. This letter is,
then, the second partial text of the same degree. Vv. 1-3 are, in their turn,
divided into two partial texts, the titulus and the macarism, but they still, so
to speak, hold sway over the rest of the introduction. The letter so intro-
duced is divided into an introduction (1, 4-8), a body (1, 9-22, 20), and a
final greeting (22, 21). The introduction, in its turn, is organized by the
address, the doxology, and the two sayings of v. 7 and 8, respectively. It
may be graphically displayed as follows :

0° 1° 2° 3°
I 1.1
1,1

2 1
I
1.2
3
2 2.1 2.1.1
4

5b 1 2.1.2.
5c

6 I
!~
2.1.3.
7
2.1.4
8

9
l 2.2 2.2.1
FORM AND MESSAGE 141

Rev 1, 9-20. 1) The beginning of the passage represents several indica-


tors that we are at a borderline in the text. Thus, to follow Gülich's and
Raible's list above, we encounter episode-demarcators, i.e., information
concerning time and place at the beginning of a narrative (Patmos, the day
of the Lord), a change in the constellation of main actors (the voice, the
one like a son of man), a re-nominalization (of John), and a transition to
the narrative aorist tense. In addition, a further detail is of some impor-
tance, namely, that in the passage the first step in a transition from this
world to another is taken - the ego" was in the spirit". These signals
indicate the beginning of the main part of the letter begun in 1,4, or, ifwe
want to use the term, the " inner story" (die Binnenerzählung) 47 of the
work.
After 1, 20 follow the seven messages, which are dictated within the
framework of the vision of 1, 9-20 and kept apart from it only through
their closed form.
1, 9-20 is a vision narrative 48 and can be described thus : a) the vision-
ary, place, time 49 and circumstances (vv. 9-lOa), b) ecstasy, c) an audition,
containing an order to write (vv. lOb-lI), d) the otherwordly being appears
(vv. 12-16), e) the visionary is afraid and is reassured (vv. 17a), f) a self-
presentation ofthe otherwordly being (vv. 17b-I8), g) a commission (v. 19),
h) an interpretation of apart of the vision (v. 20). It is noticeable that the
passage combines an audition and avision, and that it ends with an inter-
pretation 50. The general structure of the text is fairly similar, for example,
to that of Dan 10 and Ezek 1 f. The form gives it two peaks, one being the
commission to write, repeated twice, the other being the interpretation in
v.20.
2) and 3) The vision is often labelled a call-vision and as such com-
pared, for example, to those in Jer 1, Is 6 or Ezek 1 f. 51. Regarded in its
context, the passage tells us about John's commission, which is presup-
posed behind the reference to John as revelation mediator in 1, 1 f. and
behind his address to the seven churches in 1,4. So far the designation call-
vision is justified. But the vision also contains an imagery that is a mys-
terion to be interpreted, and, moreover, one that apparently has to do with
the commission to write to the churches. The description of the " one like a

47. Cp. GÜLleH, RAIBLE, Textsorten-Probleme, p. 170 f.


48. J. LINDBLOM, Gesichte und Offenbarungen, Lund, 1968, pp. 220 ff. : the text
is a " Schilderung einer echten Vision" (p. 220).
49. The dating of the scene to the " Day of the Lord" may possibly be com-
pared to the rather frequent feature in similar introductions, viz., some kind of
worship ; see e.g., Dan 9 ; 10,2 ff. ; 1 En 12,3; 4 Ez 5, 20 ff. ; Herrn Vis I, 1,3.
50. The verse has disturbed Kraft, who regards it as a redactional addition.
LINDBLOM, op. eit., p. 222, does not think that the verse belongs to the " genuine
vision" but to the " following reflection ".
51. E.g., LOHsE, KRAFT, G.R. BEASLEy-MURRAY (New Cent. 8., 1974), Comm.,
ad loc.
142 L. HARTMAN

son of man" gives specific aspects to the authority behind that which
follows. Its importance is stressed by the fact that features from the vision
reappear in the seven messages of chs. 2-3. The visions in, e.g., 4 Ez have a
similar authorizing function, and the heavenly journeys in 1 En 1, 2 (cp. 1
En 12 ff.), TLevi 2 ff. etc. are but variants with the same function.
It is certain that 1, 9-20 introduces the seven messages of chs. 2-3.
Nevertheless it is c1ear that the demarcators on the literary surface
strengthen the impression one gets that the order to write (v. 11) also refers
to the writing of the whole book (cp. 1, 4; 22, 16). I will return to this
question after having dealt with chs. 2-3.
Rev 2-3. 1) As already stated, the seven messages are dictated within
the vision of 1, 9 ff. The common identification of them as " letters " hard-
ly meets the facts. Instead one should call them " prophetie messages" 52.
Professor Hahn has analyzed their construction form-historically and
suggested that they represent a literary form used by early Christi an proph-
ets 53. The messages are composed of four main parts, viz., a) the mes-
senger formula (die Botenforme!), b) the oida-part, which is the most elabor-
ate and the one that shows the most variants, c) the call to hear (der Weck-
ruf), and d) the saying concerning the one who overcomes (der Überwinder-
spruch). Of these a) is weil rooted in OT prophecy, c) belongs to a wider
Christi an tradition, and d) is largely inspired by Jewish apocalyptic. As to
b), the oida-part, Hahn says that one may find several Vorstufen to the
individual elements, but that there are no analogies to their combination.
Instead he thinks that, both in terms of contents and form, the oida-parts
represent early Christian prophecy 54.
Hahn's analyses seem to be to the point, but as there are no analogies to
the oida-parts outside of the Rev, his contention as to the Sitz must remain
a conjecture, and so must his suggestion concerning the form of the whole
messages.
A few details in the vocabulary could be worthy of notice, since they tie
the messages so c10sely to prophecy. The grapson that introduces every
message need not be understood as "write this letter to ... ". Rather we
should paraphrase (sie !) it: "in the book you are writing to the seven
churches write concerning ... ". It seems to me that the author is bound by
the fact that he is commissioned with a written message, not a spoken one.
Thus he cannot write, e.g., as in Ezek 20, 30: " say to (the house ofIsrael) :
this says (the Lord Yahweh) ... ". For hirn it must be: "write to ... : this
says ... ".

52. Cp. LOHMEYER, Comm., p. 40, and KRAFT, ad loc.


53. F. HAHN, Die Sendschreiben in der Johannesapokalypse. Ein Beitrag zur
Bestimmung prophetischer Redeformen, in G. JEREMIAS, H.-W. KUHN, H. STEGE-
MANN (ed.), Tradition und Glaube. Fs. K.G. Kuhn, Göttingen, 1972, pp. 357-394.
54. HAHN, op. eit., p. 376 f.
FORM AND MESSAGE 143

Moreover, the oida that introduces the eentral pass ag es of these mes-
sages refleets the rather eommon expression in OT propheeies, aeeording
to whieh God "knows " the situation of those to whom the propheey is
direeted 55. One should also adduee 1 Cor 14,24 f., aeeording to whieh the
propheey reveals the seerets of the heart, aeeuses and judges.
Thus, even if Hahn's eontentions about the form of the messages and its
Sitz must remain eonjeetural, enough details in the form of the elements
indieate that they should be understood as prophetie messages.
2) As to the relationships to the eontext, we may first eonsider how the
vision together with the seven messages is related to 4, 1 ff. It seems that in
4, 1 a new partial text of the same degree as 1, 9 ff. begins. For there we
encounter what Gülieh and Raible eall a relative episode demareator
(relativer Episodenmerkmal), viz., meta tauta, a change of plaee, a new
main aetor, and a renominalization (the voiee) 56. The voiee's promise that
the writer will be shown ha dei genesthai meta tauta takes up 1, 1 and the
eommission of 1, 19: " write what you have seen and what is and ha mellei
genesthai meta tauta ". Commentators have understood this eommission as
a short summary of the contents of Rev : 57 the seven messages eould eorre-
spond to" wh at is", and with eh. 4 the revelation ofwhat is eoming would
begin. Others have thought that the messages eontain enough of threats
and promises for the future to satisfy the eommission 58.
Even though it is natural to think first that the seven messages are the
fulfilling of the grapson of 1, 11.19, 4, 1 widens its applieation. Further, it
might be sound not to draw too sharp a line between pvenresent and
future tenses in texts of this kind. For that whieh happens between the
vision of 1, 9 ff. with its seven messages and the vision in eh. 4 is not only
that the author is promised to see" what will happen hereafter " but also,
and at least as important, thata further and more deeisive step is taken in
the transition from this world to another : in this ease when the ego" was
in the spirit" (4, 2, ep. 1, 10), he was ordered to ascend to heaven after
having seen a heavenly door opened. This means that there is a more
definite transition from Patmos to heaven. The writer will be shown things
from the hidden, divine point ofview.
What, then, ean be the role of the seven messages in the eomposition ?
Without having been able to study the problem profoundly I dare propose
the following answer. The seven messages have a double funetion : 59 on

55. E.g., Jer 48,30; Hos 5, 3; Am 5, 12; also 2 Kg 8, 12. Cp. I En 98,6.
56. GÜLICH, RAIBLE, Überlegungen, pp. 144 ff., 152 f.; GÜLICH, Ansätze,
pp. 242 ff.
57. So, e.g., BOUSSET, LOHMEYER, HADORN, LOHSE, A. WIKENHAUSER (Regensb.
NT, 3rd ed. 1959), BEASLEY-MuRRAY, Comm., ad loc.
58. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, CBQ 39 (1977), p. 362.
59. BERGER, Exegese, p. 181, thinks they function as farewell exhortations
before the heavenly journey. It seems to me that the texts I adduce deliver better
explanations.
144 L. HARTMAN

the one hand they engage the readers/listeners, so that they become direct-
ly and explicitly involved in the prophecy ; their own and their neighbors'
virtues and vices are mustered. On the other hand, the messages corre-
spond to a common phenomenon in revelatory literature, viz., that the
divine revelation usually responds to problems and situations presented
before or brought forward during the visions.
Thus I En 1-36 begins with a theophany which contains an accusation
speech in 1-5, followed by an interpretation of Gn 6-9 that evidently takes
the present time and its problems into view; e.g., the things which the
fallen angels taught men are largely such as are easily associated with
Hellenistic culture (I En 8). Enoch's vision of the divine throne follows in
14. In 2 Bar there is a similar heightening of the degree of revelation on 22,
I, in that the heavens are opened. Before this we have encountered a broad
presentation of the problem at stake, viz., the destruction of Jerusalem.
3) If my suggestions under I) and 2) above hold water, they me an that
Rev 2-3 should be regarded as prophetie messages that point to the real
situation of the addressees, on which, from eh. 4 and on, they will have
further light shed from a higher, divine perspective.
Rev 22, 6-21. It is a commonplace among authors dealing with Rev that
there is so me kind of relationship between the beginning and the end of
the book 60. One usually explains it as the result of a redactor's work,
which, moreover, is a bit awkward. It might, however, be of some interest
to read the passage while asking the same questions as those with which we
have approached the first chapters. It is, however, considerably more
difficult to come to grips with these conduding passages. The reason for
the confusion may of course, historically seen, be due to the redaction. But
taking the text as a piece of communication, it is reasonable to ask how it
may have worked as such in its present shape. The somewhat confused
impression experienced by the reader may, then, lead him to feel that the
author oscillates between different roles in his communication. As the
dassical prophets he may be regarded as the media tor of a divine message,
as a spokesman for his fellowmen, and, furthermore, as one of those who
receive the divine message 61.
In I, 1-8 we observed the steps leading into the main body of the letter,
the" inner story" ofthe book. We will now see how we leave this story.
Rev 22, 6 f is typical of the difficulties mentioned above. I) The two
verses are separated from the preceding context by the introductory " and
he said ", which signals a new start over against the preceding description
of paradise. In 22, 8 there is an even dearer demarcation line. Within the

60. See, e.g., SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, CBQ 39 (1977), who finds a chiastic struc-
ture of Rev, in which, i.a. I, 1-8 and 1,9-3,22 correspond to 22, 10-22,21 and 19, 11-
22, 9, respectively.
61. See, e.g., R. RENDTORFF, prophetes, in TWNT 6 (1959) 796-813, esp.
pp. 810 ff. ; G. VON RAD, The Message 01 the Prophets, London, 1968, pp. 30 ff.
FORM AND MESSAGE 145

verses so brought together we can recognize one saying by a third person


introduced by " he said " (v. 6), one saying in the first person sing., without
any introduction but added to v. 6 by a kai (v. 7a), and one macarism on
" the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book " (v. 7b).
The context suggests that the speaker ofv. 6 is the angel 62 who is on the
stage from 21, 9 (cp. 21, 9 f. ; 22, 1.6). In the first-person saying in v. 7a we
recognize the " motto" of 1, 7, held there in the third person, Christ being
the subject. The macarism of v. 7b reminds of the one in 1, 3, and the one
who utters it is the" I" ofv. 7a or, possibly, the angel ofv. 6.
Confronted with this unevenness between v. 6 and v. 7a the understand-
ing that seems most natural is that the angel is thought to convey God's or
Christ's words to such an extent that he can do so without using an explicit
introductory formula - the preceding apesteilen has to be enough. One
may compare Gen 31, 11 ff., where Jacob says, "the angel of God said to
me: 'Jacob ... '. I answered: 'Here I am', and he said: ' ... I am the God
who appeared to you ... ' ".
2) See in its context vv. 6 f. are the concluding phase of the passage
which began in 21, 9, where the presentation ofthe angel signals the intro-
duction of a new main 'actor. The angel" shows" the visionary the heaven-
ly Jerusalem (21, 10), " shows" hirn the river oflife (22, 1), and ends up by
" saying " 22, 6 f. Thus, the two verses are a partial text on the same level
as 21, 10 ff. and 22, 1 ff. forming together with them a partial text that
represents the last" demonstration' of the book. But, on the other hand,
the words of the angel refer to the preceding text as a totality by labelling it
houtoi hoi logoi 63 and evaluating it. In a sense the saying may be on a
meta-level in relation to the whole book, as is the macarism of v. 7b. If,
however, houtoi hoi logoi refers only to the heavenly scroll of 5, 1 64, then
the macarism widens the outlook to the whole prophetic work of John. As
compared to the meta-cl aus es of 1, 1 ff. these clauses (or at least the maca-
rism) are parts ofthe communication they deal with.
At any rate, the verses are a marker that we are approaching the end of
the book. One may compare with the following " Substitution auf Meta-
Ebene" that E. Gülich gives as an example from M. de Navarre : "Voyla,
mes dames, une histoire veritable qui doibt bien augmenter le cueur a
garder ceste belle vertu de chastete " 65. The phrase puts an end to the
story, looks back on it, contains an address to the audience of the " utter
story", and evaluates the" inner story".
62. E.g., M. RISSI, The Future of the World. An exegetical Study of Revelation
19.11-22.15 (Stud. in Bib. Theol., 2nd Ser., 23), London, 1972, p. 84·
63. The expression appears earlier in 19,9 and 21,5, but this time its denotation
is obviously wider than in those instances.
64. G. BORNKAMM, Die Komposition der apokalyptischen Visionen in der Offen-
barung Johannis, in Studien zu Antike und Urchristentum (Beitr. EvT, 28) München,
1963, pp. 204-222, esp. p. 205.
65. Ansätze, p. 245.
146 L. HARTMAN

It is not uncommon that in Jewish apocalypses the authors end their


books by referring to the publication and to the importance of the contents
in view of the eschaton. Dan 12 is one example, and in I En 104 the righ-
teous are summoned to be hopeful (104, 2.4), not to fear but to keep away
from all the wickedness of the sinners (cp. Rev 22, 11) - then they will
become the companions of the host of heaven (104, 6 Eth.). In 104, 11 ff.
references are made to the book itself: " my (i.e., Enoch's) books will be
given to the righteous and the wise for joy and righteousness and much
wisdom ... then shall all the righteous who have leamt from them all the
paths ofrighteousness be recompensed" (Eth.).
It seems to me that the author of Rev follows a similar literary conven-
tion in ending his book by evaluating its contents and stressing its impor-
tance for the reader in view of the eschaton.
3) Our discussion of 22, 6 f. has pointed to the function the verses have
as an evaluation of the revelation which now is ending. The citation of the
" motto" as a direct divine saying becomes areminder from the source of
the revelation about the perspective in which the multicolored visions, etc.,
should be understood. The same source is made responsible for the pro-
mise to the faithful observer of the prophecy.
Rev 22,8-11. 1) A borderline is created by the" renominalization " (" I,
John ") in v. 8 (cp. 1,4.9). The scene has some features of an epiphany: a
human being before a divine being is struck by awe and is then reassured,
after which he receives a commission.
2) There are several details that mark the passage as one which pre-
pares for the ending of the book: the seer refers to his visions and audi-
tions and to that which the angel has shown hirn. That means that a new
string is being tied around the text-package, but by John, and, strictly
speaking, only conceming the previous text from 1, 9 where the first vision
began. The angel's reference to the book in v. 9 should be of the same
meta-type as in v. 7. This is the last time that the angel and John are on the
stage.
The first saying of the angel makes the visionary and his addressees the
companions of the angel, i.e., the addressees who keep the words of the
book that they are presented with. The second saying of the angel (v. 10 f.)
receives astronger paraenetic accent in the perspective of the approaching
crisis.
The exhortation as well as the commission to publish the book remind
ofDan 12, but also the example from 1 En 104 cited above is a parallel 66.
3) On his way out from the world of visions the author ties the
readers/listeners more securely to the mysteries he has revealed. They are

66. Cp. also the ending of 4 Ez (14, 42 ff.), according to which the books are
written down under divine inspiration, after which twenty-four of thern are pub-
lished to be read by worthy and unworthy and seventy kept to be delivered to the
. wise.
FORM AND MESSAGE 147

the presumed companions of the revealing angel, the message they have
received has a divine authority and is meant to be kept by them till the
salvation is theirs.
Rev 22, 12-16. 1) The verses represent some sayings of Jesus. They take
up the "motto" again, now with an added promise ofreward (v. 12). Next
follows a self-predication that is a variation of the one in 1, 8, although
here the "I" is Jesus (v. l3). V. 14 is a macarism (cp. Dan 12, 12) upon the
ones "who have cleansed their robes" - they will enter the city. V. 15
puts the " dogs ", etc., in contrast - they will remain outside. It is not unti1
v. 16 that it becomes clear that Jesus is the speaker from v. 12 and on. This
late-coming information of the identity of the " I " draws the line between
vv. 11 and 12 ff. through a change of the main actor. The egö Iesous also
means a renomina1ization. The self-predication seems to be of the same
type as the one in 1, 8, i.e., a qua1ification formula.
2) and 3). If we count three links between God and the reader, the
book not included, viz., Christ, the angel and John, the angel leaves by
v. 11, and so does John in as far as his" seeing" (cp. 1, 2; 22, 8) is con-
cemed. Christ, the speaker of vv. 12-16, remains. Of course one cou1d have
wished to be informed of how Jesus speaks, let us say, through avision or
an audition. Such things are, however, left behind by vv. 8-11. One might
combine this phenomenon with the fact that the book is introduced as
apokalypsis Iesou Christou. Jesus appears, as an author may do when the
" action" or the " inner story" of his work has come to an end, and now
addresses his readers hirnself.
The place of these Jesus-sayings, which, by the way, contain a good
proportion of traditiona1 material 67, reminds of the ending of Dan. There
the angelus interpres gives his order on sealing the book in v. 4 (cp. Rev 22,
10). Then in vv. 5-13 we encounter additional sayings and promises.
So 22, 12 ff. indicate one further step out of the book: the introduction
presented the book as a reve1ation of Jesus sent to the churches (1, 1.4).
Now this revea1er looks back on his revelation (tauta, v. 16) which his angel
has witnessed to th~ churches. He adds a self-predication that somehow
should be combined with the contents of the testimony. That is to say, it
should be of some significance that the one who sent his messenger with
" this " presents hirnself as exacdy one who is described with two originally
OT Messianic motifs, viz., the root of David and the morning star. Maybe
the attributes qualify the origin of the reve1ation as the one who comprises
the salvation history and " in whom the dawn of the newage of righteous-
ness and peace has already broken " 68.
Rev 22, 17 raises intricate questions in terms of communication. Who
says that " the spirit says " ? And to whom ? I cannot answer these ques-

67. SeeKRAFT, Comm., ad loc.


68. BEASLEY-MuRRAY, Comm., ad loc.
148 L. HARTMAN

tions here, but it may be helpful to remind ourselves of the different roles
of a prophet intimated above : God's messenger, man's spokesman, him-
self one of the addressed 69. Here it seems fair to assurne that the publie
setting (ep. 1,3) ofthe book is brought into the book itself, presumably in a
refleetion of the Maranatha ery. The shift from the Jesus-voiee (ego ... ) to
that of the spirit and the bride (legousin) may be eompatible to the dif-
ferent prophetie roles just suggested. The ho akouon, then, is also the one
who listens to the book.
This way of drawing the audienee into a more aetive role in the eommu-
nieation at the end of a book has eertain paralleis in other apoealypses. In
the ending of 1 En, touehed upon already, the righteous are addressed and
summoned to pray : " in your ery, ery for judgment " (1 En 104, 3), and Gr
Bar ends thus: "you brethren, who have obtained such a revelation,
glorify God also yourselves " (17, 4).
Rev 22, 18-19. A stressed shift of person introduees this paragraph.
Commonly it is regarded as John's words, although it is quite possible to
ascribe them to Jesus 70. Its funetion is to aseertain the authority of the
book in its entirety 71. It goes back to Dt 4, 2 and has a counterpart, e.g., in
I En 104, 10 ff.
Rev 22, 20 is singled out as introdueing ho martyron as a speaker. If
Christ is the first person behind martyro in v. 18, then ho martyron, whieh
clearly is Christ, takes up v. 18 again. The verse takes into aceount the
eultie use of the book in a way reminding of v. 17. Furthermore, v. 20a
contains a third eitation of the " motto" at the ending of the book, but
now with astronger referenee to the eommunieation situation: it is not
only the " motto" of the eommunieation eontained in the recited text, but
also a direct address through the mouth of the prophet to the audienee,
whose answer is voieed by the same prophet in v. 20b : " yes, eome 0 Lord
Jesus ".
Rev 22, 21, finally, is the end of the letter, begun in 1, 4. The salutation
is similar to that of several early Christian letters (1 Co 15, 24 ; 2 Co 13, 13 ;
Ga16, 10; Phil4, 23, ete.).

Looking baek at the partial texts of eh. 22 that we have diseussed, we


may ask ourselves whether it is possible to surmise any kind of hierarehy
similar to the one I suggested for the introduetion.
Dur deliberations have shown that the partial texts of the last ehapter
laek the relatively distinet demareators found at the beginning. A very
tentative suggestion is, however, the following : it seems that 22, 6 f. is the
last partial text within 21, 9-22, 7, whieh is the last series of visions and

69. Cf. Did 13,3" ... they (i.e., the prophets) are your high priests ".
70. As is done by O. MOE, Johannes uppenbarelse, Stockholm, 1965, ad [oc.
71. BEASLEy-MuRRAY, Comm .. ad [oc. Cp. BOUSSET, Comm., ad loc.
FORM AND MESSAGE 149

demonstrations, begun in I, 9. Simultaneously this concluding partial text


prepares for the ending of the book and gives a first evaluation. 22, 8-11 is
the last of the narrative partial texts, the first of which is 1, 9 ff. 22, 12-20
may be taken as two concluding groups of sayings of Jesus, the " author"
of the apokalypsis (I, I), each followed by a kind of reaction. The passage
could then be regarded as the third partial text within the letter begun in 1,
4 (the first being 1,4-8 and the second the narrative part 1, 9-22, 11). Rev
22,21 is then the fourth partial text ofthe letter, its final benediction.

So much for these remarks on partial texts in the beginning and con-
cluding parts of Rev. They certainly are anything but firm and decisive,
but maybe they have demonstrated that text-linguistics may be helpful
when biblical scholars want to use form criticism for their task to try to
understand the communication of biblical texts. If this is so, it could be
worthwhile to pursue a study of this kind through the whole of Rev, and,
not least, to do it with more depth and accuracy than has been possible in
this contribution.

Tuvängsvägen 4 L. HARTMAN
S-752 45 Uppsala
Le texte de rApocalypse .
Problemes de methode

Apres le travail de documentation gigantesque de H.C. Hoskier et


l'etude critique magistrale de J. Schmid, on ne s'attend plus ades change-
ments majeurs en critique textuelle de l'Apocalypse, sauf peut-etre en cas
d'une decouverte spectaculaire d'anciens manuscrits I. Le but de notre
contribution est bien limite. Nous voudrions decrire brievement la situa-
tion particuliere du texte de l'Apocalypse, indiquer quelques problemes de
methode en critique textuelle qui en resultent, et diseuter certains passages
illustratifs.

A. La situation particuliere du texte de I'Apocalypse

La remarque dans l'introduction a la 26" edition de Nestle-Aland (N 26 )


resume bien la situation: « In der Apokalypse ist die textgeschichtliche

1. Les principaux ouvrages pour l'etude du texte de I'Apocalypse (en ordre


alphabetique): ALLO, E.-B., Saint Jean. L'Apocalypse (EB), Paris, 1921. BOUSSET,
W., Textkritische Studien zum Neuen Testament (TU, XI, 4), Leipzig, 1894;
CHARLES, C.H., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St. John
(lCC), 2 tomes, Edinbourg, 1920. CONYBEARE, F.C., The Armenian Version of
Revelation, Londres, 1907. GWYNN, J., The Apocalypse of John in a Syriac Version
Hitherto Unknown, Dublin, 1897. HAUSSLEITER, J., Die lateinische Apokalypse in der
alten afrikanischen Kirche (Forschungen zur Geschichte der Neutestamentlichen
Kanons und der altkirchlichen Literatur, 4), Erlangen-Leipzig, 1891, pp. 1-224. 10.,
Victorini Episcopi Petavionensis Opera. II,' Commentarii in Apocalypsin editio Victo-
rini et recensio Hieronymi una cum posteriorum additamentis (CSEL, 49), Vienne-
Leipzig, 1916, pp. 10-154. HOSKIER, H.C., Conceming the Text of theApocalypse.
Collations of All Existing A vailable Greek Documents with the Standard Text of
Stephen's Third Edition, Together with the Testimony of the Versions, Commentaries
and Fathers, 2 tomes, Londres, 1929. LAGRANGE, M.-J., Introduction ci l'hude du
Nouveau Testament. II. Critique textuelle. t.2. La critique rationnelle (EB), Paris,
1935, pp. 577-625. SANDERS, H.A., Beati in Apocalypsin libri duodecim (American
Academy in Rome), Rome, 1930. SCHMID, J., Studien zur Geschichte des griechischen
Apokalypsetextes (Münchener Theologische Studien, erster Ergänzungsband), 3
tom es, Munich, 1955-1956. VOGELS, H.J., Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der Latei-
nischen Apocalypse-Übersetzung, Düsse1dorf, 1920. WEISS, B., Die Johannes-Apoka-
lypse. Textkritische Untersuchungen und Textherstellung (TU, VII, 1), Leipzig, 1891.
152 J. DELOBEL

und textkritische Situation völlig von der in den übrigen Schriften des
Neuen Testaments verschieden » 2.

1. LES TEMOINS DIRECTS DU TEXTE 3

Puisque le livre de I'Apocalypse a eu quelque peine a se faire accepter


dans le Canon officiel de I'eglise en Orient 4, on comprend que le nombre
de documents anciens est relativement restreint. Apart p 47 du troisieme
siede, il n'y a pas grand chose a signaler dans le domaine des papyrus 5.
Parmi les onciaux, seuls le Sinaiticus du quatrieme et le codex 046 du
dixieme siede 6 nous fournissent le texte complet. L' Alexandrinus du
cinquieme siede n'est que legerement mutile, tandis que l'Ephraemi-res-
criptus, palimpseste de la meme epoque, s'arrete a 19, 5. Le grand absent
est le Vaticanus dont le texte original est perdu au-dela de Hebreux 9, 15.
La demi-douzaine d'autres onciaux sont soit des manuscrits tardifs avec
commentaire, soit des fragments plus anciens contenant seulement quel-
ques versets 7. La situation particuliere du texte grec de l'Apocalypse se
manifeste encore par son absence dans la tres grande majorite des minus-
cules: seule une cinquantaine contient l'Apocalypse dans I'ensemble d'un
manuscrit complet de tout le NT. D'autre part, nous disposons d'une
centaine de minuscules qui ne contiennent que l'Apocalypse. Parmi les
minuscules, les mss. 2053, 2062 et 2344 meritent une mention speciale. Une
presentation des versions nous amenerait trop loin, mais nous y trouve-
rions une situation analogue 8.

2. NESTLE-ALAND, Novum Testamentum Graece, 26" M., Stuttgart, 1979, p. 16*.


3. Pour un aper~u de l'ensemble de la documentation, voir e.a. E.-B. ALLO,
Saint Jean, PP" CCLI-CCLXIV. Une mise a jour s'impose a I'aide des listes de
manuscrits grecs de Gregory-Aland et des instruments de travail plus recents sur les
versions.
4. Cf. R.H. CHARLES, Revelation, LI, pp. XCVII-CIIl; E.-B. ALLO, Saint Jean,
p. CCLXXV ; J. SCHMID, Einleitung in das Neue Testament, 6" ed., Fribourg, 1973,
pp. 44-59 ; ID, Studien, t.2. Die alten Stämme, pp. 31 ss.
5. II y a cinq papyrus contenant des fragments de I'Apocalypse: pl8 du 3" ou
4" s. : L 4-7; p 24 du 4" s. : 5, 5-8 ; 6,5-8; p 43 du 6"/7" s. : 2, 12-13 ; 15,8-16,2; p 47 du
3" s. : 9, 10-11,3; 11,5-16, 15; 16, 17-17,2; p85 du 4"/6" s. : 9, 19-10, 1.5-9.
6. Le codex 046 fur appele Q par B. Weiss, B par Wettstein et Tischendorf, E
par Hoskier, et E2 par Lagrange !
7. II s'agit de P (025), palimpseste du 9" s. (lacunes: 16, 12-17, I; 19, 21-20, 9;
22,6-21); 051 du \0" s. avec commentaire (lacunes: 1, 1-11.14; 13,2-3; 22,8-14);
052 du 10" s. avec commentaire, contenant 7, 16-8, 12; 0163 du 5" S.: 16, 17-20;
0169 du 4" s.: 3,19-4,3; 0207 du 4" S.: 9, 2-15; 0229 du 8" S.: 18, 16-17 et 19,4-6.
8. Voir E.-B. ALLO, Saint Jean, pp. CCLXXXIIl-CCLXXXV. I\ note qu'a cause
de la langue particuliere de I'Apocalypse, le texte a ete l'objet de plusieurs correc-
tions, aussi et surtout dans les versions. II en conclut « ... que les versions doivent
etre moins utiles que d'ordinaire pour faire decouvrir les le~ons originales, attendu
que leurs auteurs ne pouvaient certainement se preoccuper de creer un latin ou un
LE TEXTE DE L' APOCALYPSE 153

2. LES TYPES DE TEXTE

L'idee meme d'une distinction de plusieurs types de texte bien determi-


nes est fort debattue dans la critique textuelle contemporaine 9. En ce qui
concerne le livre de l'Apocalypse, ce probleme a deja ete ressenti par les
promote urs principaux d'une reconstruction de l'histoire du texte. En effet,
lorsque Westcott et Hort essaient de retrouver leurs differents types de
texte au dernier livre du Canon, ils y rencontrent des problemes speci-
fiques qui obligent a conclure prudemment: « In the Apocalypse, the
difficulty of recognising the ancient texts is still greater, owing to the great
relative paucity of documents, and especially the absence of this book from
the Vatican Ms (B) ... » 10. « Probable traces of a Western and perhaps an
Alexandrian text may be discerned, with analogous relations to the extant
uncials which contain other books : but they are not distinct enough to give
much help ... » 11.
a. L'absence de B ne permet pas a Westcott et Hort de determiner,
comme a leur habitude, le type de texte qu'ils appellent « neutral », et le
nombre impressionnant de le~ons particulieres, peu convaincantes, du
Sinaiticus ne leur inspire pas suffisamment confiance pour s'en servir
comme document de « rechange ». C'est plutöt l'Alexandrinus qui devient
le document de base, en partie faute de mieux, mais aussi parce qu'ils
estiment que ce codex contient un element « neutre » assez important qui
est souvent confirme par le codex C. Dans la recherche d'un texte dit
« neutre » de l'Apocalypse, A et C tiennent donc le röle que B et ~ rem-
plissent normalement dans la plupart des autres livres du NT. Deja Lach-
mann (1831) s'etait base en bonne partie sur l'Alexandrinus et l'Ephraemi-
rescriptus dans son edition critique, independante du Texte re~u, et Ti-
schendorf l'avait suivi, en ajoutant bien sur dans l' octava maior le temoi-
gnage de K Les etudes ulterieures de B. Weiss, R.H. Charles, M.-J. La-
grange et J. Schmid ont confirme cette haute appreciation du codex A. La
decouverte de p 47 n'a pas detröne l'Alexandrinus puisque ce papyrus du

syriaque fautif po ur rendre equivalemment les irregularites du grec»


(p. CCLXXVI). Voir aussi l'aper~u plus etendu chez M.-J. LAGRANGE, Introduction,
pp. 598-625.
9. Cf. K. ALAND, The Significance of the Papyri for Progress in New Testament
Research, dans J.Ph. HYATT (ed.), The Bible in Modern Scholarship, Nashville-New
York, 1965, pp. 325-346; pp. 336 S.: « The simple fact that all these papyri, with
their various distinctive charateristics did exist side by side, in the same ecclesiastical
province, that is in Egypt, where they were found, is the best argument against the
existence of any text-types, including Alexandrian and Antiochian ».
10. B.F. WESTCOTT, F.J.A. HORT, The New Testament in the Original Greek,
2 tomes, Cambridge-Londres, 1881; t.2, p. 109; comp. pp. 260-263.
11. Cf. WESTCOTT-HoRT, t.2, p. 260.
154 J. DELOBEL

troisü::me siede est plus proche de ~ 12. Ajoutons que les minuscules men-
tionnees plus haut, viennent soutenir le texte de A et C. Toutefois,
n'oublions pas que deja Westcott et Hort soulignaient que A contient un
nombre non negligeable de lelr0ns manifestement fautives 13. Moins encore
que pour les autres livres du NT, il y a lieu de considerer le texte des
grands onciaux comme un texte vraiment neutre, ni de lui attribuer une
autorite absolue.
b. Westcott et Hort ne discutent pas explicitement l'existence et les
caracteristiques d'un type de texte dit « Syrien » pour l'Apocalypse.
Lagrange estime que les onciaux P (025) et Q (046) sont le resultat. de
recensions qui ont abouti a un « texte ecdesiastique » dans la grande masse
des minuscules 14. Les condusions de Schmid sont plus nuance es, mais Iui
aussi croit pouvoir distinguer deux recensions (qu'il appelle Av et K, le
commentaire d'Andre de Cesaree 15 et la Koine) qui ont pour resultat un
type de texte dairement secondaire et de moindre valeur 16. A l'encontre
de ce qui s'est passe dans l'histoire du texte des autres livres du NT, ce n'est
pas ce type des onciaux tardifs et de la majorite des minuscules qui est
devenu comme teIle Texte relru. Comme on Ie sait, Erasme ne disposa que
d'un seul manuscrit de l'Apocalypse 17, le codex 1" et, par hasard, ce
manuscrit ne fut - je cite Hort - « by no means an average cursive of the
common sort » 18. 11 contient au contraire un element ancien important
qui, toujours d'apres Hort, serait d'origine occidentale. Sans echapper
entierement a l'influence du type de texte qui fut populaire au Moyen Age,

12. Cf. J. SCHMID, Studien, t.2, Die alten Stämme, p. 251 : « Der ältere Text hat
sich seit der Entdeckung der p47 in zwei klar voneinander zu unterscheidende
Textformen aufgelöst, AC und P47 S. Auch p47, die jetzt weitaus älteste Apk-Hs, hat
von neuem den überragenden Wert des Textes von AC bestätigt» Comp. 10., Der
Apokalypsetext des Chester Beatty Papyrus p47, dans ByzNeugrJb II (1934-1935) 81-
108.
13. WESTCOTT-HoRT, t.2, p. 261 (a propos de A et C): « ... The absolute propor-
tion of wrong readings is great in each of them singly ». Comp. B. WEISS, Johannes-
Apokalypse, p. 147.
14. M.-J. LAGRANGE, Introduction, pp. 594-597.
15. Andre de Cesaree en Cappadoce a ecrit son commentaire sur l'Apocalypse
au debut du 7" s. Texte et commentaire ont ete copies des dizaines de fois, et traduits
en plusieurs langues anciennes.
16. J. SCHMID, Studien, t.2, Die alten Stämme, pp. 64 ss. Reprenant Ies conc1u-
sions de Schmid, les editeurs de N 26 distinguent a !eur tour dans le « Mehreitstext »
de l'Apocalypse deux braches qu'ils indiquent avec les sigles M A et M K ; cf. NESTLE-
ALAND, Novum Testamentum Graece, p. 17*.
17. Sur le röle d'Erasme dans la preparation du texte qui deviendra Ie Textus
Receptus, voir e.a. F.H.A. SCRIVENER, A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the
New Testament, 3' ed., Cambridge, 1883, pp. 429-434 (sur le codex Ir, voir Ibid.,
p. 273); A. BLUDAU, Die beiden ersten Erasmus-Ausgaben des Neuen Testaments und
ihre Gegner (Biblische Studien, VII, 5), Fribourg, 1902; C.H. TURNER, The Early
Printed Editions ofthe Greek Testament, Oxford, 1924.
18. WESTCOTT-HoRT, t.2, p. 263.
LE TEXTE DE L' APOCALYPSE 155

le codex Ir aurait resiste en bonne partie a la degeneration qui se manifeste


dans la majorite des minuscules. Lagrange en conclut que le Textus Recep-
tus de I'Apocalypse est meilleur que celui de tout autre livre du NT 19.
c. Pour le troisieme type de texte, que Westcott et Hort distinguent
habituellement, le texte « occidental }), une fois encore I'Apocalypse joue
cavalier seul. Bien sur, le texte dit « occidental }) pose des problemes dans
l'ensemble du NT, mais ce qui est particulier a l'Apocalypse, c'est l'exclu-
sion pure et simple d'un tel type par Lagrange 20. Hort avait seulement
mentionne « probable traces of a Western text }) 21. Von Soden a beaucoup
de peine a trouver des temoins pour son texte Iota dans l' Apocalypse.
Lagrange ne manque pas de le constater et il refuse de suivre H.J. Vogels
lorsque celui-ci pretend que la tradition latine aurait largement influence le
Sinaiticus ainsi que plusieurs autres manuscrits grecs 22.

3. L'HISTOIRE DU TEXTE

Nous venons de mentionner les doutes de Hort et les difficultes de von


Soden. Les grands constructeurs de syntheses ne parviennent donc pas a
appliquer avec succes leur systeme habituel au livre de I'Apocalypse. La
situation particuliere du texte exige une solution adaptee.
Dans son etude monumentale Josef Schmid arrive aux conclusions
suivantes 23 : la tradition la plus ancienne se trouve dans A et C, tandis que
p 47 et ~ constituent une branche moins pure (Mischtext) de la meme
tradition; d'autre part, comme nous l'avons deja indique, les manuscrits
du commentaire d'Andre (Av) et les manuscrits byzantins (K) representent
deux recensions plus recentes, mutuellement independantes, et dans
l'ensemble mo ins valables que les onciaux. A la suite de Bousset et de
Charles, Schmid insiste beaucoup sur l'importance du critere linguistique
dans la reconstruction du texte et de son histoire 24 : le grec assez idioma-
tique et parfois grammaticalement discutable de l'auteur de l'Apocalypse a
du donner lieu a maintes corrections qui permettent de distinguer les
couches de la tradition. Nous en reparlerons.

19. M.-J. LAGRANGE, Introduction, 11, 2, p. 597.


20. Ibid, p. 580.
21. WESTCOTT-HoRT, t.2, p. 260.
22. M.-J. LAGRANGE, Ibid., pp. 580 et 598. Comp. H.J. VOGELS, Untersuchungen,
p. 83 ; Lagrange eonclut: « L'ineertitude est done eomplete quant au nombre et a
l'origine des types, tandis que le texte maintient son unite autour des prineipaux
oneiaux )} (p. 580).
23. J. SCHMID, Studien, t.2. Die alten Stämme, pp. 64 ss. 85 ss. 250s. ; cf. n.12.
24. Ibid., p. 171.
156 J. DELOBEL

Resumons les points Oll la situation du texte de l'Apocalypse parait etre


assez particulü!re :
a. Penurie relative de documents grecs anciens.
b. Hesitation de Hort a distinguer des types de texte et a reconstruire son
histoire.
c. Absence de B et texte relativement confus de ~, - ce qui affaiblit
considerablement le temoignage en faveur d'un type dit « neutre ».
d. Position exceptionnelle du Texte re~u qui meriterait plus d'attention
que dans les autres livres du NT.
e. Doutes apropos de l'existence d'un type dit « occidental ».
f. Necessite d'une solution speciale pour la reconstruction de l'histoire du
texte.
g. Usage d'une langue grecque assez caracteristique qui ouvre certaines
perspectives pour la critique interne, tout en posant des problemes
particuliers.

B. Problemes de methode en critique textuelle

Cette situation particuliere du texte de l' Apocalypse ne manque pas


d'avoir des consequences d'ordre methodologique. Nous voulons en enu-
merer et en illustrer quelques-unes.

1. LE RECOURS A. L'EcLECTISME

Puisque, plus encore que pour les autres livres du NT, l'appreciation
des documents et leur place dans l'histoire du texte sont debattues, la
tendance a negliger la critique externe pourrait etre plus prononcee encore,
au risque de verser dans un certain « eclectisme », depourvu de toute per-
spective historique. On se rappellera de l'attaque vigoureuse de Colwell :
« The scholars who profess to follow ' the Eclectic Method ' frequently so
define the term as to restrict evidence to the Internal Evidence of Read-
ings. By 'eclectic' they mean in fact free choice among readings », et il
conclut: « The weight of the manuscripts is ignored. Hs pi ace in the
manuscript tradition is not considered » 25. Ces phrases font partie d'un

25. E.C. COLWELL, Hort Redivivus: A Plea and a Program, in J. COERT


RYLAARSDAM (ed.), Transitions in Biblical Scholarship (Essays in Divinity, 4),
Chicago, 1968, pp. 131-150; repris dans ID., Studies in Methodology in Textual
Criticism ofthe New Testament (NTTS, 9) Leyde, 1969, pp. 148-171; nous citons a la
page 154. Voir aussi la discussion actuelle sur la methode ec1ectique : E.J. Epp, The
Eclectic Method in New Testament Textual Criticism: Solution or Symptom? dans
HTR 69 (1976) 211-257: G.D. FEE, Rigorous or Reasoned Eclecticism- Which ? in
J.K. ELLIOTT (M.), Studies in New Testament Language and Text. Fs. G.D. Kilpa-
LE TEXTE DE L' APOCALYPSE 157

passage Oll Colwell s'en prend a l'apparat critique de la premiere edition


du Greek New Testament (GNT). Le texte de la troisieme edition, repris
dans N 26 , est lui aussi l'objet d'une controverse animee. 11 est frappant de
constater que ce nouveau « Texte re~u » a ete attaque de deux cötes oppo-
ses. D'une part, les protagonistes de « l'eclectisme integral » deplorent que,
dans une edition qui, d'apres Elliott, « purports to be eclectic 26 », les
principes de critique interne ont trop souvent cede le pas au « culte » des
grands onciaux 27. D'autre part, les defenseurs d'une critique externe
fondee sur l'histoire du texte, regrettent que le « poids» qu'on donne a
certains manuscrits ne soit pas plus solidement assure par la datation et la
localisation de chaque document, dans le cadre d'une position plus nette
sur l'histoire du texte dans son ensemble 28. Ne faut-il pas en conclure que
les editeurs pourraient avoir reussi a echapper a toute methode trop unila-
terale?
En ce qui concerne l'Apocalypse, une lecture attentive du Textual
Commentary nous apprend que presque chaque fois critique externe et
interne ont leur mot a dire. Le malaise actuel dans l'etude de l'histoire du
texte 29 amene certains auteurs a vers er dans une attitude extreme. Cer-

trick (Supp!. NT, 44), Leyde, 1976, pp. 174-197; J.K. ELLIOTT, Plaidoyer pour un
eclectisme integral applique ci la critique textuelle du Nouveau Testament, dans RB 84
(1977) 5-25. Comp. la methode dans F. NEIRYNCK avec la collaboration de J. DELO-
BEL, TH. SNOY, G. VAN BELLE, F. VAN SEGBROECK, Jean et les Synoptiques. Examen
critique de ['exegese de M.-E. Boismard (BETL, 49), Louvain, 1979, pp. 219-226.
26. Cf. J.K. ELLIOTT, The United Bible Societies Greek New Testament: An
Evaluation, dans NT 15 (1973) 278-300; p. 292.
27. Ainsi J.K. ELLIOTT, Ibidem, p. 292: « ... the general impression ofthe text is
that the editors have been unable to rid themselves of the old practice of the cult of
the best Mss. ». 10., The United Bible Societies' Textual Commentary Evaluated, dans
NT 17 (1975) 130-150; p. 131 : « The committee set out to produce an ec1ectic text
but ended by producing a conservative text dominated by ~ B. 10., A Second Look
at the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament, dans BiTrans 26 (1975) 325-332.
L.W. HURTAOOO, dans JBL 92 (1973) 621-622; p. 622: « favoritism given to exter-
nal evidence ». J.M. Ross, dans JBL 95 (1976) 112-121. J.K. ELLIOTT, The Third
Edition 0/ the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament, dans NT 20 (1978) 242-
277.
28. Voir e.a. E.C. COLWELL, Hort Redivivus; J. DUPLACY, compte rendu du
GNT 1 dans Biblica 51 (1970) 117-119; 10; compte rendu du Textual Commentary,
Ibid., 58 (1977) 265-268: l'auteur reprache aux Miteurs d'avoir legerement sous-
estime le temoignage des citations et des versions, et il deplore qu'ils n'en ont pas
suffisamment fait usage pour mieux dater et localiser les variantes. En plus, il
soup~onne un prejuge un peu trap favorable pour le type et les manuscrits Alexan-
drins. ce qui leur donne un poids qu'ils meritent peut-etre, mais pas apriori.
29. Sur le malaise dans le domaine de l'histoire du texte, comp. E.J.Epp, The
Twentieth Century Interlude in New Testament Textual Criticism, dans JBL 93
(1974) 386-414; spec. pp. 390-401. Il se rHere a la fameuse discussion entre K. A-
land et E.C. Colwell; comp. notre artic1e The Bodmer Papyri 0/ John. A Short
Survey 0/ the Methodological Problems, dans M. OE JONGE (M.) L'Evangile de Jean.
Sources, redaction, theologie (BETL, 44), Gembloux-Leuven, 1977, pp. 317-323;
spec. pp. 319 ss.
158 J. DELOBEL

tains, constatant a juste tire l'impossibilite de reconstruire une genealogie


compH:te des manuscrits, se bornent pratiquement a la critique interne.
D'autres, convaincus de la necessite prealable de pareille reconstruction, se
limitent a pourchasser ce « reve » en rejetant les essais partiels et vulne-
rables de ceux qui cherchent a valoriser critique externe et interne sur
l'echelle limitee des cas particuliers. Cette derniere methode, prönee par le
comite du GNT, et appelee par K. Aland « die lokal-genealogische
Methode », nous parait dans l'etat actuel des choses la plus realiste et la
plus equilibree, pourvu qu'on n'en oublie pas les limites reelles 30. 11 est
difficile de nier completement qu'elle soit ec1ectique, mais, en l'occurence,
ce terme ne doit pas porter le sens pejoratif d'arbitraire et de subjectif.

2. L'APPLICATION DU CRITERE LINGUISTIQUE

Nous avons deja mentionne l'usage grammatical assez particulier de


l'auteur de l'Apocalypse 31. Son grec presente parfois des tournures
etranges, sinon simplement fautives 32. Dans la mesure ou ces expressions
font vraiment partie du style de l'auteur, elles peuvent nous aider a distin-
guer les le~ons originales des corrections ulterieures. Toutefois, ce critere, si
valable qu'il soit en principe, reste delicat a appliquer. D'abord, il n'est pas
toujours facile de determiner en quoi consiste l'usage typique de l'auteur,
ou meme s'il y a lieu de parler d'un tel usage. Puis, il n'est pas certain que
l'auteur soit reste fidele a ses propres « regles» dans tout le livre. Une
variante avec une tournure grammaticale plus correcte ne represente pas

30. Cf. K. ALAND, The Twentieth-Century Interlude in New Testament Textual


Criticism, dans F. BEST, R.McL. WILSON (Ms.), Text and Interpretation Studies in
the New Testament Presented ta Matthew Black, Cambridge, 1979, pp. 1-14; cf. dans
le bulletin de l'institut de Münster: Die Rolle des 20. Jahrhunderts in der Geschichte
der neutestamentlichen Textkritik, dans Bericht der Hermann Kunst-Stiftung zur
Förderung der neutestamentlichen Textforschung für die Jahre 1977 bis 1979, Mün-
ster, 1979, pp. 28-42. Aux pp. 37 ss. Aland defend la methode pratiquee a l'institut.
La « lokal-genealogische Methode » s'impose, a son avis, parce que le texte du NT
n'es! pas un texte mort, comme celui d'un auteur classique, mais un texte vivant,
constamment soumis ades influences de toutes sortes, qui varient pour chaque
passage. Voir encore N 26 , p. 5*.
31. Voir G. MUSSIES, The Morphology ofthe Koine Greek as Used in the Apoka-
lypse of St. John. A Study in Bilingualism (Suppl. NT, 27), Leyde, 1971;
R.H. CHARLES, Revelation, t.l, pp. CXVII-CLIX; J. SCHMID, Studien, t.2, Die alten
Stämme, pp. 173-249.
32. Cf. W. BOUSSET, Zur Textkritik, pp. 16-17; R.H. CHARLES, Revelation, t.l,
p. CLIII : « The bulk of these solecims, though not all, are simply slips of our author
which a subsequent revision would have removed, if the opportunity of such a
revision hadoffered itself ». J. SCHMID, Studien, t.2, p. 244: « Die Erklärung dieser
sprachlichen Fehler bildet für die Textkritik ein besonders schweres Problem ... ».
Les auteurs ne sont pas toujours d'accord entre eux pour determiner si telle tour-
nure es! encore grammaticalement acceptable, ou s'il s'agit d'une simple erreur.
LE TEXTE DE L' APOCALYPSE 159

necessairement une correction secondaire: il se peut que 1'auteur ait ete


moins constant dans son style que ne le supposa Charles 33. 11 se pourrait
aussi que teIle tournure etrange soit une simple faute de copie, ou meme
une adaptation secondaire au style d'autres passages.
Prenons, a titre d'exemple, 1'introduction aux lettres adresse es aux sept
eglises (Ap 2, 1.8.12.18; 3,1.7.14). Il est etonnant de constater l'influence
decisive du point de vue methodologique sur les conclusions critiques.
Nous citons Ap 2, 1 d'apres Westcott-Hort: 'tq> ayyfJ..ff) 'tq> EV 'Eq>tO"ff)
EKKATJO"iac; YQa'!lov. On s'attendait normalement a 'tq> ayytAff) 'tf)c; EV
'Eq>tO"ff) EKKATJO"iac;, mais Westcott et Hort preferent suivre le texte de.
l'Alexandrinus, soutenu en 1'occurence par C, quelques minuscules, cer-
taines versions et par le temoignage explicite de Primasius 34. Ils font de
meme pour 2, 8 et 18, pratiquement sur 1'autorite de 1'Alexandrinus. Ils
sont convaincus que les autres passages avaient a l'origine ce me me datif,
mais, faute de temoignage oncial, ils ne 1'indiquent que par un « marginal
reading }). On connait 1'importance attribuee par Westcott-Hort a la cri-
tique externe et il est hors de doute que, dans ce cas precis, c'est en grande
partie 1'autorite de l' Alexandrinus qui adetermine leurs conclusions 35.
Nous trouvons un tableau tout a fait different chez B. Weiss, dont on
souligne la preference et le « feeling}) remarquable pour la critique
interne 36. Repoussant le point de vue de Hort, il exclut d'emblee toute

33. Voir la reaction de Schmid contre l'application trop rigide de ce critere par
Charles, dans Studien, t.2, p. 7.
34. Pour composer un apparat critique de 't0 dans les sept versets en question,
nous rassembions !'information partielle de Tischendorf, Westcott-Hort, von Soden,
Charles, Hoskier, Nestle-Aland, Bover et Merk. Apoc 2, 1: AC 1854 (2329) syph
arm pt Prim (2019 't0 'tf]~); 2, 8: A 17342305 armPt; 2, 12: 17342050 syph arm pt
cops, ; 2, 18 A (om eKKA.T]cria~) (2055) 2305 syph.h arm pt (Prim) Epiphane (une fois
'tf]~, une fois 't0 'tf]~); C omet l'article; 3, 1: 046 syph.h (om eKKA.T]cria~) arm pt
(Prim); 3, 7: syph arm pt (Prim); 3, 14: syh arm pt (201 om eKKA.T]cria~) ; autres var. :
cf. von Soden, Hoskier. Au sujet de 2, I Primasius note: « Dativo hic casu angelo
posuit, non genitivo, ac si diceret Scribe angelo huic ecclesiae )}. Cf. P.L. t. 68,
col. 803. Westcott et Hort croient pouvoir invoquer son temoignage en faveur de 't0
en 2, 18; 3, 1.7 a cause de sa traduction: « angelo qui est Thyatirae )} ete. cf. The
New Testament, t. 2, Notes, p. 137.
35. Ibid., Notes, pp. 136-137. Sur le plan du « transcriptional prob ability )} ils
remarquent que « the temptation to alter 't0 to 'tf]~ would be strongly feit )} (p. 137)~
Comme argument de critique interne, ils estiment invraisemblable que les formules
ne soient differentes les unes des autres que pour ce seul mot. La penurie relative de
documents anciens de I'Apocalypse expliquerait le nombre restreint de temoins en
faveur de 't0. La formule avee 't0 trouve a leur avis un parallele frappant dans
certains titres honorifiques du eulte de Ces ar Auguste, tels qu'on les rencontre dans
plusieurs inscriptions, p. ex. aQX1!:Q!:U~ 'tf]~' Acria~ vaou 'tou ev'E<ptcrq>. Remarquons
toutefois la difference d'avec notre formule. Comp. la reaction de E. LOHMEYER, Die
Offenbarung des Johannes (Handbuch zum NT, 16),2" M., Tubingue, 1953, p. 21.
36. B. WEISS, Johannes-Apokalypse, p. 64, n. 2; p. 97. Sa methode est brievement
decrite par B.M. METZGER, The Text of the New Testament. Its Transmission, Cor-
ruption and Restoration, 2" M., Oxford, 1968, pp. 137-138; p. 137: « Instead of
160 J. DELOBEL

discussion, partant de deux convictions qui prennent un peu le caractere de


postulats, a savoir qu'a l'origine les sept formules ont dü etre identiques, et
que le texte de base n'a pas pu contenir ce non-sens grammatical du datif
'!Cl>. 11 ne faut donc pas diseuter de l'usage de l'auteur puisqu'il ne peut
s'agir que d'une « gedankenlose Änderung » par un scribe, d'une « mecha-
nische Confirmation» a l'article '!Cl> devant ayyf'J..ff). On se demande si
Weiss ne va pas un peu vite en besogne, en eliminant d'un trait tout le
temoignage externe en faveur du datif. En revanche, R.H. Charles tient
compte de ce temoignage 37. Mais, en plus, il introduit le critere linguis-
tique dans notre discussion, en l'appliquant de fa~on extremement rigide.
Voici en quoi consiste ce qu'il appelle « John's usage ». D'abord il estime
que la repetition reguliere de l'article devant un adjectif ou un participe
suivant un substantif determine (par exemple nlv 1t6A1V '!11V l'lya1tllIlEvllV)
prouve qu'un usage analogue dans les sept adresses soit certain 38. La
construction '!Cl> aYYEAff} '!ii~ ev 'E<pE(Jff} eKKAll(Jia~ ne repondrait pas du
tout a l'usage de notre auteur, puisqu'il ne place jamais une expression
prepositionnelle (en l'occurence ev 'E<pE(Jff}) entre l'article et le substantif
(en l'occurence entre '!ii~ et eKKAll(Jia~) 39. Le datif doit etre primitif, et
Charles pretend que « John could not have written otherwise» 40.
L'absence de '!Cl> dans les manuscrits grecs en trois des sept cas prouverait
seulement que « the assurance of the scribes grows as they write » 41. Les
editions ulterieures n'ont pas donne credit a Charles sur ce point, et on
peut se demander en effet si le critere linguistique est applicable aux pas-
sages cites 42. En rappelant cette discussion ancienne, nous avons voulu

grouping manuscript authorities and evaluating variants in terms of external sup-


port, Weiss discriminates among readings in accord with what he deemed to be the
most appropriate meaning in the context ». Cette option pour 1'« intrinsic probabil-
ity » n'empeche pas chez Weiss une etude tres attentive des documents, ce qui
amene Colwell a le ranger avec Hort et Tischendorf comme « three men who leanea
heavily upon the external evidence of documents », cf. E.C. COLWELL, The Greek
New Testament. With a Limited Critical Apparatus: Its Nature and Uses, in
D.E. AULNE (M.), Studies in New Testament and Early Christian Literature. Fs. A.P.
Wikgren, Leyde, 1972, pp. 31-40, p. 38.
37. R.H. CHARLES, Revelation, t. I, pp. CLX-CLXI; t. 2, p. 244.
38. Ibid., t. I, pp. CXIX-CXX.
39. Ibid., t. I, pp. CLVI-CL VII.
40. Ibid., t. I, p. CLXI ; comp. p. CL VII.
41. Ibid., t. I, p. 244. Revenant a la critique externe, Charles arrive ades conclu-
sions assez osees SUT la base de cet exemple discutable ; cf. Ibid., t. 2, p. CLXI : « In
this extraordinary piece of Greek we have a first class means of distinguishing
between the trustworthiness of our various authorities ». Charles y trouve en effet
une confirmation de la grande valeur des onciaux anciens, et plus particulierement
de la « vast superiority of A (C) to ~ 025 ». Il n'est pas exclu que ce soit au contraire
le prejuge favorable pour A C, qui ait determine le « trustworthiness » de la variante
avec 'C!>.
42. « John's usage» n'est peut-etre pas aussi bien etabli que ne le pretende
Charles. D'abord, en ce qui concerne la repetition de I'article devant un participe
LE TEXTE DE L' APOCALYPSE 161

illustrer deux pieges en methode de critique textuelle. 11 y a d'abord la


difficulte, signalee plus haut, d'echapper a une methode unilaterale. Puis,
l'exemple montre.a quel point le critere linguistique peut etre delicat a
appliquer. S'il est deja difficile de determiner de fa~on stricte « rusage de
l'auteur », il n'est pas moins sujet a caution de lui imposer un usage absolu-
ment constant, surtout si la tradition manuscrite est extremement incer-
taine. Bien sur, c'est la precisement que ce critere peut intervenir, mais il
nous semble qu'il doit etre tres bien assure avant qu'il ne permette de
negliger les conc1usions de la critique externe.

3. LE<;ONS PARTICULIERES (singular readings)


ET LE<;ONS PEU ATTESTEES

A cause de la penurie relative de la documentation, on rencontre dans


I'Apocalypse, plus souvent que dans les autres livres du NT, des le~ons
presentes dans un seul manuscrit grec, dont certaines ont une chance reelle
de rendre la le~on originale. D'apres B. Weiss, des 210 Sonderlesarten qu'il
trouve dans le codex A, 60 representeraient la le~on originale 43. Bien sur,
une variante particuliere risque atout moment de perdre sa particularite, a
1'0ccasion d'une decouverte de manuscrits, d'une nouvelle collation, ou
d'une etude plus poussee des versions, mais, meme si 1'0n tient compte de
ce statut precaire du singular reading, on peut se demander si Colwell
n'avait pas perdu de vue la situation un peu speciale de I'Apocalypse
lorsqu'il ecrit: « .. .ifit be argued (as it sometimes is) that a Singular Read-
ing may be the original reading, a sufficient answer lies in the high proba-

suivant le substantif, la tradition textuelle est tres incertaine en plusieurs cas: cf.
J. SCHMID, Studien, t. 2, Die alten Stämme, p. 196. Peut-on parler des lors d'une regle
stricte? Puis, Charles note qu'une phrase prepositionnelle suit normalement le
substantif qu'elle determine, p. ex. 11, 19 6 vu6~ 'tOü ßEOÜ 6 tv ,e'!> oUQuve'!>. On
s'attendrait donc normalement a 'ii~ tKKAT(criu~ ,ii~ tV'E<pEcrql, mais Charles ajoute
que, dans le cas d'un substantifsans article, la phrase prepositionnelle peut preceder
ce substantif. Toutefois, il admet que « this occurs only in the titles of the letters to
the churches ». Son raisonnement, n'est-il pas un cercle vicieux? La construction
'ii~ tv' E<ptcrql tKKATJcriu~ serait impossible puisque tv' E<pEcrql devrait normalement
suivre tKKAT(criu~. 'Ev 'E<pEcrql ne peut preceder tKKATJcrtU~ que si tKKAT(criu~ n'a pas
d'article. La preuve : les sept cas en question. Mais c'est precisement ce qu'il faut
prouver! J. SCHMID, Ibid., pp. 197-198, pense qu'en l'occurence, I'usage de l'auteur
de I'Apokalypse n'oblige pas a accepter les conclusions tres fermes de Charles:
« denn der Artikel vor EKKAT(crtU~ ist weit schwerer zu entbehren als die Wiederho-
lung des Artikels bei ,0) UYYEAo) » (p. 198). Parmi les quelques commentateurs qui
s'interessent a ce detail, on peut eiter en faveur de 'e'!> : H.B. Swete et E. Lohmeyer.
43. B. WEISS, Johannes-Apokalypse, p. 147: « Derselbe (A) hat ganz allein gegen
60 richtige Lesarten erhalten, während dieser Fall bei C nur 4 mal, bei ~ 8 mal
eintritt ». Weiss n'en donne malheureusement pas la liste. R.H. CHARLES, Revela-
tion, t. I, p. CLXIV, en compte 55, mais lui non plus ne les enumere pas.
162 J. DELOBEL

bility that in a tradition so richly evidenced as that ofthe New Testament,


the original reading has survived in some group or type of text 44 }). Des
lors, il veut exdure les singular readings de l'apparat critique : « The singu-
lar reading should not be allowed to dutter up the apparatus or to waste
the scholar's time 45 }). Pourtant, quelques variantes, particulieres au
codex A, ont ete adoptees dans le nouveau « Standard Text }), a la suite ou
a l'encontre d'autres editions critiques 46, et l'auteur du Textual Commen-
lary ne considere pas « a waste oftime }) de les commenter 47.
Parmi les singular readings du Codex Alexandrinus, l'exemple le plus
frappant est sans doute Ap 13, 10 48. La forme grammaticale invraisem-
blable de la deuxieme partie du verset avait ete defendue uniquement par
Charles 49. A l'oppose de toutes les autres editions, GNT 3_N 26 reprend sa
suggestion. 11 s'agit d'une variante qui touche au sens meme du texte. A

44. E.C. COLWELL, E.W. TUNE, Variant Readings: Classifieation and Use, dans
JBL 83 (1964) 253-~61: repris dans E.C. COLWELL, Studies, pp. 96-105; spec.
p.104.
45. 11 faut tenir compte des nuances apporte es par E.J. Epp, Toward the Clarifi-
eation ofthe Term' Textual Variant', dans J.K. ELLIOTT (M.), Studies, pp. 153-173.
Epp est d'accord pour dire qu'il ne faut pas s'attendre a trouver une le90n originale
parmi les singular readings, mais il se demande s'il ne faut pas preciser qu'une le90n
n'est vraiment particuliere que lorsqu'elle est absente dans tout le reste de la tradi-
tion manuscrite, y compris les versions. Toutefois, meme dans ce sens plus strict, le
principe s'avere non applicable comme tel au texte de l'Apocalypse.
46. Le90ns particulieres dans N 26 : Ap 12, 10 KUti]ycoe contre SVMB ; 13, IOcd
(voir citation dans le texte) contre T(H)SVMBN 25 (h); 13, 18 t~UKÖcrlOt t~i]KOVtU ~~
contre TB(h) ; le90ns particulieres de A soutenues par une ou plusieurs versions : 4,
7 tO lteöcrCOltOV roe; UvSeOOltOU contre TN 25 (H)SVMB ; 5, 9 t<,!> SE<,!> contre SVMB ;
22, 21ltavtcov contre HSVM. Voici, en plus, quelques le90ns de N 26 , avec A comme
seul temoin ancien, et peu attestees dans l'ensemble des mss. grecs : 4, 4 Seövoue;
EiKOcrt tEcrcrueue; contre HSVMB ; 5, 6 UltEcrtUAI!EvOt contre ThB; 13, lOab (voir
citation dans le texte) contre S; 16, 18 avSeCOltOe; eYEVEtO contre (H)SVMB ; 20, 26
öqne; ö uexuioe; contre hSVMB. N 26 a prefere a~tov en 5, 12 a la 1e90n particuliere
de A a~tOe; dans N 25 . Les sigles employes dans cette note sont repris de N 26 , et y sont
expliques a la p. 36*.
47. B.M. METZGER, Textual Commentary, pp. 747,749-750.
48. L'apparat critique de Apoc 13, 10 est repris, en resume, de GNT 3 : 10 ab : Eie;
UiXI!UACOcriuv, Eie; UiXI!UAcocriuv lmaYEt A vgWW Ps-Ambroise; Eie; UiXI!UAcocriuv
lmaYEt min it vgcl sypn.n Irlal Prim; UiXI!UAcocriuv cruvaYEt, Eie; UiXI!UAcocriuv lmaYEt
Arethas; UiXI!UACOtisEt, Eie; UiXI!UAcocriuv \JltaYEt min (cop,a); UiXI!UACO"Ci1;Et, uiX-
I!UAconcrSi]crEtUt 94; Eie; UiXI!UAcocriuv \JltaYEt p 74 X C P 046 min COpbo (arm) Ir,rm
Tyconius Andre bav Beatus; Eie; UiXI!UAcocriuv cruvaYEt min, codex 1 (om Eie;) Are-
thas ; EXEt UiXI!UAcocriuv \JltaYEt 051 min ; UiXI!UAcocriuv 1778.
lOed: UltoKtuvSiivut, UVtÖV A ; UltoKtEVEi uut6v 2048 ; UltoKtEvei 1828 it gig syph
cop (?) (arm); UltoK"CEvEi, bEi uut6v C P (051 UltoKtutvEi) 051 c 1 min it vg cop (?)
Irlal Prim Andre? Arethas; UltOKtEVEt [sie], bEi uutÖV 046 min; UltOKttwEt, bEi
uut6v min Andre c ; UltOKtEivEt, bEi uut6v X 1611 syh eth Ir; UltOKtEI!VEt, bEi uut6v
2065 ; U1toKtEVEiv bEi uu"C6v 2053 ; bEi uut6v UltoKtuvSiivut (om. f.V I!UXuieU U1tO-
KtuvSiivm2) min.
49. R.H. CHARLES, Revelation, t. 1, p. CXL VI, pp. 355-357.
LE TEXTE DE L' APOCALYPSE 163

quelques details pres, tous les editeurs sont d'accord sur le texte de la
premiere partie du verset :
13, lOa EI: tlI; Ei~ uiXlluAffiO'iuv 50
b Ei~ uiXlluAffiO'iuv lJ1tUYEt 51

mais seul GNT 3 _N 26 suit le temoignage du Codex A pour la seconde moi-


tie:
13, lOc EI: tt~ ev llUxuiQ'lJ (l1toK1:uv8fjvut
d uli16v ev llUxulQ'lJ U1toK1:uv8fjvUt

a la difference des autres manuscrits et des autres editions:


c EI: tt~ ev llUxulQ'lJ U1toK1:EVEi 52
d oEi ut'l1:6v ev llUxulQ'lJ U1tOK1:Uv8fjvUt

On remarque la difference du sens. La le~on majoritaire contient l'idee de


retribution qui frappera ceux qui tuent avec le glaive : celui qui tue par
l'epe~, doit etre tue par l'epee. L'Alexandrinus au contraire parle de
l'accomplissement ineluctable du sort des chretiens persecutes: si quel-
qu'un doit etre tue par l'epee"il faudra bien qu'il soit tue par l'epee.
L'influence evidente de Jr 15, 2 (et peut-etre de Jr 50, 11 LXX) 53
permet deja certaines conclusions sur le plan textuel. D'abord, en Jeremie,
on trouve l'idee d'accomplissement, non pas celle de retribution 54, et
l'expression Ei~ utXlluAfficriuv n'y est pas accompagnee d'un verbe: c'est
precisement le verbe (umiYEt, cruVUYEt) probablement secondaire en Ap 13,
lOa, qui introduit deja dans cette premiere partie du verset le sens de
retribution tout en allegeant la construction grammaticale. Puis, l'omission
du, second Eie; 9uvu1:ov, Eie; IlUxutQuv, Eie; utXlluAffiO'iuv, dans certains

50. En 13, lOa le T.R. et Lachmann 1 (1831) ajoutent O'UVUYEt.


51. En 13, lOb P.A. Gratz 2 (1851) a seulement le verbe U1tUYEt; von Soden met
des crochets : [Eie; uiXJluA,ffiO'iuv] U1tUYEt.
52. En 13, lOcd le T.R., P.A. Gratz, von Soden et Souter ont JlUXuieg ; en 13,
lOc Lachman 1 et 2 ecrit u1toK1:uivEt.
53. Jr 15,2 Kui !:(HUl tuv &t1tCoO'tv 1te6e; O'E IIoO t~EA.&uO'6JlE8u ;
Kui teEie; 1te6e; UIJ1:0Ue; TuöE IeEYEt KUetoe;
"OcrOt Eie; 8uvuwv, Eie; 8uvu1:ov'
Kui öcrot Eie; JlUXUleUV, Eie; JlUXUteuv'
Kui öcrot Eie; A,tJl6v, Eie; A,tJl6v'
Kui öO'ot Eie; uiXJluA,ffiO'iuv, Eie; uiXJluA,ffiO'iuv.
Jr 50, 11 LXX (TM 43, 11)
Kui EiO'EA,EUcrt1:Ul Kui 1tU1:U~tt yfjv Aiyu1t'tOu,
oüe; Eie; 8uvuwv, Eie; 8uvu1:ov,
Kui oüe; Eie; u1totKtcrJl6v, Eie; U1totKtcrJl6v,
Kui oüe; Eie; QOJlQ>uiuv, Eie; QOJlQ>iuv.
54. En Jr 15, 2, il s'agit d'une parole de Yahve sur le sort du peuple elu: le
peuple infidele sera puni par un de ces quatre desastres : la mort, l'epee, la faim ou
l'exil. Celui qui est destine a la mort, ira a la mort, etc.
164 J. DELOBEL

manuscrits de la LXX 55 demontre qu'une simple haplographie suffit pour


expliquer les variantes courtes en Ap 13, lOb. Enfin, la reference ft l'epee
dans un parallelisme strict en Jr 15, 2b a pu inspirer un parallelisme tout
aussi strict dans la parole sur l'epee en Ap 13, IOcd, qui se prolonge dans le
parallelisme du verbe. Mais 1ft s'arrete la correspondance entre les deux
passages: la forme grammaticale du double infinitif absolu u1toKtclv9fjvUt
reste inexplique. Apremiere vue, une le~on tres invraisemblable qui trouve
pourtant un nombre croissant de dHenseurs chez les commentateurs 56.
L'argument principal se situe au niveau de la critique intern~. L'idee
d'accomplissement, supposee par A, convient le mieux dans le contexte
immediat et plus large, tandis que l'idee de retribution n'y eonvient pas du
tout. D'emblee, l'originalite de la forme aetive du verbe U1tOKtEtVE1V en 13,
IOc est exclue 57. On peut se demander si pareil argument aurait eu la
meme force decisive si le singular reading en question n'aurait figure que
dans un manuserit quelconque. Il faut en effet trouver une explication
pour l'expression quasi impossible d n~ f.v lluxuiQ'lJ U1toKtuv9fjvUt (13,
lOe) et pour la formule analogue en 13, IOd. D'apres Charles, il s'agirait
d'un hebralsme 58 dans le genre de 6 M1XUT]A Kui 01 ä:Y'YEA01 UUtOU tOU
1tOAQlfjcrUl «( Michel,et ses anges avaient a se battre ») 59. Sans influencer
les editions critiques avant GNT, sa suggestion a fini par faire ecole, puis-

55. Dm. Eil; Suvu'tOv 2 : 62'" 764 106 LaWEth; om. Ei~ IlUXatQUV: 106; om. Ei~
uiXlluArocriuv: 106. En Jr 50, 11 LXX, on trouve des hap10graphies ana10gues dans
plusieurs manuscrits.
56. Parmi les commentateurs, on peut eiter e.a. A Loisy (1923), P. Ketter (1942),
M.-E. Boismard (1951), E. Lohmeyer (1953 2), A Wikenhauser (1959 3), E. Lohse
(1960 8 ). P. Morant (1969), AP. van Schaik (1971).
57. Cf. R.H. CHARLES, Revelation, t. 1, p. 355. Les commentateurs cites en n. 56
rejettent aussi l'idee de retribution. Comp. P. Morant, Das Kommen des Herrn. Eine
Erklärung der Offenbarung des Johannes, Zürich, 1969, p. 253: « Vor dem offenen
Widerstand gegen die römische Staatsrnacht mussten die Christen Kleinasiens aber
gewiss nicht gewarnt werden. Die Apokalypse lässt nirgends erkennen, dass solche
Überlegungen die Christen beschäftigt haben; sie hätten ihre Lage nur verschlech-
tert ».
58. R.H. CHARLES, Revelation, t. 1, p. 355: « ... it is the litera1 rendering of a
distinctively Hebrew idiom: i.e. ofrWJ' :J,n:J ~ml 1'1~?J' :J,n:J ,tvN . It
T T

-:T- :J,n:J l'1'~"


might be explained as amistranslation of l'1'~' O:T- :J,n:J ,tvN
where the translator read 1'1~?J'
T
twice instead of l'1'~'
0:
'11 -
». Cette derniere forme se
rencontre dans le texte hebreu de Jr 15, 2, mais la phrase comme telle est une cons-
truction de toutes pieces.
59. Charles estime que l'absence de l'artic1e tüÜ devant U1to1C1:uvSiivat n'est pas
un inconvenient. Ibid, p. 356. 11 remarque que le , , que l'h6breu emp10ie devant un
infinitif de ce genre, se traduit dans la LXX de plusieurs fa~ons. 11 est vrai qu'i1 ne
peut eiter qu'un seul exemple Oll , , suivi d'un infinitif, est rendu par un infinitif
absolu. Ps 32, 9 LXX.
LE TEXTE DE L'APOCALYPSE 165

que parmi d'autres, Metzger la reprend 60. Par sa forme grammaticale, il


s'agit de toute fa~on de la lectio difficilior, et, si ce n'est pas une lectio
impossibilis, elle convient mieux que les autres dans le contexte. Toutefois,
il subsiste des problemes qui rendent le choix de GNT 3 _N 26 discutable,
tout au moins pour la fin du verset 61.

Conclusion

Nous avons voulu montrer que la situation du texte de l'Apocalypse,


sans etre unique sur toute la ligne, est tout de meme assez particuliere dans
le NT, et que les problemes de methode qui en resultent, sans etre exclu-

60. B.M. METZGER, Textual Commentary, p. 750. Schmid souligne l'importance


de ce passage en Ap 13, cf. Studien, t. 2, Die alten Stämme, pp. 138-141; spec.
p. 141: « Für die Beurteilung des Apk-Textes hat diese Stelle prinzipielle Bedeu-
tung. Sie beweist nämlich den überragenden Wert von A als der schlechthin besten
Apk-Hs ... ».
61. Dans le Textual Commentary, p. 750, Metzger ne fait pas mention d'une
remarque importante de Charles et d'une nuance non negligeable de Schmid, qui
sont de nature a remettre en question la decision du Committee po ur 13, lOd.
Charles, dans Revelation, t. 2, pp. 355-356, estime que ut'rc6v est une corruption
ancienne de ulrc6C;. En effet, s'il s'agit en 13, lOd du meme hebraisme qu'en 13, lOc
(Ei nc; ... (17tOK'tuv6fjVUl) et en 12, 7 (6 Mtxur,A... wü ltOAE~fjcrUt) on s'attendrait a un
sujet au nominatif. Des lors, il faut accepter une des hypotheses suivantes : ou bien,
comme le pense Charles, une faute de copie ancienne, ou bien une faute grammati-
cale de la part de l'auteur qui entraine une construction doublement problematique
(un hebraisme non-grec, et une faute dans cette expression meme !), ou bien encore
iI faut considerer le OEi comme primitif, et son absence dans A comme une omission
involontaire. Dans ce dernier cas, il ne s'agirait plus d'un hebraisme en 13, lOd.
Schmid, qui s'associe aCharies pour accepter « ein krasser Hebraismus » en lOc, ne
le suit plus dans sa conjecture en lOd. Mais il rejette tout aussi bien le caractere
primitif de OEi po ur trois raisons : a. I'idee de la predestination divine, exprimee par
OEi, ne convient qu'en lOc et non pas en lOd qui ne parle que de son execution
ineluctable ; b. on comprend bien l'ajout secondaire de oei a un uO't6v primitif po ur
obtenir une phrase grammaticalement acceptable ; c. les versions itgig (gladio inter-
ficietur) et cops, (will be killed with sword, trad. Horner) semblent ne pas avoir lu
oEi dans leur copie grecque. Schmid s'attendrait plut6t a tv ~uxuiQ1J ultoK'tUv6i]crE-
'tUt, mais finalement, il hesite a imposer cette conjecture, parce que le OEi prouverait
le caractere ancien de l'infinitif, - ancien mais pas primitif a son avis. On peut donc
se demander si le Committee a envisage tous les aspects du probleme en souscrivant
a l'hypothese de Charles. Ne peut-on pas distinguer entre lOc et d ? Po ur lOc, nous
suivrions la suggestion de Charles (= N 26 ). Pour lOd, iI nous parait finalement plus
simple d'accepter le caractere primitif de oei qui a pu etre ornis accidentellement par
le scribe de A ou par un predecesseur. Notons que OEi figure probablement deja
dans notre plus ancien document (p47 ). Nous ne croyons pas que les arguments de
Schmid sont decisifs : le paralIelisme a I'interieur des hemistiches de 13, lOa.b et c.d
permet, a notre avis, d'accepter que lOd repete simplement l'idee de lOc. Un mot
encore sur la remarque finale de Metzger apropos de l'idee de retribution dans la
le,<on majoritaire (Ei nc; ... UltOK'tEVEi) : « persecutors will be requited in strict accord
166 J. DELOBEL

sifs, sont assez specifiques au demier livre du Canon. Si le texte de GNT 3-


N 26 parait bien fonde dans l'ensemble, il subsiste des passages discutables,
et, plus encore que pour certains autres livres du NT, l'application d'une
methode equilibree reste une tache delicate.

Pater Damiaanplein 4/7 J. DELOBEL


B-3000 Leuven

with the lex talionis ». L'auteur semble supposer que le sujet de Ct1t01CtEVEi se reiere
aux perseeuteurs des ehretiens. Ne s'agit-il pas plutöt, dans tout le verset, des ehre-
tiens eux-memes? Ce sont eux qui doivent s'abstenir de la violenee, s'ils ne veulent
pas en etre les vietimes (eomp. Mt 26,52). Cf. supra, n. 57.
The Greek of the Book
of Revelation

The subject to be dealt with in this short paper is the particular kind of
Greek of the last book of the New Testament. In this field, it may be
known, so me work has already been done: the morphology has been
discussed at great length, and as R.H. Charles described at the time several
syntactical matters quite exhaustively, such as the use of cases and the
government of prepositions, the best thing to do now seems to be to focus
our attention on some syntactical phenomena which he, and others, men-
tioned only in passing or not at all.
If we look at 10hn's use of language in order to detect which of the
more typically Greek syntactical constructions are either absent or hardly
represented, it turns out that these happen to be constructions that have no
comparabte counterpart in the contemporary Hebrew, usually labelled
" Mishnaic " Hebrew, and Aramaic. The most striking example of such an
" absence Semitism" in the Apocalypse is that there is not a single instance
of the genitive absolute I. The author could of course not dispense with
using cases when writing Greek, and he commits gross errors in his case
syntax 2, but most fortunately he could use a circumstantial clause instead
of such a totally illogical turn as the genitive absolute, which cannot have
been but incompatible with his Semitic linguistic background. In the
4th Gospel, however, this construction, though not abundantly frequent, is
present 3.
As a second instance we can mention the different infinitive construc-
tions. To begin with, the accusative plus infinitive construction, in which
the accusative is the so-called accusative of the subject, had no parallel in
Hebrew and Aramaic, and accordingly its use in the Apocalypse is rather
restricted: it does occur with Öd "must" of necessity, as there was no
alternative, and for the rest only in three passages where an alternative

1. Cf. R.H. CHARLES, The Revelation 01 St. lohn, Edinburgh, 1920,


pp. CXXXVIII-IX.
2. CHARLES, O.C., pp. CLIII-IV.
3. E.A. ABBOTT, lohannine Grammar, London, 1906, p. 84: 2, 3; 5, 13; 6, 17;
12,37;20,19;21,11.
168 G. MUSSIES

construction might have been used 4. On the other hand the use of the
accusative plus participle with verbs of perception is not uncommon in the
Apocalypse, but this use of the participle had its counterpart in Hebrew
and Aramaic 5. Another use of the infinitive which was especially frequent
in Hellenistic Greek is that of the substantivized (accusative plus) infinitive
preceded by apreposition. Now the curious thing here is that, apart from
the article, there were similar constructions in Biblical Hebrew, but no
longer so in Mishnaic Hebrew and Galilaean Aramaic 6. In both the prepo-
sition la- is the only one that can be placed with an infinitive, which is
quite naturally represented in the Apocalypse by the final infinitive, or by
'toü with infinitive, which occurs only once in a rather un-Greek manner as
part of a nominal sentence: at 12, 7 6 MtXUT]A KUt 01 aYYEAot UUtoÜ toÜ
1tOAEJli'Jcrat JlE'tU 'toü ÖQUKOVto<; 7. For the rest substantivized infinitives are
wholly absent. By all this the use of the infinitive was virtually reduced to
the final infinitive and to the occurrence after auxiliary verbs (ÖEi, ilEUm,
öUVUJlUt) and verbs like ÖtÖucrKm (2, 14), öiömJlt (e.g. 2,7; 6, 4), etc 8.
Let us now proceed from the other side and look in Hebrew and Ara-
maic for constructions that have no exact formal equivalent in Greek. We
first come across the tight combination of construct state and absolute state
which only allowed the article to be placed in between, so that demonstra-
tives and adjectives have to follow on the second substantive 9. This order
is sometimes literally reproduced in Greek and is there unusual e.g. 1 Macc
4, 7 KUt döov 1tUQEJlßOAT]V eev&v tcrxuQuv KUt 'tEemQuKtcrJlEVTjV "the

4. With OEi at: I, I; 4, I; 10, 11; 11,5; 13,10; 17, 10; 20, 3; 22,6. The three
further instances are with MYE1V at 2, 2.9 ; 3, 9 ; but cf. without infinitive at 2, 2(A)
and 2, 20. With a<piElv. (11, 9) and 1t01EtV (13, 13) the accusative is probably consid-
ered by John as an accusative of object with final or consecutive infinitive, to judge
from the alternative constructions at 2, 20: a<piElv with acc. plus Kui- indicative, and
at 3, 9 ; 13, 12.16 : 1t01Eiv with acc. plus ivu- subiunctive.
5. For instance 10, 1.4.5.8. etc. For Biblical Hebrew see W. GESENIUS-
E. KAUTZSCH, Hebraische Grammatik, Leipzig, 28th ed., 1909, p. 380 (par.117h) ; for
Aramaic: H. ODEBERG, The Aramaic Portions 01 Bereshit Rabba with Grammar 01
Galilaean Aramaic, Lund-Leipzig, 1939, Vol. 11, pp. 111 (sub b) and 112 (par.29a).
6. See M.H. SEGAL, A Grammar 01 Mishnaic Hebrew, Oxford, 1958, pp. 54.
165 s. ; ODEBERG, o.c., Vol. 11, p. 96 (par.424).
7. This construction occurs in the LXX for instance at I ehr 9, 25 Kui UOEA<poi
u{)'[('öv ... 'toü EiU1tOQEUEU9ul.
8. Substantivized infinitive constructions are found in the Gospel of John e.g.
with 1tQi", and 1tQ6.
9. In opposition to bayith "house" beth means "house of... ", while both of
them can stand for each of the five Greek cases : the two systems have nothing in
common except the distinction singular vs. plural. It is quite probable, however, that
the difference in form between the Indo-European nom. sg. and gen. sg. arose from
a difference in position and accentuation comparable to construct state vs. absolute
state : nom. sg. and gen. sg. were originally. identical in form, see N. VAN WIJK, Der
nominale Genetiv Singular im indogermanischen in seinem Verhältnis zum Nominativ,
Zwolle, 1902, esp. pp. 78-84.
THE GREEK OF REVELATION 169

strongly parapeted camp ofthe heathen". It has been the subject of abrief
article by G.D. Kilpatrick some years ago 10, since neither Blass-Debrun-
ner nor Moulton-Howard paid any systematical attention to it. For the
Apocalypse he listed six instances, of which only one, however, can repre-
sent a Semitic sequence of two substantives plus adjective: 14, 19 Kui
l:ßUA.EV Ei<; 'n'lv A.T]VOV 'tou Su~ou 'tou Swu 'tov ~EYUV (~ 'tT]v ~EYUA.llV ; P 47
'tou ~EYUA.OU). In the remaining five instances the intervening genitive
happens to be a personal pronoun e.g. 2, 4 TijV uYU1tT]V crou 'ttlv 1tQw'tTjV,
but this represents a different Hebrew construction: substantive with
possessive suffix plus adjective. There is, however, a second instance with a
substantive genitive at 22, 1 Kui EÖE1~EV ~Ol1tO'tU~OV üöuw<; Srofj<; A.U~1tQov
cO<; KQUcr'tUA.A.ov. On the other hand we can point to four examples of the
better Greek sequence e.g. 6, 17 ti ti~EQU ti ~EyUA.Tj 'tfj<; oQyfj<; ulm'öv (plus
16,14; 19, 1.17) 11.
A second Semitic construction without an exact Greek counterpart is
the combination of the infinitive absolute with a finite verb of the same
stern. Only once, as far as known, was this rendered literally by an infini-
tive in Greek, in Jos 17, 13 B : e~OA.ESQEucrul öe UI)WU<; OUK e~roMSQwcruv
(A: OA.ESQWcrEl) 12, but those translators who adhered to the formal equiv-
alence principle usually had recourse to repetitive renderings which were
backed by precedents in Greek literature. So they used a participle or a
substantive of the same stern as the finite verb: 1tA.llSuvrov 1tA.llSuvro (Gen
3, 16), Savu'tQ> U1tOSuvEicrSE (Gen 2, 17). Both ofthese are formally attested
in earlier Greek though not very often, e.g. Herodotus VI, 30 Ei ~EV vuv, cO<;
eSroYQf]eTj, liXSTj uy6~EVO<; 1tuQu ßUO"lA.EU AaQEiov, and Demosthenes
Against Boeotus I, 26 <'Ocr'tE YU~Q> YEYU~llKro<; 'ttlv e~tlv ~Tj'ttQa E'ttQUV €lXE
yuvaiKu " that after having married my mother in lawful wedlock he kept
another woman" 13. More frequently, however, such a participle or sub-
stantive does not stand alone but is accompanied in Classical Greek by

10. The Order oi Some Noun and Adjective Phrases in the New Testament, in NT
5 (1962) 111-114: the further pronoun instances are 2, 4; 10,2,5; 13, 16; 14, 18 (t{).
To these may be added 2, 13.19; 3, 12; 11, 17 (K. does not claim comp1eteness). At
13, 12 1tucruv need not represent an adjective but a substantive kul - with poss.
suffix.
11. This may reflect the Mishnaic Hebrew construction : substantive - adjec-
tive - shel with substantive: see SEGAL, O.c., p. 190 (par.386 IV) and cf. ODEBERG,
o.c., Vol. 11, p. 84 (par.371). The sequence substantive - genitive - participle is not
unnatural in Greek and the only one present in Rev e.g. 3, 10; 16, 14; 19,20; 22, 2.
12. See H.S.J. THACKERAY, A Grammar o[ the Old Testament in Greek, Cam-
bridge, 1909, p. 47; F.M. ABEL, Grammaire du grec biblique suivi d'un choix de
papyrus, Paris, 1927, pp. 327 s. ; within Indo-European there exists a comparable
construction of verb with infinitive and intensive value in Lithuanian: A. SENN,
Handbuch der lithauischen Sprache, Heidelberg, 1966, Vol. I, p. 471 (par.ll04).
13. Translation by A.T. Murray (Loeb Classical Library, Vol. IV, p. 467), our
italics. It is not certain that the example from Herodotus is emphatic, see the transla-
tion by Ph.-E. LEGRAND (Collection Bude, Vol. 7) : " Si apres sa capture, il avait ete
170 G. MUSSIES

some other words, so that the finite verb of the sentence was not so much
intensified but rather modified by these additions 14. But in Biblical Greek
and Latin they always have an emphatic character and if there are any
additional words, these are also intensifying, for instance in Mt 2, 10
eXuQTjaav XUQuv I.H:yUATjV mp6ÖQa 15. It is this latter type that is clearly
represented in the Apocalypse but only twice: 16, 19 eKaulla'tta9Tjaav ot
av9Q(07tOlKaUlla Ilsya, and 17,6 e9aullaaa iöffiv at'm'lv 9aulla Ilsya.
A third Hebrew turn that has no formal parallel in Greek is the much
discussed combination of wayyahi and a second indicative, which results in
Greek translations in the famous Kai eysVEto plus indicative, or plus infini-
tive in better Greek 16. It is striking, therefore, that such constructions,
which had no counterpart in Aramaie 17 are also wholly absent in the
Apocalypse; instead there occur clauses headed by Ö'tE or ö'tav e.g. 1, 17
Kai Ö'tE dÖov au'tov ~7tEaa. On the other hand the Apocalypse of Ezra
teems with expressions such as " et factum est... et" (e.g. 3, 12.13.17.29 etc.)
and" (et) erit... et" (e.g. 13,32.33.49.56).
Our conclusion from the foregoing might be now that John when writ-
ing Greek was inclined to avoid syntactical constructions unparallelled in
Hebrew and Aramaie, 'as well as the more obvious Semitisms which were
more or less sanctioned by the Septuagint version. Wh at remains would be
then some kind of common property language, comparatively free of

emmene et conduit au Roi Darius" ; the same holds good of Plato, Symp. 195 B
qll;uyrov<jluyij 'tO yfjQw;, which J.H. ROPES, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on
the Epistle of SI. James (lCC), Edinburgh, 1961, p. 312, considers to mean "flee
with all speed ", but cf. the translation by L. Robin (Collection Bude, Vol. IV-2):
"C'est cette fuite dont il fuit la vieillesse qui"; the instance in P. Tebt. 421, 12-13
(3rd cent.) l:QXo,.u;VOC; öE ~QXou iC; Ekoyoviöu is translated by the editors: "and
when you come, come to Theogonis ".
14. See R. KÜHNER-B. GERTH, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen
Sprache, Hannover-Leipzig, 3rd ed., 1904, Vol. 11-1, pp. 303 ss., and 11-2, p. 99, e.g.
Sophocles, Phi/oct. 173 vOcrl;i J.lEV vocrov uYQiuv, and Plato, Euthyd. 288 D 'tivu 1to't'
OUV äv K'tllcrUJ.lEVOl l:mcrTllJ.lllV oQ6iöC; K'tllcruiJ.lE6u ; Some instances here given are
not wholly representative, because the finite verb is a compound while the participle
is not, or vice versa, e.g. Herodotus, IV, 23 ÖC; liv <jlEUYroV KU'tU<jlUYlJ l:C; 'tou'touC;.
15. ROPES, O.C., p. 312, doubts the emphasis in James 5, 17. According to BLASS-
DEBRUNNER, O.C., par.422, the emphatic use of the participle is restricted in the N.T.
to LXX-quotations, but Acts 5, 4 J.lEVOV ... /;J.lEVEV may prove the contrary. The only
comparable instance in Rev is at 6, 2 l:~fjA6EV VlKiöv KUi 'ivu VlKftcrlJ, if, with some
vers ions the second Kui can be cancelled : Vulgate exivit vincens ul vinceret, but cf.
CHARLES, o.C., p. 163 ad locum. The Apocalypse of Ezra, however, contains over
20 instances such as 8, 15 dicens dicam. Rev 3, 17 1tAOUmOC; EiJ.ll Kui 1tE1tAOU'tllKU
probably reflects Hos 12, 9 Mas. which has no info abs. ; 18, 6 Öl1tAWcrU'tE 'tu ömA.ä
may be a further instance : " even give her double ", but is " give her fourfold " to
be excluded ?
16. See E. DELEBECQUE, Etudes grecques sur tevangile de Luc, Paris, 1976,
pp. 123-165.
17. See K. BEYER, Semitische Syntax im Neuen Testament, Göttingen, 1962,
pp. 29-30.
THE GREEK OF REVELATION 171

syntactical Semitisms, but at the same time devoid of any elegance, but
neither is true. For although he does not have the well-known Semitisms in
great numbers, he commits various other crimes against Greek syntax
which betray Semitic influence: he blunders with case and gender, uses
participles as finite verbs, co-ordinates indicatives with participles: 1, 5-6
'tCl> ayamJ)vn TJ~iiC; Kai Aucravn TJ~iiC; ... Kai €1tOiTjcrEV TJ~iic; 18. But there are
also hidden Semitisms, for instance in the use of some conjunctions and
participles. Such typically Greek particles as SE and ouv occur only rarely,
7 and 6 tim es respectively, in contradistinction to the 4th Gospel where
both of them appear over 200 times. Kai on the other hand is used so
excessively, that from chapter 4 onwards almostany sentence is headed by
it.
Another thing that could give flavour to Greek style was the use of
conjunct participles. This is also Hebrew but there it is handled on a more
moderate scale: it is not connected so abundantly with further words or
clauses. Accordingly its application in the Apocalypse is not so variegated
and flexible as in Classical Greek or even in the rest ofthe New Testament.
The restrictions which the author unwittingly imposes are the following :
a) Hardly ever is a further clause with a finite verb depending on it as,
for instance, in Acts 16, 10 crl)~ßtßasov'tEC; ön 1tQOcrKEKATj'tat TJ~iiC; 6 8EOC;
EuaYYEAicracr8at au'touc;. In the Apocalypse this occurs only three times:
7, 1 KQUWÜV'tw; wue; 'tE<HJUQUe; aVEJlOUC; 'ti'jc; yi'je; lVU Jl1'] 1tVEU aVE-
Jloe; t1ti 'ti'je; yi'je;.
12, 12 d8we; önoAiyov KutQOV l!XEt.
17,8 ßAE1tOVHOV'tO 9TJQiov ön Tjv Kui OOK l!crnv Kui 1tUQEcr'tUt 19.

The participle Atyrov is no exception to this since it is invariably followed


by direct speech, in accordance with Hebrew where indirect speech was
rare 20.
b) The nominative which is as it were the " subject " to both finite verb
and participle, is never placed with the participle as it is done, for instance,
in Mk 15, 39 iSwv S€ 6 KEV'tuQirov 6 1taQEcr'tTjKwC; €~ €vav'tiac; au'toi) ön
oihroC; €~E1tVEDcrEv, El1tEV 21.
c) The conjunct participle always follows the finite verb, except in two
passages where no further words depend on it :
I, 12 Kui t1ttcr'tQE'VUe; ih80v, perhaps for logical order cf. 4 Ezra 9, 38
et respexi... et vidi.

18. CHARLES, O.C., pp. CLIII-IV. CXLVI SS., CXXIV ; N. TURNER, A Grammar 0/
New Testament Greek, Vol. IV: Style, Edinburgh, 1976, pp. 146-147.155-156; cf. my
Morphology pp. 92-94.100.138-139.324-328.
19. In 17, 8 ön might be a relative pronoun, cf. Vulgate quae erat ; in 15, I the
ön-clause explains "tae; EcrXU"tw;, and is not dependent on the participle.
20. In 3, 17 ; 10, 6 and 18, 7 ön is clearly " recitativum ".
21. In 4, 8 and 14, 17 the nominatives resume the nominatives that stand with
the finite verb.
172 G. MUSSIES

19, 20 ~ö)VtEe;; eßAij9TJaav oi Mo Eie;; tiJv A1llVTJV tOU 1tuQöe;;, no doubt


for emphasis.

d) Series of more than two predicative participles without an interven-


ing KUt do not occur as they do, for instance, in Mk 15, 36 8gullIDv 8E nc;;
YEllicrac;; arcoyyov ö~OUc;; m:g18Eic;; KUA.UIlCi> €rc6n1;Ev al'nov Atymv. It is true
that there are 19 combinations of two predicative participles (conjunct, or
with verbs ofperception), but 13 ofthem contain either l:Xmv (10) or A.Eymv
(3). Ifthe Apocalypse were a translation these would not necessarily render
Semitic participles, but nominal sentences with a possessive dative, or the
infinitive lemor 22.
By these restrictions the c1assical mobility of these participles is practi-
cally frozen.
Finally I should like to make some sketchy remarks on that part of
syntax that has been so much neglected in the study of New Testament
Greek : the order of words within word groups and of word groups within
sentences.
In word groups ofwhich the kernel is a substantive the adjuncts such as
adjectives, genitives, participles, follow after the substantive, exceptions
being mainly provided by attributive pronouns and numerals.
To begin with the adjectives : with the artic1e they precede the substan-
tive 6 times, follow 44 times; without the article they precede 4 times,
follow 133 times 23. Cardinal numerals, however, are 71 times prepositive
with article, 3 times postpositive 24.

22. Hebrew and Aramaic had verbs for " to hold ", " to possess ", " to grasp ",
but there was not a separate verb for the colourless " to have " ; this was represented
by hayah la-, yesh la-, or possessive dative only. So in Dan 7, 4-7 the four possessive
datives are rendered in the LXX by : ~xouau (v. 4), possessive dative (v. 6), ~Xov and
eiXE OE (v. 7); cf. Rev 13, I ~xov with 13, II Kai eIXE. - In Rev 11, I Atyrov does not
even refer to the preceding nominative; in 8, 13 it may represent a Semitic parti-
ciple, cf. Is. 6, 8 Mas.
23. The instances of anarthrous substantives preceded by an adjective (3, 8 ; 6,
4? 12, 12; 16, I ; 18, 2? 20, 3) are three times /llKQÖV, oAiyov (3, 8; 12, 12; 20, 3) :
this may quite weIl go back to the Hebrew prepositive ma' at " a little bit of" with
sg., but not so with pI., hence oAiyu in 3, 4 cannot be explained. Adjectives are not
often separated from their substantives: I, 10 by o1tiaro /lou (046), in 3, 8 by ~XEle;;,
in 6, II by l:n, and in 16, 18 by eYEvEto (cf. Acts 16, 26) ; in 16, 18 and 21 tlte in-
tervening o{hro and ooe;; are syntacticaIly connected with the adjectives ; for interven-
ing genitives see note 10. - The position of attributive pronouns is varied : e.g.
oihoe;; precedes articular nouns 6 times, foIlows 10 tim es ; UAAOC;; precedes without
exception. Such a pronoun is separated from the substantive in 18, 7 tocrOÜtoV MtE
UUtÜ ßaauVla/lÖv.
24. The position of the cardinals with anarthrous substantives and that of the
ordinals with articular substantives varies, in some passages perhaps for stylistic
reasons: 4, 7a t6 ~4>ov t6 1tQÖltov, but 4, 7b.c.d t6 OEUtEQOV (tQitov, tEtUQtOV)
~4>ov; 13, 12a toU 1tQootoU 9TJQiou, but 13, 12b t6 9TJQiov t6 1tQÖltOV ; 20, 6 6 OEUtE-
QOC;; 9avutoc;;, but 20, 146 8avutoc;; 6 OEUtEQOC;; ; more complicated: 6, la /liuv (for
ordinal) eK tÖlV E1ttU a<pQuyiorov: 6, 3.5.7 TtlV a<pQuyiou 't11V OEUtEQUV (tQitTJv,
THE GREEK OF REVELATION 173

Attributive partieiples and prepositional adjunets are always postposi-


tive, exeept in the phrases Ttp ö:yy{:)"U} "Cft~ (;v 'Eq>EO"U) (ete.) (;KKA.T](jia~
YQu\jIov. As to the adnominal genitives: they follow after their substantives
some 720 times, preeede only 12 tim es, of whieh 11 are genitives of perso-
nal pronouns 25.
Within the sentenee it is of eourse syntaetieally important whether
substantive groups have as their kernel a nominative substantive, an aeeu-
sative substantive, ete. Aeeordingly we ean divide them into nominative
groups, aeeusative groups, ete. Furthermore, there are substantive groups
that are preeeded by prepositions, the prepositional groups, and last but
not least there are the finite verb, the predieative partieiple and the infini-
tive. Adverbs are so rare in the Apoealypse that no rule ean be based on
their position in the sentenee 26.
The position of the predieative partieiple groups and the infinitive
groups is quite clear : they follow after the finite verb and its adjunets with
only 4 exeeptions 27. Of the remaining word groups the nominative, aeeu-

tEtUQtTjV): 6, 9 tijv 1tEJl1ttTjV crcpQayiöa: 6, 12; 8, 1: tijv crcpQayiöa tijv l:KtTjV


(EßMJlTjv), cf. 6, Ib EVOe; EK tmv tEcrcrUQOOV ~<l>oov with 6, 3.5.7 toG ÖWtEQOU (tQitou,
tEtUQtOU) ~<l>ou, and 9, 12 i] ouai i] Jlia with 11, 14 i] ouai" ÖWtEQa ('tQhTj). Vary-
ing position of cardinals: 17, 9a E1ttU öQTj Eicriv: 17, 9b ßacrtAEie; E1ttU dcriv : 17, 12
ÖEKa ßacrtAEie; dcriv (for further stylistic variations see note 34). Of the indefinite
numerals 1toMe; is always postpositive, 1tiie; precedes 54 times, follows in 5, 13 ; 8, 3 ;
13, 12.
25. Only at 19,5 is there a possible instance of a participle preceding an adjec-
tive : oi ÖOGAOt autoG oi <pOßOUJlEVOl aut6v, oi JltKQoi etc., but many mss. have a Kai
after autoG. Preposed substantive genitives occur at 7, 17 ~ooiie; 1tTjyue; uöcitoov (but
22, 1 üöatoe; ~ooiie;) and at 21, 16 t1ti crtaöioov öffiöEKa XtAtUöOOV, which may have
been influenced by such alternative constructions as i1t1tEie; to~6tae; JluQioue; ötcrXt-
Aioue; (Jdt 2, 15). Preposed genitive pronouns are found at 2,9.19; 3, 1.2.8.8.15; 10,
4.7; 18, 5; 21, 3(A). Genitives are separated from their substantives, except by
adjectives (see above), by verbs in 12,8; 21, 23 ; 22, 12.
26. A word group consists of two or more words which within the sentence are
bound together as a kind of" subunit " as opposed to the other words and/or word
groups ofthe sentence. It is held together by three means in combination:
a) by formal means such as the gender categories of the adjective, the genitive
category of the substantive etc. whose main value is "connection with another
substantive" ;
b) by position al means such as the fact that the article in Greek has connection
with a following element, never with a preceding one ;
c) by intonational-rhythmical me ans, e.g. Rev 1, 20 Kai ai Auxviat at Emu
EKKATjcriat Eicriv to indicate to which substantive ai E1ttU belongs. Cf. also Plato,
Phaedo 70b " 'AATj9ii " ~<PTj "MYEte; " 6 UoKQUtTje; " d) KEßTje;". Here intonation
must have played a role in distinguishing the reported speech from the rest. Since
the original texts of all classical works had no interpunction, the intonation is
completely lost.
A word group can be continuous: crEtcr!lOe; !lEyae; tYEVEto (Rev 6, 12) or discon-
tinuous : crEtcrJlOe; t.yEVEtO JlEyae; (Rev 16, 18).
27. In 1, 12 and 19, 20 the finite verb is preceded by an intransitive participle,
and in 7, 9 and 9, 20 the infinitive precedes the auxiliary ÖUVaJlUl; in these four
174 G. MUSSIES

sative, and prepositional groups and the finite verb are numerically by far
the most important. The orienting point with regard to their mutual
sequence appears to be the finite verb, and it turns out that accusative and
prepositional groups follow after the verb and in that order, while nomina-
tives if substantives can either precede or follow, but if they are pronouns
they generally precede the verb with only three exceptions 28. Since the
nominative of the personal pronouns is used in Greek for emphasis their
position before the verb may indicate that that is the place in the sentence
in the Apocalypse which contains the emphatic elements or gives emphasis
to elements not emphatic by nature. This impression is strengthened when
we see that in a number of passages preceding elements are contrastive
with something else in the context. In parallel passages the nominatives
precede the verb when they indicate each time a different subject while the
verb remains the same. Examples are the series of angels who blow their
trumpets (8, 7 up to 11, 15), who "follow" or "come out" (14,
8.9.15.17.18), who pour out their bowls (16, 3-17), the series ofwoes (9, 12 ;
11, 14a and 14b), and the enumeration of things that shall no longer be

exceptions, therefore, there was no danger of mixing up the adjuncts of participle or


infinitive and those of the finite verb, which is possible e.g. at Acts l3, 27 KgivuV'tE~
E1tAT]gCOcrUV. In Rev l7, 6 ESuullucru i8rbv ulJ'tT]V SUÜIlU IlEYu the participle and its
adjunct are between the finite verb and its adjunct, but here the repetition of the
same lexical element creates some kind of lexical concord, which prevents confu-
sion.
28. Nominative pronouns (not relatives) precede the finite verb if it is not a
copula 45 times, and follow only in 2, 15; 20, 13; 22, 18; nominative substantives
precede 169 times, follow 162 times. For accusative groups and prepositional groups
the place after the verb is the more usual position: the accusative precedes the verb
50 times (ofwhich l7 are pronouns),follows 294 times (ofwhich 43 are pronouns);
prepositional groups precede the verb 61 times (of which 19 pronouns), follow
267 tim es (53 pronouns). Furthermore it seems more usual for both of them to
follow the postposed nominative: 54 times against 12 (of which 8 pronouns), and
also for the accusatives to precede the prepositional groups: 76 times (of which
20 pronouns) against 21 (ofwhich 7 pronouns). Sentences in wh ich more than one
word group precedes the finite verb are comparatively rare: there are two instances
ofthree (ll, ll; 17, 12), and 28 instances oftwo, but in 26 ofthese latter one ofthe
two elements is either a nominative or pronominal or both together ; the remaining
two are 9, 11 and 17, l3 to which we might add 1, 16 since the participle has there
the function of a finite verb. " Free" genitives and datives are less frequent than
accusative and prepositional groups, and only some of them occur together with
these in the sentence so as to show their relative position. N evertheless it appears
that dative pronouns generally (43 times) precede the other postponed elements,
being placed immediately after finite verb, infinitive or participle ; the only excep-
tion is 19,7 8O)cro1lEV 86~uv UIYtl'i>. NB: The relative position of accusative and
prepositional groups with the participle and infinitive to which they belong isn
accordance with the above. As far as I can see the accusative never precedes its
participle, but the prepositional groups may with anarthrous ptc. : 6, 13 ; 8, 8 ; 12, 2 ;
l3, 1 ; 20, 15; 21, 19; 22, 2, and ten more instances with preceding article: 1, 3 ; 11,
4 etc. The accusative can precede its infinitive: substantives 4 times, pronouns
6 tim es ; a prepositional group precedes only in l3, 10.
THE GREEK OF REVELATION 175

found or heard in Babyion (18, 22-23). This holds also good of some pre-
ceding datives, accusatives and prepositional groups 29, and the principle is
also valid in parallel nominal sentences in this sense that the first element
is the emphatic or contrastive one whereas the second is not changed 30.
The prevailing sequence of the word groups in the Apocalypse is there-
fore: nominative group - verb (or conversely) - accusative group -
prepositional group - participle, and this corresponds to what in several
grammars of Hebrew and Aramaie is called the "normal order" 31. One
might consider this rather stable order with Charles as " essentially mono-
tonous" 32, but I feel when reading through the book that this word
order creates some sphere of loftiness.
Moreover John varies wherever he can. The sequences ofnominative -
verb and verb - nominative, which are about equally frequent, often
occur alternatingly in his narratives and descriptions. In the famous
12th chapter, for instance, this occurs 14 times within the first 10 verses 33.

29. Datives: in 2, 1,8, 12 etc. T0 Ö.yyf). .~ tij~ tv ... tKKl...llcriu~ YQ{lIVOV the angels
contrast, the command is the same: YQu\lfOV; in 19, 10 John wants to worship the
angel: Kui ~ltEcrU ltQOcrKUVijcrUt UUt4>, but the answer is : t0 9E0 ltQocrKuvllcrov (the
same in 22, 8-9); cf. also the position of the pendent datives/nominatives in the
Letters, e.g. 2, 7 and 26. .
Aeeusatives: 6, 6 Kui tO ~I...UtoV Kui tOV olvov ~i] Ö.ÖtKi]cr1J~ contrasts with critou
and KQt9mv in the preceding phrase; in 11, 2 preposed ti]v uUt...i]v contrasts with
postposed tOV vuov in 11, I ; why the seven seals do not precede the verbs in 6, 3.5.7
etc. is ariddIe. Preposition group : 9, II tv tij 'EAAllVtKij contrasts with preceding
'EßQutcrtL I

Preceding elements (words or word groups) other than nominatives can, of


course, also be emphatic by nature or comprise emphatic adjuncts : ouöEi<;-~l1ÖEi<;
always precede the verb (14 times), so <10 ti<;-ltOtE-lto9EV (7 times), demonstratives
mostly (36 tim es against 5, whether attri\mtive e.g. 9, 6; 11, 13, or not e.g. 7, 15); cf.
also ~iuv and ~tq. in 17, 12.13; 18,8.10.16.19. However, there are some instances,
where we suspect not so much the preceding elements to be emphatic, but the verb
to be wholly unemphatic, such as ~XEtV in 2, 3, 1.17; 4, 8 (but cf. 14, ll); ll, 6b
(but cf. 11, 6a); 12, 12; 21, 23 (but cf. 22,5), or ltOtEiv in 12, 15; 13, 12 (or is ltiicruv
emphatic ?) ; 22, 11, and, of course, the copula EtVm which is always preceded by the
nominative of the subject, except in 5, 11.
30. The four animals precede in 4, 7 being followed by ö~Otov or I:xoov; 6, 6
xoivt~ critou and 'tQEi<; XOiVtKE<; KQt9mv twice precede ÖllvuQiou ; 7, 5-8 the different
tribes precede the stereotype number ö6>öeKu Xtt...tuÖE<;; 21, 13 North, East, West
and South precede the stereotype ltut...mvE<; tQEi<;, but cf. Josephus, Bell. Jud. VI 301
q>oovi] Ult' uVUtot...ij<;, q>oovi] UltO öUcrEOO<;, etc.
31. So P. JOÜON, Grammaire de l'hebreu biblique, Rome, 2nd ed., 1947, pp. 475 s.
(emphasis and relative \ength of the parts of speech may cause divergences); see
also C. BROCKELMANN, Hebraisehe Syntax, Neukirchen-Moers, 1956, pp. 119-121,
and ODEBERG, oe., 11, pp. 113-115.150-152.
32. CHARLES, o.e. I, p. CL VI.
33. This chiastic word order is weil known from Biblical Hebrew : see BROCKEL-
MANN, o.e., p. 137. Cf. also Rev 18,4 lVU ~i] cruYKOLVoovi]crlltE tui<; d~aQtiut~ autij<;,
Kai tK tmv ltt...llymv uiltij<; tva ~i] t...UßlltE.
176 G. MUSSIES

And as the pronouns are the most erratic elements in the sentence, varia-
tion can also be achieved by differing their positions in neighbouring
clauses:
2, 9 ,mv AEYOVt(OV 'Ioullutouc; dVUl tuuwuc;
3, 9 ,mv AEYOvtffiV tuuwuc; 'Ioullutouc; dVUl
11, 5a Kui er nc; uuwuc; SEAEl UölKi'icrUl
11, 5b Kui er nc; SEAftcr'lJ uöwuc; UlllKi'icrUl
Compare also
3,8 tjv oöllEiC; 8UVUtal KAElcrUl uö,ftv,
and
7, 9 öv uQlSIli'icrUl uö,ov oöllEiC; t8Uvu,o.

Most pecu1iar is his habit of varying the order within pairs or series of
co-ordinated elements. So if he has written q>UYEtV EillroM8mu Kui 1tOQVEU-
crUt in 2, 14, he makes it 1t0QVEUcrUt Kui q>UYEtV EiöroM8uTu in 3, 16. By the
side of OUTE 'l'UXQOC; OUTE SEcrTOC; and 'l'UXQOC:; ... tj SEcrTOC:; in 3, 15, he writes
OUTE SEcrTOC:; OUTE 'l'lJXQOC:; in the next verse. Very striking is his variation in
the series AUOC:;, 1:8voc:;, YAmcrcru, q>lJAll, which occurs 5 tim es but never in
the same order (5, 9; 7, 9; 9, 9; 13, 7; 14, 6), and two further passages
where q>lJAll has been rep1aced by another word show still other sequences
(10, 11; 17, 15) 34.
On top of all this the author makes use of a very rich vocabu1ary, in
which figure various animals, plants, metals and other materials, precious
stones, all kinds of merchandise, natural phenomena. With regard to his
personality it may be telling that he mentions some 65 times the colour of
something or a comparable optical impression, making use of in!. al 14

34. Cf. CHARLES, O.c. I, p. CLIX on Rev 4, 5; 11, 19; 16, 18 as opposed to 8, 5,
and my Morphology p. 345, n. 2 on 4, 9 vs. 5, 13 and 4, 11 vs. 5, 12. Further instanees
are: I, 4.8 6 rov Kui 6 J'iv Kui 6 tQX6IlEVO~ and its variants at 4, 8; 11, 17; 16, 5 ;
UVUltUUcrlV OUK EXOU<JlV in 4, 8 vs. OUK EXOU<JlV UVUltUU<JlV in 14, 11; YE/JOV,U
oq>SuA/Jöiv E/JltQOcrSEv Kui ömcrSEv 4, 6 vs. KUKA6SEV Kui EcrffiSEV YE/Joucrtv
6q>SUA/Jöiv 4, 8 ; crElcr/JOC; /JEyu~ tYEVEW 6, 12 VS. tYEVE'W crElcr/JO~ /JEYu<; 11, 13 VS.
crElcr/JOC; tYEVE'W /JEYU~ 16, 18; EXOUcrtv ,Ttv t~oucriuv 11, 6a VS. t~oucriuv EXOUcrtv
11, 6b; döov tK ,ii~ SUA.acrcrll~ SllQiov uvußuivov 13, 1 vs. Etöov uUo SllQtov
uvußuivov tK 'ii~ Yii~ 13, 11 ; KEQU,U ÖEKU Kui KEq>UAU~ Elt'tU 13, vs. KEq>uM~ Emu
Kui KEQU'tU ÖEKU 17, 3; OU XQEiuv EXEl wu f]Aiou 21, 23 vs. OUX l:~oucrtv XQEiuv
q>(o't6~ AUXVOU 22, 5 ; perhaps also YAUKU cll~ /JEAl 10, 9 vs. w~ /JEAl YAUKU 10, 10 (but
cf. 18, 21). Another kind of variation is övo/Ju uU'0 by the side of övo/Ju l:XEl in 9,
ll ; still another kind is ö,UV öwcrOU<JlV ,U s0u 86~uv ete. up mBrlluJvqJ bei up
BQovqJ r0 (wvn ete. in 4, 9 vs. ltEcrOUV,Ul oL ltQEcrßU'tEQOl I':vwmov rau m(Jrllu}vo/J
elti rau Beovo/J Kui ltQOcrKUVi]crOUcrtv r0 (wvn ete. in 4, 10. For the variation of
numerals see note 24, All these facts hardly support Charles' remark : " When onee
our author has adopted a eertain eombination of words he holds fast to it as a
general rule. This is an essential eharaeteristie of his style. There is rarely any
variation in the words or in their arrangement" (o.c., I, p. CL VI).
THE GREEK OF REVELATION 177

different adjectives 35, whereas his colleague who is responsible for the
Apocalypse of Ezra does so only 8 times 36. Taken all together this means
that the Apocalypse of John, in spite of many grammatical restrictions and
reductions, can be read as one of the most vivid and picturesque books of
the New Testament.

Venuslaan 23 G. MUSSIES
3721 VE Oe Bilt (Nederland)

35. Moreover. there are expressions Iike rll<; XlrllV (I, 14), ÖJ.lOlO<; ... lucrmol (21,
11) etc. The adjectives are XACOQO<;, KOKKlVO<;, AEUKO<;, J.lEAa<;, 1toQ<j>uQOü<;, 1tuQQo<;,
1tUQlVO<;, uaKiv9lvo<;, 9ElrllOll<;, crJ.laQuyolvO<;, üc'LAlVO<;, olauyTt<;, AaJ.l1tQo<;, XQucroü<;.
We hesitate to include uQyuQOü<; (9, 20) since it figures in a list of" dead "materials
which show why idols cannot move.
36. 4 Ezra 5, 36 revirida ; 6, 44 colore inimitabili; 7, 125 fuigebunt facies ; facies
nigrae; 10. 25 facies ... fuigebat; species coruscus; 12, 42 obscuro; 14, 39 color
autem eius ut ignis similis.
The Order ofthe Final Events
in Revelation and in Ezekiel

Toward the end of the Book of Revelation, a survey is given of the final
events (Rev 20-22). In his description the author was obviously inspired by
the visions of prophets such as Daniel, Zechariah and Ezekiel. The order of
the events seems to be taken from Ezekiel especially. This was observed
more or less simultaneously by A. Wikenhauser and by K.G. Kuhn 1.
The following scheme illustrates their suggestion 2.

Revelation Ezekiel

1. The first resurrection: 20, 4 1. The revival of the dry bones:


and 37,1-14and
The Messianic millennial The reunited kingdom gov-
kingdom : 20, 4-6. erned by the Messianic king
David: 37, 15-28.
2. The final batde against Gog 2. The final batt1e against Gog
and Magog : 20, 1-10. of Magog : 38-39.
2.a The second resurrection : 20, 2.a
11-15.
3. The descent of the heavenly 3. The vision of the New Tem-
Jerusalem: 21-22. ple and the New Jerusalem:
40-48.

H. Bietenhard extended the comparison between Ezekiel and Revela-


tion 3. According to hirn, Ezekiel's complaint against Tyre in chapter 26-27

1. A. WlKENHAUSER, Das Problem des Tausendjährigen Reiches in der Johannes-


Apokalypse, in Röm. Quartalsehr. 40 (1932) 13-25; K:G. KUHN, Gog-Magog, in
TWNTI, Stuttgart, 1933, pp. 790-792.
2. Comp. WIKENHAUSER, art. eit., p. 14.
3. H. BIETENHARD, Das tausendjährige Reich. Eine biblisch-theologische Studie,
Zürich, 1955, pp. 34-35.
180 J. LUST

influenced John's 4 description of the destruction of Babyion in Rev 18.


The defeat of the heathen kingdoms prophesied in Ezek 28-35 is rendered
in a concentrated way in the victory over the beast in Rev 19, 17-2l.
There can hardly be any doubts concerning John's dependency on
Ezekiel. The numerous implicit quotations of Ezekiel prove this sufficient-
Iy 5.
It should be no ted, however, that, insofar as the order of the last events
is concerned, John does not seem to follow Ezekiel very c1osely. Even a
quick glance at the list of quotations in Rev 18-22 permits the observation
of so me remarkable divergences.
In a first seetion (Rev 18), where he describes the fall of Babyion, John
consistently refers to Ezekiel's orac1es against Tyre (Ezek 26-27). In a last
part (Rev 21-22) which contains the vision of the New Jerusalem, he con-
tinuously seeks his inspiration in the last chapters of Ezekiel, where the
prophet's vision of the New Temple and the New Israel are found
(Ezek 40-48). No problem thus far. In the middle section, however, John
seems to have mixed it all up. In chapter 19, he refers anticipatively to
Ezekiel's orac1es against Gog (Ezek 38-39), orac1es with which he will deal
more explicitly further on, in chapter 20, 7-10. In chapter 21,3, he returns
to Ezekiel 37, a pericope to which he already alluded in chapter 20, 4. A
look at the contents reveals a more important difference between Ezekiel's
book and that of John. In Rev 20, 11-15, John describes the second resur-
rection and the last judgment. He inserted this scene between the an-
nouncement of Gog's defeat and the vision of the heavenly Jerusalem.
Both the notion of a second resurrection and that of a final judgment are
lacking in Ezekiel.
The discrepancies between the order in Ezekiel and that in John can be
explained in different ways. They may be due to John's stylistic freedom,
to his theological opinions, to his dependency on other sources such as
Daniel, to the corruption of the text of Revelation, or to the fact that Reve-
lation was made up of two different apocalypses fused into one. These and

4. When we call the author of Revelation John, we simply follow the author's
own indications (Rev 1, 9).
5. In Rev 18-22, the following references to Ezekiel can be listed :
Rev 18,9 - Ezek 26,16 Rev 20,8 - Ezek 38,2.19.15
18, 10 26, 17 20, 10 38.22
18, 13 27, 13 21. 3 37.27
18, 18 27,32 21. iO 40.2
18,19 27,30 21,12.13 48,31.34
18,21.22 26,11.13 21,15 40,3.5
18,9-19 27,27-36 21, 16 43,2
19,17.18.21 - 39,4.17-20 21,16.17 48,16.17
19,20 38,22 22, 1.2 47, 1.7.12
20,4 37,10
THE FINAL EVENTS IN REV AND EZEK 181

similar explanations have been given by the exegetes. They all concentrate
on John. They overlook the possibility that part of the problem may lie
with Ezekiel.
Indeed, the order of the chapters 37-39 in Ezekiel's book was most
probably not yet stabilized in the period in which Reve1ation was com-
posed. In the oldest major manuscript of Ezekiel (the Greek Papyrus 967,
of which important parts were recently discovered), chapter 37 foHows
upon chapters 38-39 and precedes chapters 40-48 6 . The Papyrus in ques-
tion dates from the 2d or early 3rd century, and offers a most valuable
prehexaplaric text of the Septuagint. The same order is to be found in the
best manuscript of the Vetus Latina of Ezekiel, preserved in the Codex
Wirceburgensis 7.
When we compare the order of the final events in these manuscripts
with the order in the Apocalypse, then the scheme looks as foHows :

Revelation Ezekiel

1. The final battle against the 1. The final battle against


beast: 19, 17-21.
La The first resurrection and La
Messianic reign : 20, 4-6.
The final battle against Gog Gog of Magog : 38-39.
and Magog: 20,7-10.
2. The second resurrection : 20, 2. The revival of the dry bones:
11-15. 37
3. The descent of the heavenly 3. The vision of the New Tem-
Jerusalem: 21-22. pIe and of the N ew Israel:
40-48.

When one has this outline in mind, it is no longer amazing that John
should quote Ezek 38-39 before referring to Ezek 37. Also, it fits perfectly
weH with the scheme when he quotes the end of Ezek 37 at the very begin-
ning ofhis vision ofthe new Jerusalem inspired by Ezek 40-48.

6. Different parts of the codex have been published by different authors:


A.C. JOHNSON, H.S. GEHMAN, E.H. KASE, The lohn H. Scheide Biblical Papyri:
Ezekiel, Princeton, 1938; F.G. KENYON, Ezekiel, Daniel Esther, The Chester Beatty
Biblical Papyri, Vol. VII, London, 1938; L.G. JAHN, Der Griechische Text des
Buches Ezechiel, nach der Kölner Teil des Papyrus 967 (Pap. Texte und Abh.), Bonn,
1972; M. FERNANDEZ-GALLIANO, Nuevas Pdginas dei Codice 967 dei A.T. Griego, in
Studia Papyrologica 10 (1971) 7-76. As a result of these publications an almost
complete text of Ezek 11, 25-48, 35 is available.
7. The codex was published by E. RANKE, Par Palimpsestorum Wirceburgen-
sium, Wien, 1871. About the value of the manuscript, see KASE, in The lohn H.
Scheide Biblical Papyri, p. 45.
182 J. LUST

Which form of Ezekiel's book did John have before hirn? Which one
was the more original one ? As far as we can see, the order preserved in
Pap. 967 and in the codex Wirceburgensis appears to be the older one 8.
However, both traditions may have existed alongside each other for a long
period. John may have known both.
In Ezekiel's day, not too much attention seems to have been given to the
chronological order of the last chapters of the prophet's book 9. In fact, the
orades against Gog appear to have been a more or less independent ap-
pendix 10. It was only in John's time, or a litde earlier, that one discovered
in the last section of Ezekiel's book a chronological description of the final
events 11. Some seem to have recognized in these prophetical words a
confirrnation of their own views conceming an apocalyptic future 12. They
expected the coming of a totally new and heavenly kingdom. It would be
preceded by the resurrection of the chosen people and the inauguration of
a Messianic kingdom. All this would happen after the final cosmic batde.
The order of the chapters 37-48 in Pap. 967 obviously corresponds to this
view. Others interpreted Ezekiel along different lines 13. Their hopes were
rather eschatological, they looked forward to a historical future. In Eze-
kiel's vision of the dry bones and their revival, they recognized Israel's
rebirth after the exile. The New Israel had to face fresh enemies. It would
have to wage another war, a final one. This they saw announced in Eze-
kiel's description of the battle against Gog. The outcome of the war would

8. About this, see J. LUST, The Omission of Ez. 36, 23-38 and the Order of Ez. 36-
39 in Greek Pap. 967 and in the Latin Codex Wirceburgensis, forthcoming.
9. See e.g. W. ZIMMERLI, Ezechiel (BibI. Kommentar, 13, 2), Neukirehen, 1969,
p. 946: "Die Abfolge von 34-37, 38-39, 40-48 ist nicht, wie es dann der spätere
apokalyptische Ausbau der Gogverkündigung tut (Kuhn, ThWB), in Kalendersinn
einer zeitlichen Abfolge zu systematisieren ".
10. According to S. Herrmann, G. Hölscher, G. Cooke et alii, chapters 38-39
were written by Ezekiel's disciples. See ZIMMERLI, op. cit., p. 943. Zimmerli himself
recognizes in these chapters both Ezekiel's hand and the hand of later editors. The
original oracle has been heavily reworked. See also J. WEVERS, Ezekiel, (New
Century Bible), London, 1969, p. 286: "Because many of these expansions were
eschatological in nature, the section was not placed by the editor with the oracles
against the nations, but at the end of the restoration section". See further J.B. TAY-
LOR, Ezekiel (Tyndale OT Comm.), London, 1969, p. 242: "We incline to the view
that chapters 38-39 are aseparate composition ... added to 1-37 as a kind of post-
script ".
11. Compare with J.T. MILIK, The Books of Henoch: Aramaie Fragments of
Qumriin Cave 4, Oxford, 1976, p. 255.
12. This first group may be identified with the Assideans who had outspoken
apocalyptic expectations. It should be noted that Daniei, the only apocalyptic
writing of this group accepted in the canon, has the same order of the final events
(Dan 12, 1 ff.) as P. 967 EzekieI: final test followed by, and not preceded by, a
resurrection. See e.g. K. SCHUBERT, Die jüdischen Religionsparteien in neutestament-
licher Zeit (SBS, 43), Stuttgart, 1970, pp. 25 ff.
13. This second group may be identified with the Pharisees. See SCHUBERT,
ibid.. They were responsible, for the canon of the Bible and for the non-admission of
THE FINAL EVENTS IN REV AND EZEK 183

be a victory for Israel, and the beginning of a renewed and ideal state such
as that portrayed in Ezekiel 40-48. This view necessitated a restructuring of
chapters 37-39 of Ezekiel's book. It was easily done, since chapters 38-39
and 37 were originally more or less independent sections 14. In order to fit
chapter 37 more smoothly into its new position, a short passage was inser-
ted between chapters 36 and 37 15. In the MT, and in all the subsequent
translations, this order has been preferred.
The author of the Apocalypse knew both editions of Ezekiel's work. He
combined them in his vision of the last events. He overlooked the historical
views suggested by the second edition and interpreted its scene of the
revival of the dry bones as a first resurrection to be followed by a second
one.

N aamsestraat 100 J. LUST


8-3000 Leuven

the Apocalyptic books of the Assideans. The book of Daniel is an exception. It was
written and accepted before the Pharisees came to power.
14. If we may believe Josephus (Ant. X, 5.1.), Ezekiel's book was originally
composed of two volumes. The second volume probably contained Ezek 40-48. See
TAYLOR, op. cit., p. 242. In our view, the first volume may have ended with chap-
ter 36. Chapters 38-39 were added to this first volume as an appendix. Chapter 37
was prefixed to 40-48. It had to function as an introduction to this separate volume
and thus received a solemn opening line. About this opening verse, see F. Hoss-
FELD, Untersuchungen zu Komposition und Theologie des Ezechielbuches (Forsch. zur
Bibel), Würzburg, 1977, pp. 344-345. With the reorganisation of Ezekiel's book
chapter 37 no longer served as an introduction. Its solemn opening line was no
longer functional and thus omitted.
15. Ezek 36, 23c-38 is absent both in Pap. 967 and in the Codex Wirceburgenis.
See P.-M. BOGAERT, Le temoignage de la Vetus Latina dans l'etude de la tradition des
Septante. Ezechiel et Daniel dans le Papyrus 967, in Bib 59 (1978) 384-395. In our
forthcoming article, we hope to make it clear that Ezek 36, 23c-38 was composed in
function of Ezek 37 and its new position.
Revelation 18 :
Taunt-Song or Dirge?

The current consensus among commentators is that Revelation 18, at


least on one level of meaning, depicts the destruction of the city of Rome
and the breakdown of the world order associated with it 1. Opinions differ
on the function of chapter 18 and on the attitude of the author to the
catastrophe he portrays. A number of commentators and other interpreters
of the passage argue that it expresses joy in the triumph of God's cause and
not a personal desire for revenge 2. Other interpreters assume that hatred
or a personal vindictiveness is at least one element which motivated the

1. W. BOUSSET, Die Offenbarung lohannis (Meyer, 16; 5th ed.), Göttingen, 1896,
pp. 484-485.489; R.H. CHARLES, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the
Revelation of St. lohn (lCC), New York, 1920, vol. 2, pp. 87-88.95-113; E.-B. ALLO,
Saint lean. L'Apocalypse (EB; 4th ed.), Paris, 1933, pp. 265.289; I.T. BECKWITH,
The Apocalypse of lohn. Studies in Introduction with Critical and Exegetical Com-
mentary, New York, 1922, pp. 284-286.711-720; M. KIDDLE and M.K. Ross, The
Revelation of St. lohn (Moffatt), London, 1940, pp. 358-374; G.B. CAIRD, A Com-
mentary on the Revelation of St. lohn the Divine (Harper's), New York, 1966,
pp. 221-232; R.H. MOUNCE, The Book of Revelation (NICC), Grand Rapids, 1977,
pp. 321-335; A. FARRER, The Revelation of St. lohn the Divine, Oxford, 1964,
pp. 187-191; L. MORRIS, The Revelation of St. lohn. An Introduction and Commen-
tary (Tyndale), Grand Rapids, 1969, pp. 213-223; J. BONSIRVEN, L'Apocalypse de
Saint lean (VS, 16), Paris, 1951, pp. 271-275; L. CERFAUX and J. CAMBIER, L'Apoca-
lypse de Saint lean lue aux Chretiens (LD, 17), Paris, 1955, pp. 153-165; E. LOHSE,
Die Offenbarung des lohannes (NTD, 11; 8th ed.), Göttingen, 1960, pp. 89-91 ;
H.B. SWETE, The Apocalypse of St. lohn. The Greek Text with Introduction, Notes
and Indices (3rd ed.), New York, 1909, pp. 226-241.
2. KIDDLE and Ross, Revelation of St. lohn, p. 367; CAIRD, Commentary on
Revelation, p. 222; MOUNCE, Book of Revelation, p. 321 ; MORRIS, Revelation of St.
lohn. pp. 214.222; J. ELLUL, Apocalypse: The Book of Revelation, New York, 1977,
p. 199; W. STRINGFELLOW, An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in aStrange
Land. Waco, 1973. p. 64; P.S. MINEAR, I Saw a New Earth. An Introduction to the
Visions of the Apocalypse, Washington, 1968, pp. 146-148.150-152; H. LILJE, The
Last Book of the Bible. The Meaning of the Revelation of St. lohn, Philadelphia,
1957. p. 234; W. BARCLAY, The Revelation of lohn, Philadelphia, 1960, vol. 2,
p. 213; G.E. LADD. A Commentary on the Revelation of lohn, Grand Rapids, 1972,
pp. 237-238.241-242; W. KLAssEN, Vengeance in the Apocalypse of lohn, in CBQ 28
(1966) 300-311, p. 304; BONSIRVEN, L 'Apocalypse, p. 274; SWETE, Apocalypse of St.
lohn. pp. 90.230.
186 A. YARBRO COLLINS

eomposition of ehapter 18 or even of the book as a whole 3. In sharp eon-


trast to those who find the passage vengeful, others deteet elements of real
• pathos, awe, and even regret at the fall ofRome 4.
Deeisions about the funetion of ehapter 18 should be based on eareful
analysis of the literary form and funetion of the eonstituent units. Little
such analysis has been done and eonc1usions about form often seem unre-
lated to those about funetion. For example, Paul Minear eomments that
both the dirges and the hymns of joy in Revelation 18 are saturated with
irony and savage humor; nevertheless, he denies that the passage expres-
ses gloating over human adversaries 5. Similarly, Robert Mounee says that
ehapter 18 is heavily influeneed by prophetie taunt songs, yet exc1udes
personal vindietiveness from its funetions 6. Hanns Lilje insists that there is
nothing petty or mean in "the great dirge for Babyion " (vv. 9-19); never-
theless, he observes that the " long list of purely luxury articles sounds like
bitter moekery .. ; " 7. M. Kiddie and M.K. Ross deny that Revelation 18 is
a vietim's ery against the perseeutor, yet see the influence of prophetie
taunt-songs and exultant odes 8.
The purpose ofthis essay is to analyze the form and funetion ofRevela-
tion 18, both as a literary ereation in its own right and as an element ofthe
larger work in whieh it appears. The question of the use of sources will be
treated first, then the role of the passage in the eomposition of Revelation
as a whole. The immediate eontext in whieh the ehapter appears will be
treated in more detail (the seven bowls). A form-eritieal analysis ofRevela-
tion 18 will be offered next, followed by a study of the teehniques used in
the eomposition of the ehapter as a new unity. The Images used to portray

3. Such a judgment is implied by Charles' conclusion that most of eh. 18 was


eomposed by a Jew immediately following the destruetion of Jerusalem (Revelation
of St. lohn, vol. 2, pp. 88.93; see also his comments on 6, 10 in vol. 1., pp. 175-76)
and by Bousset's interpretation (Offenbarung lohannis p. 489). D.H. Lawrence is
very explicit in arguing that vengeance and ultimately envy are the basic motives of
the composition of Revelation (Apocalvpse, N ew York, 1976, originallv published in
1931, pp. 88.li7-119). Hatred or vengeance is perceived in the book by P. FEINE,
J. BEHM and W.G. KÜMMEL, Introduction to the New Testament (14th ed.), Nash-
ville, 1966, p. 333; E.J. Goodspeed (quoted bv J.L. PRICE. InterDretinfl the New
Testament [2nd ed.], New York, 1971, p. 523) ; W. Bauer, H. Preisker, W.D. Davies,
M. Waldmann, R. Volkl, and c.G. Jung (quoted by KLASSEN, Vengeance in the
Apocalypse of lohn, pp. 301-302); J.L. PRICE, Interpreting the New Testament,
pp. 562-563 ; G.E. WRIGHT and R.H. FULLER, The Book of the Acts of God. Chris-
tian Scholarship Interprets the Bible, Garden City, 1957, p. 337.
4. CAIRD, Commentary on Revelation, p. 227; BECKWITH, Apocalypse of lohn,
p. 285; LILIE, Last Book ofthe Bible, p. 237; T.F. GLASSON, The Revelation oflohn,
Cambridge, 1965, p. 105; KIDDLE and Ross, Revelation of St. lohn, pp. 365,
370.372-373.
5. MINEAR, I Saw a New Earth, pp. 145.146-148.
6. MOUNCE, Book of Revelation, p. 321.
7. LILIE, Last Book ofthe Bible, pp. 234-235.
8. KIDDLE and Ross, Revelation of St. lohn, pp. 359.367.
REV 18 187

Rome will then be discussed, and we shaIl see how these relate to the
literary forms employed. The function of Revelation 18 will then be as-
sessed in a conc1uding section.

A Source Behind Revelation 18 ?

As is weIl known, Biblical scholars of the nineteenth century were


inc1ined to divide Biblical books into various written sources. This source-
critical approach was applied to Revelation also and R.H. Charles' conc1u-
sions are typical. He argued that Revelation 18 and parts of chapter 17
were based on a Jewish source written originaIly in Hebrew during Vespa-
sian's rule 9. His arguments were of several types. One type involved the
resolution of what appeared to Charles as logical contradictions. For
example, he argued that John believed that the smoke of Rome's destruc-
tion would go up until the end ofthe world (19,3) ; this beliefis contradict-
ed by the description of the ruins as inhabited by wild beasts (18, 2). Ac-
cording to Charles, this contradiction would have been removed by John if
he had had the opportunity to revise the book 10. More recent interpreters
of apocalyptic literature do not always view such diversity of images as
logical contradictions and signs ofthe use ofsources. Rather, they regard it
as characteristic of mythic and symbolic writing 11.
The other major type of argument relates to the diction, idiom and style
of Rev 18,2-23 12. The arguments relating to diction are indecisive. Char-
les explains the similarities between this passage and other portions of the
book in a variety ofways: (1) John made additions to and modifications in
the source; (2) the source also inc1uded parts of chapter 17 ; (3) the source
influenced John's diction elsewhere ; (4) some similar phrases and c1auses
are not distinctive. In the face of aIl these explanations, one wonders what
would count a~n:lisconfirming evidence. On the other hand, Charles makes
much of the hapax legomena in the passage. These, however, are probably
best explained by the particular subject matter involved.
With regard to style, Charles conc1udes that 18, 2-23 contains none of
the " abnormal constructions " typical of the author of Revelation 13. This
conc1usion is questionable. In v. 11, the merchants mourn because no one
buys their cargo. In v. 12, this cargo is specified and the list begins with a
series of genitives qualifying the noun "cargo " (gomon). After eight items
are mentioned, there is a sudden shift from the genitive to the accusative

9. CHARLES, Revelation o[ St. John, vol. 2, pp. 88-95.


10. Ibid., p. 93.
11. See the discussion in Adela YARBRO COLLINS, The Combat Myth in the Book
o[ Revelation (HDR, 9), Missoula, 1976, pp. 43-44.
12. CHARLES, Revelation o[ St. John, vol. 2, pp. 88-90.
13. Ibid., p. 90.
188 A. YARBRO COLLINS

case. Charles explains the shift by saying that the accusatives are governed
directly by the verb (agorazei - v. 11). After aseries of accusatives, there is
another abrupt shift back to the genitive case (three items) and then the
final item is given in the accusative case. Charles finds nothing " abnor-
mal" in the first shift and explains the others by arguing that the three
isolated genitives are an interpolation. Another explanation seems more
likely. Elsewhere in Revelation, the case seemingly required by the syntax
is not used ; for example, ho martys (1,5), thronous (4, 4), peribeblemenous
(7, 9) and hoitines (20, 4). The shifts in Rev 18, 12-13 manifest the same
lack of precision.
Perhaps the strongest argument in favor of a source is the observation
that the order in 18, 2-23 is far Iess Semitic than in most other passages of
the book 14. This one noteworthy argument, however is a slim foundation
for the hypo thesis of a source. Bousset already showed that there is nothing
in the content which makes such a hypothesis necessary 15. It seems most
prudent, therefore, to regard chapter 18 as the composition ofthe author of
the book as a whole 16.

Revelation 18 in the Overall Composition

Whether or not one considers Revelation 18 an original composition of


the author of the book, one must inquire about its place in the overall
structure. The writer of this essay has argued eIsewhere that the book of
Revelation is organized into two great cycles of visions, 1, 19-11, 19 and 12,
1-22, 5 17 • Each of these cycles is composed of three series of seven:
(1) messages, seals and trumpets; (2) seven unnumbered visions, seven
bowIs, and another series of seve~ unnumbered visions. The structure of
the second cycle is as follows :
I. Seven unnumbered visions I 12, 1-15,4
2. The Seven bowls 15, 1-16,21
BabyIon appendix 17, 1-19, 10
3. Seven unnumbered visions 19, 11-21,8
lerusalem appendix 21,9-22, 5

Beginning with the seven seals, each series recapitulates the basic mes-
sage of the book 18. The constant elements of this message are: (1) perse-

14. Ibid., p. 88.


15. BOUSSET, Offenbarung Johannis, pp. 488-489.
16. The name lohn is used for the author ofRevelation in this essay because it is
the self-designation of the author (1, 1.4.9; 22, 8). The use does not imply any
particular concIusion about the relation of this lohn to historical persons otherwise
known.
17. COLLINS, Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation, pp. 19-32.
18. Ibid., pp. 32-43.
REV 18 189

cution, (2) punishment of the persecutors, and (3) salvation. The last
series ofvisions (19, 11-21,8) is unique in two ways which fit its c1imactic
character 19. It is the only series in which virtually all of the visions are
specifically devoted to the three major elements of the basic message of the
book. Further, it is the only series in which the pattern of the underlying
message is recapitulated twice. The pattern appears in the second cyc1e in
the following way :
Unnumbered (I) Seven bowls Unnumbered (2)

A B

Persecution Persecution Persecution Persecution


first three visions third bowl fifth vision fifth vision
(chs. 12-13) (16,4-7) (20,4) (20,9a)

Punishment Punishment Punishment Punishment


sixth vision seventh bowl and first four visions fifth and sixth
appendix visions
(14, 14-20) (16, 17-18,24) (19, 11-20,3) (20,9b-15)

Salvation Salvation Salvation Salvation


seventh vision appendix fifth vision seventh vision
and appendix
(15,2-4) (19, 1-10) (20,4-6) (21, 1-22, 5)

The first of the two charts above shows that Revelation 18 belongs with
the seven bowls as an appendix; that is, chapters 17, 1-19, 10 explain and
elaborate the significance of the bowls. The second chart makes even more
c1ear that chapter 18 is part of the same unified section introduced by the
vision of the seven bowls. The elements of persecution and punishment
appear in the bowls themselves, but the element of salvation is lacking.
Chapters 17-18 elaborate the element of punishment and the climactic
vision of salvation appears at the conc1usion of the appendix, 19, 1-10. An
analysis of chapter 18 must begin with a study of the se ries of visions of
which it is apart.

The Seven Bowls

The conc1uding vision of salvation in the previous series (15, 2-4) is


interlocked with the opening vision of the seven bowls (15, 1.5-8) 20. The

19. Ibid., pp. 39-40.


20. COLLINS, Combat Myth in the Book o[ Revelation, pp. 16-19; E.S. FIORENZA,
Composition and Structure o[ the Revelation o[ lohn, in CBQ 39 (1977) 344-366,
p.360.
190 A. YARBRO COLLINS

seven bowls are introduced with a reference to seven p1agues called the
last, because with them the wrath (thymos) of God is ended (15, 1). This
remark seems to imply that the bowls are chrono10gically later than the
seals and the trumpets. A chronologically linear reading of the book leads,
however, to numerous difficulties 21. It makes more sense to read the seals
and trumpets as different versions of the same story told by the bowls 22.
Note that the sixth seal is followed by a partial description of the day of
God's wrath (orge; 6, 16-17). The seventh trumpet is followed by the
execution of God's wrath (orge) on the nations (11, 17-18). The fifth vision
of the first unnumbered series foretells the consequences of the wrath of
God (thymos and orge; 14, 10) and it is put into effect in the sixth vision of
that se ries (14, 19; thymos). So the seven bowls are best read as a new
version of the book's basic eschatological message.
Like the seals and trumpets, the bowls are universal and cosmic in their
effects. In both the trumpets and the bowls, however, this universality is
limited in two significant ways. The trumpets contain a hint that they are
directed against a particu1ar group (9, 4) 23. Further, the trumpets are
presented as the answer to the prayer of the saints for vengeance 24. The
same two particularizing elements are present in the bowls. Although the
first bowl is poured out on " the earth " in an absolute sense its result is
sores on the followers of the beast (16, 2) 25. The reader has already been
alerted by chapter 13 that the beast, on one level of meaning, represents
the power of Rome 26. The second bowl is poured out on the sea, which,
along with the earth (first bowl), the fresh waters (third bowl) and the sun
(fourth bowl), symbo1ize the totality of the cosmos (see 14, 7). The univer-
sal effect of the second bowl is unqualified (16, 3). The third bowl is
poured out upon the rivers and the fountains ofwater 27. The effect is once

21. COLLINS, Combat Myth in the Book o[ Revelation, pp. 9-11.


22.\\ G. BORNKAMM, Die Komposition der apokalyptischen Visionen in der OIJen-
barungJohannis, in ZNW 36 (1937) 132-149; reprinted in Studien zu Antike und
Urchristentum: Gesammelte Aufsätze. Band II (BEvT, 28), Munich, 1959; COLLINS,
Combat Myth in the Book o[ Revelation, pp. 32-40.
23. Those who lack the seal of God on their foreheads are those who bear the
mark of the beast ; see COLLINS, Combat Myth in the Book o[ Revelation, pp. 158-
161.
24. Compare 6, 9-11 with 8, 3-5.
25. On the relation of the seven bowls to the plagues against the Egyptians, see
H.-P. MÜLLER, Die Plagen der ApoKtiiypse. Eine[ormgeschichtliche Untersuchung, in
ZNW 51 (1960) 268-278.
26. COLLINS, Combat Myth in the Book o[ Revelation, pp. 172-174.
27. On the interpretation of the third bowl see H.D. BETZ, Zum Problem des
religionsgeschichtlichen Verständnisses der Apokalyptik, in ZTK 63 (1966) 391-409 ;
English translation, On the Problem o[ the Religio-Historical Understanding o[
Apocalypticism in JTC 6 (1969) 134-156; Adela YARBRO COLLINS, The History-of
Religions Approach to Apocalypticism and the "Angel o[ the Waters" (Rev. 16:4-7),
in CBQ 39 (1977) 367-381.
REV 18 191

again universal; all the fresh water, 1ike the salt water before it, turns to
blood. The third bowl, however, has a distinctive commentary which
designates that particular plague as a punishment on those who have shed
the blood of the saints (16, 5-7). The persecutors are not named here, but
the reader naturally thinks of the beast to whom it was given " to make war
on the saints and to conquer them" (13, 7). The implication is that the
plagues of all the bowls are God's judgment on the earth for its complicity
in Rome's persecution of the people of God. The symbolic act of the angel
in 8, 3-5 hin ted that the trumpets had such a function ; the commentary on
the third bowl makes a similar point more explicitly.
The fourth bowl (16, 8-9), poured out on the sun, has an unqualified
universal effect, like the second bowl. The object on which the fifth bowl is
poured is not a cosmic element, as was the case with the first four ; rather,
it is poured out on the throne ofthe beast. Like the first bowl, its effects are
upon the followers of the beast (16, 10-11). The fact that some of the bowls
are directed against the beast supports the theory that the persecutors
mentioned with the third bowl are Roman authorities. The sixth bowl is
the most specific thus far. It is poured out on the Euphrates and the result
is the assembling of the kings of the whole world, those of the east espe-
cially, for the battle of the great day of God (16, 12-16). This passage is a
partial description of the great eschatological battle which is described
elsewhere is the book with different images 28. A partial description, paral-
lel to this one, is given after the sixth trumpet (9, 13-21). Other accounts are
14, 14-20 and 19, 11-21.
The seventh bowl is poured out upon " the air" in an absolute sense,
again a cosmic element. This last bowl has aseries of effects, some of
which are universal in scope. The earthquake is cosmic (16, 18-20) and the
plague of hail affects human beings in general (16, 21). One effect of the
earthquake, however, is singled out for special emphasis. Babyion, the
great city, falls. This fate is characterized as the result of the wrath of God
(thymos and orge; 16, 19). This characterization recalls the opening remark
that the bciwls complete the wrath of God (15, 1) and shows that the fall of
Babyion is the climax of the seven bowls. It is generally agreed by com-
mentators that Babyion is here a symbolic name for Rome 29. The fact that
the climax of the plagues is the destruction of Rome, in light of the indica-
tion that they are punishment for persecution (16, 4-7), implies that
Rome's persecution of the saints, accomp1ished and expected, is the occa-
sion for God's eschatologicaljudgment upon the earth.

28. BORNKAMM, Die Komposition der apokalyptischen Visionen, pp. 208.212-214;


COLLINS, Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation, pp. 34-40.
29. CHARLES, Revelation of St. John, vol. 2, pp. 51-52; BOUSSET, Offenbarung
Johannis, p. 461 ; ALLO, Saint Jean, p. 262; BECKWITH, Apocalypse of John, pp. 686-
687; CAIRD, Commentary on Revelation, pp. 209-210; H. KRAFT, Die Offenbarung
des Johannes (HNT), Tübingen, 1974, p. 211.
192 A. YARBRO COLLINS

With the end of the seven bowls, only two of the three elements of the
basic message of Revelation have been expressed in this particular series,
persecution (16, 4-7) and punishment of the persecutors (16, 17-20). Fur-
thermore, the punishment ofthe persecutors has been announced only, not
described. The Babyion appendix (17, 1-19, 10) supplies these lacks. Chap-
ter 17 gives a vivid and powerful portrayal of Babyion, which has received
only the briefest mention up to this point of the book. The account of
Rome's destiny in this passage has clearly been shaped by the Nero legend.
On one level of meaning, the beast is Nero and the ten kings are his allies
from the east, especially the Parthians, who were expected to join hirn in
an attack on Rome (17, 16-18) 30. This aspect of chapter 17 clarifies the
vision of the sixth bowl. The kings of the east in 16, -12 refer to Nero's
allies. The implication is that the great eschatological battle will be inaugu-
rated by Nero's return and the resulting fall of Rome. Chapter 18 elabo-
rates further the portrayal of BabyIon and the announcement of her fall.
The appendix closes in 19, 1-10 with heavenly rejoicing at the divine vic-
tory over Babyion. The salvation of the faithful is expressed with the image
ofthe wedding banquet ofthe Lamb (19, 7-9).

Literary Forms in Revelation 18

Having clarified the place of Revelation 18 in the book as a whole and


in its immediate context, we may turn to the literary character of the pas-
sage itself. At first glance, Revelation 18 seems to be a rather 100se group-
ing of a variety of forms. A number of small units are joined into three
main sections : (1) areport of avision (vv. 1-3), (2) areport of an audition
(vv. 4-20), and (3) a narrative account of a symbolic action performed by
an angel (vv. 21-24). The opening vision is of an angel coming down from
heaven. Most of the section is areport of the angel's words (vv. 2b-3). In
terms of form, the angel's speech is a dirge spoken over BabyIon. Origi-
nally, the dirge was a form of folk, oralliterature, a lament spoken over a
corpse. The form had other functions, some ofwhich were metaphorical 31.

30. CHARLES, Revelation 0/ St. John, vol. 2, pp. 68.72.76-87; BoussEr, Offenba-
rung Johannis, pp. 474-480; ALLO, Saint Jean, pp. 286-289; BECKWITH, Apocalypse
0/ John, pp. 400-408.699-700; COLLINS, Combat Myth in the Book 0/ Revelation,
pp. 170-190.
31. See the monograph by H. JAHNOW on the history and funetion of the dirge
(Das hebräische Leichenlied im Rahmen der Völkerdichtung [BZAW, 36], Giessen,
1923), espeeially pp. 219-221 on Revelation 18; on the dirge as a prophetie form, see
also G.M. TUCKER, Form Criticism o/the Old Testament, Philadelphia, 1971, pp. 67-
68; G. STÄHLIN, II. Die Totenklage der Propheten, in kopetos, kopto, TWNT 3
(1938) 838-840; C. WESTERMANN, Basic Forms 0/ Prophetie Speech, ~hiladelphia,
1967, pp. 202-203.
REV 18 193

The prophets sometimes used the dirge as a vivid announcement of judg-


ment, sometimes on Israel, sometimes on its enemies 32. The angel's dirge
in Rev 18, 2-3 has the same function; v. 2b is the actual announcement
and v. 3 gives the reasons or grounds for the judgment.
The second major section is the most diverse in form and content.
Commentators disagree on the extent of the report of the words of the
heavenly voice. Some do not consider it to continue through v. 20, but hold
that there is a shift from report to the words of the author hirnself. There is
dis agreement, however, on where the shift occurs 33. Since there is no c1ear
indication in the text of a change of speaker, it seems best to inc1ude all of
vv. 4-20 in the heavenly speech 34. This speech contains a number of
smaller units which can be distinguished by shifts in one or more of the
following characteristics : addressee, grammatical mood, person, tense and
function. These shifts justify distinctions in literary form 35.
The first such unit is an admonition (vv. 4b-5), which begins, " Come
out of her, my people " 36. The phrase" my people " seems to imply that
God is the speaker, but the conc1usion is "God has rem em bered her
iniquities ". The two parts of the saying c1early belong together, since v. 4b
is the actual warning and v. 5 gives the reasons for it. A number of com-
mentators conc1ude that Christ is the speaker 37. But the opening remark is
a Scriptural allusion (Jer 51, 45), so it is best to assurne that the speaker is
an angel or to leave the speaker unspecified 38.
Vv. 6-8 constitute the second small unit, which is a command to execute
judgment upon Babyion. The speaker and the addressee are not explicitly
identified. Paralleis in Ezekiel show that the speaker may be an angel or
God and that the addressees are probably heavenly beings (Ezek 9, l.5-6).
Like the dirge of vv. 2b-3 and the admonition of vv. 4b-5, this speech falls

32. TUCKER, Form Criticism of the Old Testament, p. 68 ; WESTERMANN, Basic


Forms of Prophetie Speech, p. 202. See also W. lANZEN, Mourning Cry and Woe
Orade (BZAW, 125), Berlin, 1972.
33. Charles takes vv. 4-8 as the words of the heavenly voice ; he eonsiders vv. 9-
19 to be aseparate seetion, apparently lohn's presentation ofthe laments ofvarious
groups (Revelation of St. John, vol. 2, pp. 87.100). Allo (Saint Jean, pp. 289.291),
Beekwith (Apocalypse of John, pp. 711-712.715), and Kraft (Offenbarung des Johan-
nes, p. 231) are similar to Char1es on this point. Bousset, however, thinks that the
speech of the seer himself begins already with v. 7 (Offenbarung Johannis, p. 483).
34. So also Lohmeyer (Offenbarung des Johannes, p. 147) and Caird(Commen-
tary on Revelation, pp. 222-228).
35. On defining formal units, see TUCKER, Form Criticism ofthe Old Testament,
pp. 55-57.
36. On the prophetie admonition, see ibid., p. 66.
37. So, tentatively, Charles (Revelation of St. John, vol. 2, p. 97) and Allo (Saint
Jean, p. 290). Bousset (Offenbarung Johannis, p. 482) and Beekwith (Apocalypse of
John, p. 714) say that the speaker is either Christ or God.
38. Lohmeyer (Offenbarung des Johannes, p. 149) and Kraft (Offenbarung des
Johannes, p. 228) argue for an angelie speaker.
194 A. YARBRO COLLINS

into two parts. The actua1 commands are given in vv. 6-7a and the explana-
tion is given in vv. 7b-8. There is some overlap of the two elements, how-
ever, because of the use of the princip1e of corre1ation. For examp1e, the
commandto give to her as she herself gave (to others) (v. 6a) implies that
her previous behavior called for divine judgment : the punishment fits the
crime. Besides that direct kind of correlation, an antithetical parallelism
between deed and punishment is made (vv. 7b-8). Her torment and degra-
dation will be in proportion to her self-glorification.
The third small unit is an announcement ofjudgment in vv. 9-10 39. It is
directed against the kings of the earth and foretells their fear and distress
at Babylon's fall. The announcement includes a dirge spoken by the kings
over the city (v. lOb). On one level of meaning, within the immediate
literary context, and from the perspective of the speakers, the dirge is a
real, though metaphorical, one. It expresses genuine distress on the part of
Rome's friends. In the book as a whole, and from the perspective of the
author and intended readers, however, the dirge functions as an announce-
ment of judgment, in thesame way as the angel's dirge of vv. 2b-3. This
function is made clear in the wording of the dirge, "in one hour your
judgment has come " (emphasis added).
A number of commentators take vv. lI-l7a together as a unit and
describe it as the dirge or lament of the merchants 40. Some of these and
other commentators consider v. 14 to be displaced and transpose it to a
position within vv. 21-24 41 . There is no textual evidence to indicate that
v. 14 is misplaced. In view of the lack of such evidence, the interpreter
should first ask whether the verse is intelligible in its present location.
Given the shift from third to second person, v. 14 should be taken as a unit
distinct from what precedes and follows. Such an abrupt digression is not
unique in the book of Revelation. The sayings in 13,9-10.18; 14, 12 and
16, 15 are analogous. It seems most accurate, therefore, to distinguish
vv. 11-13, v. 14, and vv. 15-17a as the fourth, fifth, and sixth small units
within the speech from heaven (vv. 4-20).
The fourth unit (vv. 11-13) is an announcement of judgment directed
against the merchants of the earth. It differs from the announcement
against the kings (vv. 9-10) in that it does not fore tell their distress, but

39. On the prophetie announcement of judgment, see TUCKER, Form Criticism


of the Old Testament, pp. 61-65; WESTERMANN, Basic Forms of Prophetie Speech,
pp. 129-189; following K. Koch, W.E. March uses the term" prophecy of disaster "
(Prophecy, in Old Testament Form Criticism, ed. l.H. HAYEs, San Antonio, 1974,
pp. 159-160).
40. CHARLES, Revelation of St. John, vol. 2, pp. 101-105; ALLO, Saint Jean,
p. 292; KRAFT, Offenbarung des Johannes, pp. 232-235; such a position is implied
by Beckwith's remarks (Apocalypse of John, pp. 715.717).
41. BOUSSET, Offenbarung Johannis, p. 485; CHARLES, Revelation of St. John,
vol. 2, p. 105; LOHMEYER, Offenbarung des Johannes, p. 151; KRAFT, Offenbarung
des Johannes, p. 235.
REV 18 195

announces it in the present tense - " And the merchants of the earth weep
and mo um over her" (v. lla). The reason for their distress is given, " be-
cause no one buys their cargo any more ... " (vv. 11 b-13). No dirge is
quoted in this unit.
V. 14, the fifth unit of the audition, is a dirge addressed to Babyion
direct1y. The speaker is unspecified. The first two lines of the dirge are in
the aorist tense : " And the fruit for which your soullonged has departed
from you and all richness and splendour have perished from you ". The
use of the aorist is in keeping with the form; it appears also in the opening
dirge (vv. 2b-3) and in that of the kings (v. 1O). The dirge of v. 14 c10ses
with aprediction, " And they will surely not be found any more ". Such a
prediction is not necessarily out of pi ace in an expression of mouming ;
nevertheless, the emphatic denial with ou me does point to the actual
function of the dirge, the announcement of judgment.
The sixth sm all unit in this middle section is another announcement of
judgment against the merchants (vv. 15-17a). This announcement is paral-
lel in structure to that against the kings (vv. 9-1O). It foretells the mer-
chants' fear and distress at Babylon's fall and inc1udes their dirge over the
city (vv. 16-17a). Here also, the dirge is a genuine one within the imme"
dia te literary context. There is no explicit indication in the wording that it
is anything other than an expression of mouming. For that reason, some
interpreters have inferred an attitude of awe, even a touch of sorrow, on
the author's part 42. The parallel between this passage and the one about
the kings makes such an attitude improbable. The kings are characterized
in a highly negative way (v. 9) and their dirge characterizes Babylon's fall
as her judgment. The parallelism between the kings and the merchants
makes it unlikely that the author sympathized with their mouming or
regretted the loss of their great wealth. Other indications support this
hypo thesis, as we shall see below.
The seventh small unit within the speech of the heavenly voice is an-
other announcement of judgment, this time upon those who make their
living from the sea (vv. 17b-19). The announcement against the kings
(vv. 9-1O) and the second announcement against the merchants (vv. 15-
17a) are true to form in that they are in the future tense, as is expected 43.
The first announcement against the merchants (vv. 11-13), as noted above,
is in the present tense. The result is that the event seems more real, more
immediate to the reader. The announcement against the mariners is in the
past tense (aorist and imperfect). It is probable that the form of the vision
account, so frequent in Revelation, has influenced this unit. In the account
of avision, the past tense is used to report what was seen in the past (see

42. See note 4 above.


43. The prophetie announeements of judgment usually refer to the future; see
WESTERMANN, Basic Forms o[ Prophetie Speech, pp. 130.174-175.
196 A. YARBRO COLLINS

18, I). The relation of the content of the vision to the ordinary sequence of
events in reality must be inferred by the reader. The use of the past tense in
the announcement against the mariners gives it less of an oracular, predic-
tive character, and makes a more descriptive, narrative impression. Two
dirges are quoted (vv. 18b.I9b). These dirges are genuine within the imme-
diate literary context. There is no explicit indication within this passage of
the author's attitude or the response the readers are intended to have. Like
the dirge spoken by the merchants (vv. 16-17a), this one emphasizes the
wealth of Rome and of certain groups who profited by it. This announce-
ment is also parallel to the one against the kings. That parallelism is an
indication that the dirge is not intended to evoke sympathy.
The eighth and last unit in the audition report is the call for rejoicing in
v. 20 44 . It is similar in form to 12, 12, where the heavens and those dwell-
ing in them are urged to rejoice. Apparently by analogy with that verse, a
number of commentators argue that the three groups mentioned here are
heavenly dwellers 45. The reason for rejoicing is given in v. 20b in terse and
ambiguous form 46. The language is legal and it is likely that lohn has in
mind some who have actually been tried and executed by Roman authori-
ties (see v. 24 and 2, 13).'It is not necessarily the case, however, that the call
is addressed only to them.
The third major section of Revelation 18 is a narrative account of a
symbolic action performed by an angel (vv. 21-24). There are some simila-
rities between this passage and the accounts of a symbolic act in the 01d
Testament prophets 47. In both cases one finds the report of the act and a
statement of the meaning of the act. The major difference is that in the Old
Testament, a prophet performs the deed, whereas here an angel does so.
Rev 18, 21-24 lacks the formulae which usually introduce accounts of
visions and auditions, but they are surely implied.
The statement of the meaning of the act is an announcement of judg-
ment on Babyion (vv. 2Ib-24). The first part of the statement, beginning

44. K.-P. JÖRNS, Das hymnische Evangelium: Untersuchungen zu Aufbau, Funk-


tion und Herkunft der hymnischen Stücke in der Johannesoffenbarung (SNT, 5),
Gütersloh, 1971, pp. 140-143.
45. CHARLES, Revelation of St. John, vol. 2, p. 112; BOUSSET, Offenbarung
Johannis, p. 489; ALLO, Saint Jean, p. 296; KRAFT, Offenbarung des Johannes,
p. 237; CAIRD, Commentary on Revelation, pp. 228-230. Lohmeyer implies that the
eall is addressed also to Christians stililiving by remarking that hoi hagioi refers to
all the pious of both the OT and NT (Offenbarung des Johannes, p. 151). Beekwith
argues emphatieally against limiting the eall to those in heaven (Apocalypse of John,
p.718).
46. CHARLES, Revelation of St. John, vol. 2, pp. 111-112; BOUSSET, Offenbarung
Johannis, p. 487 ; CAIRD, Commentary on Revelation, pp. 229-230.
47. On prophetie aeeounts of sign aets, see TUCKER, Form Criticism of the Old
Testament, p. 66 ; K. KOCH, The Growth ofthe Biblical Tradition: The Form-Critical
Method, New York, 1969, pp. 203.210; MARCH, Propheey, p. 172.
REV 18 197

"so, with a rush, will Babyion, the great city, be thrown down ", is the
actual explanation of the sign (v. 21 b). It refers to Babyion in the third
person. The second part is an elaboration addressed to Babyion in the
second person (vv. 22-24). The second person address, as weIl as the pre-
diction that something will not be found any more, link this passage with
v. 14 and are among the grounds for suggesting the transposition ofv. 14 to
this last section. A elose parallelism in wording, however, is lacking and the
two aorist verbs ofv. 14 would not fit weIl with the future-oriented address
of vv. 22-23. The address to Babyion eloses with two reasons for the judg-
ment against her, "because your merchants were the great ones of the
earth, because all the nations were deceived by your sorcery " (v. 23cd).
These reasons introduce two motifs which are new in the context of chap-
ters 17-18; how they relate to reasons given elsewhere in these chapters
will be discussed below. The third and last part of the announcement
against BabyIon is a simple statement in the third person: and in her was
found blood of prophets and saints and of all the slaughtered upon the
earth. The context implies that this statement is a further reason for the
judgment against BabyIon. The shift to the third person gives it special
emphasis.
Chapter 19, 1 introduces a new audition, the voice, as it were, of a great
crowd in heaven. This audition expresses the element of salvation or tri-
umph, which follows that of punishment or judgment in chapters 17-18.
V. 20 of chapter 18 prepares for the transition in the familiar interlocking
technique 48.
Two literary forms dominate Revelation 18, the announcement of
judgment and the dirge. From the perspective of the author and the larger
literary context, the dirges also function as announcements of judgment.
The analysis of the dirges in Revelation 18 has shown that there is no
simple, one-to-one correspondence in their case between form and func-
tion. On the surface, they express mourning. But when they function on
another level to announce judgment, and when that judgment is on an
enemy, the dirge takes on a paradoxical or ironic character, because of the
unlikelihood of genuine mourning. Whether that irony is malicious is
another question, to which we shall return.

The Composition of Revelation 18

Revelation 18 is unique in the book as a whole in the extent to which


narrative report and description are overshadowed by sayings. The chap-
ter, along with most of the second half of the Apocalypse, was dismissed by

48. ALLO, Saint Jean, p. 296; COLLINS, Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation,
pp. 16-19.
198 A. YARBRO COLLINS

D.H. Lawrence as " stolen poetry, stolen from the old prophets " 49. Austin
Farrer damned it with faint praise in his description of vv. 4-20, "The
speech is surely one of the most brilliant patchworks ever composed. It is
nothing but a cento of ancient prophecies, carefully se1ected and ar-
ranged" 50. It is true that most ofthe motifs in Reve1ation 18 are evidently
inspired by orac1es against foreign cities and nations in Isaiah, leremiah
and Ezekiel. Originality in the strict sense is not a major characteristic of
the book of Revelation. Its author relied heavily on traditional images,
symbols, and myths to express his message 51. In analyzing a passage like
Revelation 18, therefore, one should ask to what extent the author has
created a new and powerful whole out of the traditional elements he has
selected.
Although chapter 18 contains many small units with some diversity in
form, and even though the basic themes and some of the actual wording
are borrowed from the Old Testament, the author has succeeded in creat-
ing a unified and powerful new composition. First of all, a number of
elements link this message to chapter 17. The remark that the writer saw
another angel (18, 1) picks up the thread ofthe narrative from the previous
chapter, where a specifically identified angel had shown lohn avision and
interpreted it for hirn (17, 1.3.7.15). In chapter 18, " Babyion " is spoken of
both as a city (18,2.4.10.16.18-19.21) and as a woman (18, 3.7.16). The
same duality is present in chapter 17, city (17, 5.18) and woman (17, 1-
7.9.15-16), although the emphasis is reversed. Further, certain specific
motifs link the two chapters. The image of the kings of the earth prostitut-
ing themselves with the woman appears in 17, 2 and 18, 3.9. The dwellers
on the earth (17, 2), that is, all the nations (18,3) have drunk the wine of
her harlotry. The image of Babyion being burned with fire is found in both
passages (17, 16; 18, 8-9.18). The description ofthe woman-city in 18, 16 as
c10thed in fine linen, purpie and scarlet, and adorned with gold, precious
stone and pearl is an allusion to 17, 4. The reference to the judgment
(krima) of the harlot in 17, 1 is picked up in 18, 20 (see also 18, 10; krisis)
and the mention ofthe blood ofsaints in 17,6 reappears in 18,24.
Internal unity and coherence for chapter 18 are achieved in a variety of
ways. The lengthy middle section is framed by the appearance of the two
angels (18, 1-3 and 21-24). In each case a powerful visual impression is
made. The first angel illuminates the whole earth and the second executes
an impressive symbolic action. The speed and suddenness with which the

49. LAWRENCE, Apocalypse, p. 87.


50. FARRER, Revelation ofSt. John, p. 189.
51. COLLINS, Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation, pp. 57-234; A. SCHLAT-
TER, Das Alte Testament in der johanneischen Apokalypse (BFCT, 6), Gütersloh,
1912; BETZ, Zum Problem des religionsgeschichtlichen Verständnisses der Apokalyp-
tik," COLLINS, The History-ofReligions Approach to Apocalypticism and the "Angel
ofthe Waters "(Rev. 16:4-7).
REV 18 199

huge stone sinks and the smooth, unchanged surface of the sea afterward
characterize "Babylon's" fall. The announcements of the angels are
parallel in content. The eerie images of desolation in vv. 2b-3 are comple-
mented by the emptiness and silence implied by vv. 22-23. Each announce-
ment closes with reasons for the judgment. "All nations" and "mer-
chants " are mentioned in each.
The middle section itself is unified in several ways. The three announce-
ments of judgment against the kings of the earth (vv. 9-10), the merchants
(vv. 15-17a), and the mariners (vv. 17b-19) are parallel in form and con-
tent. These three units, in effect, present three earthly seen es whichcom-
plement the two angelic appearances. As the angels announce heavenly
judgment and its causes, the kings, merchants and mariners express an
earthly response 52. The literary form used allows a subtle and indirect
description of the fall of Rome and, at the same time, an opportunity for
the author to indicate its significance. Certain phrases which are repeated
with variations provide arhythmie unity without being mechanically repeti-
tive 53. These are klaiousin kai penthousin and variants (vv. 1l.15.19; see
also vv. 7.8.9), en mia hora (vv. 10.17.19; see also v. 8), ton kapnon tes
pyroseos autes (vv. 9.18), apo makrothen hestekotes and variants
(vv. 10.15.17), dia ton phobon tou basanismou autes (vv. 10.15; see also
v. 7), and ouai ouai (vv. 10.16.19).
Chapter 18 is far from a mere mosaic or patchwork of Scriptural allu-
sions and thus "stolen poetry". Rather, John has selected certain key
images, alluded to certain appropriate passages, simplifying and reinter-
preting them in the process, and written his own, new poetry 54. A striking
example ofhis craft is found in the composition ofvv. 21-24. The symbolic
action and its interpretation are inspired by Jer 51, 63-64. The phrase kai
ou me heurethe eti (Rev 18, 21), however, does not come from that pas-
sage; it may have been suggested by Ez 26, 2l. It is that phrase which
becomes the recurring refrain of the passage, uniting the various Scriptural
allusions and providing arhythmie emphasis. It reappears in its original
form in v. 22 and in the variants ou me akousthe... eti (v. 22, twice ; v. 23)
and ou me phane... eti (v. 23). The theme is given a surprising and ironie
reversal in the last verse. Until that point, it has been said that various
things would not be found. Suddenly it is announced that blood was found
in Babyion. A play on words involving the motif of" finding " versus " not
finding" thus links the announcement of judgment and the last of the
reasons given for the judgment.
52. Allo sees a similar contrast hetween the earthly and the heavenly, hut finds it
expressed in the antithesis ofvv. 9-19, on the one hand, and v. 20 with 19, 1-10, on
the other (Saint Jean, pp. 291.296).
53. Some of these patterns are noted hy A. VANHOYE, L'Utilisation du livre
d'Ezechiel dans l'Apocalypse, in Bib 43 (1962) 436-476, pp. 465-466.
54. So also Vanhoye, agreeing with Swete and disagreeing with Boismard (ibid,
pp. 465-466.472).
200 A. YARBRO COLLINS

The Portrayal ofRome in Revelation 17-18

At the end of the seetion on the literary forms in Revelation 18, it was
noted that the passage is dominated by the announcements of judgment
and the dirges. The dirges themselves function to announce judgment and
this function gives them an ironie character. The extent and significance of
this ironie character must be clarified before conclusions about the func-
tion of Revelation 18 can be reached. The images used to portray Rome
and the reasons given for its impending judgment have a significant bear-
ing on the nature of the irony involved.
One of the most prominent images in these two chapters is the name
" Babyion ". Commentators are agreed that this name is symbolic, and
most find in it, at least on one level of meaning, an allusion to Rome. A
variety of reasons have been given for the choice of the name. The most
likely is that Rome, like Babyion, destroyed the temple and city of Jerusa-
lern 55. This major image for Rome then probably implies that its im-
minent downfall is viewed by the author, at least in part, as retribution for
the destruction of Jerusalem.
Another prominent and striking image is Rome as a harlot visited by
the kings of the earth (17, 1-2; 18,3.9; 19, 2). The harlot image was ap-
plied by the prophets both to the people of God (Hos 4, 12-18; Is 1, 21 ;
Jer 3,3-10 ; Ezek 16, 15-58; 23, 1-49) and to their enemies (Nah 3,4; Is 23,
15-18). When applied to the people of God, the image is related to foreign
alliances and cultic practices 56. In Nah 3, 4, Nineveh is called a harlot who
betrays peoples with her sorceries. In Is 23, 15-18 the harlotry of Tyre is
related to commerce. Most of these connotations seem to be intended in
Rev 17-18. The reference to blasphemous names (17, 3), and possibly to
abominations and impurities (17, 4) also, alludes to improper cultic titles
and practices 57. The allusion is probably to the imperial cult which often
inc1uded the worship of the goddess Roma 58. In Jewish ethics, harlotry,

55. See the discussion of Rome as " Babyion " in another study by the writer of
this essay, Persecution and Vengeance in the Book of Revelation ; it will be published
in a volume of proceedings of the International Colloquium on Apocalypticism at
Uppsala in August, 1979, edited by D. HELLHOLM.
56. G. VON RAD, Old Testament Theology, New York, 1965, vol. 2, pp. 142.229,
note 16.
57. CHARLES, Revelation of St. lohn, vol. 2, p. 64; ALLO, Saint lean, pp. 205.267-
268; LOHMEYER, Offenbarung des lohannes, pp. 1l1.l41; KRAFT, Offenbarung des
lohannes, pp. 214-215; BECKWITH, Apocalypse oflohn, pp. 635.693.
58. CAIRD, Commentary on Revelation, pp. 211-214; D. MAGIE, Roman Rule in
Asia Minor to the End of the Third Century After Christ, Princeton, 1950,
pp. 106.167.417.447.
REV 18 201

idolatry and sorcery were often linked 59. Sorcery is associated with Rome
in 18, 2360. No explicit link is made between harlotry and commerce, but
they are associated in the overall context.
In 17, 2 it is said that those who dweIl on earth have become drunk with
the wine ofher harlotry. This image must be understood on two levels. The
first is suggested by the immediate context and the traditional connotations
of harlotry ; that is, all humanity have joined in her idolatrous worship.
This meaning has a parallel in 18, 23 - all the nations were deceived by
her sorcery. Involvement with Roman commerce mayaiso be linked indi-
rectly with this " drunkenness " by the parallel statements within 18, 3 and
23, respectively. The second level of meaning is suggested by the parallel
between tou oinou tes porneias autes (17, 2) and tou oinou tou thymou tes
porneias autes (14, 8 and 18, 3). The phrase of 14, 8 and 18, 3 links the
image of the wine of harlotry (17, 2) with the image of the wine of the
wrath of God (16, 19 and 14, 10). Thus, on another level, Babylon's
" wine " represents Rome as the conqueror of the earth 61. Rome's military
victories are seen as part ofGod's plan (compare Jer 51, 7-8). Nevertheless,
she will be punished for the blood she has shed (17, 6; 18, 24; compare
Jer 51, 49). Rome is criticized not only for persecuting Christians, but on
behalf of all who have been slain on earth. The repression of the Jewish
rebellion of 66-72 C.E. is probably alluded to here, and perhaps also the
subjugation of other peoples. The references to Babyion mixing a cup,
rendering (to others) and to her" works" (18, 6) should probably be
understood as further allusions to her military victories and related violent
deeds.
Another traditional element in the negative portrayal of Rome is her
self-glorification and arrogance (18, 7). Such an attitude in Israel, Judah
and their enemies was often condemned by the prophets, and the motif
appears in intertestamentalliterature as well 62. The speech attributed to
Babyion here is based on Is 47, 7_8 63 . The application of this traditional
motif to Rome was probably a response to Roman propaganda regarding
the eternity and universality ofRoman dominance 64.
59. Nah 3, 4; 2 Ch 33, 6; 4 Kg 9,22; Mic 5, 12; A. VÖGTLE, Die Tugend- und
Lasterkataloge im Neuen Testament, exegetisch, religions- und formgeschichtlich
untersucht (NTA, 16.4/5), Münster, 1936, pp. 96-100.
60. See also Rev 9,20-21; 21, 8; and 22, 15, where harlotry, idolatry and sorcery
are linked; on these passages, see VÖGTLE, Tugend- und Lasterkataloge,
pp. 12.38.202; on 21, 8 and 22, 15, see also E. KAMLAH, Die Form der katalogischen
Paränese im Neuen Testament (WUNT, 7), Tübingen, 1964, pp. 21-23.
61. LOHMEYER, Offenbarung des Johannes, pp. 124-125; KRAFT, Offenbarung des
Johannes, pp. 193.213 ; BECKWITH, Apocalypse of John, pp. 656-657.
62. 2 Bar 12, 3; Sib Or 5, 173-178; on the relation of Rev 18, 7-8 to the pro-
phetie literature, see CHARLES, Revelation of St. J ohn, vol. 2, pp. 99-100.
63. CHARLES, Revelation of St. John, vol. 2, p. 99.
64. Polybius 3,3.9 ; Cicero, De Re Publica 3,23 ; Virgil, Ecologue, 4,17 ; Juvenal,
Sat. 8,87-124; Horace, Epode 16; F. CHRIST, Die römische Weltherrschaft in der
antiken Dichtung (TBA, 31), Stuttgart, 1938, pp. 4-64.
202 A. YARBRO COLLINS

All the images examined thus far not only describe Rome but give
reasons for her predicted downfall. The same seems to be true of the depic-
tion of Rome as wealthy (17, 4; 18, 16) and as a source ofwealth for mer-
chants (18, 3.15) and shipowners (18, 19). The merchants' wealth is one of
the reasons given for the judgment against Babyion announced in the
opening dirge (v. 3). That explanation has a parallel in the closing scene:
the first reason given by the angel with the great stone for Babylon's
demise is that her merchants were hoi megistanes tes ges (18, 23). This
theme of wealth as an occasion for judgment has paralleis in the oracles
against Tyre in Is 23, 1-l2 and Ezek 26, 1-28, 19. In these passages, eco-
nomic wealth and blasphemous pride are linked 65. Neither pity nor mali-
cious joy is prominent 66. Rather, wealth is seen as the occasion for an
arrogant attitude and unrighteous deeds. The oracles express the convic-
tion that God brings down the haughty and the unrighteous.
The attitude toward wealth in Revelation is more complex. A link
between wealth and arrogance seems to be implied by the criticism of the
Christians at Laodicea, "you say, , I am rich and I have prospered and I
am in need of nothing " and you do not know that you are wretched ... " (3,
17) 67. Such a link mayaiso be inferred from the similarity between the
description of the woman Babyion in luxurious attire and her arrogant
speech (compare 17, 4 and 18, 16 with 18, 7-8). There are indications,
however, that wealth is viewed primarily from a more social and political
perspective in Revelation. The wealthy merchants and mariners are men-
tioned alongside the kings of the earth (18, 3 and 18, 9-19). The Christians
in Smyrna are portrayed as economically poor and threatened by persecu-
tion (2, 8-11), but those of Laodicea as wealthy and apparently avoiding
persecution (3, 14-22). The mark of the beast signifies idolatry and, for a
Christian, apostasy 68. In 13, 16-17, the mark of the beast is associated
implicitly with Roman coins. The implication is that the author of Revela-
tion was calling for withdrawal from the economic life of the cities of
Asia 69. Those who have power and wealth in the present are portrayed as
idolatrous and murderous, or at best as lukewarm, while the truly faithful
are expected to be poor.
The images of Rome as the new Babyion and the mother of harlots are
hardly intended to evoke respect for the Roman empire or regret at its fall.

65. H. WILDBERGER, lesaja (BKAT, 10/2), Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1978, pp. 883-


884; W. ZIMMERLI, Ezechiel (BKAT, 13/2), Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1969, pp. 671.688-
689.
66. JAHNOW, Hebräische Leichenlied, pp. 191-197.210-228.
67. CAIRD, Commentary on Revelation, pp. 57. 223.
68. A.Y. COLLINS, The Political Perspective of the Revelation to lohn, in lBL 96
(1977) 241-256, p. 252; CHARLES, Revelation of St. lohn, vol. 1, pp. 362-363; vol. 2,
pp. 15.18.
69. COLLINS, Political Perspective ofthe Revelation toJohn, pp. 252-254.
REV 18 203

The reasons for Rome's judgment are clearly presented and unlikely to
evoke sympathy or pathos. They may be summarized in the following
categories: (1) the idolatrous and blasphemous worship offered and en-
couraged by Rome, especially the emperor cult; (2) the violence perpe-
trated by Rome, especially against lews and Christians ; (3) Rome's blas-
phemous self-glorification ; and (4) Roman wealth. Read in isolation, the
remarks about wealth in Revelation 18 are ambiguous. When read in the
context of the book as a whole, they are much less so.
I[ idolatry and blasphemy were the only criticisms lohn had of Rome,
his book would have been very different. It is likely that the extremely
negative portrayal of Rome was occasioned by personal experience of
conflict and hardship. The antagonism probably had two basic roots. One
was Roman repression of lews and Christians, especially the lewish War
of 66-72 C.E. and Nero's execution of Christi ans in 64 C.E. The other was
the economic situation in the province of Asia, which involved a striking
gap between rich and poor and the automatie exclusion of scrupulous
Christians from possibilities of advancement 70.

Conclusion

The various literary forms in Revelation 18 are united in the basic


function of announcing divine judgment on " Babyion " and giving the
reasons for it. The dirge is a prominent form in the chapter, and the rela-
tion between its form and function is complex and ambiguous. The dirges
of the unspecified speaker (v. 14), the merchants (vv. l6-l7a), and the
mariners (vv. l8b.19) do not contain any obvious condemnations. When
read in isolation, the traditional function of mourning is prominent. Such a
reading could evoke sympathetic awe. The context shows, however, that if
such pathos was intended by the author, it was primarily for dramatic
effect. The parallelism among the kings, the merchants and the mariners
implies that all the misfortunes described are richly deserved punishments,
not just those of the kings. Further, the powerful scenes of mourning are
suddenly cut off by the call for rejoicing in v. 20. The position of this verse
gives it a climactic character and implies that the primary response to the
fall of Rome by the readers should be rejoicing, not regret. The mourning
expressed by the dirges is stricdy that of Babylon's friends. The conclusion
that the dirges express no sympathy or regret on the part of the author is
supported by the choice ofimages for Rome in chapters 17-18 and by the
reasons given for the divine judgment of" Babyion ".
Although pathos and regret have at most a very limited role in Revela-
tion 18, there are few, if any, obvious signs of" savage humor" or bitter

70. These conc1usions are reached by the writer of this essay in another study,
Persecution and Vengeance in the Book o[ Revelation ; see note 55 above.
204 A. YARBRO COLLINS

mockery" 71. Nevertheless, there are literary and historical indications that
the desire for revenge played a role in the composition of the passage. This
conclusion is supported by the fact that the reason for rejoicing given in
the climactic v. 20 is the hope for a virtual reversal of the present relation-
ship of oppressor and oppressed 72.
Revelation 18 raises a whole series of related problems for the theolo-
gian. The tension between the principle of forgiveness of enemies and
concern for justice is shown in acute form. Even though John points to the
way of suffering and clearly eschews violence, his dualistic portrayal of
reality and violent imagery must be recognized as potentially falsifying and
dangerous. Nevertheless, the book is a powerful reminder that the forces of
death and sin affect not only the individual, but human institutions as wen.

McCormick Theological Seminary ADELA YARBRO COLLINS


5555 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637 (U.S.A.)

71. See notes 5 and 7 above.


72. CAIRD, Commentary on Revelation, pp. 229-230.
Tradition and Redaction
ofRev 21, 9-22,5

Rev 21, 9-22, 5, the account of the vision of the New Jerusa1em, looks
very much like a se1f-contained literary unit. It does not really follow on
the thought of Rev 21, 8 but rather that of 21, 2. Further, 21, 27 actually
seems to conflict with 21, 8. Again, the reference in the opening verse of
the seetion, v. 9, to " one of the seven angels having the seven bow1s ... " as
the media tor of the vision is quite unexpected in its context, and even in
the light of Rev 21, 2 where the New Jerusa1em is viewed direcdy by the
Seer. On the other hand, the near-identity of wording between Rev 21, 9
and the opening verses of the account of the vision of the judgment of the
, great prostitute " Babyion, in Rev 17, 1.3, is very striking indeed, and
whether traditional or redactional in origin, seems clearly meant to link the
two visions:
Rev21,9.lOa Rev 17, 1.3
9. Kai f]A8EV EIe; EK Tmv E1tTU 1. Kai f]A8EV EIe; EK Tmv E1tTU
Uyyf.AOOV Tmv EXOVTOOV TUe; Uyyf.AOOV Tmv EXOVTOOV TUe;
Emu qnuAae; Tmv YE~OVTOOV (!) E1tTU qnuAae;,
Tmv E1tTU 1tATJymv,
Kai EAUATJO'EV ~ET' E~OU Atyoov, Kai EAUATJO'EV ~ET' E~OU AEYOOV,
~EUQO, OE(~OO O'ot ~EUQO, oEi~oo O'Ol
TitV VUWPTJV TitV yuvaiKa TO KQ(~a Tfie; 1t0QVTJe;
wu ' AQv(ou. Tfie; ~EYUATJe; Tfie; Ka8TJ~f.VTJe;
Ent UOUTOOV nonmv....

10. Kai unitvEYKf.V ~E 3. Kai U1t11VEYKEV ~E


Eie; ilQTJ~OV
EV nVEU~aTl EV nVEU~aTl KTA.
E1tl ÖQoe; ~Eya Kai UIjITJAOV, KTA.

The awkwardness of the words " the bride, the wife of the Lamb" (21,
9c), has led some scholars to conclude that the phrase" the wife of the
Lamb" ('t11V yuvaiKu toO 'AQviou) may be redactionall. There is some

1. Or an early gloss. Cf. W. BOUSSET, Die Offenbarung des Johannes (6. Aufl.)
(KEK), Göttingen, 1906, p. 446 (esp. n. 2, where he argues that the variants in the
206 M. WILCOX

support for this: (a) The term' the Lamb ' is not only a central motif in
the present form of the Book of Revelation, but - as Eberhard Vischer
no ted - all too frequently hangs awkwardly in its context, giving the
impression of being a redactional or interpretative 'afterthought' 2.
(b) The transition from 21,2' prepared like a bride adorned for her hus-
band' to ' the bride, the wife of the Lamb ' is certainly not a natural one as
it now stands 3. (c) In any case the term' the wife' (t1']v YUVUiKU) may
have been introduced for the express purpose of underlining the paralleis
between the two visions, which would then become visions of two women,
who are in turn interpreted as two cities (cf. 17, 18) 4. Finally, there is no
obvious link between 22, 5 and 22, 6 : the latter introduces a quite different
thought, connected rather with the opening verses of the Book, whereas 22,
5 has the feel of a natural ending of a section - a fact which most editions
of the NT have recognized in their paragraphing.
However, for all that Rev 21, 9-22, 5 may look like a closed unit, there
are certain problems within it. First, there is the awkwardness of the
phrases ' and the Lamb' (Kui t6 'Agviov) in v. 22b, and 'of the Lamb'
(toO 'Agviou) in v. 27c, along with the grammatical complexity of vv. 3.4
(Kai 6 9g6vo~ toO 9wO Kui toO 'Agviou sv ulmt> ~crtat, Kui oi
ÖOOAOl alltOO (!) AUtgEucroUO'1V UUtcp (!), Kui Ö\jfOVtUt t6 1tg6crw1tov
autoO (!», where it is far from clear whether the 3rd. person singular pro-
noun refers to' God " 'the Lamb " or in some way to both. Next, whereas
the vision as a whole looks to the descent from heaven from God of a New
J erusalem, several verses within it seem to envisage rather a renewal of the
, earthly , Jerusalem. Thus 21, 27 (cf. 22, 15) looks to the continued exist-
ence of evildoers after their ruin in 21, 8. Wilhelm Bousset concluded that
this difficulty was best explained if the Apocalyptist in this section had
taken over and reworked a·fixed written source 5. It is then argued that the

text indicate that the words may be a gloss) ; R.H. CHARLES, A Critical and Exegeli-
cal Commentary on the Revelation of St. John (lCe), Edinburgh, 1920, 2 vols.,
Vol. 11, p. 156, who adds that the words may be a gloss on 'tT]V VUIl<JlllV, based on
Rev 19, 7 ; and A. LOISY, L ':A pocalypse de J ean, Paris, 1923, p. 372.
2. Die Offenbarung Johannis: eine jüdische Apokalypse in christlicher Bearbei-
tung. Mit einem Nachwort von Adolf Harnack (TU 2, 3), Leipzig, 1886, pp. 35-46,
esp. p. 42.
3. In Rev 21,2 the words" preparedJike a bride ... " are only used figuratively of
the beauty of the 'New Jerusalem ' ; they do not say that the city is the bride, as is
done in 21, 9. lt has been suggested that this change is due to adesire to make a
clearer comparison between the 'prostitute-city' of Rev 17, Iff. and the (new) Holy
City. Thus G.ß. CAIRD, The Revelation of SI. John the Divine (BNTC), London,
1966, p. 269: "The bride is the heavenly reality of which Babyion is the earthly
travesty".
4. Cf. also Gal 4,21-31, where Sarah and Hagar' allegorically' represent 'two
covenants', the latter from Sinai (= contemporary Jerusalem), the former (i.e.,
Sarah) - ' our mother ' - ' the Jerusalem above '.
5. Offenbarung, p. 454.
REV 21,9-22,5 207

source is ultimate1y Jewish, but with thin Christian revision 6. Others, e.g.,
Ernst Lohmeyer and G.R. Beas1ey-Murray, have contended for the sub-
stantialliterary unity of the whole seetion 7. The hypothesis of R.H. Charles
that the difficulties were due to the work of a well-intending, though
unintelligent, student and editor, seems too fanciful to be considered
seriously.
The problem facing us then is whether there is any positive evidence
which might throw light on the question of the possible use of traditional
material in some fairly fixed form in the passage under discussion and thus
enable us to begin to understand the more purely redactional interests of
the author of the finished book.

We start by considering three passages: Rev 21, 23a (cf. 22, 5), 21,
18b.21b, and 21, 24a.
a) Rev 21, 23a :
Kai T] 1tOA1<; ou XQEiav IlXEl 10U T]Aiou ouöE 1ft<; O"EAT]VTj<;, lva <paiVffiO"lV
aUlfj, K1A.
This passage has 10ng been recognized as an allusion to Is 60, 19, and
Charles indeed classed it amongst those "based directly on the Hebrew" 8.
Comparison with the MT and the LXX neverthe1ess shows that this will
not do, at least as the text now stands. The words Oll XQEiav l::XEl are absent
from the LXX and wholly unrepresented in the MT. They agree striking1y,
however, with the Targum, ... l":>'~ln N'9. We must, of course,
readily admit that there are deviations from the text of the Targum also, as
we now have it, but in at least one case the difference may reflect a variant
reading found in the Targum; thus the words in Rev 21, 23a ' that they
may give light to it ' (lva epaiVffi(JlV aUlij) which have no precise equivalent
in either MT or LXX may possibly be derived from the form ";'''3' (or

6. Further support. is claimed in the ' striking doub1ets ' Rev 21, 23 and 22, 5b;
21. 25 and 22, 5a; 21, 27 and 22, 3.
7. E. LOHMEYER, Die Offenbarung des Johannes (HNT, 16), Tübingen, 1953,
pp. 169-172; G.R. BEASLEy-MuRRAY, The Book of Revelation (New Century Bib1e),
London, 1974, pp. 277ff. The difficulties arising from comparison of Rev 21, 24ff.
with Rev 21, 1-4, for examp1e, are seen as due to the fact that the sections in ques-
tion (21, 1-4; 21, 5-8; 21, 9-22, 5; and 22, 6-7) are" on another level" (BEASLEY-
MURRAY, Revelation, pp. 341-342.
8. Commentary, vol. I, p. LXXVI.
9. " They will not need the light of the sun by day, nor indeed the brightness of

~N' N~~":J NTl)~Tl) ";'''37


the moon by night "( "17
l":>'~ln N'
N"'''':J N';,"O ";'''j' ). Cf. A. SPERBER, The Bible in Aramaie, Leiden, 1962,
Vol. III, p. 121, fines 7-8.
208 M. WILCOX

";,"T7 ) of the Targum, read as an infinitive with 7 instead of (correctly)


as a noun, meaning , for a light' 10.
Be that as it may, it is hard to see where the words otJ XQEiav i:XEt can
have come from if not from an underlying interpretative tradition akin to
that preserved for us in the Targum. Some support for this view comes
from the reappearance of the words in Rev 22, 5 in a closely related con-
text: Kai OtJK i:xouO"tv XQEiav <pÜHOe; AUXVOU Kai <pille; (!) TtAiou KrA. The
same basic element of tradition appears to underlie both passages. In this
connection we may note that in Is 60, 1 both Targum and LXX explicitly
mention Jerusalem as the party addressed, whereas the MT does not, but
leaves us to infer it from other places, e.g., 60, 15 11. Thus in one of the
'striking doublets' observed by Bousset we have external support for
possible use ofindependent material 12.
b) Rev 21, 18b.21b:
18b Kui Tt 1tOAte; XQucriov 21 b Kui 1'] 1tAu'tEiu 'tfjc; 1tOAEffiC;
Ku8uQov öll0toV XQucrlov Ku8uQov ffiC;
ÜUAC[) Ku8uQc'!> ÜUAOC; 8tuuyftc;

With this element in the description ofthe New Jerusalem in Rev 21 we


may compare the short haggadah embedded in Ex 19, 17 in Targum Pseu-
do-Jonathan. Here Moses is said to have brought the people out to meet
the Shekinah of the Lord outside the camp (lit.: 'from the camp',
Nn"'tl)-l~) 13, whereupon 'the Lord of the world' (N~7:s7 "'N~) at
once uprooted/upturned the mount (i.e., Sinai) and li/ted it up in the air
(N""N:J ;'''!:)PT), and it became transparent like glass (";' l""j mm
N"'7P!:)ON:». The tradition- or at least that element referring to the up-
turning of the mountain - is mentioned in the Mekhilta and the Tal-
mud 14. It thus has claims to greater antiquity than its mere presence in

10. The translation in note 9 assurnes that the lamedh in ";'''37 and ";,"T7
signifies the direct object. If, however, it is taken at its face value, we may read
instead : " They will not need the sun lor a light by day, nor indeed the moon lor
brightness by night". It is a short step from this interpretation to that found in
Rev 21, 23a (as indicated above in the text of the paper).
11. Targum: • .. C7tl)"" ",mN "~'P ; LXX: <pffi'tit;ou, <pffi'tit;ou, IEQou-
cruAllll, K'tA..
12. Offenbarung, p. 454.
13. Cf. Heb 13, 11.13.
14. Mekhilta (ed. H.S. HOROVITZ and LA. RABIN, Jerusalem, 21970), on Ex 19,
17 (p. 214, lines 17-18): "In the lowest part 01 the mountain - teaching that the
mountain was upturned from its place, and they came and stood underneath it, as it
is said, And you came near and stood under (nnn) the mountain (Deut 4, 11)". Cf.
also b. Shab 88a ; b. A. Zar 2b.
REV 21,9-22,5 209
Tg.Ps.-J. might by itself suggest. It is true that we do not seem to have
similar independent attestation for the phrase 'transparent like glass'
within other early Jewish sourees, but the striking parallel between Tg.Ps.-
J. Ex 19, 17 and Rev 21, 21b (i.e., N""P~ON:J ";rl""T and ro~ ÖUAO~ 8t-
uuYi1~) points to the same haggadic tradition underlying both.
Several other considerations support this view. First, the two forms of
the phrase found in Rev re fleet the kind of interchange between öllOto~
and ro~ which appears elsewhere in Rev 15. The two phrases might thus
represent a common underlying tradition. Next, 8tuuyi1~ does not occur
elsewhere in the NT, nor indeed in the LXX, although it is found in Aqui-
la's version at Pr 16, 2. There it translates the Hebrew 1T , which the LXX
occasionally represents by Ku8uQ6~ (cf. Rev 21, 18b) 16. Further, in Heb 12,
18-21 we have reference to Ex 19, 12-19. In Heb 12,22, however, it seems
that Mt. Sinai (Heb 12, 18-21) is contras ted with Mt. Zion, 'the city ofthe
living God, Heavenly Jerusalem " by means of the stylistic device of the
repetition ofthe words, 'You have (not) come to ... ' (v. 18a, OU YUQ 1tQocr-
EAllAu8utE ... , v. 22a, UAAa 1tQocrEAllM8utE ... ). It is as though the writer was
deliberately seeking to combat an alternative view which identified Mt.
Sinai with the New Jerusalem 17. Finally, in the Mekhilta, on Ex 19, 17, we
are told that Dt 33, 2 (which is seen as interpreting Ex 19, 17), "the Lord
came from Sinai ", may mean that the Lord came from Sinai to meet Israel
"like the bridegroom who goes forth to meet the bride" 18. If we had
further evidence ofpossible knowledge oftraditions in the Mekhilta on the
part of our NT writers, and more especially the writer of Revelation,
this simile would look like a striking link with Rev 21,2: Kui tijv 1t6AtV tijv
ayiuv'IEQoucruAij/l KatVijv d80v Kutußuivoucruv €K tOÜ oUQuvoü um) wü
8wü, i]tOl/lUcr/lEVllV ro~ VU/l<i>l1V KEKocrllll/lEVllV tcp uv8Qi uutiK Tantalizing
support would be given by the related passage Rev 21, 10 where the Seer is
led by (or is it 'in' ?) the spirit to ' a great and high mountain ' (öQo~ /lEYu
Kui l)\VllA.6V) and shown the 'bride', 'the holy city Jerusalem coming
down from heaven from God, having the glory of God (~xoucruv tijv 86~uv
(= N'P"N ?) tOU 8wü) '. One is tempted to see in this ' N ew 'j' Heavenly ,
Jerusalem passage in Revelation a more elaborate form ofthe haggadah 19.

15. Cf. Cl-IARLES, Commentary, vol. I, pp. 35-36.


16. E.g. Ex 27, 20 (pure/clean olive oil), Lev 24, 2 (pure/clean olive oil -
identieal phrase to that in Ex 27, 20), Lev 24, 7 (pure frankineense), ete.
17. Nor is this the only link between the thought of Hebrews and that of the
Mekhilta. One may reeall the splendid passage on the faith of Abraham (HOROVITZ-
RABIN, pp. 114-115) and the similar eulogy ofhim in Heb 11,8-19.
18. Mekh (HOROVITZ-RABIN), on Ex 19, 17 (p. 214, line 15) :,N:l "r07;) r;r
.;r':J MN'P' N~'" N,;rtl) iIT lMn:J ,'N'tl)" MN ':lP'
19. The presenee of midrashic material in LXX Ex 19, 13 (see D.W. GOODING,
On the Use 01 the LXX lor Dating Midrashic Elements in the Targums, in JTS 25
210 M. WILCOX

c) Rev 21, 24a :


KUt 7tEQutU't1'j<JOD<JtV 'tU ~eVTJ 8uz wü <pm't<'><; uu'tii<; (cf. Is 60, 3).

This passage has been long known to diverge from the LXX which in
Is 60, 3 reads :
KU t 7tOQEU<JOV'tUl ßU<JtAEi<; 'ttp <pmti <JOD
KUt ~eVTJ 'tij Au!!7tQ6'tTJti <JOD.

Charles, following Dittmar and others, listed it as directly based on the


Hebrew, a fact which comparison with the LXX and the MT seems to
support 20. The LXX here represents either a different Hebrew original or
possibly a deviant interpretative tradition. The MT reads :
:1nij illl' O"::l'~' 1i'~' 0"'1 ,::1,;"
Recourse to the Targum at first sight seems to add litde, except that it
reads the definite form ' the nations' ( = LXX l:9vT\, against MT 0"'1 ).
Appeal to the wider context in the Targum is interesting, however. Thus in
Rev 21, 24a the ut'rl'ii<; 21 links the passage with it nolv!<; in Rev 21, 23a -
that is, with the Heavenly/New Jerusalem of the vision. But whereas
Jerusalem is never explicitly mentioned in the MT of Is 60, both the LXX
and the Targum do refer to it and depict the prophet as addressing it:
cf. Is 60, 1 (LXX, Tg.), and 60, 4 (Tg.) - the latter verse which imme-
diately follows that alluded to in Rev 21, 24a. If therefore our text really
does reflect the Hebrew of the MT it also shows knowledge of the interpre-
tative tradition relating Is 60 to Jerusalem and preserved in the LXX and
the Targum. A less complicated solution would be to see it as following the
form found in the Targum. The latter, however, go es one stage further. In
Is 60, Iff. it states that the moment of salvation has come for Jerusalem
(1"lVi'O l~j ~ö~), the 'deep darkness' covers not the Gentiles (so
MT, LXX) but ' the kingdoms ' ( ~rm::l'~') (v. 2), and the Shekinah of
the Lord is to rest in Jerusalem (il' il"1'Il"::lTl) "iTl)" '''::1'
),(v. 2b). There
are other features in addition which suggest that we are faced with an
eschatological event 22. These traits, however, are absent from the LXX

(1974-1975), I-li, pp. 4-6) increases the prob ability that a similar factor may under-
lie our text.
20. CHARLES, Commentary, vol. I, p. LXXVI; W. DITTMAR, Vetus Testamenturn
in Nova, Göttingen, 1903, pp. 278-279. Dittmar also notes possible links with Ps 72,
10.11.
21. The 3rd. s.f. pronoun is substituted for the 2nd s.f. of the MT and Targum
because the text as found in Rev 21, 24a is not a quotation but at most an allusion to
Is 60,3.
22. E.g., in v. 20, instead ofthe opening words, "For your sun shall no more go
down, nor your moon withdraw itself... ", the Targum reads: "Your kingdom shall
REV 21,9-22,5 211

and the MT. The references in vv. 24b.25 to Is 60, 11 (and possibly 60, 5)
- the gates of the city are open by day, and ' the kings of the earth ' bring
their glory ( = wealth ?) into it, fit with this picture. The antiquity of the
identification of the one addressed by the prophet as the victorious Jeru-
salem ofthe end-time is further supported by the presence ofprecisely that
interpretation ofIs 60, 11 in 1QM 12, 12b-13, especially line 13 :
Open (your) gates perpetually
to allow in the wealth of the nations,
and their kings shall serve you.
Similarly, in Is 60, 13, Geza Vermes has argued forcefully for a primitive
Jewish tradition identifying , Lebanon ' with the Temple 23. That our text
reflects an early Jewish interpretative tradition based on Is 60 thus seems
highly probable.
Rev 21,24, however, is part of the material which Bousset saw as pre-
serving , an archaistic trait ' belonging not to the picture of a ' Heavenly ,
Jerusalem but of a 'renewed' Jerusalem, and that is certainly what lQM
12, 12-15 has in view. Despite an apparent dependence of our text on the
Hebrew of the MT, we see that it may be rather better understood as
reflecting elements of an early Jewish interpretative tradition based on
Is 60, relating that chapter to the renewed and victorious Jerusalem of the
end-time. The specifically 'non-earthly' aspect would then seem more
probably due to the intention of the Apocalyptist himself, rather than to
his materials.

We thus see that in three places within Rev 21,9-22,5 there are signs of
knowledge of Jewish traditional material interpreting Scripture and surviv-
ing elsewhere in Targumic and other related literature. The seemingly
incidental nature of the occurence of this material in our text suggests that
it was adopted ready-made by the author of the Book. Further, in the
passages discussed we found evidence that the expectation was of a re-
stored or renewed (earthly) Jerusalem, rather than of the descent of a ' pre-
cast' heavenly one. Here two models from appoximately contemporary
material come to mind: (a) the 'New ' Jerusalem' of the Qumran texts
lQ32, 2Q24, 5Ql5 and possibly also 4Q DibHam 24, and (b) the so-called

never cease. and your glory shall not pass away (,"n':l'~ "37 '~:Jn ~,
.... ·"'37" ~, ''''1'''')''.
One is reminded here ofDan 7,14.27.
23. Scripture and Tradition in Judaism, (Studia Post-Biblica, 4), Leiden, 1961,
pp. 26-39, esp. p. 37.
24. We ought also to mention the as yet unpublished 'New Jerusalem' text
from 4Q, utilized by J.T. MILIK in his reconstruction of 5Q15 in Discoveries in the
Judaean Desert of Jordan, I1I, Oxford, 1962, pp. 185-191. Another possible reference
212 M. WILCOX

, Temple ScroIl '. Detailed discussion of these clearly lies outside the scope
of this paper, but the foIlowing points may be made in passing :
a) In the 'New Jerusalem' fragments from Qumran - and especially
in 5Q15 (and the still unpublished related text from Cave 4) - we have a
detailed description ofthe New Jerusalem with a number ofvital points in
common with the description in Rev 21,9-22,5, e.g. :
i) In both the writer is given a guided tour of the new city by an angelic
companion who, armed with a measuring-rod, gives hirn the detailed
measurements of the city.
ii) The actual formulae in which the accounts are phrased are closely
similar. We may compare, for example, Rev 21, 9b.1O.17, and 22, 1 with
5Q15 :
Rev 21, 9b.IO.17; 22, I 5Q15
(9b) dEUQO, 8Ei~ffi O'm .. . (f.I, 1, 2)
(10) Kui U1t11VEYKEV JlE .. . f.l, 1, 18-2, 1; 2, 6
Kui l:8Et~EV JlE ...
(17) Kui EJlE'tQTJO'EV 'to 'tEixoC; uÜ'tiic; .. · f. 1, 1,6. ; 2, [9).[12).[13).
(22, I) Kui l:8Et~EV JlE ... f. 1, 1,2.[8).[10).[15). ete.

True, both are probably ultimately based on Ezek 40-48, but the like-
ness of style here is not only considerable but happens to pervade what -
in the case of Rev 21. 9-22. 5 - seemed to us earlier to constitute a red ac-
tional component of the section 25. It now seems that we should consider
more seriously the possibility that this material, far from being redactional,
has claims to being regarded as traditional.
iii) In both not only is the city of very substantial proportions (quite
incredibly so in the case of Rev 21, 9-22, 5), but also it is clearly portrayed
as of exceeding beauty. Both cities have twelve gates, and so on.
A vital difference, however, is that whereas 5Ql5 1, 4 refers to the
Temple as part of the city, our text states explicitly that no Temple was to
be seen in it (Kai va6v OUK d80v €V au'tÜ) 26. It is worth noting that al-
though vaos = 'sanctuary " ' temple " appears some 16 times in Rev, the
other word for ' temple " iEQOV, is wholly absent from it, aIthough it ap-
pears frequently elsewhere in the NT. Now it is precisely the term vaos
which is found in the so-called 'Temple-destruction ' logion in the Gos-

is 3Q 14 frag. 3, where there seems to be amention of the 'blueprint ' (tI"l:JtI) of


the Sanetuary ("l::ltVi'J)·
25. See pp. 206-207 above.
26. 5Q 15, I, 4 reads: (NtV'lVi'J . If this reading is eorreet, it reealls the use of
the term tV'Vi'J = sanetuary, temple, in IIQT; cf. Ex 25, 8; Ezek 37, 26.28; 43,
21 ; 44, l.7 .8.11.16 ; 45, 4 ; 48, 8.10 ete. ; 1 Chr 28, 10 ; and, interestingly, in Is 60, 13.
REV 21,9-22,5 213

pels 27. The question thus arises whether the term va6~ here may in fact be
redactional, that is, whether the words ofRev 21, 22a may not be intended
on the part of the author of the completed book as an explicit rejection of
the belief that there should be a Temple/Sanctuary in the new city. If so,
this would fit weH with the fact that v. 22b, 6 yaQ KUQlO~ 6 eEO~ 6 navto-
KQUtffiQ vao~ autii~ ecrnv, Kai tO 'AQvlov (especiaHy in the light of the last
three words) seems specificaHy Christian and thus best attributed to the
author 28. A corollary would be that the basic source or tradition used by hirn
originaHy presupposed the presence within the new city of such a sanc-
tuary.
b) The Temple ScroH (lIQT) throws or appears to throw yet more light
on the situation. First, a particular problem in Revelation has always been
that whereas we are told in 21, 8 that aH evildoers have been destroyed in
the 'lake of fire " yet 21, 27 assurnes their continued existence in that it
bans' every unclean thing' and ' the one who perpetrates abomination'
from the precincts of the new city:
Kat ou IlTJ EicrU6U Ei<; au"n'lv 1täv K01VOV Kat 6 1t0100V ß8tAUYlla Kai
IjIEÜOO<;, KtA.

A similar preoccupation with the exclusion of ' every unclean thing'


from the new city is reflected in the Temple ScroIl, especially cols. 45-47
(but elsewhere as weH), even to the hilarious extent of banning the toilets
from the city for a distance of3000 cubits (about 1.25 km. !), and - worse
still - forbidding their use on the Sabbath. Now the question arises
whether this refers to the Temple and/or Temple-city which exists or only
to that which God will create at the eschaton (' the Day of Blessing ') 29.
11 QT 29, 8-10 states :

" ... I shall sanctify my temple ("tz"'i' (/'J» with my glory which I
shall cause to dwell on it until the Day of Blessing when I shall mys elf
create my temple ("tz"'i'/'J) to establish it for myselffor all time ("~
C"/'J"il), according to the covenant which I made with Jacob in Beth-
EI ".
Two temples/sanctuaries are named : to which (or is it to both ?) do the
restrictions of the Sc roH apply ? On this point Y. Yadin and B.E. Thiering

27. The form of the logion in Acts 6, 14b has 'tüv 't6ltov 'tOÜ'tov instead of 'tüv
vaüv 'tOÜ'tov (Mk 14,58; In 2, 19; Mt 26,61 has 'tüv vaüv 'tOÜ 6eoü).
28. This would also fit with the forms of the Temple-destruction logion in Mark,
John, and Acts (ifthe latter, 6, 14, is read in conjunction with the words attributed to
Stephen in Acts 7, 44-50, esp. vv. 48-49).
29. The problem is complicated by the fact that in the part of the Scroll which
immediately follows (i.e., 11 QT 30), the opening lines are fragmented, and when
reconstruction is possible, the words ofGod are addressed to Moses (Iines 3ff.).
214 M. WILCOX

give rather different interpretations 30. Yadin thinks that the temple ofthe
Scroll is to be built now, leaving a new temple to be built (lit. : 'created ')
by God in the end-time; Thiering holds that the temple ofthe Scroll is that
which is to be built " after the ' day of blessing , " 31. If Thiering should be
right in her view, the state of affairs would resemble that which confronts
us in Rev 21, 27, in that although it would presuppose the arrival of the
eschaton it would also envisage the need to prevent entry into the city of
anything (ritually) unclean; it would thus virtually assurne the continued
existence of such' unclean ' persons and things. The interesting point here
is that in both IIQT and Rev 21, 9-22, 5 such a puzzling situation is
deemed possible.
A second link between Rev and 11 QT is the fact that, like the account
of the (new) Temple in Ezek 48, 31-34, they show the city (or the temple, in
IIQT) with twelve gates, named after the twelve tribes of Israel 32. How-
ever, while the listin llQT 39,11.12-13 agrees with that ofEzek 48,31-34
in names but not in their order or arrangement on the four walls, the actual
names are not given at all in Rev 21, 12-13. Ifwe appeal to the list oftribes
in Rev 7, 5-8, we find that it agrees with neither llQT 39, 12-13 nor
Ezek 48, 31-34. On the other hand, it is most interesting that in two docu-
ments belonging to about the same general period in time reference should
be found to the structure of the 'New' Jerusalem and/or' New' Temple
in this way. It is a further strand of evidence pointing to the use of some
form of traditional material in both.
The currency of literature purporting to describe and speculate on the
restoration or re-creation of Jerusalem and its Temple not only reflects the
beliefs of a sect or sects of Judaism roughly contemporary with the New
Testament period ; it also suggests that a work such as Revelation may
have had real grounds for aUempting to answer such views. This fact,
taken along with the signs found earlier in this paper hinting at the pres-
ence of early Jewish exegetical traditions within Rev 21, 9-22, 5, seems to
enhance the claim that that passage is no mere literary invention of the
author, but depends in some rather fundamental way upon the use of pre-

30. Megillat Hammiqdas, 3 vols. (in 4), Jerusalem, 1977, I, 140-144; Barbara
E. THIERING, Redating the Teacher 01 Righteousness (Australian and New Zealand
Studies in Theology and Religion, I), Sydney, 1979, p. 106.
31. Redating, p. 106.
32. Rev 21, 12b-13. Many attempts have been made to exp1ain the apparently
deviant order ofthe naming ofthe walls in this passage - East, North, South, West
- but with, so it seems, litde real success. Nor does the present writer find himself
convinced by the various attempts to determine the actua1 tribe-names invo1ved
belonging to each of the four sides of the City by appeal to the names of the jewels
with wh ich the foundations of the walls are said to have been adomed (Rev 21, 19-
20). llQT 39, (11).12-13 gives the order of names as: East, Simeon, Levi, Judah;
South, Reuben, Joseph, Benjamin; West, Issachar, Zebulun, Gad; North, Dan,
Naphtali, Assher. The same order appears a little later in 40, 14-41, 10.
REV 21, 9-22,5 215

formed tradition al material. Indeed, the tantalizing question is why and


how a Christian writer who clearly saw Jesus as the Messiah could and
would make use of such material. But this we shall have to leave to a later
study 33.

78 Gorwel Max WILCOX


Llanfairfechan
Gwynedd LL33 ODT (Wales, G.ß.)

33. In a monograph, the provision al title of which is : Primitive Tradition in the


Book 01 Revelation.
lUAO<; aYYEAo<; in Apk 14

1. Die Einleitung

Die Kommentare zum Kapitel 14 der Apk unterscheiden beinahe alle


eine dreifache Struktur: V. 1-5; 6-13; 14-20, wobei die gegenseitigen
Beziehungen dieser drei Fragmente und besonders V. 14 verschieden
beurteilt werden 1.
Die Funktion des Kap. 14 in der Gesamtheit des Buches wird meistens
als proleptisch beschrieben, den Kapiteln 17 bis 20 vorgreifend 2. Anderer-
seits hat man auch auf die Stellung nach Kap. 12-13 hingewiesen. Nach
Lohmeyer ist Kap 14 "formal und inhaltlich der Höhepunkt der Apk,
wenn man von einem Höhepunkt in einer Schrift reden kann, in der ihrem
Gegenstande nach erst das Ende Umschau und Lösung bringen will und
kann" 3.
Diese Verschiedenheit der Meinungen hinsichtlich der Struktur, der
Funktion and auch der Herkunft des Materials des Kapitels 14 hängt
teilweise mit der Interpretation des liUo~ liYYf'.AO~ in den V. 6.8.9 und
15.17.18 zusammen, besonders aber in den V. 6 und 15. Handelt es sich in
den sechs oder sieben Versen um dasselbe einheitliche Schema? Dann ist
das Fragment V. 6-20 wahrscheinlich eine literarische Einheit, möglicher-
weise kommt es aus derselben Tradition. Oder handelt es sich in den V. 15-
18 um drei oder vier ganz andere Engel (Ernte-Engel), die aus einer ganz
anderen Tradition stammen als die drei Sprech-Engel der V. 6-9? Ist die
Figur in V. 14 ebenfalls ein Engel? Was bedeutet das für die Menschen-
sohnvorstellung ? Und besonders stellt sich die Frage nach der Funktion
des unbestimmten Engels in V. 6 und V. 15, dem kein anderer Engel
vorangeht.

1. So redet J. MASSYNGBERDE FORD über" The Lamb and the seven angels .. im
Kommentar Revelation [Anchor Bible], Garden City, 1975, S. 231, und setzt so V. 1-
5 ins Zentrum. Nach E. LOHMEYER, Die Offenbarung des Johannes, (HNT, 16),
Tübingen, 21953, S. 119, ist" das Kommen des Menschensohnes auf den Wolken
des Himmels" Hauptthema des Kapitels 14 und damit V. 14 der Mittelpunkt.
2. R. CHARLES, The Revelation o[ St. John [ICC], Edinburgh, 1920: " The entire
chapter is proleptic in character. .. It is of the nature of an intermezzo" (Vol. 11,
S. I). " Chapter 14 is aprelude to the victory to be completed by the figure on the
white horse in Rev. 19 ..... (M. Ford).
3. LOHMEYER, Kommentar, S. 119.
218 A.P. VAN SCHAlK

Die Exegeten schlagen verschiedene Lösungen vor. In solchen Fällen


untersuchen manche die Möglichkeit einer falschen Lesart. So hält J. Weiß
in 14,6 aUov aElov für ursprünglich und bezieht sich dabei auf Apk 8, 13.
R. Charles versteht den Ausdruck in 14, 6 als" ein Anderer, ein Engel" 4,
während Lohmeyer sagt: " Das Wort aAAOt; ist in c. 14 als Mittel verwandt
die einzelnen Visionen zu verbinden und zu scheiden ... " (S. 123). Die
Frage nach der Bedeutung des" allos aggelos " wiederholt sich zwingend
in V. 15. J. Weiß sucht die leichteste, aber auch unwahrscheinlichste
Lösung: aUot; nimmt Bezug auf den Engel in V. 8 und 9. Nach W. Bous-
set hat die Quelle in V. 15 nur aYYEAOt;, neben dem Menschensohn V. 14 5 .
Aber der letzte Redaktor der Apk habe hier kaum noch den Messias gese-
hen, er habe den Messias zu einem Engel degradiert. Deswegen habe er
dann in V. 15 aUot; hinzugefügt. Auch U. Müller ist der Ansicht, daß der
aUot; aYYEAOt; in V. 15 auf die Figur in V. 14 hinweist und daß der Men-
schensohn in Apk 14, 14 zu den Engeln gezählt wird was der jüdischen
Vorstellung entspräche 6.
Wie soll man dieses Problem am besten erörtern? Zur Beantwortung
unserer Fragen wird zuerst das Kapitel 14 selbst betrachtet, dann werden
andere Texte der Apk (Kap. 10), die zur Lösung beitragen können, heran-
gezogen.

2. Der Ausdruck liAJ..oe; lind.oe; in 14,6-13

Nirgendwo in der Apk kommt in einem Kapitel der Ausdruck aUot;


aYYEAOt; so häufig vor wie in Kap. 14. So redet Johannes bei der Aufzäh-
lung der sieben Siegel, der sieben Posaunen und der sieben Schalen von
dem ersten, zweiten, dritten Engel usw .. aAAOt; fehlt ganz und gar. Und
dort, wo ein" anderer Engel" auftritt (7, 2 ; 8, 3), gibt es einen deutlichen
Hinweis auf andere Engel im vorhergehenden Vers (7, 1 ; 8, 2). In Apk 14,
6 und 14, 15 ist das nicht der Fall, eine deutliche Referenz auf aUot; fehlt.
Die Unterschiede zwischen aUot; aYYEAOt; in 14,6-10 einerseits und in
14, 14-18 andererseits dürfen nicht übersehen werden. In der ersten Peri-
kope folgt auf aUot; in V. 8 und V. 9 eine Ordnungszahl, jedoch nicht in
V. 14-19. In V. 6-9 spricht ein Engel nach dem anderen seinen Text, die
Engel sind gleichwertig. In V. 14-19 gibt der eine Engel dem anderen einen

4. CHARLES, Revelation, 11, S. 12: " It seems best to explain as "another, an


angel ", während Lohmeyer sagt, " Das Wort iiAA.o~ ist in c. 14 als Mittel verwandt,
die einzelnen Visionen zu verbinden und zu scheiden" (a.a.O., S. 123).
5. W. BOUSSET, Die Offenbarung Johannis (Meyer), Göttingen, 61906, S. 388 :
" Man wird anzunehmen haben, daß erst unser Apok zu dem in seiner Quelle
vorgefundenen iiYYEf...O~ ein iiAA.o~ hinzugefügt habe ".
6. u.B. MÜLLER, Messias und Menschensohn in jüdischen Apokalypsen und in der
Offenbarung des Johannes (StNT, 6), Gütersloh, 1972, S. 197.
APOK 14 219

Befehl; der eine ist dem anderen untergeben. Zudem unterscheiden sich
die Engel der V. 14-19 von den übrigen in V. 6-10 darin, daß sie aus dem
Tempel (V. 15.17) bzw. aus dem Altar (V. 18) kommen. Kraft dieser Ele-
mente ist nicht anzunehmen, daß der Autor in Kap. 14 das Verfahren der
Siebenzahl gewählt hat, im Sinne von M. Ford: Das Lamm und die sieben
Engel. Auch die Strukturierung des Kap. 14 in der Weise, daß 14, 14 mit
dem Menschensohn Mittelpunkt des Kapitels wird, scheint mir fragwür-
dig.
Die oben genannten Unterschiede sollen aber nicht die gemeinsamen
Elemente, die für den Leser die wichtigsten sind, verhüllen. Die Funktion
des" allos aggelos " in Kap. 14 ist das Aussprechen kürzerer und längerer
Sätze, das Verb AtYEtv charakterisiert die Aktion aller Engel in diesem
Kapitel. Und noch wichtiger ist die Feststellung daß das Objekt dieses
Aussprechens eine Botschaft, eine Mahnung aus dem Alten Testament ist.
Der Engel ist hier kein" angelus interpres ", der einen rätselhaften Text
erklärt, er ist die personifizierte Stimme Gottes (" qöl Jahwe ").
Es würde zu weit führen, alle alttestamentlichen Zitate und Hinweise
des Kapitels 14 zu untersuchen. Es genügt für unseren Zweck, die wichtig-
sten Texte in Erinnerung zu bringen und so die Bedeutung des Alten Testa-
mentes für den Autor der Apk zu erklären. Der erste Engel (V. 6.7) ruft
wie ein Herold mit lauter Stimme zur Gottesfurcht auf, " Gebet Gott die
Ehre ". Dieser Aufruf zur Gottesanbetung, fundiert im Schöpfungsgedan-
ken, ist ein deuteronomistisches Thema (z.B. Dt 10, 12-15; 13,5-7). Dieser
Aufruf ist zugleich zu verstehen als eine positive Formulierung des dritten
Dekaloggebotes, keine Götzenbilder zu verehren (Ex 20, 4-5). Neu in
dieser Hinsicht ist bei Johannes die Fundierung der Gottesfurcht auch in
der Nähe der Stunde des Gerichts.
Die Meldung (Indikativ) des zweiten Engels (V. 8) ist frei zusammenge-
setzt aus dem Babellied des Jeremia 51, 7-8. Der Fall Babels war für Jere-
mia damals eine vergangene Tatsache, eine Strafe Gottes für Babel und
zugleich eine Wohltat für Israel. Johannes läßt diese Worte wieder hören,
er überläßt jedoch dem Hörer und dem Leser die Möglichkeit zur Aktuali-
sierung.
Der dritte Engel spricht in einem Konditionalsatz ein Straflogion aus
(V. 9). Im Vorsatz schließt der Engel sich dem Aufruf des ersten Engels an
(V. 7), den Schöpfer zu verehren und nicht die Götzen, im Nachsatz wird
die Strafe beschrieben mit Elementen der Strafe Babels, wie sie der zweite
Engel (V. 8) dargestellt hat.

3. QYYEA.OC; und EUOyy&A.lOV und EUOYYEA.i~Elv in 14, ~

Kann die Anwesenheit des aAAo~ aYYEAo~ in Kapitel 14 möglicherweise


näher erklärt werden durch die stammverwandten Worte in V. 6? Welche
frohe Botschaft gibt es zu verkünden? Der erste Engel kündigt die Nähe
220 A.P. VAN SCHAlK

der Stunde Gottes an und der Leser der Apk weiß, daß diese Nähe der
Stunde Gottes für die Frommen eine frohe Botschaft ist (vgl. 11, 16-18).
Zudem ist die Meldung des zweiten Engels: " Babel ist gefallen ", auch ein
Grund zur Freude. Das war schon der Fall beim Babellied des Jeremia
(Kap. 51), in dem die aus Babel befreiten Verbannten Zion die großen
Taten Gottes (darunter der Fall Babels) erzählen 7.
Die Anwesenheit der Wortgruppe EuayytAtoV, EuaYYEAi~ElV und a:YYEAoc;
in 14, 6 ist nicht nur aus der Ankündigung des ersten und zweiten Engels
(V. 8 und 9) zu verstehen, sondern auch aus dem Vorhergehenden (14, 1-
5), wo Johannes sich beeinflussen läßt durch die Zionlieder des Jesaja (40,
9-10; 52, 7-9). Diese Jesaja-Texte besingen den Freudenboten auf dem
Berge, der Zion die Befreiung aus der babylonischen Verbannung ankün-
digt, er ist Herold des Sieges Jahwes, "ihr Gott ist König ", Jubel und
Jauchzen innerhalb der Stadt (52,9-10), die Tyrannei Babels ist gebrochen
(52, 11-12). Die Vision des Lammes und der 144.000 Geretteten nimmt
diese Themen auf: sie stehen auf dem Berge Zion, dem göttlichen Schutz-
ort, sie singen ein neues Lied, sie sind losgekauft von der Erde 8, sie folgten
treu dem Lamm und erlagen nicht dem Götzendienst. Johannes sieht sich
als der neue Freudenbote, in Glauben und in Visionen schaut er, wie Gott
aufs neue König ist, die Zion-Gemeinde darf sich auch jetzt geschützt
wissen (V. 1-5), die Babelgemeinschaft ist zerfallen (V. 6-11) 9.
Im Glauben und in Visionen schaut Johannes, daß die Worte des Jesaja
und Jeremia über Zion und Babel noch ganz aktuell sind, ja daß sie in
dieser von Johannes und seinen Gemeinden durchlebten Endzeit auf die
eigentliche Wirklichkeit hinweisen. Johannes läßt in Kap. 14 die Engel die
alttestamentlichen Gottesworte sprechen, nicht wegen ihrer ehrwürdigen
Vergangenheit, sondern wegen ihrer Bezogenheit auf die Situation seiner-
zeit: jetzt (in der Zeit des Johannes) wird Zion definitiv die Tyrannei
Babels überleben und nicht dem Götzendienst erliegen. Hier in Kap. 14
gilt, was H. Kraft generell zur Sprache der Apk sagt: " Die alttestament-
liche Prophetie ist die einzige Quelle, auf die er sich bei seinen Weisungen
stützt... Er fühlt sich als Fortsetzer und abschließender Ausleger der alttes-
tamentlichen Prophetie" 10. Als Fortsetzer fühlt er sich nicht als Repro-
duzent, der wortwörtlich wiederholt, was da geschrieben war. Er kombi-
niert, betont und korrigiert so, daß er seine Botschaft verkündigen kann.

7. Der TM hat hier" saphar ", der LXX avayyEAf.1V, Aquila hat f.üaYYf.Ai~f.lV.
8. Die Apk hat hier in 14, 3-4 ayoQäv, die LXX QUf.cr8at, während der TM in
Jes 52, 9" ga 'al" hat.
9. Johannes steht in der Benutzung der Jesajastelle nicht allein. Anderswo im
NT und im Judentum ist Deutero-jeseja der alttestamentliche" Evangelist ". " Von
größter Bedeutung ist es, daß im palästinischen Judentum die Anschauung von
Freudenboten aus Deutero-Jesaja lebendig geblieben ist ", so G. Friedrich, in
TWNT, II, S. 712, zum Wort f.üaYYf.Ai~of.1al.
10. H. KRAFT, Die Offenbarung des Johannes, (HNT, 16a), Tübingen, 1974,
S. 16.
APOK 14 221

So hat er z.B. in 14, 6-7 die Gottesanbetung nicht nur motiviert mit dem
Schöpfungsgedanken, sondern auch mit der Nähe des Gottesurteiles.
Dieses Thema hat er an vielen Stellen in der Apk betont.

Diese Wertung des Alten Testaments und das literarische Mittel eines
aUo<; aYYf.Ao<;, das diese Wertung zum Ausdruck bringen soll, finden sich
auch in Kapitel 10 11. Der Auftritt des Engels in Kap. 10 wird auf eine
ganz dramatische Weise inszeniert, viele Elemente einer Theophanie sind
erkennbar: die Wolke, der Regenbogen, die Sonne, das Feuer. Diese
Elemente und der feierliche Schwur (V. 6) haben die Funktion, die Worte
des Engels (V. 6-7) geltend zu machen: Zeit wird nicht mehr sein, das
Geheimnis Gottes wurde vollendet... Zweifellos stammt manches hier aus
Dan 12. Auf die Frage" wie lange noch ... ? ", antwortet auch dort ein
Engel schwörend: " eine Zeit, Zeiten und eine halbe Zeit" (V. 7). Es ist
klar, daß es für Johannes nicht dieselbe Parusieverzögerung gibt wie für
den Verfasser von DanJ2. Der Engel in Apk 10 ist eine neue Erscheinung
des Engels von Dan 12, er aktualisiert korrigierend seine Worte und seine
Botschaft. So ist er ein aAAo<; aYYf.Ao<;. In diesen letzten Momenten der
Weltgeschichte (die Posaume des siebten Engels) wird das Mysterium
Gottes vollendet, d.h. das Geheimnis der letzten Weltstunde (nur Gott
kennt es) wird hier im Buch und in der Predigt des Johannes offenbart.
Die erfreuliche Botschaft des nahen Weltendes, die Gott früher seinen
Knecht-Propheten mitgeteilt hatte (V. 7 : f.lrrryyEAlcrf.V), erreicht jetzt durch
die prophetische Aktivität des Johannes ihre eigentliche Bestimmung 12.
Diese kurze Analyse der Wortgruppe aYYf.Ao<; und f.üaYYf.AtI;;f.tv in
Kap. 10 bestätigt das Resultat unserer Untersuchung derselben Worte in

11. Nicht alle Ausleger sehen hier in 10, I dieselben Schwierigkeiten wie in 14,
6. So sagt H. Kraft: " Da bisher schon von Engeln die Rede war, wird ein neu
auftretender Engel als liUor; liYYf.AOr; eingeführt" (a.a.O., S. 147). Andere haben
dies jedoch für fraglich gehalten, denn einige Handschriften lassen" allos" nicht
nur in 14, 6 sondern auch in 10, I fallen.
12. In meinem Kommentar (De Openbaring van Johannes, Roermond, 1971,
S. 106) habe ich die Knecht-Propheten (10, 7) neutestamentlich verstanden als die
Bruder-Propheten des Johannes (22, 9). Aber durch die Beobachtung des Verhält-
nisses der Apk zum AT habe ich meine Ansicht geändert. Ein derartiges Verhältnis
zum AT liegt z. B. auch in der Habakuk-Midrasch aus Qumran vor. Besonders zu
erwähnen ist der Text über den Lehrer der Gerechtigkeit (VII, 1-5): " Und Gott
sprach zu Habakuk, er solle aufschreiben, was kommen wird über das letzte Ge-
schlecht. Aber die Vollendung der Zeit hat er ihm nicht kundgetan. Und wenn es
heißt: ,Damit eilen kann, wer es liest " so bezieht sich seine Deutung auf den
Lehrer der Gerechtigkeit, dem Gott kundgetan hat alle Geheimnisse der Worte
seiner Knechte, der Propheten" (Übersetzung E. Lohse). Besonders die letzten
Worte sind wichtig für das Verständnis von Apk 10.
222 A.P. VAN SCHAlK

Kap. 14: der Engel ist da, um eine Botschaft zu verkünden oder eine
Mahnung auszusprechen, und zwar in der Sprache und mit den Worten
der früheren Propheten. Der Engel in Kap. 14 ist wie eine neue Erschei-
nung der Stimme Gottes aus dem AT, er ist der neue Engel von Dan 12
mit seiner Botschaft vom kommenden Weltende, er ist der neue Freuden-
bote des Deutero-Jes. Seine Botschaft ist eine erfreuliche Botschaft.
Kap. 14 atmet wie die Zionlieder des Deutero-Jes, und die Babellieder des
Jeremia (51) die Atmosphäre der Siegesankündigung eines Heroldes. Der
Ausdruck döov aUov aYYEAov (10, 1; 14,6; 18, 1) - dieser Engel aktuali-
siert dann ein alttestamentliches Wort oder besser gesagt einen Propheten
(10,6-7; 18, 1-4) und kann gefolgt werden von anderen Engeln (14, 8-9)-
ist von jenem Theologumenon aus eine Einleitungsformel geworden und
wird auch dann gebraucht, wenn es keine Beziehung zu einem anderen
Engel gibt.
Diese Ansicht, daß aUoc; aYYEAoc; in Kap. 14 (auch in 10, 1 ; 18, 1) die
aktualisierende Stimme Gottes ist, wird nicht allein durch die Äquivalenz
des aUoc; aYYEAoc; (18, 1) und aUT] <provij (18, 4) bestätigt, sondern auch
durch eine andere Formel, die in Zusammenhang mit {;v <provij IlEyUAlJ (10,
3; 14, 7.9.15.18 ; 18, 1) vorkommt. Diese laute Stimme betont die Wichtig-
keit und die Dringlichkeit des Gesagten 13.

5. Menschensohn und o.UOC; o.'Y'Yd,OC; in 14, 14-15

In der Einleitung dieses Aufsatzes ist die Frage nach der Interpretation
des" all os aggelos " in V. 15 gestellt worden: auf wen bezieht sich aUoc; ?
Auf den, der gleich einem Menschensohn ist? Was bedeutet das für die
Menschensohnvorstellung ? Und wenn das nicht der Fall ist, welche Refe-
renz hat aUoc; dann? Und wie verhalten sich dann die Engel in V. 15-19
zu den Engeln in V. 6-9?

a) Der thematische Zusammenhang der zwei Fragmente V. 6-13 und


V. 14-20 ist mit dem Thema der Nähe des Gottesurteiles gegeben: " Gebt
Gott die Ehre, denn gekommen ist die Stunde seines Gerichtes" (V. 7) und
" Sende deine Sichel aus und ernte, denn gekommen ist die Stunde zu
ernten" (V. 15). Neu ist hier in V. 14-20 die Thematik der Ernte. Dieser
Engelruf zu ernten bezieht sich auf Joel 4, 13-16, aber man darf nicht
übersehen, daß auch das Babellied in Jer 51 Babel betrachtet als" die
Dreschdiele, die ausgestampft werden muß, es ist die Stunde zu ernten"
(Jer 51, 33) 14. Diese Beziehung auf Jer 51 kann dann die Verbindung von

13. Auch anderswo im NT wird diese Formel angewandt und zwar in eschatolo-
gischen Texten, in denen ein alttestamentliches Wort seine endgültige Bedeutung
und Applikation hat (z.B. Mt 27,46.50).
14. Der TM hat hier und auch in Joe14, 13 " qasir" gebraucht.
APOK 14 223

V. 14-20 mit V. 6-13 bekräftigen, weil im letzten Text auch Jer 51 benutzt
wurde.

b) In diesem Aufsatz soll nicht die ganze Menschensohnproblematik


behandelt werden, nur diejenigen Aspekte werden zur Sprache gebracht,
die mit der Bedeutung von Apk 14 zusammenhängen.
Alle Ausleger stimmen darin überein, daß unser Text Apk 14, 14 sich
an Dan 7, 13 anlehnt, so wie es auch in Apk 1, 13 der Fall ist 15. Aber in
welchen Sinne ist diese Anlehnung zu verstehen? Die deutliche Richter-
funktion in Apk 14, 14 stammt nicht aus Dan 7, 13, weil jene Funktion
dort gar nicht vorkommt. Was stellt das danielische Himmelwesen, einem
Menschen gleich, dar? Das ist aus Dan 7, 13 nicht zu erschließen. Erst aus
dem weiteren Kontext (7, 18) ergibt sich die Identiftkation mit dem auser-
wählten Volk. So erscheint auch in Apk 1, 13 eine Figur, die einem Men-
schen gleich ist und viele göttliche Attribute hat. Wer wird durch diese Figur
dargestellt? Der weitere Kontext (1, 18) verdeutlicht, daß es sich um
Christus, den Herrn seiner Gemeinden in Kleinasien, " den Lebendigen ",
handelt, " Ich habe die Schlüssel des Todes und des Hades ".
In unserem Text in 14, 14 erscheint jemand, " auf der Wolke saß er
gleich einem Menschensohn ". Wer ist diese Figur? Der unmittelbare
Kontext gibt schon Hinweise: er hat eine scharfe Sichel in der Hand; er
hat seinen Sitz auf einer Wolke 16. Der weitere Kontext (z.B. 19, 11) zeigt
uns den Richter in Ausübung seiner Funktion, " er richtet und kämpft in
Gerechtigkeit..., und er tritt die Kelter des Zornweines Gottes, was auch in
14, 19 ausgesagt wird. Es handelt sich in 14, 14, also bei der als Mensch
erscheinenden Figur, um Christus als Richter der Endzeit.
Abschließend können wir sagen, daß" Menschensohn" in der Apk und
in Dan 7 kein Hoheitstitel ist wie z.B. in den Evangelien, es ist vielmehr ein
literarisches Element aus der Epiphanieterminologie : eine Figur erscheint
als Mensch (nicht als Tier). In Dan 7, 12 stellt diese Figur das auserwählte
Volk dar, in Apk 1, 13 Christus, den Herrn seiner Gemeinden, in 14, 14
Christus, den Richter. Es handelt sich hier bei dem Terminus" Menschen-
sohn" nicht um Christologie, sondern um Christophanie 17.

15. Ungewohnt in diesen zwei Stellen der Apk ist die Abwesenheit des Artikels,
6 via<; 10ii av9Qol1tov ist der normale Ausdruck im NT.
16. Nach Dan 7, 13 kommt der Menschensohn auf (mit) den Wolken (t1ti 'tOOV
VE<pEA,OOV). Es ist nicht unmöglich, daß Ku9ftcr9ul (statt fQXEcr9m) aus Joel 4, 12
stammt: Jahwe nimmt als Richter (" jasab ", Ku9ftcr9ul) im Tal Josaphat Platz, und
dann folgt der Satz über das Werfen der Sichel, von dem in Apk 14, 14-20 ausführ-
lich Gebrauch gemacht wird.
17. E. LOHSE, Der Menschensohn in der Johannesapokalypse, in R. PESCH,
R. SCHNACKENBURG (ed.), Jesus und der Menschensohn, Fs. A. Vögtle, Freiburg-
Basel-Wien, 1975, S. 415-420, konstatiert, daß Jühannes nur an zwei Stellen seines
Buches vom Menschensohn redet. "Im Zusammenhang der endzeitlichen Ereig-
nisse, die er beschreibt, hätte sich jedoch leicht Gelegenheit bieten können, den
224 A.P. VAN SCHAlK

Im Lichte des Vorhergehenden kommen mir alle expliziten Berührun-


gen mit der synoptischen Apokalypse sehr fragwürdig vor. So soll nach
T. Holtz der Engelruf, der den Menschensohn aufruft, die Sichel zu wer-
fen, anknüpfen an das Logion Mk 13, 26 f. par. .. : " Aber über jenen Tag
oder jene Stunde weiß niemand Bescheid" 18. Holtz geht weiter und ver-
mutet, daß bei der Kornernte (V. 15-16) unter Führung des Menschensoh-
nes an die Sammlung der Gläubigen zu denken ist, in Anlehnung an
Mk 13, 27 par., während bei der zweiten Ernte, der Weinernte, der
Gerichtscharakter, die Verurteilung der Völker, unverkennbar ist (V. 19).
Der Text Apk 14, 14-20 läßt m.E. eine solche Interpretation kaum zu. Viel
hängt auch hier von der Erklärung des liUoC; liYYf.AOC; in V. 15-20 ab ; dies
soll Objekt des nächsten Abschnittes sein.

c) Wenn der, der auf der Wolke sitzt, Christus, der Weltrichter, ist und
nicht ein Engel, wie soll dann der liUoC; liYYf.AOC; in V. 15 erklärt werden?
Es scheint mir annehmbar, daß der Verfasser denselben Ausdruck wie
in 14,6-10 benutzt, weil bei ihm auch derselbe Grundgedanke wirksam ist,
nämlich daß das Wort, der Anruf und die Stimme Gottes damals von
Jesaja oder Joel oder Jeremia gesprochen und aufgeschrieben wurden und
jetzt in der Situation der Endzeit ihre volle Gültigkeit und Wahrheit
bekommen. In Joel 4, 13 hat Jahwe selbst aus- und aufgerufen: " Sendet
die Sichel aus ... ". Dieser göttliche Aufruf wird hier bei Johannes durch die
Engel erneuert 19.
Dabei ist ein Unterschied zu liUoC; liYYf.AOC; in 14, 6-10 zu notieren,
nämlich daß die Engel nicht nur wie Sprech-Engel nacheinander auftreten,
sondern auch Attribute tragen und einander befehlen. Der erste Engel
befiehlt dem" Menschensohn ", und er gehorcht ohne Zögern. Der Engel
V. 17 trägt eine Sichel, ein anderer Engel befiehlt, die Trauben zu schnei-
den usw. Er gehorcht und wirft sie in die grosse Kelter des Zornes Gottes.
Angesichts dieses Materials scheint es nicht richtig, hier in 14, 14-20 die
Engel als vier Erntearbeiter zu betrachten 20. Auch kann nicht im Sinne
von Mt 13, 41 gesagt werden, daß der Menschensohn seine Engel aussen-
det zu ernten, der Engel sendet den Menschensohn. Johannes hat hier eine
eigene Methode, die Engelfiguren zu benutzen. Er will seinen Hörern und
Lesern die heutige, aktuelle Dringlichkeit der damaligen Gottesworte über
das nahe Weltgericht mitteilen. Dazu läßt er Befehl und Gehorsam sozusa-

Hoheitstitel des Menschensohnes häufiger zu verwenden" (S. 418-419). M.E. kann


man selbst an diesen beiden Stellen nicht von einem Hoheitstitel sprechen.
18. T. HOLTz, Die Christologie der Apokalypse des Johannes, (TU, 85), Berlin,
1962, S. 132.
19. T. Holtz hat auch auf diese Funktion des Engels in Apk 14, 15 hingewiesen:
"Jo baut einen Engel ein als Überbringer der Gottesbotschaft " (a.a. 0, S. 132). Er
fügt hinzu: " Die Möglichkeit, statt der Stimme Gottes einen Engel einzuführen,
wird sich erklären lassen aus der Hypostasierung des Wortes Gottes" (S. 133).
20. So H. Kraft: " Das Ernten der Erde ist die Sache von Engeln: so auch
Mtth 13.39 oi OE 8EQHJ'tui iiYYEAOi EicrlV" (a.a. 0., S. 197).
APOK 14 225

gen hypostatisch auftreten. Durch dieses Verfahren weckt Johannes bei


seinen Hörern und Lesern die Überzeugung, daß alles auf göttlichen
Befehl geschieht und daß besonders in den Unruhen der Endzeit nichts
dem Chaos überlassen ist. In dieser Hinsicht gleicht die Struktur dieses
Fragmentes (14, 14-20) der Struktur der Siegelvision (6, 2-8) : Eine Stimme
erklingt, Pferd und Reiter erscheinen, ein Auftrag wird gegeben und aus-
geführt.
Ein anderer Unterschied zwischen den Engeln aus 14,6-10 und 14, 14-
20 besteht darin, daß die Engel, die befehlen, aus dem Tempel (V. 15) oder
dem Altar (V. 18) kommen. Der Leser der Apokalypse weiß, daß sich
unter dem Altar die erschlagenen Märtyrer mit ihren Gebeten um Gerech-
tigkeit in der Welt befinden (6, 9-11). Die Engel, die mit der Sichel aus
dem Tempel oder dem Altar kommen, tun dies auf das Wort und den
Befehl Gottes hin, der das Gebet der Märtyrer erhört hat. Diese liturgis-
chen Elemente zeigen, wie Johannes schon bei der Zusammensetzung
eines Kapitels, auch wenn er viel Traditionsmaterial benutzt, die Struktur
und die Intention seines ganzen Buches gegenwärtig hat.
Zusammenfassend kann gesagt werden, daß es sich bei dem Ausdruck
" jemand gleich einem Menschensohn" (14, 14) um eine Christophanieter-
minologie handelt; aus dem Kontext ist klar, daß Christus als Richter
arscheint 21. Der uUOC; aYYEAoc; in V. 15 bezieht sich also nicht auf die
Figur in V. 14, sondern ist zusammen mit den anderen Engeln in V. 16-18
und in V. 6-8 als eine geprägte Einleitungsformel zu verstehen, die die
dringenden Gottesworte aus dem AT in der anderen Situation der Endzeit
erneut verkündigt.

6. Nachwort

Diese Studie des Kapitels 14 der Apk hat einige Motive berührt, die
eine nähere Betrachtung verdienen.

a) Das Verhältnis zum AT. Wie bekannt zitiert Johannes nirgendwo


ausdrücklich seine Quelle, aber sein Text ist weitgehend aus Material aus
dem AT zusammengesetzt. Besonders für Kap. 14 gilt, was H. Kraft gene-
rell über die Apokalypse gesagt hat: " Johannes fühlt sich als Fortsetzer
und abschließender Ausleger der alttestamentlichen Prophetie. Da es
derselbe Geist ist, der die alten Propheten inspirierte und der ihn inspiriert,
sieht er sich auch der Sprache der alttestamentlichen Prophetie verpflich-
tet" (S. 16). Johannes sieht sich selbst mit seinen Bruder-Propheten (22, 9)
als die Instanz, die die damalige prophetische Botschaft von Jesaja oder
Daniel noch einmal und zum letztenmal aufgreift und mit neuer Kraft der

21. Zugunsten der Christus- und nicht der Engelinterpretation kann man auch
hinweisen auf die parallele Konstruktion in 14, I C" ich sah und siehe, das
Lamm ... ") und in 14, 14 C" ich sah und siehe ").
226 A.P. VAN SCHAlK

christlichen Welt verkündet. Er wiederholt sowohl Imperative (" Fürchtet


Gott, denn ... ") wie auch Indikative (" Babel ist gefallen ") und überläßt
seinen Lesern und Hörern, was sie daraus machen, wie sie die Worte
interpretieren. Rom ist noch nicht gefallen, aber Johannes wiederholt
schon den Siegesruf des Jeremia, der den Fall Babels als eine Wohltat
Gottes besingt. Die damalige Freudenbotschaft " Babel ist gefallen"
erweckt so in der Situation der Gemeinden Kleinasiens das notwendige
Gottvertrauen.
Johannes benutzt das AT äußerlich anders als der Habakukkommenta-
tor aus Qumran, der die ersten zwei Kapitel Vers um Vers zitiert und bei
jedem Vers seine Interpretation hinzufügt: "peschero 'al... ", d.h. die
Auslegung davon ist... Der Kommentator interpretiert das damalige Wort
der Propheten im Lichte seiner Qumransituation. Aber der Grundgedanke
ist bei Johannes und dem Kommentator insoweit derselbe, daß sie beide
von der Aktualität des damaligen Gotteswortes überzeugt sind 22.

b) Prophetische Predigt? Die Zusammensetzung des Kap. 14 aus


verschiedenen und verwandten Elementen, besonders aus prophetischen
Worten und Visionen, ruft die formgeschichtliche Frage auf den Plan.
Kann Kap. 14 als eine Sammlung von" prophetischen und apokalypti-
schen Worten" betrachtet werden? Bultmann hat in den synoptischen
Evangelien eine solche Gattung unterschieden. Die Anfangsworte Kui
E1Öov (14, 1.6.14) kennzeichnen den Text als Vision. Aber es ist auffallend,
daß das Verb MYE1V das Stichwort dieses Kapitels ist, das heißt, daß das
Wortmaterial überwiegt.
Die Analyse dieses Wortmaterials hat uns den Zusammenhang der
verschiedenen Elemente gezeigt. Das thematische Verbindungsmittel ist
die Nähe der Stunde Gottes (V. 7.16). Die Ankündigung dieser Stunde ist
einerseits die frohe Botschaft eines Freudenboten (V. 6), weil sie für viele
Menschen Erlösung aus der Unterdrückung bedeutet und andererseits ein
Aufruf zur richtigen Gottesanbetung und zum Ausharren der Gläubigen
(V. 12) ist. Die Stunde des Gerichts ist nämlich für die Babelanhänger und
für diejenigen, die das Tier und sein Bild anbeten, die Stunde des ewigen
Untergangs (V. 1O-1l), für diejenigen aber, die sterben in Christus, die
Stunde der ewigen Ruhe (V. 13-14). Diese Verkündigung umfaßt viele
bekannte Themen. Sie ist Mahnrede, bedingte Gerichtsdrohung und Trost-
rede. Alle Worte werden ausgesprochen von einem Gottesboten, einem
Engel. Die Gesamtheit dieser Elemente ermöglicht es uns, hier von" pro-
phetischer Predigt" zu sprechen, " einer entwickelteren, aus mehreren
Einzelgliedern bestehenden sprachlichen Einheit prophetischen

22. K. STENDAHL, The School o[ St. Matthew, Uppsala, 1954, sagt: " The way in
which DSH handles the Habakuktext presupposes the conc1usion that the prophecy
had received its fulfilment in the events which occurred with the Teacher of Right-
eousness and the community he gathered together "(S. 190).
APOK 14 227

Redens " 23. Die prophetische Predigt ist dadurch gekennzeichnet, daß sie
als Christus- bzw. Geistrede verkündet wird. In den Sendschreiben reali-
siert sich diese Christusrede durch die Benutzung der Botenformel (" Dies
sagt der Christus :... "). Johannes markiert so die Botschaft als ein fremdes
Wort, das er den Gemeinden als Bote auszurichten hat. " Diese Kenn-
zeichnung der prophetischen Rede als Rede des Christus bzw. des Geistes,
dient dazu, sie vor der Gemeinde zu legitimieren als ein Wort, das diese
unbedingt angeht" 24. Außerhalb der Sendschreiben kann Müller zumin-
dest an einer Stelle den Gebrauch der Botenformel durch Johannes fests-
tellen, nämlicht Apk 14, 13. Das Sprechen einer Stimme aus dem Himmel
und das Sprechen des Geistes entsprechen einer Christusrede.
Nach der Analyse von Apk 14, besonders des Ausdrucks Kai liAAOC;
liYYEAOC; AEYE1, scheint es mir möglich, in Analogie zur Christusrede auch
von einer Engelrede zu sprechen. Dieser Engel in Kap. 14 nimmt den Platz
Gottes ein, er ist die Stimme Gottes und der Ausdruck Kai liUoC; liYYEAOC;
Al:YEl hat dieselbe Funktion wie die alttestamentliche FormellME Al:YEl
KUQlOC; (6 8EOC;). Diese Gattung der Engelrede stammt nicht notwendig von
einem christlichen Verfasser, sie kann auch eine alttestamentliche oder
jüdische Redensart sein'25. Dann wäre auch die Formel Kai liAAOC; liYYEAOC;
AEYEl ein Argument für eine jüdische Vorlage in Kap. 14 26.
Wie dem auch sei, für Johannes hat die Engelrede mit den alttestament-
lichen Mahnungen und Trostworten ihre Beredsamkeit und ihre Kraft
behalten, die damaligen Gottesworte sind nach der Überzeugung des
Johannes jetzt höchst aktuell für seine Gemeinden. An mehreren Stellen
des Kap. 14 ist es klar, daß Johannes sich in einer christlichen Sprache an
Christen wendet: V. 1-5 und V. 12-13 sind typische Beispiele, daß der
Seher den Blick auf die christliche Gemeinde lenkt. Er hat den Aufruf zum
Ausharren und die Geistrede (V. 12-13) gen au in den Mittelpunkt des
Kapitels gestellt, weil der christliche Glauben an das ewige Leben (" Selig
die Toten, die im Herrn sterben ") eine zentrale Gabe ist in der Zeit der
Verfolgungen, in der chaotischen Endzeit der Welt.

23. U.B. MÜLLER, Prophetie und Predigt im Neuen Testament (StNT, 10),
Gütersloh, 1975, S. 13. Müller findet jene prophetische Mahn - und Heilspredigt in
der Gestalt von Christus- bzw. Geistreden innerhalb der Sendschreiben der Apk (2-
3). Er untersucht diese Mahn- und Heilspredigt auch bei Paulus, der sich in vielen
Texten als ein Prophet manifestiert.
24. MÜLLER, a.a.O., S. 101.
25. HOLTZ, a.a. O. S. 132, zitiert einige Stellen an denen Gottesrede und Engel-
rede ineinander übergehen: z.B. 4 Esr 5, 40f; 7, 17f.
26. Viele Exegeten vermuten eine jüdische Vorlage. " Dem Seher Johannes wird
in 12-14 eine zusammenhängende jüdische Darstellung als Vorlage gedient haben ",
so MÜLLER, Messias und Menschensohn, S. 191. Vgl. LOHMEYER, a.a.O., S. 121.
Bousset ist vorsichtiger: "Joh. hat fremde Elemente benutzt" (a.a.O., S. 391).
Charles ist gegen eine jüdische Vorlage: " This Chapter, with the exception of
certain interpolations (V. 4-5 ; 15-17) is from the hand of our author" (a.a.O., S. 2).
228 A.P. VAN SCHAlK

Wenn wir Apk 14 als prophetische Predigt umschreiben, ergibt sich


daraus die Frage nach der Entstehungsgeschichte und dem Anteil der
Gemeinde. Die prophetische Aktivität der korinthischen Gemeinde zu
ihrer Erbauung, Ermahnung und Tröstung war kein Privileg einer Person
(1 Kor 14), sondern eine Angelegenheit der Gemeinde. "Die Gemeinde-
prophetie ist wesentlich eine Funktion der ganzen Gemeinde. Sie ist ein
Phänomen der primär Griechisch sprechenden Christenheit" 27. Natürlich
haben einzelne Personen diese Gabe der Prophetie besonders entwickelt.
" In die Linie dieser charismatischen Einzelgestalten, die nicht einer be-
stimmten Einzelgemeinde zuzuordnen sind, gehört in gewissem Sinne auch
der Prophet Johannes, der Verfasser der Apk" 28. Dabei ist Johannes nicht
in dem Sinne eine Einzelfigur, daß er allein der Verfasser der Apk wäre.
Von keiner Schrift im NT kann diese Ausschließlichkeit des Verfassers
behauptet werden. Der Autor der Apk spricht ausdrücklich von seinen
Mitknechten, sie gelten als" seine Brüder, die das Zeugnis Jesu, d.h. den
Geist der Prophetie ", festhalten (Apk 19, 10; 22, 9). Über die verschiede-
nen Möglichkeiten einer Zusammenarbeit des Johannes mit seinen Bru-
der-Propheten könnte man viel phantasieren, die Texte geben jedoch
darüber keine Auskunft. Vielleicht kann man anhand der Analyse von
Kap. 14 sagen, daß ihre Zusammenarbeit darin bestand, die das Thema
des letzten Weltgerichts betreffenden Texte aufzuspüren. Johannes hat
dann als Endredaktor aus den gesammelten Texten eine literarische Ein-
heit geformt. Der Charakter einer konkordanzartigen Sammlung bleibt
dennoch bestehen und erklärt vielleicht die Tatsache, daß Kap. 14 einen
ungeordneten Eindruck macht 29.

Heyendaalseweg 300 A.P. VAN SCHAlK


6525 SM Nijmegen (Nederland)
27. MÜLLER, Prophetie und Predigt, S. 20.
28. MÜLLER, a.a.O., S. 20. Für Müller stellt das Verhältnis von Prophetie und
Apokalyptik kein Problem dar. Viele Exegeten waren oder sind einverstanden mit
G. Friedrich (TWNT, VI, S. 849), nach dem ein wesentlicher Unterschied zwischen
der Apk und der paulinischen Prophetie besteht. Der Prophet ist Wortempfanger
und der Schwerpunkt der Verkündigung beruht auf der Parakiese ; der Verfasser
der Apk ist ein Seher vieler Visionen, und die Zukunftsaussagen bilden hier den
Haupteil der Verkündigung. Die Monographie von G. DAUTZENBERG, Urchristliche
Prophetie. Ihre Forschung, ihre Voraussetzungen im Judentum und ihre Struktur im
ersten Korintherbrief (BWNT, 104), Stuttgart, 1975, behandelt die offenen Fragen
der heutigen Prophetenforschung und seine Exegese von 1 Kor 12-14 ist ein erster
Beitrag zur Lösung vieler Probleme.
29. Neben der Frage nach der Zusammenarbeit des Johannes mit seinen Bru-
der-Propheten stellt sich auch die Frage nach dem eventuellen Anteil der Gemeinde
an der Entstehung des Textes. Auch hier kann man nur eine Vermutung ausspre-
chen. Oben haben wir den Leser auf das Vorkommen der Ordnungszahl in V. 8-9
aufmerksam gemacht, neben iiUo~ finden sich ÖEUtEQO~ in V. 8 und tQho~ in V. 9.
Dürfen wir hier eine Verbindung mit den liturgischen Vorschriften in 1 Kor 14, 29
sehen: "Propheten sollen zwei oder drei sprechen und die anderen (die Rede)
beurteilen ... " ?
Lamention
d'un Fils d'homme angelique
en Ap 14, 14

Personne ne conteste que l'auteur de l'apocalypse johannique attribue


au Christ ceIeste et glorifie le titre de « Fils de l'homme ». Toutefois en
Ap 14, 14 on est en droit de se demander si l'expression y vise egalement le
Seigneur Jesus.
D'abord Ap 14, 14 ne mentionne pas le Ö ufo<; 'wu av9Qm1tou, mais - et
c'est important - ne parle que d'un ufo<; av9Qm1tou. Puis le personnage en
question intervient uniquement en compagnie d'autres etres angeIiques :
v. 15 aUo<; aYYE/co<;, v. 17 (deux fois), v. 19; 15, 1. Bref, rien ne suggere
d'attribuer a l'ufo<; av9Qm1tou du v. 14 une portee depassant la condition
angeIique.
S'il en est ainsi, nous serions vraiment en presence d'un indice tendant a
montrer que nous avons affaire a un contexte qui n'a pas depasse le niveau
de Dn 7, 1-18 et des lors d'une pericope derivant d'une apocalypse origi-
nairement juive. Le redacteur de l'apocalypse johannique l'aura insere
avec d'autres emprunts aux traditions juives dont il s'est servi pour brosser
ses tableaux des derniers temps.

Hogeschoolplein 3 J. COPPENS
B-3000 LEUVEN
Le temps et le Royaume
dans l'Apocalypse

Par Royaume nous entendons ce que les Synoptiques appellent le


Royaume de Dieu, c'est-a-dire la manifestation publique, voire cosmique,
de la domination totale et incontestee exercee par Dieu sur les etres et les
choses. Autrement dit une n~alite qui prendra place apres la fin du monde,
un avenir au futur absolu.
Dans l'Apocalypse on considere generalement qu'il en est question
apres la description du royaume intermediaire de mille ans et le jugement
qui le suit (Ap 20), donc en Ap 21, 1-22, 5, texte avec lequel le propos
meme du livre vient a son terme. En effet Ap 22, 6ss. est un epilogue qui
souligne les intentions et les caracteres majeurs d'une reuvre regardee
comme achevee.
11 est d'autant plus interessant de noter que les derniers mots du verset
qui termine le corps du livre (22, 5) annoncent que les serviteurs de Dieu
regneront pour les siec1es des siec1es. Cette phrase peut bien resumer toute
la conc1usion de l'Apocalypse et me me sans doute le message du livre tout
entier.

I. I1s regneront

On remarquera la specificite de l'annonce: le regne en question est


celui des fideles et il est promis au futur. Ceci rejoint l'affirmation de 5, 10:
le cantique rend gräce a l'agneau qui a fait des hommes qu'il a rachetes
« un royaume et des pretres et ils regneront sur la terre ». La redemption
entraine les memes consequences selon 1, 6: « il a fait de nous un
royaume ... ». Mais ici, comme en 1, 9, ce regne est un resultat purement
present et l'auteur en parle comme d'une realite tellement bien actuelle
qu'il peut dire la partager avec les chretiens qui ne refusent pas de commu-
nier au Christ jusque dans l'epreuve. Po ur ceux qui cherchent en Jesus le
seul maHre digne d'etre suivi et qui lui demandent de regner sur leur
evaluation des choses, des valeurs et des etres, la vie de dangers et de
menaces qui est inseparable de cette existence est participation au regne de
celui qui domine, alors meme qu'on peut le croire vaincu et definitivement
abattu.
232 P. PRIGENT

Au chap. 11, lorsque les deux temoins, qui representent l'Eglise assu-
mant sa vocation prophetique, ont acheve leur ministere a la fois glorieux
et mortellement menace, alors les voix du ciel peuvent proclamer que le
Seigneur et son Christ ont po ur l'eternite pris possession de leur regne (11,
15.17).
Au chapitre suivant un cantique celebre l'actualite du salut, du regne de
Dieu et de l'autorite de son Christ, parce que des hommes ont ose manifes-
ter sur terre que la victoire de Jesus leur semblait et plus vraie et plus
importante que la mort: ils sont, en face du dragon precipite du eie!, les
signes vivants que Dieu regne veritablement malgre les apparences con-
traires (12, 10-11).
C'est une verite de foi ; on ne la discerne que gräce a une revelation. Ce
n'est pas une esperance gratuite que 1'0n pourrait attendre passivement.
C'est une realite dont on est invite a attester l'actualite. Chaque fois que
des hommes se montrent prets a confesser dans leur vie que Dieu seul
regne, ils sont les temoins de ce regne, ils y participent, ils sont effective-
ment rois.

11. Les trois visions du « Royaume »

Voila comment il semble que 1'0n parle du « Royaume » dans I'Apoca-


lypse. La question doit pourtant etre posee de savoir si le developpement
consacre a ce qui se passe apres le jugement et l'aneantissement de Satan
(Ap 21, 1-22,5) tient bien le meme langage.
On regarde generalement le chap. 21 comme unissant deux traditions
litteraires distinctes de quelque maniere qu'on les distingue: par une
disseetion chirurgieale a la maniere de R.H. Charles 1 et plus recemment
du P. Boismard 2, ou plus prudemment, comme R. Kraft 3 suivi, plus
precautionneusement encore, par O. Böcher 4. De fait il y a la un vrai
probleme: entre 21, 1-8 et 21,9-27, on remarque des paralleles etonnants :
il est par deux fois fait mention de Jerusalem, la cite sainte qui descend du
ciel d'aupres de Dieu (21,2.10). De meme les deux morceaux se terminent
par un volet negatif de condamnation ou de mise en garde dont les mots
memes soulignent la parente.
Pourtant, apart cela les deux developpements n'ont rien de commun.

1. R.H. CHARLES, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation 01 St.


John (lcq, Edinburgh, 1920.
2. M.-E. BOISMARD, L 'Apocalypse ou les Apocalypses de saint Jean, dans RB, 56
(1949) 507-541.
3. H. KRAFT, Die Offenbarung des Johannes, (Handbuch zum NT, 16a), Tübin-
gen, 1974.
4. O. BÖCHER, Die J ohannesapokalypse (Erträge der Forschung, 41), Darmstadt,
1975.
LE TEMPS ET LE ROYAUME 233

Cest le merite de J. Comblin 5, qui met en lumiere les caracteres communs


de nos deux pass ag es et d'un troisieme (Ap 22, 1-5), d'avoir incite les
commentateurs a considerer 21, 1-22, 5 comme l'unite litteraire dont il
convient de rendre compte.
Sans entrer dans le detail des analyses, il faut signal er la piste qui
semble la plus prometteuse: notre auteur a utilise trois traditions diffe-
rentes et a constamment eherehe ales unifier par des ajouts qui forment
autant de renvois aux autres morceaux et donc finalement autant de
sutures.
La premiere tradition annonce le monde nouveau, la seconde decrit la
Jerusalem celeste et la troisieme prophetise le paradis eschatologique. Mais
ce paradis ne doit pas, sei on notre au te ur, etre distingue de Jerusalem,
laquelle est identifiable au monde nouveau. Cest pourquoi on trouve dans
le paradis une rue principale qui du coup semble bien devenir le lit du
fleuve paradisiaque.
Ces inconsequences formelles sont sans importance au regard de ce qui
devait etre souligne: entre le monde nouveau, la JefUsalem celeste et le
paradis eschatologique il n'y a pas de difference. Quelles que soient les
propheties auxquelles on s'attache et les traditions qui les explicitent, leurs
messages apparemment differents renvoient en realite a une promesse
unique : elle vise toujours cette ville qui, comme epouse de l'agneau, est
habitee par ses fideles dont la troupe s'elargit maintenant aux dimensions
de l'humanite.
Cest dire qu'il faut absolument se garder de commettre le contresens
que notre auteur ecarte avec tant de soins : les trois parties ne sont pas
l'annonce d'etapes successives, ni meme la presentation de realites dis-
tinctes 6, mais bien trois aspects, trois ec1airages prophetiques de la Fin. Ce
que les efforts d'harmonisation entre les trois parties soulignent a gros
traits parfois bien malhabiles.
11 faut regarder de pres ces trois variations pour en discerner les compo-
santes et saisir leur originalite relative. Autrement dit : ce qui est ici decrit
est-il nouveau par rapport aux affirmations contenues dans les 20 premiers
chapitres? La peinture du « Royaume» revele-t-elle des benedictions
jusqu'ici insoup~onnees et des promesses reservees a l'avenir dernier?

A. LE MONDE NOUVEAU (21, 1-8)

Le verset I annonce la disparition du ciel et de la terre. En 20, 11 il a


deja ete dit que la terre et le ciel s'enfuient sans meme laisser de traces.
5. J. COMBLIN, La liturgie de la Nouvelle Jerusalem (Apoc. 21, 1-22, 5) dans
ETL 29 (1953) 5-40.
6. Telle est l'interpretation d'Irenee, Adv. Haer. 5, 36, Is. Mais ce texte a le
grand interet de preeiser que les aneiens presbytres connaissaient une triple tradi-
tion deerivant le « Royaume » comme nouveau monde,paradis et eite !
234 P. PRIGENT

Mais quelques mots plus loin (20, 13), la mer est encore la pour rendre ses
morts! Cette double inconsequence montre a l'evidence que les descrip-
tions de l'Apocalypse ne se soucient nullement de vraisemblance geogra-
phique ou chronologique. La seule chose qui importe est de marquer que
l'intervention finale de Dieu dans le monde en bouleverse toutes les don-
nees temporelles ou spatiales. Devant le jugement l'univers fait pi ace a la
manifestation de la saintete de Dieu. Tout ce qui appartient a l'etat ancien
des choses est frappe d'obsolescence et se voit balaye: Dieu va creer a
nouveau. 11 veut un cadre renouvele pour les hommes qui vivent de la vie
nouvelle.
En 21, 3 voici le theme de la demeure de Dieu parmi les hommes. Il a
deja ete evoque en 7, 15-17 en des termes souvent si semblables 7 qu'il faut
bien supposer une relation litteraire entre les deux textes (sans doute
dependent-ils tous deux d'une meme tradition). Au chap. 7 il s'agit d'une
promesse adressee aux seuls eIus qui, vetus de blanc, reviennent de la
grande epreuve. Ap 21 s'adresse a l'humanite: voici la demeure de Dieu
avec les hommes 8. Une fois cette gradation notee, il reste que la prophetie
a deja connu un accomplissement, meme partiel, bien avant le monde
nouveau.
La mort ne sera plus (21,4). Deja en 20, 14 il est dit que la mort et
l'Hades so nt jetes dans l'etang de feu. 11 faut decidement renoncer a lire
I'Apocalypse en lui demandant de se plier aux imperatifs de notre logique
temporelle.
Je fais toutes choses nouvelles (21, 5). On reconnait Es 43, 18-19 a quoi
se rHere egalement Paul en 2 Co 5, 17. Ces deux textes font valoir que
l'action eschatologique annoncee est deja commencee, puisqu'on peut la
voir. C'est net chez Esale : « Je vais faire du neuf qui deja bourgeonne ; ne
le reconnaitrez-vous pas? », mais egalement chez Paul pour qui appartenir
au Christ, c'est etre une creature nouvelle. En irait-il differemment dans
l'Apocalypse? Il ne le semble pas. En effet notre texte poursuit bientöt:
« C'est fait » (21, 6). La creation nouvelle est realisee. De fait, l'existence
d'hommes nouveaux est une attestation de la realite nouvelle. Que ce
temoignage soit recevable par la seule foi n'entraine nullement qu'il soit
pour autant invalide.
« A celui qui a soif, je donnerai de la source d'eau vive, gratuitement ».
On a deja releve le parallelisme avec Ap 7, 16. Remarquons que le theme
revient encore en 22, 17: « Que celui qui a soifvienne. que celui qui le veut
rer;oive de l'eau vive gratuitement ». La phrase se situe au creur d'un
dialogue qu'on peut difficilement eviter d'appeler liturgique. 11 faut cer-

7. Cf. en particulier les deux images des sources d'eau vive et des larmes
essuyees (Ap 7,17; 21, 4-6).
8. 11 faut preferer cette le~on: elle corrige l'AT pour mieux exprimer l'universa-
lisme.
LE TEMPS ET LE ROYAUME 235

tainement considerer 9 que « celui qui a soif » et « celui qui veut » sont une
seule et meme personne : tout chretien est invite ä s'approcher de Jesus
pour recevoir de lui l'eau de la vie. Exactement comme en 21, 6. Dans
l'evangile de Jean (6, 35; 7, 37-38), les hommes sont invites ä s'approcher
de Jesus pour en recevoir l'eau vive qui etanchera leur soif.
Le culte de l'eglise OU retentit la priere pour la venue du Seigneur offre
comme reponse de sa part l'invitation ä rencontrer celui qui donne l'eau de
la vie. On n'attend pas le Seigneur passivement: prier pour qu'il vienne,
c'est aussi venir ä lui et manifester sa presence en en recevant les signes
eschatologiques.
Cette priere et son exaucement font partie de la vie culturelle de l'eglise.
Ils y manifestent une situation eschatologique et c'est la raison pour
laquelle ils sont ä leur place dans une peinture du monde nouveau.
Ap 21, 8. Repondant aux promesses faites ä celui qui a soif et au vain-
queur, voici une enumeration mena~ante dont la presence surprend un
peu: n'est-il pas etonnant, remarquent les commentateurs, de trouver dans
le monde nouveau des vices aussi condamnables ?
L'analyse detaillee des huit membres 10 de la liste montre que celle-ci a
une specificite tres marquee. En effet plusieurs des termes se referent ä des
attitudes que fes chretiens doivent proscrire (läches, infideles) ; d'autre part
cette liste dont 1'0rientation morale primitive est vraisemblable, se trouve
gauchie en vertu du contexte offert par I'Apocalypse et doit y etre comprise
comme dirigee contre les tentations que peut engendrer l'idolätrie.
Or, on peut remarquer II que cette liste presente une reelle parente avec
les enumerations de vices que 1'0n trouve dans le NT et particulierement
chez PauI. Ces passages semblent inspires par des catecheses ou des litur-
gies baptismales qui detaillent la conduite de I'homme nature 1, I'homme
qui n'a pas connu la nouvelle naissance. Cette conduite doit etre refusee
par le regenere.
Ap 21, 8 annonce le monde nouveau OU vivent les nouvelles creatures.
Mais c'est decidement dans la vie actuelle des baptises que s'amorce le
jugement qui ouvre les portes de cet univers renouvele. Les catecheses et
les liturgies baptismales le rappellent bien avec leurs listes qui enumerent
ce qui n'est pas compatible avec une vie en communion avec le Christ
vivant.
Et il s'agit bien d'exigences actuelles. Voila pourquoi la liste utilisee ici
qui devait avoir, comme ses sreurs, une visee d'abord ethique, se trouve

9. Avec A. SATAKE, Die Gemeindeordnung in der Johannesapokalypse,


(WMANT, 21), Neukirchen, 1966, pp. 76 ss.
10. En n~alite 7. Le 8e resurne 1e tout.
11. Avec E. KAMLAH, Die Form der katalogischen Paränese im Neuen Testament
(Wiss. Monogr. NT, 7), Tübingen, 1964. Cf. P. PRIGENT, Une trace de liturgie judeo-
chretienne dans le chapitre XXI de l'Apocalypse de Jean, dans Recherches de Science
Religieuse 60 (1972) 165-172.
236 P. PRIGENT

appliquee a la situation eontemporaine telle que notre prophete la per~oit :


le danger de l'idölatrie seduetriee ou mena~ante prime tout. L'obeissanee
des baptises sera done d'abord un eombat sur ce front. Voila le veritable
sens des instruetions traditionnelles relatives a la fidelite chretienne, et
voila du meme coup la norme presente, mais de portee eternelle, qui
definit les eontours du « Royaume ».

B. LA JERUSALEM NOUVELLE (21,9-27)

Elle vient du eiel et e'est Dieu qui l'envoie. Il ne s'agit done pas de la
glorifieation, meme ideale, d'une realite humaine. Elle fait partie, eomme
le monde nouveau, des ehoses nouvelles. Mais, selon Ap 3, 12, le vain-
queur est deja citoyen de la ville sainte de Dieu. Et eette affirmation n'a
rien d'inouI: pour Paul (Ga 4, 26s. ; Ph 3, 20) eomme pour l'auteur de
l'epitre aux Hebreux (12, 22), les ehretiens ont des a pn!sent aeees acette
eite ideale dont ils sont les enfants.
S'il n'est done pas question de dire que la Jerusalem eeleste est tout
simplement l'eglise chretienne, il faut eomprendre qu'elle en devoile la
veritable nature, eneore bien masquee aujourd'hui : elle est la eite de Dieu
qui y reside au milieu des hommes dont il fait des ereatures nouvelles. Ceei
peut s'exprimer au present de la foi et au futur de l'esperanee. Ce n'est en
tout eas pas une promesse dont l'aeeomplissement peut etre simplement
attendu comme on attend que la nuit tombe ou que l'annee finisse.
L'epouse. Le theme a deja apparu en 19, 7. Les noees de l'agneau
peuvent done etre mentionnees avant meme qu'il ne soit question du
« Royaume ».
On notera que l'image de l'epouse, traditionnelle dans I'AT et le Bas-
Judalsme pour designer la ville, a deja ete utilisee apropos du monde
nouveau (21, 2) afin de bien montrer que les deux deseriptions sont rela-
tives au meme sujet.
Remarquons eneore la presenee de plusie.urs elements qui se referent a
des textes anterieurs de l'Apoealypse : sur les portes de la ville sont inserits
les noms des douze tribus d'Israel (21, 12). C'est done bien la eapitale du
pays dont le peuple a ete presente aux ehapitres 7 et 14.
En 21, 22 il est preeise que la J erusalem ee1este ne eontient plus de
temple. On se gardera d'opposer notre texte aux passages anterieurs qui
affirment ou supposent l'existenee d'un temple (souvent eeleste) 12, eomme
s'il y avait une progression eonduisant finalement a I'etape ultime de la
parfaite spiritualisation. L'image du temple revient toujours a nouveau
dans l'Apoealypse pour dire, entre autres ehoses, la volonte de Dieu de se
laisser approeher et reneontrer par les hommes. Maintenant notre auteur

12. Ap 3, 12; 7, 15; 11, 1.2.19; 14, 15.17; 15,5.8; 16, 1.17.
LE TEMPS ET LE ROYAUME 237

envisage l'accomplissement dernier de cette promesse: l'eternelle presence


de Dieu et de l'agneau conduit l'image du temple a sa perfection en la
rendant inutile.
En 21, 27 la sentence d'exclusion rappelle la liste de 21,8 et conduit aux
memes conclusions. Celles-ci sont seulement confortees par la deuxieme
moitie de la phrase qui enonce les conditions positives de l'entree dans la
ville: etre inscrit dans le livre de vie de l'agneau. Or, cette condition est
supposee deja remplie pour les fideles du Christ (cf. 3, 5 ; 13,8; 17,8; 20,
12.15). Une fois de plus les caracteres specifiques du « Royaume» se
revelent etre les traits essentiels qui determinent le statut du chretien des
maintenant.

C. LE PARADIS (22, 1-5)

La description s'inspire ala fois d'Ez 47, 1-12 (du temple eschatologique
sourd une eau qui va irriguer le desert, assainir la Mer Morte et faire pous-
ser des arbres miraculeux) et de Gn 2, 8-10 (le jardin d'Eden, sa vegetation
arrosee par le fleuve aux quatre bras, l'arbre de vie).
Cette conjonction des deux tMmes est tout a fait remarquable: elle
montre que l'auteur ne se contente pas d'annoncer le retour du paradis.
L'Eden qu'il prophetise vient au terme de l'histoire du salut, puisqu'il tient
compte des propheties qui en balisent 1e cours. C'est pourquoi le fleuve qui
l'arrose est l'attestation de la presence definitive de Dieu et de l'agneau. Ce
que le temple signifiait est maintenant accompli. Le morceau precedent
affirmait l'inutilite du temple (21, 22), les propheties qui le concernent
(Ez 47) montrent enfin la realite qu'elles indiquaient de maniere voilee :
Dieu est la, il donne en Jesus l'eau vive a quiconque le desire (cf. sur 21,6),
c'est une source sure et qui ne peut tarir.
22, 2. Une fois de plus nous nous heurtons a un illogisme dans le texte:
si les nations doivent encore etre gueries, c'est qu'il reste du mal dans le
monde, bien qu'on soit parvenu au terme de tout et que les textes pre-
sentent cette periode ultime comme le regne indiscute de Dieu et du bien!
Le grand Swete 13 lui-meme se laisse aller a trebucher sur cette difficulte.
Mais il se ressaisit bientöt : peut-etre l'auteur veut-il seulement parler de la
fonction de l'eglise dans le present: « Pour autant qu'elle remplit son
veritable office, elle guerit les maux de l'humanite ».
De fait, nous savons que les fruits de l'arbre de vie sont maintenant
offerts (2, 7). L'eglise est le lieu Oll cette certitude est connue, vecue et
prechee dans le monde. Elle signifie par la le paradis transfigure dans
lequel s'accomplit toute l'histoire.
22, 3. Terminons cette analyse qu'on pourrait poursuivre et surtout
approfondir, en relevant cette affirmation capitale : les serviteurs de Dieu
13. H.B. SWETE, The Apocalypse 01 St. lohn, London, 1906.
238 P. PRIGENT

lui rendront un culte. Ils ne feront la que continuer la mission du peuple


chretien que la redemption a constitue en peuple-pretre 14.
Au terme de cette revue rapide, il est clair que les trois presentations du
« Royaume » n'offrent rien de totalement nouveau par rapport au present
de la foi.

III. L'Apocalypse et la temporalite

Pourtant il n'est pas question de reduire le message de I'Apocalypse a


l'affirmation d'un etemel present. Le livre est plein de notations relatives a
la temporalite et meme a la chronologie. n faut leur faire justice.
Nous allons etudier quelques unes de ces notations en les regroupant de
fa~on aussi naturelle que possible.

A. CHRIST ET LE TEMPS 15

L'Apocalypse est tres christocentrique. Bomons nous a rappeier ici les


multiples exemples dans lesquels les titres de Dieu sont appliques au
Christ 16. Or, dans la premiere intervention de celui-ci, les premieres
paroles qu'il prononce pour se presenter insistent sur le fait qu'il est le
vivant. Il a connu la mort, mais est a nouveau vivant et d'une vie etemeIle
(I, 18). On aura d'ailleurs remarque que des l'adresse (I, 5) le Christ est en
quelque sorte defini en trois termes: temoin fidele, premier-ne des morts,
prince des rois de la terre. Cest a dire, mis a mort, ressuscite, eleve comme
Seigneur.
On ne peut donc parler du Christ et de sa revelation sans faire imme-
diatement reference a un evenement de l'histoire passee: la premiere
Päque chretienne.
Il faut encore noter le röle capital joue par cette meme reference au
chap. 5 : apn!s la vision inaugurale et les Lettres, l' Apocalypse commence
veritablement avec la grande liturgie celeste et le livre scelle dont l'ouver-
ture va commander le deroulement ulterieur de l' Apocalypse. Or, le point
essentiel est de savoir s'il y a quelqu'un qui puise ouvrir le rouleau.
L'agneau seul en est digne et ce qui le qualifie, c'est sa mort redemptrice
(5,9-10).

14. Cf. Ap 1,6; 5, 10 ; 7, 15 etc.


15. J'emprunte ce titre au celebre travail de O. Cullmann (Neuchätel, 1947)
dont je me plais a reconnaitre l'influence SUT ma propre recherche.
16. On doit donc reconnaitre qu'en detniere analyse cet accent christologique
s'inscrit sur une toile de fond theocentrique. Cf. T. HOLTZ, Gott in der Apokalypse,
dans le present volume.
LE TEMPS ET LE ROYAUME 239

Meme conclusion apropos du chap. 12, a condition toutefois qu'on


accepte, avec A. Feuillet 17 et maintenant J. Sweet 18, d'y trouver une allu-
sion non ä la naissance de BethU:em, mais acette naissance de l'homme
nouveau qu'est la resurrection. Voilä l'evenement determinant. Pour Satan
c'est la dHaite qui le precipite du ciel sur la terre, et pour les fideles du
Christ la victoire qui les rend plus forts que l'adversaire.
Tel est bien le creur de la revelation : l'histoire du monde a un centre,
Dieu l'a voulu. Le destin des hommes et des puissances ne peut jamais
s'exprimer que par rHerence a cet evenement determinant. 11 projette sur
le present la clarte neuve d'une lumiere qui s'est allumee dans le passe.

B. LES ROMMES ET LE TEMPS

En effet si cet evenement passe a entraine un profond bouleversement


lorsqu'il a eu lieu, il a durablement modifie les conditions de la vie de tous
les hommes. C'etait l'acte redempteur inaugurant un salut qui demeure
offert aux hommes des siecles a venir et qui fait d'eux des etres nouveaux,
des ressuscites dont la vie est eternelle, des vainqueurs a l'image de leur
Seigneur, bref des gens qui n'ont plus a redouter ni le jugement dernier, ni
la deuxieme mort, l'aneantissement final dont le verdict frappe les ido-
lätres.
C'est dire que la chronologie habituelle aux hommes et la temporalite
qui regne sur ce monde sont bouleversees et que leurs regles sont violees
qui affirment que ce qui a ete n'est plus et que ce qui sera n'est pas encore.
11 y a, depuis Päques, dans le temps des hommes une racine d'eternite.
Cela peut s'exprimer egalement en faisant appel aux categories spatiales : il
y a dans le monde terrestre qui est le nötre une invasion du eie!. Des
hommes peuvent etre regardes comme vivant au eie! avec le Christ, devant
Dieu.
Inversement les instruments de Satan sur terre participent dejä de ce
jugement qui frappe leur maHre. C'est pourquoi a plusieurs reprises l'Apo-
calypse peut proclamer que le jugement se realise presentement, et cepen-
dant elle en repousse Ia description sans cesse jusqu'au moment ultime : on
ne la trouve finalement qu'au chap. 20.
Mais le jugement de Babylone, la grande prostituee, la Rome imperiale
idolätre est deja prononce, le verdict s'en realise, le chätiment se dechaine.
Pourtant les observateurs non avertis, ceux dont les yeux ne sont pas eclai-
res par la reveIation, brefles habitants du monde n'en remarquent rien. Le
pouvoir de l'empire est toujours absolu et ses pretentions au totalitarisme

17. A. FEUILLET, Le messie et sa mere d'apres le chapitre XII de L'Apocalypse,


dans RB 66 (1959) 55-86 el Etudes johanniques, Paris, 1962, pp. 272-310.
18. J. SWEET, Revelation (SCM Pelican Commentaries), London, 1979.
240 P.PRIGENT

incontestees. Mais dans les indications confuses, multiples et souvent


contradictoires de la realite presente les fideles, visites par l'esprit prophe-
tique, savent discerner les signes d'une realite plus vraie que les appa-
rences : celle que Dieu realise. Son jugement est prononce, les croyants
peuvent en attester la realisation.
En effet, eux seuls sont sur cette terre, des aujourd'hui, les temoins de ce
salut. Leur fidelite manifeste l'impiete de l'idölatrie a laquelle ils
s'opposent et qui les persecute. L'adoration que leur culte adresse aDieu
anticipe donc sur l'accomplissement dernier de l'histoire des hommes : ils
sont deja les pretres de ce saint sacerdoce auquel tous les hommes sont
destines s'ils y consentent.
Le culte est donc l'annonce prophetique et la representation d'une
realite qui ne peut etre apprehendee que dans la foi, l'action de gräce et la
reverente adoration. Le culte est par excellence le lieu terrestre Oll le ciel
descend, le moment qu'envahit le temps de Dieu.

C. LE DIABLE ET LE TEMPS

Le destin des hommes n'est pas seul en cause. Le bouleversement du


temps qui affecte leur histoire touche egalement celle des puissances demo-
niaques qui menent le combat contre Dieu, l'agneau et leurs fideles.
Ceci s'exprime d'abord dans des categories temporelles: La premiere
remarque qui s'impose, lorsqu'on envisage les textes qui nous parlent des
betes, du dragon et de leur histoire, est que ces differentes figures con-
naissent des des tins singulierement paralleles: ils ont tous exerce un pou-
voir anterieur, sont presentement defaits, se releveront mais sont promis a
l'aneantissement.
Ainsi Satan est-illie et cet emprisonnement annonce sa fin (Ap 20). De
meme le dragon, precipite sur terre, sait qu'il ne dispose que de peu de
temps (12, 12). La bete etait, n'est plus, mais reviendra pour aller a la
perdi tion (17, 8 ss.).
Ces notations temporelles s'harmonisent parfaitement avec ce que nous
avons remarque anterieurement: a) La cause de la defaite est l'interven-
tion du Christ. C'est sa « naissance}) qui entraine le bannissement du
dragon (Ap 12) ; la blessure de la bete a est a l'image de celle de l'agneau
(13) ; le destin de la bete qui etait, n'est plus et revient est evidemment
relate au Dieu qui en Christ se presente comme celui qui etait, est qui vient
(17). Enfin Satan est enchaine pendant que le messie regne (20). b) La
periode pendant laquelle ces forces demoniaques se dechainent contre les
fideles, mais sans pouvoir faire autre chose que de nuire, faire du mal,
persecuter, voire mettre a mort, est expressement assimilee au temps des
temoins, des prophet es et des martyrs: 1260 jours, 42 mois, 3 ans et demi,
c'est a dire la demi-semaine d'annees annoncee par Daniel, la periode a la
fois prevue et strictement limitee par Dieu pendant laquelle les forces
LE TEMPS ET LE ROYAUME 241

hostiles se dechainent mais sans pouvoir sortir du cadre que Dieu leur
assigne. Et, po ur I'Apocalypse, il faut ajouter que cette hostilite s'exacerbe
en raison de la defaite determinante qu'elles ont subies et de la certitude de
n'avoir plus, avant d'etre definitivement aneanties, qu'un temps mesure.
Mesure. Cela peut s'exprimer dans des categories spatiales (Satan est
chasse du ciel, il ne peut plus agir qu'a raz de terre. Il n'est plus que ce que
l'on en voit. Il n'appartient plus au monde des realites eschatologiques).
L'auteur peut encore recourir ades categories temporelles (le dragon et les
siens ne disposent que de peu de temps, leur fin est proehe, ils ne sont donc
pas de ceux qui, avec Dieu et ragneau, connaissent la vie eternelle).

D. LA VENUE DU CHRIST

Tout ceci, qui pourrait etre infiniment developpe, tend a montrer que
l'auteur de I'Apocalypse est particulierement soucieux de degager les
implications de son message pour la vie concrete et actuelle des chretiens
auxquels il s'adresse. Il ne faut pas se laisser abuser par les images et les
artifices traditionnels de l'apocalyptique qui pourraient faire croire que
tout ce disco urs est relatif au futur: il s'agit d'un message prophetique plus
qu'apocalyptique qui degage les consequences pratiques de la grande
affirmation chretienne de la venue des temps derniers. Vivre dans l'escha-
ton entraine des exigences particulieres et les couronne de promesses aussi
proches que merveilleuses.
C'est en ce point precis que me semble resider la veritable specificite de
cette Apocalypse : le temps de Dieu a visite les hommes, le ciel leur est
ouvert, le « Royaume » est vraiment venu a eux. Mais, meme lorsqu'on est
persuade de la justesse de ces affirmations, on prend vite conscience de
leur insuffisance. Elles ne rendent pas compte de tout le message de I'Apo-
calypse. Pour aller vi te : le sens commun s'insurge contre une interpreta-
tion qui reduirait I' Apocalypse a un discours limite au present. Il y a trop
de futurs dans ce livre pour qu'on les oublie ou qu'on les corrige tous !
Le sens commun a raison: le discours sur le present n'epuise pas le
message de l' Apocalypse. Son au te ur ne se borne pas apreeher les fidelites
auxquels les chretiens doivent tendre en ces temps derniers. Il veut d'abord
annoneer ce qui doit arriver bientöt (Ap I, 1). Ce programme, enonce des
le premier verset du livre, est repris dans l'epilogue (22, 6) pour bien mar-
quer que l'intention initiale a ete poursuivie continuement jusqu'a la fin.
Mais en cette conclusion la formulation presente le grand interet de deve-
lopper l'affirmation en une deuxieme phrase explicative. Nous apprenons
alors que ce qui doit arriver bientöt doit etre compris de la venue du Christ
(22, 7). Cette conclusion sonne comme un truisme : I'Apocalypse annonce
la venue du Christ!
Pourtant, si on la prend vraiment au serieux, elle a d'abord le merite de
relativiser les pretendues predictions dont le livre regorge selon les tenants
242 P. PRIGENT

d'une lecture litterale. Il faut tenir ferme a ce point qui doit servir de pierre
de touche a quoi doivent s'eprouver les interpretations de tous les deve-
loppements de l' Apocalypse : le livre veut annoncer, de sa premiere a sa
derniere ligne, la venue du Christ Jesus.
Le Christ vient bientöt, voila ce qui doit arriver bientöt, ou, selon la
formulation d' Ap 4, 1, ce qui doit arriver ensuite, et Ies mots insistent alors
sur une succession temporelle qui semble justifier toutes les supputations
chronologiques. Il faut pourtant se garder de ceder trop vite acette tenta-
tion naturelle en se souvenant qu'a cöte de ce registre temporel notre
auteur a encore reeours aux categories spatiales : il dit alors que le Christ
vient du ciel (Ap 1,7.13 ; 12; 19, 11).
Mieux que eela : dans les deux registres spatiaux et temporeis on trouve
dans l'Apoealypse des affirmations que la logique doit tenir pour eontra-
dictoires et donc exclusives 1'une de 1'autre : Si 1'on dit que le Christ vient
bientöt, il ne manque pas de passages dans lesquels la venue deeisive est
celle qui a deja eu li eu : si 1'agneau peut ouvrir le livre, c'est qu'il est le
redempteur universei de Päques (Ap 5); les deux temoins du ehap. 11
connaissent un sort qui semble determine par la mort et la resurrection de
!eur maitre ; la vietoire qui rend possible celle des martyrs a ete remportee
par le Christ sur la eroix (12, notamment le verset 11) ; la bete cherehe par
tous les moyens a imiter et done a remplacer la mort et la resurrection du
Christ, evenements regardes comme veritablement centraux (13, 3.12.14).
Or, ce mimetisme s'exprime en 17, 8 par une formule qui mele 1'allusion a
la mort passee et a la vie future retrouvee.
Si d'autre part le Christ est presente comme venant du eiel, en bien des
textes on nous le decrit comme menant au ciel, avec ses fideles, une action
decisive dont on voit mal qu'elle soit prise comme une realisation seule-
ment partielle ou transitoire qui attendrait un aceomplissement plenier.
C'est au eiel que se deroule la liturgie dans laquelle 1'agneau ouvre le livre
scelle, le donnant ainsi a lire aux hommes. C'est au ciel qu'il regroupe les
siens (Ap 7; 14); e'est au eiel qu'il s'e!ance a la tete de ses troupes pour
livrer le dernier combat contre les forces demoniaques (19).
Il y a la des contradictions evidentes, atout le moins de serieuses ambi-
guHes. Notre auteur en est d'ailleurs, fortement conscient et il ne cherche
nullement a masquer la difficulte, lui qui termine son livre sur 1'affirma-
tion du Christ: Je viens, a quoi repond la priere de 1'eglise: Viens !
Le probleme n'en est que plus aigu si 1'on se souvient qu'une autre
traduction possible de la formule arameenne Maranatha qui semble etre
derriere la priere : Viens, Seigneur Jesus ! (22, 20. Litteralement: Viens,
notre Seigneur!) est: Notre Seigneur est venu, et que cette traduetion
domine largement chez les anciens Peres pour qui l'arameen n'etait pas
langue totalement inconnue 19. La formule qui semble avoir ete eonservee
19. Cf. par exemp1e1es textes cites par F. VIGOUROUX, Dictionnaire de la Bible,
T. IV, Paris, 1908, co!. 713.
LE TEMPS ET LE ROYAUME 243

par les liturgies eucharistiques de l'eglise primitive 20 peut parfaitement


avoir joue sur les deux sens possibles : l'affirmation qui se rHere a la venue
passee, decisive, du Christ et la priere pour sa venue ou sa presence dans le
culte de l'eglise et notamment dans la celebration de l'eucharistie, presence
annoncee, promise et garantie par sa venue passee.
Notre auteur a choisi la deuxieme traduction, mais toute son reuvre
manifeste a l'evidence que ce qui compte pour lui c'est que le Christ soit
venu, qu'il soit mort et ressuscite. Voila le tournant de l'histoire, le boule-
versement qui chasse Satan du ciel et y fait monter les hommes, qui ne
laisse au diable qu'un peu de temps et qui accorde des maintenant la vie
eternelle.
Le temps est traumatise gravement, le monde meme n'est plus comme
avant, mais les mots des hommes ne peuvent rendre compte de ce mystere
proprement indicible. Alors le voyant a qui il a ete donne de contempler
cette realite nouvelle s'essaye comme il peut a la traduire dans les catego-
ries spatiales et temporelles qu'il utilise. Mais il les viole consciemment
pour tenter de faire comprendre que lorsque Dieu intervient, il fait toutes
choses nouvelles. Tout: et l'homme et son histoire et son temps et son
monde!
Dans les passages qui utilisent le registre temporel on peut relever deux
indices convergents qui permettent peut-etre d'avancer un pas de plus: Les
deux ternoins d' Ap. 11 accomplissent leur ministere prophetique pendant
1260 jours, duree traditionnelle qui designe symboliquement le temps
present dans son double caractere (I es fideles y sont menaces par le monde
idolätre et gardes par Dieu). A la fin de cette periode ils so nt mis a mort
par la bete. Apres trois jours et demi, ils ressuscitent.
Au chap. 20 Satan est lie pour mille ans. Ce chiffre signifie, dans une
langue symbolique traditionnelle, que la premiere chute est reparee.
L'reuvre du Christ rouvre le paradis pour un sejour dont la duree ne sera
plus raccourcie par l'action du serpent 21. Depuis la victoire pascale du
Christ Satan est lie, nous sommes dans les mille ans. Mais Satan doit etre
libere apres les mille ans et connaitre enfin l'aneantissement dernier.
Dans les deux cas l'evenement quijette sur la periode envisagee la plus
vive lumiere a lieu en dehors de ses limites chronologiques. La encore le
langage de la succession temporelle ne doit pas faire illusion. Il eherehe a
exprimer une verite capitale, mais bien difficile a traduire dans les mots de
la langue humaine : si le sort des chretiens persecutes pour leur temoignage
peut etre pris autrement que comme malheur et misere, ce n'est pour

20. G. BORNKAMM, Das Anathema in der urchristlichen Abendmahlsliturgie dans


Das Ende des Gesetzes, Paulusstudien, (Beitr. Ev. Theol., 16), München, 4e M. 1963,
pp. 123-132.
21. Pour une justification de cette interpretation, cf. P. PRIGENT, Le Millenium,
dans L 'Apocalyptique (Etudes d'Histoire des Religions de I'Universite des Sciences
Humaines de Strasbourg, 3), Paris, 1977, pp. 139-156.
244 P. PRIGENT

aucune raison appartenant au monde Oll ils vivent, ni meme a leur ideal,
mais seulement parce que Dieu intervient « d'ailleurs ) et regarde ces vies
menacees comme vecues dans la communion au Christ mort et ressuscite.
Si l'existence chretienne, associee qu'elle est au regne du Christ, ne peut
deboucher ni sur une theologie de la gloire et de la facilite, ni sur un reve
idealiste, c'est bien parce que la periode presente (les mille ans) n'epuise
pas le sens que Dieu donne a l'histoire. Satan demeure encore et son action
menace. Mais Dieu veut un monde autre, une creation vraiment nouvelle
dans laquelle la realite ne sera pas seulement l'epanouissement du bien
actuel. Le « Royaume ) n'est ni l'eglise ni la terre christianisee !
Dans les deux cas les evenements determinants et significatifs se pro-
duisent en dehors du cadre symbolique definissant l'epoque actuelle. Ils
manifestent par la que la foi chretienne ne peut etre comprise a la seule
lumiere des composantes « mondaines ) de toute vie et de toute histoire.
Ni la vie des hommes, ni leur histoire ne sont divines, ni meme immediate-
ment porteuses de sens. Seule une revelation, une creation venant « d'en
haut ), d'« apn:s ), c'est-a-dire de Dieu, de l'Autre, peut donner acette
histoire sa profondeur et son poids re eIs, plus vrais que les apparences.

IV. Conclnsion

L'Apocalypse parle du futur, c'est evident. Elle se soueie constamment


du present, assurement. Mais elle pratique pour cela un usage des temps
qui est tres revelateur. On a coutume d'en rendre compte gräce a la dialec-
tique du deja et du pas encore : le futur habite le present, mais partielle-
ment, avec modestie. 11 faut bien reconnaitre que la formule est conforme
au langage de l' Apocalypse.
Mais on doit aussitöt rectifier: a l'un des langages de I'Apocalypse.
L'auteur de ce livre semble parfois se contredire et confondre le present et
le futur, comme illui arrive de meIer la terre et le ciel. Si 1'0n ne refuse pas
la question en alleguant les inconsequences d'un esprit peu rigoureux, ou
les aleas d'une composition diversifiee, force est alors d'accepter cette
conclusion: notre auteur nous invite a ne pas prendre les mots plus au
serieux que lui-meme et a reconnaitre qu'ils sont incapables d'exprimer la
revelation sur ce point. 11 faut donc transgresser les regles d'une logique
humaine impropre a traduire parfaitement l'evangile. La verite ne se dira
qu'au prix d'approximations successives, voire contradictoires. Le vrai
message, c'est que le « Royaume ) transcende nos categories, tant spatiales
que temporelles. C'est une nouvelle creation du Dieu qui fait toutes choses
nouvelles. C'est la grande visitation des hommes par Dieu. C'est la venue
de l'Autre, celui qui instaure une realite dont nous n'avons ni l'initiative ni
meme l'idee, qui pose une echelle des valeurs differentes de la nötre, qui
donne a la vie et a la mort un sens nouveau, qui regarde la croix comme la
LE TEMPS ET LE ROYAUME 245

supreme victoire et ouvre ce monde nouveau aux hommes qui acceptent


d'y reconnaitre la vraie, la seule rt!alite, la realite derniere.
Que ce monde nouveau, ce « Royaume », soit promis a un epanouisse-
ment universel et qu'il ait donc un avenir, l' Apocalypse le dit assurement,
et nous pouvons donc faire de meme. Mais en sachant qu'en cela nous
recourons ades categories que l'Apocalypse recuse par ailleurs. La vraie
fidelite a son message ne consisterait-elle pas a s'en tenir a croire en la
realite presente du « Royaume », reuvre du Dieu qui domine souveraine-
ment et le temps et 1'espace ?
Je serais tente d'ajouter, en paraphrasant avec quelque malice un texte
celebre de l'evangile, tout ce qu'on y ajoute vient... de 1'homme !

8, rue P. Mury P. PRIGENT


67000 Strasbourg (France)
Gott in der Apokalypse

Gerhard Delling zum 75. Geburtstag

Die Offenbarung des Johannes ist ein Buch, in dessen Zentrum, von
dem her es gänzlich beherrscht wird, Gott steht. Das ist bei einem Werk,
das dem jüdisch-christlichen Bereich entstammt, und das den Lauf und das
Wesen der Geschichte aufschließen will, auch nur selbstverständlich.
Gerade deshalb ist die Einsicht in die besondere Art, in der die Apk Gott,
sein Handeln und seine Funktion darstellt, für das Verständnis des gesam-
ten Buches zentral.
Die fundamentale Bedeutung Gottes für die ganze "Offenbarung"
ergibt sich bereits daraus, daß sie selbst auf Gott zurückgeführt wird, 1, I
'A7tOKaAU"'l~ 'I11O'OU XQlO''WU, f(v 1:ÖroKEv u(n;cp Ö eE6~. Und indem der
Vorgang der Enthüllung sogleich näher ausgeführt wird, wird auch der
zeigende Bote als aYYEAo~ Ull10U (sc. ewu) grundlegend bestimmt. Wie um
eine Klammer um das ganze Corpus des Buches zu bilden, wird diese
Aussage 22,6 wiederholt: " treu und wahrhaftig sind diese Worte, und der
Herr, der Gott der Geister der Propheten, hat seine Engel gesandt, seinen
Propheten zu zeigen, was geschehen muß in Bälde ". Vorgreifend enthül-
len aber kann den Gang der Geschichte nur der, der über sie verfügt.
Die erste Prädikation Gottes, die sich in der Apk findet, weist ihn denn
auch aus als den, der die Geschichte übergreift: 6 ffiv Kui Ö T]V Kui Ö €QX6-
IlEVO~, 1,4 I. Sie ist in ihrer besonderen Form offensichtlich gebildet unter
dem bestimmenden Einfluß der Selbstenthüllung Gottes Ex 3, 14, wie sie
in dem Umfeld des Sehers verstanden wurde 2. Ist schon durch solche
Grundlage ein wesentlicher Bezug der Prädikation auf die Geschichte

1. Siehe ferner 1,8; 4, 8 ; verkürzt um das dritte Glied 6 f:QX6IlEVOC; 11, 17; 16, 5
(dazu s. unten); vgl. G. DELLING, Studien zum Neuen Testament und zum hellenisti-
schen Judentum, Berlin, 1970, S. 439-442; M. RISSI, Was ist und was geschehen soll
danach (ATANT, 46), Zürich-Stuttgart, 1965, S. 57; K.-P. JÖRNS, Das hymnische
Evangelium (StNT, 5), Gütersloh, 1971, S. 27.
2. Vgl. Ex. Rabba 3 (69c): " Gott sprach zu Mose : Sage ihnen: Ich bin, der ich
war, und ich bin jetzt und ich bin inskünftig" ; ferner Targ. Jeruschalmi I (Ps-
Jonathan) zu Dt 32, 39: "Ich bin, der ich bin und war, und ich bin, der ich sein
werde"; beide Texte bei DELLING, Studien (s. Anm. I), S. 440. (vgl. auch
R.H. CHARLES, The Revelation of St. John (ICC), Edinburgh, 1920, Bd. I, S. 10);
DELLING rechnet mit der Möglichkeit, daß Targum und Apk " beide eine gemein-
248 T. HOLTZ

sicher gegeben 3, so wird das durch die besondere Form, die Apk dem
dritten Glied gab, 6 eQX6~EVOe;, unterstrichen 4. Gerade als der" Kom-
mende" erweist Gott sich als der Geschichtliche, der freilich eben mit
seinem Kommen der Geschichte der Welt das Ziel und damit Ende setzt 5.
Ebenso fügt ihn die gewaltsame sprachliche Bildung 6 T]V der Geschichte
ein und benennt ihn doch zugleich damit als den, der aller Geschichte
immer schon voraus ist 6.
Diese Prädikation wird I, 8 flankiert durch die andere ,0 i'iA<pU Kui ,0
dl, diese wiederum 21, 6 durch TJ uQxT) Kui ,0 ,EAOe; 7. Beide artikulieren die
Wirklichkeit Gottes, die Wesen und Zeit umgreift.
Nicht auf die Eckpunkte der Zeit oder des Seins, sondern auf die Art
der" ewigen" Wirklichkeit Gottes heben die Aussagen ab, die ihn als den
" lebenden" benennen, 6 I;;mv Eie; "tOue; uimvue; ,mv uiffivffiV, 8 4, 9.10; 10,
6; 15, 7; eEOe; I;;mv, 7, 2. Die ersten beiden Stellen bezeichnen den Thro-
nenden näher, dem der Preis der vier Wesen und die Proskynese der 24 Äl-
testen in der Gottesvision am Beginn der apokalyptischen Schauung gilt.
In 10, 6 schwört der Engel, der die Offenbarung neu vermittelt 9, bei dieser
Gottesbezeichnung, daß nun die Zeit abgelaufen, das Mysterium Gottes
vollendet ist. 15, 7 schließlich redet von dem Zorn Gottes, des in Ewigkei-
ten Lebenden, mit dem die sieben Schalen gefüllt sind, die die vier Wesen
den letzten, endgültigen Gerichtsengeln reichen. In gewisser Weise korres-
pondiert dem, daß 7, 2 das bewahrende Siegel Gottes als die cr<pQuyie; ewu
I;;mv"tOe; bezeichnet wird. Der" lebende" Gott ist der wirkliche Gott, der
seine Geschichte wirkt, der sich in Gericht und Bewahrung als lebend
erweist.

same Überlieferung benutzen .. , S. 441; vgl. auch F. BLASS-A. DEBRUNNER, Gram-


matik des neutestamentlichen Griechisch, bearb. von F. REHKOPF, 14. Aufl., Göttin-
gen, 1976, § 143, Anm. 2.
3. Vgl. S. AMSLER, THA T, Bd. I, S. 483-486 (zu Ex 3, 14 und der Bedeutung und
Deutung der Stelle).
4. Den geschichtlichen Bezug bestätigt auch die" Gegenformel .. 17, 8 ; dazu s.
A. VÖGTLE, Der Gott der Apokalypse, in l. COPPENS (ed.), La notion biblique de Dieu
(BETL, 41), Gembloux-Leuven, 1976, S. 381f.
5. Zur eschatologischen Bedeutung von l:Qxollat in der Apk vgl. DELLING,
Studien (s. Anm. 1), S. 440, Anm. 66; E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Priester für Gott
(NTA, N.F., 7), Münster, 1972, S. 182f.
6. Grammatisch steht ftv für das Partizip der Vergangenheit. Doch wird das
Imperfekt eine eigene Bedeutung behalten haben, vgl. ftv loh 1, 1; dazu z.B.
R. BULTMANN, Das Evangelium des Johannes (KEK, 2), Göttingen, 1953, S. 15f.
7. Vgl. zu TO uAcpa Kai TO tb T. HOLTZ, EWNT, Bd. I, S. 155f. ; zu 1'] uQxi] Kai TO
TtAO<; W.c. VAN UNNIK, Het Godspredikaat " Het begin en het einde " bij Flavius
Josephus en in de Openbaring van Johannes (MNAW.L NS 39, 1), Amsterdam, 1976.
8. Vgl. dazu R. DEICHGRÄBER, Gotteshymnus und Christushymnus in der frühen
Christenheit (StUNT, 5), Göttingen, 1967, S. 53, Anm. 6.
9. D.ie wichtige Stellung und Funktion des Stückes Apk 10-14, das bestimmt ist
durch die Vision von der kleinen prophetischen Schriftrolle, ist gut herausgestellt
GOTT IN DER APOKALYPSE 249

10, 6 ist mit der Prädikation Gottes als des ewig Lebenden unmittelbar
verbunden die Ansage seines universalen Schöpfungshandeins, ö~ ~Kt1crEv
tOV oUQuvov Kui tU f:V Ulm'? Kui nlv riiv Kui tU f:V UUtij Kui t1'\v 9u,,-ucrcruv
Kui tU f:V UUtij. Und schon 4, 11 begründete hymnisch die preisende Anbe-
tung des Gottes, der in Ewigkeiten lebt, darin, daß er das All geschaffen
hat 10. Gerade die Aussagen der eröffnenden Gottesvision aber dürfen
besonderes Gewicht beanspruchen. Noch ein drittes Mal, 14, 7, wird Gott
betont als Schöpfer des Himmels, der Erde, des Meeres und der Wasser-
quellen genannt. Das geschieht in dem Engelruf nach der Schauung der
144000 Geretteten auf dem Berge Zion, der zur Furcht Gottes und seiner
Anbetung aufruft, da die Stunde seines Gerichtes gekommen ist.
An den genannten Stellen ist Gott betont und in gewichtigem Kontext
Schöpfer der Welt genannt. Daß der Apk dieser Gedanke nicht nur wich-
tig, sondern auch völlig selbstverständlich ist, zeigt die fast beiläufige Art,
in der 5, 13 und 8, 9 KticrJlu gebraucht wird, übrigens beide Male im Sinne
von belebten Geschöpfen in der bzw. ihrer Welt 1\. Der universale Schöp-
fungsgedanke gehört zu den fundamentalen Gegebenheiten der Theologie
der Apk. Daß er einen bestimmenden Bezug auch für das Gerichtshandeln
Gottes nach der Apk hat, ergibt sich insbesondere vom Kontext der Aus-
sage von Gott als Schöpfer her 12. Er sollte übrigens jede Rede von einem
Dualismus - jedenfalls im strengen Sinne - hinsichtlich der Apk von
vornherein ausschließen.
Die Christusbezeichnung ,., uQx1'\ tii~ KticrE(()~ tOU 9wu 3, 14 bezieht
endlich auch die Christologie auf den Schöpfungsglauben 13. Indem Chris-
tus als ihr Anfang in die Schöpfung Gottes einbezogen wird, ist die Einzig-
keit Gottes 14 betont festgehalten, Christus aber zugleich der übrigen
Schöpfung zeitlich vor- und damit sachlich übergeordnet. Trat soeben die
Verbindung von Schöpfung und Gericht in den Blick, so jetzt die von
Schöpfung und Erlösung. Denn ist Christus Urbild und Prinzip, princi-
pium der Schöpfung, dann ist sie auf Erlösung und Vollendung hin ge-
schaffen.
Die genannten Schöpfungsaussagen der Apk haben nicht nur ein
anfängliches Handeln Gottes zum Inhalt; sie implizieren auch nicht nur
eine Zukunft des Gerichtes und der Vollendung; vielmehr wird ebenfalls
das gegenwärtige Sein Gottes durch sie erfaßt. 10, 6 wird das durch das
jeweils hinzugefügte f:V UUtip bzw. UUtij zu oUQuv6~, rii und 9u,,-ucrcru im

worden von E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Composition and Structure 0/ the Book 0/


Revelation, in CBQ 39, (1977) 344-366, bes. S. 361ff.
10. Vgl. äthHen 9, 4f. ; 81, 3.
11. 8, 9 eigens mit tU !;XOVtU ,!,VXa<; hervorgehoben.
12. Das hat JÖRNS, Evangelium (s. Anm. 1), S. 38-42, besonders herausgestellt.
13. Vgl. hierzu T. HOLTz, Die Christologie der Apokalypse des Johannes (TU,
85), 2.Aufl., Berlin, 1971, S. 143-147.
14. Siehe dazu auch 15,4.
250 T.HOLTZ

Rahmen der Schöpfungs aussage selbst deutlich. Der Gegenwartsbezug


von Gottes Schöpferturn bekundet sich indessen ebenso durch den Kon-
text, in den die entsprechenden Aussagen eingefügt sind. Gottes Gottheit
selbst, die sich in Gericht und Errettung der Welt zuwendet, ist in seinem
Sein als Schöpfer gegründet. Deshalb ist das Geschichtshandeln Gottes
nur eine besondere Seite seines Schöpfungshandelns. .
So ist Gott, gerade weil er der Schöpfer ist, immer auch der gegenwär-
tige Gott. Diese Seite seiner Wirklichkeit bekundet die Apk auch sonst in
gewichtiger Weise. Schon die Vorordnung von Ö rov vor Ö T]V, die der
gewöhnlichen Reihenfolge der Glieder widerspricht 15, hebt das Gegen-
wärtig-sein Gottes hervor. Von ihm her wünscht der Seher XUQlC; Kai
dQilVT] den Gemeinden der Asia. Wenn er diesen Wunsch gleichsam
triadisch aufweitet, indem er als Geber von" Gnade und Frieden" auch
die sieben Throngeister und Jesus Christus einbezieht 16, so wird damit
nicht der Geschichtsbezug Gottes in der Gegenwart eingeschränkt, er wird
vielmehr unterstrichen. Denn die beiden Größen, die Joh zu Gott hinzu-
fUgt, sind deutlich als solche gekennzeichnet, durch die Gott wirkt. Das ist
besonders hervorgehoben bei der Nennung der sieben Geister der Fall.
Ihre Näherbestimmung Ci evwmov 'tOU 8Qovou at'l't'ou (sc. 8wu) ist ein
Hebraismus, der sie als Gottes Diener kennzeichnet 17. Durch die sieben
Geister handelt der erhabene Gott, dessen Unwandelbarkeit die sprach-
liche Fügung ano Ö rov ... zwar grammatisch fast unerträglich hart, dafUr
sachlich aber bezwingend zur Geltung bringt. Jesus Christus ist zunächst
schon durch seinen Namen X(llO''tOC; als Beauftragter Gottes ausgewiesen.
Hier, wie schon 1, 1.2, ist allerdings XQlO''toC; in einer urchristlich geläufi-
gen Weise wie ein Namensbestandteil verwendet; aber die anderen Belege
für XQlO''tOC; in der Apk (11, 15; 12, 10; 20, 4.6) zeigen, daß Joh der Sinn
des Wortes präsent ist 18. Der Tatbestand, daß Jesus Christus Gottes Werk
treibt, wird überdies sichtbar aus seiner dreifachen Näherbestimmung in 1,
5, da diese eine in sich geschlossene, selbständige Aufnahme (und gewiß
auch Bearbeitung) wesentlicher Elemente aus Ps 89 darstellt 19.
Der briefliche Eingang, der durch diese Grußformel gebildet wird, ist
allerdings traditionell und - wie mir scheinen will - von paulinischer

15. Vgl. VÖGTLE, Gott (s. Anm. 4), S. 380. Eine gewisse Parallele bietet am
ehesten Targ. Jeruscha1mi I zu Dt 32, 39 (s. oben Anm. 2).
16. Vgl. dazu HOLTZ, Christologie (s. Anm. 13), S. 139f.
17. Vgl. E. SCHWEIZER, Die sieben Geister der Apokalypse, in OERS., Neotesta-
mentica, Zürich-Stuttgart, 1963, S. 198, Anm. 41.
18. Vgl. zur Verwendung von XQtcn6C; in Apk HOLTz, Christologie (s. Anm. 13),
S. 5-9; W. GRUNOMANN, TWNT, Bd. IX, S. 568f., sowie den Beitrag von M. OE
lONGE, The Use of the Expression 0 xe/(Jr6~ in the Apocalypse of lohn, in diesem
Band.
19. Vgl. dazu E. LOHSE, Die Offenbarung des lohannes (NTD, 11), 2. Aufl.,
Göttingen, 1966, S. 15; SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Priester (s. Anm. 5), S. 198-200.
GOTT IN DER APOKALYPSE 251

Gepflogenheit nicht unabhängig 20 ; das aber bedeutet nicht, daß er für


loh bedeutungslos wäre. Die theologisch durchdachte Gestaltung, mit der
loh den dreifachen Quellort der Heilszuwendung benennt 2\ zeigt das
sachliche Gewicht, das dieser Eingang für ihn hat. So dürfte denn auch die
Wendung X6Ql~ Ulliv Kui dQ1lvTj, die zwar zunächst den genau gleichen
Gebrauch dieser Wörter in der salutatio der paulinischen Briefe reflek-
tiert 22, von loh in ihrem vollen Gehalt verstanden und angewendet sein.
letzt und heute möge Gott der Gemeinde seine Zuwendung (xaQl~) zuteil
werden lassen, das heile Leben der Gottesgemeinschaft (dQ1lvTj) sie erfah-
ren lassen.
In den Bereich der Gegenwarts-wirkung Gottes dürften auch die sieben
Geister gehören, die als Gottes Engel in seinem und Christi Dienst stehen,
1, 4; 4, 5; 5, 6; vgl. auch 8, 2. Ihre Funktion ist in der Apk nicht näher
entfaltet. Sie stellen das Gotteswirken, das auch durch Christus sich voll-
zieht, dar 23.
In Apk 5 schaut der Seher, wie das (gleichsam) geschlachtete Lamm das
Buch aus der Rechten des Thronenden erhält, mit dem ihm die Herrschaft
über die Weltgeschichte übertragen wird 24. Damit geht das Wirken Gottes
über in die Hand des Christus, Daher tritt im apokalyptischen Hauptteil
des Buches die Rede vom Gotteshandeln in der Gegenwart zugunsten der
von dem Handeln des Lammes stark zurück 25. Man muß indessen im
Bewußtsein behalten, daß Gott dem Lamm Macht und Auftrag übertrug,
daß es das Werk Gottes ist, welches Christus ausführt.
An entscheidenden Stellen der Apk ist gleichwohl mit Blick auf Heil
wie Gericht von Gott direkt die Rede. In einem ersten Zwischenakt, nach
dem Erbrechen des sechsten Siegels, schaut loh die 144000 Versiegelten,
die unzählbare Menge derer, die in weißen Gewändern aus der großen
Trübsal kommen 26. Sie sind durch einen Engel mit der mpQuyi~ 9wü
S&V'to~ gesiegelt worden, 7, 2f, dem Zeichen der Bewahrung vor dem
kommenden Unheil, 9, 4 27 . Mag nun 7, 13-15a von der gegenwärtigen

20. Vgl. E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Apocalyptic and Gnosis in the Book of Revela-
tion and Paul, in JBL 92 (1973) 565-581, S. 575.
21. Vgl. SCHUSSLER FIORENZA, Priester lS. Anm. 5), S. 172-179.
22. BLASS-DEBRUNNER-REHKOPF, Grammatik (s. Anm. 2), § 480, Anm. 7;
CHARLES, Revelation (s. Anm. 2), Bd. I, S. 9f.
23. Vgl. E. SCHWEIZER, TWNT, Bd. VI, S. 449; HOLTz, Christologie
(s. Anm. 13), S. 138-140.
24. Vgl. dazu auch H.-P. MÜLLER, Die himmlische Ratsversammlung, in ZNW54
(1963) 254-267.
25. Vgl. CHARLES, Revelation (s. Anm. 2), Bd. I, S. CX (aber: " The conception
is on the whole severely monotheistic ").
26. 7, 4ff. Beide Gruppen sind miteinander identisch (vgl. LOH SE, Offenbarung
[So Anm. 19], S. 51; VÖGTLE, Gott [so Anm. 4], S. 391). Johannes sieht sie als die
unzählbare Schar (7, 9), ihre Zahl hört er nur (7, 4).
27. Vgl. auch 14, 1.
252 T. HOLTZ

Gemeinde in ihrer himmlischen Gestalt handeln 28 oder aber, wie die


folgenden Wendungen, schon die eschatologisch gerettete Heilsgemeinde
beschreiben 29, in jedem Fall ist es Gottes Siegel, das die damit Gezeichne-
ten gegenwärtig, in der Zeit der jetzt hereinbrechenden Drangsal, bewahrt.
In der stark von einem vorgegebenen Mythos geprägten Sprache des
Kap 12 und zugleich auf die Gemeinde als ganze bezogen ist der gleiche
Gedanke der Bewahrung durch Gott ausgesprochen in dem Satz, daß das
Weib nach der Geburt und Entrückung ihres männlichen Kindes vor dem
Drachen in die Wüste floh, " wo ihr von Gott ein Ort bereitet war, damit
man sie dort ernähre 1260 Tage lang ", 12,6.
Andererseits wird auch das Gericht, das über die Weh nun herein-
bricht, auf die Wirkung Gottes zurückgeführt. Mit 15, I beginnt die letzte
Visionsreihe vor dem Erscheinen des endlichen Gerichtes; die sieben
Schalenengel erscheinen, ausführlicher als die vorangehenden Plagenträ-
ger eingeleitet und vorgestellt, 15, 1-8. Nun ist die Frage nach dem Sinn
der dreifach neu ansetzenden Plagenreihen, ob damit ein fortschreitendes
Geschehen dargestellt werden soll ober ob das gleiche Geschehen in mehr-
fach neuen Bilderfolgen eingeprägt werden soll, bleibend umstritten 30. Es
wird keine einlinige Lösung für diese Frage geben. Die Gliederung der
Apk ist nicht zuletzt ein literarisches Organisationsmittel, um die überquel-
lende Fülle des apokalyptischen Visionsstoffes überschaubar zu machen.
Im Fortschreiten der Darstellung dringt diese immer tiefer in das Wesen
und die Wirklichkeit der Geschichte ein, wie sie sich in der Zeit des Sehers
als die sich realisierende Endzeit entfaltet.
In jedem Falle sind die Ereignisse, die durch die Schalenengel in Gang
gesetzt werden, als solche gedacht, die sich noch vor dem Einbruch des
Endes der Welt und ihrer Geschichte, noch vor der Messias-Schlacht gegen
die widergöttlichen Mächte (19, 11ft) vollziehen. Von eben diesen Ereig-
nissen heißt es nun, ön Sv uutuiC; EtEA.Ecr9TJ 6 9uJ.1oC; tOU 8EOU, 15, 1. Die
Schalen, die den Engeln überreicht werden, sind gefüllt mit dem Grimm
des ewig lebenden Gottes, 15, 7, der auf Befehl des Himmels entleert werden
soll auf die Erde, 16, 1. So ist in dieser Visionsreihe, die am weitesten
vordringt in der Einsicht in den wahren Charakter der Geschichte als das
Endgeschehen, der Grimm Gottes als das treibende Motiv der Endge-
schichte erkannt und ausgesprochen. So wie das Siegel Gottes die damit

28. So HOLTz, Christologie (s. Anm. 13), S. 73f (mit 250).199; vgl. auch L. GoP-
PELT, Heilsoffenbarung und Geschichte nach der Offenbarung des Johannes, in TLZ
77 (1952) 513-522, Kol. 518. .
29. So SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Priester (s. Anm. 5), S. 392f.
30. Vgl. W.G. KÜMMEL, Einleitung in das Neue Testament, 17. Aufl., Heide1berg,
1973, S. 411; RISSI, Was ist (s. Anm. 1), S. 7ff., bes. S. 19-21; JÖRNS, Evangelium
(s. Anm. 1), S. 176-178; F. HAHN, Zum Aufbau der Johannesoffenbarung, in Kirche
und Bibel. Fs. Ed. Schick, Paderborn, 1979, S. 145-154; SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA,
Composition (s. Anm. 9), S. 344-366, bes. S. 360ff. ; J. LAMBRECHT, A Structuration of
Revelation 4, 1-22, 5, in diesem Band.
GOTT IN DER APOKALYPSE 253

Gesiegelten bewahrt, so vernichtet der Grimm Gottes diejenigen, die sich


gegen ihn und seinen Weg stellen. Der Tag des großen Zornes Gottes und
des Lammes, 6, 17, wird freilich erst kommen, er ist der Tag des endgülti-
gen Gerichtes, 14, 10.19; 19, 15 31. Aber Gott ist nicht erst der Zukünftige,
er wirkt seinen Gerichtszorn schon in der Gegenwart; es ist sein Gericht,
das sich bereits jetzt entlädt.
Dieses Gericht der Gegenwart ist auch entscheidend provoziert durch
ein gegenwärtig gegen Gott gerichtetes Handeln derer, die die Plagen tref-
fen. Sie hingen nämlich dem Tier aus dem Meere an, das sich als einzig
und unbesiegbar proklamieren läßt, 13, 4 32 , und das Gott lästert, Gott
selbst in seinem Namen, seinem Ort und die, die zu ihm gehören, 13, 6.
Die Rebellion gegen Gott, das ist die Signatur des Tieres, die seine Ge-
schichte bezeichnet und mithin auch die Geschichte derer, die dieses Tier
anbeten, 13, 4.8.12; 14, 9 u. Ö. Sie kehren denn auch unter den
Gerichtsschlägen des Gottesgrimmes nicht um und geben Gott die Ehre 33,
sondern auch sie lästern Gott, 16, 9.11.21 und vollenden damit ihre Ge-
schichte.
In bemerkenswerter Weise wird nun aber 17, 17 das Verhalten der zehn
Könige, die ihre Macht' und ihr Recht dem Tiere abtreten, auf Gott selbst
zurückgeführt. Das Kapitel 17 will die geschichtliche Manifestation der
widergöttlichen, eschatologischen Gewalt erkennen lassen 34, freilich nur
so umrißhaft, daß für uns Wesentliches im Unerkennbaren verbleibt.
Dabei bekundet Joh, daß in der Geschichte auch da, wo sie sich gänzlich
gegen Gott kehrt, noch immer Gottes Wille wirksam ist, indem Gott selbst
es ist, der denjenigen, die sich gegen ihn zusammenschließen, seinen Plan
in das Herz gegeben hat 35. Angesichts dessen ist es nicht unwahrschein-
lich, daß die Passiva töö9T\ 13, 5.7, mit denen die Verleihung des lästerli-
chen Mundes, der Vollmacht für die bemessene Frist sowie der Möglich-
keit zu Krieg und Sieg gegenüber den Heiligen ausgesagt ist, passiva
divina sind 36, Gott also als handelndes Subjekt dahinter steht. Die
Abgründigkeit jedes theozentrischen Geschichts- und Weltbildes wird
sichtbar, zugleich damit aber natürlich auch die uneingeschränkte Geltung
der Theozentrik für die Apk.
Sie verschafft sich auch Ausdruck in der zweimal gebotenen Engelwei-

31. 6, 16f. nur 6QyTj, 14, 19 nur BUIlOe;, 14, 10 ; 19, 15 beide Begriffe verbunden.
32. Vgl. JÖRNS, Evangelium (s. Anm. I), S. 121-123.
33. Zu dem Gedanken, daß die Entladung des Zornes Gottes die Menschen aus
ihrer Verstocktheit aufschrecken und zur Umkehr bewegen soll, s. VÖGTLE, Gott
(s. Anm. 4), S. 385.
34. Vgl. Z.B. A. STROBEL, Ablassung und Geschichtstheologie der Apokalypse
nach Kap. 17,9-12, in NTS 10 (1963-1964) 433-445.
35. Vgl. dazu W.c. VAN UNNIK, MIA TNQMH, Apocalypse 01 lohn XVII 13,
17, in Studies in lohn. Fs. l.N. Sevenster (Suppl NT, 24), Leiden, 1970, S. 209-220.
36. Vgl. GOPPELT, Heilsoffenbarung (s. Anm. 28), S. 515; DERS., Theologie des
Neuen Testaments, 2. Teil, Göttingen, 1976, S. 515.
254 T. HOLTZ

sung 'tq> 9Eq> 1tQOGKUVTjGOV 19, 10; 22, 9. Diese Stellen haben als Hinter-
grund freilich nicht die Verehrung eines Neben- oder Gegengottes, son-
dern des angelus interpres, der Joh die Visionen deutet. Aber eben auch
ihm kommt keine Verehrung zu, sondern allein Gott, dem sie erwiesen
werden muß, nicht erst einst in der Vollendung, sondern schon jetzt, in der
Gegenwart.
ÖOUAO~ 9EOU 37 zu sein, das ist denn auch die Bestimmung der Glieder
der Gemeinde. Neben dem herausgehobenen Sprachgebrauch von ÖOUAO~
9EOU für Einzelne, nämlich 1, I für den Seher selbst, 15, 3 für Mose, sowie
10, 7 für die Propheten, wird der Ausdruck 1, I ; 7, 3 ; 11, 18 38 ; 19,2.5; 22,
3.6 39 als Benennung aller Glieder der Gemeinde bzw. der eschatologisch
Vollendeten verwendet 40. Dieser Name beschreibt ein gegenwärtiges Ver-
hältnis, das eine aktive Beziehung voraussetzt, die zwischen den Gliedern
der Gemeinde und Gott besteht. Gott ist der gegenwärtige Herr der
Gemeinde Christi.
Eine mehrfach wiederkehrende Wendung, die freilich leicht variiert
wird, beschreibt den Dienst der" Knechte Gottes" näher. 1, 2 definiert
sich der Seher als ÖOUAO~ 9EOU so : ö~ el1uQ'tuQTjGEV 'tOV AOYOV 'tou 9EOU Kai
'tTJV l1uQ1uQiuv 'ITjGOU XQlG10U. Diese Fügung begegnet in ähnlicher
Gestalt wieder 1,9; 6, 9; 12, 17; 20, 4 41 • 12, 17 ist AOYO~ 'tou 9EOU ersetzt
durch eVlOAui lOU 9EOU. Mit dieser Variation ist im Sinne der Apk kein
grundsätzlich anderer Sinn verbunden 42. Das Wort Gottes ist notwendig
auch Auftrag Gottes für die, an die es sich richtet. 6, 9 ist l1uQ1UQiu ohne
Näherbestimmung ; daß sachlich 'ITjGOU zu ergänzen ist, zeigt 20, 4, eine
Stelle, die Bezug auf 6, 9 nimmt 43. Wenn dadurch die l1uQ'tuQiu 'I TjGOU als
die l1uQ'tuQiu tjv dxov ausgewiesen wird, so ist damit der Genitiv'ITjGou
als ein Gen. obj. erwiesen. Das Wort Gottes und das Zeugnis von Jesus
gehören zusammen. Denn das Wort Gottes ergeht in dem Zeugnis von
Jesus. Und deshalb ist das Zeugnis von Jesus das Wort Gottes. Zwar ist

37. Vgl. dazu A. SATAKE, Die Gemeindeordnung in der Johannesapokalypse


(WMANT, 21), Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1966, S. 86-97.
38. 'toi~ ÖOUA.Ot~ O'OIJ dürfte der übergeordnete Begriff für die beiden folgenden
Bestimmungen " Propheten" und" Heilige" sein, vgl. E. LOHMEYER, Die Offenba-
rung des Johannes (HNT, 16), 2. Aufl., Tübingen, 1953, S.96 ; auch SATAKE, Gemein-
deordnung (s. Anm. 37), S. 91f.
39. Vgl. auch 6, 11 O'uvÖOIJA.Ot (dazu SATAKE, Gemeindeordnung [so Anm. 37],
S.95f).
40. 22, 3 bezieht sich uu'tou bei oi ÖOUA.Ot auf Gott und das Lamm zugleich (vgl.
auch SATAKE, Gemeindeordnung [so Anm. 37], S. 88); 2, 20 erscheint im Munde des
erhöhten Christus 't00~ E1l00C; ÖOUA.OIJ~ für die Christen. Auffälig ist eher die seltene
(in anderen Teilen des NT dagegen häufige) Bezeichnung der Gemeindeglieder als
" Sklaven Christi" ; vgl. dazu auch SATAKE, Gemeindeordnung (s. Anm. 37), S. 97 ;
SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Priester (s. Anm. 5), S. 378f.
41. Vgl. auch 19, 10, wo nur lluQ'tIJQiu 'I11O'ou geboten ist.
42. Vgl. 14, 12; sonst EV'tOA.T] nicht in Apk.
43. V gl. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Priester (s. Anm. 5), S. 307f.
GOTT IN DER APOKALYPSE 255

nur 1, 1 diese Wendung in direkte Beziehung zu dem Begriff OOUAOC; 9wü


gesetzt 44. Da sie aber ein, wenn nicht das herausragende Charakteristikum
der Christen benennt 45, darf das aktive und sich bis zum gewaltsamen
Tode durchhaltende Wirksamwerden-Iassen des Wortes Gottes im Jesus-
Zeugnis 46 als Wesensmerkmal der" Gottesknechte " angesehen werden.
Gottes Wort als Zeugnis von Jesus aber umfaßt alles, was die Apk ihren
Hörern und Lesern zu sagen hat, nicht nur die Dinge, die geschehen wer-
den hernach, sondern auch die, die sind. Im AOYOC; tOÜ 9wü wird überdies
auch die Zukunft schon präsent, da sie der Gegenwart erschlossen und so
für sie wirksam gemacht wird. Der eigentliche Sinn der Apk erfährt darin
seine Befestigung, nämlich Anrede an die Gegenwart von Gemeinden zu
sein, und diese Gegenwart zu formieren, wenn auch wesentlich von der
Zukunft her.
Zugleich wird noch einmal die unlösliche Verbindung von Gottesge-
schichte und Christusgeschichte deutlich; jene hat in dieser ihre gültige
Gestalt. Wenigstens beiläufig sei freilich vermerkt, daß das für die Apk
nicht heißt, daß Gott nicht ist als nur in Christus und seiner Geschichte,
sondern daß Gott seine Herrschaft Christus übertragen hat und also jetzt
diese in Christus begegnet. Deshalb lautet der höchste erkennbare Name
des Christus, der öffentlich freilich erst erkennbar wird, wenn er endzeit-
lieh-siegend als Reiter auf weißem Pferde hervortreten wird, 6 A6yoC; tOÜ
9wü 19, 13 47. Der Träger dieses Namens ist damit als der bezeichnet, der
die Offenbarung Gottes bringt und tut, sie selbst ist.
Vereinzelt steht die Aussage des erhöhten Christus in dem Sendschrei-
ben an die Gemeinde in Sardes, 3, 2: Nicht fand ich deine Werke erfüllt
vor meinem Gott (GOU EQYU ... tVOl7tlOV tOÜ 9wü ~ou). Sachlich gehört sie in
den Umkreis der Rede von den OOÜA01 9wü. Das Tun der Gemeinde
geschieht vor Gott, vor ihm erweist es sich als gelungen oder mißlungen.
Jetzt erkennt das allerdings nur und erst Christus, der es aber seiner
Gemeinde bekundet, damit es nicht beim endlichen Gericht öffentlich
festgestellt werden muß. Durch den Mund Christi wird das Urteil Gottes
über das gegenwärtige Tun der Gemeinde schon heute kund und damit
auch wirksam.
Gleichsam zusammengefaßt erscheint die Ansage von Gottes "ewi-
ger ", d.h. die Zeit und Geschichte übergreifender Macht und Herrschaft
in dem Gottesnamen, der im NT nur in der Apk eine Rolle spielt 48, 1tUV-

44. Vgl. aber auch 19, 10.


45. Auch SATAKE, Gemeindeordnung (s. Anm. 37), S. 98-107, der die Wendung
uneinheitlicher interpretiert, versteht sie als durchweg auf alle Christen, nicht nur
auf Propheten bzw. besondere Zeugen, bezogen.
46. Zu ~aQtI)Qia '!T\croii vgl. HOLTZ, Christologie (s. Anm. 13), S. 23f. ; SATAKE,
Gemeindeordnung (s. Anm. 37), S. 98-107.
47. Vgl. HOLTZ, Christologie (s. Anm. 13), S. 175-179; auch H. KRAFT, Die
Offenbarung des Johannes (HNT, 16a), Tübingen, 1974, S. 249f.
48. Sonst nur noch 2 Kor 6, 18 in einem Stück eigenen Charakters.
256 T. HOLTZ

tOKQUtffiQ. Er begegnet in der festen Einbindung in die Wendung KUQlOC:; Ö


9EÖC:;, Ö 7tUVtOKQUtffiQ siebenmal in Apk 49, zweimal aber auch in Verbin-
dung mit Ö 9EOC:; allein 50. Gerade diese beiden letzten Stellen zeigen, daß
das Wort 7tUVtOKQUtffiQ in der Apk nicht nur als Bestandteil einer festen
Namensfügung verstanden, sondern in seiner Wortbedeutung begriffen
wird. Gott der Herr ist der Allherrscher, von dem das AT redete 51, zu
dessen Wesen als dem, der das Sein in sich begreift und der Gegenwart,
Vergangenheit und Zukunft umfaßt, es gehört, allmächtige Herrschaft
auszuüben (1,8, vgl. auch 4, 8). Er tut es in der Gegenwart vornehmlich in
seinem Gerichtshandeln(l6, 14) 52, erweist aber gerade darin seine Gerech-
tigkeit und Wahrheit, deren Erkenntnis zu seiner Anerkenntnis als Gott
führt (15, 3 ; 16, 7).
Das herrscherliche Moment am Gottesbild der Apk kommt auch in
dem Namen zur Geltung, den sie aus dem Ort Gottes bildet: Ö Ku9flllEVOC:;
E7tt tÜV 9Qovov. Die Art und Häufigkeit der Verwendung 53 weist die
Fügung als sinntragenden Namen aus. Sie vertritt denn auch in der Regel
den Gottesnamen selbst, der neben ihr nicht mehr eigens erwähnt zu
werden braucht 54. Gebildet ist sie in offensichtlicher Anlehnung an alttesta-
mentliches Vorbild 55. Dabei fällt auf, daß im Alten Testament eine
besondere Nähe zwischen Gott als "Allherrscher " und als dem, "der
über den Cheruben thront" zu bestehen scheint, da der Name "Jhwh
Sebl!' öt charakteristische Bezeichnung für den auf dem Kerubenthron
sitzenden Gott-König ist" 56. Auch wenn für die Apk hier kein unmittel-
barer Zusammenhang mehr bestehen sollte 57, so wird doch in jedem Falle

49. 1,8; 4,8; 11, 17; 15,3; 16,7; 19,6; 21, 22.
50. 16, 14; 19, 15.
5\. Zum alttestamentlichen Hintergrund von 7tUV'tOKQU'tffiQ vgl. A.S. VAN DER
WOUDE, THAT, Bd. 11, S. 498f. 503-507, und G. DELLING, Studien (s. Anm. I),
S. 442-448; bezeichnend Amos 4, 13: " rmt~~ 'Iil?N il'il' ist sein Name ".
Ein besonderer Bezug auf die Vorstellung vom heiligen Krieg (VÖGTLE, Gott
[so Anm. 4], S. 383) ist nicht zu erkennen (auch wohl nicht vom AT her gegeben, s.
VANDER WOUDE, S. 504f.).
52. 19, 15 ist auf das letzte Gerichtsshandeln des Christus bezogen.
53. 4, 2.9.10; 5, 1.7.13; 6, 16; 7, 10.15; 19, 4; 21, 5, vgl. auch 20, I\. Man
beachte auch die grammatische Behandlung der Wendung: bei Kuei]JlEVO~ im
Nom. oder Ace. folgt nach €7tl der Ace., bei Gen. oder Dat. folgt jeweils ebenfalls
der Gen. oder Dat. ; nur 7, 15 und 21,5 machen davon - nach dem gegenwärtigen
" Standard-Text" - eine Ausnahme; freilich gebraucht die Apk auch sonst €7ti in
vergleichbar auffälliger, aber konsequenter Weise, vgl. W. BOUSSET, Die Offenba-
rung Johannis, (KEK, 16), Göttingen, 1906, S. 165f.
54. Nur 7, 10; 19, 4 steht eE6~ unmittelbar daneben, vgl. DELLING, Studien
(s. Anm. I), S. 438.
55. Vgl. einerseits Jes 6, I, andererseits aber auch die Wendung" der über den
Cheruben thront ", Z.B. I Rgn 4, 4; 4 Rgn 19, 15; Ps 80, 2; Dan 3, 55 (nicht MT I).
S. auch äthHen 14, 18ff.
56. VAN DER WOUDE, THAT, Bd. II, S. 505.
57. Beide Gottesbezeichnungen werden von Johannes nicht erkennbar zusam-
GOTT IN DER APOKALYPSE 257

dadurch unterstrichen, daß auch die Gottesbezeichnung "der Thro-


nende " 58 die Herrschermacht Gottes bezeugen will, in die seine richter-
liche Funktion eingeschlossen ist (6, 16; 20, 11), ohne sich indessen darin
zu erschöpfen 59.
Vereinzelt steht die Rede von Gott als dem KUQtoC; 'tfjc; yfjc; 11,4 6 Sie °.
ist abhängig von Sach 4, 14 und daher in ihrem Wortlaut nicht überzube-
tonen. Auch sie will die aktuelle, gegenwärtige Herrschaft Gottes über die
Welt aussagen, die er ausübt durch die zwei Zeugen der Endzeit, die vor
der Welt zeugen 61.
Wir haben bisher die Entfaltung der Wirklichkeit Gottes, der die Welt
und die Geschichte übergreift, auf ihre Bedeutung für die Vergangenheit
und Gegenwart der Welt in Schöpfung und Geschichte hin ins Auge
gefaßt. Ungleich gewichtiger treten nun aber in der Apk diejenigen Gottes-
aussagen hervor, die von ihm als dem, der kommen wird, gemacht werden.
Das ist vom Gegenstand des Buches her sowie dem Genre, dessen es sich
absichtsvoll bei seiner Darstellung bedient, auch nur natürlich 62. Man
darf aber annehmen, daß - ebensowenig wie unsere Theologie sich in
Apokalyptik und Eschatologie erschöpft und erschöpfen darf - sich die
Theologie des Verfassers unseres Buches in ihm nicht in ausgewogener
Vollständigkeit ausspricht. Deshalb durften die bisher bedachten Aussagen
von Gottes Wirken in Schöpfung und Geschichte mit stärkerem sachlichen
Gewicht bedacht werden, als ihnen statistisch betrachtet zukommen mag.
Da sie einem Kontext entnommen sind, dessen Interesse auf die eschatolo-
gische Zukunft ausgerichtet ist, können sie besondere Aufmerksamkeit
beanspruchen.
mengesteIlt oder aufeinander bezogen; freilich sind beide besonders charakteri-
stisch und häufig in der Apk.
58. Wohl als eine Verkürzung ist einfaches 6 8Qovo<; als Bezeichnung Gottes
verstanden, 7, 9, s. auch 4, 10; vgl. dazu JÖRNS, Evangelium (s. Anm. 1), S. 34 mit
Anm.64.
59. Vgl. zur Bedeutung des Thrones im AT und Judentum O. SCHMITZ, TWNT,
Bd. III, S. 161-164. JÖRNS, Evangelium (s. Anm. 1), S. 34.40, interpretiert die Gottes-
prädikation ganz auf Gottes Richteramt hin. Das legt sich indessen weder von der
Herkunft der Wendung noch von ihrem Gebrauch in der Apk her nahe.
60. Dazu, daß hier KUQto<; auf Gott zu beziehen ist, siehe HOLTZ, Christologie
(s. Anm. 13), S. 9.
61. Auf die schwierige, in jüngerer Zeit wieder mit weitreichenden Konsequen-
zen diskutierte Frage ihrer Identität (vgl. K. BERGER, Die Auferstehung des Prophe-
ten und die Erhöhung des Menschensohnes [StUNT, 13], Göttingen, 1976, bes. S. 22-
40) kann hier nicht eingegangen werden.
62. Zur apokalyptischen Literatur des Frühjudentums vgl. KÜMMEL, Einleitung
(s. Anm. 30), S. 398-401 ; H.H. ROWLEY, Apokalyptik, 3. Aufl., Einsiedeln-Köln,
1965; J. SCHREINER, Die apokalyptische Bewegung, in J. MAlER, J. SCHREINER (ed.),
Literatur und Religion des Frühjudentums, Würzburg-Gütersloh, 1973, S. 214-253.
Zum Genre der Apk siehe z.B. J.1. COLLINS, Pseudonymity, Historical Reviews and
the Revelation of John, in CBQ 39 (1977) 329-343 ; SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Composi-
tion (s. Anm. 9), S. 355-358 (mit problematischer Differenzierung von" apokalyp-
tisch" und" prophetisch ").
258 T. HOLTZ

Daß erst der Gott der Zukunft der ganz zu sich selbst gekommene Gott
ist, zeigt mit paradoxer Deutlichkeit die Variation des dreimal (1, 4.8 ; 4, 8)
begegnenden zeitbezogenen Gottesnamens 6 mv Kui 6 Tiv Kui 6 EQXOIlEVOC;
durch die Verkürzung um das letzte Glied 11, 17 und 16, 5: 6 mv Kui 6
Tiv. Mit der Übernahme der Herrschaft und dem Vollzug des Gerichtes in
Verurteilung und Belohnung ist Gott nicht mehr der" Kommende ",
sondern er ist ganz da, seine Zukunft ist von seinem Sein eingeholt. Das
bedeutet, daß für die Apk Gottes Gottheit nicht wesensmäßig durch das
Moment des Zukünftigen konstituiert wird; vielmehr wird sich die
Zukünftigkeit Gottes dereinst in Gottes Sein aufheben, wenn Gott die
Geschichte zu ihrem Ziel gebracht hat. Freilich ist dann die Geschichte
selbst auch aufgehoben, die Aufhebung der Zukunft Gottes mithin keine
innergeschichtliche Möglichkeit.
So wie am Beginn der Offenbarung Gott selbst sprach, indem er sich
grundlegend und umfassend präsentierte (1, 8), so tritt er noch einmal bei
dem Erscheinen des neuen Himmels und der neuen Erde und der Herab-
kunft des neuen Jerusalems im Wort hervor, 21, 5-8. Die ersten Worte dort
nehmen den Glauben an Gott als den Schöpfer auf und wenden ihn auf
die eschatologische Neuschöpfung, loou KUlVU 7tOtro 7tuvt:U (21, 5). Gottes
Schöpferturn beweist sich gerade in der eschatologischen Zukunft noch
einmal als sein grundlegendes Wesen. Wie diese Welt so verdankt sich
auch die zukünftige, die kommende Welt allein Gott. Mit solcher Tat der
Neuschöpfung erweist sich Gott wirklich als das liAqm und das cb, der
Anfang und das Ende/Ziel (21,6). Und er ist zunächst und allein als dieser
Gott der Zukunft der Gott des vollendeten Heils. Er selbst 63 sagt in Auf-
nahme von Jes 55, 1 dem Dürstenden zu, ihm aus der Quelle des Lebens-
wassers 64 zu geben 65.
Indessen erfüllt solche Zukunft doch nur, was ihr aus Vergangenheit
und Gegenwart zukommt. Der Überwinder wird diese Zukunft als seinen
Besitz erhalten, 21, 7a. Der Überwinder ist der, der den eschatologischen
Kampfesweg siegreich durchmessen hat 66, der nicht sich unter das Zei-
chen des Gegengottes stellte. Ihm wird sich sein Gott als Gott erweisen, er
selbst wird Kind seines Gottes sein, 21, 7. Diejenigen aber, die gegen Gott
und seine Gebote lebten, die werden den Tod finden, auf den hin sie

63. Das vorangestellte tyro verleiht der Person des Sprechers Nachdruck.
64. Zur Bedeutung des" Lebenswassers" vgl. HOLTZ, Christologie (s. Anm. 13),
S. 199f.
65. /)roQ!:uv trägt offensichtlich einen besonderen Ton, obwohl es der Sache nach
in Jes 55, I enthalten ist. Das Wort ist aber hier ebenso wie 22, 17 hervorgehoben,
obwohl an beiden Stellen auf Jes 55, I nur angespielt, die Stelle aber nicht genau
wiedergegeben wird.
66. Zur Bedeutung von V1KÜV in Apk vgl. HOLTZ, Christologie (s. Anm. 13),
S. 37-39; F. HAHN, Die Sendschreiben der Johannesapokalypse, in G. JEREMIAS, H.-
W. KUHN, H. STEGEMANN (ed.), Tradition und Glaube. Fs. K. G. Kuhn, Göttingen,
1971, S. 382-386.
GOTT IN DER APOKALYPSE 259

lebten, 21, 8. So ist auch der zukünftige Gott des Heils zugleich ein Gott
des Gerichtes, der sich von denen scheidet, die sich in ihrem Leben von
ihm geschieden haben.
Der Gerichtsgedanke, der sich so ausspricht, tritt im Blick auf Gott als
den Kommenden zunächst stark hervor 67. Die Seelen derer, die um des
Wortes Gottes und ihres Zeugnisses willen erschlagen sind, schreien nach
dem richtenden, ihr Blut rächenden Gott, 6, 9f. Die Mächtigen der Erde,
die die Plagen der erbrochenen Siegel treffen, rufen die Berge und die
F elsen an, sie zu verbergen vor dem Thronenden und dem Zorn des
Lammes; denn der große Tag ihres Zornes, das Endgericht, ist da, 6,
16f 68 . In dem großen Dankgebet 11, 17-18, das den endzeitlichen Herr-
schafts antritt Gottes hymnisch feiert, ist die Ansage der Belohnung der
Gottesknechte gerahmt durch die des strafenden Gerichtes: i'jA9EV T] 6QyiJ
(JOU ... Ötu<p9EIQat 'tou~ Ötacp9EiQov'ta~ 't11V yfiv. Der Adler, der ein ewiges
Evangelium hat, das der Welt zu verkündigen ist, ruft diese Welt zu Gott ;
denn die Stunde seines Gerichtes ist nahe, 14, 7. Wer aber sich an das Tier
als seinen Gott hält, der verfallt dem vernichtenden Gericht des Gottes-
grimmes, 14, 10, vgl. 14, 19. In solchem Gericht erweist sich der gekom-
mene Gott als gerecht, da er mit ihm den Menschen deren eigenes Tun
zuwendet, 16, 5, vgl. v. 7. Insbesondere ist es Babyion, diese Inkarnation
der gottwidrigen Welt, die sich geschichtlich der Apk in Rom manife-
stiert 69, die am Ende der Geschichte dem Gottesgericht verfallt, 16, 19;
18, 5.8.20. Dieses Gericht feiert die erste der Hymnen in Kap 19 und
bekundet über solches wahrhaftige und gerechte Gericht das Heil, die
Herrlichkeit und die Macht Gottes, 19, If.
Auch die Messias-Schlacht, die 19, Ilff geschildert wird, ist Gottes
Gerichtswerk. Sie ist das nicht nur gleichsam implizit, indem sie das Werk
des Christus ist, dem von Gott die Macht zum Wirken übertragen wurde.
Sie wird vielmehr schon 16, 14 als der" Krieg des großen Tages Gottes, des
Allherrschers " angekündigt; und zu dem Leichenfeld, das sie hinterläßt,
werden 19, 17 die Vögel, die am Zenith fliegen, als zu dem" großen Mahl
Gottes" geladen.
Das endgültige Gericht über die Toten schließlich, in dem sie nach
ihren Werken, wie sie aufgezeichnet sind in den Büchern, geurteilt werden,

67. In der jüdisch-apokalyptischen Literatur spielt die Erwartung, daß Gott als
der Richter zum Gericht erscheinen wird, eine zentrale Rolle, vgl. L. HARTMAN,
Prophecy Interpreted (CB. NTS, I), Lund, 1966, S. 34-45.55-70.
68. Die Vision der Öffnung des sechsten Siegels schaut den Beginn des Endge-
richtes, nicht ein Geschehen, das sich in der Gegenwart oder im Geschichtsverlauf
auf das Ende hin bereits vollzieht.
69. Babyion ist jüdischer Deckname für Rom, vgl. C.-H. HUNZINGER, BabyIon
als Deckname für Rom und die Datierung des 1. Petrusbriefes, in H. GRAF REvENT-
LOW (ed.), Gottes Wort und Gottes Land. Es. Hertzberg, Göttingen, 1965, S. 67-77;
L. GOPPELT, Der erste Petrusbrief (KEK 1211), Göttingen, 1978, S. 351f.
260 T.HOLTZ

ist allein Gottes Werk, 20, 11-15. Jeder, der nicht im Buche des Lebens
steht, wird dem zweiten, dem endgültigen Tode übergeben.
Das Bild von Gott als dem vernichtenden und strafenden Richter wird
verstärkt und stabilisiert durch die breiten Schilderungen der Plagen im
Mittelteil des Buches. Sie werden zwar nicht ausdrücklich auf Gott als
ihren Urheber zurückgeführt; aber indem sie geschildert werden als ausge-
löst durch Engel und als so, daß sie sich vom Himmel, vom himmlischen
Altar her ereignen, werden sie mit Gott deutlich in Beziehung gesetzt, so
daß leicht das Bild des vorzüglich strafenden und vernichtenden Gottes
entstehen kann.
Dieses Gottesbild kann nun noch dadurch scheinbar bestätigt werden,
daß nach der Darstellung der Apk das Heil den Gliedern der Gemeinde
des Lammes nicht durch Gott zugewendet wird, sondern durch das Lamm.
An diesem entscheidenden Punkte ist in der Tat die Theozentrik der Apk
christologisch aufgebrochen. Denn die Zuwendung des Heils an die Glie-
der der Gemeinde ist nicht ein Bestandteil der Macht, die dem (gleichsam)
geschlachteten Lamm in Kap 5 mit der Übergabe des siebenfach gesiegel-
ten Buches übertragen wird. Sie ist vielmehr die Voraussetzung für solche
Herrschaftsverleihung. Christus wird nämlich deshalb das Buch zur Öff-
nung, d.h. zur Verfügung gegeben, weil er zuvor" gesiegt" 70 hat (5, 5 :
EvtKT\O'EV... avoi~at) ; weil das Lamm geschlachtet ist, deshalb ist es würdig,
das Buch zu nehmen und zu öffnen (5, 9f) 71. So ist denn auch die uner-
meßliche Menge derer, die Joh nach 7, 9ff schaut, die Schar derer, die aus
der großen Trübsal kommen und ihre Gewänder gewaschen und weiß
gemacht haben im Blut des Lammes, 7, 14 72 . Erkauft aber hat Christus sie
für Gott ('üp SEt!> 5, 9.10) ; weil sie durch sein Blut gereinigt sind, stehen sie
vor Gottes Thron (7, 15).
Dem einseitigen Bild Gottes als des vorzüglich strafenden Richters
gegenüber will nun aber zunächst und allgemein bedacht sein, daß alles
Heil, von dem in der Apk schon in ihrem Mittelteil die Rede ist, auch mit
Gott in Beziehung steht. Es ist Gottes Heil, das sich ereignet. Auf Gottes
Heil gehen die " Überwinder" hin. Von dem Lebensbaum, der EV 1t!>
nUQuöEiO'ql 10U Swu ist, werden sie zu essen erhalten (2, 7) ; sie werden die
gleiche Macht erhalten, die Christus vom Vater empfing (2, 28) ; zu ihnen
wird sich Christus bekennen vor dem Gericht seines Vaters und seiner
Engel (3, 5) 73 ; er wird sie zu Pfeilern im Tempel seines Gottes machen
und ihnen den Namen der Stadt seines Gottes anschreiben (3, 12) ; er wird
den Sieger thronen lassen mit sich, so wie er mit seinem Vater dessen
Thron teilt (3, 21).

70. Zur Bedeutung von vtKiiv s. oben Anm. 66.


71. Vgl. dazu schon HOLTz, Christologie (s. Anm. 13), S. 48f.
72. Vgl. auch 3, 10 sowie 3, 18.
73. Hier ist offenbar ein Herrenwort aufgenommen, wie es sich Mt 10, 32/Lc 12,
8 in der synoptischen Überlieferung findet. Trotz einer gewissen sachlichen Span-
GOTT IN DER APOKALYPSE 261

Vor allem ist es die Rede von dem neuen Jerusalem als dem Ort des
eschatologischen Heils, das dieses ganz auf Gott selbst stellt. Nach dem
Vergehen von Welt und Himmel erschaut der Seher, wie die Heilige Stadt,
das neue Jerusalem, herabkommt €K 1:0Ü oUQuvoü U1tO 1:0Ü 9wü (21, 2). Sie
ist das" Zelt Gottes bei den Menschen ", mit ihr wird Gott selbst bei den
. Menschen wohnen; sie werden sein Volk sein, er ihr Gott-mit-ihnen (21,
3) 74. Ort der Gegenwart Gottes ist mithin seine Gemeinde. Ist nun das
neue Jerusalem der Ort der Gottesgegenwart, so ist die Himmelsstadt mit
der vollendeten Gemeinde identisch und kann daher denn auch mit der
Braut des Lammes 21, 9 identifIziert werden. Gleichwohl ist richtig 75, daß
das neue Jerusalem nicht einfach durch die vollendete Gemeinde konsti-
tuiert wird. Eher könnte man das Umgekehrte sagen. Die Stadt, von Gott
gesandt, birgt in sich die Gemeinde und macht sie damit zum Ort der
Gegenwart Gottes. Diese Gottesgegenwart, die Gott selbst der Gemeinde
schenkt, ist Heil in der höchsten, nicht überbietbaren und nicht aufzuhe-
benden Vollendung. Jede Träne und alles Leid, die Gebrochenheit des
Lebens wird Gott selbst hinwegnehmen (21, 4). 7, 15b-17 hatte dieses
vollendete Sein der Gemeinde, das durch die unvermittelte Gottesgegen-
wart bestimmt ist, bereits im Vorgriff geschildert. Die Schau der neuen
Stadt entfaltet es. Dabei übernimmt Joh ebenso wie in den anderen Par-
tien seines Buches eine Fülle traditionellen Materials 76, durch die die
Linien seines Gedankens stark ausgeziert erscheinen, nicht jedoch gänzlich
unkenntlich gemacht werden. Denn trotz der bunten und bizarren Schilde-
rung des neuen Jerusalems 77 liegt die Heilsbedeutung der Stadt nicht in
ihrer Schönheit, Geborgenheit oder in irgendeiner anderen ihrer Qualitä-
ten, sondern allein darin, daß sie Ort der Gottesgegenwart und damit der
Gottesgemeinschaft sein wird. Nicht der Genuß des Heils, sondern das
Heil selbst ist Gegenstand der Darstellung der Apk.
Daß Gott (und das Lamm) unvermittelt gegenwärtig sein wird und
damit auch das Heil, kommt in den Aussagen, er sei der Tempel (21, 22)
und das Licht der kommenden Gottesstadt, die daher der Himmelsleuch-
ten nicht mehr bedarf (21, 23 ; 22, 5), am deutlichsten zum Zuge. Und daß
es um die Gegenwart Gottes bei den Vollendeten geht, nicht aber um die
Ausgestaltung besonderer paradiesischer Lebensbedingungen, das zeigt

nung zu 20, llff. ist an das Endgericht gedacht; vgl. zur Stelle HOLTZ, Christologie
(s. Anm. l3), S. 184f.
74. Vgl. zum neuen Jerusa1em in der Apk besonders SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA,
Priester (s. Anm. 5), S. 348-360.
75. Darauf weist SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Priester (s. Anm. 5), S. 349ff., hin.
76. Vgl. HOLTZ, Christologie (s. Anm. l3), S. 191ff.; SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA,
Priester (s. Anm. 5), S. 349ff.
77. Vgl. O. BöcHER, Zur Bedeutung der Edelsteine in 0lfb 21, in Kirche und
Bibel. Fs. Ed. Schick, Paderborn, 1979, S. 19-32 (B. arbeitet überzeugend die ekkle-
sio1ogische Bedeutung der Stadt aus Edelsteinen heraus).
262 T. HOLTZ

eindringlich der Schluß der Schilderung des neuen Jerusalems 22, 3-5 78 .
Er geht von der visionären Darstellung der Zukunft als Gegenwart in das
Futur der Verheißung über und ist rein auf das Verhältnis Gottes und des
Lammes zu denen, die ihnen endzeitlich dienen, konzentriert. Damit
kommt zur eschatologischen Darstellung, was schon durch den Sieg
Christi, den er in Kreuz und Auferstehung errang, gesetzt war, nämlich
daß er den Gliedern der Gemeinde - " uns ", wie 1, 6 hervorhebt -
Herrschaft und Priestertum für Gott verliehen hat (1, 6; 5, 10; 20, 6).
Denn erst in der eschatologischen Zukunft werden die Christen Herrschaft
und Priestertum unmittelbar und in ungebrochener Wirklichkeit ausüben
können 79.7, 15a zeigt, daß die Überwinder schon jetzt dienend vor Gottes
Thron stehen; die Fortsetzung im Futur 7, 15b aber macht deutlich, daß
die direkte Anwesenheit Gottes bei den Seinen erst eschatologische Gabe
ist 80. Gott ist - natürlich - schon jetzt der Gegenstand der Zuordnung
für die Christen; seine heilvolle Erfahrung ist aber erst eine solche der
Zukunft. Dann wird sie freilich auch eine totale sein.
Denn es bedeutet keine Einschränkung, wenn in den entscheidenden
Sätzen, in denen von der eschatologischen Anwesenheit Gottes die Rede
ist, mit ihm zusammen das Lamm als der Ort des Heils genannt ist 81.
Durch das Lamm hat die Gemeinde den Anteil am Heil gewonnen, die
Zuwendung Gottes ist ihr durch das Lamm erwirkt worden. Dafür hat
Gott den Christus erhöht zu sich 82, so daß er der Gemeinde gegenüber
gleichsam mit Gott zu einer Einheit sich zusammenfügt. 22, 3 wird Gott
und das Lamm mit Hilfe des Begriffes eQ6vo~ als eine Einzahl zusammen-
gefaßt, so daß alle Gottesaussagen, die im Folgenden sachlich gemacht
werden, Christus mit einschließen (vgl auch 20, 6). In ähnlicher Weise
hatte schon die Hymne 11, 15, die proleptisch die Herrschaftsübernahme
" unseres Herrn und seines Gesalbten'" feiert, diese Doppelherrschaft mit
dem Singular ßacrtAEucrEl bezeichnet 83. Es ist hier nicht der Ort, auf das

78. Vgl. dazu HOLTz, Christologie (s. Anm. 13), S. 201-206; SCHÜSSLER FIO-
RENZA, Priester (s. Anm. 5), S. 345ff.
79. Entgegen SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Priester (s. Anm. 5), S. 77 (vgl. S. 73-75
sowie die Textinterpretation S. 286ff.); JÖRNS, Evangelium (s. Anm. 1), S. 51, dürfte
5, 10 nicht das Futur ßU<HAEucroU<HV, sondern das Präsens zu lesen sein. Denn die
Christen sind ja schon durch die Tat des Christus, was sie tatsächlich doch erst sein
werden. Die Darstellung des herrscherlichen Seins wird allerdings erst eine Wirk-
lichkeit der Zukunft sein. Diese Dialektik wird von SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Apoealyp-
tie (s. Anm. 20), S. 575, doch wohl nicht genügend beachtet; ihre Interpretation der
Apk an diesem Punkte aus der Antithese heraus scheint mir problematisch zu sein.
80. Anders freilich SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Priester (s. Anm. 5), S. 391, die dem
Tempuswechsel keine sachliche Bedeutung zusprechen will ; " vielmehr bezieht sich
Deutung und Verheißung auf das eschatologische Endheil ". " Die Christen ... üben
nach der Apkjetzt keine priesterlichen Funktionen... aus ", S. 420.
81. 7,17; 21, 22.23; 22,1.3.
82. 3,21; Kap. 5 ; 12,5.
83. Vgl. dazu HOLTz, Christologie (s. Anm. 13), S. 202; anders etwa JÖRNS,
Evangelium (s. Anm. 1), S. 95f.
GOTT IN DER APOKALYPSE 263

Verhältnis, in dem die Apk Gott und Christus sieht, näher einzugehen. Die
Einheit beider ist als eine durchaus funktionale gesehen 84. Dabei bleibt
indessen Gott dem Christus gegenüber klar übergeordnet. Das zeigt beson-
ders deutlich der Tatbestand, daß die höchsten Prädikate Gott selbst
vorbehalten bleiben 85. Aber das Tun des Christus führt die Menschen,
denen es zugewendet ist, zu Gott. Daher begegnet ihnen in Christus Gott
selbst und ihre Gottesbegegnung ist eine solche, die sie nicht ohne Christus
erfahren können. So hebt die Nennung Christi neben Gott nicht die Ein-
maligkeit und Totalität der eschatologischen Gottesbeziehung auf. Sie
bestätigt nur, daß das Lamm wirklich für den einen lebendigen Gott die
Gemeinde mit seinem Blut erkauft und sie zu ihm geführt hat. Die Theo-
zentrik der Apk wird dadurch nicht aufgehoben 86; sie wird vielmehr
christologisch begründet.
Gerade weil die Apk die Theozentrik streng durchhält, findet sich in ihr
nicht ein Gedanke, wie er in 1 Kor 15,28 ausgesprochen ist, daß am Ende
Christus sich Gott unterordnet, damit Gott sei alles in allem 87. Denn
damit wäre der Stellung Christi in Wahrheit ein gleichsam selbständiger
Rang zuerkannt, der Gottes Totalität in Frage stellen könnte. Das aber ist
eine Voraussetzung, die die Apk nicht denkt. Freilich zeigt das zugleich,
daß das Stück von dem tausendjährigen messianischen Zwischenreich (20,
4-6) für Joh nur eine Einlage gleichsam ist, die ihren Ort noch vor der
eschatologischen Erneuerung von Himmel und Erde hat, die eschatolo-
gische Heilssituation der Gotteszuwendung also noch nicht darstellt 88.
Der Einzigkeit und Totalität Gottes steht die" Kreatur ", in die nach 3,
14 auch Christus eingeschlossen ist, in durchaus differenzierter Weise
gegenüber. Die Bewohner der Welt zerfallen in zwei Gruppen, nämlich in
die Gruppe derjenigen, die als die Glieder der Gemeinde zu einem König-
tum, zu Priestern für Gott gemacht sind, und in die Gruppe derjenigen, die
als die Anbeter des Tieres und Träger seines Siegels sich gegen Gott stel-
len. Hart und scharf stehen sich beide Gruppen gegenüber. Für eine Diffe-
renzierung hat solches Denken, das sich der Krise entringt, keinen Platz,
kann und darf ihn nicht haben. Die notwendige - jedenfalls für die Apk
notwendige - Differenzierung liegt darin, daß die Zugehörigkeit zu bei-
den Gruppen nicht individuell festlegbar ist. Vielmehr dient die ganze

84. Vgl. VÖGTLE, Gott (s. Anm. 4), S. 391.


85. Nämlich KUQlOr; 6 (l!;or;, 6 rov Kai 6 Tjv Kai 6 tQXO!lEVOr;, 6 1taV1:OKQutroQ vgl.
1,8. Siehe dazu auch HOLTZ, Christologie (s. Anm. 13), S. 203, Anm. I.
86. Vgl. VÖGTLE, Gott (s. Anm. 4), S. 394.
87. Vgl. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Priester (s. Anm. 5), S. 313; VÖGTLE, Gott
(S. Anm. 4), S. 394.
88. Vgl. HOLTZ, Christologie (s. Anm. 13), S. 182f. ; auch GOPPELT, Heilsoffenba-
rung (s. Anm. 28), S. 520f. ; H.-A. WILCKE, Das Problem eines messianischen Zwi-
schenreichs bei Paulus (ATANT, 51), Zürich-Stuttgart, 1967, S. 21-36.
264 T. HOLTZ

Apk. u. a. dazu, die Glieder der Gemeinde bei ihrem Glauben zu halten,
die Gruppe der Knechte Gottes zu festigen 89.
Sie werden schließlich Söhne Gottes sein, er wird ihnen Gott sein.
Damit, daß Gott in der Vollendung dem Überwinder Gott (at'nq, eE6~ 21,
7) 90 sein wird, rückt dieser ein in die Gemeinschaft derer, die Gott" ihren
Gott" nennen dürfen. Das aber sind für die Apk vor der eschatologischen
Erfüllung noch nicht die Menschen. Mit einer Ausnahme sind es bis
Kap 21 immer nur himmlische Wesen, die von Gott als" ihrem Gott"
reden 91. Die Ausnahme findet sich 7, 10. Die Hymne dort wird ange-
stimmt von der unzählbaren Schar aus allen Völkern. Sie nennen Gott
ganz ebenso wie die himmlischen Wesen in anderen Hymnen eE6~ TJ~&v.
Ganz offenbar handelt es sich dabei um eine Inkonsequenz, die dem
Verfasser möglicherweise gar nicht bewußt geworden ist. Jedenfalls dürfte
sich allein von ihr her eine Interpretation der unzählbaren Menge 7, 9ff als
die proleptische Darstellung der eschatologisch Vollendeten nicht begrün-
den lassen 92. Und ebensowenig ist dadurch die Beschränkung aufgeho-
ben, daß vor der Vollendung von" unserem Gott" nur himmlische Wesen
reden. Auch die Glieder der Gemeinde sind auf ihrem Weg durch die
Geschichte noch nicht der erfüllten Gottesgemeinschaft teilhaftig, die in
der Rede von " unserem Gott" für die Apk angezeigt ist. Sie stehen wie
alle Menschen noch Gott gegenüber, sind erst hin auf dem Wege zu sei-
nemKommen.
Der Name" Vater" endlich ist weder für engelische Wesen noch für
die Vollendeten eine Bezeichnung, die ihr Gottesverhältnis beschreiben
könnte. Einzig das Verhältnis Christus- Gott ist durch den Vater-Begriff
bestimmt 93, womit die Singularität dieser Beziehung nachdrücklich her-
vorgehoben ist. 21, 7 zeigt, daß es sich dabei um ein Vorgehen handelt, das
Joh bedacht einschlägt. Denn das dort paraphrasierte Wort 2 Sam 7, 14
enthält expressis verbis den Vaterbegriff 94 . Er aber ist in der Apk durch
eE6~ ersetzt, da von ihr die Aussage auf die Glieder des vollendeten Got-
tesvolkes bezogen wird.

89. Vgl. auch SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Apocalyptic, (s. Anm. 20), S. 580f.
90. Vgl. auch 21, 3.
9l. In den Sendschreiben 3, 2.l2 redet Christus von" meinem Gott ",4, 11 ; 5,
10; 7,3.12; 11, 15 (KVQlO~ 1i~ö)v); 12, 10; 19, l.5.6. bezeichnen engelische Wesen in
analoger Weise Gott.
92. Sie ist mir auch sonst nicht wahrscheinlich. Die unzählbare Menge ist mit
den 144000 Versiegelten identisch (vgl. oben Anm. 26, ferner auch z.B. E. SCHWEI-
ZER, Gemeinde und Gemeindeordnung im Neuen Testament [ATANT, 35], 2. Aufl.,
Zürich, 1962, S. 118f., Anm. 484, S. 120), auch nicht durch den Abstand von Zeit
und Ewigkeit geschieden.
93. 1,6; 2, 28 ; 3,5.21; 14, 1 ; vgl. auch 6 ui6~ wü 9wü 2,18.
94. MT: :JN' , LXX: Ei~ 1tU'{;Qu. Vgl. auch die Aufnahme des Wortes
Jub 1,25. T :
GOTT IN DER APOKALYPSE 265

Mittels solcher Heraushebung des singulären Beziehungsverhältnisses


zwischen Christus und Gott 95 behauptet die Apk den Monotheismus und
damit die Theozentrik, die der Apokalyptik, die vom AT herkommt 96 und
diese Herkunft als bindendes Erbe bewahrt, notwendig eignet. Zugleich
aber wird damit doch die einzigartige Stellung und Bedeutung Christi
festgehalten, die für die christliche Apk wesentlich ist, und deren Integra-
tion in das theozentrische Erbe das Buch zu einem christlichen gemacht
hat 97.
Das Ziel der Geschichte ist nach der Apk, daß Gott ist, daß die voll-
kommene Gottesgemeinschaft für die Welt so Gestalt gewinnt, daß sie die
ganze Wirklichkeit ist, in der alle andere Wirklichkeit aufgehoben wird.
Eben deshalb wird sie auch zugleich die volle Gemeinschaft mit dem
Lamm bringen. Es ist daher kaum ganz zutreffend, wenn man das Thema
der Herrschaft als das ansieht, auf das sich vor allem das theologische
Interesse der Apk richtet 98. Wörter vom Stamm ßUO'tA- werden insgesamt
nicht häufig mit Bezug auf Gott gebraucht 99, niemals aber zur Bezeich-
nung der Beziehung Gottes zu den Teilhabern der Vollendung. Wohl aber
wird den vollendeten Gottesknechten ewiges ßueHAEuElV zugesprochen (22,
5 ; vgl. 20, 4.6). Doch handelt es sich dabei ganz offensichtlich um eine
Erhöhungsprädikation, nicht so sehr um eine reale Herrschaftszusage JOo.
Denn Objekte der Herrschaftsausübung wird es nicht mehr geben. Es
erfüllt sich hier, was Christus dem Überwinder in der letzten Verheißung
der Sendschreiben (3, 21) zusagte: " Der Überwinder, geben werde ich
ihm, zu setzen sich zu mir auf meinen Thron, wie ich auch überwunden
habe und habe mich gesetzt zu meinem Vater auf seinen Thron ".

Sektion Theologie T. HOLTZ


Martin-Luther-Universität
DDR-401 Halle
Universitätsplatz 8/9

95. Vgl. für ein weit fortgeschrittenes Stadium theologischerReflexion die Aus-
sage des Symb. Nicaenum: YEW116{;VtU OU 1tOl116tvtU (der Staz gehört schon zur
Fassung von 325, vgl. J.N .D. KELLY, Altchristliche Glaubensbekenntnisse, Göttingen,
1971, S. 215).
96. Vgl. dazu P. VOLZ, Die Eschatologie der jüdischen Gemeinde, 2. Aufl., Tübin-
gen, 1934, S. 165.
97. Vgl. J. SCHREINER, Bewegung (s. Anm. 62), S. 232, zur Schwierigkeit für das
Frühjudentum, in das theozentrische Denken der Apokalyptik die Gestalt eines
Messias zu integrieren.
98. So SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Priester (s. Anm. 5), S. 328f.
99. Nur in den proleptischen Hymnen ll, 15; ll, 17; 12, 10; 15, 3 sowie dem
hymnischen Präludium des Eschaton 19,6.
100. Vgl. HOLTz, Christologie (s. Anm. 13), S. 206.
The Use ofthe Expression
, ~

o XQt<Jto<;
in the Apocalypse of John

1. Introduction

The expression 6 XQlcr't6~ is found four times in the Apocalypse, in


three passages. First in 11, 15 where after the blowing ofthe seventh trum-
pet loud voices are heard in heaven, saying : " The sovereignty of the world
has passed to our Lord and his Anointed, and he will reign for ever and
ever'. Secondly in 12, 10 where, after the dragon has been thrown down on
earth, a loud voice in heaven says: "Now the salvation, power and
sovereignty of God, and the authority of his Anointed have come ". And
thirdly in 20, 4 and 6 where, in the period of one thousand years during
which Satan is bound in the abyss, those who have remained faithful are
said to reign with the Anointed One (v. 4) as priests of God and the
Anointed One (v. 6).
In all these cases 6 XQtcr't6~ is used in dose connection with 6 KUQio~
(used of God) and 6 ef:6~. Also in all three pass ag es the word is used
together with the noun ßacrtAda and/or the verb ßacrtAf:Um. The Anointed
One reigns with God (11, 15; 12, 10) and the faithful reign with hirn. In 6
XQtcr't6~ alnoü of the first two passages 6 XQtcr't6~ is dearly used as a title.
As has often been remarked 1 the expression the Anointed One of the Lord
(or of God) does not occur very often in the New Testament (in Lk 2, 26 ;
9, 20; 23, 35 ; Acts 3, 18 ; 4, 26) but it is a regular designation for the king
ofIsrael in the Old Testament (e.g. in Ps 2,2; 18,51; 20, 7 ; 28, 8; 83, 10;
89, 39.52; 132, 10.17) and it is used to denote the future ideal king in Ps
Sol 17,32; 18 superscriptio. 5.7; I En 48, 10; 52, 4; syr Bar 39, 7; 40, 1 ;
72,2. In syr Bar and IV Ezra we find" the Anointed One " (IV Ezra 12,32,
perhaps 7, 29; syr Bar 29, 3 ; 30, 1 ; 70, 9), in the case of syr Bar side by
side with " my Anointed One ". Something similar is found in the Apoca-

1. See e.g. T. HOLTZ, Die Christologie der Apokalypse des Johannes (TU, 85),
Beflin. 1962 eI971). pp. 5-9; l. COMBLIN, Le Christ dans l'Apocalypse, Tournai,
1965. pp. 177-179. On the pseudepigrapha see M. DE lONGE, in TWNT, IX, pp. 502-
508.
268 M. DEJONGE

lypse where 6 XQlO"16C; without a(l1oü is found in 20, 4 and 6. Here, howev-
er, the transition to the use OfXQlO"16C; as one ofthe names for Jesus seems
to be fluid. The 25 th edition of Nestle which has XQlO"lOÜ in 11, 15 and 12,
10 prints XQlO"10Ü in 20, 4 and 6 2.
The Apocalypse, of course, also uses XQlO"16C; three times (1, 2.3.5.) 3 in
the expression 'IT\O"OüC; XQlO"16C;, which functions as a proper name. In the
Apocalypse in its present form there is only one Anointed One : Jesus who
died and was exalted to heaven, and who will return in future.
The book uses Jesus Christ as a double name and yet is aware of the
functional meaning of XQlO"16C;. Can we find out why this designation is
used in the three pass ag es just mentioned and what is expressed with it ?
To answer these questions we shall have to take a closer look at the context
of the passages concemed and to examine a few parallel passages; next we
shall have to ask what earlier traditions may have been taken over and
adapted by the author of the Apocalypse.

2. The First Passage: 11, 15-19

The proclarnation of the loud voices (whose they are is not specified) in
11, 15 is followed in vv. 17-18 by a thanksgiving hymn of the twenty-four
elders, seated on their thrones before God (cf. 4, 10), which may be taken
as a commentary on v. 15. It follows on the blowing of the seventh trum-
pet, while the thanksgiving hymn of the elders is followed by the revelation
of the ark of God's covenant standing in God's temple in heaven, accom-
panied by flashes of lightning and peals of thunder, an earthquake and a
storm of hail (v. 19). In chapter 12 clearly a new seetion of the Apocalypse
begins.
For the purpose of this paper there is no need to enter into a detailed
discussion of the composition and structure of the Apocalypse. I found
E. Schüssler Fiorenza's recent article -Composition and Structure 0/ the
Book 0/ Revelation 4 most helpful and also learnt a number of things from
the first chapter of A. Yarbro Collins' book The Combat Myth in the Book
0/ Revelation 5. All will agree, I suppose, that the proclarnation of 11, 15
(and, in fact, the whole passage 11, 15-19) occupies a strategie place in the

2. G NT 3 uses capitalletters in all four texts.


3. J. COMBLIN, Le Christ dans /'Apocalypse, Tournai, p. 177, adds the final
benediction 22, 21 where Xgl<Hoii is added after 'I11O"oii in a number of witnesses
(a.o. the Koine-text and the Vulgate).
4. In CBQ 39 (1977) 344-366.
5. (Harvard Dissertations in Religion, 9), Missoula, 1976, especially chapter I
"The Structure of the Book of Revelation ", pp. 5-55. See now also J. LAMBRECHT'S
contribution to the present volume A Structuration 01 Revelation 4:1-22:5 (pp. 77-
104 above).
" HO CHRISTOS" IN THE APOCALYPSE 269

structure of the Apocalypse. The angel blows the seventh, and last, trum-
pet. Nothing happens; there is a certain resemblance with the seventh
seal: After the opening of the seventh seal there is a silence of what seems
like a half ho ur before seven trumpets are given to seven angels (8,1.2.6) 6.
After the seventh trumpet, however, there is no such sequel. The heavenly
voices proclaim that the sovereignty of the world has now passed over to
the Lord and his Anointed; he (= God !) shall reign for ever and ever.
And the elders give thanks for the fact that the final judgment has come.
The revelation of the ark emphasizes that God is faithful to his covenant :
" God has pledged himself to the fulfilment of all the great deeds celebrat-
ed in the heavenly songjust sung " (Charles) 7.
At the end of the Book of Seals God's final intervention is announced
and acclaimed, but not yet described. In the meantime a second book -
open, this time - has already been given to the seer (chapter 10) 8 and
vision after vision follows until only in 19, 11 ff is God's final intervention
really described.
Some more detailed remarks on vv. 15.17-18 are in order 9: First we
should note that the seventh trumpet is announced in 10, 6-7 with the
words : " There will be no more delay ; but when the seventh angel blows
his trumpet, then God will accomplish his secret plan as he announced it to
his servants, the prophets " (T.E.V.). Important is the phrase XQOVOC; OUKEll

6. After the pouring out of the seventh bowl (16, 17) a loud voice from the
throne says: "It is done" (ytYOVEV). Flashes of lightning, peals of thunder and a
violent earthquake follow, as in 11, 19, but here their effect is described: VV. 19-21
give an introduction to the destruction of Babyion, to be dealt with at great length in
the next chapter.
7. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St. lohn, (lCC), I,
Edinburgh, 1920, p. 297. See also K.P. Jörns's study mentioned in note 9 for the
O.T. elements in this verse. He concludes : "Das Erscheinen der Lade und die sie
begleitenden Ereignisse sind Symbole der letzten Theophanie, die nun begonnen
hat" (p. 107).
8. See E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Composition and Structure, on " the method of
intercalation":" 10:1-11:14 serves in the author's mind as an introduction to the
following section, chaps. 12-14" (p. 361). 11, 15-19 serves as the ending of 4, 1-9,21.
In Fiorenza's view 10, 1-15,4 forms the central part of the book. A similar theory is
found in A. Yarbro Collins' book (see note 5); she speaks of "the technique of
interlocking " and finds that also applied in chapters 10-11. She puts more emphasis
on the two scrolls as an organizing principle in the Apocalypse. She attributes 5, 1-
11, 19 to the Scroll with the Seven Seals, and 12, 1-22, 5 to the Litde Scroll men-
tioned in chapter 10. I quote from p. 43 : " The relationship between the two great
cycles of visions is thus characterized by the fact that each of the major recurring
elements is sketched in the first cycle and then more fully described in the second. It
does not thus seem to be accidental that the sealed scroll characterizes the earlier
visions, while an open scroll introduces the later series ". For a different approach
see J. Lambrecht, in his article in the present volume, particularly pp. 96-97.100-102.
9. On this see also K.P. JÖRNS, Das hymnische Evangelium. Untersuchungen zu
Aufbau. Funktion und Herkunft der hymnischen Stücke in der lohannesoffenbarung
(SNT, 5), Gütersloh, 1971, pp. 90-108.
270 M. DE JONGE

EGtat after the announcement to the souls of the martyrs in 6, 9-11 that
they have to rest E""Ct XQovoe:; IllKQOe:;, " until the total number was reached
of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had
been" (T.E.V.). At the blowing of the seventh trumpet the end will have
come : etEAEGell t6 IlllGtllQlOV toU ewu (in which IlllGtTJQlOV refers to " the
whole purpose of God with regard to the world " (Charles 10).
In v. 15 all emphasis is on TJ ßUO"lAEiU toU KOGIlOU now belonging to the
Lord and his Anointed. In fact they rule together. In the last c1ause of this
verse KUt ßUGlAEUGEl Eie:; toue:; uimvue:; tmv uiffivffiv, the verb is in the singu-
lar 11, and in v. 17 only God's sovereignty is mentioned : God is addressed
as KUQlOe:; and 1tUVtOKQUtffiQ, who has taken his great power into his hands
and has begun to reign (cf. Ps 92, 1 LXX) 12. God's "kingship " is also
mentioned in other passages (12, 10; 15, 3; 19, 6, cf. v. 2), as is that of
Jesus Christ, who is called 6 UQXffiV tmv ßUO"lAEffiV tfie:; Yfie:; in 1, 5, and, in
connection with the victory of the Lamb, ßUO"lAEUe:; ßUO"lAEffiV (17, 14), a
name which is also written on the robe and the thigh of the rider on the
white horse in 19, 16 13 • We sould also note that three passages connect
Jesus Christ with David. In 5, 5 the Lamb which is allowed to open the
book and its seven seals is called " the lion from the tribe of Judah " and
" the scion of David " ; the latter designation also occurs in 22, 16 " the
scion and offspring ofDavid" 14.
In v. 17 we find the divine predicate 6 &V KUt 6 llv, which is also
found in 1, 4.8; 4, 8 and 16, 5; here and in 16, 5 the additional c1ause 0
eQXoIlEvOe:; found in 1, 4.8 ; 4, 8 is omitted, no doubt because it no longer
applies.
The influence ofPs 2, already noticeable in v. 15, referring to v. 20fthe
psalm, is evident in the first phrase of v. 18 KUt ta EeVll IDQytGellGUV KUt
llAeEv 1'l6QYTJ GOll which follows on themention ofGod's sovereignty 15.
Next follows a reference to the judgment of the dead, two aspects of
which are mentioned. Those who serve God will receive their reward, those
who destroy the earth will be destroyed. Those who serve God are desig-
nated as "your servants ", " the prophets ", " the holy ones " and " those
who fe ar YOUf name ", and it is not c1ear how these designations are con-
nected. For the purpose of this paper it is sufficient to note that - also by

10. Commentary, I, p. 265. See also R.E. BROWN, The Semitic Background 0/ the
Term" Mystery "in the New Testament, Philadelphia, 1968, p. 38.
11. Cf. Ex 15, 18; Ps 10, 16; 146, 10; Zech 14,9; Dan 2,44; Wis 3, 8.
12. And some further passages in the Book of Psalms speaking about the Lord
who becomes king (see K.P. JÖRNS, Das hymnische Evangelium, p. 103).
13. In both pi aces together with KUQlO<; KUQirov; cf. 1 En 9, 4 (Syncellus).
14. See also the expression" the key of David " in 3, 7 probably to be connected
with " the keys of dell.th and Hades" in 1, 18.
15. See Ps 2, 1-2.5.12, but also Ps 99, 1.
" HO CHRISTOS" IN THE APOCALYPSE 271

means of the closing phrase " both great and sm all " - all believers are
taken together in such a way that the prophets have pride ofplace 16.
In conclusion I would like to stress that all elements referred to in the
thanksgiving hymn are mentioned later on in the Apocalypse, but not in
the same order and sometimes in a different way. This will be evident as
we turn to the next two passages which concern uso

3. The Second Passage: 12, 10-12

Chapter 12 begins with two much-debated narratives, one describing a


dragon's attack on a woman and her child (vv. 1-6), and one describing a
war in heaven between Michael and his angels and the dragon - now also
designated as the Old Serpent, the Devil and Satan. However complicated
the prehistory of the chapter will have been - again there is no need to go
into the many problems presented by the chapter and the solutions pro-
posed for them 17 - it is clear that the Hymn ofVictory 18 found in vv. 10-
12 is a redactional passage, bringing out the meaning of the narratives in
the context of the Apocalypse as a whole.
In 12, 5 two important facts stand out. The son born to the woman is
the one " who will rule (1'COtl.mlVEtv) all the nations with an iron rod ". The
phrase recurs in 19,5 19 when the rider on the white horse with the heaven-
ly hosts is ab out to begin the final battle. Again Psalm 2, this time vv. 8 and
9, is in the background 20. The son, who is to be the ruler of the future, is
now before God's throne, like the Lamb in the earlier chapters (5, 5-6.13,

16. There are many difficulties: ÖOÜAOI can be connected with prophets in
particular (so 10, 7 !), but also denotes God's servants in general (19, 2.5 etc).
Because of 19, 5 we may think that in v. 18 it is used as a general term; this same
verse seems to suggest that the Kai before 'tOt<; <pOßOIJIlEVOI<; (omitted by some wit-
nesses) should be taken as a Kai epexegeticum. This leaves us with the two terms
'tOi<; 1tQo<pirtul<; Kai 'tOi<; ayiol<; in the middle - cf. 16,6; 18,20.24. For" both great
and sm all " see also 13, 16; 19,5.18; 20, 2. On the terms used here see A. SATAKE,
Die Gemeindeordnung in der Johannesapokalypse (WMANT, 21), Neukirchen, 1966,
about OUf text esp. p. 39.
17. See e.g. the mono graph of A. Y ARBRO COLLINS mentioned in note 5.
18. This phrase is used by K.P. JÖRNS, Das hymnische Evangelium, pp. 110-120,
and A. YARBRO COLLINS, The Combat Myth, pp. 136-138. ft O'O)'tllQia comes first
also in 7, 10 and 19, I. W. BAUER calls it a Hebraism (Wörterbuch, s.v., co!. 1587);
on the O.T. and Jewish background see K.P. JÖRNS, ibid., pp. 80-82 on 7, 10: " das
Wort meint ein spezifisches Heil, nämlich den durch Gott und das Lamm für die
Erlösten erkämpften eschatologischen Sieg ".
19. See also 2, 26 where the individual who "is victorious and continues to do
my works until the end" is said to receive the authority over the nations to rule
them with an iron rod and to break them into pieces like clay pots" - an authority
that Jesus Christ has received from his father.
20. In the interpretation of the LXX which reads terö' em as tir' em = 1tOIIlUVEt<;.
272 M. DEJONGE

cf. 7, 9.10.17). The future ruler is near God and the dragon has no hold on
hirn.
The story of Satan's expulsion from heaven emphasizes this ; and at the
same time, it tries to explain why, on earth, the dragon persecutes " those
who obey God's commandments and keep the testimony of Jesus " (12,
17). Persecution is a very important aspect of the life of the churches for
which John is writing. This is c1ear in all parts of the book, but in chap-
ters 12-13 this persecution is placed within the framework of a cosmic
conflict and, at the same time, the " zeitgeschichtliche" elements are more
prominent (cf. also chapters 17-18).
The hymn in vv. 10-12 connects God's victory leading to his taking up
sovereignty and power, and implying the authority of his Anointed, with
the fact that Satan has been thrown from heaven. Satan's role as accuser in
the heavenly court (not mentioned in vv. 7-9, but weIl-known from the Old
Testament and Jewish writings 21) has come to an end. The emphasis on
the judicial activity of Satan may be explained 22 by the fact that v. 11
indirectly brings earthly courts to mind. The loud voice 23 hails the victory
of " our brethren " (v. 10) because of " the blood of the Lamb and their
word of testimony " that is of those who " were willing to give their lives
and die" (T.E.V. translation of OUK i]yu1tT\crav tTJV \jfUXTJV autffiv aXQt
8avutOu). Persecution, testimony in courts and other places, and martyr-
dom are hard realities. Those who remain faithful unto death, may share
in the victory of the Lamb, who, hirns elf, gave his life, and they may be
assured that no accuser is left in heaven to make things difficult for them.
Like 11, 15-19, this passage sings of the final victory of God and his
Anointed, in which the faithful may share. Yet, the emphasis is, on the one
hand, on wh at has already happened (see v. 5 and vv. 7-8) and, on the
other, on the fact that the end is not yet (v. 12 !). The heavens and those
who dweIl in heaven may rejoice 24, but woe to earth and the sea, where
the devil now rages 25, knowing that his time is short (ön oAiyov KatQov
EXEt). The victory of the martyrs is assured, but nevertheless martyrdom is

21. See e.g. Job 1-2; Zech 3; I En 40, 7; cf. A. YARBRO COLLINS, The Combat
Myth, pp. 138-141, who also makes so me remarks on the connection between
military and judicial conflict in other sources (Jub 48 ; 1 En 90, 20-27 ; 11 Q Melch).
22. So A. YARBRO COLLINS, The Combat Myth, pp. 141 f.
23. Because of the reference to " our brethren " in v. 10 one often thinks that the
souls of the martyrs mentioned in 6, 9"11 are speaking here. We cannot exc1ude,
however, that angels are meant, showing their solidarity whith the faithful witnesses
on earth (see 19, 10; 22, 9 where cr6vOOIJAOC; is used which occurs as a parallel to
aOEAqJ6c; in 6, 11) - so T. HOLTZ, Die Christologie (see note 1), pp. 95-96.
24. See also 18, 20; cf. Dt 32, 43 (LXX) ; Is 44, 23 ; 49, 13; Ps 69, 35 ; 96, 11
(1 Chr 16,31) - see A. SATAKE, Die Gemeindeordnung (see note 16), pp. 54-56, who
rightly stresses that in the O.T. paralleis " heaven and earth " (plus, sometimes, also
the seal are called upon to rejoice together.
25. In v. 10 God's sovereignty is not connected with the kosmos (as in 11, 15).
" HO CHRISTOS" IN THE APOCALYPSE 273

a grim reality on earth. In 6, 9-11 those who have already given their lives,
and have already received a white robe (cf. 3, 5), were told to rest 1:n
XQovov /ltKQOV, until the number of martyrs is complete. 12, 10-12 com-
bines the "already" with the "not yet" in another way; while 6, lla
speaks about the fate of the individual martyrs, 12, 10-12, at least primar-
ily 26, envisages the final victory of all martyrs collectively : the end is not
yet, but it is ne ar ; it will come after a very short interregnum 27 of Satan
and his companions.
No matter how much repetition there is in the Apocalypse, "the au-
thor " - in the words of E. Schüssler Fiorenza - " combines a cyelic form
of repetition with the end-oriented movement of the whole book ". As the
same author remarks : "The forward thrust of the narrative is also inter-
rupted through the interludes. They are visions or hymns of eschatological
protection and salvation (e.g. 7:1-17; 11:15-19; 12:10; 14:1-5; 15:2-4; 19:1-
9 ; 20:4-6) ". Her explanation is important: " Insofar as the author inter-
rupts the pattern of continuous narrative and cyelic repetition through the
insertion of these anticipatory visions and auditions, he expresses in his
composition the relationship between the present reality and the eschatolo-
gical future" 28.
Before we turn to our last passage, 20, 4-6, in this perspective, we have
to make a few additional remarks on 12, 11, the central verse ofthis hymn.
The verb VtKUW is used several times in connection with the mem bers of
the Christi an communities, but nearly always in the present participle : 2,
7.11.17.26.; 3,5.12.21; 21, 7. Even in 15, 2 which describes the future
victory the (difficult) expression TOU~ VtKc'övTa~ €K TOD ElTjQlOU K'tA is used.
The meaning of 6 VtKc'öV is elearly : he who perseveres until he is victorious
in the battle against the forces of evil. The aorist indicative is used in con-
nection with Jesus Christ; so in 3, 21 6 VtKc'öV, officrw at'm'P KaElicmt /lEt'
€/lOD €V TC!> ElQ6v(fl/lou, ffi~ K<iyd> €ViKTjcra Kai €Kufhcra /lET<! WD 1taTQO~ /lOU
€V TC!> ElQOV(fl aUwD. This should be connected with 5, 5 {oou €ViKTjcrEv 6
AEWV 6 €K Tii~ qlUAii~ 'Iouoa. This lion is the uQviov... ffi~ €cr<paY/lEVOV
mentioned in the next verse. Of this lamb it is said that he is victorious and
will be victorious (17, 14). There seems to be a particularly elose connec-
tion between 12, 11 and 5, 5 ff. The victory is gained because of 29 the

26. 12, 11 can be read in the perspective of 6, 11. Those who have remained
faithful unto death will receive their white robe; at the time of death one may be
sure ofvictory - cf. 7, 1-8 and 9-17.
27. In v. 14 it is connected with the" time and times and half a time" ofDan 7,
25 and 12,7 (cf. the 1260 days in v. 6).
28. The quotations are from p. 360 in her article " Composition and Structure "
(see note 4).
29. As to 8ul plus the accusative BLASS-DEBRUNNER-REHKOPF, § 222 3 , thinks
that it means " in virtue of" in 12, II as weil as in 13, 14. W. BAUER, S. v., B II 4a,
chooses, however, for the translation" through " (like 8ul plus gen.).
274 M. DEJONGE

blood of the lamb and their word of testimony. The first expression is also
found in 7, 14 (cf. 1, 5; 5, 9) and emphasizes that the lamb who was
slaughtered and is victorious gives salvation to those who belong to hirn 30.
In the expression 8ul 'tov Myov 'tfic; lluQ'tuQiuC; UlmJ)V it is not dear wheth-
er it should be translated " the testimony which they uttered " (so N.E.B.
text) or" the word of God to which they bore witness " (N.E.B. apparatus).
In view of the expression 'tov Myov 9€Oü Kui 'tT]V lluQ'tuQiuv' I T]O'Oü found
in 1,2.9; 20,4 (cf. 6, 9; 12, 17; 19, 10) where the emphasis dearly is on the
word of God and the testimony of J esus 31 I tend to prefer the second
translation. The subjective element is dearly underlined in the last phrase
of the verse, which is reminiscent of the texts on the following of Christ in
the gospels, particularly John 12, 25 f.

4. The Third Passage: 20, 4-6 32

The final visions of judgment and salvation begin with the vision of the
rider on the white horse, who judges and fights the final batde with justice
(19, 11). We have already noticed that - among many other things - it is
said that he will rule the nations with an iron rod (v. 15) and that his name
is" King ofkings and Lord oflords " (v. 16).
In aseries ofvisions (seven times Kui d80v: 19, 11.17.19; 20, 1.4.11 ; 21,
1 !) the various aspects of final judgment, punishment and salvation are
reviewed. The dragon, the beast and the pseudo-prophet, which came onto
the scene in chapters 12 and l3 are punished, first the beast and the false
prophet with all those who have received the mark of the beast and wor-
shipped his image (vv. 17-21). Next the dragon who bears the same names

30. Compare particularly 5, 9-10, concerning which see E. SCHÜSSLER FIOREN-


ZA, Priester für Gott. Studien zum Herrschafts- und Priestermotiv in der Apokalypse
(NTA, NF, 7), Münster, 1972, p. 279: "Der gewaltsame Tod des Christus, der in
Apk 5 als davidischer Messiaskönig und Opferlamm zugleich gesehen wird, begrün-
det seine eschatologische Weltherrschaft. ... Diese Übernahme der eschatologischen
Herrschaft durch das Lamm wird aber in Apk 5, 9 f nicht nur durch seinen Opfer-
tod begründet sondern auch durch die Schaffung des neuen Gottesvolkes ... ".
31. See e.g. CHARLES, Commentary I, p. 7 (on I, 2) : "The revelation given by
God and borne witness to by Christ... lt means the Christian revelation as a whole in
i.9, vi.9, xx.4 ... " ; but Charles is not sure whether in some cases (19, 10) 'ITJO'Oü may
not be the objective genitive.
32. See E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA'S monograph Priester für Gott mentioned in
note 30 together with her articles Redemption as Liberation: Apoc 1:5[ and 5:9[, in
CBQ 34 (1974) 220-232 and Die tausendjährige Herrschaft der Auferstandenen (Apk
20, 4-6), in Bibel und Leben 13 (1972) 107-124. One may consu1t the survey ofrecent
opinion in O. BÖCHER, Die Johannesapokalypse (Erträge der Forschung, 41), Darm-
stadt, 1975, pp. 96-106. On the millennium see H. BIETENHARD, Das tausendjährige
Reich. Eine biblisch-theologische Studie, Bern, 1944 (Zürich, 21955).
" HO CHRISTOS" IN THE APOCALYPSE 275

as in 12, 7-9, is bound by an angel for a thousand years, and thrown into
the abyss, which is shut and sealed in order to prevent hirn from leading
the nations astray during those years (20, 1-3). When that period is over
Satan is let loose from his prison and manages to seduce the nations in the
four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, and leads them in an assault on
the holy ones; they besiege the beloved city but are consumed by fire
descending from heaven, and the devil, their seducer, is thrown into the
lake of fire and sulphur where the beast and the false prophet are already
being tormented day and night for ever (vv. 7-10).
Next follows the final judgment by God. Earth and heaven disappear ;
there is a general resurrection, all the dead stand before the throne and are
judged according to their works recorded in the heavenly books. Death
and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire, and everybody whose name is
not written in the book of Life is thrown into this lake, too. This is, the
author tells us, the second death (vv. 11-15).
Finally, John sees the new heaven and earth and the new Jerusalem
" ready like a bride adorned for her husband " which is described at great
length (21, I ff). There is a great profusion ofimages, and an effort is made
to cover as many aspects of final judgment and salvation as possible. It is
difficult to reconcile all the details in the various visions and we should not
attempt to make everything agree. It is also not necessary to regard the
order of the various visions, which has some logic, as a strictly chronologi-
calone.
This is also true of the one episode not yet mentioned, the vision record-
ed in 20, 4-6 which concerns us especially. In the thousand year period
during which the devil is bound in the abyss (vv. 4.5.6. ; cf. 2.3.7) those who
have been faithful to the end come to life and reign with the Anointed
One. It is good to note that this category of servants of God and Jesus is
singled out for special mention. The period of waiting, announced in 6, 9-
11 is over, the pro mise that the men of every tribe and language, people
and nation purchased by the blood of the Lamb, kings and priests, would
reign upon the earth (5, 9-10) has become true. The hour ofvictory (12, 11)
is really and fully there, the short interregnum of the dragon (12, 12) has
come to an end. The fate of those who did not worship the beast stands in
clear contrast to that of the followers of the beast and the pseudo-prophet
mentioned in 19, 17-21. They receive life, and are said to take part in the
first resurrection, preceding the general resurrection mentioned in 20, 11-
15, and this life is characterized as "reigning with the Anointed One"
(twice, in v. 4 and v. 6). Nothing is said about the end of the period, except
that in v. 9 (in the next pericope which is not introduced by a new Kai
ElOOV !) the holy on es are described as being immune to the final attack of
Satan and his followers on the beloved city. No further activity of the
Anointed One is recorded. Even in vv. 4-6 his reign is only mentioned by
implication (and, in fact, also in 19, 11-21 where the active role of the rider
276 M. DEJONGE

on the white horse is stressed, there is a preference for passive construc-


tions !). The author of the Apocalypse c1early wants his readers to believe
that the Anointed One and all those who share the life and rule of the
thousand years at the general resurrection are joined by those among " the
rest of the dead who did not come to life until the thousand years came to
an end" (v. 5) whose names are found to be written in the Book of Life.
In short : 20, 4-6 speaks ab out a special group of people who receive a
special reward. It is not different in kind from what others receive (see
e.g. 22, 5), but they are to take part in the first resurrection, they are ahead
of the others and share in the blessings of the thousand year period which
are described in very sober terms.
Weshall have to look at some more details before we can draw our
final conclusion. Vv. 4-6 consist of the vision proper in v. 4, a macarism in
v. 6 and the transitional verse 5. The syntax of v. 4 presents us with many
problems, but it is c1ear that the visionary sees thrones, and people who sit
on them ; they are given power to judge. He also sees" the souls of those
who had been beheaded because of the testimony of J esus and the word of
God, those who had not worshipped the beast and his image, and had not
received the mark of the beast on their foreheads or hands". They all
come to life and reign with the Anointed One for a thousand years.
The first half of v. 4 draws upon the imagery of Dan 7, 9.22. It is not
specified who sit on the thrones - (God with) angelic beings or the loyal
believers in v. 4b. There is also some dispute as to the meaning of KUt
KQi~u Eö09Tj uutoi<; 33. In any case it is c1ear that the judgment scene ends
with the rehabilitation of those who had to suffer during the reign of the
beast and the pseudo-prophet described in chapters 12-14. It is likely that
the two characterizations refer to one group of people 34. Those who have

33. Kui KQiJlu e86ST] uinoic; agrees with Dan 7, 22 Theod. If in Daniei KQiJlu
means verdict rather than the act of judgment or the authority to judge, and the
expression in 20, 4 means the same, we should take the expression to refer to reha-
bilitation - cf. 18, 20 (and F. BÜCHSEL'S exegesis in TWNT III, pp. 843 f). If this is
right, there is some point in taking the people mentioned in v. 4b as the subject of
eKUStcruV. We should, then, ass urne that they do not sit on their thrones to judge (cf.
Mt 19, 28; Lk 22, 30; I Cor 6, 2 f) but to reign. E. Schüssler Fiorenza points out
that, with the exception of God's throne in 20, 11, thrones are nowhere clearly
described as seats of judgment (Priester für Gott, p. 304). 3, 21 particularly suggests
the interpretation of 20, 4 just given.
34. The part of the sentence beginning with Kui o'lnvEC; is attached very clum-
sily, yet it is likely that the visionary is supposed to see here also" the souls" of
those people. All Christians who remained faithful in their witness to the very end
(see on 12, 11), indeed all who in the struggle with the beast refused to worship the
beast and to receive his mark (see 13, 16 f; 14, 9.11 ; 16,2; 19,20 over against 7, 3 ;
14, I; 22, 4; cf 2, 17; 3, 12) are meant here. On 'l'uxui see 6, 9-11 (cf. also 16, 5-7 ;
18, 20). It is not necessary to distinguish between " martyrs " and "confessors " -
for the author the entire church of his days is in statu confessionis ; he is not writing
for (and about) Christians in general but for (and about) a number of persecuted
Christi an churches in particular.
" HO CHRISTOS " IN THE APOCALYPSE 277

remained loyal to the very end receive a new life. The i:1;;T]crav of the mar-
tyrs refers to resurrection (cr. 2, 8 of Jesus, and 13, 14) - as v. 5 specifies
with its mention of the rest of the dead who come to life after the thousand
year-period and the use of the term " the first resurrection ", leading over
to the macarism in v. 6 concerning those who share in the first resurrec-
tion; over them the second death (v. 14!) has no power. In this verse the
phrase Kai EßacriAEucrav JlEtcl toii XQtcrtoii of v. 4 is taken up and expand-
ed: EcrOVtat tEQEi~ toii 9wii Kai toii XQtcrtoii Kai ßaO"tAEucroUO"tV JlEt'
autoii. This refers back to 1,6 and 5, 10 and is followed by 22,5 where the
term tEQEi~ is dropped, when (all) the servants of God are described as
worshipping God continuously and seeing hirn face to face; the Lord God
will give them light, and they will be reigning forevermore. E. Schüssler
Fiorenza has dealt with these four texts at great length in her monograph
and shown that there is a progression in thought in them: In 1, 6 tradi-
tional baptismal terms are used to maintain that Jesus Christ installed the
redeemed to kingship, to priests for God, his father. In 5, 10 an antagonis-
tic-ethical as well as an eschatological understanding of redemption is
implied. One should note the emphasis on concrete reign in the additional
phrase Kai ßaO"tAEucroUO"tV E1ti tii~ Yii~. In 20, 4 the noun ßaO"tAEia is not
used at all ; only the verb occurs twice, indicating the active participation
ofthe faithful in the reign ofthe Anointed One. The faithful continue to be
called "priests " (of God and the Anointed One). In Fiorenza's view this
is, because sharing in God's reign over the world presupposes true worship
over against the adoration of the beast (cf. v. 4b). In 22, 3-5, finally, the
eternal reign of all God's servants is mentioned in analogy to that of God
and his Anointed in 11, 15. It is connected with a perfect and continuous
worship of God ; if they see God's face continually, and have his name on
their foreheads, they are all in fact high-priests 35.
The passage 20, 4-6 is another " interlude " among the many in the
Apocalypse 36, and, like the others, it concentrates on the salvation of the
faithful believers. It stands in between the two passages dealing with the
dragon (vv. 1-3; 7-10) and is, at the same time, closely connected with
them (the repeated mention of the thousand years !). The privilege of
living and reigning with the Anointed One is clearly restricted to those who
have resisted actively in the fierce struggle which is described as the time of

35. Priester für Gott, p. 388 : "Der eschatologische Gottesdienst der Knechte
Gottes ist also nicht durch den Opfer- oder Mittlergedanken bestimmt, sondern
findet seine Erfüllung darin, dass die eschatologisch Geretteten als die wahren
Hohepriester der Endzeit vor Gott stehen und sein Angesicht schauen dürfen ".
Fiorenza's views on I, 6 and 5, 10 are weil summed up in her article Redemption as
Liberation; for 20, 6 and 22, 3-5 see Priester für Gott, pp. 329-344 and pp. 368-389.
One should note that in 22, 3 all1:ou and alm'i> are singular but refer to God and the
Lamb who have one throne.
36. See p. 273, above.
278 M. DEJONGE

the raging of the devil who has only very litde time left (12, 12). We should
see that only in 20, 4-6 is a special period of reign on the renewed earth (cf.
v. 9, and, perhaps, 14, 1) by the Anointed One and the faithful mentioned.
In the preceding "interlude ", 19, 7-8, for instance, a vast crowd an-
nounces that the Lord God, sovereign over all, has ente red upon his reign
and that the wedding-day of the Lamb has come, and in v. 9 a macarism is
added for those who are invited to the wedding-meal of the Lamb. This is
taken up in the description of the New Jerusalem in 21, 2 and 9, and
nothing indicates that there will first be a special period of bliss for a
special group of believers. In view of the implied continuity between the
millennium and that which takes pi ace after the last judgment it would be
fair to say that the author did not wish to stress the differences between the
millennium and the period thereafter, but used this concept to emphasize
the reward for the persecuted righteous (11, 18 !) and the necessity that the
same earth which, for a time, had been under Satan's sway (in chapters 12-
18, particularly 12, 12 and 13, 7-8) would now be ruied (on God's behalf)
by the Anointed One, together with those who had to suffer but did not
yield. God the Almigh!y who has now fully established his reign in the
entire kosmos, has, particularly, shown his sovereignty over the earth. This
special emphasis is obviously an integral part of the theology of the author
of the Apocalypse hirnself, no matter how much tradition al material was
used by hirn, elsewhere and in the passage 20, 4-6 37.

5. Conclusion

Our findings may be summed up as folIows:


a) 6 XQlO'1'6~ at'Hou is used in texts dealing with the future, final reign
of God and his Anointed (11, 15; 12, 10). It is in fact God who takes up
sovereignty and power through his Anointed.
b) In 20, 4.6 the emphasis is on the future reign of (a special category
of) believers with the Anointed One.
The first two passages as weIl as the last one play an important part in
the Apocalypse, encouraging those who have to suffer und er the assault of
the dragon and his associates. God's kingdom is near and those who
remain faithful and steadfast, even unto death, will share in it. This mes-
sage presupposes the belief in the redemption wrought by Jesus' death and
exaltation. The lion of Judah is victorious, the Lamb that was slaughtered
stands ne ar the throne 5, 6 (cf. 7, 9.17; 12,5) and in hymns he who sits on

37. For this conclusion, see again E. SCHÜSSLER FIORENzA, particularly pp. 325-
332 in her Priester für Gott. In looking for Jewish paralleis to the views on the
millennium found in the Apocalypse she rightly emphasizes the many differences in
contrast to eschatological themes known from Jewish sources (pp. 313-325). See also
p. 280, below.
" HO CHRISTOS " IN THE APOCALYPSE 279

the throne and the Lamb are mentioned together (5, 13; 7, 10). In 3, 21
those who are victorious receive the promise that they will sit on Jesus
Christ's throne, just as he sat down with his father on his throne. Perhaps
this is also expressed in 20, 4a 38 ; in 22, 1-5 there is only one throne - that
of God and the Lamb ; they reign together and are worshipped together by
their servants who are said to reign forever themselves.
God's victorious kingdom of the future is a reality for the author of the
Apocalypse. In 11, 15 and 12, 10 his diction is clearly influenced by Ps 2, 2
- a psalm which influenced the wording of the book in many other places.
Ps 2, 1-2 is actually quoted in Acts 4,25-26, by Luke, the only other author
in the New Testament who uses the expression" the Anointed of the
Lord". In Acts, however, the text is connected with the opposition of
Herod and Pontius Pilate to Jesus, whom God had anointed, and if
J. Comblin is right in supposing that both Luke and the author of the
Apocalypse wanted to underline the continuity between their message and
that of the prophets by re-using formulations taken from the Old Testa-
ment 39, we must conclude that they did so in entirely different ways.
The expression" the Anointed of the Lord" is found as adesignation
of a future ideal king from the family of David in Ps Sol 17 (and 18) 40.
Psalm 2 has left only a few traces (notably Ps 2, 9 in v. 24 !), but we should
note that Ps Sol 17 while describing the activity of a future Son of David
begins and ends with the glorification of God's eternal sovereignty. In one
of the few instances where the word " Anointed " is found in early Jewish
literature, 1 En 48, 10, again Ps 2, 1-2 is clearly referred to 41. Other texts
speak of the reign of the Anointed One (l En 52, 4; syr Bar 39, 7 42 ; 40, 3 ;
73, 1), indicating that they, too, think of an anointed king.
Unfortunately, neither IV Ezra nor syr Bar, apocalypses which (in a
variety of ways !) speak about aperiod of the messiah before the final
judgment, present us with many specific parallels to Apoc. 20, 4-6. IV Ezra
7, 28; 12, 34 (cf. 13, 24.48) speak especially about the survivors (in the
land !) who are made joyful in the time of the Anointed One ; according to
7,29 f everyone, including my Son, the Anointed One, will die before the
new aeon begins whit a general resurrection. Similar ideas are found in syr

38. See note 33.


39. In Le Christ dans I'Apocalypse (see note I), p. 178.
40. In \7, 32 all MSS read XQt<H6~ K0QlO~, but the XQlo..t6~ Ull1:0Ü in 18, 5
makes dear that this reading go es back to amistake or a correction by a christian
scribe.
41. On the influence of Ps 2 on a number of predictions in Jewish pseudepi-
grapha see M.-A. CHEVALLIER, L'Esprit et le Messie dans le Bas-Judaisme et le
Nouveau Testament, Paris, 1958, pp. I-50. Unfortunately the text of 4QFlor. is too
fragmentary to enable us to say anything with certainty about the application of the
quotation from Ps 2, 1-2 found in lines 18-19.
42. On the original uQxf] in 39, 7 and 40, 3 see P.-M. BOGAERT, L'Apocalypse de
Baruch 11 (S.c., 145), Paris, 1969, p. 74.
280 M. DEJONGE

Bar where 29, 2 ; 40,2; 71, 1 speak about the inhabitants of God's country
at the time of the Anointed One. The transition between the messianic
period and the new era seems to be less abrupt here (30, 1 ; 40, 3 ; 74, 2).
The Apocalypse of John seems to have made its own use of Old Testa-
ment and Jewish traditions known to the author. How he knew the Jewish
traditions, directly or indirectly, remains uncertain. The most recent at-
tempt to isolate Jewish source material concerning the Messiah and con-
cerning the Son of Man with literary critical methods, that of u.B. Müller
in his Messias und Menschensohn in jüdischen Apokalypsen und in der
Offenbarung des J ohannes 43, has not been very succesful in my opinion.
Can we find any significant early Christian parallels ? There are a
number of texts which speak about the future reign of Jesus, just as there
are texts dealing with the future kingdom of God. I mention here Mt 16,
28; 20, 21 ; 25, 34; Lk 22, 28-30 (cf. 23,42) ; 1 Cor 15, 22-28 ; 2 Pet 1, 11,
and also Mk 12, 35-37 and 14, 61-62 (cf. 15, 32). There are also a number
of texts that speak about (or imply) the participation of believers in that
future reign, Mt 8, 11 fI /Lk 13,28 f; Mt 13,43; Lk 12,32; 14, 15; Rom 5,
17; 1 Cor4, 8 (and 6, 2); 6, 9.10; 15,50; Ga15, 21; 2 Th 1, 5 ;Eph 5,5 (cf.
Col 1, 13). Especially important are Lk 22, 28-30 (par. Mt 19, 28 slightly
different); Mt 25, 34; 2 Tim 2, 10-12 and Polycarp Phil 5, 2 where the
reigning of the believers is directly connected with that of Jesus. The prob-
lem is, however, that only in a few texts is the word XQt(H6~ used (either as
a functional designation or as a name) : First we may note Mk 12, 35-37
and 14, 61-62 (cf. 15, 32); here, however, XQtcrt6~ should be qualified in
Mark's opinion 44. Next there is 1 Cor 15, 22-28. Two further instances
remain somewhat dubious, unfortunately those where the verb crUI1ßucrt-
AWro is used in connection with the reign of the believers in the future 45.
2 Tim 2, 11-12 refers to a traditional formula 46: "Ifwe died with hirn, we
shalllive with hirn; if we endure we shall reign with hirn ", in connection
with" the glorious and eternal salvation which is in Christ Jesus " (N.E.B.)
in v. 10 47. Polycarp, in Phil 5, 2, speaks in more general terms about serv-
ing the Lord in this world in order to have a share in the next. He, indeed,

43. (SNT, 6), Gütersloh, 1972, pp. 157-216. See also the criticism ofT. HOLTZ in
the second edition of his Die Christologie der Apokalypse des Johannes (see note I),
pp. 244-246.
44. See M. DE JONGE, The Use 010 XPII:TOI: in the Passion Narratives, in
J. DUPONT (ed.), Jesus aux origines de la christologie (BETL, 40), Leuven-Gem-
bloux, 1975, pp. 169-192, esp. pp. 173-182.
45. Cf. ßUcriAEUW in Rom 5, 17 and 1 Cor 4, 8 (the crullßucriA.EUW in the latter
verse connects the Corinthians and Paul !).
46. On 1tlcrt6~ 6 A.6yo~ see George W. KNIGHT, III, The Faithlul Sayings in the
Pastoral Letters, Kampen, 1968. On this passage especially pp. 112-137.
47. The use of the cruv-formulas in 2 Tim 2, 11.12 should be compared with
pauline usage. As W. KRAMER, Christos, Kyrios, Gottessohn (ATANT, 44), Zürich-
Stuttgart, 1963, § 38, has shown, the expression cruv XQlcrt<'!> is particularly connected
" HO CHRISTOS" IN THE APOCALYPSE 281

promised to raise us from the dead " and that we, when our conduct is
worthy of hirn, shall also reign with hirn, if we believe". Here lesus is
called the Lord who became servant of all, but immediately before we find
the phrase 8wu Kai XQHYWU DtUKOVOl.
We shall have to draw the conclusion that the wording ßaalA.w(() IlE'tu
wu XQw'tou in 20, 4 (cf. v. 6) is particular to the Apocalypse, as is the ad
hoc phrase iEQEiC; wu 8wu Kai wu XQtmou in v. 6. Taking up the familiar
notion of a future reign of the believers with Jesus Christ at his parousia,
the author worked it out in his own way, choosing his own terminology,
influenced by Old Testament notions about the Davidic King appointed
and anointed by God 48.

Theologisch Instituut M. DE lONGE


Rapenburg 59
Leiden (Nederland)

with dying and rising with Christ (in accordance with the (pre-)pauline use of
XQlcnOC; in formulas speaking about Christ's death, and about his death and resur-
rection) whereas eJUV KlJQlC(l is used in 1 Th 4, 17 referring to the parousia. The
section " Mit Christus" (pp. 400-403) in K. BERGER, " Zum traditionsgeschichtlichen
Hintergrund christologischer Hoheitstitel, in NTS 17 (1970-1971) 391-425 gives
interesting material, but nothing that helps us to understand the wording of
Rev 20.4. One example: 4 Ezr 7, 28 speaks about the revelation of " my Son the
Anointed One " "cum his qui cum eo sunt ", cf. 13,52; 14,9 and 6, 26. The last text
explains that " homines qui mortem non gustaverunt a nativitate sua" are meant ;
14, 9 promises Ezra that he will belong to that company. Here we find an obviously
very exclusive group of believers, taking part in the temporary reign meant in 7, 28 ;
the tide used in all three texts (7, 28 ; 13, 52; 14, 9) is " my Son ".
48. F. HAHN, in his Christologische Hoheitstitel. Ihre Geschichte im frühen
Christentum (FRLANT, 83), Göttingen, 1963, pp. 179-189, has tried to prove that in
earliest Christianity the XQleJ'toc;-titie was originally used in connection with the
parousia of Jesus Christ. The passages discussed in this paper are used as proofs for
this hypo thesis (pp. 1881). Unfortunately, his discussion of 11, 15; 12, 10 and 20, 4-6
is far too short to be convincing.
The Meaning of Witness
in the Apocalypse

The meaning of witness is not one of the most difficult topics in the
exegesis of the book of Revelation. Nevertheless one has to recognize that
there is much disagreement, when considering the expositions on witness
in recent monographs or commentaries. Since the limits of this contribu-
tion make it impossible to give even a small survey of their conceptions 1,
we shall attempt to summarize only our own modest reflections on the use
of lluQwQElV, lluQTuQiu (especially lluQTuQiu 'IT]crou) and lluQW<; 2.

According to its introduction, Revelation is the Apocalypsis Jesou Chris-


tou given to Hirn by God and made known by sending his angel to his
servant John "who testifies to the word of God and to the testimony of
Jesus Christ, to all that he saw " (1, 2). There is little doubt that IlUQTUQEIV
signifies " to testify" with its emphasis on " to acknowledge the reality of
something" 3. In 1, 2 this testifying applies to the logos tou theou and the
martyria Jesou Christou, summarized by the author as " all that he saw ",

1. See among others the contributions of T. HOLTz, Die Christologie der Apoka-
lypse des Johannes (TU, 85), Berlin, 1962; A SATAKE, Die Gemeindeordnung in der
Johannes-apokalypse (WMANT, 21), Neukirchen, 1966; A.P. VAN SCHAlK, De Open-
baring van Johannes. Vertaling en kommentaar. Proefschrift Nijmegen, Roermond-
Nijmegen, 1976 (the commentary appeared separately in 1971); E. SCHÜSSLER-
FIORENZA, Priester für Gott. Studien zum Herrschafts-und Priestermotiv in der Apoka-
IYP~'e (Neutestamentliche Abhandlungen, NF, 7), Münster 1972; H. KRAFT, Die
Offenbarung des Johannes (Handbuch zum Neuen Testament, 16a), Tübingen,
1974; AA. TRITES, The New Testament Concept of Witness (SNTS MS, 34), Cam-
bridge, 1977.
2. The verb occurs only at the beginning and at the end of the book: 1, 2; 22,
16.18.20; !luQ'tUQiu is more frequent: 1, 2.9; 6, 9; 11, 7; 12, 11.17; 19, 102 ; 20, 4 ;
!lug't\!<:; only I, 5 ; 2, 13; 3, 14; 11,3 ; 17,6.
3. Cf. C. SPlCQ, N otes de lexicographie nI?o-testamentaire. T. II, Fribourg-Göttin-
gen, 1978, pp. 533.535. A SATAKE, o.C., p. 111, wants to und erstand !luQ'tuQEiv here
rather as " faktisch die Abfassung des Buches".
284 B. DEHANDSCHUTTER

which can be interpreted as the contents of the book 4. This meaning of


/luQ'tUQElV is supported by the use of the same verb at the end of the book.
Already in 22, 6-9 5 the reliability and the truth of the book is involved.
After the conc1uding vision of the New lerusalem, the angelus interpres 6
confirms: "these words are trustworthy and true", repeating wh at had
been said in 19,9 and 21, 5 about the things the seer had to write down. As
a whole 22, 6 stresses the divine origin of the revelation 7. But 22, 8a adds :
" And I lohn am the one who heard and saw these things ". The emphatic
self-presentation of the writer corresponds with his self-introduction in I, 9
where the following vocation-vision makes c1ear once more (cf. 1, 1) the
origin of the writer's authority. Thus 22, 8a is to be interpreted in connec-
tion with the preceding verses as well as with the following vv. 8b-9. Exact-
ly from this text and 19, 10 one can infer that the authority of the seer-
prophet is to be situated at least on the same level as that of the angelus
interpres. It is not surprising that lohn 8 adds again in 22, 18 that he testi-
fies to " the words of the prophecy of this book to every one who hears
them ", this formula recalling also the introduction of the book 9. It seems
to be normal that the one who presents himself as the author emphasizes
his authority. In as much as /luQ'tuQElV mü'tu in 22, 16 and 22, 20 can be
interpreted in relation to the contents of the book 10, lohn strengthens his
own testimony with that of lesus.

4. See A. SATAKE, o.C., p. 98; compare N. BROX, Zeuge und Märtyrer. Untersu-
chungen zur frühchristlichen Zeugnis-Terminologie (SANT, 5), München, 1961,
p. 93; R.H. CHARLES, The Revelation of StJohn. Vol. I (ICC), Edinburgh, 1920,
p. 7; M. KIDDLE, The Revelation of StJohn (Moffatt), London, 1940, p. 4; A. WI-
KENHAUSER, Die Offenbarung des lohannes (RNT, 9), Regensburg, 19593, p. 27;
G.R. BEASLEy-MuRRAY, The Book of Revelation (New Century Bible), London,
1974, p. 52. But otherwise E. LOHMEYER, Die Offenbarung des lohannes (Handbuch
zum Neuen Testament, 16), Tübingen, 1953 2, p. 8, and H. KRAFT, o.c., p. 22.
5. E.-B. ALLO, Saint lean. L'Apocalypse (EB), Paris, 1921, pp. 328-329, speaks
about the " tripie attestation qui authentique l'ouvrage " ; about 22, 6-9: " I'attesta-
tion de l'Ange, du Christ et du Prophete"; cf. H. KRAFT, o.c., p. 277, also
G.R. BEASLEy-MuRRAY, O.C., p. 335 and already T. ZAHN, Die Offenbarung des
lohannes (Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, 18), Leipzig-Erlangen, 1924, p. 627,
who stresses the fact that 22,6-7 refers to the contents ofthe whole book.
6. It is difficult to know who the speaking persons are from 22, 6 on. Thus for
22,6 itself, many authors accept Jesus as subject (cf. v. 7) and not the angel.
7. Cf. E. LOHMEYER, o.C., p. 117; E. LOHSE, Die Offenbarung des lohannes
(NTD, 11), Göttingen, 1971 10 , p. 104.
8. A majority of authors hold that John, not Jesus, is speaking in 22, 18; excep-
tions are H.B. SWETE, The Apocalypse of St. lohn, London, 1907 2 , p. 311;
R.H. CHARLES, o.C., Vol. II, p. 218, follows Swete. Also H. KRAFT, o.c., p. 282,
accepts that this interpretation is right according to the actual form of the text, but
he supposes that originally the tyoo was followed by the name of lohn.
i9. See among others A. SATAKE, o.C., pp. 111-112; J. BEUTLER, Martyria. Tradi-
tionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zum Zeugnisthema bei lohannes (FTS, 10),
Frankfurt, 1972, pp. 182-183.
10. It has to be recognized that in the case of 22, 16 the differences between that
WITNESS IN THE APOCALYPSE 285

Both 1, 2 and 19, 10 contain the remarkable expression TJ llUQ'tuQiu


'ITJaoü. From 19, 10 one could infer that the meaning ofthe expression is
related to prophecy, or rather to those who have the martyria, the pro-
phets 11. This interpretation is allowed by the parallel in 22, 9 where
EXOVHüV 'tiJv llUQ'tuQiuv 'ITJaoü is replaced by 'tmv 1tQoqJTJ'tmv.
The question is whether this signification is also applicable to 1, 2.
There we find the double expression 'tov "A.oyov wü 9wü Kui 'tiJv llUQ'tuQiuv
'ITJaoü XQlawü. It can be understood as " the contents of the book", not
only because of the addition öau d8EV; given by God, Revelation is the
Myor; 'tOÜ 9wü (cf. 19,9), and in the light of22, 16.20 the contents can also
be described as " testimony of lesus ", "what lesus testifies " 12. That the
double expression is related to that which is revealed to the seer appears
again in 1, 9 where we are told that lohn came to Patmos because of the
word of God and the testimony of lesus ; immediately the vision begins
(v. 10) and lohn receives the instruction to write down what he sees (v. 11).
Therefore, we think that the meaning of the expression in 1, 2 and 1, 9 is
strongly connected 13.
The question arises as to what can be the signification of the other uses
of llUQ'tuQiu ' I TJaoü. The expression figures also in contexts where it seems
difficult to us to maintain the meanings we know already. Can we then
accept a rather general meaning as e.g. "la revelation chretienne com-
mune " ? 14 That seems possible in 6, 9 and 20, 4 where we are told about
the souls of those who are slain because of the word of God and of the

verse and L 1 may not be overlooked. The I-UlQtUQfjcrUt mütu is not directed to John
(I, I) but to ul-tiv, it is supplemented by the expression tlti tui<; tKKAT]criut<;. The
meaning of it as well as of tuÜtU is not sure. It depends on the interpretation of
these changes that mütu should be understood in the light of only the preceeding
verses or of the book as a whole. Also for 22, 20 the former possibility could be valid
(cf. G.R. BEASLEY-MuRRAY, O.C., p. 349).
11. That 19, !Oe is a gloss was argued by R.H. CHARLES, O.C., II, p. 130;
W. BOUSSET, Die Offenbarung Johannis, Göttingen, 1906 6 , pp. 429-430; A. SATAKE,
o.C., pp. 60-61. More recent authors generally do not accept that solution, see e.g.
J. BEUTLER, o.c., p. 190, because of the parallel with 22, 9.
12. See N. BROX, o.C., p. 93; A. SATAKE, O.C., p. 98 ; G.R. BEASLEY-MuRRAY, o.C.,
p.52.
13. Compare W. BOUSSET, O.C., p. 192; in this respect we differ from T. ZAHN,
O.C., pp. 185ff, and other commentators; nor do we see the need of a rather "marty-
rological" undertone in the verse because of Öta. tÜV AOYOV toÜ 9wü Kui t"V l-tuQtU-
Qiuv'IT]croü. Perhaps I, 9c originally contained the topos of the separation of the
receiver of apocalyptic visions (cf. H. KRAFT, o.c., pp. 41-42).
14. E.-B. ALLO, o.C., p. 277 ; cf. W. BOUSSET, O.C., p. 183: "Ein plerophorischer
Ausdruck für die christliche Offenbarung überhaupt".
286 B.DEHANDSCHUTTER

testimony they had (resp. " of Jesus "). But it is less probable that in these
texts, as weIl as in 12, 17, the prophets are indicated. Neither the context,
nor the comparison with passages as 18, 24 and 16, 6 give sufficient sup-
port for that supposition. The interpretation of lluQ'tUQiu Tr]crou is much
complicated by the fact that it is not certain whether 'lI"jO"OU is a subjective
or an objective genitive. Both possibilities have their defenders and the
battle has not yet ended 15. Meanwhile we want to suggest a lexicological
possibility which is perhaps of some interest. In 1 Timothy 3, 7 EXEtV KUAT]V
lluQ'wQiav means " to have a good testimony, a good recommendation ".
To have Jesus' recommendation should not be an impossible interpretation
in some texts of Revelation, It is only a question of whether those having
that recommendation indicates a particular group of Christians, e.g. the
prophets. On the basis of 19, 10 it could be defended (compare Ignatius,
Philadelphians 5, 2) ; it could be disputed on the basis of 12, 17, especially
when considering this text together with 14, 12. In other words, to maintain
the distinction made by the author between the äytot and the prophets is
not always appropriate.

Much more attention has been paid to this word in Revelation in com-
parison to the other expressions from the same stern. This was, of course,
due to the importance given to the word within the scope of the problem of
the semantic development of lluQ'wc;; to " martyr ". W e limit ourselves here
to so me neglected considerations, Although a number of scholars are
inclined to accept the "ecclesiastical" meaning (" martyr") in at least
some texts of Revelation (esp. 2, 13 and 17, 6), this opinion is contradicted
by most of the re cent studies on the subject. Nevertheless not a few people
maintain that the use of IlUQTUc;; in Revelation prepared without any doubt
the later signification, and even that the use of IlUQTUc;; could illustrate a
certain stage in the semantic development. AA Trites went as far as to
recognize in Revelation five stages of semantic development in which the
martys-passages could be arranged 16. But precisely this point of view
holding a semantic development is highly hypothetical, also in the case of
the less refined but much accepted presupposition that the semantic evolu-
tion can be understood in the sense of: " W ortzeuge, Tatzeuge, Märtyrer".

15. See on this matter A.A. TRITES, O.C., pp. 156-158; A.P. VAN SCHAlK, o.c., in
his additional study on "Het vijfde zegel ", pp. 40-47. But the question is more
complicated than a simple choice between an objective or a subjective genitive; see
e.g. E.-B. ALLO, O.C., who accepts the two possibilities for 1, 9 and 19, 10, and also
hesitates in the case of I, 2 and 12, 11 ; cf. also H.B. SWETE, O.C., p. 249.
16. A.A. TRITES, MdQwC; and Martyrdom in the Apocalypse, in NT 15 (1973) 72-
80.
WITNESS IN THE APOCALYPSE 287

It is, on the contrary, very weH possible that the semantic shifts are pro-
duced without necessarily being related to the preceding meaning 17.
This position does not clarify on its own the meaning of ,.uIQ'tt)(; in
Revelation. In re action to the martyrological interpretation it often has
been said that ,.uIQtu<; signifies as much as prophet. The meaning is clear in
chapter 11 ; also in the case of 17, 6 it is defensible because of the parallel
expressions in 11, 18; 16, 6 and 18, 24 where the äytot are mentioned
together with the prophets. It is less probable, however, that the same sense
is present in 2, 13 (about Antipas) and in 1, 5 and 3, 14 (about Jesus). It is
difficult to maintain that Antipas belongs to the category of IlUQtUQE<;
'h](Jou (17, 6) only because of the genitive 6 lluQtu<; f.10V. According to the
letter to the community of Pergamon, Antipas has been a model in his not-
denying the faith in Jesus. The word lluQtU<; does not seem to indicate
much more than that Antipas testified in an extraordinary way to the right
attitude of the Christi ans in the state of distress of the community (because
ofthe name of Jesus, see 2, 3); he has been faithful unto death. But it is the
instruction to each Christian to be faithful in spite of all threats even to
that ofbeing killed (compare 2, 10; also 3,8-10). A problem also arises for
the texts of 1, 5 and 3, 14 where Christ is also called " faithful witness ".
Both verses are part of the very solemn titles peculiar to the presentation of
Christ in the letters, containing qualifications used for God in the Old
Testament. That makes it difficult to consider the titles in 1, 5 and 3, 14
simply as parallel with 2, 13. In our opinion it is important to notice that
Christ speaks as martys to the church (3, 14). His being-witness is related to
the churches in that sense that He knows the life of the churches (see the
repeated oloa (Jou ta EQya). As it can be said about God that he is wit-
ness 18 (He knows everything, so He can be invoked as such 19) the same is
possible for Christ in regard to the churches. He knows them and will
witness for them if they endure. Not without reason the letters contain the

17. Cf. B. DEHANDSCHUTTER, Martyrium Polycarpi. Bijdrage tot de studie van de


martelaar in het vroege christendom, Diss. Leuven, 1977, eh. VI on the development
of the martyrological meaning of I.UIQ1:U~. Our opinion goes back to H. DELEHAYE,
Martyr et Confesseur, in Analeeta Bollandiana 39 (1921) 20-49 (= Sanctus. Essai sur
le culte des saints dans l'antiquite, Brussel, 1927, pp. 74-121). His theory on the
semantic shift of martyr fell into oblivion because of the dominating tendency to
accept a necessary link between the former and the latter sense of the word.
18. It is to be noted that Ps 88, 38 LXX is at the background of 1, 5, see e.g.
H. KRAFT, o.C., p. 32; but compare his comments on 22, 20 (p. 282).
. In view of the Old Testament background it seems less correct to separate 6
mcr1:6~ from 6 I.UIQ1:U~ (by a comma) as does the new Nestle(-Aland) 26. Is this
influenced by the separation in 2, 13 of 6 ~aQ1:u~ ~ou from 6 mcr1:6~ ~ou in the
edition of Westcott-Hort (and of Souter)? The fact that in 3, 14 6 ~aQ1:u~ 6 1tlcr1:6~
seems to clarify 6 a~ftv is not unimportant for our interpretation.
19. See the N.T.-formulae Rom 1,9; Phili, 8; 1 Th 2,5.10; 2 Cor 1, 23; applied
to Christ: Ignatius Phil 7, I. As to the background of the formula cf. Gal 1, 20 and
the texts quoted by C. SPICQ, o.C., p. 533, n. 3.
288 B. DEHANDSCHUTTER

promlSlng vlK&v-sayings which anticipate the final judgment, when


everyone will be judged for his deeds (cf. 20, 12-13 ; 22, 12 and 2, 13 ; see
also the correspondance between 3, 14 and 19, 11).

ConcIusion

It seems to be difficult to always consider the witness-theme in Revela-


tion on the same level. The variety of significations continually raises the
question whether it is to be connected with the complicated matter of
succeeding redactions (see e.g. Satake, Kraft 20). We think such views ask
for too much of a systematization of the evidence ; we do not see why the
variety could not be explained as coming from the same author or redac-
tor.

Theologisch Instituut B. DEHANDSCHUTTER


Rapenburg 59
Leiden (Nederland)

20. See more reeently A. SATAKE, O.C., p. 97ff., who eharacterizes the terminology
of witness as "uneinheitlieh " as the eonsequenee of a distinetion between " Ge-
meindetradition" and redaetor; also H. KRAFT, o.c., pp. 26-27: the meaning of
,.HIQ'tuC;; in the letters to the ehurehes has evolved more than in the other eases ; the
letters belong to the final redaetion of Revelation. But this does not agree very weil
with Kraft's interpretation of the idea of witness in general; this idea should be
eonneeted with the prophetie preaehing, the eontent of which is related to faith in
the resurree