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Frey, Jörg, Kelhoffer, James A., u. Franz Tóth [Hrsg.]
Die Johannesapokalypse. Kontexte – Konzepte – Wirkungen.
Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck 2012. XI, 867 S. m. Abb. = Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 287. Lw. EUR 159,00. ISBN 978-3-16-150603-1.
Adela Yarbro Collins
This volume opens with a helpful review of scholarship on the book of Revelation by Franz Tóth. The rest of the volume is divided into three parts: Contexts, Concepts, and Reception.
In the first main section, Thomas Witulski argues that, in light of the history of the imperial cults, Revelation should be dated to the time of Hadrian. Stephan Witetschek, in contrast, argues for a date from 100 to 110 CE, warning that the images of the Apocalypse do not make it an historical allegory. Clare K. Rothschild argues that ancient medicine offers a lens through which the message to Laodicea may best be understood. She concludes that »lukewarm« does not mean »lacking conviction,« but rather »impotent,« in the sense of powerless and ineffective.
In the part on Concepts, Franz Tóth, in a second contribution, argues that John wrote a version of the Apocalypse after 70, consisting of Rev 1:1–3; 4:1–22:10. When he was later exiled to Patmos, he expanded the work into something similar its present form during the reign of Trajan. Hans-Georg Gradl reflects on the literary nature of Revelation as both »book« and »letter.« The epistolary elements (prescript and concluding greeting) create a situation of communication between Christ and the communities, mediated by the seer John. The messages in chapters 2–3 are letter-like and paraenetic: they indicate the ethical consequences of the visions that follow. The messages also provide a bridge for the audience to the symbolic universe of the visions that transforms their social world. Jörg Frey raises the question: What does the Apocalypse of John await? He answers it with 24 hermeneutical perspectives with which readers have and still may answer this question. James A. Kelhoffer argues that the author of the Apocalypse employs »the value« of continued resistance and suffering, as well as the penalty of damnation, as a basis for exhortation of the faithful to emulate Jesus, Antipas, and John himself. Jan Willem van Henten concludes that a clear-cut concept of martyrdom and technical vocabulary are still lacking in the book of Revelation, but several aspects of the work »converge in a voluntary notion of martyrdom« (617).
The third main part deals with the history of the reception of the book of Revelation. William Tabbernee explores the use of the im-age of the new Jerusalem among the Montanists. Tobias Nicklas argues that the short form of the apocryphal Apocalypse of Thomas is literarily dependent on the Apocalypse of John but in a subtle way because of the canonical book’s claim to provide unalterable revelation. Valentin Fàbrega discusses the question of the literary dependence of book 7 of Lactantius’ Divinae Institutiones on the book of Revelation. Most clearly Lactantius depends on Revelation 20 for his chiliastic point of view (710). The two works also share the same basic eschatological scenario (752). There are also significant differences; e. g., the first resurrection according to Lactantius involves all the righteous, not just the martyrs. Thus for him the last judgment affects only the wicked. Because of the apologetic character of his work, Lactantius cites Vergil and the Sibylline Oracles more often than Scripture. Another major difference is that Revelation is anti- Roman, whereas for Lactantius Rome is a bulwark against the chaotic events of the end-time (753). As a Latin rhetor, Lactantius ignores the images and symbols of Revelation and historicizes and rationalizes eschatological teaching.
Juan Hernández, Jr. discusses the 7th century commentary on the Apocalypse by Andrew of Caesarea as a resource for exploring early Byzantine interpretive practices. He concludes, e. g., that Andrew wrote his commentary as a Chalcedonian alternative to Oecumenius’ sixth century commentary. Konstantin Nikolakopoulos notes that the book of Revelation did not enter the canon of the Orthodox Church until the 10th century. To this day no readings from the book occur in Orthodox liturgy. Nevertheless, it is present in the liturgy in a structural and theological way. In spite of its poetic and symbolic form, it is actually the most pastoral book of the New Testament (citing Patronos; 788). The last essay, Christopher Rowland argues that William Blake is a classical example of an interpreter who allows the imagery of the work to become part of his own self-expression and creativity (794). He concludes that Blake exercised Sachkritik by shearing off the punitive and dualistic elements of Revelation; e. g., the fire is therapeutic, not an instrument of eternal punishment.
This volume provides an excellent overview of the current state of scholarship on the Apocalypse of John. It addresses in a significant way the newer approach of the history of the reception of the work. I have emphasized here the essays of more general interest, but there are essays for specialists as well, e. g., Martin Karrer on the text-critical state of the question, Michael Labahn on the Septuagint and Revelation, and Loren Stuckenbruck and Mark D. Mathews on the question of the influence of 1Enoch on Revelation.