The Lamb in the Rhetorical Program of the Apocalypse of John



Loren L. Johns
Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary
Elkhart, Indiana

Introduction

The Apocalypse of John is rich in its potential for being studied via rhetorical criticism. The author is eager to “persuade”<<1>> his audience and he uses a sophisticated rhetorical style to do so. The goal of his persuasion cannot be defined in narrow, deliberative terms, such as might be used in identifying a clear set of desired actions. The goal of his persuasion is nothing less than a realignment of allegiances and a radical revolution in his audience’s world view. The apocalyptic vision in this book represents an imaginative relocation of the community’s self-understanding that will have significant social consequences. That is why definition, redefinition, and parody are central to his rhetoric.<<2>>

In her essay, “A Rhetorical Analysis of Revelation,”<<3>> Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza has called for a paradigm shift in the interpretation of Revelation: a shift “from an allegorical-spiritual, predictive-literalist, or historical-factual paradigm to a rhetorical-evocative paradigm that can do justice to the sociohistorical matrix as well as to the literary-dramatic character of the book.” Fiorenza has helpfully emphasized the ethical and political potential of a hermeneutic that privileges a rhetorical approach to this book.

This paper confirms the identification of the Apocalypse as an example primarily of epideictic rhetoric emphasizing pathos, and then shows how the lamb Christology works rhetorically to inform and sustain a stance of nonviolent resistance over against the forces of compromise in first-century Asia.

The Rhetoric of the Apocalypse

It is not necessary to suppose that either the author or his audience were highly familiar with the study of rhetoric. This essay does not suggest that the author self-consciously used Greek rhetorical conventions or that his audience identified the conventions he used—at least on the conscious level.<<4>> Rather, this essay suggests that rhetorical criticism is a tool that can help the reader, whether ancient or modern, to apprehend how this book communicates and to appreciate what it “does” to the reader and why.

Although Robert Royalty has emphasized the epideictic nature of the book’s rhetoric, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza warns against identifying any one of the three modes of rhetoric—epideictic, deliberative, and judicial—as central at the expense of the rest.<<5>> She maintains that all three have shaped parts of the Apocalypse. The oracles of Revelation 2-3, with their appeal to decision and their emphasis on the requisite deeds of the seven churches in the immediate future, have a clear deliberative edge to them. And there are signs of judicial rhetoric in the bitter denunciation of Rome, the condemnation of the author’s opponents in Rev 2-3, and the calls for the reader to judge the claims of those who call themselves one thing, but are not.<<6>> But, Fiorenza concludes, “to decide for one [mode of rhetoric] over and against the other would not enhance but diminish our readings.”<<7>>

Royalty nevertheless claims that, for several reasons, epideictic rhetoric predominates:

First, epideictic tries to affect an audience’s view, opinions, or values. Second, epideictic rhetoric includes speeches of praise (encomium, panegyric, laudatio) and blame (psogos, vituperatio) of persons and cities. Third, epideictic rhetoric is distinguished by its amplification (ergasia, amplificatio) of topics and imagery; vivid description (ekphrasis); and compassion (synkrisis). All three of these characteristics are prominent features in Revelation.<<8>>

 

The phenomenon of naming in the Apocalypse supports the identification of this book’s rhetoric as epideictic.<<9>> The author uses names, epithets, and sobriquets to reshape the perceptions and world view of his audience and to make subtle normative claims on reality. Epideictic rhetoric is the rhetorical mode that privileges blame and praise. “Naming” in the Apocalypse is one of the more effective ways in which the author blames and praises. This naming evokes stories and images, and places value—both positive and negative—on the individuals, groups, or deities thus named. The author employs all three of the traditional modes of proof in the Apocalypseethos, pathos, and logosbut not in equal proportion: pathetical proofs (pathos) pervade this book.

Despite Royalty’s correction of Fiorenza, we should be cautious about under-appreciating the deliberative edge to the epideictic rhetoric of the Apocalypse. Epideictic is “the most difficult to define”<<10>> of the three universal species of rhetoric. Nevertheless, epideictic and deliberative rhetoric clearly overlap.<<11>> George Kennedy warns that “a great deal of what is commonly called epideictic is deliberative, written in an epideictic style.”<<12>>

A good example of the overlap in these categories can be found in the “macarisms” of Revelation. The author pronounces macarisms, or blessings, in the first and last chapters of the Apocalypse book on those who respond to or “keep” what John writes. Although macarisms are a medium of praise that formally fit well with epideictic rhetoric, the macarisms of the Apocalypse highlight and evoke the readers praxis, their response to the words of this book:

1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud and those who hear the words of the prophecy and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

14:13 Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.<<13>>

16:15 Blessed is the one who stays awake and who keeps his or her clothes on.<<14>>

19:9 Blessed are those who have been invited to the lamb’s wedding reception.

20:6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection.

22:7 Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.

22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes.<<15>>

All of the “blessings” in the book relate in some way to the resistance ethic of the book. The occasional editorial address to the implied reader underscores this deliberative agenda: “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of Jesus” (14:12). Thus, whatever else we conclude about the purpose of this book, a central part of its purpose was to effect a faithful response on the part of its hearers/readers—a rhetorical function normally associated with the deliberative.

Since deliberative rhetoric emerges more clearly in the prophetic oracles of Revelation 2-3, it is not surprising that John T. Kirby identifies deliberative as the primary rhetorical mode of the Apocalypse.<<16>> Royalty rejects Kirby’s identification and charges that Kirby has inadequately appreciated the rhetorical purposes of the Apocalypse.<<17>>

The rhetoric of the Apocalypse is more negative than positive in its expression. It is primarily dissuasive, rather than hortatory,<<18>> insofar as its burden is that of resistance—resistance to moral compromise, to false allegiances, and to false world views. The Apocalypse has much more to say about what generally is wrong in the readers’ world than what generally is right—about what not to do, than what to do positively.

Nevertheless, the actions encouraged by the author are vague or immaterial to the central rhetorical force of the book, suggesting that epideictic rhetoric is central to the book after all. Kennedy notes that even “funeral orations and panegyrics [as prime examples of epideictic rhetoric] were intended to be persuasive and often imply some need for actions, though in a more general way than does deliberative oratory.”<<19>> If he is right, then the category of rhetoric that best fits the Apocalypse is epideictic. At the heart of the Apocalypse is a concern to reform, even revolutionize, the values and world view of the readers.

Thus, while epideictic rhetoric predominates in the book, deliberative concerns are not far behind. The sort of proper world view and values envisioned by the author are those that will lead to proper action, which necessarily entails a concern for how the community of the faithful should therefore live. In Kennedy’s words, even epideictic rhetoric can “take on a more or less subtle deliberative purpose,”<<20>> and we see this happening in the Apocalypse. It is not just vision or imagination with which the Apocalypse is concerned, but with will and intentionality.<<21>>

Furthermore, recent students of rhetoric have affirmed the power of epideictic rhetoric to shape the social sphere. Depending on the view of the author, epideictic rhetoric can shore up the status quo, reaffirming traditional values in a nonthreatening way, or it can have sweeping social implications. In either case, the inculcation of values is not politically neutral or inherently conservative; rather, by focusing on values, epideictic rhetoric not only “messes with the mind” of the readers, both individually and collectively; it also represents a socially significant act.<<22>> John used the tools this sort of rhetoric provided not only to criticize the prevailing values of the seven churches, but also to suggest the sorts of values that were in keeping with the new order being revealed by God. With this in mind, we are now prepared to examine more directly the role of the lamb in the rhetorical program of the Apocalypse.

The Lamb in the Apocalypse

Some commentators have made the mistake of analyzing the image of the lamb through a narrowly conceived symbol analysis, without adequate attention to how the book’s lamb Christology fits with other key elements in the rhetoric of the Apocalypse. These key elements include, among other things, its understanding of “conquering” (2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12; 5:5; 6:2; 11:7; 12:11; 13:7; 15:2; 17:14; 21:7), its emphasis on being a faithful witness (1:2, 5, 9; 2:13; 3:14; 6:9; 11:3, 7; 12:11, 17; 15:5; 17:6; 19:10; 20:4; 22:16, 18, 20), and the power of the Apocalypse to shape one’s world view through naming (in both praise and blame). One of the key studies of the Apocalypse is that of the “naming” of Christ in this book.

The Christology of the Apocalypse is dynamic rather than static. While there is an obvious interest in names and titles, there is little interest in arguing for one title as over against another or for establishing the implications of any particular title. Titular approaches to the study of the Christologies of the New Testament tend to be reductionistic in assuming that the weight of an author’s Christology can be and is carried in the titles used by that author. If we understand title in its narrower sense, then most of the “titles” that appear in the book are not really titles at all, and none is the key to the Christology of the Apocalypse.

The author applies many images to Christ in the Apocalypse as part of his strategy of naming. While names for God and for Christ abound, so do names for Satan, for the beast—indeed for anyone, mythological or historical, who opposes the will of God. The preponderance of participial constructions indicates that the author has a dynamic understanding of Christ and of his work. Even traditionally weighty “titles,” such as “Son of God” and “son of man,” are used so infrequently and inconsequentially as to suggest their relative unimportance.<<23>> The key to appropriating the author’s Christology lies in responding to the prophetic word, in recognizing the power of Christ’s presence in the worshiping community, and in understanding both the power and the ethical relevance of his death and resurrection for lives of faith in the first century C.E.

Names and epithets used of Christ include Jesus Christ (1:1, 2, 5); the faithful witness (1:5; cf. 3:14); the firstborn from the dead (1:5); the ruler of the kings of the earth (1:5; cf. 17:18); the one who continually loves us (1:5; cf. 3:9); the one who has freed us from our sins with his blood (1:5); Jesus (1:9 [bis]; 12:17; 14:12; 17:6; 19:10 [bis]; 20:4; 22:16); the voice (1:12); one like a son of man (1:13; 14:14), the first and the last (1:17; 2:8; 22:13); the living one (1:18); the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand (2:1; cf. 3:1); the one who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands (2:1); the one who has the sharp, two-edged sword (2:12); the Son of God (2:18); the one who has eyes like a flame of fire (2:18); the one whose feet are like burnished bronze (2:18); the one who searches mind and heart (2:23); the one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars (3:1; cf. 2:1); the holy one (3:7); the true one (3:7); the one who has the key of David (3:7); the one who opens and no one will shut (3:7); the one who shuts and no one opens (3:7); the Amen (3:14); the faithful and true witness (3:14; cf. 1:5; 19:11); the beginning of God’s creation (3:14); the lion from the tribe of Judah (5:5); the root of David (5:5; cf. 22:16); the lamb (5:6, 8, 12, 13; 6:1, 16; 7:9, 10, 14, 17; 12:11; 13:8; 14:1, 4 [bis], 10; 15:3; 17:14 [bis]; 19:7, 9; 21:9, 14, 22, 23, 27; 22:1, 3; cf. 13:11; lamb is modified by esphagmenon [slaughtered] in 5:12 and 13:8); messiah (11:15; 12:10; 20:4, 6; cf. 1:1, 2, 5); child (12:5); male son (12:5); the one who is about to rule all the nations (12:5; cf. 7:17); lord of lords (17:14; 19:16); king of kings (17:14; 19:16); lord (11:8; 14:13; 22:20); the one who sits on the cloud (14:15, 16; cf. 14:14); the word of God (19:13); the one who sits on the horse (19:19, 21); the alpha and the omega (22:13; cf. 1:8 and 21:6, where this phrase refers to God); the beginning and the end (22:13; cf. 1:8mar and 21:6, where this phrase refers to God); the bright morning star (22:16; cf. 2:28); and Lord Jesus (22:20, 21).<<24>>

The one name that is used more than any other is lamb. The Greek word here is arnion, one of eight words used for lamb in the Septuagint. This particular word appears in Ps. 114(113):4, 6, where it “translates” bnei-tso’n; in Isaiah 40:11Aq, where it “translates” taleh; in Jeremiah 11:19, where it “translates” keves; and in Jeremiah 50(27):45, where it “translates” tse`irei hatso’n. It also appears in Psalms of Solomon 8:23, where there is no Hebrew equivalent.

The variety of Hebrew words behind the term suggests that there is more than mere translation going on here. In each of these contexts, the lamb in question is not a literal, flesh-and-blood lamb, but rather a symbol for something. Furthermore, in each case, arnion is used symbolically to signify vulnerability.

Arnion is never used in the Septuagint with reference to the Passover victim, the sacrificial lamb, or the Suffering Servant of Isaiah. The word is not used of rams in the extant Greek literature. This observation suggests that the theme of vulnerability be investigated in the Apocalypse to determine the appropriateness of this symbolic association.

From a rhetorical-critical perspective, it is not enough simply to identify a symbol’s linguistic background or its tradition history, nor to define its role within literature by reducing it to an “essence,” nor simply to identify its referent. The exegete of the Apocalypse is not one who strives to crack a code. Rather, one must, in Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza’s words,

trace [a symbol’s] position within the overall form-content configuration (Gestalt) of Rev. and see its relationships to other images and within the ‘strategic’ positions of the composition. Only a ‘proportional’ analysis of its images can determine what they are about within the structure of the work determining the phase of action in which they are invoked.<<25>>

 

Thus, even if the seven lampstands “are” the seven churches (1:20), simply identifying them as such reveals only a part of the image’s capacity to communicate. And to say that the lamb in Revelation “is” Jesus does little justice to its capacity to communicate, as it is with identifying the logos of the prologue of the Fourth Gospel as Jesus. These identifications may be accurate, but they do not fully mine the meaning capacity of the symbols. Rhetorical criticism moves beyond mere “identification” and/or source criticism to ask about the nature, function, power, imaginative force, and effect of the symbolic system being constructed in the text.

The semantic value or overall cultural Gestalt attributed to animals in the Graeco-Roman world was significant. Although the “meaning” of the ram varied from region to region and from one era to the next in the Graeco-Roman world, there was at least a more significant and well-formed cultural Gestalt for the ram than there was for the lamb. Rams were generally considered more valuable than lambs in sacrifice. With few exceptions, lambs were not considered particularly valuable or desirable as sacrificial victims, comparatively speaking. In Egypt, rams were associated with creation, an association Philo knew.<<26>> In some localities rams symbolized fertility, while in others, protection. While the lion was the preeminent symbol of aggressive violence in sculpture, iconography, and the Homeric epic, the wolf was the preeminent symbol of aggressive violence in most Classical Greek literature. The ram was the preeminent symbol of defensive violence in Egypt. Although the association of the ram with fertility and violence did not extend to the lamb, both rams and lambs were widely associated with divination and the consultation of oracles in Greece, even though rams predominated in Egypt.

Symbolic values reflected in the Aesopic traditions clearly attribute to sheep—and especially to lambs—the value of vulnerability.<<27>> They were not necessarily victims, but they were vulnerable. In the Aesopic traditions, lambs often appear in relation to wolves, their mortal enemy. The vulnerability of the lamb is also central to the animal’s semantic value in Homer, though its archetypal enemy there seems to be the lion. What emerges most significantly in relation to the Apocalypse is the fact that lambs in the Graeco-Roman world were most often and most directly associated with divination, with the consulting and interpretation of oracles, and with vulnerability.

But vulnerability hardly seems to fit the rhetoric of the Apocalypse! The lamb of the Apocalypse is a strong and victorious character. In Revelation 6 the kings of the earth and the magnates, the generals, the rich and the powerful—indeed, everyone, both slave and free, called to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the lamb” (6:15-16)! This is no sweet lambkin, but a powerful and victorious hero!

It was apparently the inappropriateness of this conception of the lamb as a cute, dear lambkin that propelled Friedrich Spitta to translate arnion as “ram” and to look for a militant conquering ram tradition in Early Judaism.<<28>> If vulnerability is in view in the Apocalypse, it can only be a gutsy, costly, and effective kind of vulnerability and an apocalyptic challenge to the usual meaning and value of vulnerability.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that many Bible dictionaries and commentaries on the Apocalypse appeal to a supposed militaristic lamb-redeemer figure in Early Judaism, there is little evidence to support such a tradition. Joachim Jeremias,<<29>> Traugott Holtz,<<30>> and Sophie Laws<<31>> have denied that such a tradition existed. At the same time, other commentators have spoken confidently about the warrior lamb figure in Early Judaism and have appealed to traditions about that figure in explaining the origins and function of John’s lamb Christology. Scholars who appeal to some version of the lamb-redeemer figure in Early Judaism as a key to understanding the symbolism of the lamb in the Apocalypse include such scholars as Raymond Brown,<<32>> George Wesley Buchanan,<<33>> R. H. Charles,<<34>> Jacques M. Chevalier,<<35>> C. H. Dodd,<<36>> Ernst Lohmeyer,<<37>> Josephine Massyngberde-Ford,<<38>> Leon Morris,<<39>> Robert H. Mounce,<<40>> Charles H. Talbert,<<41>> and Etienne Trocmé.<<42>>

From a rhetorical-critical point of view, the stakes in this debate are high. If these scholars are right in positing a traditional militaristic lamb-redeemer figure in Early Judaism, then this could easily clarify how and why John chose to portray Christ as a lamb, and what force it carries in the book. The image of Christ as arnion would then be a continuation or extension of military might suggested in the titles ho leon ho ek tes phyles Iouda (the lion from the tribe of Judah), and he rhiza Dauid (the root [or shoot] of David) from Rev 5:5. On the other hand, if the lamb is a symbol of vulnerability, as suggested by the linguistic evidence in the Septuagint and the cultural associations in the Graeco-Roman world, then it could serve to turn the old ideas of power upside down.

So is the lamb a symbol of vulnerability or of force? If Bruce Malina is right, it is the latter. According to Malina, the purpose of portraying Christ as a cosmic lamb becomes apparent when one realizes that the cosmic lamb is really the powerful and violent ram of Aries. “All the imagery associated with the lamb is that of power, force, control, and conquest.”<<43>> It was his power that was significant to John, and “power means the ability to control others based on an implied sanction of force.”<<44>> Although the readers of the Apocalypse were suffering no persecution, according to Malina,<<45>> such a message would have been welcome “in a culture that submitted to nature and its forces” and would have provided a “renewed zest for living.”<<46>>

Although it is the use of the lamb Christology within the Apocalypse that is ultimately crucial for determining the rhetorical force of that Christology, a brief review of the supposed evidence for a militaristic lamb-redeemer figure in the traditions of Early Judaism may be helpful here.<<47>> There are primarily three texts that have been used to posit such a symbolic-theological tradition: Testament of Joseph 19:8, Testament of Benjamin 3:8, and the Animal Apocalypse of 1 Enoch (1 Enoch 89-90).<<48>> The first two of these are either Christian compositions indebted to the Apocalypse of John or have Christian interpolations that are so indebted.<<49>>

In the Animal Apocalypse, David and others, such as those who suffered persecution under Antiochus IV Epiphanes, are portrayed as defenseless lambs, which then become rams and enter into conflict with the ravens (i.e., the Seleucids). Numerous commentators on the Apocalypse have attempted to explain its lamb Christology by pointing out that the Maccabeans are represented as horned lambs in this passage.<<50>> This statement, however, is misleading at best, since the lambs must become something else, like rams, in order to function as leaders and rulers. The bleating lambs whose cries are not heard (1 Enoch 90:6-12) probably refer to the Maccabeans (and other faithful Jews) who experienced the violent persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes before the one lamb grew a great horn and became a ram (i.e., before Judas Maccabeus began to exercise his leadership).<<51>>

The image of one animal “becoming” another animal is not just a passing observation or minor point here. The Animal Apocalypse reflects a keen interest in a strict hierarchy of beings, with each metamorphosis significant.<<52>> The lamb who grew “one great horn” (90:9; Judas Maccabeus) is, from 90:13 on, called a “ram” (krios in the Greek). Thus, the text itself implies that “lamb” is not an appropriate symbol for a leader or a ruler, unless it be for a ruler who is temporarily suffering persecution. The lamb in the Apocalypse never “becomes” any other animal—not a ram, a lion, or any other creature. It remains a lamb from beginning to end.

But the method by which the lamb is introduced is significant. As a narrative, the Apocalypse of John has both characterization and plot.<<53>> The rhetorical fulcrum of the Apocalypse is the scene in heaven in chapters 4 and 5. According to Schüssler Fiorenza, “chapters 4-5 lay the rhetorical foundation and provide the key symbolic images for all that follows.”<<54>> It is here that many of the important themes in the Apocalypse are introduced for the first time: the throne (though see 1:4; 3:21), the One sitting on the throne, the four living creatures, the twenty-four elders, and the Book (or scroll). Though this scene is a unity, it is not independent from the rest of the book.<<55>>

While the throne vision of chapter 4 is the necessary context, the climax of this scene comes in the fifth chapter. The scene revolves around the question, “Who is worthy to take the scroll?” It is announced that the lion conqueror is worthy. But what does the seer see? “A lamb standing as slaughtered” (5:6). This scene, with its shocking switch<<56>> of images, lies at the theological heart of the Apocalypse. From here on, the image of Christ as lamb serves as the dominant image for Christ.<<57>>

Eugene Boring rightly calls this “one of the most mind-wrenching and theologically pregnant transformations of imagery in literature.”<<58>> David Barr says, “A more complete reversal of value would be hard to imagine.”<<59>> In Donald Guthrie’s words, “there could hardly be a more striking or unexpected contrast.”<<60>> By the time we finally catch sight of the lamb for the first time in chapter 5, we have already seen most of the titles or names used for Christ. This mid-stream switch of images seems designed specifically to communicate the shock and irony of the author’s message—that God’s messiah conquers by being a slain lamb, not a devouring lion. The Seer introduces the lamb in Revelation 5 in such a way as to underscore a central reversal in his apocalypse. At the heart of this reversal is a redefinition of power as perceived in John’s theology of the cross.

Of course, this interpretation holds only if the lamb turns out really to be a symbol of vulnerability rather than a symbol of the power of violence. Is there corroborating evidence of some kind to enable one to confirm the integrity of such a reading?

There is, though space considerations preclude anything more than an outline of such corroborating evidence. First, as we have already seen, the linguistic evidence supports the connection with vulnerability. If John had intended to communicate Jesus’ power and unmitigated force, he could not have chosen a more inappropriate animal with which to symbolize him. And within the semantic domain, he could not have chosen a more inappropriate word for lamb than arnion.

Second, ancillary details in the presentation of the lamb make it clear that vulnerability, not militaristic force is in view. This lamb has been “slaughtered.” The first time John sees this lamb, it is standing, even though it bears the marks of its slaughter (5:6). The lamb is declared worthy precisely because it was slaughtered (5:9), and its having been slaughtered is an essential part of its identity (5:12; 13:8). The reference cannot be to the lamb as a sacrifice for sin in the sacrificial cult, for the language used is that of butchery and murder, not ritual sacrifice.<<61>> And there is no interest in the act of sacrifice itself in the Apocalypse. Whatever else was a concern of this author, expiation for sin was not central to it.<<62>>

Third, many of the other “names” for Christ fall into two interrelated categories: terms that emphasize the overcoming of death<<63>> and terms that have strong political overtones.<<64>> The political critique of kingship and the relativizing of royal authority inherent in these titles draw on well-established Jewish traditions, such as the critique of kingship preserved by the Deuteronomist in 1 Samuel 8 and the critique of kingship in the composite known as 1 Enoch.<<65>>

The implication for the Apocalypse is that the lordship of Christ proclaimed in this book represented a challenge to the contemporary political powers—a challenge that the author maintains cannot be met through the threat of the death penalty, since Christ has overcome death. Despite the success Constantinian Christianity has enjoyed in schooling Christian readers to see this language as “spiritual” rather than “political,” the political critique could hardly have been missed by first-century readers. The challenge to the Roman emperor and to the emperor cult in Asia inherent in such language would have been obvious.<<66>> The reader is encouraged to see in the christological language of the Apocalypse a political critique that cannot be repressed by means of state murder.

Fourth, the author makes a clear connection between the character, work, and fate of the lamb and the character, work, and fate of the believers to whom he is writing. We see this, for instance, in the insistence that the holy warriors<<67>> in 14:4 “follow the lamb wherever he goes.” The repeated promise of reward to the one who conquers in Rev 2-3 is specifically linked to Christ’s own conquering (i.e., through his death): “I will grant the conqueror to sit with me on my throne, just as I conquered and sat with my father on his throne” (3:21).

Fifth, the lamb does not do battle in any conventional way. There is war in the Apocalypse, but it is strangely unconventional. Just when one appears to be on the verge of seeing a real battle, it turns out that it is already over. In the “holy war” of Revelation 7, the 144,000 appear to be soldiers mustered for war. But they are robed in white (7:13-14), and have made their robes white in the blood of the Lamb (7:14), suggesting that their victory comes by way of their own deaths. In Rev 2:16, Christ warns the people of Pergamum about the Nicolaitans among them. He says he will make war with them with the sword of his mouth. In 12:7 there is war in heaven as Michael and his angels fight the dragon and his angels. In 13:4 the whole earth worships the beast and questions whether anyone can resist (i.e., “make war on”) the beast. In 17:14 the ten kings make war on the lamb, but the lamb conquers them “because he is lord of lords and king of kings and the ones with him are called and chosen and faithful.” Thus the Lamb and his followers apparently gain the victory because of their righteous deeds off the battlefield, not because of their skill in physical combat.

The closest we get to a battle scene in the Apocalypse is in chapter 19. There we read that John saw heaven opened and, behold, a white horse, and the one seated on it was faithful, called, and true (cf. 1:5; 3:14), and he judges and “makes war” (polemei) in righteousness. The rider approaches the battle dressed in a robe dipped in blood (19:13)—his own blood of witness/martyrdom. In keeping with the pivotal scene in Revelation 5 and the message of the book as a whole (cf. esp. the references to blood in 1:5; 7:14; 12:11), the blood here is the blood of martyrdom, in contrast to Isaiah 63:1-3, the source of this imagery, where the blood is the blood of the enemies of the divine warrior.<<68>> John is, in fact, challenging the reader to look more carefully at his language and to reinterpret Isaiah 63 in the light of the lamb. The warrior himself is called “the word of God” (19:13) and his only weapon is the sword that comes out of his mouth (19:15; cf. 1:16; 2:12).

Thus, even here, no real battle scene is narrated. No story is possible, since the decisive battle is long over.<<69>> That is also why he can already ride the white horse. His victory is consistently portrayed in terms of his death and resurrection. The ones with him are not human warriors eager to take vengeance on the nations, but “armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure” (19:14). And we have just been informed that the wearing of fine linen is granted by God and that it refers to ta dikaiomata ton hagion (the righteous deeds of the saints; 19:8).

Paradoxically, the lamb conquers not by victory through the strength of force or domination, but by victory through faithful witness—a faithful witness the author is convinced will lead to both persecution and martyrdom. This is why the battle scenes in the book are never narrated satisfactorily: the key battle has already been won on the cross despite the ongoing nature of the conflict and the ever-present need for consistent resistance.<<70>>

Conclusion

The most significant battle in the Apocalypse is thus a battle for perception fought on the rhetorical battlefield. At stake were the hearts, minds, perceptions, and allegiances of the Asian believers. Were they to define their reality and values in terms that were readily available to them as residents of the province of Asia? Would a good, long look out of their windows provide the data necessary for determining what was really going on in the world? Or did they need a revelation of Jesus Christ from God (through John, by way of God’s messenger angel) to know what was really going on?

The message of the Apocalypse was that whether or not they recognized it,<<71>> the Asian believers were facing a life-and-death struggle—a struggle they were being invited to embrace and join. This struggle would necessarily be characterized by real conflict. But the primary weapon by which this conflict would be engaged was the weapon of faithful witness—a witness that the author fully expected would lead to their martyrdom. But instead of arguing logocentrically by means of a judicial rhetoric why such an embrace of the struggle was the only faithful response, or exhorting them directly by means of a deliberative rhetoric to engage in the struggle, he uses an epideictic rhetoric of praise to the lamb and invective against the beasts and the whore of Rome to move his readers to embrace his values.


 

1.  I am using persuade here in the broader, more encompassing sense characteristic of rhetorical criticism generally, not in the narrower, logocentric sense. The persuasion of the Apocalypse is primarily a persuasion to see the universe through different lenses, to effect a world view that fits with the understanding of Jesus’ slaughter as the key to victory over evil. <Back>

2.  On redefinition and parody as central characteristics in the rhetoric of the Apocalypse, see esp. James H. Charlesworth, “The Apocalypse of John: Its Theology and Impact on Subsequent Apocalypses,” pt. 2 in The New Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha: A Guide to Publications, with Excursuses on Apocalypses, edited by James H. Charlesworth (Metuchen and London: The American Theological Library Association and Scarecrow Press, 1987), pp. 19-51; and Sophie Laws, In the Light of the Lamb: Imagery, Parody, and Theology in the Apocalypse of John (Wilmington, Del.: M. Glazier, 1988).  <Back>

3.  Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, “A Rhetorical Analysis of Revelation,” in the Introduction to Revelation: Vision of a Just World (Proclamation Commentaries; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991), pp. 20-37. <Back>

4.  Cf. Robert M. Royalty, Jr., “The Rhetoric of Revelation,” Society of Biblical Literature 1997 Seminar Papers (No. 36; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997), pp. 596-617; esp. 600-602. Adding “at least on the conscious level” recognizes the fact that all communication depends upon conventions learned at the subconscious level.  <Back>

5.  Fiorenza, Rhetorical Analysis,” p. 26.  <Back>

6.  The examples of self-naming are all positive claims to authority or privilege that are challenged by the author: those who call themselves apostles and are not (2:2); those who call themselves Jews and are not (2:9; 3:9); and the woman Jezebel, who [falsely?] calls herself a prophet (2:20). The examples of judicial rhetoric could be multiplied if one expands the definition of judicial rhetoric to include in it forms of argumentation that were developed by apocalypticists and other ancient Jewish and Christian writers, as Robert G. Hall argues we should. See Robert G. Hall, “Arguing Like an Apocalypse: Galatians and an Ancient Topos Outside the Greco-Roman Rhetorical Tradition, NTS 42 (1996), pp. 434-53.  <Back>

7.  Fiorenza, Rhetorical Analysis,” p. 26.  <Back>

8.  Royalty, The Rhetoric of Revelation,” pp. 601-2.  <Back>

9.  On naming, see the excellent paper by Edith M. Humphrey, “On Visions, Arguments and Naming: The Rhetoric of Specificity and Mystery in the Apocalypse, a presentation at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, San Francisco, November 1997. (The present author gained access to this paper at http://www.wright.edu/academics/faculty/dbarr/%20humphrey.htm).  <Back>

10.  George A. Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation Through Rhetorical Criticism (Studies in Religion; Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1984), p. 73. <Back>

11.  Cf. Aristotle, Rhetoric 1.9.35-37; cf. also George A. Kennedy, Classical Rhetoric and Its Christian and Secular Tradition from Ancient Times to Modern Times (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1980), pp. 73-75; and Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation, pp. 73-74. <Back>

12.  Kennedy, Classical Rhetoric, p. 74.  <Back>

13.  Those who die in the Apocalypse are those who maintain “faithful witness.”  <Back>

14.  Clothing in the Apocalypse represents the righteous deeds of the saints; cf. 19:8.  <Back>

15.  Despite Stephen Goranson’s efforts to argue to the contrary (Stephen Goranson, The Text of Revelation 22.14,” NTS 43 [1997]: 154-57), the reading, plynontes stolas auton (those who wash their robes) in 22:14 has better external witnesses and is the more difficult reading, compared to poiountes tas entolas autou (those who do his commandments). While “doing his commandments” is certainly an important concern for the author, it is more likely that a later scribe was perplexed by a blessing on those who washed their robes (which is nevertheless in keeping with 7:14; cf. also 3:4-5,18; 6:11; 15:6; 16:15; 19:8,14) than by a blessing on those who do his commandments. In practical terms, there is little difference between the two readings. <Back>

16.  John T. Kirby, “The Rhetorical Situations of Revelation 1-3,” NTS 34 (1988), 197-207.  <Back>

17.  Royalty, The Rhetoric of Revelation,” p. 602, note 22.  <Back>

18.  On the categorization of deliberative rhetoric as hortatory and dissuasive, see Aristotle, Rhetoric 1.3.3; and Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation, p. 20.  <Back>

19.  Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation, p. 73.  <Back>

20.  Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation, p. 74.  <Back>

21.  Cf. Amos N. Wilder, “The Rhetoric of Ancient and Modern Apocalyptic,” Interpretation 25 (1971), pp. 436-53, esp. p. 453.  <Back>

22.  For a helpful and insightful analysis of epideictic rhetoric’s propensity to shape the social sphere, see Takis Poulakos, “Towards a Cultural Understanding of Classical Epideictic Oratory,” in Pre/Text 9 (1988), pp. 147-166.  <Back>

23.  For a careful investigation of the “Son of Man” “title” in the Apocalypse, see A[dela] Yarbro Collins, “The ‘Son of Man’ Tradition and the Book of Revelation,” in The Messiah: Developments in Earliest Judaism and Christianity, edited by James H. Charlesworth, in collaboration with J. Brownson, M. T. Davis, S. J. Kraftchick, and A. F. Segal (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), 536-68. See esp. p. 568: “The use of the quasi-titular definite form of the phrase is apparently unknown to the author of Revelation. <Back>

24.  For a fuller description of these titles, see Appendix II of my dissertation: Loren L. Johns, The Origins and Rhetorical Force of the Lamb Christology of the Apocalypse of John, Ph.D. dissertation (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Theological Seminary, 1998).  <Back>

25.  Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, The Book of Revelation: Justice and Judgment (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1985), p. 188.  <Back>

26.  Philo, The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, translated by C. D. Yonge, with an introduction by David M. Scholer (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1993), pp. 842-43. This particular work, “Questions and Answers on Genesis,” is not extant in Greek and does not appear in the Loeb editions.  <Back>

27.  The symbolism most consistently associated with lambs in these fables revolves around the vulnerability of the lambs (cf. Babrius 51; 89; 93; 113; 128; 132; Phaedrus 1.1; 1.17; Perotti’s Appendix, Fable 26; Other Aesopic Fables, nos. 160, 209, 234, 342, 366, 451, 595, 596, 636, 655, and 705). In some of these cases the vulnerability of the sheep is not the fable’s main concern, but is part of the fable’s set-up for another point, revealing that the vulnerability of the sheep or lamb is part of the deep structure of the symbolic language in the Aesopic tradition.  <Back>

28.  Friedrich Spitta, “Christus das Lamm,” in Streitfragen der Geschichte Jesu (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1907), pp. 172-223.  <Back>

29.  Joachim Jeremias, amnos, aren, arnion,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by Gerhard Kittel, translated and edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1964), 1.338-41. <Back>

30.  Traugott Holtz, Die Christologie der Apokalypse des Johannes, 2nd ed. (Texte und Untersuchungen, vol. 85; Berlin: Akademie, 1971), pp. 48-50. <Back>

31.  Sophie Laws, In the Light of the Lamb: Imagery, Parody, and Theology in the Apocalypse of John (Wilmington, Del.: M. Glazier, 1988), pp. 27-28.  <Back>

32.  Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John, I-XII: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, 2d ed. (The Anchor Bible, vol. 29; Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1981), pp. 58-60.  <Back>

33.  George Wesley Buchanan, The Book of Revelation: Its Introduction and Prophecy (New Testament Series, vol. 22; Lewston/Queenston/Lampeter: Mellen Biblical Press, 1993), pp. 149-50.  <Back>

34.  R. H. Charles, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St. John, Vol. 1 (The International Critical Commentary; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1920), p. 141.  <Back>

35.  Jacques M. Chevalier, A Postmodern Revelation: Signs of Astrology and the Apocalypse (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 1997), p. 250.  <Back>

36.  C. H. Dodd, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1953), p. 236.  <Back>

37.  Ernst Lohmeyer, Die Offenbarung des Johannes, 6th ed. (Handbuch zum Neuen Testament, no. 16; Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1953), pp. 51-55.  <Back>

38.  J. Massyngberde Ford, Revelation (The Anchor Bible, vol. 38; Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, 1975), pp. 88-89.  <Back>

39.  Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1995), p. 129.  <Back>

40.  Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (New International Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1977), p. 145; cf. also Robert H. Mounce, “Christology of the Apocalypse,” Foundations 11 (January-March 1968): 42-51.  <Back>

41.  Charles H. Talbert, The Apocalypse: A Reading of the Revelation of John (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), p. 29.  <Back>

42.  Etienne Trocmé, “Lamb of God,” in The Oxford Companion to the Bible, edited by Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 418-19.  <Back>

43.  Bruce J. Malina, On the Genre and Message of Revelation: Star Visions and Sky Journeys (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995), p. 101.  <Back>

44.  Malina, Genre and Message, p. 263.  <Back>

45.  On the issue of the social situation of the seven churches—especially with regard to persecution as a central factor in the occasion of the writing—I agree with Bruce Malina, Robert Royalty (cf. Royalty, “Rhetoric of Revelation,” p. 599-600), Leonard Thompson (Leonard Thompson, The Book of Revelation: Apocalypse and Empire (New York: Oxford University Press), p. 175 et passim), and others that there was no systematic, full-scale persecution of the church under Domitian. I do take Rev 1:9 as evidence of some persecution because of John’s Christian witness, and Rev 2:13 as evidence of a martyrdom in the distant past, but the primary implied problem in Rev 2-3 is that of spiritual dullness and assimilation, not a crisis due to oppression from without. In Royalty’s words, “the text does not reflect a situation of crisis or oppression so much as it tries to create a crisis in the social world of its original audience” (“Rhetoric of Revelation,” p. 599). <Back>

46.  Malina, Genre and Message, p. 263. A variation on this misinterpretation is that of the dispensationalists, who, despite the lack of any support in the book of Revelation, treat Jesus’ first coming as one characterized by the lamb, and his second coming as one characterized by the lion. This interpretation is typical among Fundamentalist Evangelicals in North America. For instance, Hal Lindsey says, “When Jesus came to earth the first time He came in humility to offer Himself as the Lamb of God to die for the sins of men [sic]. But when He comes again He’ll return in the strength and supremacy of a lion” (There’s a New World Coming: A Prophetic Odyssey [Santa Ana, Cal.: Vision House Publishers, 1973], p. 94); cf. also George Eldon Ladd: “[The] Messiah has a twofold role to fulfill. First, he must come in humility and meekness to suffer and die; then at the end of the age he must return in power and glory to put all his enemies under his feet. The reigning King must be first a crucified Savior” (A Commentary on the Revelation of John [Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972], pp. 86-87). Note also the subtitle of the Fisherman Bible Studyguide to John’s Apocalypse: Revelation: The Lamb Who Is the Lion, Gladys Hunt, rev. ed. (Wheaton, Ill.: Harold Shaw Publishers, 1994 [orig. pub. 1973]).  <Back>

47.  For more on the history of this discussion, see chap. 4 of Johns, Origins and Rhetorical Force<Back>

48.  In addition to these, some have appealed to the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Exodus 1:15 (e.g., Klaus Koch, “Das Lamm, das Ägypten vernichtet. Ein Fragment aus Jannes und Jambres und sein Geschichtlicher Hintergrund, Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 57 [1966]: 79-93) or to the Tosephta Targum on 1 Samuel 17:43 (J. C. de Moor and E. van Staalduine-Sulman, “The Aramaic Song of the Lamb, Journal for the Study of Judaism 24:2 [1993]: 266-79). But the traditions in these targums cannot confidently be dated to the first century and the appeals cannot be sustained.  <Back>

49.  The attempts by B. Murmelstein (“Das Lamm in Test. Jos. 19:8,” Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 59 [1968] 273-74) and by J. C. O’Neill (“The Lamb of God in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs,” in New Testament Backgrounds: A Sheffield Reader, edited by Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter [The Biblical Seminar, vol. 43; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997], pp. 46-66, a reprint of the article by the same title in Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2 [1979]: 2-30) to recover the precise wording of a pre-Christian Vorlage in these texts that would bear witness to a militaristic lamb-redeemer figure in Early Judaism have not been successful. <Back>

50.  See, e.g., Robert Mounce: “In I Enoch 90:9 the Maccabees are symbolized as ‘horned lambs’”; Mounce, The Book of Revelation, p. 145.  <Back>

51.  For the identification of the “great horn” in 90:9 as Judas Maccabeus, see, inter alia, James C. VanderKam, Enoch and the Growth of an Apocalyptic Tradition (The Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series, no. 16; Washington, D.C.: The Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1984), pp. 161-62; and Patrick A. Tiller, A Commentary on the Animal Apocalypse of I Enoch (Early Judaism and Its Literature, no. 4; Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1993), pp. 62-63.  <Back>

52.  For a discussion of the metamorphoses through the various levels in the Animal Apocalypse, see David Bryan, Cosmos, Chaos and Kosher Mentality (Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha Supplement Series, no. 12; England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), pp. 47-52. <Back>

53.  Cf. Thomas Harding, “Take Back the Apocalypse,” Touchstone 3:1 (January 1985): 29-35; David E. Aune, “The Apocalypse of John and the Problem of Genre, Semeia 36 (1986): 65-96; David L. Barr, “Using Plot to Discern Structure in John’s Apocalypse,” in Proceedings of the Eastern Great Lakes and Mid-West Biblical Societies (1995), pp. 23-33.  <Back>

54.  Fiorenza, Revelation, p. 58.  <Back>

55.  Cf. Nikola Hohnjec, Das Lamm, to arnion in der Offenbarung des Johannes: Eine Exegetisch-Theologische Untersuchung (Roma: Herder, 1980), p. 36.  <Back>

56.  I prefer to speak of the “switch” of images here, rather than the “juxtaposition” of images, since juxtaposition could imply a continuing relationship based on proximity. In this case, however, Jesus is never again referred to as a lion. Lamb takes over as the controlling metaphor.  <Back>

57.  Appearing 28 times with reference to Christ, arnion appears in fully half of the 22 chapters of the Apocalypse, and his presence is implied in others (e.g., 8:1). More importantly, the image of Christ as lamb serves to control and interpret other themes in the book. Cf. Laws, In the Light of the Lamb, pp. 24-31.  <Back>

58.  M. Eugene Boring, “Narrative Christology in the Apocalypse,” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 54 (1992): 708.  <Back>

59.  David L. Barr, “The Apocalypse as a Symbolic Transformation of the World: A Literary Analysis, Interpretation 38 (January 1984): 41.  <Back>

60.  Donald Guthrie, “The Lamb in the Structure of the Book of Revelation,” Vox Evangelica 12 (1987): 64.  <Back>

61.  The New Revised Standard Version correctly translates esfagmenon as slaughtered” rather than “sacrificed” or “slain.” “Murdered” would have been another acceptable choice here. Sphfazo is the language of the slaughterhouse, while thyo, which does not appear in the Apocalypse, is the language of sacrifice. Apart from 5:6, 9, 12; 13:8, sphazo refers to the murder of humans in 6:4, 9; 13:3; 18:24. For more on sphazo as slaughterhouse language, see Laws, In the Light of the Lamb, p. 30.  <Back>

62.  The only hymn in which expiation of sins is inferred is the one hymn the author did not compose himself, but which he drew from traditional material (1:5b-6). Cf. David R. Carnegie, “Worthy is the Lamb: The Hymns in Revelation,” in Christ the Lord: Studies in Christology Presented to Donald Guthrie, edited by Harold H. Rowdon (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1982), pp. 246-47.  <Back>

63.  These include “the firstborn from the dead” (ho prototokos ton nekron; 1:5), “the one who has freed us from our sins with his blood” (to lysanti hemas ek ton hamartion hemon en te haimati autou; 1:5), “the first and the last” (ho protos kai ho eschatos; 1:17; 2:8; 22:13), the living one” (ho zon; 1:18; cf. 2:8); “the faithful and true witness” (ho martys ho pistos; 3:14; cf. 1:5; 19:11); “the alpha and the omega” (to alpha kai to o; 22:13); “the beginning and the end” (he arche kai to telos; 22:13). In context, these turn out to have strong political implications as well.  <Back>

64.  The latter include “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (ho archon ton basileon tes ges; 1:5), “messiah” (Christos; 11:15, 12:10, 20:4, 6), “the one who is about to rule all the nations” (hos mellei poimainein panta ta ethne; 12:5), “lord” (kyrios; 11:8; 14:13; 22:20), lord of lords and king of kings” (kyrios kyrion … kai basileus basileon; 17:14; 19:16), “the lion from the tribe of Judah” (ho leon ho ek tes phyles Iouda; 5:5), the root of David (he rhiza Dauid; 5:5; 22:16), “the one who has the key of David” (ho echon ten klein Dauid; 3:7), “the one who sits on the horse” (ho kathemenos epi tou hippou; 19:19, 21); cf. also 6:2, 4, 5, 8; 9:17; 19:18 where we have other riders of other horses).  <Back>

65.  See 1 Enoch 9:4; 12:3; 25:3, 5, 7; 27:3 [Book I]; 38:4-5; 46:3-5; 53:5; 54:2; 55:3-4; 63:2, 4, 7 [Book II]; 81:3 [Book III]; 84:2-5 [Book IV]; 91:13 [Book V]).  <Back>

66.  The widely acknowledged critique of the emperor cult in Revelation 13 is even more direct. Even though expressed somewhat obliquely, by means of epideictic rhetoric rather than judicial rhetoric, the intent is clear.  <Back>

67.  These followers “have not defiled themselves with women” (14:4), suggesting that their “victory” is won in a holy war. Refraint from sexual intercourse is a traditional element in the holy war motif. See 1 Samuel 21:4-5; cf. also Deuteronomy 20:1-9; 23:9-10; Philo, De Cherubim 49-50. See esp. the comments of Charles Homer Giblin, “The Cohesive Thematic of God’s Holy War of Liberation,” appendix in The Book of Revelation: The Open Book of Prophecy (Good News Studies, no. 34; Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1991), pp. 222-31.  <Back>

68.  Cf. esp. M. Eugene Boring, Revelation, 196-97; and Wilfrid J. Harrington, Revelation (Sacra Pagina, vol. 16; Wilmington, Del.: Michael Glazier, 1993), pp. 192-94; cf. also John Sweet, Revelation (Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1990), pp. 282-83; Pablo Richard, Apocalypse: A People’s Commentary on the Book of Revelation (The Bible & Liberation Series; Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1995), p. 147; Gerhard A. Krodel, Revelation (Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament; Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1989), p. 323. G. B. Caird, however, argues that the blood on the rider’s garments is neither his own nor that of his enemies, but that of the martyr saints (George B. Caird, The Revelation of St. John the Divine; Black’s New Testament Commentaries; London: Adam & Charles Black, 1984), p. 243. <Back>

69.  Cf. Ted Grimsrud, “Peace Theology and the Justice of God in the Book of Revelation,” in Essays on Peace Theology and Witness, edited by Willard M. Swartley (Occasional Papers, no. 12; Elkhart, Ind.: Institute of Mennonite Studies, 1988), p. 145; Vernard Eller, The Most Revealing Book of the Bible: Making Sense Out of Revelation (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), pp. 176-79.  <Back>

70.  Consistent resistance” is Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza’s apt translation of hypomone; Fiorenza, Book of Revelation, pp. 4, 182.  <Back>

71.  The implied problem in Revelation 2-3 is that most of them did not recognize the crisis in their situation for what it really was. <Back>



Copyright © 1998 by Loren L. Johns.


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Last updated July 12, 2006.
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