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wealth and the Apocalypse

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  • Newell, Terry-Michael
    Robert Gundry has argued (convincingly?) that the new Jerusalem is a symbol for the saints. However, he interprets the precious stones in the structure of the
    Message 1 of 5 , Aug 14, 2002
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      Robert Gundry has argued (convincingly?) that the new Jerusalem is a symbol for the saints.  However, he interprets the precious stones in the structure of the city as an indication that the saints will be compensated with material wealth for the persecution which they endured.

       

      Does this image of wealth as reward fit with how the Apocalypse portrays wealth elsewhere?  It seems to me that wealth has been viewed by the author as negative, exploitive, etc., thus, the image of Babylon and its destruction.

       

      Any comments would be appreciated and/or sources dealing with wealth in the Apocalypse.

       

      Thanks,

      Terry-Michael Newell

      Buies Creek, NC

      USA

    • Phil Mayo
      I think that Robert Gundry has made a persuasive argument for the New Jerusalem as representative of the people of God. After all, the angel identifies the
      Message 2 of 5 , Aug 14, 2002
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        I think that Robert Gundry has made a persuasive argument for the New Jerusalem as representative of the people of God.  After all, the angel identifies the city as "the bride, the wife of the Lamb" (21.9 NRSV).  If you consider the connection of the number symbolism with the 144,000 in chs. 7 and 14 as Gundry does, the image becomes clear.
        As for the jewels of the New Jerusalem, a quite common interpretation seems to be their connection to the 12 stones found in the breast piece of the High Priest.  See the commentaries by Beale, NIGTC, 411-12; 1080ff and F. J. Murphy, "Fallen is Babylon," 420-21 for some discussion here.  R. H. Charles notes that the twelve stones of Rev 21 are each associated with the signs of the Zodiac (Charles, 2:167-68), albeit in reverse order according to John's list.  Murphy argues that John sees wealth as negative because of Rome's exploitive use of it but does not see it as evil in itself.  As it relates to the people of God, it is "pure and proper" (421). 
         
        Hope this helps.
         
        Phil Mayo
        --------------------------------------------------------------------
        Philip L. Mayo
        Adjunct Faculty
        Fuller Theological Seminary
        Azusa Pacific University
        pjmayo@...
        ----- Original Message -----
        Sent: Wednesday, August 14, 2002 7:15 AM
        Subject: [revelation-list] wealth and the Apocalypse

        Robert Gundry has argued (convincingly?) that the new Jerusalem is a symbol for the saints.  However, he interprets the precious stones in the structure of the city as an indication that the saints will be compensated with material wealth for the persecution which they endured.

         

        Does this image of wealth as reward fit with how the Apocalypse portrays wealth elsewhere?  It seems to me that wealth has been viewed by the author as negative, exploitive, etc., thus, the image of Babylon and its destruction.

         

        Any comments would be appreciated and/or sources dealing with wealth in the Apocalypse.

         

        Thanks,

        Terry-Michael Newell

        Buies Creek, NC

        USA



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      • Gareth Powell
        Terry, Gundry is mistaken in his interpretation of the New Jerusalem (NJ) as a symbol for the saints, it is rather an eschatological symbol of the hope of the
        Message 3 of 5 , Aug 14, 2002
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          Re: [revelation-list] wealth and the Apocalypse Terry,
          Gundry is mistaken in his interpretation of the New Jerusalem (NJ) as a symbol for the saints, it is rather an eschatological symbol of the hope of the full reign of God in the future for the 1st century Xians the letter was addressed to (see R.Bauckham Climax of Prophecy, or Theology of Revelation pp.126ff.)  It therefore serves as an image of creation as God intended it to be, and Christ redeemed it to be.

          In portraying it as a city John is following in the footsteps of Ezekiel who imagined the future of God’s reign to lie in the physical Jerusalem and a rebuilt temple.  John reuses the imagery in the light of the work of Jesus, and he also uses the image of a city to explicitly contrast the NJ with Babylon (Rome), the two present contrasting pictures in many ways (see D.L.Barr ‘The Apocalypse as Symbolic Transformation of the World: A Literary Analysis’, in Interpretation 38 (1984), pp. 39-50.

          As for the interpretation of the stones I have yet to read an article or commentary that does not start of with a whole host of presuppositions that result in a highly uncritical result, likewise Gundry.  See W.W.Reader, ‘The Twelve Jewels of Revelation 21:19–20: Tradition History and Modern Interpretations’, JBL 100/3 (1981), pages 433-457
          .

          The wealth aspect of Babylon is not critiqued for being just wealth it is more an issues of justice.  The means by which Babylon (Rome) gains her wealth is by economic exploitation and political corruption, John recognises this, and critiques this.  I do not think he is trying to say that wealth is inherently evil, but rather some processes used to amass wealth are evil (see E.S.Fiorenza, Revelation: Vision of a Just World, pp. 92ff, as well as Bauckham, Theology, pp. 35ff. & Climax pp. 338ff.)

          I hope this quick response helps, if you need any other sources let me know.
          Regards
          Gareth powell
        • goranson@duke.edu
          Perhaps you would find interesting material for comparison in Wealth in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the Qumran Community Catherine M. Murphy STDJ 40 Leiden:
          Message 4 of 5 , Aug 14, 2002
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            Perhaps you would find interesting material for comparison in
            Wealth in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the Qumran Community
            Catherine M. Murphy
            STDJ 40
            Leiden: Brill, 2002

            Stephen Goranson
            goranson@...
          • Gareth Powell
            ... Re: [revelation-list] wealth and the Apocalypse Phil, Whilst I agree that the NJ is representative of the people of God, I think that this limits the rich
            Message 5 of 5 , Aug 14, 2002
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              Re: [revelation-list] wealth and the Apocalypse
              Phil,

              Whilst I agree that the NJ is representative of the people of God, I think that this limits the rich symbolism the NJ contains.  It misses altogether the redemptive power of the slain Lamb for the whole of creation, nor does it consider the symbolic reversal from Babylon to the NJ.

              Very few scholars seem to recognise the importance of the redemption of creation in Revelation, and miss the vital link between the judgements on Babylon in Ch. 16 which not only effect Babylon, but also severely damage the creation.  Whilst this interpretation does rely on more liberational approaches to the text, it does render the texts as pertinent for the ecological crisis we find ourselves in today.  More explicitly it allows us top see that creation and humanity are not separate, both are ‘fallen’, and both are in need of redemption, and humanity in its rebellion against God does cause only suffering to itself but also its habitation.

              Gareth Powell





              I think that Robert Gundry has made a persuasive argument for the New Jerusalem as representative of the people of God.  After all, the angel identifies the city as "the bride, the wife of the Lamb" (21.9 NRSV).  If you consider the connection of the number symbolism with the 144,000 in chs. 7 and 14 as Gundry does, the image becomes clear.
              As for the jewels of the New Jerusalem, a quite common interpretation seems to be their connection to the 12 stones found in the breast piece of the High Priest.  See the commentaries by Beale, NIGTC, 411-12; 1080ff and F. J. Murphy, "Fallen is Babylon," 420-21 for some discussion here.  R. H. Charles notes that the twelve stones of Rev 21 are each associated with the signs of the Zodiac (Charles, 2:167-68), albeit in reverse order according to John's list.  Murphy argues that John sees wealth as negative because of Rome's exploitive use of it but does not see it as evil in itself.  As it relates to the people of God, it is "pure and proper" (421).  

              Hope this helps.

              Phil Mayo
              --------------------------------------------------------------------
              Philip L. Mayo
              Adjunct Faculty
              Fuller Theological Seminary
              Azusa Pacific University
              pjmayo@...
              ----- Original Message -----
              From: Newell, Terry-Michael <mailto:newell@...>  
              To: Revelation-List Group (revelation-list@yahoogroups.com) <mailto:revelation-list@yahoogroups.com)>  
              Sent: Wednesday, August 14, 2002 7:15 AM
              Subject: [revelation-list] wealth and the Apocalypse

              Robert Gundry has argued (convincingly?) that the new Jerusalem is a symbol for the saints.  However, he interprets the precious stones in the structure of the city as an indication that the saints will be compensated with material wealth for the persecution which they endured.



              Does this image of wealth as reward fit with how the Apocalypse portrays wealth elsewhere?  It seems to me that wealth has been viewed by the author as negative, exploitive, etc., thus, the image of Babylon and its destruction.



              Any comments would be appreciated and/or sources dealing with wealth in the Apocalypse.



              Thanks,

              Terry-Michael Newell

              Buies Creek, NC

              USA


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