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Re: [revelation-list] Visions?

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  • Ian Paul
    ... There is a wide-ranging question here about the carry-over from metaphors, raised elsewhere by Steve (not another one!) Moyise in his article Does the
    Message 1 of 22 , Oct 21, 2002
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      Steve wrote to Steve about Steve:

      >I agree. My critique of Moore's approach is that the figure "the lamb
      >that was slain" isn't taken seriously enough. This literary character
      >subverts the imperial model of conquest (at least a little bit).

      There is a wide-ranging question here about the 'carry-over' from metaphors,
      raised elsewhere by Steve (not another one!) Moyise in his article 'Does the
      Lion lie down with the Lamb?'

      (Do you HAVE to be called Steve to write about Revelation??)

      But a more obvious difference is that eg Rev 13 presents imperial power as
      totalitarian--its control is absolute and univocal. By contrast, there is an
      openness in the kingdom (basileia, empire) of God and of his Christ. To see
      a good example of this, just look at the phrase 'kings of the earth': Jesus
      is ruler of them (1.5) yet they have committed fornication with Babylon, and
      wail over her fall (ch 17, 18) but despite doing battle against the rider on
      the white horse (19.19) they finally bring their glory into the new
      Jerusalem (21.24).

      This multivocality, openness, presents a strange admixture of judgement and
      hope--something entirely absent from the language of Roman imperial power.

      Ian Paul
    • Kevin P. Edgecomb
      Dear Steve, I m not so sure about the value of this proposal for imposing an either literary or vision dichotomy in Revelation. We ve surely all taken note
      Message 2 of 22 , Oct 21, 2002
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        Dear Steve,
        I'm not so sure about the value of this proposal for imposing an "either
        literary or vision" dichotomy in Revelation. We've surely all taken note
        of John's familiarity with the imagery of the OT, a familiarity which is so
        deep that images are reused in a manner that they weren't quite in the
        original writings. Could this familiarity not also be expected to have
        affected the writer sub/unconsciously, turning his thoughts/dreams/visions
        into panoplies of biblical imagery, such as we see related in Rev?

        Certainly, in the text as it stands, the reports of these visions are
        literary creations. It's difficult to imagine what else one would call
        instances of writing such as these. However, they do have an origin in the
        writer's thoughts and ideas, whether an original "vision" occurred to him
        or not (or perhaps such thoughts and ideas were actually considered
        "visions"?). If we take as given some original actual dreams/visions, it's
        not surprising that a certain amount of order be imposed by the
        waking/lucid writer upon a dream/vision which would no doubt have been
        indescribable in all its detail. Thus the ostensible report of the vision
        becomes a report of the re-organization of the memory of the vision. I've
        read of a similar process of the entirely unintentional reorganizing of
        memory involving witnesses in legal situations.

        On a related front, is anyone on this list familiar (as I am not) with
        psychological or anthropological work done on vision states? I would think
        that such input would offer a clearer understanding both of the definition
        of vision (which will probably be quite different than current usage), and
        the processes involved in "seeing" a vision and reporting a vision, in a
        society where such is a living practice still integrated in its
        culture. What experiences are considered visions in such a culture? For
        instance would such include all or some of the following: thoughts, ideas,
        flashes of insight, dreams, and waking dreams? Does the visionary's
        account of a vision come afterward to be more organized as time goes
        on? Does that organization take on organizational or other aspects of
        other traditional materials? Are such reports ever eventually collected in
        writing and placed in a literary framework? Who is the primary audience
        for such visions: an inner circle of people able to recognize the imagery,
        or is the audience a wider group who simply holds the visionary in esteem?
        All of these behaviors are certainly likely, but do they occur? I'd
        appreciate any bibliographical input on such matters, as well as any "off
        the top of my head" input from such works.

        Regards,
        Kevin P. Edgecomb
        Berkeley, California

        At 08:38 AM 10/21/2002 -0700, Steve Black wrote, in the "Visions?" thread:
        >Could we perhaps *start* with something like saying that those
        >specific components that are obviously based and modeled upon other
        >literature (OT, etc.) were not thusly (at least as we have them) also
        >based upon direct spiritual visions?
      • Jon Newton
        This assumes that John was trying to undermine the colonial power of Rome , which means to some degree reading 21st century ideas into a 1st century text. On
        Message 3 of 22 , Oct 21, 2002
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          This assumes that John was trying to "undermine the colonial power of Rome",
          which means to some degree reading 21st century ideas into a 1st century
          text.

          On another tack, is there any evidence Revelation was used to defend
          imperial Constantinianism? At least in some cases, it was constantly
          appealed to by those opposed to the established church-state arrangements in
          some way, as I think Cohn's book on medieval millenarianism points out.

          Jon Newton

          -----Original Message-----
          From: Steve Black [mailto:sdblack@...]
          Sent: Tuesday, October 22, 2002 4:20 AM
          To: revelation-list@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [revelation-list] Visions?


          >An observation, and two questions:
          >
          >1. A new thread sounds like a good idea.
          >
          >2. What does Moore mean by saying that Revelation's imperial model of the
          >Kingdom "worked very well," and yet is a "failure"?

          ---I start by saying that I am not (yet) stating my own views - I
          have some concerns w/ Moore's approach. Nevertheless I am going to
          try and defend them - more fun that way - but this doesn't
          necessarily reflect my own views---

          Moore only says that Rev succeeded as a warrant for Constantinian
          Xnty. In other words, when Xnty became the official religion, this
          "imperial" model provided a very useful pattern. Xnty became an
          imperialistic force conquering its enemies with force just like the
          Romans did because (in part at least) John used a Roman model to
          portray the "kingdom". This later became a warrant for the western
          Christian world as it turned to colonialism. Thus Rev is a "success"
          (according to Moore) in all the wrong ways.


          >
          >3. More basically, what does it mean to say that Revelation, or any
          biblical
          >book, is a "failure" (or a "success" for that matter)? Aren't these just
          >ways of saying, "I like it," or "I don't like it"?

          If the goal of a piece of literature is "A" and it doesn't accomplish
          "A", but in fact replicates the very thing it was attempting to
          undermine - I think this is no longer a matter of "I like it or not"
          but of failure/success. If I want to better person X's life, and my
          efforts end up making things worse for them, my endeavor was a
          "failure". In other words, if John wanted to undermine the colonial
          power of Rome and ending up due to faulty reasoning replicating that
          very power in the form of imperial Christendom, then he *failed* in
          what he was trying to do.

          --
          Steve Black
          Vancouver School of Theology
          Vancouver, BC
          ---

          Strangers stopping strangers just to shake their hand...

          -Robert Hunter From SCARLET BEGONIAS


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        • Leo R Percer
          Steve Black says:My critique of Moore s approach is that the figure the lamb that was slain isn t taken seriously enough. This literary
          Message 4 of 22 , Oct 21, 2002
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            Steve Black says:

            > My critique of Moore's approach is that the figure "the
            > lamb
            > that was slain" isn't taken seriously enough. This literary
            > character
            > subverts the imperial model of conquest (at least a little bit). The
            > question is if it is enough of a subversion. I think Moore's
            > critique deserves attention even if it is flawed. At the least, it
            > suggests that all theologies of conquest (even if cloaked in modern
            > evangelistic "crusade" terminology) need to be problematized.
            >

            Isn't the theme of "martyrdom" pretty evident throughout Revelation? In
            Revelation 12:11, John even notes that the real way to victory is being
            ready to suffer death for the sake of Christ (like the Lamb died for the
            sake of the Church, so to speak). In fact, it seems to me that a
            "martyr" Christology or mindset is prevalent in the Apocalypse. This
            concept of dying in order to win would certainly run counter to the Roman
            or imperial view of conquest by power, wouldn't it? Maybe I'm seeing
            things a little wrong here, but it certainly was a strong enough theme to
            be a part of my dissertation!

            Sincerely,

            Leo Percer
            Waco, TX



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          • David L. Barr
            If a non-steve may join the discussion, I want to qualify a point made ... I agree that Christianity did become an imperial religion, but it did so by adopting
            Message 5 of 22 , Oct 22, 2002
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              If a non-steve may join the discussion, I want to qualify a point made
              by Steve Friesen. He wrote in part:
              -------------
              I agree that Christianity did become an imperial religion, but it did
              so by adopting part of Rev's model (rather than all of it). Both
              Empire and Rev were utopian projects, but the empire asserted they
              were bringing the divine kingdom into existence while Rev asserted
              that God (not humans) would destroy evil and bring the divine kingdom
              to pass. As orthodox Christianity developed, it moved back to the
              Roman imperial model of asserting that human aggression produces the
              kingdom. So mainstream Christianity accepted Rev's eschatological
              vision, but betrayed Rev's call to suffering, preferring instead to
              inflict suffering.
              ------------------
              I agree with the main point, have vigorously defended it on occasion; I
              even agree with the point that in John's vision God would destroy evil,
              it's the parenthetical I challenge "(not humans)". Humans have their
              role to play ("They have conquered him the the blood of the lamb and by
              the word of their testimony" 12:11). What subsequent readers betrayed
              was the means: consistent resistance. It is rather too easy an out to
              make god responsible for overcoming oppression.

              David

              David L. Barr
              Professor of Religion
              Wright State University
              Dayton OH

              937-775-2293
              937-775-2892 (FAX)
              http://www.wright.edu/~david.barr
            • Steve Black
              Thanks all for an interesting conversation. Many new possibilities that I hadn t considered have been suggested, for which I am grateful. Jon Newton wrote...
              Message 6 of 22 , Oct 22, 2002
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                Thanks all for an interesting conversation. Many new possibilities
                that I hadn't considered have been suggested, for which I am grateful.

                Jon Newton wrote...
                >This assumes that John was trying to "undermine the colonial power of Rome",
                >which means to some degree reading 21st century ideas into a 1st century
                >text.

                Isn't it inevitable that we bring 21st century ideas into the 1st
                century? We can not think other than as 21st century people. As much
                as we might try to "get into the minds of a 1st century person", but
                we can only do so from our perspective. We only understand history
                within the strange combination of the familiar (what reminds us of
                something we know in our lives) and the unfamiliar (that which is
                truly "other" and from our point of view often "weird" or "strange").

                Certainly the role that imperial Rome played was something that the
                writers of the NT must have thought about. It was a pressing reality
                of their time - how could they not? Much might have happened on a
                unconscious level. I want to know if Rev engaged in a strategy of
                resistance (which I suspect he did), but if he did not, then the
                other options are complicity or collaboration. Either of these
                options should then could be looked at. Political neutrality is a
                non-existent reality, and so John had SOME (thought through or not)
                approach to imperial power.

                --
                Steve Black
                Vancouver School of Theology
                Vancouver, BC
                ---

                Strangers stopping strangers just to shake their hand...

                -Robert Hunter From SCARLET BEGONIAS
              • Gareth Powell
                ... David, Thanks for you pertinent comment. I was wondering which sources you used that Christianity has used the ŒBabylon¹ method to establish its
                Message 7 of 22 , Oct 22, 2002
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                  Re: [revelation-list] Visions? On 22/10/02 12:51 pm, "David L. Barr" <david.barr@...> wrote:

                  > If a non-steve may join the discussion, I want to qualify a point made
                  > by Steve Friesen.  He wrote in part:
                  > -------------
                  > I agree that Christianity did become an imperial religion, but it did
                  > so by adopting part of Rev's model (rather than all of it).  Both
                  > Empire and Rev were utopian projects, but the empire asserted they
                  > were bringing the divine kingdom into existence while Rev asserted
                  > that God (not humans) would destroy evil and bring the divine kingdom
                  > to pass.  As orthodox Christianity developed, it moved back to the
                  > Roman imperial model of asserting that human aggression produces the
                  > kingdom.  So mainstream Christianity accepted Rev's eschatological
                  > vision, but betrayed Rev's call to suffering, preferring instead to
                  > inflict suffering.
                  > ------------------
                  > I agree with the main point, have vigorously defended it on occasion; I
                  > even agree with the point that in John's vision God would destroy evil,
                  > it's the parenthetical I challenge "(not humans)".  Humans have their
                  > role to play ("They have conquered him the the blood of the lamb and by
                  > the word of their testimony" 12:11).  What subsequent readers betrayed
                  > was the means: consistent resistance.  It is rather too easy an out to
                  > make god responsible for overcoming oppression.
                  >
                  > David
                  >
                  > David L. Barr
                  > Professor of Religion
                  > Wright State University
                  > Dayton OH


                  David,
                  Thanks for you pertinent comment.  I was wondering which sources you used that Christianity has used the ‘Babylon’ method to establish its eschatological Kingdom.  I am particularly interested in the present day context with regard to Capitalism and Globalisation, which both strike me as bringing about a utopian dream for the rich West whilst inflicting suffering and poverty on those they are exploiting in mainly Non-Western countries.  Unveiling Empire is the most obvious place I have found this kind of recontextualisation of Revelations image of two cities, but if you have other sources in mind, either looking at historical events of the last few hundred years using Revelations images of empire as an interpretive strategy I would love to hear of them.

                  I agree whole heartily that we as humans have our part to play in bringing in the kingdom of God here on earth and would use the two cities of the New Jerusalem and Babylon as images of two entirely different approaches to creating a Kingdom.  One which exploits and gains most for those who are rich and powerful (Babylon), the other which seeks to create equality, respect of both creation and humanity within that creation, as well as true worship (New Jerusalem).  I think both of these images are the climax of John’s prophetic critique of the Roman Empire and his vision of an alternate ‘Empire’.  We are Christians are called to bring about the second city and community, that of the New Jerusalem.  How we are to do this lies in Revelations pneumatology which I believe centres around the life giving qualities of the holy Spirit which orientates our lives and Christian communities to mirror that ‘heavenly’ community we see in the New Jerusalem.  The work of the Spirit is transformational and life-giving, as well as prophetic, each of which involves the individual, as well as the corporate to make life-giving decisions and live life-giving lifestyles with regard to the whole of creation – not just humanity.

                  Regards
                  Gareth Powell
                  London Bible College
                  England
                • Leo R Percer
                  ... I basically agree with David here, so I m not offering a criticism except to say that Revelation 12:11 includes another sentence fragment that makes the
                  Message 8 of 22 , Oct 22, 2002
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                    Non-Steve and respected scholar David Barr said:
                     
                    > I agree with the main point, have vigorously defended it on
                    >
                    occasion; I
                    > even agree with the point that in John's vision God would
                    destroy
                    > evil,
                    > it's the parenthetical I challenge "(not
                    humans)".  Humans have
                    > their
                    > role to play ("They have
                    conquered him the the blood of the lamb and
                    > by
                    > the word of
                    their testimony" 12:11).  What subsequent readers
                    > betrayed
                    >
                    was the means: consistent resistance.  It is rather too easy an out
                    > to
                    > make god responsible for overcoming oppression.
                    >
                    I basically agree with David here, so I'm not offering a criticism except to say that Revelation 12:11 includes another sentence fragment that makes the first two portions explicit in how "humans" can play a role in victory over the dragon.  The fragment is "For they loved not their lives even to death."  In other words, humans bear "testimony" (marturias) to the Lamb's sacrifice by following his example.  It seems to me that John describes the path to victory as one of martyrdom or self-sacrifice.  Just like the "dragon" couldn't destroy the Lamb with the cross (the ultimate place of self-sacrifice), even so (according to John) Babylon and other "dragon" associated entities will not be able to overcome the witnesses (or "martyrs") of the Lamb as they follow his example.  Well, that's how I see it at any rate.
                     
                    Leo Percer
                    Waco, TX
                     
                     
                  • Lastday
                    Dear Mr. Percer: Do you see the martyrs path to victory over Satan (by not loving their corporate life unto death) being inspired by the knowledge that NOW
                    Message 9 of 22 , Oct 23, 2002
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                      Dear Mr. Percer:
                       
                      Do you see the martyrs' "path to victory" over Satan (by not loving their corporate life unto death) being inspired by the knowledge that "NOW has become the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ ... because the accuser of our brethren before God was cast" by Michael from heaven to earth?
                       
                      May the timing for this corporate victory be set in the same eschatological context of a "short period" that Daniel similarly describes as taking place at the "end of time" when Michael casts Satan from heaven for a period of 3 1/2 times? Is not this "end of time" period when Christ comes with the Saints to "give the kingdom to the people of the Saints"? Dan.12:1,4,7; Dan.7:22-27; Rev.12:10,12,14. 
                       
                      I find it very intriguing that the Mighty Angel swore to John that the end of "chronos-time will occur when the 7th trumpet is about to sound," and did so in the name of the one who lives forever. For so did the man who swore to Daniel regarding the 3 1/2 appointed kairoi-times at the end (LXX). Rev.10:6,7. The "kairoi times" of Luke 21:24 and Rev.12:14 cease when the Lamb appears with all the Saints to destroy the Beast and Ten Kings who make war against Him. Dan.12:7; Dan.7:25-27; Rev.17:14. Mel Miller
                      ----- Original Message -----
                       
                       
                      Sent: Tuesday, October 22, 2002 9:43 PM
                      Subject: Re: [revelation-list] Visions?

                      Non-Steve and respected scholar David Barr said:
                       
                      > I agree with the main point, have vigorously defended it on
                      > occasion; I
                      > even agree with the point that in John's vision God would destroy
                      > evil,
                      > it's the parenthetical I challenge "(not humans)".  Humans have
                      > their
                      > role to play ("They have conquered him the the blood of the lamb and
                      > by
                      > the word of their testimony" 12:11).  What subsequent readers
                      > betrayed
                      > was the means: consistent resistance.  It is rather too easy an out
                      > to
                      > make god responsible for overcoming oppression.
                      >
                      I basically agree with David here, so I'm not offering a criticism except to say that Revelation 12:11 includes another sentence fragment that makes the first two portions explicit in how "humans" can play a role in victory over the dragon.  The fragment is "For they loved not their lives even to death."  In other words, humans bear "testimony" (marturias) to the Lamb's sacrifice by following his example.  It seems to me that John describes the path to victory as one of martyrdom or self-sacrifice.  Just like the "dragon" couldn't destroy the Lamb with the cross (the ultimate place of self-sacrifice), even so (according to John) Babylon and other "dragon" associated entities will not be able to overcome the witnesses (or "martyrs") of the Lamb as they follow his example.  Well, that's how I see it at any rate.
                       
                      Leo Percer
                      Waco, TX
                       
                       


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                    • David L. Barr
                      Leo Exactly so, though I suspect that they way these terms ( testimony sacrifice cross ) have become religious terms connoting a certain kind of piety
                      Message 10 of 22 , Oct 23, 2002
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                        Leo
                            Exactly so, though I suspect that they way these terms ("testimony" "sacrifice" "cross") have become religious terms connoting a certain kind of piety hides what is required of us, which I take it to be more akin to what that Chinese student did who stood in front of the tank, refusing to let it pass without running over him. 
                         
                        David

                        David L. Barr
                        Professor of Religion
                        Wright State University
                        Dayton OH

                        937-775-2293
                        937-775-2892 (FAX)
                        http://www.wright.edu/~david.barr

                        -----Original Message-----
                        From: Leo R Percer [mailto:PercerL@...]
                        Sent: Tuesday, October 22, 2002 9:43 PM
                         
                        I basically agree with David here, so I'm not offering a criticism except to say that Revelation 12:11 includes another sentence fragment that makes the first two portions explicit in how "humans" can play a role in victory over the dragon.  The fragment is "For they loved not their lives even to death."  In other words, humans bear "testimony" (marturias) to the Lamb's sacrifice by following his example.  It seems to me that John describes the path to victory as one of martyrdom or self-sacrifice.  Just like the "dragon" couldn't destroy the Lamb with the cross (the ultimate place of self-sacrifice), even so (according to John) Babylon and other "dragon" associated entities will not be able to overcome the witnesses (or "martyrs") of the Lamb as they follow his example.  Well, that's how I see it at any rate.
                         
                        Leo Percer
                        Waco, TX
                         
                         


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                      • Leo R Percer
                        David: What can I say to your brief response below but Amen ? Leo Percer Waco, TX P.S.--I want also to say Thanks to you for your articles and other
                        Message 11 of 22 , Oct 23, 2002
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                          Message
                          David:
                           
                          What can I say to your brief response below but "Amen"?
                           
                          Leo Percer
                          Waco, TX
                           
                          P.S.--I want also to say "Thanks" to you for your articles and other materials on Revelation that showed up so prominently in several places in my dissertation.  May God continue to bless your work.
                           
                           
                          On Wed, 23 Oct 2002 20:32:37 -0400 "David L. Barr" <david.barr@...> writes:
                          Leo
                              Exactly so, though I suspect that they way these terms ("testimony" "sacrifice" "cross") have become religious terms connoting a certain kind of piety hides what is required of us, which I take it to be more akin to what that Chinese student did who stood in front of the tank, refusing to let it pass without running over him. 
                           
                          David

                          David L. Barr
                          Professor of Religion
                          Wright State University
                          Dayton OH

                          937-775-2293
                          937-775-2892 (FAX)
                          http://www.wright.edu/~david.barr

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