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RE: [revelation-list] Re: Say that they are Jews but are not

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  • Greg Carey
    I offered a paper on this topic at SBL last November. The abstract is below. As I worked on the paper, I realized that it also needed a discussion of
    Message 1 of 24 , Jan 31, 2003
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      I offered a paper on this topic at SBL last November. The abstract is
      below. As I worked on the paper, I realized that it also needed a
      discussion of Revelation as colonial literature: I argued that the
      pressure of self-definition within the Empire likely created tension
      between the synagogues and the churches. Rev 2:9; 3:9 would be
      symptoms of that tension.

      {SEQ CHAPTER \h \r 1}The œSynagogue of Satan (Rev 2:9; 3:9) “ What™s at Stake for
      Us?
      Greg Carey, Lancaster Theological Seminary
      Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 allude to œthose who say they are
      Jews and are not, but are instead œthe synagogue of Satan. This
      paper examines both in historical identity of John™s opponents and
      in cultural discourses of historical scholarship. First,
      conversations about John™s opponents cannot escape two
      discourses of biblical interpretation, the legacy of scholarly anti-
      Semitism and the renewed awareness that the distinction between
      œJews and œChristians is often anachronistic. Indeed,
      Revelation™s commentators have tended to express their anti-
      Semitism in their treatment of Rev 2:9; 3:9, while they have also
      assumed a clean split between œchurch and œsynagogue.
      Second, I will argue for the traditional case that in
      Revelation œthe synagogue indeed represents Jews who are
      outside of the churches of Asia Minor, and who “ in John™s view “
      were a threat to the security of his audience. Many scholars,
      sensitive to Christian anti-Semitism, have minimized the
      overwhelming evidence that some early Jews persecuted some
      early Jesus people. While it is not at all evident that any Jews
      were persecuting any of the Jesus people in Smyrna or
      Philadelphia, there are strong reasons to believe that Revelation
      reflects tensions between Jews who were not Jesus believers and
      participants in John™s churches.
      Third, if indeed Revelation reflects what we might
      anachronistically call Jewish-Christian tension, what might
      represent an ethically responsible scholarly reconstruction? It is
      not appropriate to follow John™s lead by simply transferring his
      polemic into the discourse of modern anti-Semitism, nor is it
      sufficient to minimize the conflicts between some Jews and some
      Jesus followers in the ancient world. A more viable option would
      be to ask what might have been at stake for some Jewish
      communities when confronted with the presence of Jesus people,
      especially when those Jesus people contended for Jewish identity.
      ------------------------------------
      Greg Carey
      Associate Professor of New Testament
      Lancaster Theological Seminary
      555 W. James St.
      Lancaster, PA 17603
      717/ 290-8753
      gcarey@...
      http://www.lts.org/faculty/carey/carey.html
    • kymhsm <ksmith@standrews.sa.edu.au>
      Dear Bob, In response to parts of your post,
      Message 2 of 24 , Feb 2 4:36 PM
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        Dear Bob,

        In response to parts of your post,

        <<<It seems too early historically for a consolidated 'Christian'
        view of 'Jews not worshipping Christ' to be considered as a
        Synagogue of Satan.>>>

        How early is too early, I wonder? As you probably know, I think
        that the Revelation was given in 62, and yet such a term for
        hostile, Church-opposing , unbelieving Jews could still be given
        (consider the riots against Paul in a number of places, his
        stoning [Acts 14:19] – even the riots in Rome at `the preaching of
        Chrestus'). I do not know that the apostles would have normally
        thought in such terms, especially not if Paul's affection for his
        own countrymen (Rom 9-11) is any indication. If, however, the
        Revelation was given /dictated in a vision – something with
        which you do not see as a problem – then the term is not
        something the disciples / apostles generated. It was part of the
        language given to John. It was not just `extreme polemic' but part
        of the symbolic language of the Apocalypse.

        <<< This is an extreme polemic even for 'brethren' and it makes
        nonsense out of the plea
        for unity expressed in Romans>>>

        Sorry, `brethren' was a poor choice of words, it usually has
        connotations of shared faith (i.e. Christian faith). Countrymen,
        kinfolk or fellow Jews may have been better.

        <<<I tend to agree with Marshall when he complains of the
        imposition of the word Christian onto the ekklesia of Asia which
        John is addressing.>>>

        While the Revelation speaks of people and issues broader than
        the Christian Church itself, I cannot see that it can be understood
        in any sense other than a communication to and for the Christian
        communities in Asia and elsewhere; those who hold the
        testimony of Jesus (Rev 1:2; 19:10).

        <<<We must not also impose our rapid and instantaneous
        communication onto this
        century.>>>

        Instantaneous communication, no, but I think we underestimate
        the speed of communication. Relative to the technology of the
        day, quite rapid and widespread communication was possible.
        That is one of the reasons the Romans built their extensive road
        system – not to mention the shipping available. A letter or book
        written probably anywhere in the Mediterranean could have been
        in the hands of all centres around the sea within a couple of
        months. My early date for the Revelation means that much of the
        NT was written afterwards and meant for rapid dissemination,
        e.g. Ephesians, 1 John, 1&2 Peter, even the Gospel of Mark.

        As an exercise I once copied the first chapter of Mark. It took me
        49 minutes (in English, perhaps Greek would be quicker for
        someone familiar with it) which meant that it would take about 15
        hours to do the whole book. Someone (Mark?) on board a ship –
        let's say from Rome – could write several copies by himself (and
        still enjoy the scenery) in the sailing time from Rome to Corinth.
        If he left a copy there and another in Ephesus to be copied and
        distributed through Achaia and Asia, doing the same in Anticoch
        and Jerusalem, by the time he reached Alexandria, there would
        be few churches around the Mediterranean that did not have a
        copy of the book. It could all be done in a month or two.

        Incidentally, I don't think that the Revelation was copied in great
        quantities until the end of the first century. It was too dangerous
        to have it freely available; the Romans could only interpret it as
        anti-state propaganda.

        Sincerely,

        Kym Smith
        Adelaide
        South Australia
        khs@...
      • Ken Flowers
        I ve had two requests for a breakdown of the seven angels in section C and B from the chiastic outline I posted a few days again. Here s how I (and Lund)
        Message 3 of 24 , Feb 4 2:01 PM
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          I've had two requests for a breakdown of the seven angels in section C' and
          B' from the chiastic outline I posted a few days again. Here's how I (and
          Lund) break them down:

          C': Seven Angels
          One - 14:6,7
          Two - 14:8
          Three - 14:9-11
          Jesus in Fourth Angels Place - 14:14
          Five - 14:15,16
          Six - 14:17
          Seven - 14:18-20

          B': Seven Angels
          One - 17:1-18
          Two - 18:1-20
          Three - 18:21-24
          Jesus in Fourth Angels Place - 19:11-16
          Five - 19:17-21
          Six - 20:1-15
          Seven - 21:9-22:5

          Ken Flowers
          Lexington, MA
        • Bob MacDonald
          Kym wrote ... still be given (consider the riots against Paul in a number of places, his stoning [Acts 14:19] – even the riots in Rome at `the preaching of
          Message 4 of 24 , Feb 6 8:40 AM
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            Kym wrote
            >>and yet such a term for hostile, Church-opposing , unbelieving Jews could
            still be given (consider the riots against Paul in a number of places, his
            stoning [Acts 14:19] – even the riots in Rome at `the preaching of
            Chrestus') I do not know that the apostles would have normally thought in
            such terms, especially not if Paul's affection for his own countrymen (Rom
            9-11) is any indication. <<

            response: I think sources of conflict are many and varied. It is not just
            Romans 9-11 that expresses Paul's concern for his countrymen, it is the
            whole letter. (I have found Nanos helpful on this. I think he is right to
            consider that Paul did not call the non-Christ-believing Jew faithless.

            Kym wrote
            >>I cannot see that it [Revelation] can be understood in any sense other
            than a communication to and for the Christian communities in Asia and
            elsewhere; those who hold the testimony of Jesus (Rev 1:2; 19:10).

            response: Aune volume 1 reviews the source criticism of Revelation. He shows
            visible if arguable seams and structure that would put most of the text,
            1:7-12a, 4:1-22:5, into a Jewish perspective pre 70. Chapters 1:12b-3:22 are
            part of the postulated second edition (mid '90s). What we may have, if your
            suggestion is true, is a growth away from a pre-70 Jewish apocalyptic text
            where the Christology is nascent but not a problem for Judaism, to a revised
            text by a Hebrew leader of Christ-believing Jews in the 90s when the
            Christology is becoming more and more an adoration of the sacrifice of Jesus
            and there is a group of Jews who isolate and report the now less-licit
            religion. At least then we might see a change in viewpoint in the years 68
            to 95. But even this is too much vindictiveness for me - for no
            Christ-believing Jew worth his salt - and we have a Jewish writer by all
            accounts, would put this text onto his 'former' colleagues when he knows
            that a Lamb was sent to shepherd the sheep - and that the judgment of God
            fell on that shepherd.

            Perhaps there are alternatives in the analysis of this conflict. In the
            absence of allusions in Revelation to Paul or Acts, are there any hints in
            the postulated earlier material that would help interpret the redactor's
            framing vision?

            Bob

            mailto::BobMacDonald@...
            + + + Victoria, B.C., Canada + + +

            Catch the foxes for us,
            the little foxes that make havoc of the vineyards,
            for our vineyards are in flower. (Song 2.15)
            http://bobmacdonald.gx.ca
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