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Re: Revelation allusions to I Enoch

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  • Kym Smith
    Dear Alan,
    Message 1 of 8 , May 27, 2003
      Dear Alan,

      <<<My question is, if Revelation is talking about first century persecutions and kings, why are symbols from the Old Testament and from apochryphal books like I Enoch found in such abundance?>>>

      I cannot comment about I Enoch but there are several comments about the use of the Old Testament (and possibly I Enoch) that, I think, are immediately apparent.

      First is the background of the author. Whether or not it was the Apostle John, he was obviously steeped in Jewish/OT thinking. He thoughts were so shaped by the imagery of the Jewish scriptures and other writings that they were the natural medium for him to use in such a book.

      Second is the fact that if the Revelation had not used OT imagery - imagery that showed continuation and consistency with Jewish or Judeo/Christian thinking - it is less likely that it would have been received as authoritative by the Church. It seems that it had enough problems as it was.

      Thirdly, while there may have been some variations in the use of the images, much of the imagery had already been worked out (e.g. by Daniel). This meant that some, at least, of the Apocalypse was readily understandable to the Church that received it. Remember that the OT books were the primary scriptures of the early Church - it was very familiar with them.

      Lastly there is the question of how much of what John wrote was 'given' to him to write as he did. That is, did John choose to use the imagery that he did - with much of which he was already familiar - as he carefully crafted a book meant to conceal as well as to reveal? Or (as I am more inclined to believe) did John write what was given to him in genuine visions so that the imagery he used was given to rather than chosen by him? If we understand that God revealed himself through Israel and its law and prophets, then it should be no surprise that this 'prophecy' should be consistent with what had gone before.

      Just a few thoughts,

      PS: Something completely different, the same Biblica in which Slater's article on the dating of the Revelation (discussed on this list [http://www.bsw.org/?l=7184 ]) can be found has a fascinating article by Reuben Zimmermann on Nuptial Imagery in the Revelation.

      Kym Smith
      Adelaide
      South Australia
      khs@...
    • Alan Fuller
      Hi Kym, Thanks for your response. So should we understand that the imagery is borrowed from previous literature to describe John s situation, or do you think
      Message 2 of 8 , Jun 3, 2003
        Hi Kym,

        Thanks for your response.

        So should we understand that the imagery is borrowed from previous
        literature to describe John's situation, or do you think the symbols
        and figures describe something that existed outside of John's
        political, social environment?

        Thanks again,
        Alan

        --- In revelation-list@yahoogroups.com, "Kym Smith" <ksmith@s...>
        wrote:
        > Dear Alan,
        >
        > <<<My question is, if Revelation is talking about first century
        persecutions and kings, why are symbols from the Old Testament and
        from apochryphal books like I Enoch found in such abundance?>>>
        >
        > I cannot comment about I Enoch but there are several comments about
        the use of the Old Testament (and possibly I Enoch) that, I think,
        are immediately apparent.
        >
        > First is the background of the author. Whether or not it was the
        Apostle John, he was obviously steeped in Jewish/OT thinking. He
        thoughts were so shaped by the imagery of the Jewish scriptures and
        other writings that they were the natural medium for him to use in
        such a book.
        >
        > Second is the fact that if the Revelation had not used OT imagery -
        imagery that showed continuation and consistency with Jewish or
        Judeo/Christian thinking - it is less likely that it would have been
        received as authoritative by the Church. It seems that it had enough
        problems as it was.
        >
        > Thirdly, while there may have been some variations in the use of
        the images, much of the imagery had already been worked out (e.g. by
        Daniel). This meant that some, at least, of the Apocalypse was
        readily understandable to the Church that received it. Remember that
        the OT books were the primary scriptures of the early Church - it was
        very familiar with them.
        >
        > Lastly there is the question of how much of what John wrote
        was 'given' to him to write as he did. That is, did John choose to
        use the imagery that he did - with much of which he was already
        familiar - as he carefully crafted a book meant to conceal as well as
        to reveal? Or (as I am more inclined to believe) did John write what
        was given to him in genuine visions so that the imagery he used was
        given to rather than chosen by him? If we understand that God
        revealed himself through Israel and its law and prophets, then it
        should be no surprise that this 'prophecy' should be consistent with
        what had gone before.
        >
        > Just a few thoughts,
        >
        > PS: Something completely different, the same Biblica in which
        Slater's article on the dating of the Revelation (discussed on this
        list [http://www.bsw.org/?l=7184 ]) can be found has a fascinating
        article by Reuben Zimmermann on Nuptial Imagery in the Revelation.
        >
        > Kym Smith
        > Adelaide
        > South Australia
        > khs@p...
      • Kym Smith
        Dear Alan,
        Message 3 of 8 , Jun 3, 2003
          Dear Alan,

          <<<So should we understand that the imagery is borrowed from previous literature to describe John's situation, or do you think the symbols and figures describe something that existed outside of John's political, social environment?>>>

          As already stated, much of the imagery used was 'borrowed' because it was already known to John and his readers. It was familiar territory around which the early church could find its way.

          As an example, at our synod on the weekend just past (I'm an ordained Anglican) a motion was put that encouraged the work of 'Earth Ministry'. This flows out of the understanding of a group that is trying to understand the Bible - I think they may even be rewriting it - from what they see is the earth's (i.e. creation's) perspective (A bit New Ageish for me!). Now a lot of the motion contained good ecological sense, but its preamble on 'Earth Ministry' etc put people offside because they were not familiar with the language and did not understand what was being said. The motion was passed after all that part of it was removed.

          By the urgency of the language I think John had no other thought than that what he was seeing was about to come on the world, it was immediately applicable to his 'political, social environment'. The Beast/antichrist was about to be revealed, the Church was about to face a great persecution, there would be catastrophic judgments on the earth and Jesus would return to gather his own and to renew the heavens and the earth. The letters to the seven churches of Asia were to prepare them (and the rest of the Church). They indicate that a severe persecution was about to begin, it would last a short while, then Jesus would reward the faithful. The rest of the Revelation would have been understood as an apocalyptic/encoded filling out of the details. The symbols and figures, having been taken largely from existing Jewish literature, made sense to the early Church that was familiar with the OT and readily gained an interpretation - even if parts of it were found later to be inaccurate. For example, the woman of Rev 12:1 was Israel (cf Joseph's dream of Gen 37:9f); they understood Babylon as the dominant world power and/or its capital (Rome); the beasts as kingdoms and/or kings (Dan 7:23) and horns as kings (c.f. Dan 7:7-8,15-20,24). The actual empire (Rome) and king (Nero) could not be named (c.f. Mark 13:14) without making the Revelation obvious anti-state propaganda which would invite retribution from the emperor.

          A question remains, if John thought that the Revelation was immediately applicable to his 'political, social environment', then did he get it wrong? The answer, I think, is Yes and No. No, because there was an immediate fulfilment (i.e. through Nero) about which the Revelation gave warning and for which it enabled the Church to prepare. Yes, because much of what was foretold in the Revelation did not happen as the apostles thought that they would., heaven and earth, for example, were not destroyed and replaced by the new.

          The answer is, I think, that God allowed certain conditions to develop which demanded some judgments in the Church and which also brought about the Neronic persecutions. He then used those conditions to give to the apostolic Church and through an apostle a prophetic vision which, while having immediate implications, reached beyond the 'political, social environment' of that day but which would, at the appropriate time, be fulfilled. I do not think that such a vision, given at any other time in subsequent history and to anyone other than an apostle would not have been received by the Church. If it were not apostolic - or at least had no chance of being apostolic - I suspect it would be given no more credibility than Nostrdamus, interesting, maybe, but...

          This, of course, does not deny the value of the Revelation for all ages for its understanding of suffering, God's sovereignty, etc.

          Following Nero's death the remaining apostles would have come to terms with their partial (mis)understanding of the Revelation and begun equipping the Church for a longer stay. I suspect that even during the 42 months of Nero's nastiness (end of 64 to mid 68) they may have had a growing awareness that events weren't happening quite the way they had expected and begun questioning their original understanding. Hindsight is a great thing. The imminence of the end, felt prior to and at the beginning of Nero's persecutions, faded to some degree, but the expectation that a final fulfilment would come remained. Again, I suspect that John probably thought that he woul dlive to see the end, the final fulfilment, and that is why he included the enigmatic comments he did in John 21:20-23.

          I think that's more than enough from me.

          Sincerely,

          Kym Smith
          Adelaide
          South Australia
          khs@...
        • Don K
          Kym, I always enjoy your thoughts, even if/when I don t agree. :-) I full concur with the posit that John was using the prophetic vernacular of the day, and
          Message 4 of 8 , Jun 4, 2003
            Kym, I always enjoy your thoughts, even if/when I don't agree. :-)
            I full concur with the posit that John was using the "prophetic vernacular"
            of the day, and addressing his own "sitz em leben" in terms understandable
            to his readers. I think Minear (NT Apocalyptic) was correct when he stated
            the NT writers used the imagery of "cosmic disturbances" and catastrophes
            without any explanation, indicating that they expected their audiences to
            understand. Further, he noted, as most do, that this imagery came from the
            Old Testament primarily. Thus, if the NT prophets used OT imagery without
            explanation, it would seem that the modern exegete would be well advised to
            go to the OT for the source of that imagery.
            This is where I would disagree with you, Kym. John is clearly anticipating
            an imminent eschaton. With that, I fully concur. The question is the nature
            of that eschaton.
            He does speak of the passing of the "heaven and earth," but I think the
            question is, did he actually expect the termination of the literal creation?
            I would answer in the negative. There are plenty of OT examples of the
            "providential" judgment of the nations in which those judgments are
            described in terms of cosmic destruction, e.g. the destruction of Babylon
            (Isaiah 13-14; the destruction of Edom (Isaiah 34), the destruction of
            Jerusalem at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 4:25f), the destruction
            of the 10 northern tribes (Micah 1:2f), etc. etc.
            Now, it is patently clear that while judgment did come, imminently, as
            predicted in these prophecies, the fabric of literal creation was not
            dissolved. The social structure of the kingdoms under judgment was
            destroyed, the nation (s) under judgment were "cast down from the heavens
            (Lamentations 2:1).
            In short, this "de-creation" language is typical metaphoric hyperbole to
            describe the providential judgment of nations by Jehovah's sovereign use of
            one nation versus another (Isaiah 10:5f; Ezekiel 30:24-25, etc.). There was
            no expectation of a literal catastrophe. (It is refreshing to see that this
            is being increasingly recognized. see N. T. Wright's, Jesus: The Victory of
            God for instance, and France and Caird, to varying degrees have recognized
            the metaphoric nature of this language.)
            In regard to John's "New Heaven and Earth" motif I would offer this brief
            analysis, that hearkens back to what I just stated. It is metaphoric, but it
            is also covenantal.
            1.) If John was truly anticipating the fulfillment of the prophetic hope of
            the Old Testament prophets (Revelation 10:7f),
            2.) And if the Old Testament prophets foretold the coming of the New Heavens
            and Earth,
            3.) Then it seems that the right approach to understanding John's hope is to
            go to the Old Testament predictions of the New Heavens and Earth, to grasp
            what John was anticipating.
            For brevity, Isaiah 65 foretold the New Heavens and Earth (65:17f). And, he
            did so within the context of a prediction of judgment on Israel (v. 13f; "I
            will destroy you, and call my people by another name."" The correspondence
            with Revelation is, in my view, perfect. Isaiah saw the New Creation coming
            when Israel was destroyed (Incidentally, the parousia under consideration in
            Isaiah was to be like previous comings, i.e. providential, Isaiah 64:1-5.
            God had come in the past, and was coming again as He had done, per the text.
            Patently, He had never literally descended out of heaven to destroy literal
            creation in the past.)
            Likewise, in the Apocalypse, John sees the New Creation coming after the
            judgment of Babylon. I would, of course, differ with the assessment of
            Babylon as Rome. It is the city "where the Lord was slain, where the
            prophets were slain, and the city guilty of killing the apostles and
            prophets of Jesus. I think Jesus' assessment "It is not possible that a
            prophet perish out of Jerusalem" is determinative here, as well as the
            consistent story of persecution in the epistles leading up to the
            Apocalypse.
            So, to be short as possible, John's expectation of , and his use of the
            imagery of, the New Creation, was taken from Isaiah 65. But Isaiah 65
            foretold the New Creation at the time of the judgment of Israel. Therefore,
            unless it can be proven that John was in fact, altering the prediction and
            application of Isaiah, it appears that John had the judgment of
            Israel/Jerusalem as Babylon in mind, followed by the New Covenant creation
            of the Messiah.
            Well, that is more than enough for me at the moment.
            As always, good to hear from you.
            Don K
            Who Is This Babylon?

            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "Kym Smith" <ksmith@...>
            To: <revelation-list@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Wednesday, June 04, 2003 12:16 AM
            Subject: [revelation-list] Re: Revelation allusions to I Enoch


            > Dear Alan,
            >
            > <<<So should we understand that the imagery is borrowed from previous
            literature to describe John's situation, or do you think the symbols and
            figures describe something that existed outside of John's political, social
            environment?>>>
            >
            > As already stated, much of the imagery used was 'borrowed' because it was
            already known to John and his readers. It was familiar territory around
            which the early church could find its way.
            >
            > As an example, at our synod on the weekend just past (I'm an ordained
            Anglican) a motion was put that encouraged the work of 'Earth Ministry'.
            This flows out of the understanding of a group that is trying to understand
            the Bible - I think they may even be rewriting it - from what they see is
            the earth's (i.e. creation's) perspective (A bit New Ageish for me!). Now a
            lot of the motion contained good ecological sense, but its preamble on
            'Earth Ministry' etc put people offside because they were not familiar with
            the language and did not understand what was being said. The motion was
            passed after all that part of it was removed.
            >
            > By the urgency of the language I think John had no other thought than that
            what he was seeing was about to come on the world, it was immediately
            applicable to his 'political, social environment'. The Beast/antichrist was
            about to be revealed, the Church was about to face a great persecution,
            there would be catastrophic judgments on the earth and Jesus would return to
            gather his own and to renew the heavens and the earth. The letters to the
            seven churches of Asia were to prepare them (and the rest of the Church).
            They indicate that a severe persecution was about to begin, it would last a
            short while, then Jesus would reward the faithful. The rest of the
            Revelation would have been understood as an apocalyptic/encoded filling out
            of the details. The symbols and figures, having been taken largely from
            existing Jewish literature, made sense to the early Church that was familiar
            with the OT and readily gained an interpretation - even if parts of it were
            found later to be inaccurate. For example, the woman of Rev 12:1 was Israel
            (cf Joseph's dream of Gen 37:9f); they understood Babylon as the dominant
            world power and/or its capital (Rome); the beasts as kingdoms and/or kings
            (Dan 7:23) and horns as kings (c.f. Dan 7:7-8,15-20,24). The actual empire
            (Rome) and king (Nero) could not be named (c.f. Mark 13:14) without making
            the Revelation obvious anti-state propaganda which would invite retribution
            from the emperor.
            >
            > A question remains, if John thought that the Revelation was immediately
            applicable to his 'political, social environment', then did he get it wrong?
            The answer, I think, is Yes and No. No, because there was an immediate
            fulfilment (i.e. through Nero) about which the Revelation gave warning and
            for which it enabled the Church to prepare. Yes, because much of what was
            foretold in the Revelation did not happen as the apostles thought that they
            would., heaven and earth, for example, were not destroyed and replaced by
            the new.
            >
            > The answer is, I think, that God allowed certain conditions to develop
            which demanded some judgments in the Church and which also brought about the
            Neronic persecutions. He then used those conditions to give to the apostolic
            Church and through an apostle a prophetic vision which, while having
            immediate implications, reached beyond the 'political, social environment'
            of that day but which would, at the appropriate time, be fulfilled. I do not
            think that such a vision, given at any other time in subsequent history and
            to anyone other than an apostle would not have been received by the Church.
            If it were not apostolic - or at least had no chance of being apostolic - I
            suspect it would be given no more credibility than Nostrdamus, interesting,
            maybe, but...
            >
            > This, of course, does not deny the value of the Revelation for all ages
            for its understanding of suffering, God's sovereignty, etc.
            >
            > Following Nero's death the remaining apostles would have come to terms
            with their partial (mis)understanding of the Revelation and begun equipping
            the Church for a longer stay. I suspect that even during the 42 months of
            Nero's nastiness (end of 64 to mid 68) they may have had a growing awareness
            that events weren't happening quite the way they had expected and begun
            questioning their original understanding. Hindsight is a great thing. The
            imminence of the end, felt prior to and at the beginning of Nero's
            persecutions, faded to some degree, but the expectation that a final
            fulfilment would come remained. Again, I suspect that John probably thought
            that he woul dlive to see the end, the final fulfilment, and that is why he
            included the enigmatic comments he did in John 21:20-23.
            >
            > I think that's more than enough from me.
            >
            > Sincerely,
            >
            > Kym Smith
            > Adelaide
            > South Australia
            > khs@...
            >
            >
            > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
            > revelation-list-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
            >
            >
            >
            > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
            >
            >
          • irbrown@andrews.edu
            Dear List Members, My comments refer specifically to issues raised by the portion of Don s post quoted below. It is one thing to say that that Old Testament
            Message 5 of 8 , Jun 4, 2003
              Dear List Members,
              My comments refer specifically to issues raised by the portion of Don's post
              quoted below.

              It is one thing to say that that Old Testament prophets used cosmic language
              to describe metaphorically God's judgments on various people groups; however,
              it is another thing to say that the same language in John is also to be seen
              metaphorically. To say the latter in addition to the former requires one to
              assume, I think, that John and his readers would (or even could) read those
              prophecies with enough insight into the literary and the historical contexts
              to see them as simply metaphorical descriptions of historical events. My
              question here, and one I had while reading N. T. Wright as well, is whether
              this assumption is valid; and, in fact, can this question of validity really
              be settled one way or another for John specifically?

              In my own detailed study (for a seminar) of the Old Testament backgrounds for
              the sixth seal, which allude to some of the very texts noted below, what was
              clear was that the sixth seal envisions in cosmic language drawn from the OT
              prophets the coming and/or arrival of God's wrath upon wicked humanity and
              that the wicked recognize what is happening as being tied to God's wrath.
              This becomes clear when you identify the specific texts alluded to and see
              their common themes. What is not clear is the specific form that the wrath
              will take. Will the reality behind the prophecy be an actual transformation
              in the earth and its atmosphere? Or will it be some other reality to which
              the cosmic language is simply hyperbole? I do not think that our reading of
              Revelation today can give us an answer to those questions.

              Ian R. Brown
              Ph.D. in Religion student
              Andrews University

              Quoting Don K <dkpret@...>:

              > Kym, I always enjoy your thoughts, even if/when I don't agree. :-)
              > I full concur with the posit that John was using the "prophetic
              > vernacular"
              > of the day, and addressing his own "sitz em leben" in terms
              > understandable
              > to his readers. I think Minear (NT Apocalyptic) was correct when he
              > stated
              > the NT writers used the imagery of "cosmic disturbances" and
              > catastrophes
              > without any explanation, indicating that they expected their audiences
              > to
              > understand. Further, he noted, as most do, that this imagery came from
              > the
              > Old Testament primarily. Thus, if the NT prophets used OT imagery
              > without
              > explanation, it would seem that the modern exegete would be well advised
              > to
              > go to the OT for the source of that imagery.
              > This is where I would disagree with you, Kym. John is clearly
              > anticipating
              > an imminent eschaton. With that, I fully concur. The question is the
              > nature
              > of that eschaton.
              > He does speak of the passing of the "heaven and earth," but I think
              > the
              > question is, did he actually expect the termination of the literal
              > creation?
              > I would answer in the negative. There are plenty of OT examples of the
              > "providential" judgment of the nations in which those judgments are
              > described in terms of cosmic destruction, e.g. the destruction of
              > Babylon
              > (Isaiah 13-14; the destruction of Edom (Isaiah 34), the destruction of
              > Jerusalem at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 4:25f), the
              > destruction
              > of the 10 northern tribes (Micah 1:2f), etc. etc.
              > Now, it is patently clear that while judgment did come, imminently, as
              > predicted in these prophecies, the fabric of literal creation was not
              > dissolved. The social structure of the kingdoms under judgment was
              > destroyed, the nation (s) under judgment were "cast down from the
              > heavens
              > (Lamentations 2:1).
              > In short, this "de-creation" language is typical metaphoric hyperbole
              > to
              > describe the providential judgment of nations by Jehovah's sovereign use
              > of
              > one nation versus another (Isaiah 10:5f; Ezekiel 30:24-25, etc.). There
              > was
              > no expectation of a literal catastrophe. (It is refreshing to see that
              > this
              > is being increasingly recognized. see N. T. Wright's, Jesus: The Victory
              > of
              > God for instance, and France and Caird, to varying degrees have
              > recognized
              > the metaphoric nature of this language.)
              > In regard to John's "New Heaven and Earth" motif I would offer this
              > brief
              > analysis, that hearkens back to what I just stated. ....
            • Lyn H
              Dear folks, I am currently preparing a syllabus for an undergraduate course on Apocalyptic Literature. I am hoping to include a unit on Apocalyptic and
              Message 6 of 8 , Jun 4, 2003

                Dear folks,

                I am currently preparing a syllabus for an undergraduate course on Apocalyptic Literature.  I am hoping to include a unit on Apocalyptic and Revolution--appropriations of apocalyptic texts and imagery in literature advocating, reflecting, responding to social and political revolution.  I am currently looking for literature (not scholarly commentary) from a South African context and thought someone here might have a suggestion.  Please let me know any suggestions or thoughts.  You can contact me off-list, if you prefer, at (anxtygrl@...).

                Thanks,

                Lynn Huber



                Lynn R. Huber
                Emory University
                Graduate Department of Religion
                New Testament and Early Christian History
                 
                "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold . . ."  Yeats


                Do you Yahoo!?
                Free online calendar with sync to Outlook(TM).
              • MORIAH PLASTICS (COATES)
                Lynn, Although I don t fully understand the scope of your project, one thing that I would suggest is that you look into the writings of, and around, Siener
                Message 7 of 8 , Jun 6, 2003
                   
                  Lynn,
                   
                  Although I don't fully understand the scope of your project, one thing that I would suggest is that you look into the writings of, and around, Siener (Prophet) Van Rensburg. It does seem that as the major Afrikaner/Boer prophet at the turn of the last century, some of his stuff was deeply apocalyptic in character.
                   
                  Jason Coates
                  Johannesburg, S. Africa

                  Dear folks,

                  I am currently preparing a syllabus for an undergraduate course on Apocalyptic Literature.  I am hoping to include a unit on Apocalyptic and Revolution--appropriations of apocalyptic texts and imagery in literature advocating, reflecting, responding to social and political revolution.  I am currently looking for literature (not scholarly commentary) from a South African context and thought someone here might have a suggestion.  Please let me know any suggestions or thoughts.  You can contact me off-list, if you prefer, at (anxtygrl@...).

                  Thanks,

                  Lynn Huber



                  Lynn R. Huber
                  Emory University
                  Graduate Department of Religion
                  New Testament and Early Christian History
                   
                  "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold . . ."  Yeats


                  Do you Yahoo!?
                  Free online calendar with sync to Outlook(TM).

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