The Apocalypse of John : a hermeneutical study
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The aim of this dissertation is to discover the relevance (so often called in question) of John's Apocalypse. It was necessary first of all to examine the nature of the genre 'apocalypse'. Modern scholarship seems close to reaching a consensus of opinion concerning the main elements of the genre. Yet there are different views regarding its purpose. Our hypothesis is that the genre develops from a therapy in crisis towards a treatise on eschatology. The next step was to examine the Sitz-im-Leben of Revelation. Here we favoured the most commonly accepted opinion that Revelation was probably written towards the end of Domitian's reign. Then we examined the social and religious conditions in Asia at that time, and came to the conclusion that Revelation was indeed contending with crisis, mainly religious but social to some degree. John's literary sources were then examined. In terms of quantity Old Testament allusions are the most numerous, but our author is also thoroughly familiar with Christian ideas and with the thought of intertestamental literature. It was interesting to find similarities to the Qumran literature. What came as a surprise was the number of ideas that seem to be derived from pagan sources or from the secular world. From these investigations, some aspects of Revelation's relevance became apparent. The genre facilitates a championing of future eschatology that has sometimes been blurred in our own century, and provides some principles for a Christocentric theodicy. The Sitz-im-Leben investigation led us to see that John stirs the Christian conscience to protest against political evil, and by implication condemns condoning by silence. This provides a basis for a theology of liberation. John's use of sources shows an appreciation of an ongoing process of hermeneutics, portends a recognition of the religious value of the profane, and proclaims victory through the cross.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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