The Social Location
of the Book of Revelation
Before moving directly to the question of the social location of the Book of Revelation, I should clarify further the nature of the relationship between the seer and his opposition, that is, between his revealed knowledge and the public knowledge of the empire. That relationship involves both social and world boundaries. A social boundary exists because the whole of John's social world does not comprehend his vision, even though John's vision comprehends the whole social world; that is, his organizing grid of relationships, power structures, ideals, and values are not shared by all others in Roman society; indeed, his is a minority report. Since the boundaries of John's social location are a dimension of his world vision, we cannot consider the boundary between him and his opposition in simple social terms. The complexity of the boundary will elude any analysis limited to economic status, social position, and political influence. The social boundary is one dimension of the world boundary; it expresses in the region of social experience a difference in the seer's vision of reality and Rome's vision of reality. The two visions involve distinctions between true knowledge and deception, authentic self-expression and false consciousness, service to the true god or idolatry.
Correlations at the Boundary
In order to appreciate the complexity of a social boundary, let us recall earlier comments on the nature of "boundary" (see chap. 5). A boundary designates a situation in which differences touch one another; for example, a social boundary marks the meeting of life inside and life outside the Christian community. A boundary calls attention to the differences, and it serves as the means by which something passes across. There is a dynamism to boundaries as they act as "transformational devices"; they mark the point where anything (an office, a belief, a ritual, an economic transaction) is transformed—in this instance, from one world system to another. Because world systems are by definition totally comprehensive, at boundary points between systems everything must flow across, leaving its place in one world system and taking its place in another.
As an item crosses a boundary into the seer's world, its meaning is transformed and it takes its place as homology and/or contrariety with other items in the seer's world. For example, as Jews cross into the seer's world, they become "the synagogue of Satan," contrary to true Christians, who are homologous to God, who of course is contrary to Satan. So when political forces such as the Roman emperor or the Roman Empire cross into the seer's world, they are not simply allegorized, that is, described as a political system in veiled terms. They are redescribed, redefined, and relocated (now in the seer's world) as homologous to the Great Whore or the seven-headed beast or the great dragon from of old. Those homologues do not simply code political forces; they transform their meaning.
When boundary transformations in the seer's world are compared, they disclose essential proportions and fundamental ratios that structure and guide the transformational process (see chap. 5). Those ratios and proportions can be traced through every dimension of the seer's world: God is to Satan as the Lamb is to the beast, as the faithful in the churches are to those who deceive and mislead, as the Christian minority is to the larger Roman world; heaven is to earth as the eschatological future is to the present, as the temple is to space around it, as cultic activity of worship is to everyday activity, as being in the Spirit is to normal consciousness. Proportions are thus formed among social, political, religious, theological, and psychological aspects of the seer's vision; for every boundary situation unfolds an essential proportion that structures the seer's world. A boundary in any one of those dimensions can illumine another, for a boundary situation is nothing more or less than a fundamental ratio unfolding in one dimension an order implicated in all others. Like Einstein's notion of time and space, boundaries in the seer's world are coordinates of a multidimensional reality.
These different dimensions are not like provinces on a map, each separated from the other. Rather they are laminated in overlays so as to coincide with one another. They have neither center nor peripheral edges. No one province can thus claim to be prior to and determinative of other domains. This is a crucial point in understanding social boundaries. There is no social-historical context, psychological context, or any other context prior to and occasion for other elements in the vision. All "contexts" are transformed as they flow into the seer's multidimensional world. And all unfold the essential structures of that world: temporally in eschatological expectations, spatially in heaven-earth connections, liturgically in sacral action and sacred speech, and behaviorally in social practices and social relations.
The processes of cognition involved here may seem awkward and foreign precisely because no dimension—in particular, no social, historical dimension—is given privileged status. Rather than conceiving of a social boundary as a point where outside forces (especially social, historical forces) cause inside effects (linguistic, liturgical, visionary responses), I consider social boundaries to be part of a larger transformational process by which "formally homologous structures, built out of different materials at different levels of life—organic processes, unconscious mind, rational thought—are related to one another" (Lévi-Strauss 1967, 197). In transformational exchanges everything is affected. We often think of the symbolic as malle able to the "real" social, political situation; and conversely, we see social experience (political policy, economic exchange) as impenetrable, essentially unaffected by religious, mythic, and linguistic symbols. It then follows naturally (1) that there are two separate spheres, the social and the symbolic; and (2) that the social causes the symbolic. Both points reflect a faulty understanding of cognition. Within the process of world building, John's social boundaries—the place where John and his audience meet the rest of the world—operate in the same way as liturgical boundaries, spatial boundaries, and temporal boundaries: they unfold an order of essential proportions that are implicated in all other boundaries. John does not encounter Roman society at the edge of his vision; that social boundary, like all others, forms coordinates in John's multidimensional structure of overlayed laminations without center or periphery. 1 In other words, the social boundary unfolds an order implicated in John's world vision: the whole is contained in every part.
Tribulation at the Boundary
Complexity leads to not-very-tidy discussions. In order to minimize the untidiness, let us limit the following inquiry into social boundaries to the subject of tribulation.
The theme of tribulation dominates many of John's visions. At the opening of the fifth seal, the seer "saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, 'O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?' Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been" (Rev. 6:9-11). In the second vision of chapter 7 an innumerable crowd of people wearing white garments with palm branches in their hands appear before the throne and the Lamb, whom they acclaim in the form of a doxology (Rev. 7:9-10). The crowd is identified as those "who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 7:14). Several visions portray tribulation in connection with conflicting or warring situations. In various guises demonic forces distress those who follow the true God: the beast and the two witnesses (Rev. 11:1-13); the dragon and the woman with her offspring (Rev. 12:1-17); the beasts from the sea or earth and the saints (Rev. 13:1-14:12); or Babylon the Harlot and the witnesses of Jesus (Rev. 17:1-19:5). The seer does not here report social, political realities. He constructs visions with their own spatiotemporal frame that includes Asian society.
The theme of tribulation is also present in the messages to the seven churches (Rev. 2:1-3:22). For the most part distress is created by matters internal to the church (e.g., false apostles, false teachings) or by eschatological threats ("I will come to you.... "). There are, however, a few references to crises stemming from relationships outside the community. At Pergamum, there is reference to the martyrdom of Antipas (Rev.2:13). 2 The seer expects tribulation to come soon to those at Smyrna (Rev. 2:10-11). Also at Smyrna—and at Philadelphia—the seer alludes to conflict with the Jews (Rev. 2:9, 3:9). Involving himself, the seer makes the statement, "I John, your brother, who share with you in Jesus the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance.... " (Rev. 1:9). But, as we have seen, there is remarkably little indication anywhere in the Book of Revelation of sustained attack on the church from those outside. There are, however, plenty of indications that the seer views the Roman Empire antagonistically and that his evaluation of the empire affects the social boundary.
Tribulation in the Book of Revelation has an explicitly religious connection. References to tribulation consistently occur in connection with the imitation of Jesus. As indicated in Revelation 1:9, "tribulation" is part of what Christians share with Jesus. For John, "suffering" is one of the most essential ingredients in Christian proclamation and Christian living. The gospel message is linked to Jesus' suffering and crucifixion, just as the eschatological Lord is portrayed throughout as the slain Lamb or the faithful martyr. Images of suffering, death, and sacrifice carry through the introductory vision of Jesus to his final victory.
That message becomes embodied in Christians when they "imitate Christ." In different ways the seer compares the situations of Christ and Christians. Those conquering at Laodicea are promised they will sit with the Son of Man upon his throne just as he conquered and sat with his Father upon his throne (Rev. 3:21, cf. 2:26-28). Moreover, both Christ and faithful Christians conquer by being slain; at Revelation 12:10-12, for example, they imitate Christ, conquering the dragon "by the blood of the Lamb" and "by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death." At Revelation 6:9 victorious ones in white "had been slain," just like the worthy Lamb (Rev. 5:9). And at Revelation 7:14 those from the great tribulation wore robes made white through the blood of the Lamb. As martyrs they imitate Jesus Christ, the prototype of all faithful martyrs to come (Rev. 1:5, 2:13, 11:3, 17:6). Christians witness to the message by both holding to and reenacting the testimony made by Jesus.
Imitative witness combines, in the seer's verbal symbolics, with another aspect of tribulation that is both linguistic and religious. According to the seer's formulation of the Christian message, victory and kingship are disclosed ironically through suffering and crucifixion. The seer actually uses irony in several different contexts (see chap. 3). Most germane to tribulation, however, is what may be called kerygmatic irony, that is, irony involved essentially in the formulation, proclamation, and embodiment of the Christian message. 3 In the greeting of Revelation 1:4-5 Jesus Christ is given epithets drawn from the royal ideology of Israel that in their original context express and enhance the kingly power and royal authority promised to the Davidic line (cf. the Septuagint version of Ps. 88:38, Isa. 55:4). In the verbal symbolics of the Apocalypse, however, those epithets of power and authority are transformed through irony. The witness is faithful through crucifixion; and the "firstborn" is numbered among the dead. In short, the seer celebrates the enthronement of the king who reigns in blood, crucified on the cross. In the continuing liturgical piece of Revelation 1:7, John even identifies the eschatological Lord— who comes on the clouds in the sight of all—as the "pierced one" whom all will mourn. 4 That theme of the king who reigns in blood is carried through the entire Apocalypse by such combined images as the Lion/Lamb (Rev. 5:5-6), the slain Lamb, and the Word of God clothed in blood (Rev. 19:13).
Christian existence shares in the same ironic structures of royalty and kingship (Rev. 1:6). Those at Smyrna are exhorted, "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Rev. 2:10). Life comes through death for the Christian, just as it did for Jesus. As life appears ironically in the guise of death, so power appears as powerlessness. To the Philadelphians is given the message, "I have placed before you an open door which no one has the power to close because you have little power and you kept my word and you did not deny my name" (Rev. 3:8). The Laodiceans who think that they are rich but are really poor are urged to buy from the one who bought them by his slain blood (Rev. 3:18, cf. 5:9). Color of clothing becomes one means of expressing irony here, for the "white clothing" that they are urged to buy is made white in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14). In the message to the Ephesians the "tree of life" carries a similar ironic message: those who conquer are promised they will eat from the tree of life (Rev. 2:7), which in the verbal symbolics of the Apocalypse is linked to the "healing of the nations" and "no more accursedness" and thereby to the cross (Rev. 22:2-3). 5 Kerygmatic irony also offers the clue to the compatibility of tribulation, kingship, and steadfastness in Revelation 1:9: these three terms characterize both Christ and Christian existence, for tribulation in itself reveals victory, conquest, and kingship. 6 If the oxymoronic foolishness of this overt irony—Paul calls it the folly of the cross—is blunted by temporalizing (present cruelty, future glory) or by compartmentalizing (bodily cruelty, spiritual glory), the seer's ironic statement about Christian existence is lost. These linguistic and religious themes obviously make a social impact by anticipating persecution, but irony also invites collusion with the author. An ironic understanding is not an obvious one. Only those "in the know" may discern its presence, and that contributes to the sense of community John shares with his audience. 7
Tribulation and suffering in the life of Jesus and in the imitative witness of faithful Christians express something more than momentary events in history. Tribulation correlates in John's world with true knowledge, authentic self-expression, and service to the true God. The slain Lamb appears not only on earth but also in heaven, close to the throne (Rev. 5:6). Further, the Lamb is slain from the foundation of the world and reigns in that form (Rev. 13:8, cf. 1 Pet. 1:19). 8 The crucifixion lies in the deep structure of reality that enfolds all historical disclosures. It is, in turn, unfolded in Christ's rule and Christian existence so as to form a homology between Christ and Christians. A life of tribulation and social oppression expresses on the social boundary how Christians should reign with their crucified king and how they should participate in the power and glory of God. Disclosure of that reality constitutes a central ingredient in true knowledge and authentic selfhood.
Non-Christian attitudes towards Christians flow into the social boundary, from the outside in. Whatever the official basis for the interrogation and sentencing of Christians (the legal grounds for this activity are still debated), it is clear that the government had popular support for prosecuting Christians. From the viewpoint of the Roman world, Christians had "lost their shelter of tradition" with Judaism, were recognized as atheists who did not worship the communal gods, were nonconformists adhering to a recently formed religion from the East, and possibly participated in cannibalism. Indeed, if Pliny's correspondence is typical, the populace was more adamant than were Roman officials about bringing Christians to trial (Ep. 10.96). Trajan (probably following guidelines from the time of Domitian) directs Pliny not to listen to anonymous accusations and not to initiate prosecution by seeking Christians out. At the same time Christianity is viewed clearly as a social ill to be dealt with if Christians are brought before a tribunal; in that case they would probably be killed if, after due opportunity was given to them, they did not confess the religious dimension of the common, public Roman life. In John's world, Christians should seek out clashes with the state, for that would unfold the essential structures of reality into history.
Finally, the way the seer opposes his revealed knowledge to public knowledge affects the social boundary. As we have seen, the seer sets up a thoroughgoing contrast between the two. In language similar to that used by Pliny and his circle (see chap. 10), the opposition is characterized in terms of false divinity, sexual excess, and oppression. 9 This language is used to contrast revealed and public knowledge as binary oppositions. It includes conflict at the social boundary, but once again it is far more inclusive: it distinguishes insiders from outsiders, authentic self-expressions from false ones, old eras from new ones, and true knowledge from deceptive lies.
All of the above are dimensions of the social boundary. Within the seer's world all of the elements related to tribulation form a feedback loop that grows larger with each cycle: religious identification with the crucified king shapes psychosocial identity, which leads to patterns of behavior that support social-political prosecution, which loop back to create a more intense religious identification with the crucified king. In the process, mutual adjustments are made so that tribulation—so prominent a theme in the seer's knowledge of the world—enters fully into all provinces of meaning, including the social dimension. A myriad of qualities; behavioral traits; religious commitments; psychosocial understandings; and social, political interactions coalesce into a term like tribulation. At times it may gain impetus from the social boundary (for example, if a Christian is brought before the authorities), but the theme is more prominent in the religious commitments and psychosocial understanding of the seer. Thus, in order to understand the dynamics of tribulation on the social boundary, much more is involved than an analysis of social, economic oppression or political persecution.
Cognitive Minority and Social Location
Let us do a quick review. We are trying to locate the Book of Revelation socially in the Roman Empire, more precisely, in the cities of the province of Asia. We can rule out any portrait of Asian Christians as a beleaguered, oppressed minority living as separatists in an isolated ghetto. Christians, for the most part, lived alongside their non-Christian neighbors, sharing peacefully in urban Asian life. There is not even much evidence in the Book of Revelation itself for persistent hostilities towards Christians by Roman officials or non-Christian neighbors. At the same time John is unequivocal in his negative attitude toward Asian society and the empire. This negative attitude is expressed through topics commonplace to the apocalyptic genre such as conflict, crisis, assurances of hope, and exhortations to steadfastness. As generic topoi they do not necessarily indicate anything about the circumstances in which the Book of Revelation arose. They are not, therefore, appropriate clues to the social location of the Book of Revelation in the empire.
Instead of beginning with those topoi, I have argued that we should begin with a more basic element of the genre, namely, that it is "revelatory literature." The Book of Revelation offers to its audience revealed knowledge that may be contrasted with the public knowledge available through such sources as civic institutions, public roles, and spatial arrangements in the city. As revealer of esoteric knowledge the Book of Revelation has its own means of establishing the authenticity and authority of the divine truth it reports. When compared to that public knowledge generally taken for granted in the Roman social order, the revealed knowledge of the Book of Revelation is a deviation from, and a censure of, that public order.
As censure of the public order its author can be compared to philosophical aristocrats and to magicians, diviners, astrologers, and prophets who disturbed "the public mind" through private transmission of values and ideals that went against the order of the empire. In contrast to the coterie of aristocrats with a philosophical bent, the seer of Revelation works out of an ideology far separated from the public realm. Caesar would have had no difficulty differentiating his friends from the seer, had he been on the capital steps in 44 BCE. He is not quite so easy to distinguish from other prophets, exorcists, and magicians in Domitian's empire, yet they, too, are closer to the public order. John operates from a Christian framework that will be integrated fully into imperial structures only centuries later. In contrast to the writings of Paul or to 1 Peter, the seer of Revelation rejects any recognition of the empire as a godly order. In both style and content the writer of the Book of Revelation sets his work against the public order. More accurately, he reclaims all the public order for himself, incorporating the whole of the empire and everything else in his vision of what the world is really like and how one should live in it. His revealed knowledge, not public knowledge, integrates religious, social, economic, political, and aesthetic aspects of the world properly. Here John is unambiguous. Within his vision of reality, he and all those who wear the white garments are pitted against the evil empire.
Finally, the location of social boundaries—by means of which the seer is given a place in the Roman world—cannot be separated from an investigation into all of the boundaries operating in the seer's world. An examination of boundary formation offers a way to understand how the seer comprehends his environment. It involves an inquiry into those "laborious mutual adjustments" whereby symbolic expressions and social relations reflect a common structure that arises out of the process of John's adapting to his specific environment (see Lévi-Strauss 1966, 214, my emphasis). What we are here resisting is the notion that the social location of the seer precedes and offers the clue for understanding how the seer views his world. Social location is an important factor in the boundary formation process, but it is not determinative. Social boundaries are only one dimension of the seer's world boundaries. In diminishing the causal power of the social-historical, I am not returning to a phenomenological position like Schmithals' (see chap. 2 above) or to a theologically driven model that allows little or no force to social-historical reali ties. The social boundary has its place alongside all other boundaries in the seer's world.
Cognitive Minority/ Cognitive Majority
In comparison to the public knowledge embodied in the empire, John reveals a deviant knowledge, that is, one that deviates from public knowledge taken for granted in everyday Roman life (see chap. 10). Peter Berger locates such deviant knowledge socially in a "cognitive minority," which is "a group formed around a body of deviant 'knowledge'" (1970, 6). The cognitive conflict between Roman public knowledge and John's deviant knowledge is not between institutions and roles in society on the one hand and religious commitments on the other: it is a conflict over what the world is really like. The cognitive minority formed around the Book of Revelation refuses to accept the majority's definitions of reality as knowledge, just as (of course) the majority refuses the minority's "knowledge" of what the world is like (see Berger 1970, 7). Each, however, offers an all-inclusive knowledge that incorporates even problematic features such as death, dreams, and other anomic experiences (see Berger 1969, 23, 43). No social space is left out, not even that occupied by the opposition; each explains the other as ill-informed, ignorant, mad, or fundamentally evil; but each has a place in its cognitive system for the other.
In explaining the other and its knowledge, the "cognitive majority" has the edge. Since the majority has the greater number of visible, social institutions and opportunities to socialize members, the "status of a cognitive minority is ... invariably an uncomfortable one" (Berger 1970, 7). The majority will be condescending to the minority; their deviant knowledge will be considered with "tolerant amusement" or viewed as an "ethnological specimen" (see Berger 1970, 7). The account in Acts 17 of Paul at Athens illustrates this. Epicurean and Stoic philosophers ask, "What is this chatterer [ spermologos ] trying to say?" Others suggest that Paul is promoting foreign gods (Acts 17:18). They find his teaching a curiosity (Acts 17:19-22). After Paul's little speech some scoff, and others say that sometime later they will listen again (17:32-33). So far as we know, Paul never went back to discuss his "deviant knowledge" with Athenians. If, on the other hand, the minority becomes too irritating, it can evoke minor hostilities and temporary attacks against it.
The cognitive minority will find it more difficult to view majority opinions so benignly. A member of a deviant community is uncomfortable with his or her placement in the social order simply because the majority "refuses to accept the minority's definitions of reality as knowledge" (Berger 1970, 7). Negative and hostile expressions toward the majority—and the public social institutions representing the majority—derive in large part from that fact. The rhetoric of the minority may become intense and excessively hostile; for in order to find a place for the majority in their "deviant knowledge," they must explain the majority's refusal to "believe the truth." If the majority tends to assimilate the cognitive minority by considering them ignorant or mad, the minority assimilates the majority by viewing them as evil and satanic. The countercommunity of the cognitive minority becomes "a 'fellowship of the saints' in a world rampant with devils" (Berger 1970, 17-18). Because they are socially located as deviants, members of the countercommunity tend to "know" the dominant social order negatively, so that it becomes identified with chaos, anomy, and evil that constantly endanger their universe of meaning (see Berger 1969, 39).
Ill will towards the majority and extreme statements by the minority about the majority need not presuppose oppression or persecution by those dominant social forces. Their refusal to believe is sufficient cause; that is, social location as cognitive minority is itself a powerful cause for distress, for encouraging steadfastness in the faith, and for comforting the faithful. I suppose that one could describe a cognitive minority as perpetually in a state of crisis because of its social/cognitive location. If so, it should be noted that the crisis stems from the deviant knowledge, rather than vice-versa; that is, because of the character of revealed knowledge, those committed to that knowledge are located socially in a cognitive minority and, therefore, in crisis. Deviant knowledge, status of being a cognitive minority, and a state of "crisis" are all elements in the social location of an apocalypse. 10 Whether or not one finds crisis an appropriate term to characterize that location, it is clear that the cognitive structures of the majority continually threaten and endanger the plausibility of deviant knowledge.
In order for cognitive deviance to exist, it must have a "social base." In Berger's terms, "Worlds are socially constructed and socially maintained" (1969, 45). The revealed knowledge needs to be plausible to real, live human beings. If it is not, it is imperiled. 11 According to Berger, members of a cognitive minority tend to organize into a sectarian countercommunity with high boundaries and a strong sense of solidarity among its members (see Berger 1970, 18). In the typology of religious organization, the countercommunity is sectarian: "The sect, in its classical sociology-of-religion conception, serves as the model for organizing a cognitive minority against a hostile or at least non-believing milieu" (Berger 1969, 164). So in apocalypses there is often a sharp distinction between the chosen and the rest of the world or the true remnant and the rest of the so-called chosen (e.g., 1 Enoch 93:10, Rev. 1-3). According to Yarbro Collins the Book of Revelation elicits the response of "withdrawing from Greco-Roman society into an exclusive group with rigorous rules and an intense expectation of imminent judgment against their enemies and of their own salvation" (Yarbro Collins 1984, 137). That sect-type countercommunity fits well with the Book of Revelation as deviant knowledge in a cognitive minority; as a revelatory book with its own authority separate from public structures its social base may be seen as a ghetto shielded from the rest of the world by high social boundaries.
The sect-type countercommunity does not, however, fit so well with the allencompassing scope of knowledge in the Book of Revelation. As a book that voraciously engages all other "knowledge" and assimilates all world structurespublic and private—to itself, it calls for a bold cosmopolitan existence in the empire. The key factor in locating the Book of Revelation socially in the Roman Empire involves this somewhat paradoxical relation with the larger, public order stemming from the book's claim to a revealed, but all-encompassing, knowledge. Its source in self-authenticated revelation leads to separation from the larger society, but its all-embracing content calls for a cosmopolitan existence.
That exclusive, yet comprehensive, knowledge transmitted through the Book of Revelation creates flexibility in the types of institutions that can support it; it belongs to a genre not limited to one kind of social base. Some apocalypses may have arisen in conventicles, ghettos, and other sect-type countercommunities, as at Qumran; but others may not have a setting "in a movement or community at all" (Collins 1984b, 21); that is, the social base of an apocalyptic cognitive minority may take the form of separate, sectarian institutions; or it may be more parasitic, attached to "host institutions" found throughout Jewish and Christian life, for example. 12 The writer of the Book of Revelation does not call for a separate institutional formation. He operates more as a "parasite" on existing host churches in the cities of the province of Asia. He calls for reform along specific lines, but he does not quite treat his opposition in the churches as "outsiders." Jezebel, Balaamites, and others named pejoratively by the seer are recognized as members in the churches. For whatever reason, John accepts the existing churches in the cities as his social base.
Perhaps some house churches in the cities were formed along the lines called for by the seer, and other house churches in the same cities followed different guidelines on how to relate to the larger, social order; but of that division we have no evidence. Even if it were true, "John's houses" would be part of the Christian community in those cities. It is true that John, like Ignatius, tries to polarize the churches in Asia (see Schoedel 1980, 32); that is, John draws sharp boundaries within the churches by claiming that there is only one proper attitude to take towards the world. Those who accept the necessity (and pleasure) of living quietly with their neighbors are in the wrong; good Christians assimilate the Roman world as demonic. In fact, one could argue that John's major challenge comes not from outside the church but from Christians who are open to living in the world.
Social Location of the Book of Revelation
By now it should be clear that the Book of Revelation, its author, and its audience cannot be located in the social world of Asian cities through one or two social variables such as economic status or political oppression. It is obviously written within and to Christian communities of Asia, but, as we have seen, Christians included people from various social and economic statuses. It is always tempting to locate apocalyptic spirituality and millenarian movements among those who are oppressed, downtrodden, persecuted, or impoverished; but the appeal of the Book of Revelation has never been limited to Christians who find it difficult to get on with their lives because they are socially oppressed. Wealthy Christians and poor ones may find it attractive; so, also both clever and stupid Christians may be attracted to the Book of Revelation.
John and his audience can, however, be located in Roman society as a group of people who understand themselves as a minority that continuously encounters and attacks the larger Christian community and the even larger Roman social order.
That communal self-understanding leads us back to the paradox of a "cosmopolitan sectarianism." The universal, cosmic vision of the Book of Revelation is grounded in first-century Asian life and necessarily entangles itself in all power structures in all dimensions of human society. But it entangles itself as opposition. It opposes the public order and enters the fray as other "deviant" groups in the empire, not by joining rioters in the streets but by a literary vehicle, a written genre—in John's case, a genre offering revealed knowledge as an alternative to the knowledge derived from the public order. The Book of Revelation struggles to speak for the whole world; yet if it lost its minority status, it would lose its raison d'être. The book could not remain an apocalypse yet speak for the public order. Given this ambivalent relationship with the larger order, the Book of Revelation could be accepted by a person without even relocating into a sect-type social base. It only requires engaging the larger order as the enemy from a particular Christian perspective. The social base of the Book of Revelation must be conceived in such a manner as to allow this essentially ambivalent, symbiotic relationship with the larger society.
The ambivalent relationship of the Book of Revelation to a larger public order helps to explain the diversity of the audience attracted to it. Its audience is not limited to those who are persecuted or oppressed by the larger society. Nor need we limit the book's communicative power only to those alienated by rapid social change involving cross-cultural contact. When one people is conquered by another (as in the exilic and postexilic periods of Judaism) a cognitive majority may be transformed into a cognitive minority, but that condition is neither sufficient nor necessary for the emergence of an apocalypse. The notion that rapid social change dissolves social control, brings distress, tension, and lack of norms, as well as disorganization and disorder may not even hold in very many situations (see Tilly 1984, 53-56). Without doubt, such a notion can be used too facilely to explain why the postexilic or early Christian situations were ripe for apocalypses. 13
To be sure, the book does communicate an alienation from the larger society that may be attractive to those who are persecuted and oppressed, but it may be just as attractive to those who are momentarily frustrated or dissatisfied with the public order or to those who are disengaged from some aspect of public knowledge. McGinn has shown that the revealed knowledge of an apocalypse could even be called upon when public knowledge and public structures were endangered or implausible (McGinn 1979b, 9); that is, the revealed knowledge of the Book of Revelation can even support a public (Christian) order if "public knowledge" has lost its credibility.
The Book of Revelation offers knowledge—a certain perspective on life—that is not class-specific or status-specific. It belongs to a genre not limited to one kind of social base. It could flourish in a ghetto; in a separate, sectarian institution; or in other, often parasitic social bases. John operates within the existing churches of the Asian cities. Burridge once introduced a disquieting notion to those who seek a clearly delineated social location for the Book of Revelation. He suggested that "apocalyptic messages may be natural to human groups, culturally prescribed, or an intrinsic part of the evolutionary process" (1982, 100). If considered in that light, our attempt to locate John and his audience in a particular social class or social, economic status is wrongheaded. Certainly, the attempt to link the Book of Revelation with upheaval and crisis is wrongheaded.
Down through the ages the book has held appeal for a great variety of people in different social locations and in different kinds of historical situations (see Cogley 1987, 393). Its language and vision hold great explanatory power; for the language is supple and versatile, and the vision grounds human existence in a meaningful, expanded universe. Moreover, the cognitive certainty of the seer is attractive— especially since he lards it with guarantees of significance to human life. Further, the Book of Revelation has been a literary vehicle for providing a "cognitive distance" from the public, social order and thereby providing space for critiques of the public order, for creating a satisfying dissonance in human activity (a bulwark against boredom) between public and revealed knowledge. Various combinations of elements in the Book of Revelation have made it attractive to a wide variety of people in every age. Its original audience need not have been any less diverse.
12 Postscript: Religious Language
and the Social Order
Where are the Christian-filled lions? Where is crazed Domitian who sends out his legions against hapless Christians? Where are the oppressed slaves with crosses proudly worn inside their tunics? Where is the crazed seer caught in a state of spiritual madness?
It all seems so ordinary: an emperor who negotiates political decisions with senators and provincials so as to assure stability in the empire; economic prosperity and social integration of cities in the Asian province where John and his audience live; for the most part a coincidence between life-styles and attitudes of Christians and non-Christians in those cities. The Book of Revelation does not contradict this portrait: there are few indications of crises involving institutions outside the Christian communities, every indication that the seer is writing in a particular generic tradition that influences his choice of images, his construction of scenes, and his portrait of the world. His audience is made up of ordinary people committed to Christianity: people sharing in the provincial prosperity, albeit some more than others; a diverse group from different social locations who find an alternative vision to the public order attractive.
Can religion, especially apocalyptic spirituality, come to expression in such ordinariness? Does an approach to the social and psychological dimensions of apocalypticism (at least one that claims scholarly credibility) not require some kind of abnormal, out-of-the-ordinary social, historical, political, economic, or psychological situation as explanation for the outbreak of apocalyptic spirituality? In short, can religious expressions, especially of this apocalyptic variety, be understood as part of those normal, ordinary processes through which humans accommodate to everyday realities of existence?
Perhaps not all apocalypses can be so understood. Some—for example, the Book of Daniel—may be the product of a crisis in the political history of Judaism. Others may reflect deprivation (relative or otherwise) on the part of their audience.
Jung may be right about some writers of apocalypses—that they express long-pentup negative feelings, chronic virtuousness, such brutal impacts of contrarieties as a sea of grace met by a seething lake of fire (see Jung 1973, 75-76, 87, 89)—but those comments are probably not appropriate to the seer of Revelation. The Book of Revelation arises from normal processes of adaptation to ordinary human conditions. Social or psychological deviance is not a necessary—though it may be a sufficient—cause for the writing of an apocalypse; powerful religious expressions, even of the apocalyptic type, may arise in other social and psychological contexts.
This hypothesis of ordinariness may be seen by many as radical. It goes against opinion about the Book of Revelation specifically, more generally about the Roman world into which Christianity was born, and even more generally, about most social and historical inquiry into millenarianism. The notion that in each of those instances the social historian may be encountering ordinary, normal life that does not involve a state of spiritual bankruptcy or social chaos or political oppression may be unpalatable, for it does not distinguish in any qualitative manner early Christian life and experience from our own life and experience, and it brings the seer's language and vision contiguous to all other kinds of language and visions. As human expression it becomes available to human experience. That contiguity does not filter out the mythic power of John's language or the awesomeness of his vision; rather, it enlarges human expression and the possibilities of human experience.
Broadly speaking, I place the seer's product in the context of those "laborious adjustments" by means of which humans adapt to their environment. As with all such adjustments, there is a local context: a particular place; a particular time; a particular social, historical situation; a particular psychological and biological makeup; and a particular set of communal, social institutions. The seer refracts those particulars through his apocalyptic language so as to create a particular whole vision of what the world is like and how he and his audience fit into it. Among the various media the seer could use to contribute toward the "laborious adjustment" (e.g., institutional development, flag waving, education), a literary vehicle takes pride of place. He offers to his audience a linguistic vision.
Language, the substance of that vision, is a powerful force. Words, for the seer, are not simply spoken and written thoughts; they are worn, held, and eaten. They can cause an upset stomach. They control destinies. They initiate action. Words and social experience are not discrete entities striking each other like billiard balls. To speak of his language as merely a response to a destructive and oppressive society separates verbal symbolisms and social experience too much. To describe his rhetoric as simply encouraging others, strengthening their resolve, and exhorting them in the face of death externalizes too much the relationship between verbal expression and social intercourse. Each is essentially affected by the other, as both participate in the same cultural system.
The reciprocal relations between language and experience can be seen in John's treatment of the Christian proclamation (kerygma). The kerygma is a verbal proclamation that enfolds a mode of Christian existence in the world. Similarly, Christian existence enfolds the verbal proclamation. The repeated formula "the Word of God and the witness of Jesus Christ" testifies to both verbal and social proclamation and to an adaptive strategy by means of which Christians engage with their world.
There is, of course, a surplus to experience that cannot be refracted through language; yet John's language (like all language) catches and mirrors our social experience while it shapes and structures that experience. His language works its "poetic," creative function as it creates and molds both human and environment into a livable, workable relationship. Working in that powerful medium of mythic language, the seer relates his local conditions to what is most inclusive, most cosmic, most total.
Must inclusive visions necessarily be uncompromising? Must John's inclusive vision require hard boundaries between esoteric, Christian knowledge and public, Roman knowledge? His vision is attractive in part because he offers a "rock-bottom" fundamental orientation to the world that is at the same time totally inclusive. And his total inclusiveness seems to require cognitive boundaries between true and false knowledge. The cognitive majority must be wrong if his cognitive minority is right. Yet it is this total inclusiveness—that God is all in all—that is belied in those hard cognitive boundaries.
Would we belie his vision if we asked him to relativize slightly his rock-bottom orientation so that his knowledge was not absolutely identical to God's? Does the all-inclusiveness of his vision not call for at least the possibility that God may be at work in both his and his opponents' cognitions? We are dealing here in part with the place of revenge and retribution in the Book of Revelation—with the confidence that those outside the circle of true knowledge cannot succeed, that they must be outside the city gate and beyond the temple wall. The cognitive boundary becomes harder and harder as the seer moves from Nicolaitans and Jezebel to Jews to denizens of the Asian cities. Is there hope for those outside? Is the city gate of the New Jerusalem closed forever on such people? Can God be all in all if the gate is closed for eternity?
The seer would be more faithful to his vision of an unbroken wholeness if he did subvert his cognitive exclusiveness. John's radical monotheism should leave a place for Roman knowledge. Then the God would embrace a higher dimensional ground than the dimensions of John's visions. There would be a divine surplus not captured by John's language. At times we get glimmers of this possibility, most especially in connection with the irony of the crucified king. Here power, royalty, and maybe even true knowledge are susceptible to ironic turns. The slain Lamb may provide a metaphor for subverting revenge and retribution while assuring cognitive stability. Could rulers and ruled, cognitive confidence and cognitive humility, rockbottom certainty and openness to something more fundamental be allowed their creative tension under that metaphor without this becoming a justification for either the status quo or silent weakness?
In that neverending "laborious process" of adaptation, rock-bottom certainty has its necessary place. We need to be able to express in words what we know, to know with certainty what we encounter, and to encounter absolutely the true "God." Such certainty is important for psychological well-being and social loca tion. In that process, hard boundaries emerge separating us from others—for example, from those who claim a different formulation of rock-bottom knowledge in a different social location. Such certainty leads to the closing of the millenarian mind. In the Book of Revelation, countering that process, there is a continual softening of boundaries that leads to the opening of the millenarian mind: the boundaries between contrarieties are not as hard as they first appear; ironic and eschatological reversals separate appearances—including hard, inpenetrable boundaries—from reality. In this process vengeance, exclusiveness, and certainty about the adequacy of particular human insight (even revelation) fade.
This dialectic between hard and soft or closed and open is a dimension of the seer's language that millenarians (as well as scholars) should find of interest. Boundaries are not done away with; we (like John) need them to orient ourselves to the world. But the boundary is no longer fundamentally between us and them but on another plane—that of closed and open. No boundary, not even the cognitive boundary between majority and minority, becomes the ultimate divide. Further, there is a different relationship to the boundary. Those with vengeance, moral exclusiveness, and certainty about the absolute adequacy of their insight are masters of the boundary. The seer's language of transformations and reversals makes mastery of boundaries very difficult. In fact, he is time and again taken across boundaries over which he has no power. Entering fully into the seer's transformations, homologies, and ratios, the reader experiences along with the seer something like Menelaus' ride on Proteus. Menelaus holds tight while Proteus, the shapeshifter, passes from stability to transformation to new stability. Together, they experience surprise and discover novelty.
Any serious reader of the Book of Revelation will want to reckon with that protean aspect of the work. Judgments and claims will still be made; convictions will still be held. But if attention is given to the transformational character of the Book of Revelation—if attention is given to powerful ironic images such as the slain Lamb—judgments and convictions—even those on which we make decisions and take actions—may be subverted by the seer's language. Ultimately the boundaries of the seer's world are soft; they are points of transaction whereby religious promises, social encounters, political commitments, biological givens, and cultural demands undergo mutual adjustments and form homologous relations. In short, the seer would draw the reader into a protean world where God alone is master of all boundary transactions.
Recent Theories about the Social Setting
of the Book of Revelation
Although most scholars may conclude that the latter part of Domitian's reign offers the best social context for the Book of Revelation, the text of Revelation is not sufficiently explicit about time and date to provide ready-made connections between Revelation and a specific social, historical context. As we have seen (chap. 1), even when the seer's language seems to make very specific references, as in the description of the seven kings in Revelation 17:9-10, the political allusions are not clear. So even though the language of Revelation must be the beginning point and primary source for all study, it does not in itself make connections with a social situation. Those connections can be made only with the help of an underlying theory about how the language of Revelation is shaped by its originating setting and how the language functions in its social situation. 1 The following review of some recent approaches to the social setting of the Book of Revelation illustrates some of the different connections that have been made between the language of Revelation and its social situation.
Colin Hemer's book (1986), although limited to the letters to the seven churches (Rev. 23), should nonetheless be mentioned if for no other reason than that it carries on the tradition of Sir William Mitchell Ramsay, the late-nineteenth-century historian of Asia Minor. Ramsay traveled extensively in Asia Minor, collected inscriptions, observed terrain, and linked the language of the New Testament to the situation in which it arose. His work is sometimes appealed to to prove that the New Testament is "true," that is, that it refers to actual situations at the time in which it was written. Hemer began his work as a "reassessment of Ramsay" and has obviously remained close to Ramsay's approach and conclusions (1986, x).
Hemer plays the historian rather than the literary critic or sociologist with the Book of Revelation. The visionary, symbolic language of Revelation is referential language; symbols and images find explanation in the historical, topographical, and social setting of the seven churches (Hemer 1986, 16-20). For example, those at Ephesus who conquer will "eat of the tree of life" (Rev. 2:7). This image refers to the Genesis passage, but for Hemer such an image must also have "peculiar applicability" to those at Ephesus. In this case he thinks that John uses this image in the message to those at Ephesus because there it "had an analogue in the Artemis cult"(p. 42). The connection with the setting has, for Hemer, more explanatory power than any other connection.
In explaining verbal and imagistic similarities and repetitions in the Book of Revelation or between the Book of Revelation and some other work—for example, Ignatius' letters—Hemer plays down the importance of literary or generic influence and looks instead to common situations. 2 Ignatius uses in his letter to the Ephesians the phrase "that we may be his naoi [ temples ]," an image somewhat similar to that in Revelation 21:3. The similarity arises not from John and Ignatius using a common stockpile of images or from drawing upon a common body of literature but from "features of the city" of Ephesus that both John and Ignatius knew (p. 54). As with Ramsay's work, connections between the language of the Book of Revelation and the situation of the seven cities are often tenuous and of little individual significance (pp. 7, 26), but Hemer argues that the tenuous, insignificant examples accumulate into a defensible case for the situational significance of the specific language used in Revelation (e.g., p. 224).According to Hemer the letter to the Laodiceans (Rev. 3:14-22) demonstrates his approach most convincingly (see p. 224). Here, in brief, is his treatment of several phrases from that letter:
1. "The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation" (3:14). Hemer reviews allusions to the Old Testament, something he criticizes Ramsay for not doing. The most striking parallel, however, is to the New Testament letter to the Colossians (Col. 1:15)—Christians living near Laodicea in the Lycus Valley. The similarities are explained as replies "to similar tendencies of thought persisting in the district" (p. 185).
2. "You are lukewarm." The special appropriateness of this language relates to the water supply at Laodicea. The water in that area is tepid and bad, functioning as an emetic (see Rev. 3:16). Details are somewhat obscure.
3. "I am rich" (Rev. 3:17). Laodicea was a wealthy, self-sufficient city with woolen industries and a district bank. Residents reconstructed the city after an earthquake in Nero's reign. Revelation 3:17 should be read "against the background of the boasted affluence of Laodicea, notoriously exemplified in her refusal of Roman aid and her carrying through a great programme of reconstruction in a spirit of proud independence and ostentatious individual benefaction" (p. 195).
4. "Salve to anoint your eyes" (Rev. 3:18). Though there is no solid evidence for ophthalmology at Laodicea, there is sufficient evidence to consider this passage in connection with a medical center nearby and with the manufacturing of eye salve.
5. "White garments to clothe you" (Rev. 3:18). This is "an allusion to the clothing industry of Laodicea and in particular a contrast with the glossy black wool of its sheep" (p. 199).
6. "He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne" (Rev. 3:21). Local allusions here include references to a branch of the Zenonid dynasty, a dynasty important throughout Asia Minor.
Hemer's work represents one way of trying to relate the language of the Book of Revelation to a social setting. He assumes that the language is transparently referential and that a major task of the social historian is to find the references in the social situation. To do that, Hemer must sometimes search through a wide range of literary, epigraphic, and numismatic sources; and after such a search, the connections often remain very tenuous. He and others who relate language and social setting in this manner must rely on the accumulative effect of a number of uncertain connections. Even if one leaves aside some of the issues about language and society explored in chapters 1 and 2, Hemer's approach remains unconvincing for two reasons: (1) several tenuous connections do not accumulate into a strong group of connections; and (2) the casting of the net over literary, epigraphic, and numismatic sources is overcontrolled by a determination to find situational parallels to the text in the Book of Revelation. In principle everyone engages in net casting, in finding support for a hypothesis about text and social context; but Hemer's approach does not have any built-in check: complete disconfirmation would be rare, given how he proceeds. Nevertheless, Hemer's concern for "the specifics of place and time" should be included in all theories about social setting.
John Court approaches Revelation as a work formed by a "creative literary artist" who has combined in a deliberate and skillful manner traditional mythological ideas and allusions to historical situations contemporary with the artist (1979, 164). Interpreters of Revelation always need to discern both historical allusions and traditional mythology ; otherwise, they will lose control of the material and fail to grasp the form in which the seer has presented his work. 3 In combining history and traditional mythology, the author of Revelation follows the lead given in the Old Testament, where myth is historicized and history is mythologized (p. 165). Moreover, the combination of history and myth draws Revelation firmly into the circle of apocalyptic, where "intensive and esoteric use of imagery" (i.e., myth) is coupled with an interpretation of history (p. 165). In that way history is given meaning through "the apocalyptists' vision of what—or, more accurately, who—transcends history" (p. 165). Koch's observation about apocalyptic— "An apocalypse is ... designed to be 'the revelation of the divine revelation' as this takes place in the individual acts of a coherent historical pattern"—is nowhere better demonstrated than in the Book of Revelation (Court 1979, 165). The historical situation controls the use and selection of mythological ideas, and the mythological ideas interpret and provide a framework for understanding the historical situation (pp. 10, 19).
Court's method of relating traditional mythic themes and historical situations contemporary with the seer is especially well exemplified in his interpretation of the opening of the first six seals (Rev. 6:1-17; Court 1979, 50-70). According to Court the seer here draws from two traditional sources: the prophet Zechariah (Zech. 1:8-15, 6:1-8) and the Synoptic apocalypse (Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). The four horsemen reflect a traditional theme traced back to Zechariah—the divine control over all history. By means of this traditional theme, the writer of Revelation offers "a prophetic reinterpretation of the contemporary situation and recent events" (Court 1979, 59). Court relates the opening of the third seal (Rev. 6:5-6) to famine in Asia Minor and to Domitian's attempt to limit the growing of vines and olive trees and to encourage the growth of wheat and barley. The white horse of the first seal is depicted to reflect features of Mithras, "the warrior-god whose cult was well known in Asia Minor" (p. 62). The saber of the second seal (Rev. 6:4) may allude to the rumours of war that were regularly reported on the eastern border of the empire or, more specifically, to Domitian's despotic cruelty of putting Civica Cerialis, the proconsul of Asia, to death (pp. 63-64). 4 The sick, yellowish green color of the fourth horseman (Rev. 6:7-8) may reflect "an unrecorded outbreak in the time of Domitian" of some pestilence often associated with famine. Together, the four horsemen represent "God's 'four sore acts of judgement' in Ezekiel 14:21 (sword, famine, evil beasts, and pestilence)" (p. 65) and relate those judgments to current concerns in the immediate situation in Asia Minor. The combination of myth and history reinforces the point that in the contemporary difficult situation God is in control. Even martyrdom—reflected in the opening of the fifth seal (Rev. 6:9 11), embracing martyrs from Steven to Antipas and those soon to come—is placed in "the working out of God's plan" (p. 67): "The author's own experience is sufficient evidence for a limited persecution, if only of individual Christians, at the time of writing, and the expectation of much more.... It is likely that John saw the threat of much worse to come, and composed this work to meet that threat" (pp. 66-67). The opening of the sixth seal (Rev. 6:12-17), which reinterprets material from Luke 23:2831, anticipates the great cosmic cataclysm in the end days. Altogether, the opening of the six seals reappropriates earlier prophetic and apocalyptic traditions to the situation in Asia Minor so that Christians who have suffered in various ways during Domitian's reign can read the "signs of the time" and be encouraged and reassured that in all the disasters God is in control (p. 70).
Court's approach to Revelation is illuminative for what it does not do, as well as for what it does do. Court—like Hemer—usually begins his analysis of a block of material by looking for possible allusions to actual historical situations, for he assumes that traditional mythic and eschatological motifs are drawn upon to illumine actual situations in the lives of the seer and those he is addressing (see p. 19). In that regard he often seeks to make a one-to-one connection between a passage in Revelation and some aspect of an historical situation, for example, the associations of the four horsemen to situations and events contemporary with the seer. This approach becomes especially evident in his analysis of the letters to the seven churches. There Court draws on the research of Ramsay and Hemer to show connections such as the "tree of life" in the Ephesus letter and tree shrines associated with Artemis of Ephesus (p. 29) or the "white stone" in the Pergamum letter with white marble at Pergamum (p. 33). By linking text and history in this way, Court never considers the whole text of Revelation as a symbolic universe or a constructed literary world, to be related to the social, historical world of Christians in Asia Minor. So Schüssler Fiorenza refers to his work as a "somewhat unsophisticated discussion of the imaginative, mythopoeic language of Revelation" (1985, 22).
In contrast to Court, Schüssler Fiorenza considers separate themes or topics in the text as parts of a "total configuration." An analysis of smaller units must be complemented by considering their place in the work as a whole, for "small units ... change their formal characteristics and function differently when they are incorporated into the new framework of a complex literary type or genre ( Gattung )" (1985, 164). She views Revelation as "a unique fusion of content and form" (p. 159) that can best be analyzed and understood through the tools of literary criticism.
For Schüssler Fiorenza the first step in interpreting Revelation involves an examination of its poetic, evocative language and symbols (p. 183). In this examination the specific poetic language of Revelation must not be left behind in favor of theological or philosophical abstractions, for form and content are inseparable (p. 184, 159). She rejects both archetypal analysis, in which specific symbols represent "transhistorical realities" and theological analysis, which restates the content of Revelation in nonpoetic language (pp. 23, 26, 183-86). When approached as poetic, evocative language, the symbolic language of Revelation—like all poetry—opens up, rather than limits, interpretations, "evoking rather than defining meanings." "It becomes necessary for interpreters to acknowledge the ambiguity, openness, and indeterminacy of all literature" (p. 186). To understand fully this multiplicity, a lexicon—or perhaps better a grammar and syntax—of the imagery and symbols of Revelation would have to be written.
Schüssler Fiorenza, however, does not exactly pursue that solution in trying to control the ambiguous language of Revelation. Instead of developing a complex network of meaning relationships in the poem, she calls for the following two criteria to assess a particular interpretation: (1) it "must make 'sense' with regard to the overall structure of the book" (p. 187), and (2) it must "fit" the historical-rhetorical situation to which it is a response (p. 183). The first criterion is appropriate for any poetic analysis, but the second criterion in a sense belies the emphasis on Revelation as poetry. Revelation should perhaps be read as poetry, but finally she states that there is a "difference between a work of literature and the NT writings. Whereas a work of art is considered as a system or structure of signs serving a specific esthetic purpose, ... the NT books are theological and historical writings." She then concludes that "one must not only analyze the literary patterns and structure of a writing but also their relation to its theological perspective and historical setting" (p. 159). In other words, the language of Revelation is not "just linguistic-semantic but also always social-communicative" (p. 183), and that "social-communicative" must involve not only the reader or hearer of a text but also the originating situation of the text: "In other words, we are never able to read a text without explicitly or implicitly reconstructing its historical subtext within the process of our reading" (p. 183). Literary analysis of Revelation is ultimately controlled by social, historical analysis or, in Schüssler Fiorenza's terms, by rhetorical analysis.
Since "John did not write art for art's sake" (p. 23), interpreters must do more than a "purely formalistic literary" analysis of the work (p. 23); they must consider "the communicative situation and literary-social function of Revelation." (p. 23). 5 Here the epistolary framework of Revelation is crucial; John's purpose in writing is similar to that of Paul in his letters; but John strengthens, encourages, and corrects "Christians in Asia Minor who were persecuted and still must expect more suffering and harassment ... not simply by writing a hortatory treatise, but by creating a new 'plausibility structure' and 'symbolic universe' which he communicates in the form of an 'apostolic'-prophetic letter" (pp. 23-24); 6 that is, "John creates a 'literary vision' instead of a sermon and tractate" (p. 6), but that vision functions rhetorically to motivate and persuade Christians in Asia Minor to remain faithful "in the face of harassment and victimization" (p. 6). For Schüssler Fiorenza, the situation of "tribulation and persecution" under Domitian is fundamental for understanding the rhetorical function of the work as one that strengthens endurance and hope (pp. 8, 114). Revelation as a symbolic-poetic work combines with its visionary rhetoric so as to invite imaginative participation in the symbolic world created in the text: "The strength of its persuasion for action lies not in the theological reasoning or historical argument of Revelation but in the 'evocative' power of its symbols as well as in its hortatory, imaginative, emotional language, and dramatic movement, which engage the hearer (reader) by eliciting reactions, emotions, convictions, and identifications" (p. 187).
The priority that Schüssler Fiorenza gives to the "rhetorical function" thus leads her to a commonly held understanding of apocalypses: the Book of Revelation arises in response to harassment and persecution, and its rhetorical function among its readers and hearers mirrors its originating situation (distress/comfort, persecution/perseverence, despair/hope). In contrast to the rich variety and multivocal meanings of Revelation as a symbolic-poetic work, as a rhetorical work it has a fixed and precisely limited meaning. 7 Criticism on the symbolic-poetic level is finally not crucial, for the "true" interpretation reduces that rich symbolism to a social functionalism: "The symbolic universe and world of vision ... is a 'fitting response' to its socio-political 'rhetorical situation"' (p. 6). 8 Social experience determines the rhetorical elements in the work. 9
John Gager has not written extensively on Revelation, but his provocative remarks in Kingdom and Community opened up a new brand of sociological analysis of the early church that has had great importance for the study of Revelation. Gager also interprets Revelation as a response to oppression, more specifically to persecution and martyrdom, and as a work that functions to console its readers and hearers (1975, 50). He discusses Revelation as one way in which "the millennium has in some sense come to life in the experience of the community as a whole" (p. 49). 10 Drawing on the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss, Gager states that Revelation brings the millennium through "mythological enactment" (p. 50). Following Lévi-Strauss's structural analysis of myth, Gager segments Revelation into blocks of text (mythemes) that are then organized into two contrasting categories: victory/hope on the one hand and oppression/despair on the other. Revelation 4:1-5:14, 7:1-8:4, 10:1-11:1, 11:15-19, 14:1-7, 15:2-8, 19:1-16, and 21:1-22:5 belong to the first category; Revelation 6:1-17, 8:5-9:21, 11:2-14, 12:1-17, 13:1-18, 14:8-15:1, 16:1-20, 17:1-18:24, and 19:17-20:15 belong to the second, contrasting category (p. 53). No middle ground can reconcile those contrasting categories because they reflect an irreconcilable tension in the life of Christians: "On the one hand was the belief that, as Christians, they were the chosen people of God, protected by him and assured of eternal life in his kingdom. On the other hand was the overwhelming experience of suffering, deprivation, and death at the hands of those whom they most despised" (p. 51). Or the conflict may be seen as a tension between hope and reality, what ought to be and what is, an ideal past or future and a flawed present (p. 51). In brief, Christians experienced an unbearable conflict between their religious convictions and their social, political experience.
The language and symbols of myth function to soften that experience of conflict. In the words of Lévi-Strauss, "mythic thought always progresses from the awareness of oppositions toward their resolution" (1967, 221). The Book of Revelation resolves those oppositions by two means. First, the text oscillates between symbols of victory/hope and oppression/despair so that the reader gradually assumes that oppression and despair are penultimate. So, for example, "the opening of the sixth seal [oppression/despair] is followed not by the seventh seal but rather by a vision of the one hundred and forty-four thousand who bear the seal of God [victory/hope]" (Gager 1975, 54). The oscillation from oppression to victory serves "to undermine any tendency among the audience to treat" the conflicts in their experience as "permanent, unbearable contradiction" (p. 54). Secondly, as myth Revelation is structured so as to function as a suppressor of time. Through "mythic enactment" the faithful readers and hearers experience future bliss in the present moment (p. 50). Thus Gager argues that hearing or reading Revelation becomes a form of therapy, "much like the technique of psychoanalysis, whose ultimate goal is to transcend the time between a real present and a mythical future" (p. 51). Drawing heavily from Lévi-Strauss, Gager argues that like the process of psychoanalysis, apocalyptic myths "manipulate symbols" so as to change the reality of the patient/ reader (p. 51).
Unfortunately, however, the suppression of time is only illusory. In contrast to psychoanalysis, the manipulation of symbols in myth does not finally change the reality of Christian existence. Listening to the Apocalypse read aloud in worship may provide "a fleeting experience of the millennium," but the "real world" of persecution and deprivation reasserts "itself with dogged persistence for Christian communities" (p. 56). Nothing fundamental is changed by the myth. The world of social, political realities is too real for the alternative symbolic world of the myth. At best, the transitory, alterna tive mythic world provides "energy needed to withstand the wrath of the beast" (p. 56). The oscsillating text establishes the penultimacy of oppression and despair, but victory and hope elude the machinery of myth over the long haul. 11
Schüssler Fiorenza and Gager agree that the apocalypse arose in response to the felt contradiction between faith and experience. In language similar to Gager, Schüssler Fiorenza writes, "Like John, Christians of Asia Minor suffered a deep tension between their faith and their experience. They believed in the ultimate power of God and Christ, but at the same time they experienced daily their powerlessness in the face of harassment, oppression, and persecution. Their everyday experiences ran counter to their belief in God's power and undermined their hope in God's empire, glory, and life-giving power" (1981, 28). Schüssler Fiorenza and Gager disagree, however, on how Revelation responds to that conflict between religious belief and social experience. For Gager, Revelation takes the Christian temporarily into a world of millennial bliss; it functions as a brief reprieve from the hard political realities. For Schüssler Fiorenza Revelation mobilizes, persuades, and provokes Christians to stake their lives on faithful obedience. She would agree with Gager that Revelation assures Christians of the penultimacy of oppression, but she questions Gager's notion of mythic suppression of time. In fact, she argues for the reverse. The author of Revelation "stresses that Christians do not yet actively exercise their kingship. Eschatological salvation is near but not yet present. ... He speaks of future salvation for the sake of exhortation" (1985, 168). The rhetorical strategies of Revelation require the immediacy of the rhetorical situation out of which they arise; but for Schüssler Fiorenza the seer never offers a present alternative to the actual world of inescapable political realities through manipulation of symbols. Symbolic manipulation cannot change those hard realities; it can only provide reassurance and strengthen the faith of those who hear: "Language cannot remove or correct 'the brute realities' of the social-political exigency and of religious 'tensions,' but it can help us to control their destructive effects" (1985, 198). In sum, both Schüssler Fiorenza and Gager agree that the Apocalypse was a response to actual social, political persecution and oppression and that Christians felt a conflict between their political situation and their religious faith. They disagree fundamentally on how the work comforts and encourages those Christians in crisis.
Yarbro Collins presents a subtle sociological analysis of the Apocalypse (1984). In contrast to Gager and Schüssler Fiorenza, Yarbro Collins does not view Revelation as a response to political oppression or persecution. There were elements of crisis in the social environment of Christians in Asia Minor at the end of Domitian's reign that are probably reflected in the Apocalypse—conflict with the Jews, mutual antipathy toward neighboring gentiles, conflict over wealth both within the society of Asia Minor and between Rome and the eastern empire, and the somewhat precarious relations between Christian organizations and Roman officials (1984, 84-99). 12 But such elements of crisis cannot be seen as the sole "or even primary" explanation for the apocalyptic message (p. 105). Factors such as personal background, temperament, and theological perspective "are at least as important as aspects of the sociohistorical situation" (p. 105). Yarbro Collins formulates the relationship between the Apocalypse and its social environment in the following way: "The book of Revelation is not simply a product of a certain social situation, not even a simple response to circumstances. At root is a particular religious view of reality, inherited in large part, which is the framework within which John interpreted his environment" (pp. 106-7). As a result, she argues that the Book of
Revelation is a product of the interaction between John's preunderstanding of his situation and the sociohistorical situation itself (p. 106).
As a way of recognizing and including those subjective factors of background, temperament, and theological perspective, Yarbro Collins introduces the terms perceived crisis (see chap. 2 above) and relative deprivation. The term perceived crisis makes it possible to connect apocalypses to social crises while recognizing that no evident social crises are necessarily present. So Yarbro Collins writes that Revelation "was indeed written in response to a crisis, but one that resulted from the clash between the expectations of John and like-minded Christians and the social reality within which they had to live" (p. 165). Crisis dimensions of the social situation are evident only through the seer's angle of vision, and other people discover those crisis dimensions only by reading Revelation. That approach contrasts with Schüssler Fiorenza's, which requires a "rhetorical situation" that "is not just a product of the mind and psyche of the author" (1985, 8). Relative deprivation refers to any situation where there is "marked disparity between expectations and their satisfaction" (Yarbro Collins 1984, 106). 13 In John's case relative deprivation occurs because of the "conflict between the Christian faith itself, as John understood it, and the social situation as he perceived it. A new set of expectations had arisen as a result of faith in Jesus as the Messiah and of belief that the kingdom of God and Christ had been established. It was the tension between John's vision of the kingdom of God and his environment that moved him to write his Apocalypse" (p. 106).
Thus Yarbro Collins shares with Schüssler Fiorenza and Gager the assumption that disparities between religious belief and social, political experience create the crisis to which Revelation is a response: for the seer this conflict was virtually irreconcilable because his "hopeful faith" included "the conviction that God's rule must be manifest in concrete political ways and that acknowledgment of God's rule is incompatible with submission to Rome" (p. 143). 14 That conflict between the two kingdoms is reflected in the Apocalypse in the contrasting symbols and sets of symbols portraying God, Jesus, and his followers on the one hand and Satan, the beasts, and their devotees on the other (p. 141). 15 The seer wrote Revelation in order "to overcome the unbearable tension perceived by the author between what was and what ought to have been.... Its task is to overcome the intolerable tension between reality and hopeful faith" (p. 141). The "dualistic structure" of Revelation serves two purposes: it points the conflict out to those unaware of it, and it overcomes or meditates the tension through manipulation of symbols along the same lines discussed in connection with Gager (Yarbro Collins 1984, 141-42). Yarbro Collins also underscores a certain rhetorical function to the book: it calls for commitment on the part of the readers and hearers "by the use of effective symbols and a narrative plot that invites imaginative participation. This combination of effective symbols and artful plot is the key to the power of apocalyptic rhetoric" (p. 145).
Revelation creates its effect primarily by means of expressive, not referential language (p. 144). It both displays and evokes attitudes and feelings that lead the reader or hearer to participate in the imaginative world constructed in Revelation. The seer claims the authority of divine revelation and true interpretation of Scripture that draws analogies between scriptural and contemporary situations. He also draws analogies between the contemporary situation and "traditional myths of combat and creation," by means of which the struggle with Rome is presented in terms of "the old conflict between order and chaos." That analogy clarified the situation of the hearers "and gave it meaning" (pp. 148-150). By such techniques the seer manipulates the feelings of his hearers and readers so that they experience revealed truth and assurance that their powerlessness is only temporary, for their victory is as certain as was creation over chaos (p. 152). Fear, suffering, and death are not denied, but they are penultimate (p. 152).
Finally, however, for Yarbro Collins the expressive language of Revelation deals with the crisis of faith by providing a catharsis for its hearers. Just as tragedy provides a catharsis of fear and pity for those who share in it, so the Apocalypse offers a catharsis of fear and resentment (p. 153). 16 Hearers of the Apocalypse are cleansed of fear and resentment in part simply by the intensification and "objective expression" of those emotions in the motifs of conflict, oppression, destruction, judgment, and salvation in the Apocalypse: "The feelings are thus brought to consciousness and become less threatening" (p. 153). Here Yarbro Collins depends heavily on psychoanalytic theory as applied to biblical material by Gerd Theissen (1977). By projecting the perceived conflict with its accompanying emotions onto a larger cosmic screen (that of God and Satan, for example), the Book of Revelation clarifies and objectifies negative feelings and displaces them upon Jesus or God (Yarbro Collins 1984, 153, 161). Finally, Christians are called on to turn their emotions of resentment and aggression back upon themselves so as to create greater moral demands, for example, sexual abstinence, poverty, more intense isolation from the social order, or even martyrdom (p. 157). In such ways the symbolic world of Revelation affects the behavior and action of Christians in Asia Minor: "It is a text that enables hearers or readers to cope in extreme circumstances" (p. 156). It does so, however, through "an act of creative imagination" (p. 155). As an imaginative act, the apocalyptic process is analogous to the creative imagination of a schizophrenic who "feels the pain of the human existential dilemma more acutely than others"; "by means of elaborate fantasies, the schizophrenic is able to live with the terror of reality" (p. 155). For Asian Christians Revelation offered an escape from reality by enabling them to experience the present as a time when religious hopes were realized: "What ought to be was experienced as a present reality by the hearers in the linguistic and imaginative event of hearing the book read" (p. 154). Yarbro Collins thus offers a solution similar to Gager's in that both resolve the religious crisis of faith in a temporary imaginative experience that does not affect the hard social and political realities of Asian life (see Schüssler Fiorenza 1985, 8).
1. On other external evidence for dating Revelation to the reigns of Trajan, Claudius, Nero, or Domitian, see Charles 1920, 1:xci-xciii. Charles notes, "The earliest authorities are practically unanimous in assigning the Apocalypse to the last years of Domitian" (1:xcii).
2. Irenaeus does not mention any kind of persecution at this time, but many scholars have taken his witness as fitting with evidences of persecution in the Book of Revelation (e.g., Kümmel 1975, 467).
3. See also Eus. Hist. Eccl. 3.39; 4.18; 5.8, 18; 6.25; 7.25.
4. For a full discussion of the evidence see Canfield 1913, 74-76.
5. In the following paragraphs I present the point of view of most scholars toward Domitian. This view does not take into account several difficult historiographic problems. For a detailed discussion and reassessment of Domitian's reign, see chapter 6.
6. On the use of "signs" in the imperial cult see Scherrer 1984, 599-610.
7. Contrast Rissi 1966, 80: "It is striking that in the whole context no word is spoken of the emperor cult, which shows that it did not yet play any role for Christians in Asia Minor at the time of the book's writing." Rissi argues for a dating of the original apocalypse under Vespasian.
8. See Charles: "Our author from his ascetic standpoint had sympathized with Domitian's decree, which according to its own claims was directed against luxury, and was accordingly the more indignant when it was recalled" (1920, 1:167-68).
9. See Collins 1984a, 2-8 and Aune 1986, 66-76 for some of the most important issues involved in the question of genre in general and specifically the genre "apocalypse." Hellholm (1983) discusses genre issues in apocalypticism in the whole of the Mediterranean world as well as the Near East. Sometimes generic classifications take some odd twists. Walter Schmithals, for example, argues that John's Revelation does not reflect "the apocalyptic understanding of existence at all" (Schmithals 1975, 16971). For him, then, the Apocalypse—the source for delineating apocalyptic literaturedoes not embody apocalyptic thinking. The Apocalypse is not apocalyptic! We should also be wary of identifying the genre "apocalypse" with the meaning of the word as it has entered into popular U.S. culture, that is, as a way of describing totally destructive and horrible occurrences. Ancient apocalypses may include descriptions of horror in the future, but that is not their most salient feature.
10. There are also apocalyptic elements in parts of some books, e.g., Mark 13; 2 Thess. 2; and sections of some Hebrew prophets.
11. Vielhauer treats the social setting of apocalypses only briefly and tentatively. He reviews the possibility of Iranian influence, the continuity between apocalypses and prophecy, connections with the wisdom tradition, and possible links to Qumran. He assumes cautiously that apocalypses arose "in those eschatologically-excited circles which were forced more and more by the theocracy into a kind of conventicle existence" (1965, 598).
12. For more detailed reviews see Hartman 1983, Olsson 1983, and Sanders 1983 (from the 1979 Uppsala Conference published in Hellholm 1983); Collins 1984a, 1-32; and Collins 1984b, 2-5.
13. An introduction and English translation of this whole work is readily available in Isaac 1983.
14. For a recent commentary see Collins 1984b.
15. On the transmission of the text of 4 Ezra and its relation to other writings associated with Ezra, see Metzger 1983, 516.
16. See Hanson 1976, 28-30; Collins 1984a, 1-11; Collins 1979, 3-4.
17. Schmithals 1975, 42-43, 77, 81. Schmithals thus contrasts apocalyptic eschatology with both prophetic theology in the Old Testament where the god acts in history and Christian salvation where the savior once again takes a place in history (pp. 159160, 171). Few scholars would agree with this radical differentiation of apocalyptic eschatology from prophetic and Christian eschatologies. See Rowland 1982, 29; Bloch 1952.
1. On the similarities between rabbinical writings and apocalypses see Bloch 1952, 73-82,89-111.
2. For a critique of this notion of social change see Tilly 1984, 33-56.
3. On the appeal to contemporary millenarian movements see, e.g., Wilson 1982.
4. I adapt material from Collins 1984a, 142-154.
5. For example, so far as we know the frightful conditions surrounding the war with Rome did not immediately produce any apocalypses even though Rabban ben Zakkai certainly had interest in a speculative mysticism that is related closely to apocalyptic thought (see Rowland 1982, 282).
6. So an apocalyptic attitude toward the world cannot be explained as a product of an essential development within Judaic prophetism or wisdom, as a conglomerate of Jewish and Iranian conceptions, or as an outgrowth of either a particular social reality or a new social, political, or psychological situation (Schmithals 1975, 118-20, 127, 130, 145, 148).
7. Schmithal quotes with approval the following explanation of apocalyptic from Rudolf Otto: "This removal of the world from the direct sphere of divine control has been traced back to the political conditions of late Judaism. There are no proofs. Rather it seems to me that the operative factor was an idea necessary to religion, and necessarily pressing its way more definitely into consciousness, viz. the idea of the transcendence of the divine over all that is of this world" (1975, 150).
8. The "idea of the transcendence of the divine" is detachable not only from every "social reality" but also from the language that expresses it. For Schmithals language objectifies an understanding of existence that in some essential way remains independent of its linguistic objectification. So he asserts that in spite of the "fundamentally different understanding of the world and of existence" in Iranian and apocalyptic pieties, they are objectified in "widely identical conceptual material" (1975, 122). Searches for the origins of a religious movement only yield information about the language used to objectify piety, not piety itself (see pp. 118-19, 130). So neither prophetism, wisdom, nor Iranian religion "represent[s] the sum of" apocalyptic piety, "even though apocalyptic is presented objectively as a combination of Old Testamentprophetic and Iranian elements with additions provided by the Wisdom movement" (pp. 138-39).
9. "What counts is not a neutral observer's view of whether things are good or bad," writes Nickelsburg, "but the apocalyptist's perception and experience that the times are critical" (1983, 646); and Collins states, "We must also reckon with the fact that what is perceived as a crisis by an apocalyptic author cannot always be accepted as objective reality" (1984a, 30). The combination in one phrase of one term referring to a social, historical situation (crisis) and one referring to an attitude of mind (perceived) is tricky. "Crisis" appears only through perception. Without perception there is no crisis. The issue, then, is not perception over against a social, historical reality but perception over against perception, i.e., "perceived crisis" over against "perceived noncrisis." Further, in most cases, the perception is not a private, individual matter but an element within a social, symbolic construction, so that the issue becomes how one group (however defined) perceives over against how another group perceives. Finally, as we shall seek to show later, "perceptions" do not exist "outside," but are part of the social, historical network.
10. If "crisis" or "perceived crisis" continues to be important in studies of apocalypticism, "crisis" should be more precisely defined than is now the case. Billings and colleagues (1980), for example, consider "perceived value of possible loss," "perceived probability of loss," and "perceived time pressure" as three key elements in defining the extent of perceived crisis; they contrast these elements with those which Hermann had proposed earlier—"threat," "decision time," and "surprise." Billings's shift to perceptual elements in crisis is typical of recent research, but it assumes the curious ontology that there is always out there an untouched "thing in itself": "Crisis is defined by a set of variables as perceived by the decision maker. These perceptions may differ from the objective situation or from the perceptions of others" (1980, 306).
11. Speech need not take the form of propositions and assertions. It may express affective dimensions of a relationship, e.g., comforting, lamenting, or assuring. It may express injunctions-"Remain faithful," "Keep steadfast." It may create self-contained aesthetic objects, as in certain kinds of poetry (see Guiraud 1975, 5-15). In every case, however, language shapes our perception of reality, which always includes a social component.
12. Cf. Austin 1962, 114; Skinner 1969, 45-48; Hartman 1983, 334-35.
13. In the language of Quentin Skinner, they must draw on a socially conventional intention, one "within a given and established range of acts which can be conventionally grasped as being [a case] of that intention" (1970, 133). Searle also emphasizes that "in our analysis of illocutionary acts, we must capture both the intentional and the conventional aspects and especially the relationship between them" (Giglioli 1982, 145). In the Daniel example, Lacocque's observation that the Hebrew preposition I is used rather than qdm may be seen as a clue to the social convention there used (1979, 116).
14. Illocutionary elements are located publicly in written or spoken language available to all and are distinct from the question of authorial intention if such is seen as an intentionality located in the mind of the speaker or writer. Presumably, the shared social covention expresses an authorial intention, but we can never have absolute certainty about the exact relation of the typical and the specific. "Social conventions" express typicalities, but situations are both specific and typical. In the case of Daniel, I do not assume that we have a report of historical occurrence; I am interested only in the dynamics of the conversational situation; they are the same for "fiction" and "history."
15. That is, at the level of genre a sentence, scene, or vision becomes a formal unit, not a unit of meaning. So Benveniste: "The form of a linguistic unit is defined as its capacity for being broken down into constituents of a lower level" (1971, 107).
16. The prominence of a theology of creation also assures this interplay between transcendent realities and the social order, social institutions, and social norms.
17. Hellholm returns "form critical analysis" to its beginnings when formal characteristics, common thoughts and moods, and similar life situations all contributed to the definition of genre (1986, 26). He developes genre analysis from a linguistics approach that can consider sequential aspects of a text as well as a hierarchical listing of generic characteristics. That approach opens new possibilities for describing and defining a genre, but see Yarbro Collins' cautionary remarks (1986, 3-4). Except for the reference to a group in crisis, Hellholm's description of intention is similar to that of John J. Collins: "The intention of an apocalypse then is to provide a view of the world that will be a source of consolation in the face of distress and a support and authorization for whatever course of action is recommended, and to invest this worldview with the status of supernatural revelation. The worldview may or may not serve as the ideology of a movement or group" (1984b, 22).
18. See Hartman's reflections on the Semeia 14 definition of genre: "It seems to me, though, that the time has come to deepen the analysis and to take into account as exactly as possible the hierarchic structure and literary function of the propositional elements, the illocution of the texts, and their sociolinguistic functions" (1983, 339).
19. It refers, for example, to shared beliefs and new assertions about the world; to injunctive, affective, and aesthetic elements; to self-authenticating intentions; to devices of reactualization and participation; or to its social conventions and illocutionary force—all of which are to be considered in relation to genre, not as assertion on the sentence level.
1. See Thompson 1978, 182-88, 203-5. I do not assume a sharp distinction between prophetic and apocalyptic.
2. See Feuillet 1965, 27. Source critics have used those doublets as evidence for various sources behind the Book of Revelation.
3. Note also how the seven angels with the seven bowls reappear at Rev. 17:1 and 21:9 as another device unifying segments of Revelation.
4. For the importance of heavenly worship see chapter 4.
5. See Beasley-Murray 1974, 238-39 for a synoptic tabulation of the two series. The sixth in the series of seals, trumpets, and bowls are also interrelated through structural reversals and cumulative images; see below.
6. The "time, and times, and half a time" in Rev. 12:14, a parallel passage, probably refers to the 3½ years of Dan. 7:25, which also, of course, equals 42 months or 1,260 days. Compare also the time of the exposure of the bodies of the witnesses (Rev. 11:9, 11).
7. For a discussion of what these "times" may mean in a larger context, see Sweet 1979,182-83.
8. Three and four, factors of twelve, appear regularly in the Book of Revelation, e.g., 8:7, 13; 9:18; 16:13, 19; 21:13 (three); 4:6; 6:6; 7:1; 9:13, 14; 14:20; 20:8 (four).
9. At Rev. 16:12 "the rising of the sun" and "Euphrates" appear together as refer ences to the East. That is the only other passage in which those terms occur. On the altar as a microcosm see, e.g., Eliade 1963, 371-74.
10. The content of the open scroll and the message of the seven thunders are somehow related in this scene.
11. So Yarbro Collins 1979, 66; Caird 1966, 126; see also Schüssler Fiorenza 1985, 53-54.
12. ?a? ??^d??; see Thompson 1969, 332.
13. Rev. 19:11-16, 19:17-18, 19:19-21, 20:1-3, 20:4-10, 20:11-15, 21:1-8.
14. Later at Rev. 20:7-10 there is the "warless" battle between Satan and the saints.
15. With sufficient cleverness one is supposed to be able to figure out the number of the name of the beast, for it is human (Rev. 13:18); for the woman, Mystery is only one of several names written on her forehead (17:5). Those victorious at Pergamum are promised a share in Christ's mystery (2:17).
16. If notated as an elaborate score, those Christ images could be seen in the structuralist language of Lévi-Strauss as synchronic "mythemes." Like music, a piece of language can be viewed both statically as a score or dynamically as performance. Most literary critics—whatever their school—assume that.
17. Ring composition and inclusion are other terms used for this phenomenon.
18. See also ????? ?t? in Rev. 18:11, 14; ?? p???t?sa?t?? and p???t?? in 18:15, 17; and ?????? in 1:11, 19.
19. The new city also shares characteristics with the throne in chapter 4; cf Rev. 4:1; 21:11,18-20.
20. That cluster of similarities is only one of several links between the letters and the visions indicating that the former cannot be isolated from the latter. For example, at Rev. 4:1 the "first voice" speaks to John again; or note similarities between the throne scene in chaps. 4-5 and the letters (throne, white clothes, gold crowns). See also Yarbro Collins 1984, 73-76; Schüssler Fiorenza 1981, 47.
21. Rev. 22:16 repeats several elements from the introduction (1:1-2).
22. Abrams (1984, 343) uses recursive in a way that seems almost synonymous with typology. Bruner defines it more precisely as "the process whereby the mind or a computer program loops back on the output of a prior computation and treats it as a given that can be the input for the next operation" (1986, 97).
23. Cf. Rev. 5:13, 7:1, 2; 12:12; 14:7. With the new heaven and new earth, the sea passes away and is no more (21:1).
24. Cf. Rev. 8:8, 9:17, 11:5, 14:10, 16:8, 17:16, 19:20, 20:9.
25. The other instances of lion are metamorphic: 9:8, 17; 10:3; 13:2.
26. Contrast the "horses" of the sixth trumpet, who have heads like lions; from whose mouth comes forth fire, smoke, and sulfur; and whose tails are like serpents with heads (Rev. 9:17-19). Only evil forces seem to have tails (9:10, 19; 12:4).
27. The abandonment suggested in that combination differs markedly from the enforced drinking of blood that takes the form of a lex talionis in Rev. 16:6.
28. In a sense all language is ironic, for all conceals (see Frank Kermode 1979). Sometimes, however, the author calls attention to the "concealing" in an explicit manner and invites a reader or hearer to join in collusion with the author. Irony thus contributes to the community John shares with his readers and hearers. The irony in Revelation is stable, to use a term of Wayne Booth (1974); that is, it operates from a definite standpoint. For example, reigning through suffering is itself not susceptible to ironic manipulation.
29. Note especially verse 3, where the motivation for the fall is given: "drunk the wine of her impure passion," "committed fornication," and "wantonness." This is not the language of lament. See also Yarbro Collins 1980, 138.
30. See Thompson 1978, 224-26.
31. See also Rev. 19:13, where the Word of God is soaked in blood and 1:7, where the "pierced one" comes on the clouds.
32. The ?t? clause could be linked to ??^d? s?? t? ???a, with the intervening words a parenthetical comment; but as it stands, the play d??ata?/d??aµ?? cannot go unnoticed. So also the ?a? after d??aµ?? may be taken as adversative ("and yet"), but ?a? connects ?????, ?t???s??, and ????s? in a series. To read the sentence with a parenthetical phrase and an adversative ?a? complicates the syntax unnecessarily.
33. On the white garments, see Rev. 7:14, where they are made white in the blood of the Lamb.
34. Cf. Gal. 3:13; Acts 5:30, 10:39; Polyc. Phil. 8. At Rev. 13:3 there is a parody of the crucifixion of Jesus in the "healing" of the wound of the beast.
35. Lohmeyer 1953, 42. It is used as a connector, for example, in Rev. 7:1, 9; 15:5; 18:1; and with a specific temporal meaning in 9:12, 11:11, 20:3.
36. ??p??? with ??? is a common idiom for purpose.
37. Compare to the pouring of the second bowl, where the sea becomes "like the blood of a dead man" (Rev. 16:3) and to 6:12, 8:7, 16:4.
38. For example, Tracy's comment that "all authentic limit-language seems to be initially and irretrievably a symbolic and a metaphorical one" (1974, 295).
39. See Yarbro Collins 1984, 42, 48; Schüssler Fiorenza 1985, 102, 135.
40. See also Rev. 12:14 and Exod. 19. In Rev. 12 patriarchal birth stories and Exodus elements are fused to describe the formation of a new community of God, a "new seed," with whom the dragon makes war (12:17).
41. For a detailed discussion of this scene see Court 1979, 82-105.
42. See Schüssler Fiorenza's objection to Gager's segmentation as dividing "the text in a topical rather than formal manner" (1985, 167).
1. For acclamations see Peterson 1926, 141-45.
2. Norden calls this form of praise an essentielle Prädikationsart (1956, 221-22). It is a hellenistic form of divine predication; see Deichgräber 1967, 101.
3. The use of precious stones in describing the throne scene is not part of the traditional throne scenes in apocalypses. They are used to describe the New Jerusalem, the breastplate of the priest, and the garden of Eden (cf. Rev. 21:11, 18, 19, 20; Isa. 54:12; Exod. 28:17-20, 39:11; Ezek. 28:10-13).
4. Various terms are used to designate "worship," e.g., ?at???? (7:15, 22:3), p??s????? (13:4), and a???? (19:5).
5. The thrice-holy ( trisagion ) also occurs in Jewish liturgy, alluding to creatures singing in heaven; see Werner 1939, 141.
6. ?????? ? d ???? ? d pa?t????t?? translates Isaiah's Yahweh S e baoth.
7. For "Lord God Almighty" cf. Rev. 1:8, 11:17, 15:3, 16:7, 19:6, 21:22. See also Deichgräber 1967, 49.
8. See E. Peterson 1926, 176-80; also Mowry 1952, 79.
9. New always has eschatological overtones in the Book of Revelation; cf 2:17; 3:12; 21:1-2, 5.
10. See Rev. 7:12, where seven terms honor God; six are the same. In 7:12 ?????a??st?a occurs instead of p???^t?? as in 5:12. ???a??st?a is used only in connection with God in Revelation.
11. ?a?? was introduced earlier in the letter to the Philadelphians (Rev. 3:12).
12. s????? ("dwells") refers to God's presence in the temple; see Rev. 15:5.
13. Cf. Rev. 7:10, 12:10-12. That cry probably derives from the enthronement psalms; see Deichgräber 1967, 54.
14. The hierophany of stars, lightning, thunder, and hail (Rev. 16:18-21) repeats 11:19. In the series of the seven bowls, however, the revealing of the ark of the covenant (15:5) is separated from the sky hierophany (16:18-21) by the pouring out of the bowls.
15. These last two lines may not be part of the hymn.
16. Or one could say that ontology undergirds eschatology; or that the "temporal" flows from the "eternal."
17. Rev. 1:6; 4:11; 5:12, 13; 7:12; 19:1, 7.
18. At Rev. 15:8 glory is like smoke (?ap???), which prevents entrance into the temple, not shining like the sun.
19. ?asp?? Rev. 4:3 (throne), 21:11, 18, 19 (New Jerusalem); s??d??? 4:3, 21:20; sµa???d???? 4:3, 21:19. Cf. the priest's breastplate (Exod. 28:9, 17; 35:9, 27; 39:6, 10); Jerusalem (Tob. 13:16); and the garden of Eden (Ezek. 28:13).
20. ???^??? occurs only here in the Book of Revelation.
21. Cf. 1 Chron. 24:25, Mishnah, tractates Taanith 2.6, Sukkah 5.6-8. Cf. Yoma 1.5 in the Mishnah, where these royal priests are even called elders.
22. Yarbro Collins suggests that the courtyard-temple boundary parallels the earthly-heavenly boundary in the Apocalypse (1984, 68).
23. Cf. Eph. 5:18-19; Odes of Solomon 6:1, 14:7.
24. Van der Leeuw, in his phenomenological study of religion, notes that "crying aloud and singing set [sacral] power in motion" (Leeuw 1963, 430). In the more traditional language of Christian theology, hymns express the fides quae creditur, and they are a means of evoking the fides qua creditur.
25. See Hekhalot Rabbati 1.1, quoted in Gruenwald 1980, 103. Gruenwald discusses in detail this literature about the "heavenly palaces."
26. Cf. Acts 20:7, I Magn 9:1. The "Day of the Lord" also echoes the eschatological day.
1. Structural analysis of the Lévi-Strauss variety usually presupposes conflict at the "deep" level; for the purpose of mythic language is to resolve fundamental contradictions in our experience and understanding of the world that otherwise cannot be resolved. According to structural analysis if such conflicts did not exist, mythic language would have no purpose: "Mythic thought always progresses from the awareness of oppositions toward their resolution" (Lévi-Strauss 1967, 221).
2. Those differences depend, of course, on the particular world construction.
3. Generally speaking, trees and plant life are classified with redeemed humans under divine care. See Rev. 7:1, 9:4; cf. 8:7, where judgments from heaven do harm the plants. At 14:17-20 vine and the grape are used as symbols of judgment.
4. E.g., ?? p?s?? ?????? ?a? ???ss?? ?a? ?a??? ?a? ????? (Rev. 5:9).
5. They are thus offered as sacrifices to the sacrificial Lamb as well as to God.
6. Rev. 1:6. For Christ as priest, note the garb in 1:13 where Daniel 10 has been modified. Schüssler Fiorenza comments, "These explicit changes of the Daniel text seem to stress Christ's royal/priestly character" (1981, 53).
7. The "brightness" (?aµp???) of the linen is also a quality of the river of life (22:1) and the morning star (22:16).
8. See also the "golden girdles," which only the seven angels with the seven last plagues and the one like a Son of Man wear (Rev. 15:6, 1:13, cf. 5:8, 8:3).
9. Here there is a play on the verb µ????? which means both "soiled" and "defiled," like the English word stained (see Rev. 14:4, "those not stained [i.e., defiled] with women"). The soiled clothing contrasts with the clean clothing worn by the Bride of the Lamb, the seven angels, and the warring army mentioned above.
10. Contrast Babylon the Whore who wears fine linen, but in purple and scarlet (Rev. 17:3-4, 18:16).
11. The connection between Rev. 9:11 and 17:8 is made even firmer by the fact that Abaddon (9:11) is translated in the Septuagint as ?p????a; cf. Job 26:6, 28:22; Ps. 88:11; Prov. 15:11. Abaddon parallels death, the grave, and Sheol.
12. That throne is given to the beast by the dragon (Rev. 13:2).
13. Cf. Rev. 13:14, 19:20; also the sequencing of dragon and beasts at 12:1-13:18, 16:13, and 20:10.
14. ???a?? (wilderness, or desert) and abyss function homologously in various religious structures; see Thompson 1978, 95.
15. On the surface level those conflicting oppositions support the structuralist notibn that opposition and conflict are fundamental to the seer's world; for clearly demarcated boundaries separate the faithful from evil forces.
16. ?? ?s?a?µ???? or ?s?a?µ????.
17. In each case the verb is ???s??. There are two renditions of the beast's wound: that he had a mortal wound that was healed (Rev. 13:3, 12) and that he had a wound from a sword and lived (13:14).
18. p???µat????? and other terms based on the root meaning of "spirit" function throughout the Apocalypse as transformational agents.
19. Jeremiah warns that Jerusalem will become a "desert" (Jer. 22:6, cf. Rev. 18:19). Thus the transformation of Jerusalem into wilderness, evil, and chaos is also a part of the prophetic tradition. In Rev. 18:2 the great Babylon becomes a ???a??, a haunt of every unclean demon, spirit, bird, and beast, reminiscent of descriptions of the desert (see Thompson 1978, 95-96).
20. It does not indicate that from the seer's point of view the city as such "is the social and political embodiment of human self-sufficiency and rebellion against God" (Sweet 1979, 187).
21. Wilderness—like chaos and Egypt—thus reflects in the Apocalypse its place in prophetic tradition: to return to the wilderness is to be judged and punished (Rev. 17:16), but wilderness is also the setting for divine deliverance and nourishment from God (12:6, cf. Thompson 1978, 193).
22. ?????µa is also associated with transformations connected with cultic time (Rev. 1:10), resurrection (11:11), and prophecy (19:10). At 11:8 nominal transformation is designated by the adverb p???µat???^?. Typological and allegorical exegesis may thus be seen as a form of spiritual transformation.
23. Note also at Rev. 15:5-8 the polysemantic character of smoke as wrath (??µ??) and as glory (d??a).
24. ???aßa?^??? is used to indicate the beasts coming up from the sea (Rev. 13:1) and the earth (13:11); ????^?, ?ßa???, ?????s??, ?s?????s??, ????^?a?, ????s?ta?, ??????s? ta?, refer to Satan's movement in and out of the bottomless pit (20:1-3, 7).
25. The "firstborn from the dead," for example, has the keys to Death and Hades (1:18) and can thereby control death and life.
26. On the insertion of another myth at Rev. 12:7-12, see Court 1979, 112-15; Schüssler Fiorenza 1981, 124-25.
27. That judicial dimension of the divine needs to be taken seriously in any study of the important theme of justice in Revelation. 28. Generally speaking, "descent," in the Apocalypse, results in loss—destruction, judgment, moral decline, death—whereas "ascent" signifies deliverance, moral perfection, and life.
29. Proper identification is further complicated by eschatological reversals whereby greatness is brought low—even to be no more—and lowliness is transformed into greatness (e.g., Rev. 7:9-17, 18:21, 19:2). Such transformational reversals occur in the text through cultic liturgies as well as symbols of clothing, color, and ascent.
30. See Schüssler Fiorenza: "Only when we acknowledge that Revelation hopes for the conversion of the nations, in response to the Christian witness and preaching, will we be able to see that it does not advocate a 'theology of resentment' but a theology of justice" (1981, 119); Contrast Yarbro Collins 1984, 170.
31. On "first" see Rev. 20:5 (the "first resurrection") or 22:13, where God declares himself to be "the first and the last." Disappear or pass away (?p????µa?) is used to describe—among other things—"woes" (9:12, 11:14), the fruit for which Babylon longs (18:14), and the dragon (12:17). Rev. 16:2 (?p???????p???t??), referring to the first of the seven angels, reads strikingly similar to 21:4 (t? p??^ta?p????a?).
32. In the Apocalypse "newness" is written (Rev. 2:17, 3:12), sung (5:9, 14:3), seen (21:1, 2) and done (21:5).
33. This blurring of old age and new age has its counterpart in the syntax of the book: as we have seen, the seer has not organized his material along a strong narrative line with an appropriate climax at the end. Rather, there is repetition, concentric movement, and ever-widening circularity.
34. For example, there are two clearly defined types of "servant parables" as well as the obvious generic differences between the narrative of the Passion and apocalytic sections; see Thompson 1978, 256-61.
35. Organic change is an essential element in all world building. We are constantly adapting to different environmental conditions, roles, religious, and philosophical understandings. In spite of this change, a person's world does not usually crumble: modifications occur, contours of the world change; but boundaries and distinctions are observed.
36. In both Rev. 11: and 21:15 ???aµ?? is used for "measuring rod."
37. See also Zech. 2:1-5, where measuring Jerusalem reflects its sacredness. On other possible meanings of measuring see Court 1979, 86.
38. Cf. the derivation of such terms as medicine, moderation, and meditation from the root "to measure." In every instance, an inner measure and harmony are assumed; see Bohm 1983, 20. The association of measuring with rebuilding, restoring, judgment, destruction, and preservation is secondary to this inner/outer correspondence.
39. Schüssler Fiorenza suggests that the difference in proportion "indicates that the universal cosmic salvation by far exceeds that prefigured in the Church" (1981, 205).
40. "Fall" and "repentance" are contrasted at Rev. 2:5.
41. The Bride of the Lamb forms a homology with faithful Christians; probably, therefore, the seer is comfortable with faithful Christians' participating in "proper" sexual relations. The virgins on Mount Zion in chapter 14 would then be viewed as a special group, not representative of all Christians.
42. Cf. the two lists of vices: d?????^?, ?p?st???, ?ßd????µ?????, ??????s??, p??????, ?a?µ?????, ??d?????t?a??, and ???d?s?? (Rev. 21:8); ?????, ?a?µa???, p?????, ?????^?, ??d?????t?a?, pa^? ????^? ?a? p????? ????d?? (22:15).
43. As pointed out above, all Christians share royal and priestly attributes with Christ.
44. The social boundary that keeps the Christian pure from acculturation and assimilation reveals through its various homologues and contrarieties a fundamental structure in John's world. Social forces external to the church do not occasion that boundary or any other; rather, they unfold one dimension of the essential order in the seer's world.
1. Book 10 of the Letters was published posthumously.
2. See also Plin. Ep. 2.1; 4.13, 15; 6.9; 9.14, 23.
3. Trajan accedes reluctantly to the request (Plin. Ep. 10.95).
4. Other sources from this same period include Martial, whom Pliny helped to support; Juvenal—never mentioned by Pliny—who published satires from 115 to 127; and Dio Chrysostom, born before 50 at Prusa in Bithynia, who went to Italy as an orator and was relegated from Italy and Bithynia early in Domitian's reign, apparently because of his friendship with Flavius Sabinus (C. Jones 1978, 46-47). He later had some difficulty at Prusa; cf. Plin. Ep. 10.81-82; Dio Chrys. Or. 40.11-12; and C. Jones 1978, 54, 103.
5. Philostratus, who wrote at about the same time as Dio Cassius, also mentions Domitian in his Life of Apollonius of Tyana. Both Philostratus and Dio probably came into contact with the circle around the Empress Julia Domna and at least met each other.
6. See Plin. Pan. 50.5
7. Cf. Plin. Pan. 90.5-7, Ep. 1.12.6-8.
8. Dio Cassius writes that Domitian actually murdered Agricola (Dio Cass. 66.20.3).
9. See also Dio Cass. 67.3.2, Juv. 2.28-38, Plin. Ep. 4.11.6.
10. Suetonius has a different anecdote: Vespasian "was surprised that he [Domitian] did not appoint the emperor's successor with the rest" ( Dom. 1.3).
11. He did absurd things like impaling flies on a stylus. Cf. Dio Cass. 65.3.4, which seems to be a doublet of 65.9.3; or perhaps both are literary topoi.
12. Titus's last words were supposedly "I have made but one mistake." Some conjecture that he referred to taking his brother's wife, Domitia. Dio Cassius, however, is inclined to think that Titus meant that he was mistaken in not killing Domitian (66.26.3-4).
13. Given these supposed relationships with brother and father, some scholars appeal to Freudian theory to explain Domitian's mad character, e.g., Caird 1966, 20, 23.
14. Tac. Agr. 2-3; Plin. Pan. 33.3-4, 42.1; Suet. Dom. 10, 12, 14-15; Dio Cass. 67.13.2-14.5, cf. 68.1.1-2.
15. Suet Dom. 15.3, 16.1-2; Dio Cass. 67.16.2.
16. This impression could be made, according to Tacitus, because Domitian's character was as yet unknown.
17. For the account in this paragraph see Waters 1964, 52-65.
18. On Domitian's poetry, cf. Plin. HN, pref. 5, Quint. Inst. 10.1.91, Sil. Pun. 3.618-21, Stat. Achil. 1.15, Mart. 5.5, Tac. Hist. 4.86.2, Suet. Dom. 2.2, see also McDermott and Orentzel 1977, 29. For the influence of the standard sources on modern scholarship, see Butler in the Loeb of Quint. Inst. 10.1.91 and n.
19. On a coin from Lugdunum dated 70-71, Titus and Domitian appear on the reverse, with Vespasian on the front; Titus honors his brother in 72 as COS DES II (designated second consulship), featuring Domitian's head on the reverse of his own; in 79-80, during Titus's reign, there is no falling off of Domitianic material, as Domitian is now DIVI F (deified Flavian) (see Waters 1964, 62).
20. An inscription from Galatia (79 CE) refers to Domitian in his fifth consulship, designated sixth (IG Rom. 3.223); and in 80 (under Titus) an inscription commemorating the paving of a road from Derbe to Lystra refers to Domitian as consul 7, designate 8 ( CIL 3.12218). See also the milestones between Ancyra and Forylaeum (Dessau, ILS 263) and in Almazcara, Spain (McCrum and Woodhead 1961, 417).
21. See Newton 1901, no. 168= CIL 10.5405.
22. See B. Jones 1973, 8-12; Jones points out that only in military training was Domitian's education incomplete, but even here "his practical inexperience ... was not necessarily a serious drawback" (p. 12).
23. On divus as gods who had been men see Hopkins 1978, 202; Weinstock 1971, 391-92. K. Scott there comments, "The opinions of Pliny, Suetonius, and Dio ... are altogether too prejudiced against Domitian" (1975.62).
24. Cf. Stat. Silv. 1.1.94-98, Mart. 9.34.
25. One is from the council and assembly of Pinara in Lycia, and one is from Celei, Noricum, dated sometime between 90-96 (see McCrum and Woodhead 1961, 111-12).
26. See also Waters 1964, 60: "The story savours too much of Periander and Nero to be anything but the stock-in-trade of anti-tyrannical invective."
27. On Frontinus see Plin. Ep. 4.8. For other references to Domitian's military successes see Mart. 5.3 (cf. Mart. 6.10, Dio Cass. 67.6.5), 6.76; Juv. 4.3; McCrum and Woodhead 1961, 140; Stat. Silv. 4.2.66-67.
28. For an appreciation of Domitian's military successes, cf. Henderson 1927, 98; Syme 1936, 162-64; McDermott and Orentzel 1977, 28.
29. E.g., Benko and O'Rourke 1977, 67-68.
30. See, e.g., John Elliott: "The last years of Domitian's reign (93-96 C.E.) were marked by the opposition of the senatorial aristocracy, philosophers and religious groups alike. The reign of terror which the suspicious emperor instigated against all of his enemies, real and imagined, was punctuated with his own assassination in 96 C.E. ... The oppressive measures undertaken by Domitian from 93 C.E. onward would suggest a likely terminus ad quem for 1 Peter" (1981, 86-87); see also Caird 1966, 20-21.
31. For more on the imperial cult, see pp. 158-64.
32. See POxy. 1143.4 and discussion by Deissman (1978, 349-62). At Pergamum an inscription names the living Octavius as "Imperator Caesar, son of god, divine [????] Augustus" ( IG Rom. 4.309; OGI 458).
33. Cf. Thylor  n.d., 35-57, 181-204; Hopkins 1978, 205-8.
34. Waters 1969, 395-98. See also references to the arch at Beneventum in Ferguson 1970, 96-97.
35. He also gives his niece the title Augusta; cf. Waters 1969, 397-98.
36. On the fluidity of the meaning of dominus see Sherwin-White 1966, 557-58. It can be a simple title of respect (like "Sir"), but with reference to the Emperor, some sense of the inperial cult is implied.
37. t??? ?d???? ??????. On the various Greek terms for "master," "lord," and "tyrant," see the interesting passage in Philostr. VA 7.42.
38. Plin. Pan. 2, 33.4, 52.7; Dio Chrys. Or. 1.22-24, 45.1, 50.8; cf. Mart. 10.72.
39. See Dio Cass. 67.14.1. Toward the end of Statius' poem the Sybil does give a lofty title to Domitian: Hic est deus, hunc jubet beatis pro se Juppiter imperare terris.
40. Dilke notes that A. W. Verrall used the absence of divine epithets as evidence "to try to show why Dante thought Statius a convert to Christianity" (1954, 81).
41. The meaning of DNImperator in CIL 2.4722 is uncertain. The dominus et deus formula does occur later in reference to Antoninus Pius in an inscription from Tauric Chersonesus (Crimea) (Latyschev 1965, no. 71).
42. Statius' comment on Domitian's reticence about being called dominus is probably an accurate reflection of Domitian's view throughout his reign (Thompson 1984, 469-75).
43. Tac. Agr. 2-3; Plin. Pan. 33.3-4; Suet. Dom. 10, 12, 14-15; Dio Cass. 188.8.131.52, cf. 68.1.1-2.
44. On Josephus' relations to the Flavians see chap. 8.
45. See Dom. 10.1; K. Scott 1975, 126-32.
46. This explanation, says Waters, "is quite inadequate, though it may well refer to symptoms of treachery" (1964, 72).
47. Cf. Plin. Ep. 7.19.5, Tac. Agr. 2, Dio Cass. 67.13.2, Suet. Dom. 10.3-4. Rogers has shown that those motives, if operative at all in the trials, were "trivial incidentals"; those three belonged to a "close-knit group who stood in a clearly defined tradition of His Majesty's disloyal opposition" (1960, 22); see also Syme 1958, 1:76; MacMullen 1966, 37. Pliny's facile presentation of Domitian's punishment of the vestal virgin also shows clearly his anti-Domitian bias; cf. Ep. 4.11.
48. On school exercises see MacMullen 1966, 35. Waters gives a complete list of "proved cases" (1964, 76 but read Ascletarion for Ascleparion and add, probably, Arrecinius Clemens ).
49. See also 1.13, where Martial refers favorably to casta Arria, Paetus's wife.
50. Szelest 1974, 107-9. Recall that Martial received patronage from that circle when he went to Rome in 64; see also Macmullen 1966, 1-45.
51. Cf. Mart. 2.60; 5.75; 6.2, 22, 45, 91; 9.6, 8; 11.7; Szelest 1974, 111-12. On the Julian law cf. Stat. Silv. 3.4.74-77, 4.3.8-19; Suet. Dom. 8.3; Dio Cass. 67.12.1; Philostr. VA 6.42; it continued to be enforced in the reign of Trajan, cf. Plin. Ep. 6.31.
52. Szelest offers the standard temporal explanation for this—seventeen of the twenty-three epigrams were written before 90—with the additional explanation that the seventeen are often laced with praise of Caesar (1974, 113).
53. See B. Jones 1979, 30-45. Suetonius may be using a fairly common literary device of starting with the good and ending with the bad—what Brunt calls "a kind of principle of chiaroscuro in ancient literary portraiture" (1961, 221); see also K. Scott 1975, 104.
54. See Pliny: "I am not asking you [Trajan] to model yourself on him [Domitian] whose successive consulships dragged the long year out without a break.... And so ordinary people enjoyed the honour of opening the year and heading the official calendar [under Trajan], and this too was proof of liberty restored: the consul now need not be Caesar" ( Pan. 58).
55. See McDermott and Orentzel 1977; David Vessey 1974, 113-15. Probably it is significant that Italicus was not in Trajan's coterie during the time of Pliny's writing; see Ep. 3.7.6-7. Others, including Frontinus, also continued to have a positive attitude toward Domitian after his death (see McDermott and Orentzel 1977, 67-68), though Frontinus' reference to Domitian in Aq. 2.118 is somewhat compromising.
56. B. Jones 1979, 4. The first of a new dynasty is not wont to deify his predecessor; damnatio is always more likely.
57. Octavius remained ab epistulis from Domitian to Trajan, cf. Dessau ILS 1448 and Syme 1958, 1:38; on Veiento see Dessau ILS 1010 and Syme 1958, 1:6; on Corellius Rufus see Plin. Ep. 4.17.4 and B. Jones 1979, album senatorium, no. 83. No doubt many others could be added to this list (see Magie 1950, 579-80; Viscusi 1973, 209-16).
58. Contrast that to Nerva, who chose several top men having in common "a lack of conspicuous favour from Domitian," old men passed over in the recent past (Syme 1958, 1:3-4).
59. Trajan's legends contrast with Nerva's but follow Domitian's; see Waters 1969, 393-97.
60. See Waters 1969; Pleket 1961, 310; Keresztes 1973, 22.
61. For the mutiny see Plin. Pan. 14.5; for the consulship see McCrum and Woodhead 1961, 9. There is probably a connection between his activity in 89 and his consulship in 91; see B. Jones 1979, 35.
62. Compare to what Pliny says about himself in Pan. 90.5. Earlier, Pliny had explained how Domitian had trusted in Trajan during the Saturninus revolt (14.5).
63. In the literature of Trajan's day, Domitian's avarice, along with his sensuality and vaingloriousness, became a topos; see C. Jones 1978, 121.
64. Dig. Just. 48.22.1 of Corp. Jur. Civ. (trans. S. P. Scott). Trajan sold off—but did not return—properties claimed by Domitian for the fiscus ; see Plin. Pan. 50; also Millar 1964, 110.
65. For example, the Flavians had earlier invoked a "new age" ideology; cf. K. Scott 1933, 255-56. Statius illustrates this nicely in Silv. 4.1.17-32.
66. Dessau ILS 2927. See Sherwin-White 1966, 732-33 for other relevant inscriptions.
67. See Sherwin-White 1966, 75; Syme 1958, 2:657; Radice 1975, 125.
68. Pliny later revised it, see Ep. 3.18.2.
69. See also Plin. Ep. 8.14.3. In Hist. 1.1 Thcitus also contrasts Domitian's reign with the "new era" after Domitian, but there he does admit his debt to the Flavians.
70. Benario 1975, 145-46.
71. Ogilvie and Richmond 1967, 140.
72. Dio Chrysotom says that during his exilic travels, on the way from Heraea to Pisa, he met an old woman at a sacred grove of Heracles who divined "that the period of my wanderings and tribulation would not be long, nay, nor that of mankind at large [i.e., the rule of Domitian].... 'Some day,' she said, 'you will meet a mighty man the ruler of very many lands and peoples. Do not hesitate to tell him this tale of mine even if there be those who will ridicule you for a prating vagabond"' ( Or. 1.55-56). As C. P. Jones observes, "this prophecy fits 'too neatly"' in "a speech delivered before an emperor who had a special devotion to Heracles" (1978, 51). Dio Chrysostom also claimed to bear up "under the hatred ... of the most powerful, most stern man, who was called by all Greeks and barbarians both master and god ... without fawning upon him or trying to avert his hatred by entreaty but challenging him openly, and not putting off until now, God knows, to speak or write about the evils which afflicted us, but having done both already, and that too in speeches and writings broadcast to the world" ( Or. 45.1). Jones assesses Dio's claim as follows: "Either this claim is grossly exaggerated or almost all of these works have perished" (1978, 50).
73. See also Plin. Ep. 10.2. Sometimes Pliny has to manipulate words at great length to make the contrast; cf. his comments about mimes ( Pan. 46).
74. Waters observes that both terms, along with the related words princeps and dominus, were in use as early as the reign of Tiberius and as late as Constantine. There was no "sudden retroversion from the Dominate of Domitian to the Principate of Trajan" (1969, 399, quoting Beranger); see e.g., Suet. Galb. 9.2; Jupiter's priest at Clunia predicts that "there would come forth from Spain the ruler and lord of the world [princeps dominusque rerum]."
75. So Nerva's famous dinner party: "Where would Catullus Messalinus be if he were alive today?" Answer: "Here, dining with us" (Plin. Ep. 4.22). Though Pliny drips an acid tongue on Fabricius Veiento, he was there in Nerva's closest circle, just as he had been in the closest circles of the Flavians and of Nero before them.
1. See also 1 Cor. 15:32, where Paul refers to "fighting wild beasts" in Ephesus, probably also a metaphoric reference to conflict in his missionary activities.
2. Acts 18:18. Irenaeus states that Paul founded the church at Ephesus (Iren. Haer. 3.3.4). This is not clear from Acts.
3. This assumes the integrity of the letter to Rome. One could then reconstruct their movement as from Rome to Corinth, then to Ephesus, and then eventually back to Rome.
4. Their equal status is noteworthy; in fact Priscilla is often mentioned first in Acts, as though she was of greater importance than her husband. She has a good Roman name.
5. In 1 Corinthians Paul mentions Apollos in a section condemning factionalism. Paul says that some of the Corinthians claim to "belong to Apollos" just as others "belong to Paul" or "Cephas" (1 Cor. 1:12, cf. I Cl. 47.3). Perhaps Paul's attention to "human wisdom" and "effective speaking" in 1 Cor. 1-4 is related to Apollos's rhetorical powers (Meeks 1983a, 61, 117).
6. See Test. Sol. 8.11 and perhaps 7.5 where Lix Tetrax claims to be "the direct offspring of the Great One." The Testament of Solomon may come from Ephesus; see Duling 1983. On Artemis' ability to overcome fate, see Oster 1976, 40-41.
7. That is an especially appropriate theme in Acts at this point, as Paul travels toward Jerusalem. When Paul is in Jerusalem, Asian Jews stir up the people there over Trophimus, a Gentile Ephesian who traveled with Paul (Acts 21:27-36, cf. Acts 20:4, 2 Tim. 4:20).
8. On manual labor see Malherbe 1983, 22-28; Hock 1980, 39-42, 56-59; Meeks 1983a, 64-65.
9. On Cerinthus see Iren. Haer. 1.21, 3.3.4, which tell how John the disciple rushed out of a bath house in Ephesus when he saw that Cerinthus was in it, and Eus. Hist. Eccl. 7.25, where Eusebius gives Dionysius of Alexandria's views on Cerinthus as author of the Book of Revelation.
10. Strictly speaking, Rev. 2:6 suggests that the Nicolaitans could not get a foothold at Ephesus.
11. Regarding churches in Asia, there is also a brief reference to Paul's missionary activity up in the northwestern corner of the province at Alexandria Troas; cf. Cor. 2:12 and Acts 20:5-12, in which the infamous Eutychus falls out the window. Perhaps there was a church also at Assos (Acts 20:13-14). By the end of the first century, Christian writings assume that there is a church at Troas (cf. 2 Tim. 4:13; I Philad. 11.2, Smyrn.
12. 1). Paul refers to Asian "churches" (plural) that send greetings to the church at Corinth, but we do not know where those churches were (cf. 1 Cor. 16:19).
12. Even if Paul is not the author of Colossians, it was most likely written before Paul's death or soon thereafter, no later than c. 65.
13. Paul says that the Colossians learned the grace of God in truth from Epaphras and calls him a beloved fellow servant and a "faithful minister" of Christ on behalf of the Colossians. Paul apparently had not ministered in that area; cf. Col. 1:4, 2:1, which also mentions the church at Laodicea.
14. It is not clear exactly where Paul is; he may be at Ephesus, Caesarea, or Rome; cf. Kümmel 1975, 324-32.
15. According to Acts he and Trophimus are identified as Asians who accompanied Paul to Jerusalem to deliver the collection (Acts 20:4). Tychicus is referred to in the letter to Ephesus (6:21-22) in language almost identical to that in Colossians. Tychicus is also mentioned in the pastorals; cf. 2 Tim. 4:12, Titus 3:12.
16. See Philem. I, where he is referred to as a fellow soldier (s?st?at??t??). Archippus was a fairly common name in Asia.
17. There is no compelling reason to identify him as the bishop of Ephesus referred to by Ignatius (Eph. 1.3, 2.1, 6.2). The name is common, e.g., IG Rom. 806, 921, 1441, 1732.
18. These names seem to be common to the area. For Philemon see IG Rom. 4.864 (from Laodicea) and 4.1435 (from Smyrna); for Apphia see 4.868 (a priestess at Colossae) and 4.796 (a woman from Apamaea); for Archippus see CIG 3143, 3224 (from Smyrna). See Arndt and Gingrich 1979 under each name.
19. For excavations there see Yamauchi 1980, 149-54.
20. On the identification of the followers of Balaam with the Nicolaitans, see Caird 1966,38-39.
21. Rev. 2:19. That she and her followers were a part of the church is made clear in 2:24, where the seer refers to t??^? ???p??^? t??^? ?? ??at????? ("to the rest of those among the Thyatiran Christians").
22. This idolatry is linked to Balaam in Num. 31:13-20.
23. Given the practices of some of the religions in Asia—as in Moab—both meanings could of course be applicable; but I incline, with Caird, to think that the seer would not have been so "tolerant" of sexual deviation (Caird 1966, 44, 39).
24. 1 Cor. 8:1-9:23, 10:14-22, 10:23-11:1; and Theissen 1982, 121-43 against Johnson 1975, 93.
25. The Didache notes that traveling prophets generally have a trade ( Did. 12).
26. Rev. 2:2, 6; cf. Schüssler Fiorenza: "He praises the church of Ephesus for hating the works of the Nicolaitans, to whom the people 'who call themselves the apostles' (2:2) probably belong. These apostles appear to be itinerant missionaries" (1985, 115).
27. See Schüssler Fiorenza 1985, 117-25 for one way of relating the "opponents" of John and the situation of the churches in Paul's day.
28. For a more theological treatment of the same groups and same issues see Schüssler Fiorenza 1985, 114-32.
29. There were probably two separate situations with which Ignatius came into conflict: Judaizers and docetists (cf. Schoedel 1980, 32, 221; Johnson 1975, 111). Docetists were in Smyrna and Tralles. Judaizers were in the churches of Philadelphia and Magnesia, in the Hermus Valley, on the same roadway as Sardis. Sardis is conspicuous for its absence in the Ignation corpus. He would have passed through there from Philadelphia to Smyrna, but there is no indication that he stopped to visit the church.
30. Dittenberg. SIG 985, with a translation in F. Grant 1953, 28-30.
31. On the sabbath issue see Schoedel 1980, 34-35.
32. See Meeks 1983a, 54. Meeks is especially interested in "persons of low status crystallization, that is, those who are ranked high in some important dimensions but low in others" (p. 55). People with such "ambiguous status" may have been especially attracted to Christianity (pp. 72-73).
33. Theissen's article on social stratification in Corinth is an important one for understanding what classes and statuses were represented in the early Christian church (1982, 69-119); contrast R. Grant 1980, 16-17.
34. E.g., 1 Cor. 7:21; Philem.; Eph. 6:5-9; 1 Tim. 6:1-2; Tit. 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 2:18-20 (cf. Malherbe 1983, 52); Col. 3.22; 1 Tim. 6.2; 1 Cl. 34.1; James 5.4; I Polyc. 1.3, 4.3; Barn. 10.4, 19.7; Did. 4.10, 12.3-5; Eus. Hist. Eccl. 3.20.2-3.
35. omnis aetatis, omnis ordinis, utriusque sexus ; R. M. Grant (1980, 17) on the one hand accepts the variety indicated by Pliny but also points out that Pliny "had the key case of the Bacchanalia in mind and knew that among the Bacchants of Italy, suppressed in 186 BC, there had been nobles, men and women, and persons of various ages."
36. See, e.g., R. M. Grant 1980, 21-23; Schoedel 1980, 43; Malherbe 1983, 62-68, 95-96; Meeks 1983a, 16-19, 57.
37. Colwell 1939, 70. See 1 Cor. esp. 5:9-11; 9:22; 10:14-21, 27-28; 14:23-24; also Phil. 2:15.
38. See also Schoedel 1980, 44-46, 52-54 on Ignatius.
39. Tacitus wrote the Annals after his stint as proconsul of Asia in 112-113. Thus, that experience could have helped shape his understanding of the Neronian persecution.
40. That is, the legal issue here is one not of religion but of specific associations ( collegia, cf. Applebaum 1974a, 460).
41. See Millar 1972, 145-146. Except, possibly, for the reign of Nero "there is no authentic and concrete evidence of Imperial pronouncements about the Christians ex- cept in the form of letters" until the Decian persecution: Trajan to Pliny; Hadrian to Minicius Fundanus; Antoninus Pius to Larissa, Thessalonica, Athens and "all the Greeks"; Antoninus Pius or Marcus Aurelius to the koinon of Asia; Marcus Aurelius to the legatus of Lugdunensis. All of these letters were "almost certainly" responses to inquiries (Millar 1972, 158).
42. That equals what the seer calls "steadfastness in the faith."
43. On hetaeria see Wilken 1984, 31-47.
44. Pliny supports the "vertical" stratification of Christians. He says that they were drawn from all classes ( omnis ordinis, Ep. 10.96.9) including slaves ( ancillae, 10.96.8).
45. Cf. Johnson 1975, 93; R. M. Grant 1977, 21-25.
1. On the fiscus and its administration see Stern 1980, 129; Smallwood 1981, 37176.
2. On the economic state of the empire at the end of Domitian's reign see Syme 1930, 55-70 and the response by Sutherland 1935, 150-62; also Viscusi 1973.
3. From the legend on the reverse side, the coins were stamped in 96 CE.
4. For Flavia Domitilla as a Christian and a niece of Flavius Clemens see footnote 9 below and discussions by Smallwood (1956, 7-8) and Keresztes (1973, 7-15).
5. "Josephus is not an objective writer; but the Palestinian prejudices ... have a deeper effect on his writing than the Roman bias which tends to be automatically ascribed to him" (Rajak 1984, 185). Josephus never received the official title of amicus Caesaris and did not penetrate into the circle, e.g., of Statius. Yavetz suggests that Josephus "must have been a member of the lower entourage, in the same category as doctors and magicians, philosophers and buffoons" (quoted in Rajak 1984, 196).
6. Josephus is another example of a person who praised Vespasian and Titus profusely and remained honored to the end of Domitian's reign. Domitian was a Flavian who honored those whom his brother and father had honored earlier.
7. Cf. Geffcken 1902, 183-85, 188-89; also Pleket 1961, 303. This assessment of Domitian is all the more striking, because Sib. Or. 12 at this point is patterned upon Sib. Or. 5. Both oracles give a brief resume of the Roman emperors and offer similar assessments—except for Domitian. In Sib. Or. 5.40 Domitian is referred to as a "cursed man" (see Collins 1983, 394, 448), the reverse of Sib. Or. 12.
8. See Syme 1930, 63; Pleket comments that the oracle "reflects the current opinion of the average provincial about the emperor" (1961, 303).
9. Eusebius cites as example that Flavia Domitilla—a Christian niece of Flavius Clemens—was banished along with many others to the island of Pontia. This is another version of the story in Dio Cassius about the Jewish convert Flavia Domitilla, wife of Flavius Clemens, condemned to the island Pandateria (Dio Cass. 67.14.2).
10. The other two were Vespasian and Trajan; see Eus. Hist. Eccl. 3.12, 19-20, 32.
11. According to Eusebius those interviewed by Domitian lived on into the reign of Trajan and his persecution of Christians, and Trajan's persecution stopped when Pliny expressed alarm over the number of martyrs in Asia: Trajan decreed "that members of the Christian community were not to be hunted, but if met with were to be punished" ( Hist. Eccl. 3.33). This reference is to the Pliny correspondence with Trajan (Plin. Ep. 10.96-97), but Eusebius draws the information from Tertullian (Eus. Hist. Eccl. 3.33).
12. On Clement of Rome see Barnard 1963-64, 255-57.
13. Cf. Kraabel 1968, 5-6, 199-200; Applebaum 1974a, 432; Broughton 1938, 63233. Applebaum interprets the second phrase to mean "state-support for the upkeep of the religious functionaries of the newcomers" so that they were "accorded an organization in which the religious functionaries ... were the responsible officials" (1974a, 468-70, 472). For the inscription discovered at Sardis in 1960 referring to this resettling, see also Robert 1964, 9-21 and Kraabel 1978, 15-18.
14. Religio licita is not a Roman legal expression but one from Tertullian; cf. Applebaum 1974a, 460. For a discussion of the authenticity and dating of documents in Josephus see Millar 1966, 160-62; Applebaum 1974a, 440-44.
15. This letter is probably from about the same time as the Flaccus incident, though Magie (1950, 1586) lists it with undatable names from the republican period.
16. Jews possessed their own archives; cf. CIJ 775, 776, 778; Applebaum 1974b, 483; on the meaning of katoikia in CIJ 775 see Schürer 1986, 27-28, 89.
17. CIJ 770. On the side of the curse he identifies himself as having served as ß?????sa? and ???a?; on other side he is identified as ?????a???a, S??t???a, ????a???a, ??????a??µ?a, and St?at???a.
18. On wealth see Joseph. AJ 14.112-13.
19. Prymnessus, east and north of Acmonia, also is the source of "children's children" curses (on this curse formula see Kraabel 1968, 82-86) and are probably Jewish. On the possibility that some of the inscriptions referring to "the highest god" are Jewish, see Kraabel 1968, 93-108.
20. On the reference in Obadiah 20 to Sepharad and the possible identification of Sepharad with Sardis by means of a bilingual inscription from Sardis, see Schürer 1986, 20-21.
21. For this argument I am grateful to Marianne P. Bonz for sharing her unpublished paper.
22. Bonz cites from the Justinian Digest: "The deified Severus and Antoninus [Caracalla] allowed those who profess the Jewish superstition to hold office, but also imposed on them only those obligations which would not damage their superstition" (4.50.2; 3.3). It is not clear, however, whether Jews had never before been allowed to hold office or whether some limitation had been put on them in the recent past.
23. See Kraabel 1968, 181-90. For possible meanings of the last sentence see Schoedel 1980, 34.
24. This assumes that saµßat??^?? in IG Rom 4.1281 equals saßßat??^?? (sabbath house, or synagogue), as most scholars are inclined to think; cf. Schürer 1986, 19. On Thyatira in general see A. Jones 1983, 83 and n. 93; IG Rom. 4.1205; Applebaum 1974b, 480; Broughton 1938, 763.
25. Edicts from Dolabella and others (Joseph. AJ 14:223-27, 228-29, 234, 236-40, 262-64); one edict from Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, Augustus' close associate ( AJ 16.167-68, cf. 12.125-28, 16.27, 60); and one from Julius Antonius ( AJ 16.172).
26. Cf. CIJ 745, 746, reedited by Louis Robert; see Schürer 1986, 23.
27. Regarding Polycarp and the Jews see chapter 7.
28. Cf. Theopempte, another woman, archisynagogos from Myndus in Caria, south of Melitus ( CIJ 756). On the office of archisynagogos see Kraabel 1968, 71-73. Further north of Smyrna, at Phocaea (Kyme), Tation is honored for her contribution to the construction of a synagogue there (see CIJ 738).
29. Other collection centers of the tax that Flaccus confiscated were at Adramyttium, Apamea, and Laodicea; cf. Cic. Flac. 68.
30. Josephus states that the Pergamenes had been friends of the Jews since the time of Abraham. This may indicate long-time Jewish influence in that region (see Schürer 1986, 18).
31. A "house synagogue" has also been excavated at Priene (second or third century CE), similar in structure to the Dura synagogue (see Kraabel 1968, 20-26). At Teos a funerary inscription has been found referring to a Jewish Roman citizen who built a synagogue there. Robert rejects the proper name "Proutioses" (cf. CIJ 744) for "P. Routilios Ioses" (1940, 27-28). Robert assumes that this Jewish archisynagogos is a Roman citizen. Inland at Colophon there is also some indication of a Jewish presence (cf. Stern 1974, 152; Schürer 1986, 22). Evidence of a Jewish community at the port town of Elaea is uncertain; it "may be the place from which the 'synagogue of Elaea' in Rome takes its name" (see Kraabel 1968, 179).
32. On the latter see Applebaum 1974a, 458-60; Applebaum 1976, 719. The assurance of these rights does not necessarily indicate the need for protection. It could also indicate the prestige of the Jewish community (see Kraabel 1978, 18).
33. On the complex problem of legal status of Jews in the cities, see Applebaum 1974a, 434-61. Early citizenship in the towns of Asia is probable: "It is entirely probable that the processes which enabled individual Jewish families to achieve Greek citizenship in such towns as Acmonia had commenced before the period of Augustus" (pp. 443-44).
34. On connections of Jews and guilds see Applebaum 1974b, 476-82 and references.
1. See the description of an estate of one Mnesimachus in the Sardis inscription quoted in full in Broughton 1938, 631-32.
2. Cf. Dio Chrys. Or. 31.54; Broughton 1938, 645; Bogaert 1976, no. 36; Broughton 1951,245.
3. In Broughton's list of estates of various sizes, note the following, in cities mentioned in John's Revelation: at Smyrna Marcus Antonius Polemo owned the best house (Philostr. VS 1.25; Broughton 1938, 667); in the third century Heracleides the sophist bought a small suburban estate at Smyrna; a woman at Philadelphia offered land to members of the council, the income to be divided among them yearly on her brother's birthday; a boundary stone at Sardis divided the land of Hermeias, a consular magistrate, and Marcellinus, a municipal magistrate (see Broughton 1938, 671).
4. Broughton 1938, 697-98. Under the Flavians several new cities were established, especially in the eastern plateau; see Magie 1950, 570. At that time the Moccadeni in the Hermus River Valley were also organized around Silandus and Temenothyrae; see A. Jones 1983, 93.
5. Cities bore much of the expense for road building; see A. Jones 1940, 140.
6. Cf. Magie 1950, 571, 574-75; French 1980, 709. After the Flavians, French has discovered no evidence for the building of any new road system in Asia Minor (1980, 711). The extensive development of roads under the Flavians made possible Trajan's rapid advances into Armenia and Mesopotamia (see B. Jones 1984, 149).
7. On the number of cities in Asia, cf. Joseph. BJ 2.16.4, Apol. Tyan. Ep 58, Philostr. VS 548; but see Habicht 1975, 67, who suggests that three hundred is a more accurate number.
8. Pergamum also received the right to build a temple to Augustus; and under Tiberius Smyrna secured the right to build a temple to him. Hypaepa, Tralles, Laodicea, and Magnesia were passed over in the competition; cf. Tac. Ann. 4.55.3; Broughton 1938, 709.
9. Local courts still existed, but "jurisdiction tended more and more to be concentrated in the hands of the governor" (see A. Jones 1940, 134).
10. Macro 1980, 671 summarizes evidence for assize centers. Habicht 1975, 90 offers evidence that assize districts were used for purposes other than judicial, such as for working out costs of the cult of Roma and Augustus.
11. See Broughton 1938, 710.
12. Broughton lists building, foundations, and gifts in Pergamum, Sardis, Smyrna, Ephesus, Thyatira, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, among others (1938, 716-26).
13. If vacancies in the council were filled by popular election, nominations for those vacancies were made by the council members (see A. Jones 1940, 183). So, for example, when Hadrian supported his friend Erastus for a seat on the city council of Ephesus, he addressed the magistrates and the council (A. Jones 1940, 183; Dittenberg. SIG 838). Each city council usually had a fixed number of seats, but popular athletes and actors often became honorary members of councils in several cities; see Magie 1950, 641.
14. The name of the municipal head varied from city to city (see A. Jones 1940, 163). In the imperial period this office was diminished by the city priesthood of Rome (and the emperor) who was also viewed as chief official of the city (see p. 174).
15. In the larger cities two or more people might carry out the duties of one office.
16. A peace officer arrested Polycarp (see Mart. Poly. 6; Magie 1950, 647).
17. A famous decree by the council at Hierapolis ad Lycum forbids the sheriff from taking advantage of surrounding villages (cf. OGI 527; Abbott and Johnson 1926, 117; Magie 1950, 988, n. 25 and 1515, n. 47).
18. Magistrates often had as their chief qualification "the possession of wealth and a readiness to spend" (Magie 1950, 649). Designated officers had to be connected with money. For example, in one instance, a dead person was appointed so that his money could be used by the city (see pp. 649-50).
19. That shift could be a factor in the rise of prominence of Jewish locals in the third century.
20. See Magie 1950, 63, 653 and 854-860, nn. 37-38.
21. On city revenues generally, see Broughton 1938, 797-803.
22. This request is apparently being made on behalf of all Asia; cf. Broughton 1938, 840.
23. For this paragraph see Broughton 1938, 838-41; cf. Hock 1980, 35.
24. See Broughton 1938, 841-49; Burford 1972.
25. See IG Rom. 4.1419, 1432, where Septimus Publius is a citizen of Pergamum, Smyrna, Athens, and Ephesus; and Apollinarius is a citizen of Thyatira, Smyrna, Philadelphia, Byzantium, and councillor of Smyrna. Cf. Broughton 1938, 855.
26. For this paragraph see Broughton 1938, 849-57.
27. Rostovtzeff left Russia in 1917, lived a few years at Oxford, and then accepted an appointment at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1920. Although hostile to Bolshevism, he belongs to the generation of Russian historians who used socioeconomic analyses to explain historical change.
28. See, e.g., Macro 1980, 689 for proof that the social distinction between splendidiores, or honestiores (the senators, equites, provincial aristocrats, and legionaries), and humiliores (the lower classes) did not emerge until the second century.
29. Oliver 1953, 957. Compare the case of the archons, council and demos of the city of Ephesus against Vibius Salutaris, who tried to avoid liturgical obligations (p. 958).
30. Dio Chrys. Or. 34.21. See Broughton 1938, 809-12 for this and other examples; also Rostovtzeff, 1957, 2:621 for other secondary references.
31. This occurred late in the reign of Vespasian, before Dio Chrysostom's banishment in 82; cf. Magie 1950, 1443.
32. Titus to Munigua in Baetica, Domitian to Lappius Maximus and other proconsuls in Bithynia, and later Trajan to the proconsul of Achaea; cf. Millar 1966, 164. Methods for appointing a proconsular legatus, however, were different from those of an imperial legatus, and the two offices had different lengths of tenure (see Millar 1966, 165-66).
33. See Millar 1966, 164. For communications involving Christians see, of course, Pliny's correspondence with Trajan (Ep. 10) and also Eus. Hist. Eccl. 4.8.6, 9.1-3; Just. 1 Apol. 68-69.
34. On the prosperity of the cities mentioned in Revelation—Ephesus. Smyrna, Pergamum, Sardis, Philadelphia, Thyatira, and Laodicia, see Magie 1950, 583-86 and nn. On continuities within the Flavian dynasty see B. Jones 1984, 122-52.
35. See Broughton 1938, 740-73 for a detailed discussion of this prosperity, which continued into the second century.
36. For more information about Marceilus, including his attempted conspiracy and death, see B. Jones 1984, 87-93.
37. Magie, in his list of proconsuls of Asia (1950, 1582), includes the name Sextus Vettulenus Civica Cerialis, who, so far as I can tell, is different from Gaius Vettulenus Civica Cerialis; see B. Jones 1979, album senatorium, nos. 303, 599.
38. Marcus Ulpius Trajanus, father of the later emperor, was governor when a stadium was built in Laodicea and an aqueduct at Smyrna and a temple was rebuilt at Ephesus, among others.
39. See B. Jones 1984, 130 for appointment of senators from the Greek East as assistants to consular governors and as military commanders. Appointments to higher offices in Trajan's reign followed, as did promotions of earlier Flavian appointments.
40. For the issuing of coinage in Asia by the Flavians see Broughton 1938, 883.
41. None of the seven cities of Revelation was among the several free cities in Asia. At this time free cities were not necessarily immune from tribute (Broughton 1938, 740).
42. Magie cites Dessau ILS 1517 for reference to Fortunatus, son of an imperial freedman, becoming under Domitian the procuratorfisci Asiatici (1950, 1425).
43. Broughton cites evidence that in the reign of Hadrian, Hadrian's procurator and the proconsul of Asia were both involved in the new foundation of Stratoniceia Hadrianopolis (1938, 653).
44. See Pleket 1961, 310. There is some debate whether this office came in under Domitian or Trajan's reign. Magie states that it "may have been created under Domitian," but he favors Trajan (1950, 597, cf. 1454, n. 13). Broughton, on the other hand assumes Domitian (1938, 744, 810). Oliver also assumes a Domitian origin (1953, 974).
45. See Magie 1950, 471. For example, the Cyzicenes suffered under Tiberius for failure to finish their temple to Augustus (see Price 1984, 66).
46. Contrast Brian Jones: "Participation in the cult in the provinces was essentially a political and social matter" (1984, 153); or Bowersock: "Provincial priesthoods were viewed as civic duties suitable for the wealthy and ambitious but in no sense a display of piety" (1973, 183). See also Pleket 1965, 347.
47. According to Price (1984, 59), thirteen imperial temples were built from 50 BCE to 0, ten from 0 to 50 CE, seven from 50 to 100, fifteen from 100 to 150. Note the small number during the Flavian dynasty.
48. This intensity of imperial cultic activity involving the emperor dropped off after Augustus. There was what Price calls a "predictable routinization" of Augustus' charismatic authority.
49. See Magie 1950, 572, 594, 613-14; the stadium dedicated in Laodicea (Magie 1950, 1431); IG Rom 4.636, 845 (79 CE), 846, 861 and SEG 2.696.
50. For this paragraph see Price 1984, 55-58.
51. That is simply an indication of the importance of those cities in the province of Asia; it need not suggest that John selected those cities because of their relation to the cult.
52. Associations such as the augustales or flamines, distinctively western and Roman, are found only in Roman colonies in the eastern empire (Price 1984, 88). Gladiators and animal fights originated in Rome; and although they were present in imperial festivals, they were not central to the imperial cult in Asia Minor (pp. 89, 124, 170). Provincial elites would sometimes adopt Roman practices in order to display their cosmopolitan sophistication and their knowledge of how things were done in Rome, but this attempt of provincials to win prestige could make sense only "because the community as a whole expressed its identity through the maintenance of Greek traditions" (p. 91).
53. The provincial cult (for which see below) was probably closer to Roman practices than were the city cults for the emperor; see Price 1984, 76.
54. Price notes that the imperial cult did not draw on heroic cults, but rather the cult of the gods, in Asia. That is probably relevant to Christian response to the imperial cult. It was not so much the imperial cult per se but celebrations affiliated with Greek religion that Christian objected to.
55. For coins with images of this temple at Pergamum, see Magie 1950, 1293. Cf. also the monument erected at Ephesus to Julius Caesar, "the descendant of Ares and Aphrodite, a god made manifest, and the common saviour of all human life," erected in response to Caesar's reduction of taxes required from the province of Asia; see Magie 1950,407.
56. OGI 458=Ehrenberg and Jones 1955. no. 98. See also Magie 1950, 1342, n. 39 for other fragments.
57. During the first three centuries six of the seven cities mentioned in Revelation had claim to the title neokoros : (1) Pergamum, neokoros II (113-14 CE), III (215); (2) Smyrna, rival with Ephesus, neokoros II (under Hadrian), III (after 209); (3) Ephesus, neokoros II (under Hadrian), III (under Septimus Serverus); (4) Sardis, neokoros I (under Hadrian), II, (under Albinus), III (under ?); (5) Philadelphia, neokoros (under Caracallus); (6) Laodicea, neokoros (under Caracallus) (Broughton 1938, 742).
58. When the provincial assembly would call the emperor's attention to outstanding citizens in the province (see Millar 1977, 389), some self-serving recommendations were probably made.
59. Dio Chrysostom is here ( Or. 35.15) referring to assizes, but the same point could be made for the imperial festivals (cf. Price 1984, 107; Broughton 1938, 871).
60. All citizens were recipients of these distributions and banquets, sometimes noncitizens as well; cf. Price 1984, 113.
61. Price proposes that those not participating by sacrificing and having wreaths outside their homes would be noticed (1984, 123).
62. Price makes this point in reaction to those who see the imperial cult as primarily an elite phenomenon (e.g., 1984, 108).
63. For this paragraph see Price 1984, 107-14.
64. Cf. also the difference in verbs used to address the deities and the emperor: Aristides indicates that people "pray" (????µ??a) to the gods but "petition" (d??µ??a) the rulers; see Bowersock 1973, 199-200.
65. On the distinction between "honorific" and "sacred" significance of statues including the terms eikon, andrias, and agalma, see Price 1984, 177-79; Bowersock 1973, 185.
66. Price 1984, 183. See the coins from Cilicia where Trajan is in his temple "enthroned as Zeus holding thunderbolt and sceptre."
67. So Price concludes: "It was difficult for the assumption of divine attributes by a man of flesh and blood to be successful. The tensions between mortality and immortality, visibility and invisibility could best be solved by the subtle collocation of attribute and image" (1984, 184).
68. Price 1984, 211.
69. Price 1984, 211; MAMA 8.492b. Price argues that p????t??, a term designating an imperial cultic official, indicates that sacrifices were made "on behalf of" (p??) the emperor. See Price's discussion of sacrifices on behalf of the emperor on his accession, on his arrival in a provincial city, after imperial victories, on a member of the imperial family's coming of age, or by annual vows (1984, 210-20).
70. See Pleket 1965 for a discussion of evidence for imperial mysteries.
71. Pleket 1965, 341; see also Magie 1950, 448 and 1297, n. 58.
72. Pleket 1965, 344. Compare to the illumination and revelation of Isis in Apuleius' Golden Ass.
73. Price 1984, 192 from Ulp. 21.1, 19.1.
74. For a brief critique of images in Christian and Greek circles see Price 1984, 199204. Bowersock (1973) overstates the case with intellectuals and the imperial cult.
75. Recall that the imperial cult occurs in connection with the traditional Greek religious pantheon that had been adapted in the Asian cities.
76. Among the seven cities of Revelation, in Smyrna one Apollonius contributed a statue, altar, and tables in marble to the cult of Apollo Cisauloddenus (Broughton 1938, 751; SIG 996); in Laodicea towers and gates with adornments were built in the time of Domitian from private funds (see Broughton 1938, 769); and in Ephesus Domitian supported extensive building: an addition to the stage building, an entrance to the market, decorations in the stoa, and baths (see p. 753). For the most part, however, the peak of prosperity for the seven cities—as for Asia more generally—came in the second century under Marcus Aurelius (see p. 794).
77. Some, e.g., Rostovtzeff (1957, 599), would connect this scarcity at Antioch with a wider famine in Asia at this time.
78. Note how saving and rationing is more viable than hauling in more grain, which was expensive because of the cost of transportation; see Broughton 1938, 868.
79. See Suet. Dom. 7.2, 14.2; Philostr. VS 520; Stat. Silv. 4.3.11-12; Magie 1950, 580.
80. Cf. Mouterde and Mondesert 1957 and Lewis 1968; also Pleket 1961, 304-5.
81. Under Hadrian the post was for a time restructured to make it less burdensome, but that reform was apparently short-lived (see A. Jones 1940, 141-42); see a thirdcentury inscription of tenants to the Emperor Philip, who complain that they are taken from their work and pressed into service of traveling military and dignitaries (Broughton 1938, 659-61).
82. Here is another clear example of continuity between Vespasian and Domitian. Note also the respect with which he refers to Vespasian in this public document. That does not square with the comments in the standard sources for Domitian's life (see chapter 6). For another example of Domitian's care for the cities, note his concern to restrict endowments to cities to the purposes intended (see Oliver 1953, 970-71).
83. For another example of Domitian's policy toward the land, note his handling of squatter's rights to land that was not being tilled (see McCrum and Woodhead, 1961, 462) and possibly the breaking up of the estate of Claudius Hipparchus, an Athenian millionaire (Oliver 1953, 954; Pleket 1961, 306).
84. Cf. Frontin. Str. 2.11.7, Sil. Pun. 14.686-88; McDermott and Orentzel 1977, 30-31.
1. Since the definite article occurs only once in the Greek text (?? t?? ?????? ?a? ßas????a ?a? ?p?µ???^ ?? ?s??^), all three nouns are linked to the state of being "in Jesus."
2. For the meaning "arrived," cf. Acts 13:5; 2 Tim. 1:17.
3. The genitive ?? ?s??^ is subjective, referring to the witness made by Jesus, which John and the others also proclaim (cf. Rev. 1:2).
4. Pliny the elder says simply Patmus circuitu xxx ( HN 4.12.69). For a list of islands of deportation mentioned by ancient authors, see Saffrey 1975, 398.
5. The grammar and text are problematic in the phrase in the days of Antipas.
6. "Hold fast" and "did not deny" (Rev. 2:13) are general encouragements and not technical terms for response to political persecution (cf. Rev. 2:3, 3:8, 10, 14:12, 16:15).
7. The verbal stem is used to describe men "blaspheming" God (16:9, 11, 21).
8. The seer may here be playing on the postexilic tradition that gentiles are expected to come and bow down before the Jews; cf. Isa. 49:23, Zech. 8:20-23.
9. Political Rome is fully identified with demonic forces, but the demonic forces are "larger," and more comprehensive, than Rome.
10. pa?? t????t?? p?s?? t????? (Rev. 18.22). Is the seer here displaying his knowledge of culture?
11. There is a cognitive dimension to social institutions, just as there is a social dimension to revelatory genres.
12. There was some ambiguous status; see Meeks 1983a, 72-73.
13. McCrum and Woodhead 1961, nos. 121, 142, 148; IG 3.1091. As can be seen from those inscriptions, homologues were formed in these cults between Caesar and the divinity rather than Caesar and Satan. See also pp. 158-64.
14. These relations were expressed most explicitly in processions; see Price 1984, 111.
15. There is no evidence at this time so far as I can tell for widespread anxiety and insecurity; if anything, the reverse seems more correct.
16. This apocalypse is also called prophecy ( propheteia, Rev. 1:3), mystery ( mysterion, 10:7), and eternal gospel ( euangelion, 14:6). See Schüssler Fiorenza 1981, 36-38 for connections between "words of prophecy" and "apocalypse." On "mystery" see also Rev. 1:20. The seer can also use different languages and incomprehensible names to give an air of esoteric mystery and profundity to his message (cf. Rev. 9:11; 13:17; 16:16; 17:5, 7; 19:12).
17. Note the parallelism between the "I" statement of God (Rev. 1:8) and that of John (1:9). God's statement provides the transition to first person.
18. The seven stars on the voice's right hand (Rev. 1:16) are the messengers ( angeloi, cf. 1:1) of the seven churches of Asia Minor; and the seven gold lampstands (1:12) are the seven churches (1:20).
19. Note how the language of Rev. 3:20 is picked up at 4:1.
20. Cf. Schüssler Fiorenza 1985, 23, 51-52, 170; Court 1979, 20; Collins 1977, 34041.
21. Cf. Sanders' emphasis on "restoration and reversal" (1983, 456).
22. See MacMullen 1966, 13-22, 32-34, 65, 68-69.
23. For details see MacMullen 1966, 34, 36, 38, 50, 53, 56, 63, 71, 76-77, 80-81. Martyrdom is also, of course, a theme in the Book of Revelation.
24. Tacitus' Agricola, 4 Maccabees, the Alexandrian Acts of the Pagan Martyrs, and the later genre of Christian martyrdom illustrate the spread of this literature of opposition (see MacMullen 1966, 79-93).
25. See MacMullen 1966, 50-51, 306. For similarities between the Cynic ??sµ?p???t??a and the Christian citizenship in "Jerusalem above," see p. 315.
26. See MacMullen 1966, 243: "It is striking how interchangeable and ambiguous were the attitudes of the different groups in the aristocracy, how Janus-faced they were, looking toward the past, libertas, and senate, and at the same time toward the future, stability, and the emperor."
27. "The mind, in fact, from the second century on, comes under increasingly open, angry, and exasperated attack" (MacMullen 1966, 109).
28. See MacMullen 1966, 97, 99-102, 106, 110-115.
29. See MacMullen 1966, 102-3, 106, 111-12, 143-46, 149, 151, 158.
30. MacMullen calls attention to Apuleius' Apology as a nice example of the legal status of magic in the empire (1966, 121-24).
31. See MacMullen 1966, 121-125, 130-31, 144.
32. Sherwin-White 1966, 287, 641; MacMullen 1966, 55. Quintilian provides evidence that Domitian allowed speech against evil tyranny ( Inst. 12.1.40. Contrast to Philostr. VA 7-8). Even speaking favorably about past subversives was tolerated under Domitian (see Mart. 1.8, 13; 4.54.7). Scholarly debate continues over whether philosophers received special privileges under the Flavians (see Bonner 1977, 160-62).
33. See Plin. Ep. 3.11, 7.19. For Pliny's rewriting of his own political situation at that time see chapter 6 above.
34. See Suet. Dom. 10; Dio Cass. 67.13.
35. Rogers 1960, 22. Cf. Sherwin-White 1966, 243; MacMullen 1966, 37, 77, 79; Syme 1958, 1:76. Waters 1964, 76.
36. See MacMullen 1966, 126-27, 138-41.
37. Cf. the following comments by Leo Curran cited by Irving Massey (1976, 23): "The Roman passion for order, expressed in the desire for the strict preservation of boundaries between individuals, is repeatedly violated in the flight-pursuit sequences of the Metamorphoses.... The anti-Augustanism of Ovid is conveyed in part by his dwelling on irresistible and largely meaningless violent change."
1. For example, there is no center or periphery to the surface of a sphere.
2. Lohmeyer comments, "The special highlighting of the name indicates how uncommon and impressive was the death 'for the sake of the faith"' (1953, 25).
3. For a general discussion of irony in the New Testament, see Thompson 1978, 22131, 299.
4. The preposition ?p? indicates that the mourning is directed at the one who has been pierced (see John 19:37).
5. Barnabas also plays on the irony of the "tree": "the kingdom of Jesus is on the cross [?????]" ( Barn. 8.5).
6. See Tert. Ad Scap. 5: "Your cruelty is our glory."
7. See Booth 1974, 28, 42. On suffering and social boundaries in the writings of Paul, see Meeks 1979, 11; for suffering in Ignatius see Schoedel 1980, 32-33.
8. A similar transformation from history to world structure occurs with respect to the resurrection, when the "firstborn from the dead and the archon of the kings of the earth" (Rev. 1:5) becomes "the arche of God's creation" (3:14).
9. Apart from the Book of Revelation, "explicit comments made in the New Testament about non-Christians are remarkably free from condemnation" (Malherbe 1983, 21, cf. Colwell 1939, 59).
10. Here crisis-if the word must be used—points to a specific social location in the Roman Empire, not to the whole of social existence at that time; it does not characterize the Roman era as a whole. Amos Wilder has written an essay demonstrating "that the sociological, motivating occasions for the early Christian sense of crisis and fulfillment were not social in the sense of property, slavery, persecution, etc., but in a deeper and more comprehensive sense were appropriate to ancient life-patterns. Thus understood, 'hope for men living in this impermanent and not too secure world' can be indistinguishably social-political and spiritual" (Wilder 1961, 74). His point fits well with the present study. But he assumes that the whole of life in the first century CE was "seen as at a point of radical crisis. Apocalyptic or highly dualistic eschatology as world-view and timeview arose out of such a general crisis in the inherited total way of life, ... a crisis in the tradition" (p. 70). Here he confuses the viewpoint of those in a particular social location in the empire with Roman culture as a whole. So far as I can tell, there was no "general crisis in the inherited total way of life." First-century Roman life was rather one of the most integrated, peaceful, meaningful periods of history for most of those who lived in the empire. This confusion of a particular social location with society as a whole is not uncommon in the study of early Christianity.
11. "At best, a minority viewpoint is forced to be defensive. At worst, it ceases to be plausible to anyone" (Berger 1970, 7).
12. There is an analogous instability in the literary dimension of the genre. Aune points out that an apocalypse "can exist as an independent text or as a constituent part of a host genre" (1986a, 80).
13. An apocalypse can just as likely be a "cognitive base" for social change as a response to change. In different but, I think, compatible terms, Jonathan Smith characterizes social change as involving "symbolic-social questions: what is the place on which I stand? what are my horizons? what are my limits? ... It is through an understanding and symbolization of place that a society or individual creates itself" (1973, 140). Berger and Luckmann make the point that knowledge is always in a dynamic relation with the social order: "Knowledge is a social product and knowledge is a factor in social change" (Berger and Luckmann 1967, 87). Knowledge within the genre "apocalypse" can be an especially effective factor in social change. See also Hopkins 1978, 198.
1. Only by means of such a theory can data be transformed into evidence; moreover, different theories will look for different kinds of evidence in different sets of data. All that has to be sorted out if conversation among competing theories is to be fruitful.
2. Hemer expresses the intention "to view the book historically without a judgment coloured unduly by the supposition that it may be most fruitfully explained as representative of a certain type of apocalyptic, epistolary or dramatic composition.... to insist on the comparative importance of the detailed historical criticism of background and content in a work which transcends its literary models" (1986, 15, cf. 30).
3. Court criticizes Minear's interpretation on those grounds (1979, 10).
4. See chapter 9 on this incident.
5. Many literary critics would assume the same for all literature, i.e., that literary worlds are never completely separable from the "real" world of the everyday. The question is how they are related.
6. On plausibility structure see Berger 1969, 45-47. That "symbolic universe" divides the life of ordinary Christians into social realities of the everyday and imaginative constructs supporting religious beliefs.
7. Rhetorical criticism need not reduce symbolic-poetic elements in such a thoroughgoing manner. In fact, rhetorical criticism can offer just as rich fare as the symbolic-poetic.
8. "I propose to look for the integrating center, that is, the distinct historical-socialreligious experience and resulting theological perspective that have generated the particular form-content configuration ( Gestalt ) of Rev[elation]" (Schüssler Fiorenza 1985, 2, 183).
9. "Any change in theological ideas and literary forms is preceded by a change in social function and perspective" (Schüssler Fiorenza 1983, 311). "It must be kept in mind that it is the rhetorical situation that calls forth a particular rhetorical response and not vice versa" (Schüssler Fiorenza 1985, 192, my emphasis). So John's prophetic interpretation contrasts with those of his prophetic rivals (the Nicolaitans, Jezebel, Balaamites) because it "is rooted in an experience different" from theirs (1985, 5).
10. Other ways include the sacraments, meditation, asceticism, and mystical visions. Less individual forms involve community organization, ethical standards that prefigure the coming kingdom, and apocalyptic mythology (Gager 1975, 49-50).
11. For a critique of this approach see Thompson 1985.
12. The destruction of Jerusalem, the Neronian persecution, imperial worship, the martyrdom of Antipas, and John's own relegatio in insulam also factor into the book.
13. See Talmon 1962, 136-37.
14. See Rowland: "The antithesis between theological affirmation and historical reality could not have been more starkly put. The Christians were living in a world where the dominion of the creator was barely acknowledged, yet the seer was telling them about heavenly choirs which sang the praises of God as the king of the universe" (1982, 425).
15. Yarbro Collins here refers to the theory of cognitive dissonance as a way of understanding this tension or conflict, but she does not explore that theory's possibilities for interpreting apocalyptic. Wayne Meeks does appropriate that theory and—I think rightly—observes that "an 'explanation' of apocalyptic beliefs therefore needs to take account of 'cognitive dissonance' theory at least as much as 'relative deprivation' theory" (1983b, 688). An apocalyptic myth reduces cognitive dissonance by "providing a comprehensive cognitive map, an alternative vision of reality," which in turn "offers access to social power, if only within that counter-cultural community" (p. 701).
16. For another treatment of catharsis, cf. Schüssler Fiorenza 1985, 198; Barr 1984, 49.
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Abyss, 79, 83, 220 n.14; beast of, 80 ; ruler of, 79. See also Bottomless pit
Acclamation, 53, 60, 62 ; new song, 59 ; worthy, 58
Accommodation (cultural): Christian, 120, 129; in Tertullian, 129
Acmonia: Jews at, 140 ; Julia Severa, 140
Ages: in 4 Ezra, 22 ; new, 115, 134, 225 n.65; no hard division between, 84, 221 n.33; present, 19, 63 ; to come, 19, 21, 63 ; two, 19
Agricola, 98 ; Tacitus's father-in-law, 98
Alce, 126 ; Herod's aunt, 126 ; sister of Nicetes, 127; at Smyrna, 126
Alienation in apocalyptic, 24, 196
Alpha and omega, 45
Amulets. See Magic
Ancient of Days, 21
Angel of waters, 61
Animal symbolism, 20, 21
Antioch of Pisidia, 165
Antiochus Epiphanes, 21
Antipas, 17, 173
Antoninus Pius, xii
Apamea: Jews in, 139 ; Noah story, 139
Apocalypse, 23 ; characteristics of genre, 18, 175, 192 ; content of, 31 ; defined, 24 ; element in worship, 72 ; eschatology, 23 ; formal elements, 175 ; language of, 91, 199 ; spirituality, 198 ; themes in, 175 ; world creating, 86 ; world expanding, 31
Apocalypticism, 23, 198
Apollos, 118 ; educated in rhetoric, 118 ; independent wealth, 118
Apollyon, 79 ; and apoleian, 79
Apphia, 121, 227 n.18
Aquila, 117. See also Priscilla
Archetypes, 205 ; heavenly, 20, 21 ; themes, 6
Archippus, 227 n.18; Christian leader at Colossae, 121
Archon of Philippi, 124
Artemis of Ephesus, 118 ; economic significance, 147 ; silversmiths, 119
Artemis of Sardis, 124
Asebeia, 134, 135
Asia, province of, 11 -12; agricultural resources, 146 ; Christians and Jews, 130, 133, 172 ;
churches of, 117, 178, 227 n.11; home base in Revelation, 180 ; Jewish accommodation, 134 ; Jews, 137 -145; John's churches in, 116 ; land control, 147 ; natural resources, 146 ; opposition to Christianity, 130; proconsul of, 12 ; public knowledge in, 176-77; river valleys, 146 ; and Rome, 156 ; senatorial province, 156 ; under Augustus, 156; under Flavians, 156 -57; urban life ( see Cities of Asia); wealth of, 154. See also Map of Asia Minor
Asia Minor, 11, 146 ; legal action against Christians rare, 132 ; mixture of people, 147 ; renewal of local rites, 131 ; turning from Christianity, 131 ; suspicion of Christianity, 132. See also Map of Asia Minor
Assembly, 149 -50
Assize districts, 149
Astronomy, 19, 182 -83
Augustales, 233 n.52. See also Imperial cult
Augustus, xi, 159
Babylon and Rome, 14
Babylon the Whore, 39, 68 ; and heavenly worship, 68 ; judgment of, 62 ; sexual expressions, 90. See also Harlot
Babylonian exile, 26
Balaam, 80 ; food offered to idols, 122 ; at Pergamum, 122 ; practiced immorality, 122. See also Jezebel
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