SPECIAL TOPIC: APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE (from Revelation)

Revelation is a uniquely Jewish literary genre, apocalyptic. It was often used in tension-filled times to express the conviction that God was in control of history and would bring deliverance to His people. This type of literature is characterized by

1. a strong sense of the universal sovereignty of God (monotheism and determinism)

2. a struggle between good and evil, this age and the age to come (dualism)

3. use of secret code words (usually from the OT or intertestamental Jewish apocalyptic literature)

4. use of colors, numbers, animals, sometimes animals/humans

5. use of angelic mediation by means of visions and dreams, but usually through angelic mediation

6. primarily focuses on the end-time (new age)

7. use of a fixed set of symbols, not reality, to communicate the end-time message

8. Some examples of this type of genre are

a. Old Testament

(1) Isaiah 24-27, 56-66

(2) Ezekiel 37-48

(3) Daniel 7-12

(4) Joel 2:28-3:21

(5) Zechariah 1-6, 12-14

b. New Testament

(1) Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, and 1 Corinthians 15 (in some ways)

(2) 2 Thessalonians 2 (in most ways)

(3) Revelation (chapters 4-22)

c. non-canonical (taken from D. S. Russell, The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic, pp. 37-38)

(1) I Enoch, II Enoch (the Secrets of Enoch)

(2) The Book of Jubilees

(3) The Sibylline Oracles III, IV, V

(4) The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs

(5) The Psalms of Solomon

(6) The Assumption of Moses

(7) The Martyrdom of Isaiah

(8) The Apocalypse of Moses (Life of Adam and Eve)

(9) The Apocalypse of Abraham

(10) The Testament of Abraham

(11) II Esdras (IV Esdras)

(12) Baruch II, III

9. There is a sense of duality in this genre. It sees reality as a series of dualisms, contrasts, or tensions (so common in John's writings) between:

a. heaven – earth

b. evil age (evil men and evil angels) – new age of righteousness (godly men and godly angels)

c. current existence – future existence

All of these are moving toward a consummation brought about by God. This is not the world God intended it to be, but He is continuing to work and project His will for a restoration of the intimate fellowship begun in the Garden of Eden. The Christ event is the watershed of God's plan, but the two comings have brought about the current dualisms.

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