The Prophetic Lawsuit in the Book of Revelation
Reading Revelation with an awareness of the prophetic lawsuit motif will enable readers to interpret the juridical images as consistent features in the overall narrative.
The language, metaphors and storyline of the Book of Revelation evoke a cosmic law court setting. Juridical metaphors of a legal contest between the faithful witnesses and the ‘accuser of the brethren’ are intertwined throughout with images of holy war. Although such features have often been noted, this is the first full-length study drawing together the diverse evidence and reading the book through the lens of the controlling metaphor of the lawsuit.
The background of the law court setting in Revelation is the Old Testament prophetic genre of the lawsuit, sometimes conceived of as a lawsuit against God’s own people for their violations of the covenant, sometimes as a lawsuit against foreign nations for their oppression of Israel. Prophetic lawsuit language often culminated in oracles of salvation announcing the vindication of the righteous.
Reading Revelation with an awareness of the prophetic lawsuit motif will enable readers to interpret the juridical images as consistent features in the overall narrative. The purpose of Revelation’s narrative is to depict the sovereign judge of the universe rendering ultimate justice through the condemnation of the wicked and the vindication of the saints. This message of vindication is intended to encourage Christians in Asia Minor at the end of the first century not to capitulate or even accommodate to the socio-religious norms of their time.
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INTRODUCTION Scholarship and the Lawsuit Motif in the Book of Revelation The Case for a Lawsuit Motif in the Book of Revelation Methodology Conclusion CHAPTER 1: THE LAWSUIT MOTIF AS A PROPHETIC SUBGENRE The Identification of the Lawsuit as a Prophetic Genre The Prophetic Lawsuit and Dissenting Voices The Language and Imagery of Lawsuit Motifs in the Biblical Canon Conclusions regarding the Prophetic Lawsuit in the OT and its Relationship to the Book of Revelation CHAPTER 2: THE SOCIO-HISTORICAL SITUATION AND THE LAWSUIT MOTIF IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION The Socio-Historical Situation: Internal Data The Socio-Historical Situation: External Data Conclusion CHAPTER 3: STRUCTURAL AND LINGUISTIC FOUNDATIONS FOR THE LAWSUIT MOTIF IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION The Structure of the Book of Revelation The Surface Layer The Intertextual Layer The Intratextual Layer Lawsuit Motif and the Structure of Revelation Lexical Analysis and the Lawsuit Motif Conclusion CHAPTER 4: AN EXEGETICAL SURVEY OF THE LAWSUIT MOTIF IN THE FIRST VISION (REV 1:9–3:22) The Inaugural Vision of Christ (Rev 1:9–1:20) The Church as Christ‘s Witnesses through Patient Endurance Investigation of the Churches (Rev 2:1–3:22) Conclusion CHAPTER 5: AN EXEGETICAL SURVEY OF THE LAWSUIT MOTIF IN THE SECOND VISION (4:1–16:21) Proceedings in the Divine Courtroom (Revelation 4–5) Sequence of Septets The Interludes Conclusion CHAPTER 6: AN EXEGETICAL SURVEY OF THE LAWSUIT MOTIF IN THE THIRD AND FOURTH VISIONS (REV 17:3–22:21) Vision Three: The Trial, Sentencing, and Judgment of Babylon (Rev 17:1–21:8) Vision Four: The Vindication and Reward of the Saints (Rev 21:9–22:4) Conclusion CHAPTER 7: CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS OF THE PROPHETIC LAWSUIT MOTIF IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION Summary Contribution Implications Suggestions for Further Research Conclusion Appendix
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