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  1. "Early tradition is unanimous in its opinion that the Apocalypse was written by John the apostle. Justin Martyr… was familiar with the Revelation and held that the apostle John was its author (Dial. With Trypho lxxxi.15). This is corroborated by a remark in Eusebius… who says that Justin mentioned the Revelation of John, ‘plainly calling it the work of the apostle’ (Hist. Eccl. iv.18). In his work against heresies Irenaeus frequently cites from the Apocalypse and hold it to be the work of ‘John the disciple of the Lord’ (Adv. Haer. iv.14.1)…": Robert H. Mounce, The New International Commentary: The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 27.
  2. The pattern was set for modern methods of interpretation as early as the mid-third century by Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria. We are again indebted to Eusebius for the following account: "Dionysius attempted to remove the Apocalypse from the arsenal of his theological opponents by comparing it with the Gospel and the Epistles [of John]… concluding that they could not have been written by the same author… In dwelling on the distinctions in language, style and thought… he declares that the Apocalypse contains ‘not… a syllable in common with [it].’ While the former are ‘most elegant in diction,’ the latter includes ‘barbarous idioms, and in some places solecisms’" (Mounce, Revelation, 29). As G. E. Ladd comments (A Commentary on the Revelation of John [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971], 7), "There are, admittedly, serious difficulties in recognizing Revelation and the Fourth Gospel as coming from the same pen. While there are numerous similarities between the two books… the style of the Greek is strikingly different. The language of the Gospel is smooth and fluent and couched in accurate and simple Greek; the idiom of the Revelation is rough and harsh, with many grammatical and syntactical irregularities." For an in-depth analysis of the Greek usage in Revelation, see Steven Thompson, The Apocalypse and Semitic Syntax (Cambridge: University Press, 1985).
  3. "Internal evidence has convinced the majority of writers that whoever [John] was, there is little possibility that he was also the author of the Fourth Gospel… On the other hand, the unusually strong and early external evidence supporting apostolic authorship should cause us to hesitate before accepting conclusions based on subjective appraisal of internal considerations" (Mounce, Revelation, 31).
  4. As Raymond Brown (An Introduction to the New Testament [New York: Doubleday, 1997], 803), summarizes, "The impact produced by the fall of Jerusalem is important in shaping [John’s] vision, and so the thesis of some scholars that he was a Jewish Christian apocalyptic prophet who left Palestine at the time of the Jewish Revolt in the late 60’s and went to Asia Minor (probably to Ephesus from which he was exiled to Patmos) has plausibility. Like an OT prophet he can speak authoritatively to the Asia Minor Christians, and regard himself as the voice of the Spirit… His apocalypse/prophecy is not simply a rereading of the OT but an eschatological message from God in comment on the present situation."
  5. Six and eleventh century exegetes (Dorotheus and Theophylact respectively) have even suggested a date as late as 98-117 CE (the reign of Trajan). For a complete accounting of all three conjectures, see Mounce, Revelation, 31-36 and Brown, Introduction, 805-806.
  6. The legend of Nero’s return was circulating widely at the time of John’s writing of the Apocalypse. Richard Bauckham dedicates an entire chapter ("Nero and the Beast") to the imagery presented by this popular myth (The Climax of Prophecy: Studies in the Book of Revelation [Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1993], 384-452), which he summarizes as follows: "In order to understand the origin and various interpretations of this legend, it is important, first, to appreciate the ambiguity of the historical Nero’s reputation after his death. The image of a vicious and murderous tyrant, which later Jewish and Christian sources, as well as the extant Roman historians, present, was part of this reputation but it was not the whole story… On the other hand, Nero was popular with the populace… his hellenism… alienated the Roman aristocracy… but endeared him to the Hellenistic East… Given Nero’s popularity in some quarters, the rather mysterious circumstances of his death could easily have given rise to the rumour that he was still alive… The legend of Nero’s return acquired literary form first in the Jewish Sibylline Oracles… It was the diaspora Jewish authorities… engaged in Jewish propaganda for the hellenistic world, who took up the popular pagan idea and adapted it to Jewish eschatological purposes."
  7. Cf. Mounce, Revelation, 34-35; and the point-by-point summary of Cassius Dio (225 CE), Melito of Sardis (170 CE), Clement (96-120 CE), Pliny the Younger (90 CE), and Hegesippus (160-180 CE) in Brown, Introduction, 807-808.
  8. R. H. Charles (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St. John [Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1920], xxii) for example, expresses this view emphatically: "The object of the Apocalypse was to encourage the faithful to resist even to death the blasphemous claims of the State, and to proclaim the coming victory of the cause of God and of His Christ…"
  9. "Revelation is not a chronological timetable for the last days. It should not be read as if its purpose were to disclose the exact sequence of the final events in human history. Revelation is more like an abstract painting than a blueprint. To interpret figures of speech as if they were literal descriptions is to misunderstand the intent of the author" (R. H. Mounce, What Are We Waiting For? A Commentary on Revelation [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992], ix); "the apocalyptists were not concerned with assigning a date for the end time, but with impressing on the audience the urgency of the situation" (Brown, Introduction, 776, 809-810, citing L. Hartman).
  10. "The prophecy of Revelation goes far beyond any known historical situation in the first century. While the Rome of John’s day embodied antichristian tendencies, the portrait of Antichrist in Revelation 13 is far larger than historical Rome. Concrete references to persecutions in the Revelation are all illustrations of the hostility the world bears to the church" (Ladd, Commentary on the Revelation of John, 9-10).
  11. "The chief theme of the Apocalypse is not just what God in Christ has done for the world, but what He will yet do, and what the assured consummation will be… to proclaim the coming of God’s kingdom on earth, and to assure the Christian Church of the final triumph of goodness, not only in the individual or within its own borders… but throughout the whole universe" (Charles, Revelation of St. John, ciii); "The identifications of the eschatological theophany… belongs to the apocalyptist’s understanding of salvation-history, whereby God’s redemptive acts in the future are portrayed on the model of His past acts" (Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy, 201).
  12. Brown quotes Collins (in The Literary Genre of Apocalyptic) to the same effect: "Apocalypses are intended to interpret present, earthly circumstances in light of the supernatural world and of the future, and to influence both the understanding and behavior of the audience by means of divine authority"; see Brown, Introduction, 774-80; cf. Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy, 38-91.
  13. See Ladd, Commentary on the Revelation of John, 20-21; Mounce, Revelation, 23.
  14. It appears that the primary OT source of John’s apocalyptic language and imagery was the LXX of Ezekiel and Zechariah, together with the Isaiah’s Apocalypse and Daniel (see Brown, Introduction, 776-78).
  15. See Brown, Introduction, 778; cf. Charles, Revelation of St. John, cix.
  16. "In its repeated allusions to OT passages and in its general idiom, the Apc shares in the full, flowing style found in classical Hebrew prophets" (Thompson, The Apocalypse and Semitic Syntax, 34).
  17. Thompson, The Apocalypse and Semitic Syntax, 31.
  18. "This interpretation is borne out by several objective facts. First: it is the nature of apocalyptic writings to be concerned primarily with the consummation of God’s redemptive purpose and the eschatological end of the age… Second: it is the nature of apocalyptic symbolism, whether canonical or non-canonical, to refer to events in history leading up to, and associated with, this eschatological consummation. Third: …the book claims to be a prophecy. We have already seen that the nature of prophecy is to let light shine from the future upon the present" (Ladd, Commentary on the Revelation of John, 14).
  19. So Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy, xi.
  20. Charles, Revelation of St. John, cxliii.
  21. "The only systematic treatment of Revelation’s relation to the Synoptic tradition is Vos (1965). But Vos hardly engages with the question of the activity of prophets in forming the tradition, and his general conclusion that Revelation demonstrates a ‘fixed tradition’ of the sayings of Jesus… is something of an overreaction to the idea of a very fluid tradition, and precludes him from considering how the modifications of Synoptic logia in the Apocalypse might correspond to similar processes discernible in the Gospels" (Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy, 94).
  22. "It is worth noticing that this adaptation, presupposing a difference between the words of Jesus in the Gospel tradition and prophetic words of the exalted Christ, was thought necessary" (Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy, 96).
  23. Cf. Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy, 96-99.
  24. For a complete index of OT and NT references in Revelation and a complete listing of extra-biblical material, see Mounce, Revelation, 407-26, or Ladd, Commentary on the Revelation of John, 301-308.
  25. "The writer may have included visions and passages that were already part of Christian apocalyptic tradition, but overall the work is entirely his own" (Brown, Introduction, 774).
  26. See, e.g., David Aune, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 52B: Revelation (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 389; Mounce, Revelation, 45; or Brown, Introduction, 797, who highlights a variety of structural possibilities (omitting that of Charles), then concludes: "With such a variance of opinions I have thought it wise not to advocate any particular structure."
  27. "In terms of literary structure, the book consists of four visions, each of which is introduced by an invitation to ‘come and see’ what God purposes to disclose (1:9; 4:1; 17:1; 21:9). The book is concluded by an epilogue" (Ladd, Commentary on the Revelation of John, 14); cf. Kurt Aland et al.,Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. 27th ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993).
  28. Brown, Introduction, 796.
  29. Mounce, Revelation, 47-49.
  30. Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy, xii.
  31. "Judging from the amount of attention given by many writers to the first ten verses of chapter 20, one would judge it to be the single most important segment of the book of Revelation… The tendency of many interpreters at this point is to become apologists for a particular view of the millennium. Without denying the significance of this important passage, it should not be elevated above such basic themes as the return of Christ, the final judgment and the splendor of the eternal state" (Mounce, Revelation, 351).
  32. So Aune, Revelation, 389; cf. Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy, 6.
  33. "There were various ways in the ancient world whereby thunder was interpreted as a communication from the divine world… (1) In the OT and less commonly in early Judaism, the voice of God is often equated with thunder (Exod 19:19; 1 Sam 7:10; Job 37:2; [etc.])… (2) Less commonly, the voice of angels is associated with the sound of thunder (3 Apoc. Bar. 11:3; 14:1; Sepher ha-Razim 2.43-44)… (3) In John 12:28-29, a heavenly voice is interpreted by some bystanders as thunder while others understand it as an angelic revelation" (Aune, Revelation, 560-61). See also the similar language in Ezek 1:24; 43:2 and Dan 10:6.
  34. "White is the symbol of victory, and everywhere in the Revelation white is associated with the things of God and the divine victory. The white horse here represents Christ in his final victory over the evil powers which have oppressed the people of God" (Ladd, Commentary on the Revelation of John, 253).
  35. Cf. Charles, Revelation of St. John, 163-64.
  36. The angelic host have proclaimed that God has become King. Both the AV and RSV miss the idea, rendering the word in the present tense: the Almighty reigns. The Greek verb is a past tense and is what grammarians call an inceptive aorist, emphasizing the initiation of action. The NEB correctly renders it: …has entered on His reign" (Ladd, Commentary on the Revelation of John, 246). Cf. Mounce, Revelation, 339.
  37. "The great prophecy of the Davidic king described him as one who judges the poor with righteousness and decides with equity for the meek of the earth (Isa. 11:4). The return of Christ in victory over his enemies will be no act of personal vengefulness nor an arbitrary manifestation of divine power; it will be an act of righteousness reflecting the faithfulness of God" (Ladd, Commentary on the Revelation of John, 254).
  38. "The metaphor of marriage as expressing the relationship between God and His people has its roots in the prophetic literature of the OT. To Israel God said, ‘I will betroth you to me forever’ (Hos 2:19). Israel in exile is comforted by the remembrance that the Lord of hosts is her husband and will bring her back (Isa 54:5-7). This same symbolism runs throughout the NT… Paul portrays the relationship of Christ and His church in terms of the intimacy of marriage (Eph 5:32)" (Mounce, Revelation, 340). Indeed, Jesus himself frequently employs this imagery throughout his teaching (e.g., Matt 22:1-14; Matt 25:1-13; Mark 2:19).
  39. "[It is an] OT convention portraying cities marked with idolatry or godlessness… as harlots, bedecked with wealth from commerce" (Brown, Introduction, 793). Cf. the comment of Bauckham (The Climax of Prophecy, 339): "This series of visions and auditions ends with a reference to the New Jerusalem (19:7-8) which serves to connect the two major sections on Babylon and the New Jerusalem… The key to this structure is found in the clear parallelism… which describe the two contrasting cities: Babylon the harlot and the New Jerusalem the bride of the Lamb."
  40. "A remarkable feature of the composition of Revelation is the way in which very many phrases occur two or three times in the book, often in widely separated passages, and usually in slightly varying forms. These repetitions create a complex network of textual cross-reference, which helps to create and expand the meaning of any one passage by giving it specific relationships to many other passages" (Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy, 22).
  41. "The picture here is of Christ the warrior and conqueror of evil, not of Christ the redeemer" (Ladd, Commentary on the Revelation of John, 254-55).
  42. These occur at Rev 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7; and 22:14.
  43. Cf. Rev 6:10, where the righteous souls appeal to God (alluding to Isa. 63:1-6).
  44. So Mounce, Revelation, 346.
  45. Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy, 135.
  46. Cf. Mounce, Revelation, 342 (reading the genitive as subjective).
  47. "This language looks back to Isa. 11:4: ‘And He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth…’ Here is the symbolic representation of victory by the power of a word which is impossible to be literally envisaged. The idea goes back to creation. God created the worlds by His word" (Ladd, Commentary on the Revelation of John, 255).
  48. "As the shepherd carried a stout rod to fend off the attacks of wild beasts, so Christ will destroy all the evil forces that have endangered the church through the ages. His is a weapon of retaliation" (Mounce, What are We Waiting For? 101).
  49. Compare the vision of the grape harvest in Rev 14:19, which similarly expresses "the stern reality of ‘the fierce anger of God’" (Mounce, Revelation, 347).
  50. Cf. Richard N. Longenecker, New Wine Into Fresh Wineskins: Contextualizing the Early Christian Confessions (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1999), 126.
  51. "Literally the word ["Almighty"] means one who holds all things in control… The multitude declares that this all-powerful being who has entered into his reign is a personal God – He is the Lord our God" (Mounce, Revelation, 339).
  52. "The two words [faithful and true] are practically synonymous in meaning, for the Hebrew idea of truth was not basically correspondence to reality as in Greek thought, but reliability. The ‘God of truth’ (Jer. 10:10) is not the God who reveals eternal truth, but the God who can be trusted to keep His covenant" (Ladd, Commentary on the Revelation of John, 253).
  53. "The Johannine Apocalypse does not make much of Jesus’ status as God’s Son. And where it does bring in this confessional motif, it emphasizes not so much the functional nature of sonship… as the more ontological nuances of intimacy and identity with God the Father" (Longenecker, New Wine into Fresh Wineskins, 128).
  54. "The Hebrews did not think of a word as a mere sound but as an active agent that brought about what it declared. In Hebrews 4:12 the word of God is said to be ‘living and active… sharper than any double-edged sword.’ The Warrior-Messiah is God’s final word to man. When God speaks, His will is actively carried out in time and space" (Mounce, What are We Waiting For? 100).
  55. "The role of the Messiah in Judaism sometimes includes the execution of eschatological judgment as the agent of God (Pss. Sol. 17:21-25 [cf. Rev 19:15]; 4 Ezra 13:8-11, 37-38; 12:32-33), particularly in the Similitudes of Enoch… [where] the judicial role is clearly depicted… In early Christianity, Christ is frequently assigned the role of eschatological judge" (Aune, Revelation, 420-21).
  56. Cf. Longenecker, New Wine into Fresh Wineskins, 126, 128.
  57. "The distinctive feature of Revelation seems to be, not its repudiation of apocalyptic militarism, but its lavish use of militaristic language in a non-militaristic sense. In the eschatological destruction of evil in Revelation there is no place for real armed violence, but there is ample space for the imagery of armed violence" (Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy, 233).
  58. Brown, Introduction, 800.