Entering the corridors of power: state and church in the reception history of Revelation

  • Pieter G. R. de Villiers University of the Free State, South Africa

Abstract

This article discusses how Revelation with its vehement critique of its powerful first-century opponents was appropriated in a time when these opponents became its members, supporters and partners. It analyses how Revelation with its bitter attack on political and religious groups in the first century and with its potential for instigating millenarian groups to revolt against the State, was reinterpreted in times when the church enjoyed a special relationship with the State and had entered the corridors of power. In this regard, it focuses as example on the rereading of Revelation by Oecumenius, the Greek commentator of the sixth century C.E. This will be illustrated in terms of two examples. First, the article will discuss how Oecumenius rereads Revelation to appease the Roman Empire of his time and to resist an apocalyptic fervour that could threaten the well-being of the State. Second, it will show how Oecumenius, using the language of the Byzantine Empire, rereads the position of the Jews in the original text in order to present the church as the stable, trustworthy partner of the Empire.

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Published
2013-12-13
Section
Articles