Saturday, September 13, 2014

Parables of War

After the partial destruction of the great city in Rev 11:13-19, John's vision turns to "a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Rev 12:1). His vision of this woman and of the dragon who strives to devour her and the messianic child she brings forth concludes with a description of the "rest of her offspring" and their conflict with the dragon: "[12:17] Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and witness of Jesus. [12:18] And he stood on the sand of the sea." Rev 13 details the war of the dragon, through its terrestrial surrogates, with the offspring of the woman. It emphasizes the impropriety of political and religious allegiance to the beasts that make war on the saints and it concludes with the Nero gematria. Rev 14 inaugurates the defeat of the dragon and its beasts on earth by means of the celestial worship of the followers of the lamb. This promise of eventual defeat of the antagonists constitutes an exhortation to the audience of the Apocalypse of John that they should stand fast in their present predicament. 
...My efforts in rereading this text are directed not to positing and defending new positions in the discussion of John's mythological resources, but to illustrating how his deployment of those resources can be understood as effective in the context of the Judean War.1 

1.  John W. Marshall, Parables of War: Reading John's Jewish Apocalypse [Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press; 2001], pp. 134-5 

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