The Relationship Between The Seals, Trumpets, And Bowls In The Book Of Revelation -- By: Dale Ralph Davis

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 16:3 (Summer 1973)
Article: The Relationship Between The Seals, Trumpets, And Bowls In The Book Of Revelation
Author: Dale Ralph Davis


The Relationship Between The Seals, Trumpets, And Bowls In The Book Of Revelation

Dale Ralph Davis

United Presbyterian Church, Blue Rapids, Kansas 66411
Blue Rapids-Czech Presbyterian Churches, Blue Rapids, Kansas

What relationship do the seals, trumpets, and bowls in the Revelation bear to each other? To ask this is to pose a long recognized hermeneutical problem.1 The basic options are two: either they are parallel and simultaneous or they are sequential and successive.2 Does one series recapitulate the same ground as a preceding series (even though it may include additional aspects) or is each series to be taken as generally chronological to its predecessor? The thesis of this paper is that each of these series of judgments is primarily sequential to the preceding one(s), but that the end of each series is parallel to the end of the other series (i.e., that the sixth and seventh seals, the seventh trumpet, and the seventh bowl are parallel to each other).3

Evidence For A Basically Sequential View

The first issue is to determine whether the writer intended us to regard the seals, trumpets, and bowls as sequential. What evidence does the text yield that might justify the sequential or successive view? (Here it must be said that the concern is not whether the specific judgments within a series succeed each other,4 but, primarily, whether the events of one series are, in the main, intended to break forth after those described in the preceding series).

1. The rise in the intensity of the judgments is more consonant with the sequential, rather than the simultaneous, view. To be sure, the seals are no frolie, yet they are not incredibly severe. The famine conditions of

the third seal are quite acute but partial nevertheless (6:6).5 Note that in the fourth seal Death and Hades are given power over one-fourth of the earth (6:8). Under the trumpets, the dominant fraction is one-third, whether reference is to their impact on vegetation, marine life and activity, fresh water, the heavenly bodies, or mankind (8:7, 9, 10–12; 9:15). The final pitch is reached with the seven bowls “which are ...

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