Wonders In The Heavens And On The Earth: Apocalyptic Imagery In The Old Testament -- By: Richard D. Patterson

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 43:3 (Sep 2000)
Article: Wonders In The Heavens And On The Earth: Apocalyptic Imagery In The Old Testament
Author: Richard D. Patterson


Wonders In The Heavens And On The Earth:
Apocalyptic Imagery In The Old Testament

Richard D. Pattersona

I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the
LORD (Joel 2:30–31 [3:3–4]).

The Lord’s words through the prophet Joel typify the popular conception of earth’s great apocalyptic climax. These and similar images are projected not only from many a pulpit but in the literature of both the religious 1 and secular realms. 2 The source of such end-time imagery is not difficult to ascertain, for it is found in several biblical texts in both testaments.

Nevertheless, the isolation of a distinctive apocalyptic genre and the question as to what properly constitutes an apocalypse has not met with universal consensus. 3 While several noted study groups have contributed to the clarification of these problems, the precise identification of apocalyptic genre and literary features remains at issue. 4 As for the OT, in addition to the problem of the dating of apocalyptic, questions concerning the origin and transmission

of such literature have also occupied the efforts of scholars. In truth, all of the above questions have a direct bearing upon one another.

This study does not re-examine the question of the genre of apocalyptic per se but instead focuses on its imagery. In so doing, it attempts to account for the origin and transmission of prominent imagery in those OT passages deemed to be apocalyptic. Having done so, a final question as to a general hermeneutical approach to such imagery is considered.

This study began by isolating distinctive imagery that occurs repeatedly, but with varying emphases, in contexts often labeled apocalyptic. It proceeded by tracing these features backward to a point where they intersected in an extended context. The paper presents the results of the research in inverse fashion, first noting these images in their primary concatenation and then showing representative appearances of them in succeeding literature that demonstrates their transmission to the prophets for use in eschatological settings.

The thesis of this paper is that much of the...

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