Shouting In The Apocalypse: The Influence Of First-Century Acclamations On, The Praise Utterances In Revelation 4:8 And 11 -- By: David Seal

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 51:2 (Jun 2008)
Article: Shouting In The Apocalypse: The Influence Of First-Century Acclamations On, The Praise Utterances In Revelation 4:8 And 11
Author: David Seal


Shouting In The Apocalypse:
The Influence Of First-Century Acclamations On, The Praise Utterances In Revelation 4:8 And 11

David Seal*

* David Seal resides at 455 Buteo Drive, East Lansing, MI 48823.

I. Introduction

Several arguments have been submitted as to the origin of, or the influence on, the praise sections in the Apocalypse of John. One position states that John was simply conveying exactly what he heard without engaging in any editorial activity. However, Beale states that “the unique correspondence of the language [of Revelation] at different points to different Greek versions, the MT, and early Jewish traditions points to the probability that he [John] depicts what he has seen with interpretive glosses from his learned biblical tradition.”1 If Beale’s position is correct, it may be assumed that John made editorial adjustments when writing about what he heard as well as what he saw.

A second possibility as to the origin of the songs in Revelation is that John has inserted existing hymns into his visions that were used in early church liturgy. Carnegie convincingly argues against this position, stating that the praise units must be compositions of the author because of their close relationship with their immediate context.2 Had they been imported from existing material, this connection would have been unlikely. Further, John O’Rourke notes that it is highly improbable that the hymn of Rev 5:9 was used in early church worship. O’Rourke’s position is based on the grounds that the acclamation, which proclaims that the lamb is “worthy to take the book,” would have been unusual and it would not have had any significance to the worshippers.3

A third option for influences on the praise utterances is that John edited what he heard, influenced by Jewish or Christian apocalyptic traditions.4 Closely related to these possible sources of influence is Jewish mysticism.

One branch of ancient Jewish mysticism called merkabah is based on Ezekiel 1, where the focus of the tradition was on the throne chariot of God. Some commentators argue that merkabah mysticism shaped John in his composition of Revelation, especially the hymnic portions of chapters 4 and 5.5 The writers of merka...

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