Full Project – NEW PERSPECTIVES ON THE BOWL PLAGUES IN REVELATION 16

Full Project – NEW PERSPECTIVES ON THE BOWL PLAGUES IN REVELATION 16

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Chapter 1:Introduction and literature review1.1 Reason for this study1.1.1 GeneralIt is a well-known fact thatthe book of Revelation as a whole consists of many references to texts from a variety of books from Jewish Scriptures, or the Old Testament as it is known among Christians. De Silva (2002:215) states that “what is perhaps the most creative text in the Bible is also in many respects the least original at the level of ‘invention’, since many of the images, phrases and actions in Revelation have identifiable antecedents in the Jewish scriptures”.1For this reason the Old Testament background of Revelation hasbeen the subject of intense scrutiny over the last few decades. There are many different approaches to the conceptual background of the symbolism used in the book of Revelation. Some studies focus their attention on the influence of one specific book fromJewish literature on the composition of the book of Revelation. Books and essays have been written on the influence of Daniel,2Isaiah3, the psalms4and the Exodus5on the book of Revelation for instance. Studies have also been done on the influence of a certain part of an Old Testament bookonaparticularsmaller section of the book of Revelation.6Other studies focus on the way the author of Revelation makes use of the material from the Hebrew Scriptures.7There are also studies on the Old Testament background of certain parts of the book of Revelation.8Finally, some commentaries put a strong focus on the Old Testament background of the book.9This brief reference to some of the work done on the Old Testament background of the book of Revelation indicates how 1Scholars from the 1960’s to the 1970’s such as Beckwith (1967) and Jenkins (1972:21) already recognized this fact and started to explore the way John uses the Old Testament. 2Beale (1984).3Fekkes (1994).4Moyise (2003 [1]).5Casey (1981).6Van Ruiten (1993), for instance, wrote an essay on the relationship between Isa 65:17-20 and Rev. 21:1-5b.7Two examples are Moyise (1995) and Beale (1998).8The well-known doctoral thesis of Jon Paulien (1988) on the background of the trumpet plagues is one good example, although he only applies a method he develops in the study on the trumpet plague narrative. Sommer (2015) is also an example of this kind ofstudy.9A very thorough commentary in this regard is the contribution of Beale (1999) on Revelation in the New International Greek Testament Commentary series. This commentary will therefore be used extensively in the current study.

Modern scholars think the Old Testament background is. Despite all this researchon the Old Testament background of the book of Revelation, it was found that no single study has been dedicated to the background of the bowl plague series.10This study will therefore endeavour to bridge this gap in the research by looking for new perspectives on the background of the bowl plagues in Rev. 16.1.1.2The three septets in RevelationThe bowl plague series is one of three series of seven in the book of Revelation, each with its own use of symbolism. First the seven seals are opened (Rev 5 -Rev 8:1), the first six in quick succession and then the seventh after a break in which the 144000 are marked with a seal. The second series is a series of seven angels, each blowing a trumpet (Rev 8:2 -Rev11:19). The third series (Rev 16:1-21) is specifically called plagues (Rev 15:1) and each plague is poured out from a bowl by an angel. The second and third series are closer together and have agreat dealof symbolism in common. For this reason, many scholars see the series as parallel. In both of these series, angels also play an important part. It will be indicated, however, that these two series are not so close that they necessarily share the exact same background. Although the series of trumpet plagues has been researched, more in-depth research is needed on the bowl plagues specifically. This study will attempt to determine whatconceptual background most probably lay behind the symbolism in each of the seven bowl plagues in Rev.16. All words or phrases used will be investigated with care and compared to the way those phrases are used elsewhere in the Jewish Scriptures, among Jewish writers such as Philo,and also in the New Testament.

 

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Full Project – NEW PERSPECTIVES ON THE BOWL PLAGUES IN REVELATION 16

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