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The Book of Revelation

Bi. 367

Spring Semester 2000
Class Meetings: Mondays and Fridays 8:30-9:50 a.m.
Instructors: John Alsup & Steve Reid

Course Description:
Quite apart from popular interest in things apocalyptic as the year 2000 approaches, every student of the New Testament has discovered through courses of basic introduction, interpretive methodology, and exegesis that questions of eschatology and apocalypticism play a major role in scripture. They have had a defining role in the discussion of God's relationship to history, of the relationship between the Testaments, of time and types of time, and of other fundamental theological matters. The genre of apocalypse, moreover - inherited and critically appropriated from the Old Testament and Judaism - has played a prominent role in gospel writing (cf. Mark 13 and parallels) and in epistolary composition (cf. I Thess. 4:13-5:11; I Peter passim; etc.). The Book of Revelation, the final book of the Bible, represents the largest single literary version of  Christian apocalyptic in the canon. Its relationship to the genre of "gospel" and "epistle" remains an important exegetical task. Unfortunately, however, this document has been a closed book for many, even for those who acknowledge the importance of things eschatological. This course seeks to do its (modest) part in re-opening consideration of Revelation's angle of vision in keeping with the charge "me sphragises tous logous tes propheteias tou bibliou toutou, ho kairos gar engus estin" (Rev. 22:10).

A Brief Prologue:
In keeping with the goals and requirements of the course (cf. below) the participants in the course will engage in a form of cooperative learning that depends on the contributions of the collective membership and that - hopefully - will model a style of exegetical cooperation that will reproduce itself in future pastoral settings. On an experimental basis, and to the degree that class members support the enterprise, assignments for preparation and contributions to our work together will be made available in the "Topics" area of the Bi 216 website:

In addition to reading and translating assigned portions of the Greek text of the Book of Revelation (cf. qualification of "assigned" here below under requirements) we shall all consult on a regular basis our (Roloff) textbook for the course. Each participant will also make regular consultation with one other commentary (cf. requirements below) and be responsible for adding that voice in a critical way to class discussions. A critical book review on an assigned text (cf. requirements below) round out our contributions as team member to the work of the class. As is self-evident, therefore, a fundamental understanding behind this seminar is that it is simply another building block of an efficient and practical approach to firsthand listening to the biblical text and one another; the more we practice and hone our skills of critical interaction, and the more we invite imaginative re-contouring, the better we get at this important task.

The Goals of the course are, therefore: 1) to gain a better understanding of the genre of apocalypse, the Book of Revelation itself, and the New Testament concept of "eschatological existence"; 2) to practice the skills of listening in the context of advanced New Testament exegesis; 3) to focus our cooperative exegetical work individually on a project of one's choice (cf. "requirements").

1) Participation in the team=based Greek translation project.
2) Participation in class discussins based on exegesis and critical interaction with the textbook and one other assigned commentarty (cf. chart below).
3) A written critical review of an assigned book or article (cf. chart below) due on March 10 or 20. If possible please submit it also on a floppy disk.
4) A final project due by 5pm on the Monday of Finals Week (May 15th, 2000), except for seniors for whom the due date is 5pm on the Friday of Reading Week (May 12, 2000). The final project, written or oral, might take one of the following forms: Three written sermon manuscripts with exegetical precis (each sermon plus precis being ca. 10 pages in length) based on texts of one's choice from the Book of Revelation; a term paper with a 20 page limit ( = regular option) or a paper with no page limit ( = thesis option); a didactic project for the local church (project size is negotiable, but should approximate the size of the first two mentioned above (ca. 20-30 pages); an oral discussion over a period of ca. 1 1/2 to 2 hours on a mutually agreed upon topic and shaped through meetings during the semester to insure a quality conversation; an html-related project designed to enhance the long-range goals of the course for distance learning. Students are invited to submit a rationale for other individual choices. Projects shall be submitted during the semester or during the deadline stated above, or in the case of the oral discussion, negotiated for a time during Finals Week (compliance with deadlines for graduating seniors is presupposed).

Grading is based on the equation: 50% class participation, 50% final project.

Class Schedule:

Feb. 7 - Syllabus discussion and approval
Video/Discussion: "Facing the Millenium" (a Jim Lehrer News Hour conversation with Richard Landes of The Center for Millenial Studies; aired Dec. 22, 1999, Austin); also "A Conversation with Elie Wiesel", holocaust author and theologian regarding his new book "And the Sea is Never Full. Memoirs, 1969- "

Feb 11 - The Text: Beginnings and Endings : Rev. 1:1-3 and 22:6-21
Genre: seeing what we are looking at. Aproaches: "Apocalypse!" (PBS: Frontline; a selection); Michael Card (CD- "Unveiled Hope", a selection); What does the text remind you of among possible biblical counterparts?

Feb. 14 - Introductory Questions: Roloff textbook, Introduction, pp. 1-17

Feb. 18 - Theological Perspectives: cf. L. Goppelt, Theology, Vol 2, pp. 178-197

Feb. 21 - Commissioning
  Chs. 1:4-20

Feb. 25 - Letters to the Seven Churches
  Chs. 2:1-3:22

Feb. 28 - Letters to the Seven Churches
  Chs. 2:1-3:22

Mar. 3 - Letters to the Seven Churches
  Chs. 2:1-3:22

Mar. 6 - Letters to the Seven Churches
  Chs. 2:1-3:22

Mar. 10 - Letters to the Seven Churches
  Chs. 2:1-3:22

Break Week -  Mar. 13 - 17

Book reviews due on the 10th or the 20th

March 20 - Throne Room, The Lamb, and the Book
  Chs. 4:1-5:14

March 24 - Throne Room, The Lamb, and the Book
  Chs. 4:1-5:14

Mar. 27 - First Series of Visions - Seven Seals
  Chs. 6:1-8:1

Mar. 31 - First Series of Visions - Seven Seals
  Chs. 6:1-8:1

Apr. 3 - First Series of Visions - Seven Trumpets
  Chs. 8:2-11:19

Apr. 7 - First Series of Visions - Seven Trumpets
  Chs. 8:2-11:19

April 10 - Second Series of Visions - The End and The Struggle of God
  Chs. 12:1-19:10

April 14 - Third and Final Series of Visions - God's Plan For History
  Chs. 19:11-22:5

April 17 - God's Plan For History
  Chs. 19:11-22:5

Holy Week Services - Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter - April 20, 21, 23

April 24 - God's Plan For History
  Chs. 19:11-22:5

April 28 - God's Plan For History
  Chs. 19:11-22:5

May 1 - Endings and Beginnings - Revisited
  Chs. 22:6-21 and 1:1-3

May 5 - Summary and Conclusions

May 8-12 - Reading Week

May 15-19 - Finals Week

The Bibliography
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 Required Texts:

Greek Text: Nestle 27th edition
Textbook:   J. Roloff,  Revelation (Fortress Continental Commentary), trans. J. Alsup and J. Currie, Atlanta, 1993


D. Aune, The Book of Revelation I, (WBC, Vol. 52), '97, chs. 1-5
D. Aune, The Book of Revelation II, (WBC, Vol. 52b), '98, chs. 6-16
D. Aune, The Book of Revelation III, (WBC, Vol. 52c), '98, chs. 17-22
G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation , (NIGTC), Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1998
G.R. Beasley-Murray, The Book of Revelation, Grand Rapids, 1981 (='74)
M.E. Boring, Revelation (Interp), Louisville, 1989
W. Bousset, Die Offenbarung des Johannes (KEK), Goettingen, '66 (='06)
G.B. Caird, The Revelation of Saint John, Hendrickson, Peabody,1999 (Second Edition)
J. Ellul,  Apocalypse: The Book of Revelation, NY, 1977
J.M. Ford, Revelation (Anchor), NY, 1975
H. Kraft, Die Offenbarung des Johannes (Lietzmann), Tuebingen, 1974
G.A. Krodel, Revelation (Augsburg), Minneapolis, 1989
E. Lohse, Die Offenbarung des Johannes (NTD), Goettingen, 1971
R.H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (NICC), Grand Rapids, 1977
B.M. Metzger, Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation, Nashville, 1993
P. Prigent, L'Apocalypse de Saint Jean, Paris, 1981
M. Rissi, Alpha und Omega. Eine Deutung der Johannesoffenbarung, Basel,1966
A. Voegtle, Das Buch mit den sieben Siegeln: Die Offenbarung des Johannes in Auswahl gedeutet, Freiburg, 1981
A. Wikenhauser, Die Offenbarung des Johannes (Regensburger NT), Regensburg, 1959
E.Schussler  Fiorenza,   Invitation to the Book of Revelation, NY, 1981 
__________, Revelation: Vision of a Just World  (Proclamation),  Minneapolis, 1991

A.Yarbro Collins, The Apocalypse, Wilmington, 1979
 Other Studies:

D.E. Aune, "The Form and Function of the Proclamations to the Seven Churches(Revelation 2-3)," NTS 36/2 (April 1990), pp. 182-204
O. Boecher, Die Johannesapocalypse (Ertraege der Forschung), Darmstadt, 1975
P. Carrell, Jesus and the Angels: Angelology and the Christology of the Apocalypse of John, (SNTS Monograph 95), Cambridge, 1997. (Review: JSNT 70 (98), p, 121; Evangelical Quarterly 71 (99), pp. 89-92; Journal of Religion (99), pp. 141-143.)
J.J. Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination, NY, 1987
J.J. Court, Myth and History in the Book of Revelation, Atlanta, 1979
D.A. DeSilva,"Honor Discourse and the Rhetorical Strategy of the Apocalypse of John", JSNT 71 (98), pp. 79-110.
L. Goppelt, Theology of the New Testament, Vol 2, pp. [161-197] 178-197, Grand Rapids, 1982
F. Hahn, "Die Sendschreiben der Johannesapokalypse: Ein Beitrag zur Bestimmung prophetischer Redeformen," in: Tradition und Glaube.Festgabe fuer Karl Georg Kuhn zum 65. Geburtstag, eds. G. Jeremias, H.-W. Kuhn, H. Stegemann, pp. 357-394, Goettingen, 1971
P. Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic, Philadelphia, 1975
J. Massyngberde Ford, "The Christological Function of the Hymns in the Apocalypse of John", Andrews University Seminary Studies 36 (98) pp. 207-229
F.D. Mazzaferri, The Genre of the Book of Revelation from a Source-Critica Perspective, NY, 1989
J.R. Michaels, Interpreting the Book of Revelation, Grand Rapids, 1992
J. P. Ruiz, "Biblical Interpretation from a US Hispanic American Perspective: A Reading of the Apocalypse" in: El Cuerpo de Cristo (ed. P. Casarella et al.) 1998, pp. 78-105
D.S. Russell, Divine Disclosure: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic,  Minneapolis, 1992
E. Schussler  Fiorenza, "The Eschatology and Composition of the Apocalypse," CBQ XXX (1968), pp. 537-569
__________, Priester fuer Gott: Studien zum Herrschafts- und Priestermotiv in der Apokalypse, Muenster, 1972
__________, "Apocalyptic and Gnosis in the Book of Revelation and Paul", JBL XCII (1973), pp. 565-581"The Eschatology and Composition of the Apocalypse," CBQ XXX (1968), pp. 537-569
L.L. Thompson, The Book of Revelation: Apocalypse and Empire, Oxford, 1990
A. Yarbro Collins, The Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation, Missoula, Mont.,1976
__________, Crisis and Catharsis: The Power of the Apocalypse, Philadelphia,1984
__________, "Eschatology in the Book of Revelation," in: Ex Audita (Annual of the F. Neumann Symposium on Theological Interpretation of Scripture, vol. 6), pp. 63-72, 1990

 Supplements: to be added during the semester and posted to the website.
Steven J. Scherrer, "Signs and Wonders in the Imperial Cult: A New Look at a Roman Religious Institution in the Light of Rev 13:13-15," Journal of Biblical Literature 103/4 (1984), pp. 599-610.

© 1998- Dr. John E. Alsup - all rights reserved

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© 1998- Dr. John E. Alsup - all rights reserved