The Book of Revelation as a Breviary of Hope
The New Testament texts collectively bear witness to the apocalyptic and eschatological orientation of the early Christian movement, which saw in the death and resurrection of Jesus the decisive intervention of God in history and the inauguration of a new age. As the capstone of the canon, Revelation is perhaps the clearest example of apocalyptic eschatology, even while it appears to be quite different from other New Testament texts. In this article I offer an analysis of Revelation as a text of hope, written to late first century Christian communities in need of hope as a basis for their beliefs and actions while facing an increasingly ambiguous and threatening social, political and religious situation. My argument will proceed with an exploration of hope as a concept, noting its multifaceted nature and various definitions, moving to an analysis of the place of hope within Christian theology. The main body of the article is concerned with an exploration of the role of hope within Revelation, beginning with an examination of its language, genre, context, and purpose, and concluding with an examination of its content and narrative flow, noting how these aspects of the text coalesce into a theology of hope. Ultimately, I conclude that the Revelation was written for the purpose of creating and sustaining hope in its readers (reading from the perspective of an oppressed minority group), and was intended to be circulated and reread in church communities as a continuous witness to hope in the face of an uncertain future.
Hope, Revelation, Apocalypse, Eschatology
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