The authorship of the apocalypse of John.

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andrewcriddle
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Re: The authorship of the apocalypse of John.

Post by andrewcriddle » Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:37 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 10:10 am


I think we can safely rule out the possibility that the author thinks the time of prophecy is past:

Daniel 12.4: 4 “But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the time of the end; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.”

Revelation 22.10: 10 And he says to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.”

Without any apparent need to call upon the shade of a figure who hailed from a time when prophecy was still a thing, does this, then, imply for you that the author must have written in his own name?

The problem with dating the final version of this text to a time very long after the death of its putative author is that the actual author would be making the putative author prophesy inaccurately ("the time is near").

An idea I am considering is that the beloved disciple in the gospel of John is supposed to be John (the Elder), that once John died there were varying reactions to his death, and that John 21 and the entire apocalypse of John are both separate reactions to it. In the case of the apocalypse, an author/editor would be publishing a vision in the name of a deceased visionary (as is usual for the genre), but a very recently deceased visionary (in order to keep the time pressure fresh). Other variants are available, but I feel like, if I am going to assign this text to some person actually named John, I am going to need an adequate explanation for why this apocalypse, as opposed to seemingly all the others, bears the author's true name. Is the time being near, the book remaining unsealed, enough of a reason for this? I am not sure yet. What do you think?
One thing that concerns me when we say that all other apocalypses are pseudonymous is that we are using a modern scholarly category that might not have been recognised in ancient times. I suspect that early Christians would have seem works written or purporting to be written by Christians as different from works wrirtten or purported to be written by Old Testament figures.

If one speaks specifically of the category of Christian Apocalypses, works explicitly claiming to be written by Christians, then the issue is whether all such works were written pseudonymously, or whether the earliest was written in the apostloic period under the name of its real author, whereas the later ones, written in the post-apostolic period, claimed pseudonymously apostolic authorship.

IMVHO it is more likely that at least one work was written in the apostolic period under the name of its real author, than that the tradition arose of attributing apocalypses to people of the apostolic period although no such works were actually composed at that time,

Andrew Criddle

klewis
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Re: The authorship of the apocalypse of John.

Post by klewis » Mon Nov 18, 2019 11:00 am

First, when we define Christian, we need to define Christian in the time of the writing and not some stage. For example, it would be safe to say that the early Christians were a sect of Judaism or at least an offshoot of it.

If we look at how Ezekiel was written, I would argue that it is no different than how Revelation was written. This is one of the illustrations I used in an in the Journal of Higher Criticism (Vol 14:1 p.59). It shows that Ezekiel was a product of parallel formation of the latter half of Exodus.


Exodus 19:1 - 40:38 Ezekiel (1:1 - 48:35) (Ordered by)
  • Moses at Mount Sinai (Exod 19:1-2).
  • Yahweh descends in a thick cloud and Moses ascends (Exod 19:7-20).
  • God sends Moses back to his people to give a message (Exod 19:21-25).
  • Moses is given the ten commandments on two stone tablets, written on both sides (Exod 20:1-26; 24:12-28; 32:15).
  • Ezekiel at a River (Ezek 1:1-3).
  • A cloud comes to Ezekiel and he is taken to it (Ezek 1:4-28).
  • God tells Ezekiel that he will send him to the Israelites (Ezek 2:1-7).
  • Ezekiel is given a scroll written on two sides (2:8 - 3:3).
  • God tells Moses that he will kill the Israelites because they are unfaithful (Exod 32:7-9)
  • God tells Ezekiel that he will destroy idolatrous Israel (Ezek 6:1 - 7:27).
  • Moses pleads with God to preserve his people (32:7-14).
  • God pleads with Ezekiel to tell his people (Ezek 3:4-15).
  • In anger, Moses breaks the ten commands written on both sides of the stone (Exod 32:15-20).
Ezekiel eats the two sided scroll which tastes like honey (2:8 - 3:3).
  • Aaron makes a golden god in the shape of a calf (Exod 32:1-6).*
  • Ezekiel told to make a low quality food and bake it with cows dung (Ezek 4:9-16).
  • The sons of Levi with a sword were to kill (Ezek 32:26-27):
    1. Every man’s brother.
    2. Every man’s companion.
    3. Every man’s neighbor.
  • They will be blotted out of the book (Exod 32:31-33).
  • Ezekiel with a barber razor / sword was told that god will do (Ezek 5:1-2):
    1. A third shall burn in the fire.
    2. A third killed with the sword.
    3. A third scattered to the wind to be killed by God’s sword.
  • God uses an ink blot on the Israelites forehead as a means of identifying who will be killed (Ezek 9:1-11).
  • Yahweh’s followers went to the tent of the meeting (Exod 33:7).
  • Moses stood at the door and Yahweh’s glory talked with him (Exod 33:8).
  • Everyone left the tent and shows mercy to the Israelites (Exod 33:7-23)
  • God shows Moses his glory (Exod 33:18-22).
  • God sends his executions to the six Jerusalem gates (Ezek 9:1-2).
  • The God’s glory ascends to talked with a man at the door (Ezek 9:3).
  • The man was told to mark everyone with ink on their forehead who committed abominations. The man was told not to show any mercy (Ezek 9:4-5).
  • The glory of God flees Jerusalem (Ezek 10:1-22).
  • God orders Israel to keep the Sabbath (Exod 16:23-29; 20:8-11; 31:14-16)
  • Breastplate of 12 stones (Exod 28:15-20).*
  • God promises the conquest of Canaan (Exod 23:20-33).*
  • Israel did not follow the Sabbath (Ezek 20:13-30).
  • Same 12 stones as Exodus’ breastplate but found in the garden of Eden (Ezek 28:13).
  • God promises the restoration and protection of Israel (Ezek 29:3 - 39:29).
  • The building of the tabernacle (Exod 35:4 - 40:38).
  • The twelve tribes encamped around the city of God (Num 1:50 -3:38).
  • The offering by the princes of Israel (Num 2:3-34).
  • The city of God (Ezek 40:1 - 48:35).
  • The twelve tribes will camp around the city of God (Ezek 48:1-8).
  • The princes of Israel will provide offerings (Ezek 48:9-29).

*Exodus passages aligned to Ezekiel passages.

The production of the Apocalypse is no different than the writing of Ezekiel, except for the Apocalypse is not the product of one parallel formation but of five separate parallel formations. This should not be surprising, just as technology changes so did this way of writing changed over the centuries.

John2
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Re: The authorship of the apocalypse of John.

Post by John2 » Mon Nov 18, 2019 11:32 am

Ben wrote:

If this author, alone among all the rest, used his own name (John), what is the reason for his having done so, in your opinion? What concrete thing can I point at and say, "Yes, that looks like a good reason to use one's own name rather than some past luminary's."

The same reason John the Baptist and the pillar John mentioned in Gal. 2:9 used their real names, because that was his name. (Not to sound sarcastic.)

As far as the NT John candidates go, I view the John mentoned in Gal. 2:9 as the author of 1 (and maybe 2 and 3) John and the John who is said by later church writers to have been priest-like and lived in Asia (which is just my guess, based on the pillar James also being depicted as priest-like and my view that the letters of the other pillars -James and 1 Peter- are genuine and 1, 2 and 3 John seeming similarly "Jewish Christian" to me), and I gather that even church writers noted that 1, 2 and 3 John don't sound like Revelation.

And I gather that Revelation doesn't sound like the gospel of John either, so for me those are two Johns we can eiminate (the pillar/letter writer John -even if they are different people- and the gospel writer John). That leaves John the son of Zebedee, who I suppose could have written 1, 2 and 3 John (since he was a Jewish Christian too) and/or the gospel of John and/or Revelation, but since he is never said to have lived on Patmos or to have written letters to Asian churches in the NT, if the Revelation John was trying to pass himself off as that John (or any other NT John) he could have done a better job, at least.
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klewis
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Re: The authorship of the apocalypse of John.

Post by klewis » Tue Nov 19, 2019 2:37 am

Ben,
I would concur with your assessment. This post is more about who he is as an author not what his chariot license said.

In the book of John, the epilogue and prologue were the last part that was written. In the Apocalypse, the epilogue is scattered, the prologue Greek grammar has real issues. The Alpha and Omega parallel formation is disjointed (see https://drive.google.com/file/d/14MAHAc ... sp=sharing ) indicates things were changing.

As bad and disjointed one may think when they read the Apocalypse, structurally it is well organized. You can see it in how: There are hundreds of more illustrations than the ones provided above, such as the story of Satan which is in another post. The parallel formations are not a single parallel of passages of 'A' and 'B'. Each passage may have be used for multiple other parallel with different sections within Revelation. For this reason, I believe that the story started to become unwieldy. There are plenty of examples of quick edits where John erases some text and adds new text in it. I can provide them if requested.

There was a time when John was reading the Apocalypse and started to remove unnecessary 'KAI's (Greek word for 'and') from Revelation, but he stopped at chapter 2. This indicates that he tried or it could indicate some early copyist removing them as well. I wish I knew.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: The authorship of the apocalypse of John.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Nov 19, 2019 6:30 pm

I think these are the two most potent posts against the thesis of the OP:
andrewcriddle wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 10:37 am
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 10:10 am

I think we can safely rule out the possibility that the author thinks the time of prophecy is past:

Daniel 12.4: 4 “But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the time of the end; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.”

Revelation 22.10: 10 And he says to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.”

Without any apparent need to call upon the shade of a figure who hailed from a time when prophecy was still a thing, does this, then, imply for you that the author must have written in his own name?

The problem with dating the final version of this text to a time very long after the death of its putative author is that the actual author would be making the putative author prophesy inaccurately ("the time is near").

An idea I am considering is that the beloved disciple in the gospel of John is supposed to be John (the Elder), that once John died there were varying reactions to his death, and that John 21 and the entire apocalypse of John are both separate reactions to it. In the case of the apocalypse, an author/editor would be publishing a vision in the name of a deceased visionary (as is usual for the genre), but a very recently deceased visionary (in order to keep the time pressure fresh). Other variants are available, but I feel like, if I am going to assign this text to some person actually named John, I am going to need an adequate explanation for why this apocalypse, as opposed to seemingly all the others, bears the author's true name. Is the time being near, the book remaining unsealed, enough of a reason for this? I am not sure yet. What do you think?
One thing that concerns me when we say that all other apocalypses are pseudonymous is that we are using a modern scholarly category that might not have been recognised in ancient times. I suspect that early Christians would have seem works written or purporting to be written by Christians as different from works written or purported to be written by Old Testament figures.

If one speaks specifically of the category of Christian Apocalypses, works explicitly claiming to be written by Christians, then the issue is whether all such works were written pseudonymously, or whether the earliest was written in the apostolic period under the name of its real author, whereas the later ones, written in the post-apostolic period, claimed pseudonymously apostolic authorship.

IMVHO it is more likely that at least one work was written in the apostolic period under the name of its real author, than that the tradition arose of attributing apocalypses to people of the apostolic period although no such works were actually composed at that time,

Andrew Criddle
John2 wrote:
Mon Nov 18, 2019 11:32 am
Ben wrote:
If this author, alone among all the rest, used his own name (John), what is the reason for his having done so, in your opinion? What concrete thing can I point at and say, "Yes, that looks like a good reason to use one's own name rather than some past luminary's."
The same reason John the Baptist and the pillar John mentioned in Gal. 2:9 used their real names, because that was his name. (Not to sound sarcastic.) ....

...if the Revelation John was trying to pass himself off as that John (or any other NT John) he could have done a better job, at least.
As per Andrew's points, it does make sense that Christians might think of Christian literature differently than they think of Jewish literature. Also, I might add that, while all of the Jewish books known as apocalypses are (almost certainly) pseudonymous, there are apocalyptic passages in the Hebrew scriptures which may have been written by the named author (Isaiah and Ezekiel come to mind). If so, then Jewish and Christian apocalypses would share a common trajectory: an original (set of) text(s) written by the named author followed by texts written pseudonymously. And the changeover might be accounted for by the whole "this is finally the end" motif present in the apocalypse of John but absent in the Enochic, Danielic, and other apocalyptic literature: there is less need and less opportunity to project the prophecies back onto a legendary or historical figure if the time of the end is thought to be nigh at the same time as the text is being published.

As per John's points, I admit that the author of the apocalypse of John did not do a very thorough job of tying his Johannine figure in either with the Asiatic Elder or with John of Zebedee. The only real overlap is the name of John, which was common enough.

I find that the main contention of the OP, that the pseudonymous nature of all the other apocalypses implies something about the apocalypse of John, is weaker than I had thought. I appreciate the feedback.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: The authorship of the apocalypse of John.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Jan 02, 2020 1:34 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Nov 19, 2019 6:30 pm
As per John's points, I admit that the author of the apocalypse of John did not do a very thorough job of tying his Johannine figure in either with the Asiatic Elder or with John of Zebedee. The only real overlap is the name of John, which was common enough.
I now have a pushback to this point.

I wrote in another thread concerning how Acts seems to draw both from the Catholic and from the Pauline epistles (highlighting added):
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Wed Dec 30, 2015 11:28 am
With respect to John, I again quote Robert W. Wall, Acts and James, in The Catholic Epistles and Apostolic Tradition, edited by Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr and Robert W. Wall, page 131:

A second example may be the far thinner portrait of John in Acts, who, although depicted as Peter's silent partner, uses his one speaking role in Acts 4:19-20 to sound a key note of the Johannine Epistles: "for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard" (cf. 1 John 1:1-3).

Here are the relevant passages for closer scrutiny:

Acts 4.19-20: 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

1 John 1.1-3: 1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life — 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us — 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 5.1: 1 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness/testifier of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed....

2 Peter 1.16-18: 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

Compare:

Revelation 1.9-16: 9 I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, 11 saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” 12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; 13 and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. 14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. 16 In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

Revelation 22.8: 8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things.

That double marker of what was seen and heard... that could be the identifying statement. The John of the Apocalypse is thereby identified as the same John who wrote the first Johannine epistle: the one who, along with Peter, both saw and heard. The early church was not always clear about exactly what this fellow named John saw and heard. A heavenly (and/or postresurrection) vision? An earthly (and/or preresurrection) ministry? But his esteem among the Asiatic churches depended heavily upon his having seen and heard something original and vital.
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klewis
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Re: The authorship of the apocalypse of John.

Post by klewis » Fri Jan 03, 2020 5:24 am

The initial imagery is derived from Ezekiel which is the primary source material for the book of Revelation. In this case, John is taking on the role of Ezekiel for the second destruction of Jerusalem.

The image below represents an author's notation. It is a literary device used by John in several places in which he repeats phrases when he splits up source material. Although I do not have the text that does the look and see stuff it is provided in Ezekiel 1:4.
I looked, and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north—an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal,

Image

Perhaps, I need to update this chart.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: The authorship of the apocalypse of John.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:04 am

I fully agree that John (or "John," as the case may be) draws heavily from Ezekiel. But Ezekiel does not appear to be the mediating text between Acts 4.19-20, 1 John 1.1-3, and those verses from Revelation that I adduced. Ezekiel reports what he sees and hears, to be sure, but he does not make "a thing" of the two verbs like the NT verses do. (Revelation 1.9-16 would not be enough for me in this connection; Revelation 22.8 is the keystone.)
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