The culminating text of the Christian canon, Rev 21-22, is a key text for the church’s articulation of its eschatological hope. This paper argues that in Rev 21:9-22:5 John draws on the prophetic theme of covenant renewal and the attendant conception of the identity and character of God’s covenant people to reinforce in a new context that same conception of the identity of God’s people, though reimagined in light of the life and resurrection of the Lamb. The author is making a claim on his audience’s identity as the locus of the fulfilment of the prophetic hope of covenant renewal. Using the tools of rhetorical analysis and intertextuality, I thus argue that the New Jerusalem image is not an articulation of the future dwelling place of God’s people; rather, the New Jerusalem image is a call to discipleship anchored in the prophetic hope of covenant renewal.
MeynetRhetorical Analysis173. By “parataxis” Meynet means the use of juxtaposition or coordination to convey logical relations within textual units. For instance rather than conveying logical relations through the subordination of concepts (e.g. by the use of works like “therefore” “it follows” etc.) Hebrew rhetoric prefers to “convey logical relations . . . in the disposition of the units and in the repetitions mostly lexical between symmetrical units.” By “involutive” Meynet essentially means that units tend to be chiastic usually organized “around a centre which is the focal point the keystone through which the rest finds cohesion” (Rhetorical Analysis 175).
MeynetRhetorical Analysis179. Of course immediately following this statement Meynet reveals the limited place he allows for the work of historical or source criticism: “One does not deny that there has been for those texts as of all texts . . . a work of composition sometimes at several hands. What is being questioned is the unilateral interpretation as an indication of sources and therefore of diverse time periods of facts that fall within the laws of composition of the texts” (179). Meynet goes on to list some of the points of correspondence between historical criticism and rhetorical analysis on 180-1.
BauckhamThe Climax of Prophecyxii. For a closer treatment of John’s relation to other Jewish apocalypses see ibid. ch. 2 “The Use of Apocalyptic Traditions.” Bauckham shows that just as John draws on the canonical prophetic tradition without much regard to specific canonical books so also John draws heavily on certain stock devices from Jewish apocalyptic literature without regard to their source(s) in a way that actually makes it difficult for scholars to identify John’s familiarity with specific Jewish apocalyptic texts. Furthermore as I’ve argued in some of my other research there are established ways of using scripture in apocalyptic literature and John falls right in line with them. These established uses of scripture are little researched however.
Ibid.69. There are also parallels to John’s depiction of the New Jerusalem in the Dead Sea Scrolls. See 2Q4; 4Q554; 4Q555; 5Q15; 11Q18; 11Q19 all of which have a similar in purpose to Ezekiel 40-8 namely the description of the literal physical renewed city of Jerusalem.
Deutsch“Transformation of Symbols”125. Italics mine.
Gundry“The New Jerusalem”255. To my knowledge Gundry is still the only interpreter to seriously propose this. The only more recent interpreter to get close is Stephen Pattemore The People of God in the Apocalypse: Discourse Structure and Exegesis. sntsms 128 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2004 199-200. Citing McKelvey and Gundry he claims that “The New Jerusalem is not so much a place for the people of God to dwell securely as a representation of the people of God themselves.” Still he is ultimately unwilling to declare that the New Jerusalem is not also a dwelling place for God’s people.
Ibid.256. Notice also the emphasis of Deutsch: “Biblical and Second Temple literature foresaw a new Temple as integral to the hope for a new Jerusalem for it was the Temple as God’s dwelling which constituted the city as holy. John breaks sharply with this tradition however. It is clear that the entire city is God’s dwelling place” (“Transformation” 125).