Blaspheming Heaven

Revelation 13:4-8 and the Competition for Heaven in Roman Imperial Ideology and the Visions of John

In: Novum Testamentum
Paul Henry Yeates Macquarie University, Frenchs Forest, Australia

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In Rev 13:6, the Beast is said to blaspheme God as well as the ones who dwell in heaven. This paper addresses two questions in relation to this verse, firstly, Who are the heaven-dwellers? And secondly, How were they blasphemed by the Beast? The text of Revelation is read as narrative and in the context of the cosmological dimension of Roman imperial ideology, which is established by examining literary texts and material artefacts. The heaven-dwellers of Rev 13:6 are identified as martyred saints and it is argued that they were blasphemed by Rome’s claim to authority which was both derived from heaven and extended into heaven. The blasphemous implication of Rome’s cosmology was that faithful saints had no place of security and vindication in heaven but were abandoned to an earthly existence of hardship and defeat.

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