Herms, Apocalypse

Herms, Ronald. An Apocalypse for the Church and for the World: The Narrative Function of Universal Language in the Book of Revelation . Beiheft zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche, 143. Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2006. xv + 299 pp. €88,00.

The Table of Contents indicates that this thesis is, at least in part, a critique of Richard Bauckham’s chapter “The Conversion of the Nations” (in Bauckham, Climax). In Chapter One, Introduction, Herms states the purpose, method and assumptions of his study. He also studies the history of interpretation, dealing with source-critical scholars, some mainstream commentaries, literary-narrative scholars, and, finally, Richard Bauckham and his chapter “The Conversion of the Nations” (pp. 1-49). The selection of mainstream commentaries: M. Kiddle, Mounce, Caird, and Swete seems reasonable as regards the works treated, but perhaps some other commentaries could (and should) have been included?

Chapter Two: Early Jewish Literature (pp. 50-137) surveys four pieces: Tobit, Similitudes of Enoch (1 Enoch 37-71), 4 Ezra, and the Animal Apocalypse (1 Enoch 85-90).

Chapter Three discusses preliminary matters, as regards Revelation (pp. 138-168).

Chapter Four: Universal Traditions in the Book of Revelation is the main and longest chapter (pp. 169-256).

In Chapter Five, Herms gives his Synthesis and Conclusions (pp. 257-261). The back matters include a 11 page bibliography, and Indices of Authors, Topics and References.

The publisher states: “This monograph examines the problem of universally inclusive language in the book of Revelation and the resulting narrative tension created by narrowly exclusive language. Analysis is conducted by placing relevant texts within their literary-narrative context and through consideration of how the author understood and appropriated biblical traditions. A key feature of this study is its examination of four early Jewish documents with significant similarities to the problem being examined in Revelation. From these documents (Tobit; Similitudes of Enoch [1 Enoch 37-71]; 4 Ezra; and, Animal Apocalypse [1 Enoch 85-90]) a contextual picture emerges which allows a fuller understanding of Revelation’s distinctive approach toward the problem of the fate of the nations. This study contends that the interpretive strategies applied to biblical traditions in Revelation have their roots in the wider early Jewish milieu. From this comparative analysis, identifiable patterns with regard to the role of ‘universal terminology’ in the communicative strategy of John’s Apocalypse emerge.”

See more, incl. the Table of Contents, here.

Update June 12th, 2008: See also the review by David L. Barr in Review of Biblical Literature (direct link to pdf-file here)

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