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1. Pay attention to the symbolism
  1. Apocalyptic literature - Wikipedia
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Apocalyptic literature - Wikipedia

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Yet no oxfordhb Yet this column ends mid-phrase, suggesting that the conclusion to the text is now missing. This fragment is one of many among the Aramaic texts from Qumran that may be classified as apocalyptic. According to Lorenzo DiTommaso, Of the ninety-odd Aramaic manuscripts recovered from the Dead Sea caves that con- tain literary compositions sufficiently preserved to warrant identification, approxi- mately two-thirds contain portions of either formal apocalypses or texts that are otherwise informed by the fundamental axioms of apocalypticism.

DiTommaso highlights the dense web of diverse social dynamics shaping and informing the tradi- tions from which even this subtype of apocalyptic literature grew. His caveat makes us aware that these manifold forms and traditions remained supple. Neither crisis nor domination and resistance are necessary components of the social context of a work of apocalyptic literature. In an influential for- mulation, John J. Although proper to apocalypses, these ways of seeing the world are not limited only to apocalypses, nor would they have been mediated only or even primarily through texts.

Collins oxfordhb The apocalypses offered particular frames for viewing the world at particular moments in time and place. As they were read in new settings and reappropriated within other genres, and as features of the worldviews they offered were taken up, transformed, adapted, or rejected in family and civic life, worship settings, and education in new times and places, both the generic features we associate with apocalypse and the beliefs we associate with an apocalyptic worldview would inevitably take on new contours and cultural meanings and do very different kinds of cultural work.

The oracle promised that from their country someone would rule the inhabited world. Josephus demonstrates how easily such texts may be co-opted to serve the political and ideological aims of those in power. He asserts that the Jews were deceived in their hope because the oracle referred not to a Jewish ruler but to the Roman general Vespasian JW 6. References to this oracle in the writings of Tacitus Hist. Josephus does not write apocalyptic literature. Rather, his visionary politics both partakes of and departs from earlier apocalyptic models, and, if he is to be taken at face value, is not resis- tant but aims rather at surrender and accommodation.

No angelic mediator grants Josephus the knowledge that shapes his stance toward the Roman Empire. Instead, the figure of Daniel provides Josephus with a model for his own self-understanding as one granted dream visions and the skill to interpret them and as a minister to the very emperors responsible for the subjugation of the Jewish people and the destruction of oxfordhb Yet perhaps we should not take Josephus entirely at face value.

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He also narrates his experience of prophetic revelations that prompt him to exchange armed resistance for surrender and accommodation. He has received night visions foretelling disaster for the Judeans and detailing future events concerning Roman emperors.

10. Reading Apocalyptic Literature - How to Read the Bible

He emphasizes the ambiguity of dreams, including his own, and their need for interpretation. He consciously locates his own visionary activity within a prophetic tradition that includes those preserved in the sacred scriptures of Israel, and he simultaneously lays claim to a priestly tradition of transmission and interpre- tation.

In prophetic ecstasy he calls to mind his night-visions and prays to God. In his prayer he confesses that fortune has now passed from the Judeans to the Romans and that God has elected him to speak the future. Presenting himself to Vespasian as a prophetic messenger JW 3. Josephus further assures Vespasian that he is a credible prophet by insisting that he had foretold the very day of his own capture and of the fall of the Galilean vil- lage he and his comrades had sought to defend JW 3.

And as in the tales in the book of Daniel, it paves the way for a lifetime of imperial patronage. At the conclusion of his Vita Josephus catalogs the beneficences he has received from Vespasian and his fam- ily. These include Roman citizenship, housing in Rome in the Flavian family home, stipendiary support, landholdings in Judea, and tax exemption. Josephus declares how frequently he had to refute those who accused him of stirring up insurrection. He proclaims his loyalty to the Flavian dynasty and confesses the many ways he is beholden to them Vit. In Daniel 2, Nebuchadnezzar has seen a vision of a statue made of metals and clay; the statue is then destroyed by a stone that grows to fill the entire earth.

He demands that his diviners recount it to him and explain its meaning. They cannot. He enters a violent rage and threatens them all with death and dismemberment for their failure. After praying for and receiving revelation from God, Daniel provides the king with a report of the dream as well as its interpretation. In the interpretation Daniel reveals that four kingdoms will govern the earth in sequence, until God establishes an eternal kingdom that will shatter them all.

Because Daniel has declared the dream oxfordhb Josephus expands on details in Daniel to paint the king as thoughtful, anxious concerning the future governance of the world A. Alongside these diplomatic revisions, as has frequently been noted, Josephus omits key details from the vision itself concern- ing the weaknesses of the final kingdom, which his Jewish readers understood to be Rome. He also declines to report the meaning of the stone that destroys the statue representing the empires that ruled the Jewish people.

In this case, Josephus attributes his omission to the constraints of genre to wit, historiography , but counsels the reader who seeks truth to diligently read the book of Daniel. On their own, the tales are a form of cultural resistance Smith-Christopher When paired with the visions to form an apocalypse, they embody and call forth a new kind of resistance in a new cultural and political moment.

Lawrence Wills has argued that, just as the addition of apocalyptic visions Daniel 7—12 transformed a collection of tales into an apocalypse, so the subsequent addi- tion of the tales of Susanna and Bel and the Dragon as a frame for Greek Daniel transformed an apocalypse into a novel. For Wills this was merely a process of agglu- tination or genre-jumping.

Yet, as noted above, genre is more than a category for clas- sification or rubric for composition. It creates and shapes structures of knowledge and meaning and both emerges from and transforms particular social contexts. Genres are fluid, rather than static, and intersect and interact with one another. The mixing of forms and discourses simultaneously refers to multiple cultural domains and activates mul- tiple frames for viewing reality, providing a new context and ordering for each. This dynamism unsettles meanings that previously seemed to be fixed. Resulting inter- textual and intergeneric gaps can be exploited to assign new values to existing forms.

What happens then, when the apocalypse Daniel becomes a novel? Is it still resistance literature? If so, what is it now resisting, and by what means?

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If not, how do we under- stand its visions? Old Greek Daniel is but one example of the intersections of early Jewish apocalyp- tic literature and early Jewish novels. To the extent that the early Jewish novels share motifs, literary conventions, and generic elements with the apocalypses, do we per- ceive interaction between the genres, and if so, what are the political ramifications?

Early novels are as much a product of the experience of empire as early apocalypses. Yet they neither advocate nor embody political resistance in any obvious way. What stance, if any, do such works as Testament of Job, Joseph and Aseneth, or Tobit take toward structures of hegemony and domination? How are apocalyptic motifs and forms revalued as these novelistic writings negotiate in new or simply different ways the complex relationships with empire in settings beyond the Judean homeland? Conclusion The earliest apocalypses embodied discursive resistance to imperial domination and hegemony, offering an alternative mythology, cosmology, language, and vision.

Writers in the early second century BCE drew upon diverse traditions and forms to create a new and potent literature of resistance that aimed to join discourse to oxfordhb The first extant historical apocalypses responded to a program of Seleucid state terror with narrative, interpretation, symbol, and hope.

The conventions of this nascent genre were a key to how it functioned as resistance literature.

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  • They urged their audiences to proclaim their saving visions, to teach, cry out, and witness. Daniel advocated nonviolent resistance that would lead to martyrdom, but also to resurrec- tion. The Apocalypse of Weeks envisioned a time when the righteous would overturn social structures of domination. The Book of Dreams supported armed revolt against the occupying armies that had terrorized Judea. Although they sought to expose the distorting effects of imperial domination, the apocalypses were not immune from them.

    The apocalyptic imagination sometimes failed to transcend structures of domination and instead projected them into the divine realm. The genre pattern of the historical apocalypse emerged in response to a situational pattern. But this bond was not indissoluble. Later Jewish apocalyptic literature would reuse and adapt the forms and conventions of this genre to respond to different kinds of situations, and in different ways.

    The fragmentary nature of much extant apoc- alyptic literature from the years between BCE and 70 CE makes it difficult to analyze context and function. After the destruction of Jerusalem, the genre apoca- lypse provided a vehicle for mourning and for working out seemingly unanswerable questions. In other instances, the empire could co-opt revelatory traditions of resis- tance to bolster imperial claims. Resistance is structurally linked to power, arising in contexts of domination.

    The crucial link between resistance literature and the situations in which it arises means that we cannot make a general claim about the function of Jewish apocalyptic literature as resistance literature. Genre matters, but genre is fluid, and times change. If we wish to articulate what kinds of cultural work a text performed we must also be able to articulate when and where, for whom, and under what circumstances. Format: Digital. Publisher: Eerdmans. ISBN: Be the first to rate this.

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    Praise for the Print Edition Collins has made Second Temple Judaism accessible like few other scholars, offering an authoritative voice that often determines the course of ideas and scholarship in the field. These essays not only provide a marvelous summary of the field at large but also establish a trajectory for future study. An indispensable volume for the student of early apocalyptic literature.