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Untold Tales from the Book of Revelation

Untold Tales from the Book of Revelation: Sex and Gender, Empire and Ecology

Stephen D. Moore
  • Book Info
    Untold Tales from the Book of Revelation
    Book Description:

    An interlinked collection of essays representing the best of Stephen D. Moore's groundbreaking scholarship

    This collection of previously published essays is a companion to The Bible in Theory: Critical and Postcritical Essays (2010). Chapters engage postmodernism, deconstruction, New Historicism, autobiographical criticism, cultural studies, postcolonial studies, masculinity studies, queer theory, and "posttheory"-methods Moore believes present unprecedented challenges to the monochrome model of Revelation scholarship based on traditional historical-critical methods.


    Nine essays on biblical literary criticism including two co-written with Jennifer A. Glancy and Catherine KellerContextual introductions for each essayAnnotated bibliographies

    eISBN: 978-1-58983-992-2
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  2. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. 1 What Is, What Was, and What May Yet Be
    (pp. 1-12)

    Revelation does not carry its warning on its label. It is only when we have devoured the book, avidly read it right through, that we learn that its seal was always already broken. Revelation is an unsealed book. Toxic poisons trickle from it. Consciousness-altering fumes waft out of it. Desperate hope and vindictive joy issue from it.

    Question: What kind of person spends innumerable hours poring obsessively over this unsafe apocalypse, breathing in its vapors and mulling over its mysteries?

    Answer: Either a member of an apocalyptic sect or a biblical scholar.

    Both the apocalyptic believer and the apocalyptic specialist...

  4. 2 Mimicry and Monstrosity
    (pp. 13-38)

    To ponder the book of Revelation’s relations to empire is hardly a novel gesture. Critical scholars of Revelation have customarily read it as, perhaps, the most uncompromising attack on the Roman Empire, and on Christian collusion with the empire, to issue from early Christianity. To put it another way, and in terms that have become familiar following the recent “turn to empire” in New Testament and early Christian studies, Revelation is commonly read as a signal instance of ancient anti-imperial resistance literature. But what is “imperialism”?

    In contemporary postcolonial studies, “imperialism” generally denotes the multifarious, mutually constitutive ideologies—political, economic,...

  5. 3 Revolting Revelations
    (pp. 39-74)

    This essay was originally commissioned for a collection titledThe Personal Voice in Biblical Interpretation. Where I come from, however, the third word of this title could only be pronounced asvice.¹ But it is not the personal vice in biblical interpretation that I wish to ponder here, nor even my own personal vice (although I shall hardly be able to resist the temptation), so much as that of the only New Testament narrator to employ the personal voice throughout his narrative. I speak of the narrator of Revelation, whose unblinking “I” first transfixes us in 1:9—“I, John, your...

  6. 4 Hypermasculinity and Divinity
    (pp. 75-102)

    InThe Vision of God, an extraordinarily erudite tome first published in 1931, Kenneth E. Kirk, bishop of Oxford, sets out to demonstrate that the dictum “the end of life is the vision of God,” which he takes to be a New Testament doctrine, has, through the ages, “been interpreted by Christian thought at its best as implying in practice that the highest prerogative of the Christian in this life as well as hereafter, is the activity ofworship” (1931, ix).¹ And Kirk does succeed admirably in showing that elite Christian theologians, at least until the Reformation, tended overwhelmingly to...

  7. 5 The Empress and the Brothel Slave
    (pp. 103-124)

    John of Revelation famously introduces the woman Babylon as apornē(“Come, I will show you the judgment of the greatpornē,” 17:1; cf. 17:5, 15–16; 19:2). But would early readers or hearers of Revelation have tended to see Babylon, based on John’s description of her, as a typical Romanpornē? What were the typical, or stereotypical, traits of apornēby the latter half of the first century CE? And how well does Babylon fit the profile? These are the principal questions that animate this essay. In pursuing them, we argue that John’s representation of Babylon as a...

  8. 6 Raping Rome
    (pp. 125-154)

    Imperial Rome is represented in Revelation as a woman (14:8; 17:1–18; 18:3–9, 16; 19:2), once again impelling the question, why? Is it because Babylon, the prototypical evil empire in Jewish tradition and the code name for Rome in Revelation (17:6, 9, 18), was already represented as female in that tradition (e.g., Isa 47:1–15; Jer 50:9–15; Zech 2:7)? Or is it because Rome was already represented as female in the cult of the goddess Roma, one with deep roots in Roman Asia (more on which below)? Assumedly there is no need to choose exclusively between these two...

  9. 7 Retching on Rome
    (pp. 155-178)

    A lumbering “turn to the emotions” has long been underway in the humanities and social sciences, with much grinding of gears and anxious glances in the mirror. Historian Ruth Leys, undertaking to list the fields in which this turn has been most evident, names “history, political theory, human geography, urban and environmental studies, architecture, literary studies, art history and criticism, media theory, and cultural studies” (2011, 434). She might well have added the field of classics to her eclectic list: much work on ancient Mediterranean emotions has also been accomplished in recent decades, epitomized by such titles asThe Emotions...

  10. 8 Derridapocalypse
    (pp. 179-200)

    Catherine Keller: As nothing like a philosopher or a biblical scholar, but something like a theologian, I perch at this table with fear and trembling. But then theology is always trembling. It oscillates between Bible and philosophy, between a ghostly apocalypse of conjurations and the discipline of the reasonable doubt. Theologians have been embarrassed by the oscillations; we have (unlike biblical scholars) tended to disavow the apocalypse and the doubt. So no wonder some of us are grateful for the mysterious resonances of deconstruction with our own lost irony, with our haunting uncertainty, and, more recently, with our politico-messianic hopes....

  11. 9 Quadrupedal Christ
    (pp. 201-224)

    The Lamb has long been the elephant in the room of Revelation scholarship. What does it mean—theologically, philosophically, ecologically—that the figure introduced as “like a Son of Man” (homoion huion anthrōpou) in Revelation’s inaugural vision (see 1:13) has ceased to be anthropomorphic by the time we reach Revelation’s throne room scene (“I saw … a Lamb [arnion],” 5:6)? What does it mean that Revelation’s Christ moves through most of the subsequent narrative not on two legs but on four? By and large, the burgeoning body of ecocritical and ecotheological work on Revelation¹ is oddly silent on this highly...

  12. 10 Ecotherology
    (pp. 225-244)

    Midway through the first of the thirteen weekly course lectures from 2001–2002 that make up the first volume ofThe Beast and the Sovereign, Jacques Derrida alludes to “all the beasts from John’s Revelation, … the reading of which would merit more than one seminar” (Derrida 2009, 24). Whether all or any of these beasts receive even one seminar of the fourteen thousand pages of unpublished seminars that Derrida left behind at his death in 2004, I am not in a position to know.¹ Taking a back-row seat, at any rate, in Derrida’s weekly seminar, I attempt once again...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 245-284)
  14. Index of Modern Authors
    (pp. 285-291)