Thursday, December 08, 2005

S. Pattemore and Martyrdom in the Apocalypse

As I read S. Pattemore's work, "The People of God in the Apocalypse," one of the things I am continually impressed with is how his methodology (primarily Relevance Theory) helps bring out the relevance (pun intended) of the Apocalypse. One of the major problems with the popular (read "dispensationalist") approach to the book of Revelation is that its futurist bent leads to the conclusion that Rev 4-22 is largely irrelevant for the contemporary audience. Nothing could be further from the truth (cf. Rev 1:3) and Pattemore's chapter, "Souls under the altar- a martyr ecclesiology" thoroughly demonstates this. His chapter is primarily an examination of Rev 6:9-11 and its literary links in 12:10-12; 16:5-7; 19:1-2; 20;4-6.

The following is a helpful statement that helps capture his overall approach to martyrdom in the Apocalypse: "[w]hen the whole Apocalypse has been heard, it will be clear that suffering for the faith involves many things before death. But the witnessing church is first and foremost identified collectively as a martyr church, patterned after the martyr status of the Lamb." Pattemore, therefore, seems to give due weight to the theme of martyrdom and the larger theme of "witnessing to the testimony of Jesus." I especially think the final sentence captures well what one encounters in the Apocalypse. As one reads, one gets the sense that John is developing an idealic picture of the church as a collective group of martyrs. I prefer to think of this as somewhat of a "rhetorical device" (I'm sure there is a more apt description) that aims to present martyrdom as "the normal Christian life."

That said, here is a link to the story of a man who "lived out" the message of the Apocalypse.

  • link
  • No comments: