Revelation resources -- Revelation and the Old Testament

Most recent revision May 26th, 2002

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Description: This page gives references to scholarly treatments of the relationship between the Old Testament and Revelation and of methodological considerations concerning this problem. Although almost all commentaries acknowledge the relations between OT and Revelation, only few does treat this topic in a systematic way. Consequently, these commentaries are included when I discover them. A special type of research on this topic is the question of typology which therefore has its own section here. Whether Revelation uses the Hebrew or the Greek or both Testaments, see The Language of Revelation. Some investigations of the relationship between Revelation and OT are concerned with the questions of genre, see Revelation and the problem of genre. (12 Jan 1997 20:40)

See also

The standard work

Beale, G. K. John's Use of the Old Testament in Revelation. Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series, no. 166. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999.

The standard study published in the early 1999. (July 29th, 2000)

Reviewed by Kenneth Newport and James E. West in Review of Biblical Literature (available on-line)


See also
Paulien, Jon: Decoding Revelation’s Trumpets: Literary Allusions and Interpretations of Revelation 8:7-12. (Andrews University Seminary Doctoral Dissertation Series 11). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1988

This is the published edition of Paulien's doctoral dissertation. See the comments to Paulien, Allusions. (12 Jan 1997 20:45)

Paulien, J.: "Elusive Allusions: The Problematic Use of the Old Testament in Revelation", Biblical Research 33 (1988), 37-53.

This article establishes a number of rules for determining different types of use of the Old Testament ranging from quotations to echos. As Paulien shows, there are a much work dealing with the questions of allusions without any thought to the problem of methodology. This article should be consulted in order to be aware of the problem and some solutions to it. The article is based on Paulien's doctoral dissertation from Andrews University. (12 Jan 1997 20:45)

Revelation and the OT

Adamsen, Georg Stubkjær: Exodusmotiver i Johannes' Åbenbaring. Aarhus: Teoltryk, 1992.

This M.Theol.-thesis written in Danish presents the research on the topic Revelation and the OT from the beginning of the 20th Century through to early 1992 and then investigates the extensive use of the Exodus motives in Revelation concluding the all Exodus motives are used ecclesiologically. Apparently, the second main part of Revelation (Rev 4 - 22) functions as arguments for the parenesis in the first main part (Rev 1-3). Furthermore, it seems unavoidable that a helpful interpretation of Revelation must be a theological interpretation including the question of OT hermeneutics. The author has modified his position slightly on the question of relationship between Rev 1-3 and 4-22 since the publication of this work. (August 5th, 1999)

Bøe, Sverre: Gog and Magog: Ezekiel 38--39 as Pre-text for Revelation 19:17-21 and 20:7-10. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 2nd Series, Vol. 135. Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 2001. XVI + 449 pp.

This dissertation is a rev. ed. of a dissertation submitted to The Norwegian Lutheran School of Theology (Det teologiske Menighetsfakultet) Oslo, Norway and published in the series Studiebibliotek for Bibel og Misjon, 5 (Oslo: Biblia/Fjellhaug Skoler, 1999). It was defended for the major doctorate (dr.theol.) at September 25th, 1999 at the Norwegian Lutheran School of Theology.

The book consists of five chapters. The first defines the task, surveys the history of research, discusses methodological issues, and, finally, some introductory issues as regards Revelation. Chapters 2 and 3 analyse the Gog and Magog traditions in the OT outside of Ezekiel and in Ezekiel 38--39, respectively. Chapter 4 surveys references to Gog and Magog in other primarily ancient literature from before c. AD 100. Later literature is treated in three excursuses. Chapter 5 analyses John's use of the Gog and Magog-traditions in Revelation 19:11--21:8. A summary, bibliography and indices concludes the dissertation. The most original part of the thesis is Chapter 4 while Chapter 5 is disappointingly weak on theological discussions as regards the relevance of his study for the overall interpretation of Revelation and for the understanding of Rev 20:1-10. There are, nevertheless, many useful observations in this thesis. (Nov 17th, 2001)

Fekkes, Jan, III: Isaiah and Prophetic Traditions in the Book of Revelation Visionary Antecedents and their Development. (JSNT.SS 93). Sheffield: JSOT Press (an imprint of Sheffield Academic Press), 1994.

This 333 page revised dissertation written under the auspices of B. Lindars is a welcome and rather detailed analysis of the relationship between Isaiah and Revelation. Fekkes analyses the methodological problems under two perspectives: John as a Jewish-Christian Prophet and John and the Influence of the OT (Chapter 1-2, pp. 22-103). The five following chapters are detailed analyses of the relationship between Isaiah and the whole book of Revelation (divided into the following sections: Rev 1-3, 4-7, 8-13, 14-19 and 20-22). Chapter 8 is a summary and conclusion. The book ends with a 13 page bibliography and two indices of references and authors. This book is the first detailed survey of the relationship between Isaiah and Revelation. Once more the JSNT.SS has published a well argued, documented and written dissertation. (20 Jan 1997 10:20).

Jenkins, Ferrell: The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1972 (Now reprinted: Temple Terrace, FL: Florida College Bookstore, 19??)

One of the first studies on the topic, and (as far as I remember) on a non-technical, entry level. The author have published another study in 1993: Studies in the Book of Revelation (21 Sep 1997)

Mathews, Susan Fournier: A Critical Evaluation of the Allusions to the Old Testament in Apocalypse 1:1-8:5. D.Phil.-dissertation, the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., 1987.

Although Dr. Mathews treats the question of methodology, Paulien should be the first choice with regard to methodology. Dr. Mathews compiles the alleged allusions from a number of critical editions of the NT. commentaries and other scholarly discussions. As I have had access to only the first 16 pages and the conclusion and bibliography is a rather ineligible copy, I cannot really state whether or not her treatment is valuable. Nevertheless, to her and my knowledge, this is the only treatment of Rev 1:1-8:5. (10 Mar 1997)

Moyise, Steve: The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation. (JSNT.SS 115). Sheffield, Sheffield Academic Press, 1995.

Moyise's revised dissertation supervised by Frances Young is a rather short analysis (173 pages) of the relationship between OT, Qumran and Rev with the focus on the use of scripture in Rev 1-3, the use of Daniel and Ezekiel, the use of scripture in Qumran and a discussion of intertextuality. As usual with a SAP-publication, the book contains bibliography and two indices of references and authors. Moyise is most familiar with English language scholarship and his research does occasionally exceed already published material. His methodology resembling that of Ruiz should have been refined. (20 Jan 1997).

Reviewed by J. Christian Wilson in JBL 115/4

Moyise, S. "The Language of the Old Testament Allusions in the Apocalypse." JSNT (published recently; details forthcoming here).

In this article, based on a chapter in his dissertation, which was not included in the published edition, Moyise reconsiders the evidence for the famous dictum of R. H. Charles that John used the Hebrew Old Testament. He presents evidence which suggests strongly that John also made use of the Greek Old Testament. Moyise's article should be consulted on these issues. (July 6th, 2000)

Ozanne, C.G.: The Influence of the Text and Language of the Old Testament on the Book of Revelation. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Manchester University, 1964.

This dissertation analyses the relationship between the various OT texts and versions and Revelation. Ozanne concludes that Revelation "habitually used the original Hebrew to the virtual exclusion of the LXX. In addition he occasionally cited the Targums and other rabbinic sources" (iii). Thus he supports the thesis of Vanhoye. (12 Jan 1997 17:27).

Ruiz, J.P.: Ezekiel in the Apocalypse: The Transformation of Prophetic Language in Revelation 16,17 - 19,10. Frankfurt/Bern/New York/Paris: Peter Lang, 1989.

This dissertation is a very carefull analysis of the OT hermeneutics of Revelation illustrated from the use of Ezekiel in Rev 16:17 - 19:20. Ruiz's thesis is that John deliberately changed the OT's view of Rome as a metaphor of the enemy of Israel, i.e., e.g. Egypt, to the enemy of church, i.e. Rome. In this way, the metaphor was transformed. Ruiz is heavily influenced by Vanni and Ricoeur and their hermeneutics. The dissertation also gives a rather detailed survey of earlier research on the relationship between Revelation and OT. (12 Jan 1997 17:04)

Schlatter, Adolf: Das Alte Testament in der johanneischen Apokaypse. (BFChTh). Gütersloh, 1912.

Schlatter wrote this monography as a traditio-historical study to show that the particular interpretation of OT found in Revelation was moulded in the Palestian Jewish tradition, and Schlatter therefore concluded that Revelation was written by a Palestinian Jew. Schlatter's work is often quoted in bibliographies, but apparently used less often. (28 Dec 1996 00:07)

Vanhoye, A.: ”L'Utilisation du livre d'Ézéchiel dans L'Apocalypse” in: Biblica 43 (1962), 436-476.

Vanhoye's article initiated the "new" interest for the relationship between Revelation and the OT. The new perspective was that Revelation was not only moulded in some directly or indirectly transmitted OT traditions, but did in fact interpret the OT. The question of hermeneutics was thus introduced to the Revelation scholarship. Although widely known, some years passed before the hermeneutical relationship between Revelation and OT was investigated further. (28 Dec 1996 00:19)

Vogelgesang, J. M. "The Interpretation of Ezekiel in the Book of Revelation." D.Phil.-dissertation, Harvard University, 1985.

Vogelgesang's dissertation is an important contribution to the study of the use of OT in Revelation. His main theological thesis, viz. that John has democratised Revelation, is based on a questionable analysis of the theology of Ezekiel on the one hand. It should nevertheless be consulted. For evaluations, see the Norwegian article (cf. Revelation Resources -- skandinaviske værker) and the dissertations by S. Bøe and J.-P. Ruiz (see above). (August 5th, 1999)


Goppelt, L.: Typos. Die typologische Deutung des Alten Testaments im Neuen. Darmstadt, 1981.

Goppelt's book is the standard treatment originally published in 1939. There is an English translation, too. Goppelt laid the foundation for any later research into this topic and should be carefully studies as it is one of the most important studies to the relationship between OT and NT. (12 Jan 1997 20.45).

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