A Heavenly Chorus: The Dramatic Function of Revelation's Hymns Open Access

Schedtler, Justin Patrick (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/6395w718d?locale=en
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Abstract

This study considers the extent to which Revelation's hymns bear formal and functional similarities with choral lyrics of ancient tragedy. The notion that Revelation's hymns can be considered in terms of ancient tragic choral lyrics is not a novel one. In fact, the dramatic function of Revelation's hymns in this regard has been widely acknowledged, most often with a variation of the claim that the hymns function as did Classical tragic choral lyrics insofar as they "comment upon" or "interpret" the surrounding narrative. The claim has attained near axiomatic status, despite the fact that neither a comprehensive study, nor even a single article, has ever been devoted to it.

The value of such a claim is minimal, as it simply does not go very far in explaining the function of Revelation's hymns, and immediately begs questions of the precisely ways in which Revelation's hymns comment upon and/or interpret the surrounding plot. Not surprisingly, the premise for such a claim, that tragic choruses function to comment upon and/or interpret the surrounding dramatic dialogue, is problematic. Such a premise not only fails to reflect the breadth and depth of choral functions in tragedy, but in many cases actually mischaracterizes the functions of choral lyrics.

This study thus aims to advance this line of inquiry by offering a comprehensive analysis of the forms and functions of ancient tragic choruses throughout the Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman periods, with the purpose of providing a comprehensive framework within which to evaluate Revelation's hymns in dramatic terms. By revealing the varieties and complexities of the forms and functions of ancient tragic choruses, I demonstrate that Revelation's hymns are not best evaluated in terms of choral lyrics generally, but in terms of dramatic hymns specifically. That is, the hymns in Revelation do not exhibit the wide variety of functions as reflected in tragic choral lyrics; rather, they replicate the functions of ancient tragic hymns insofar as they constitute mythological-theological reflections on the surrounding narrative, and function to situate the surrounding dramatic activity in a particular mythological-theological context.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study of Revelation's Hymns

I. Introduction 1

II. The History of Scholarship on Revelation's Hymns 2

1. Hymnic Qualities and Antecedents

2. Liturgical Association

A. Temple Services

B. Synagogue Worship

C. Early Christian Liturgies

D. Imperial Court Ceremonial

3. Theological and/or Christological Implications

A. Theological and Christological Epithets

B. Kingship Motifs

C. Eschatological Orientation

D. Relationships of Theology and Christology

E. Anti-Imperial Theology

4. Structural Function

III. The Dramatic Form and Function of Revelation's 16

Hymns: Status Quaestionis

1. David Brown

2. Frederic Palmer

3. Raymond Brewer

4. Subsequent Scholarship

IV. Methodology 21

V. Summary of Argument 23

Chapter 2: The Hymns in Revelation

I. Hymnic Material in the Ancient World 26

1. Definition of Hymn

2. Formal Elements of Hymns

3. Types of Hymns

II. Revelation's Hymns 34

1. Exegetical Analysis of Revelation's Hymns

A. The Heavenly Throne Room

B. Rev 4:8-11

C. Rev 5:9-14

D. Rev 7:9-17

E. Rev 11:15-19

F. Rev 12:10-12

G. Rev 15:3-4

H. Rev 16:5-7

I. Rev 19:1-8

Chapter 3: The Context for Dramatic Choruses: Choreia in ancient Greece.

I. Introduction 143

II. Earliest Choral Forms in Ancient Greece 144

III. Choral Poets 147

1. Archaic Poets

A. Alcman

B. Stesichorus, Ibycus, Anacreon, and Simonides

3. Classical Choral Poets

A. Pindar

B. Bacchylides

4. Decline of Choral Poetry in the Post-Classical Period

IV. Types of Choral Poetry 153

1. Issues in Classifying Choral Poetry

2. Choral Genres

A. Epinician Odes

B. Paean

C. Dithyramb

D. Hymns and Choral Poetry

V. Formal Features of Choral Poetry 161

1. Meter

2. Dialect

3. Composition of Choruses

4. Size of Choruses

5. Dancing

A. General Formations

B. Choreography

6. Musical Elements

A. Rhythm, Metrics, and Music

B. Musical Accompaniment

VI. Functions of Choruses and Choral Poetry 182

1. Cultic Function(s)

2. Mythological Function(s)

3. Pedagogical Function(s)

4. Social Function(s)

Chapter 4: The Dramatic Context of Tragic Choruses: Tragedy

I. Origins of Drama 191

II. Athenian Tragedy in the 5th c. B.C.E. 195

1. The Poets

2. The Quasi-Historical, Quasi-Mythological Setting of Tragedy

3. Structural Features

III. Greek Tragedy in the 4th c., and into the Hellenistic Period 200

1. Evidence of the Tragic Form in the 4th c., and Hellenistic Period

2. Formal Elements of Tragedy in the Hellenistic Period

IV. Drama in Rome 204

1. Origins of Roman Drama

2. Roman Playwrights

3. Roman Tragedy

A. Types

B. Seneca's Tragedies

V. Tragic Performance Contexts 210

1. Festivals in the Fifth Century

A. Who Attended Dramatic Performances?

B. Festival and Dramatic Personnel

2. Performance contexts in the 4th c. and into the Hellenistic Period

A. Proliferation of performances

B. Re-Orientation of the Festivals

C. Acting Guilds

D. New Productions Alongside Revival Performances

E. Other Performance Contexts: Reading Drama

3. Dramatic Performance in the Roman Period

A. Increasing Number of Performance Contexts

B. Roman Acting Guilds

C. Recitatio

VI. Theater Buildings 227

1. Theaters in the Classical Period

A. Theatron

B. Orchestra

C. Altar (Thymele)

D. Skene

E. Stage

2. Theaters in the 4th c. and Hellenistic Period

A. Theatron

B. Prohedria

C. Orchestra

D. Skene

E. Stage

3. Theaters in the Roman Period

A. Temporary Theaters in Republican Rome

B. Permanent Theaters

i. Theatron (Cavea), Orchestra, and Prohedria

ii. Scenae frons and Stage (Pulpitum)

iii. Altar

Chapter 5: Forms and Functions of the Tragic Chorus in the Classical Period

I. Introduction 241

II. The Forms of Tragic Choruses in the Classical Period 243

1. The Constitution of the Chorus and Choral Personnel

A. Composition

B. Size

C. Training

D. Chorus-Leader

E. The Chorus as Characters

F. Multiple (Secondary) Choruses

2. Spatial Elements: The Chorus in the Greek Theater

A. Position of the Chorus in the Theater vis-à-vis the Actors

B. Shape of the Chorus

C. Choreography

3. Types of Choral Lyrics

A. Method

B. The Chorus In-Between Scenes

i. Parodos

ii. Stasimon

iii. Exodos

C. The Chorus Within Scenes

i. Lyric Dialogue

ii. Non-Lyric Dialogue

iii. Non-Lyric, Non-Dialogical Elements

4. Formal Properties of the Choral Lyrics

A. Meter

B. Dialect

C. Non-Tragic Lyric Elements

5. Musical Dynamics

A. Singing

B. Instruments

III. The Functions of Tragic Choruses in the Classical Period with Respect 278

to the Surrounding Speech and Dialogue of the Characters

1. Method

2. Chorus as "Protagonist"

3. Moving Forward the Dramatic Action

A. Character Entrance Announcements

B. Synopsis of Present Circumstances

C. Foreshadowing

D. A Dramatic Audience, an Instrument for Eliciting the Thoughts of the Character or for Providing Relevant Dramatic Information

4. Casting the Surrounding Action in a Particular Light

A. Emotional Reactions

B. Framing the Dramatic Action in a Mythological-Historical Context

C. Framing the Dramatic Action in a Philosophical Context

D. Framing the Dramatic Action within a Mythological-Theological Perspective

E. Mythological-Theological Reflections and Choral Hymns

5. The "Voice" of the Chorus

A. The Voice of the Choral Characters

B. The Chorus as "Ideal Spectator"

C. The Chorus as the Voice of the Poet

D. The Chorus as the Voice of the Community

E. The Chorus as "Other"

F. The Chorus as Implied Audience

IV. Trends in the Function(s) of the Chorus in the Classical Period 317

1. Quantitative Decline

2. Qualitative Decline

A. Detachment of the Chorus from the Surrounding Dramatic Action

Chapter 6: Forms and Functions of the Tragic Chorus in the 4th c., and into the

Hellenistic and Roman periods.

I. The Forms of the Chorus in Post-Classical Tragedy 326

1. The Constitution of the Chorus and Choral Personnel

2. Spatial Elements: The Chorus in the Hellenistic and Roman Theater

A. Position of the Chorus vis-à-vis the Actors

B. Choreography

3. Types of Choral Lyrics in Hellenistic and Roman Tragedy

A. The Rhesus

B. Choral Participation within Scenes

C. Choral Participation In-Between Scenes

D. Developments in the Form of the Chorus in Senecan Tragedies

i. Multiple (Secondary) Choruses in Senecan Tragedy

ii. Hymnic Elements in Senecan Tragedy

4. Formal Elements of Tragic Choral Lyrics in Post-Classical Tragedy

A. Meter/Dialect

B. Musical Elements

II. Functions of Tragic Choruses in the Post-Classical Periods Prior to Seneca 346

1. The Rhesus

2. The Chorus in Roman Republican Tragedy

III. Functions of Tragic Choruses in Senecan Tragedy 353

1. Moving Forward the Dramatic Action

A. Character Entrance Announcements

B. Synopsis of Present Circumstances

C. Foreshadowing

D. Instrument for Exposition of Characters' Thoughts and a Dramatic Audience for Speeches

E. Summary

2. Casting the Dramatic Action in a Particular Context

A. Emotional Reactions

B. Framing the Dramatic Action in a Mythological-Historical Context

C. Setting the Dramatic Action in a Philosophical Context

D. Setting the Dramatic Action in a Mythological-Theological Context

i. Mythological-Theological Reflections and Choral Hymns

E. The Functions of the Secondary Chorus

F. Detachment of the Chorus from the Surrounding Dramatic Action

G. The Voice of the Senecan Chorus

i. The Voice of the Chorus as a Character

ii. The Chorus as "Implied Audience"

Chapter 7: Revelation's Hymns as Choral Lyrics 375

I. A Chorus in Revelation? 375

1. Method

2. The 24 Elders

A. The Identity of the 24 Elders, Number, and Relation to Main Characters

B. Formations and Movements

C. A Chorus-Leader

3. Other Groups of Heavenly Characters as Choruses?

II. Choral Lyrics in Revelation? 385

1. Classifying Revelation's Hymns in Terms of the Various Types of Choral Lyrics

2. Revelation's Hymns in Terms of the Formal Characteristics of Tragic Choral Lyrics

3. Revelation's Hymns in terms of the Functions of Tragic Choral Lyrics vis-à-vis the Surrounding Dramatic Action

A. Revelation's Hymns Moving Forward the Dramatic Action

i. Introducing Characters

ii. Synopsis of Present Circumstances

iii. Foreshadowing

iv. An All-Purpose Dramatic Tool: Dramatic Audience, and Instrument for Eliciting the Thoughts of the Characters, and/or Providing Relevant Dramatic Information to the Characters

v. Summary of the Functions of Revelation's Hymns to Advance the Plot

B. Revelation's Hymns Casting the Surrounding Action in a Particular Light

III. The "Voice" in Revelation's Hymns 402

IV. Conclusions 404

Bibliography 408


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