Revealing the Little Scroll: Negotiating the True Diminutive Status of the βιβλαριδιον of Apocalypse 10.2, 8-10 and the Shape of the Apocalypse Open Access

Rose, Justin Edwards

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/70795775k?locale=en
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Abstract

Some attention has indeed been given to the "little" scroll of Apocalypse 10, but that attention pales in comparison to the treasury of essays, monographs, and commentaries that attend to the of chapter 5. Most recently, Richard Bauckham has argued that the βιβλαριδιον of 10.2a, 8-10 (along with its multiple variants) is equivalent to the βιβλιον of 5. In this paper, I will argue that the βιβλαριδιον of Apocalypse 10 and the βιβλιον of Apocalypse 5 are distinct scrolls that serve unique prophetic functions in John's larger apocalyptic narrative. This interpretive option allows the reader to understand chapter 10 as a signal of the second major section of the Apocalypse in which God's triumph over Satan is reflected in the triumph of the faithful witnesses over persecution and Creation's subsequent redemption. To support this argument, I will make a number of observations and establish some essential conditions for asserting and appreciating the difference between the two scrolls. My initial observation is that the attempt to accurately translate and identify the little scroll in chapter 10 can be illuminated by turning one's attention to ancient Christian authors, who read and wrote in Greek. As I will show, early commenters on Apocalypse 10 read βιβλαριδιον as a little scroll and described it quite differently from the scroll of chapter 5. I will place those authors within the context of reception history and demonstrate their commitment to reading the little scroll as indeed unique. One critical foundation of my argument is that the scrolls appear in quite different settings as they are introduced to the reader within the Apocalypse. The βιβλιον of the fifth chapter emerges along with the Lamb at the heart of the heavenly vision. It produces consternation for the celestial court and emotional distress for John. Alternatively, the βιβλαριδιον of Apocalypse 10 is handed to John on earth, where the mighty angel has planted one foot on the earth and the other on the sea. Although there are some elements from heaven in chapter 10 (the seven thunders and the mighty angel's own qualities), I will maintain that they are different settings and thus signal unique purposes. In addition to belonging to different spaces in the narrative, the scrolls are situated at different locations in their respective apocalyptic cycles, as well as significantly different locations in the overall structure of the book. The scroll of chapter 5 is introduced after John's epistolary vision of Christ and the golden lampstands and immediately before the seven seals cycle, which itself precedes the trumpet cycle after the narrative interruption in which the 144,000 are sealed. The little scroll of chapter 10 is situated before the sounding of the seventh trumpet and narrative of the two witnesses, which precedes the story of the Woman and the Dragon. Another essential component for arguing the scrolls' difference from each other is that the agents or bearers of the scrolls in chapters 5 and 10 are clearly not the same. That is, whereas John first sees the scroll of chapter 5 in the right hand of the one seated on the throne, introduced orally by a mighty angel and ultimately given to the Lamb, the scroll of chapter 10 is in the hand of another mighty angel. John is commanded to take the scroll from this other mighty angel, who is provided a level of narrative detail not afforded to the mighty angel of chapter 5. Further, there is no mention of a transition of the scroll in chapter 5 to the other mighty angel of chapter 10. The settings and agents of the two scrolls are kept apart, explicitly or otherwise, by the author. Of perhaps even greater importance for my argument is the fact that the scrolls themselves appear quite different from each other. The βιβλιον of the fifth chapter is sealed with seven seals and is an opisthograph. The βιβλαριδιον of Apocalypse 10, on the other hand, is open and bears the diminutive suffix in its three references throughout the chapter. This is another problematic element of the βιβλαριδιον of chapter 10 for anyone who would argue that it is identical to the scroll of chapter 5. The terminology for each scroll is different and the difference is maintained. Richard Bauckham and others argue that the noun in chapter 10 had acquired what is called a faded diminutive status, but I argue below that these arguments are unconvincing. A dearth of meaningful extant evidence and the telling anarthous and anaphoric articles of chapter 10 call for deep suspicion of that claim. Deciding to render a translation and interpretation of the little scroll of Apocalypse 10 as distinct from the scroll of Apocalypse 5 results in a valuable outcome for the reader. It allows one to see the scrolls as prophetic signals or indicators of the two major sections of the Apocalypse. The scroll of chapter 5 inaugurates the cosmic dramaturgy of the first half, which is a densely apocalyptic projection of John's religious imagination. The little scroll of chapter 10 announces the commencement of the second half of the book, which imagines the same conflict taking place between the faithful witnesses of the Lamb and their persecutors, the followers of the Beast. In other words, the little scroll moves the narrative into a recasting of the first section of the book in more human or practical terms for the readers. This is in keeping with the ancient religious cosmology that conceived of a set of earthly social constructs that reflected or aligned with heavenly realities. If this interpretive option for structuring the book is accepted, then the understanding that the two scrolls are different is further validated, as they would necessarily belong to separate literary endeavors within the larger text.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Apocalypse as Problem and the Task at Hand…………………………...3
Structure of Apocalypse 10……………………………………………………………..6
Exegetical Evaluation of Apoc. 10:1-11………………………………………………..7
Modern and Ancient Readers: Summaries and Evaluations of the Literature ………...26
Implications for Reading The Apocalypse: Genre……………………………………..43
Implications for Reading the Apocalypse: Structure…………………………………..46
Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………..50
Bibliography…………………………………………………………………………...54

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