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The Seven Messages of Revelation and Vassal Treaties


Literary Genre, Structure, and Function


This book argues that the genre of the seven messages in Revelation 2–3 is a hybrid prophetic oracle. This oracle is influenced by the Old Testament covenantal elements functioning as a set of lawsuit exhortations. Graves defends this by demonstrating the influence of the Ancient Near Eastern vassal treaty structure in the seven messages. Written in a readable format this work is both an excellent introduction to the book of Revelation as well as a fitting work for the apocalyptic specialist.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-60724-568-1
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Aug 26,2009
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 477
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-60724-568-1
$200.00
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Graves provides an interdisciplinary approach arguing that the genre of the seven messages in Revelation 2–3 is hybrid prophetic oracle, influenced by the Torah. To support this he delivers a thorough and balanced treatment of the ancient Near Eastern vassal treaty structure and its influence on the messages to the seven churches of Asia Minor. Graves carefully traces the influence of the vassal treaty structure from the ancient Near East to the first-century, leaving no stone unturned in the process. This study also examines the function of the seven messages of Revelation within the context of the first-century church of Asia Minor. Why were these messages given to the churches and what was going through John’s mind in using the covenant structure?

This work is sure to interest those fascinated with the literary genre, structure, and function of the messages to the seven churches. Written in a readable format, this work is both an excellent introduction to the book of Revelation and a resource for the apocalyptic specialist.

“Dr. Graves seeks to shed light on the problem of the structure of thought in Revelation by placing the work as a whole and the messages to the seven churches in particular firmly in the context of the ancient near eastern vassal treaties that have also influenced the shape of covenantal theology in the Old Testament. This carefully researched thesis brings a new contribution to the interpretation of the apocalypse and deserves close examination.” — I. Howard Marshall (Emeritus Professor of New Testament Exegesis, University of Aberdeen)

David E. Graves (Ph.D., University of Aberdeen) is Director of Computer Services and Part-Time Religious Studies Faculty at Crandall University in Moncton, NB and Adjunct Professor, School of Religion at Liberty University Online in Lynchburg VA. He is the author of a number of articles on the Book of Revelation and his archaeological research in Tall el-Hammam, Jordan.

Graves provides an interdisciplinary approach arguing that the genre of the seven messages in Revelation 2–3 is hybrid prophetic oracle, influenced by the Torah. To support this he delivers a thorough and balanced treatment of the ancient Near Eastern vassal treaty structure and its influence on the messages to the seven churches of Asia Minor. Graves carefully traces the influence of the vassal treaty structure from the ancient Near East to the first-century, leaving no stone unturned in the process. This study also examines the function of the seven messages of Revelation within the context of the first-century church of Asia Minor. Why were these messages given to the churches and what was going through John’s mind in using the covenant structure?

This work is sure to interest those fascinated with the literary genre, structure, and function of the messages to the seven churches. Written in a readable format, this work is both an excellent introduction to the book of Revelation and a resource for the apocalyptic specialist.

“Dr. Graves seeks to shed light on the problem of the structure of thought in Revelation by placing the work as a whole and the messages to the seven churches in particular firmly in the context of the ancient near eastern vassal treaties that have also influenced the shape of covenantal theology in the Old Testament. This carefully researched thesis brings a new contribution to the interpretation of the apocalypse and deserves close examination.” — I. Howard Marshall (Emeritus Professor of New Testament Exegesis, University of Aberdeen)

David E. Graves (Ph.D., University of Aberdeen) is Director of Computer Services and Part-Time Religious Studies Faculty at Crandall University in Moncton, NB and Adjunct Professor, School of Religion at Liberty University Online in Lynchburg VA. He is the author of a number of articles on the Book of Revelation and his archaeological research in Tall el-Hammam, Jordan.

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David Graves

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • List of Tables (page 9)
  • Preface (page 11)
  • Acknowledgments (page 13)
  • Abbreviations (page 15)
  • Introduction (page 29)
  • 1 Chapter One … ANEVT Research (page 35)
    • Survey of Previous Research on ANEVT (page 35)
    • ANEVT Structure in the Pentateuch (page 41)
    • Vassal Treaties of Esarhaddon (page 43)
    • Opposition to the ANEVT in the OT (page 46)
    • Proponents for the Influence of the ANEVT in Revelation (page 48)
    • Opponents of the ANEVT in Revelation (page 53)
    • Present Contribution (page 56)
  • 2 Chapter Two … Preliminary Issues (page 59)
    • Methodology (page 59)
    • Definitions (page 62)
      • Torah (page 63)
      • Covenant (page 65)
      • Lawsuit (page 67)
      • Paraenesis (page 68)
    • Date of Revelation (page 69)
    • Authorship (page 70)
    • Unity (page 71)
    • Johns Prophetic Office (page 72)
    • Summary (page 75)
  • 3 Chapter Three … Literary Genre (page 77)
    • Letters (page 79)
    • Imperial Edicts (page 82)
      • Imperial Edict Form (page 82)
      • Similarities of Imperial Edicts Compared With ANEVT (page 83)
      • Common Ancestry Hypothesis (page 84)
    • Prophetic Oracles (page 110)
      • Methodology (page 111)
      • Form-Historical Analysis (page 112)
    • Semitic Origin of the Messages (page 120)
      • Influence of ANEVT Form (page 122)
      • Torah and the Prophets Influence on the Messages (page 148)
    • Conclusion (page 150)
  • 4 Chapter Four … Literary Structure (page 153)
    • Methodology (page 153)
    • Presence of the ANEVT Structure in Revelation (page 154)
      • The ANEVT Structure Identified in Revelation as a Whole (page 155)
      • The ANEVT Structure Identified in the SMR (page 158)
    • Corroborative Arguments for ANEVT Influence (page 219)
      • The Presence of Torah in the SMR (page 220)
      • Suitability of the Covenant Theme (page 227)
      • The ANEVT and Anatolian Literature (page 237)
    • Answers to Arguments Against ANEVT Influence (page 238)
      • Absence of the Term Covenant (page 239)
      • Inconsistent Pattern (page 240)
      • Forced into a Foreign Framework (page 244)
      • Parallels Do Not Prove Dependence (page 249)
      • Summary (page 250)
    • Conclusion (page 251)
  • 5 Chapter Five … Exegesis of Revelation 2:8-11 (page 253)
    • Historical Context of Smyrna (page 253)
    • Messenger Preamble Formula„v. 8b (page 255)
      • Description of the Suzerain (page 256)
      • The Transcendent Suzerain…The First and the Last (page 256)
      • The Suzerain…Dead and Has Come to Life (page 261)
    • Historical Prologue„v. 9 (page 262)
      • The Suzerain Knows Their Afflictions (page 262)
      • The Suzerain Knows Their Poverty and Riches (page 264)
      • The Suzerain Knows the Enemy (page 269)
      • Summary (page 279)
    • Ethical Stipulations„v. 10a (page 280)
      • First Imperative„Do Not Fear (page 281)
      • Second Imperative„Be Faithful to Death (page 292)
    • Sanctions„v. 10b, 11b (page 294)
      • The Blessing of the Crown of Life (page 295)
      • Overcomers (page 303)
      • The Blessing of No Second Death (page 307)
      • Summary (page 309)
    • Proclamation Witness Formula„v. 11a (page 309)
      • The Call to Hear the Lawsuit (page 310)
      • The Mystery of Theodicy (page 310)
      • The Rîb B Warning (page 311)
    • Conclusion (page 313)
  • 6 Chapter Six … Literary Function (page 315)
    • Covenant Lawsuit Oracles (page 318)
      • Prophets Function as Legal Witnesses (page 318)
      • SMR Function As Covenant Lawsuits (page 320)
      • Bandys Lawsuit Arguments (page 324)
      • Legal Function of the ANEVT (page 325)
      • The Superiority of Christs Kingship (page 326)
      • The Kingdom of God (page 327)
      • Summary (page 328)
    • Paraenetic Lawsuit Oracles (page 329)
      • The Pure Paraenetic Form in the Message to Smyrna (page 330)
      • Summary (page 331)
    • Parabolic Revealing/Concealing (page 331)
      • OT Parabolic Roots (page 332)
      • The Influence of the Synoptic Parables (page 333)
      • The Revealed/Concealed Function of Apocalypse (page 335)
      • ANEVT Structure Reveals/Conceals (page 335)
      • Summary (page 338)
    • Conclusion (page 338)
  • 7 Chapter Seven … Epilogue (page 341)
    • Contributions (page 345)
      • Supports the Prophetic Oracle Genre of Revelation 2…3 (page 346)
      • Reinforces the Theological Significance of the Covenant (page 347)
      • Strengthens the Paraenetic Role of the Exalted Christ (page 350)
      • Summary (page 352)
    • Implications (page 352)
      • The Theological Context (page 352)
      • The Modern Relevance (page 358)
    • Suggestions for Future Research (page 359)
      • Exegesis of the Remaining Six Messages (page 359)
      • The Relationship Between the Structure of the SMR and Rest of the Book (page 360)
      • The Implications of the Suzerain/Vassal Relationship for Lamb Christology (page 360)
      • The Connection Between Covenant and Kingdom (page 361)
      • The Place of Revelation 2:10 in Martyrdom Studies (page 362)
    • Conclusion (page 364)
  • Bibliography (page 367)
  • Index of Subjects (page 429)
  • Index of Authors (page 443)
  • Index of Primary Sources (page 453)
  • Index of Hebrew Terms (page 473)
  • Index of Greek Terms (page 475)
  • Index of Foreign Terms (page 477)
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