Giancarlo Biguzzi, «The Chaos of Rev 22,6-21 and Prophecy in Asia», Vol. 83 (2002) 193-210
Interpreters of the Apocalypse agree that in Ap 22,6-21 disorder reigns and that, most of all, various voices in these verses interfere with one another, without care for rules which would produce a proper development. Therefore, chaos is undeniably in the text. But it is equally true that with some ease one can discern in the text an articulation in three strophes: the first and the third speak of the revelation received by John and of the transmission of that revelation to the churches by means of John’s book, while the second is concerned with the ethical life and its eschatological reward. All this reveals the anxiety of John about a relaxation of vigilance on the part of the churches of Asia, so that John consequently insists on the imminence of the eschatological Coming and labors to show the legitimacy of the demands of his book, especially before the eyes of his ‘brother-prophets’. It is the framework of their prophetic style, probably charismatic like that of the prophets of 1 Cor 14, which allows us to make sense of the interference and injection of various voices in these verses of the johannine Apocalypse; we find a similar style in certain other verses at the beginning and in the body of John’s book.
the organisation of the text, which is easily divisible into threeblocks (below called improperly ‘strophes’): vv. 6-10, vv. 11-15, and vv. 16-203.
The thematic vocabulary of vv. 6-10 concerns John’s book (vv. 7b, 9b, 10a), its words (vv. 6a, 7b, 9b, 10a) and addressees (vv. 6c, 7b, 9b), the prophecy (vv. 7b, 10a) and the prophets (vv. 6b, 9a), then the ‘showing’4 angel (vv. 6b, 8c) and John himself (cf. the pronouns moi/ in vv. 6a, 8c, 9a, 10a, and sou= in 9a). Along with the angel, John is also a dominant subject in the first strophe: he is subject of o( a)kou/wn kai_ ble/pwn in 8a, of h!kousa kai_ e!bleya in 8b, of e!pesa proskunh=sai in 8c, of prosku=nhson in 9b, of mh_ sfragi/sh|j in 10a, — but first of all in e)gw_ )Iwa/nnhj (v. 8a).
The characterising vocabulary of the first strophe disappears suddenly in v. 11 and remains totally absent up to and excluding v. 165. The theme of the intermediary verses is ethical behaviour and its reward, or exclusion from the latter. In fact, a list of four ethical categories of people (evildoer and filthy, righteous and holy) and four related imperatives (still doing evil and still being filthy, still doing right and still being holy) is in v. 11, while seven ethical categories are listed in v. 15 (‘dogs’, sorcerers, fornicators, murderers, idolaters, everyone who loves falsehood and practises it). Lastly, the beatitude of 22,14 speaks of those who ‘wash their robes’. The image is manifestly ethical as in Rev 19,8 where the robes are the good works of the saints (cf. also Rev 7,14). As to the theme and vocabulary of ‘reward’, first of