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.
all the term misqo/j, the verb a)podi/dwmi, and the canon of equitable retribution (‘to repay everyone according to his actions’), are found (v. 12). Secondly, the opportunity of admittance into the eschatological city and to its tree of life is depicted (v. 14), while the decree of expulsion from the city in 22,15 points out the opposite perspective. The dominant subject of the second strophe is the ‘I’ of Jesus: ‘Behold, I am coming soon’ (v. 12a), ‘... I bring my recompense, to repay...’ (v. 12b), ‘I am the A and the W...’ (v. 13).
In the third strophe (22,16-21), the antagonists and the vocabulary of the first strophe (vv. 6-10) occur again: the angel (v. 16a), the prophecy (vv. 18a.19a), the book (vv. 18a.18c.19a.19b) and its words (vv. 18a.18b.19a), its content (vv. 18b.19b), and its addressees (vv. 16a.17b.18a). The martyria-vocabulary on the contrary is new: at first v. 16a identifies the witness with the angel, but the right hierarchy is restored by means of vv. 18a and 20a where the main witness is Jesus, so that the angel turns out to be only a minor link in the chain of the witnessing. Here, then, the dominant subject is Jesus, first of all in the sentences in the first person singular: ‘I, Jesus, have sent my angel’ (v. 16a), ‘I am the root...’ (v. 16b), ‘I testify...’ (v. 18a), ‘Surely I am coming soon’ (v. 20), and then in the imperatives of vv. 17a, 17b, 20b, and in the participle o( marturw=n of v. 20a.
3. The parallelism between 22,6-10 and 22,16-20
Some elements, both of parallelism and discontinuity, between the first and the third strophes, deserve closer attention. The first comparison could be that of the schemes of revelation, where the major difference is that the first strophe introduces God as the source of revelation and the churches as the addressees (dei=cai toi=j dou/loij au)tou=, 22,6b)6, while in the second strophe the initiative of revealing is attributed to Jesus, and the churches are the object of the speech of revelation (marturh/sai u(mi=n ... e)pi_ tai=j e)kklhsi/aij, 22,16a), instead of being the addressees. Before proceeding further, it is necessary to