Ruben Zimmermann, «Nuptial Imagery in the Revelation of John», Vol. 84 (2003) 153-183
In this article is argued that the nuptial imagery of the Book of Revelation is not limited to chapters 19 and 21 but rather runs throughout the book. While the imagery is certainly most pronounced in the final part of the book, it also appears in the letters to the churches (bridal wreath in Rev 2,10; 3,11), in the scene depicting the 144,000 as virgins (Rev 14,4-5), and is encountered again in Rev 18,23 (silencing of the voice of bridegroom and bride) and Rev 22,17 (summons of the bride) at the end of the book. Thus the wedding metaphors can be seen as one of the structural patterns of Revelation as a whole directly in contrast to the metaphors of fornication.
Nuptial Imagery in the Revelation of John*
Examinations of the wedding metaphor in Rev are generally limited to Rev 19 and 211. However, in addition to the announcement of the "wedding of the lamb" in Rev 19,6-9 and the presentation of celestial Jerusalem as a "bride" (Rev 21,2.9), the image of the wedding, often overlooked, has already appeared in the letters to the churches (Rev 2,10; 3,11) as well as in the middle section (14,4-5) and is encountered again in Rev 18,23 and 22,17. The comparison of the two female figures of the harlot and the bride in Rev 17–21 is thus embedded in contrasting declarations, making metaphoric use of gender, that appear throughout all of Rev as a continuous theme2. In the following paper, the nuptial images of Revelation will be examined upon the background of tradition in Judaic imagery, and, within this process, the integration of various elements of such imagery such as metaphors of meals, clothes, city and royalty will become visible. By contrasting the various images of harlotry and the wedding, one of the basic structural elements of Revelation can be recognized.
I. The "wreath of life" (Rev 2,10; 3,11)
In two letters to the churches, the faithful Christian is promised a crown or a wreath (Rev 2,10; 3,11). The "wreath of life" (ste/fanoj th=j zwh=j) in Rev 2,10 is a formulation that has a parallel tradition in Jas 1,12 but remains without analogy in secular Greek literature. Generally, this metaphor is explained within the scope of the Pauline tradition of the victory wreath (1 Cor 9,24, compare Phil 3,14; 2 Tim 4,8),