Wait, witness, worship: (limited) human agency as resistance in the Book of Revelation

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Recent approaches to apocalyptic literature suggest that the purpose of such literature is to exhort its audience toward subversive resistance--a now common interpretation of the Book of Revelation. However, as the cosmic events depicted in the text are usually either divinely or demonically initiated, human agency seems to be limited. A closer examination of human activity in the text demonstrates a clear binary distinction made between humans who side with God (the "faithful"), and humans who side with evil (the "worldly"); whilst the worldly are shown to have a degree of agency and power, their actions inevitably lead to further cosmic imbalance. This is a deliberate authorial move to prevent overt acts of resistance from the faithful--whilst the worldly's actions push the world further into disaster against the backdrop of cosmic struggle, the faithful are provided a limited set of actions that assist in the culmination of God's plan: they are told to wait, witness and worship. These three actions function as a strategy of resistance, allowing the faithful agency in combating evil within their own contexts, whilst limiting overt resistance to avoid further scrutiny from the powers that be.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-115
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Biblical Review
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022


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