Do not take part in her sins (Rev. 18:4): Revelation's critique of commerce in the Roman Empire

Rose, Jill J. (2003) Do not take part in her sins (Rev. 18:4): Revelation's critique of commerce in the Roman Empire. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The book of Revelation in the New Testament is addressed to seven churches in Asia Minor. But it is not simply a letter to these churches. Rather, it is an apocalypse, an "uncovering" or "revelation" of the future in esoteric and symbolic language. Apocalypses have always been difficult to interpret because of their arcane symbolism and obscure references. The book of Revelation in particular has been the subject of many speculative interpretations among those who see it as some sort of record of future events. Recent modern scholarship, however, has focussed more and more on the historical circumstances which gave rise to the writing of Revelation in an effort to uncover the intention of the author. This thesis is situated within this context of modern scholarship and seeks to uncover the intention of the author by examining the historical background which may have given rise to it. -- The esoteric and symbolic language of first-century apocalypses was often a veiled criticism of the might and power of the Roman empire. But the criticism was almost always vague and general. The argument of this thesis is that the book of Revelation is different in that its critique of Rome is very specific and focuses on the ideology which drives trade and commerce within the Empire. The Empire was founded on a polytheistic culture. The author of Revelation sees clearly why in this culture the worship of Roman gods is so all pervasive: it is because it goes hand in hand with trade and commerce, which were activities in which almost everyone, by necessity, was involved. The author of Revelation finds polytheistic worship unacceptable. Only the worship of the one true God is acceptable. But his criticism of polytheism extends beyond simple repudiation of the gods of Rome to the criticism of trade and commerce because he sees the two as bound together. This makes his message unique in the New Testament. This thesis is an examination of why and how he sees the worship of Roman gods and commerce and trade as so inextricably linked together and what the implications of such an indissoluble union are.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/11357
Item ID: 11357
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 137-141.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Religious Studies
Date: 2003
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Christianity--Origin; Church history--Primitive and early church, ca. 30-600.

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