- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 23, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195188217
- ISBN-13: 978-0195188219
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.8 x 6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,227,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Imperial Cults and the Apocalypse of John: Reading Revelation in the Ruins
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"This book will benefit students of early Christianity as well as students of Greco-Roman history. Certainly anyone seriously interested in the study of Revelation should not pass it by."--The Journal of Religion
About the Author
Steven J. Friesen is at University of Texas, Austin.
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One conclusion Friesen draws is that the Imperial Cult was definitely founded upon Caesar Augustus and his accomplishments. Augustus was worshiped as Zeus, the high god of the Greeks. In my mind, at least, there can be little doubt that the first of the seven kings of Revelation is Augustus ... not, as some preterists insist, Julius Caesar. Friesen also concludes that the Flavians, including Vespasian and Titus, were also highly honored in myth. This matches the findings and conclusions in my own book, Revelation: The Way it Happened. ([...])
Friesen's book is in two parts: First, the study of the Imperial Cults, and then, how Revelation relates to that study in its direct opposition to Roman imperialism and the abomination of Caesar worship. Of particular interest to readers of Revelation, of course, is Nero Caesar, considered by most to be either the fifth or the sixth king of the seven (depending upon whether you begin counting with Augustus or Julius). Most studied scholars of Revelation agree that, at least on some level, John was surely writing about Nero as the Beast of the Sea.
In the second half he turns more closely to the text of Revelation. He reads Revelation primarily as "resistance literature" noting it was not the only dissenting voice in the empire (See Anathea Portier-Young's "Apocalypse Against Empire" for a more detailed analysis of the way Jewish apocalypses function as resistance literature). In the last chapter he turns to issues of contemporary interpretations. He challenges interpretations that limit Revelation to being anti-imperial cult, stating that it is "anti-Empire", and denounces violence as a means of resistance for Christians.