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Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful: Perspectives on Wealth in the Second Temple Period and the Apocalypse of John

MATHEWS, MARK,DEWAYNE (2010) Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful: Perspectives on Wealth in the Second Temple Period and the Apocalypse of John. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The present study considers the degree to which John’s portrayal of the faithful Christian community in the Apocalypse is informed by Jewish apocalyptic traditions related to wealth in the Second Temple period. Previous studies have attributed the author’s radical stance against wealth and economic participation to an ad hoc response against the idolatry and social injustices of the Roman Empire and imperial cults. This thesis argues that there is reasonable evidence to suggest that the author may have already been predisposed to reject affluence as a feature of the present age for the ideal faithful community based on received tradition.
The study begins by delineating the problem in a critical review of how scholars have attempted to deal with this language through either the social world of Roman Asia Minor or the author’s use of the biblical prophets. This discussion demonstrates the need to take a tradition-historical approach that includes an examination of Jewish apocalyptic traditions preserved among the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as other Jewish literature not found at Qumran that demonstrate a decided concern over wealth. These Second Temple texts are then examined collectively against the language of wealth and poverty in selected passages of the Apocalypse. The evidence reveals an emphasis on the part of John on the irreversible, eschatological consequences of ethical behaviour directly related to wealth based on a certain cosmological and theological understanding, an emphasis that has close analogies in some Second Temple literature.
The study concludes that traditions preserved in the Epistle of Enoch and later Enochic texts have played a formative role in shaping the author’s theological perspective concerning material blessing for the faithful in the present age and the world through which he legitimised the radical stance he imposed on his readers/hearers.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Wealth, Poverty, Rich, Poor, Apocalypse, Revelation, Babylon, Qumran, 1 Enoch, Dead Sea Scrolls
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2010
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:10 Sep 2010 14:31

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