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The Violence of Nonviolence in the Revelation of John

Pieter G. R. De Villiers
  • University of the Free State
Published Online: 2015-06-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2015-0007


This article investigates the conviction among many biblical scholars that Revelation is a nonviolent book. It first analyses some of the major arguments to support this thesis by investigating the book’s perspectives on martyrdom, on witness, its spiritualizing language, and its message of divine judgment. It then analyses in more depth how the non-violent message of the book is embedded in and reflects violent language, how its seemingly positive portrayal of women is in fact permeated by gender violence and how it portrays divine violence. The article concludes with brief hermeneutical remarks that reflect on how the offensive dimensions of Revelation’s violent non-violence can be interpreted.

Keywords: Violence; Non-violence; Violent non-violence; Revelation; Apocalypse of John; Gender violence; Divine violence; Verbal violence; New Testament hermeneutics


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Received: 2015-02-18

Accepted: 2015-03-18

Published Online: 2015-06-03

Citation Information: Open Theology. Volume 1, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2015-0007, June 2015

©2015 Pieter G. R. De Villiers. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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