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date: 27 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article surveys the study of the Roman Empire in the Apocalypse of John, particularly as illuminated by postcolonial and decolonial biblical scholarship. The discussion summarizes scholarship that describes how fantastic imagery in the Book of Revelation plays with and responds to Roman imperial histories, rituals, propaganda, and images, especially as found in the imperial cult. The article also charts contemporary scholarly debates over the meaning of Rome in Revelation, particularly as scholars have examined rhetorics of gender and power. Scholars turn to the Roman Empire as a way to decode Revelation’s imagery, like the figure of Babylon, but also to grapple with their own views on empire (ancient and modern), resistance, and the ethics of interpretation. Ultimately, this article argues that the ethics of interpreting empire should be the focus of future scholarship.

Keywords: Revelation, Apocalypse, postcolonial, decolonial, Rome, empire, imperial cult, Babylon, gender and power, ethics of interpretation

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