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In this fresh and provocative work, Robert Royalty convincingly challenges traditional views of the Book of Revelation (the Apocalypse of John). First, Royalty contends that Revelation was written in response to a power struggle within the Christian community. This is virtually diametric to the traditional notion that the Apocalypse was occasioned by persecution or at least by attempts to ostracize Christians from the cultural mainstream. Then, his conclusion that Revelation reflects the dominant ideology of wealth in first-century Greco-Roman society runs counter to the findings of much contemporary scholarship which routinely reads in the Apocalypse the judgment/justice of God over against the injustices of society.
In the Streets of Heaven, Royalty shows that opposition to the dominant culture in the Apocalypse is not an attempt to redeem that culture, but rather an attempt to replace it with a Christianized version of the same thing. The powerful combination of the imagery of wealth and its effects on status from Greco-Roman culture expressed in Revelation entangles the text in that culture. The text creates a new culture of power that mimics the dominant ideology -- only the names and labels are changed. Revelation replaces Rome with the New Jerusalem and Caesar's court with God's, but the underlying power structures are essentially the same. Ultimately, Revelation constructs a theology in which ideological judgment is the heart of the gospel message. The good news proclaimed is that the faithful slaves who have endured have a place in the golden city and that their evil opponents do not. For those who oppose this ideology, the text offers judgment with no justice, crisis withoutcatharsis.
This is an original and important new look at the Apocalypse. Royalty's lively prose and clear arguments will convince any reader of Revelation at least to rethink well-worn and often unsatisfying views of the message and meaning of the Apocalypse.
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