Original Research - Special Collection: HTS 75th Anniversary Maake Masango Dedication

All the Apocalypse a stage: The ritual function of apocalyptic literature

Hanre Janse van Rensburg
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 4 | a5822 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i4.5822 | © 2019 Hanre Janse van Rensburg | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 September 2019 | Published: 29 November 2019

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Hanre Janse van Rensburg, Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

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It has been made clear for quite some time that if the Bible has become a classic of Western culture because of its normativity, then the responsibility of the biblical scholar cannot be restricted to giving readers clear access to the original intentions of the biblical writers. It must also include the question: ‘What does a reading of the biblical text do to someone who submits to its world of vision?’ This is a question that has been especially significant in the study of apocalyptic literature, as all apocalypses are hortatory. The implication is that, even in the historical context in which the text was first produced, there is room to consider the earliest stages of audience interaction with the text. Interestingly, most studies making use of this model do not address what the implications of this kind of ‘reading as performance’ might be for today’s reader. This research argued that in the understanding of the biblical text as an oral performance, there is a need to leave room for all that happens to a text after it leaves the author’s hands. The method proposed urged ‘performers’ of texts to pay attention to how they bring themselves to interpretation. More specifically, this method aimed to make use of ritual and liturgy as the rhetorical or performative context within which biblical texts functioned and still function. This research thus proposed a liturgical-functional reading reading of biblical texts which integrates affective reading and the deliberate move from cognitive to affective processes.


the Apocalypse of John; the Book of Revelation; apocalyptic literature; affective reading; liturgical or functional reading; anamnesis; hope


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