Original Research - Special Collection: Festschrift for Prof Stephan Joubert

The revelations of Revelation: The book that fits, even when it does not

Hanré Janse van Rensburg
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6476 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6476 | © 2021 Hanré Janse van Rensburg | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 January 2021 | Published: 13 July 2021

About the author(s)

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


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has again confirmed our obsession with, and misuse of, the Book of Revelation. Of course, this is definitely not the first time that Revelation’s themes and imagery have been pulled out and used to try and explain the current situation. In fact, the Book of Revelation is well-known as ‘the’ book of the New Testament where information about the present as well as the future can be found. Unfortunately, in situations like these, people simply do not bother to draw from the reservoir of experiences on which the author of Revelation naturally expected his hearer or reader to draw. This phenomenon is made worse by the fact that the primary study of the text has moved into the academic institution and, by inference, away from the faith movement. This may make earnest scholarly biblical study of the Apocalypse seem irrelevant to the general concerns of the faith community and the world. But the Book of Revelation does provide an indispensable resource for helping Christians conceive of their place in the contemporary world and meditate on the role the church is to play in a modern, secular society. John’s Apocalypse is not a mere nostalgic trip down memory lane; it is a form of anamnesis or recollection – in recalling or performing the narrative, the past is made physically present. By way of a performative reading of the Book of Revelation, this article makes use of a more practical exegetical dimension.

Contribution: This method brings the Apocalypse as New Testament text back into the life of the community of faith it belongs to and should be performed in, thus also increasing the usage and impact of the Book of Revelation in the faith community.


the Book of Revelation; COVID-19; crisis; the Apocalypse of John; apocalyptic literature; performative text; anamnesis; practical exegesis; significant doings; effecting change


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Crossref Citations

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