The critical method – a hermeneutic of suspicion and remembrance

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CHAPTER 3 REVELATION AND RITUAL

Keeping everything done in Chapter 2 in mind, it has become clear that a liturgical/functional reading of Revelation will take us into (as yet) more unfamiliar territory where the Book of Revelation is concerned. This is not meant as a statement regarding the value of the bulk of work done on the Apocalypse. Indeed, as was stated in Chapter 1, this “new” dimension in the study of the Book of Revelation is only made possible because of, and can only add on to, all of the exegetical work that has gone before. The gamut of these studies done on the Apocalypse – focusing on the historic, textual, literary, socio-cultural, and symbolic components of the book (as summarised in Chapter 2) – thus serve as the essential foundation onto which this study builds. This is to ensure that this study does not veer off course and into dangerous exegetical (eisegetical?) waters.
I say this, because I have deliberately adopted a liturgical/functional reading – a technique normally associated more with Practical Theology – in order to enhance our reading of the Book of Revelation. In my opinion, this should not be so, especially where the Apocalypse is concerned. By maintaining this “traditional” division in terms of the liturgical/functional method, we as New Testament scholarship are neglecting a method which could add even more depth and practical value to the exegetical process by drawing our attention to the text’s possible functional and performative uses within the community of faith – then and now. This functioning and impact of the text on the community hearing and/or reading it – firstly its original audience and then, from those inferences, also its current audiences – is actually a part-and-parcel dimension of Reader-response Criticism. Though this approach is, admittedly, not a “traditional” method within the discipline of New Testament studies (even within the broader Reader-response Criticism arena), my contention is that this does not make the method less relevant or meaningful. When adding on the ever-increasing focus on the importance of inter-disciplinary work, this could make the work done in this thesis valuable to New Testament studies moving forward. But, again, not valuable in the sense of replacing or negating the scholarship that has gone before. Valuable in the sense of adding on another layer of exegetical depth to the valuable and detailed work that has already been done.
As was demonstrated in Chapter 2, in much earlier times most “scholarly” writers on the Apocalypse were clergy or leaders of reform movements. They were eager to show that the book spoke to the issues of their own times. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, however, the bulk of critical work done shifted to universities and colleges. A possible danger of this movement of the primary study of the text into the academic institution, and by inference away from the faith movement, is that it may make earnest biblical study seem irrelevant to the general concerns of the faith community and the world. With the method I make use of in this study, my aim is to help the faith community feel more included in the study of the Book of Revelation once again. I will attempt to add onto the strong xegetical and academic foundations, laid by the academic community, a more practical exegetical dimension which brings the Apocalypse as New Testament text back into the life of the community of faith it belongs to and should be performed in. By using existing scholarship on the Book of Revelation as this method’s foundation, I hope to ensure that the performance of the text suggested for the faith communities of today is an exegetically responsible one.
It is the hypothesis of this study that in the Book of Revelation we have an indispensable resource for helping first-world Christians conceive of their place in the contemporary world, and meditate on the role the church is to play in a modern, secular society. This is so because, from start to finish, the Book of Revelation is a call to Christian discipleship. While historically it has fuelled end-time speculation, it has also been a resource for critical appraisal of the state, the relationship of Christians to political culture, and the place of Christian witness in society (Maier 2002:x). John’s Apocalypse is not a nostalgic trip down memory lane, it is a form of anamnesis or recollection (Maier 2002:19). Insofar as the medium of communication in antiquity was predominantly oral, and even written texts were recited orally to communities of people, it will be necessary for New Testament interpretation to shift and expand its focus from written texts in themselves, to (oral) communication as interactive and the context(s) in which it happened (Horsley 2011:126). Just as writing was embedded in wider oral communication, so particular texts, orally performed and/or written, were embedded in wider cultural tradition(s) and collective social memory, which thus become all the more important for our interpretation. Furthermore, insofar as oral and/or written texts (like the “oral traditions” behind them) were used in repeated recitation and application in communities and their contexts, interpretation would be appropriately focused on their cultivation and not their mere transmission. In recalling/performing the narrative, the past is made physically present. For John, the death of Jesus is, of course, a past historical event, but its reality is present and its effects are to be felt now. The author admonishes his audience to live into a present story – most evident in John’s repeated modulations in terms of tense (e.g. Rv 1:5 “λύσαντι”1 to Rv 7:14 “ἔπλυναν”; Rv 12:13 “ἐβλήθη” versus Rv 12:15 “ἔβαλεν”; and Rv 14:3 “ἠγορασμένοι” vs Rv 14:4 “ἠγοράσθησαν”; for an in- depth and detailed study of this aspect of the Book of Revelation, please refer to Mathewson 2010). This wedding of tenses turns the Apocalypse into a subversive piece of memory-work – the Apocalypse deploys memory to re-create the present through recollection. Anamnesis invests the present with renewed significance, for the present now carries the past.
“Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches” (ὁ ἔχων οὖς ἀκουσάτω τί τὸ πνεῦμα λέγει ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις). This expression is repeated in all seven of the letters to John’s churches in Asia Minor (Rv 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). It is seldom studied, because it is assumed to be a catchphrase associated with these coded secret messages. But the reverse is the case, as Anne-Mart Enroth (1990:598-608) demonstrates:
The Hearing Formula is an invitation and an encouragement to hear. It underlines what should be heard and how it should be heard, and what follows from hearing aright…It is openly directed towards the communities mentioned in the letters, who in fact represent the whole church…The Hearing Formula is positive, for it does not contain the idea of judgement or of hardening. On the contrary, it underlines the promise and possibility of salvation.
It is the hypothesis of this research that every aspect of the Book of Revelation which describes the church – i.e. worship and witness, being Christ-centred, coping with fierce opposition, showing a spiritual effectiveness, and working out one’s ministry in terms of priesthood and prophecy – is capable of a direct translation into the situation of today’s church in the modern world. Revelation still offers significant and positive ideas for those with ears to hear. It cannot be dismissed as an outdated, self-conscious irrelevance.
What follows in the rest of Chapter 3 will be an exploration of the possible liturgical/ritual function of the Apocalypse in its original context. To be able to do this, it will be necessary to understand special communications as interactive and contextual, a far more complex undertaking than considering the meaning of written texts as artefacts, as we have been trained to do (Horsley 2011:144). Adequate appreciation and interpretation would require not just a sense of the rhetorical tone and rhythm of the respective speeches, but a sense of the hearers’ life circumstances, their historical situation and the cultural tradition in which they hear and respond to the speeches. In order to hear and interpret New Testament texts, it is necessary to discern the contours of the text, to determine the historical context of the community of the responsive/interactive hearers, and to know as much as possible the cultural tradition out of which the voiced texts resonate with the hearers (Horsley 2011:145).

IMAGINATIVE PARTICIPATION RESULTS IN TRANSFORMING AC-TUALITY

It is interesting to note that many works in the field of social sciences and literary criticism are concerned with apocalyptic ideas, without giving special attention to the Bible. In these writings, the words “apocalypse” and “millennium” have acquired a general meaning that is only loosely connected with the thought of the Book of Revelation. Yet the use of these terms in a general sense is evidence of the Apocalypse’s impact. Its words and symbols have entered into everyday vocabulary to give expression to human hopes and fears, and human aspirations and tragedies. In an age of upheaval and transformation, they evoke a vibrant response in the minds of men and women.
The Apocalypse appeals to people who believe themselves to be in a crisis. Even when their fears are unjustified, they may experience real distress. Few men and women, if any, are free from the fear of war, persecution, injustice, or personal tragedy. Many of them feel themselves to be threatened, even when their lives outwardly appear to be untroubled. In this frame of mind, they turn to the Apocalypse. All of these factors that attract people to the book today were present when it was written (see e.g. Hagner 2012:747-748, 760-775; Schnelle 2009:751-772; Du Rand 2007:72-101; Brown 2009:802-809; Barr 2004:632-639; DeSilva 2004:893-905). The church was either suffering persecution, or living in fear of it. Conflict was a real danger, whether with the Roman Empire or the Jewish synagogues. Some of the congregations that John addressed were torn by ecclesiastical controversy. Poverty, slavery, and class distinction caused social unrest. The world had a full quota of natural disasters – famines, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. People believed themselves to be in a situation of crisis. These conditions were present in the first century, and have been present ever since (as will be demonstrated in Chapter 5).
With this functional liturgical reading, it is about rediscovering the Book of Revelation’s importance for the Christian community. In a sense it is about claiming it back from its assimilation (disappearance?) into Western culture. It is about finding those ideas and elements within the text of the Apocalypse that can be made use of in the community of faith’s communal expression, so as to affect both conscious and sub-conscious change. Here it is important to recognise that this change is not brought about by being able to answer life’s difficult questions; for, in practice, formal theological ideas are not used in a deductive manner. Realistically, individuals hold opinions, beliefs, and values that are partial, fragmentary, and changing. These opinions and beliefs are constantly interfusing with the activities, rites, and manifold endeavours of life. So it is rather about recognising that we, as people, hunger and thirst for significant doings. And that, through participation in these significant doings – i.e. rituals or “rites of intensification” – our understanding of, our perspective on, and our emotions regarding life’s difficulties are changed. This change happens almost spontaneously, because of the conscious and sub-conscious interaction that participation in ritual brings into being.
It will be demonstrated that participation in ritual has the power to unravel the ultimate problems and paradoxes of our existence – not by providing all the intellectual answers we desire – but through participation in periods (rituals) where action and awareness merge. In the elements of ritual, and our participation therein, we experience the high and explicit sanctification of life’s most primary concepts. The immediate and lasting effect of this being an embodied/lived experience of the preservation of the world’s wholeness in the face of fragmenting and dissolving forces. Through participation, hope can be fused into our sub-conscious, from where it is able to affect our conscious daily living in a much more powerful way than merely thinking about it can ever achieve.
Such a modern hermeneutic theory thus insists that the meaning of a work is primarily what it means to the reader. Here it is important to remember that a pluralism of method can turn into an ideological pluralism in which there are no objectively correct answers, only a range of subjective responses. To prevent this, the contributions of the author and of his/her situation to what is said – and the ways in which this handles, and is handled by, the continuity of traditions – must still retain some significance, if not decisive control, in questions of meaning. Revelation’s vision of an alternative world derives power from the actual contrast with the socio-political realities that gave it birth (Court 1994:19). For literary tensions and theological dialectic to be understood fully, historical questions must remain part of the interpreter’s task.

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DEFINING THE PROCESS OF A LITURGICAL READING

Once again, the line of thought expressed above is only the start to a “new” way of reading the Book of Revelation and the possible impact it might have on our understanding and use of the text. In order to demonstrate what a ritual/liturgical functional reading of Revelation looks like, a few key chapters of the Apocalypse will be analysed according to this method. Because it is only the beginning of this specific exploration, it might seem a bit short. But this is simply because fully exploring each of the different elements that will thereafter be mentioned and shortly discussed to flesh out the idea of this method even further would be a lifetime’s worth of study and work. In terms of this aspect it is also important to remember that, in all the elements identified within the text and our study of the way the text is used, the focus is specifically on the ritual functional and performative possibilities of the text. In these functional, bodily, and performative possibilities lie hidden ways in which both conscious and sub-conscious change can be brought about. Thus, this liturgical functional reading is all about finding ways to employ the text to change the way we see ourselves and look at/understand the world, and our faith, on an embodied level. The book sheds a great deal of light not only on the condition of the church in the first century C.E., but on the continuing state of the church in our modern age (Guthrie 1987:67). While there are features which must be regarded as relevant only for the original readers, the underlying principles have an abiding significance. Our task will be to present an overall impression of what can be deduced from the book as a whole in terms of encouragement and warning for the modern church.
As will become clear in the next chapter, the possibilities opened up when following this approach are rather unconventional, but also very exciting. This approach focuses on participants’ experience of ritual as rewarding, thereby directly reinforcing their faith in the cosmic and moral orders on all levels of the brain. This process brings with it its own intrinsic reward, because the ritual – and the cosmic and moral orders it reinforces – affords the community of faith with so many new ways in which to engage with their faith. Further study of these possibilities – especially where it comes to the Book of Revelation – can only add immense value to the church today and the ways in which it practices its faith. This is because such a study can possibly, once again, place embodied hope in all its richness and depth at the centre of our existence and faith experience as individuals and communities.
Thus, this chapter will be dedicated to exploring the possibilities opened up by studying hope with the help of the liturgical functional method. The kind of reading we do, essentially, to function in the world, day-to-day. This study will be focused on possible ways in which the text of Revelation could be used in this ritual functional way to re-create and/or strengthen hope in today’s faith communities. The hypothesis is that, by way of a liturgical functional reading of the Book of Revelation, it can belong once again to the community of faith, from whom it was estranged. As will be seen in Chapter 4, by giving the book and its contents back in this way, it becomes possible for Revelation to be a book that gives meaning to life when people can’t find meaning on their own. A book, and rituals, that allow people to – consciously and sub-consciously – experience the good in the seemingly horrible, especially when it comes to their misfortune.

THE WAGER OF TRANSCENDENCE

When this task is undertaken it will become clear that the Christian story – especially as described in the hymnic/ritual material of the Apocalypse – does afford a route beyond the impasse; an exit from the labyrinth of postmodern despair; an environment in which an ecology of hope can flourish. The Christian story does so precisely by virtue of its own peculiar “wager of transcendence”. This is the only book in the New Testament which is detailed and specific concerning the winding up of the present age, although hints may be found elsewhere. This fact is clearly of immense importance in determining the relevance of the Christian faith for the present. No concept is satisfactory which excludes the future. There must be some notion about the winding up of history. The suggestion that the Christian faith can turn the present world into a coming Utopia which will continue for ever is not supported by this book. In fact, the approach of Revelation to the present order is essentially pessimistic – all it is fit for is to pass away. Heaven and earth must give way to a new heaven and earth. The existing Jerusalem must give way to a New Jerusalem. Everything must become new (Rv 21:5). Such an uncompromising message sounds a death knell for a purely social gospel, although to recognise this is not to deny the social importance of the gospel in the present age.
The message of Revelation is something far more important than any delineation of the sequence of events that lead to the end (Jones & Sumney 1999:109). It is the message that, whatever those events are, we can be certain that God will be victorious, and that we can be with God if we remain faithful. The point here is that the tragic dimensions of human life cannot, and will not, be resolved within the boundaries of either history or nature. The replacement of the existing order with one which is new and superior cannot be accomplished without a resolution of the present combat situation. If this story is to have a comic rather than a tragic ending, Christian faith recognises that it will only be through the contrivance of the God of the resurrection – the God who is able to bring life out of death and being out of non-being – that all is resolved well and everything finally works together for good (Bauckham and Hart 1999:68). This book, with its strange poetic language, shows the powerful forces of evil ultimately brought to nothing.
There is never any doubt about the outcome – the Lamb is in control throughout. The supreme message of this book is one of hope and encouragement.

THE RESURRECTION AS PARADIGM

This Christian faith is evoked and sustained/nurtured by a rich stock of images and through an appeal to hope beyond the limits of the historical and the natural, in terms of which it becomes possible to imagine the unimaginable (Bauckham & Hart 1999:69). In this respect the resurrection of Jesus is the paradigm case for Christian hope, and its essential dynamic is mirrored in many other scriptural accounts and features of Christian experience – especially those of the Book of Revelation.
It should be made clear that the primary horizon of this hope is in the future, for the new creation has not yet occurred. But this does not render Christian hope empty of present significance. Genuine hope has the capacity to transfigure our perception and experience of the present, thus transforming our ways of being in the world. It is a vital part of a Christian perspective on this world to identify within it scattered acts of re-creative anticipation of God’s promised future (Bauckham & Hart 1999:70). The same Spirit who raised Jesus from death calls into being life, health, faith, and hope where there is otherwise no capacity for these and no accounting for them. In such happenings the power of the future-made-present is manifest, and the lustre of the new creation shines provocatively from behind the heavy clouds of history.

RESURRECTION, RITUAL, AND REVELATION

If the crucifixion-resurrection of Jesus is to be the paradigm for the Christian’s eschatological expectation, then in some sense we must suppose ourselves as people of hope to be located on Easter Sunday (Bauckham & Hart 1999:71). This day is bounded on the one side by all the horror of history symbolically concluded in the events of Good Friday, and on the other by the open future of God who raises the dead to life on the dawn of Easter Sunday. One way of assisting, ritually/practically, with this constant positioning as faith community is by looking at the Apocalypse – specifically regarding the resurrection – from a liturgical functional point of view.
The liturgical act/rite of beginning a ritual event, or bringing it to an end, is not insignificant (Davies 2002:142); with the liturgical act/rite then being the process that consummates that event of intensified embodiment. The use of words and action to begin an event or bring it to its conclusion is an end in itself. It is not explained; no rational reflection is given. These rites are simply practised. Yet, as will be more fully discussed in the next chapter, when rituals begin and end participants view themselves as having gained a benefit – most importantly on a sub-conscious level – which then effects change on a conscious level.

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STUDYING REVELATION

THE MODERN SCHOLARLY OPINION

In the twentieth century, Biblical scholars turned to methods practiced in other fields of research and used them to interpret both the Old and the New Testaments (Wainwright 1993:150). The social sciences of psychology, sociology, and anthropology spread across the Biblical academic world. Along with students of other disciplines, Biblical scholars looked to these sciences for help; and, at the same time, scholars in those fields devoted attention to the Bible.
With its visions and strange images, the Apocalypse is an attractive subject for psychologists. Jung (1954:121, 129-132, 142, 154) examined it in terms of his own theory of a collective unconscious. Yarbro Collins offers another psychological explanation of the Apocalypse. She argues that it can be understood as “part of the process of containing aggressive feelings” (Yarbro Collins 1984a:156). Early Christians desired vengeance against the Romans, and even felt hostile to Christians with whom they disagreed. The Apocalypse deals with these feelings by transferring the aggression to another subject – Christ becomes the aggressor on the Christians’ behalf, and makes war on the heretics (Rv 2:16; 22-23). Another way in which the book restrains aggression is by internalising it and making demands of abstinence in relation to money and sex (Yarbro Collins 1984a:156-157). Yarbro Collins (1984a:152-153) compares the psychological effect of the Apocalypse with those of Greek tragedy – both have the power of effecting catharsis (purging). In Aristotle’s opinion, tragedy purges the emotions of fear and pity and, according to Yarbro Collins, the Apocalypse has a similar effect on the emotions of fear and resentment. It does not totally eliminate these emotions, but removes their “painful or disquieting elements”. Barr (1986:49-50), however, understands catharsis not primarily in terms of emotional relief, but in terms of giving people a new understanding of the world, in which they see themselves as “actors in charge of their own destiny”.
Attempts have been made to look at the Apocalypse in the light of sociology and social history as well as psychology. Sociologists and social historians often concentrate on apocalyptic thought in general, rather than on the Apocalypse itself (see e.g. Cohn 1970:281-286; Barkun 1974:89-90; and Hanson 1979:432-444). Other writers have given a sociological account of the Apocalypse itself, arguing that it was the product of a situation in which there were acute tensions between the rich and the poor, or between the strong and the weak (see e.g. Yarbro Collins 1983:746; 1984:132-134; and Schüssler Fiorenza 1998:24). Thompson (1990:191-197) considers the Apocalypse from the viewpoint of the sociology of knowledge, and stresses the diversity of people whom it attracts – its appeal is not confined to the persecuted and the oppressed, but extends to people who are discontented with the existing order of society.
Closely linked with sociology is the discipline of anthropology. One of its best-known representatives – Claude Lévi-Strauss – argues that myth is a means of overcoming contradictions. Gager (1975:49-57) has applied his theory to the Apocalypse, claiming that the Apocalypse functions in the same way as myth. It is a book produced by an oppressed community that seemed to have no hope of justice under the regime of Rome. The goal of the Apocalypse is to “transcend the time between a real present and a mythical future”. It performs this function by the use of symbols that overcome the contradiction between the hope of life in God’s kingdom, and the present reality of persecution. The apocalypse, in Gager’s opinion, contains two kinds of symbols: The first kind are symbols of victory and hope (the throne, the Lamb, the elders, the book of life, the new heaven and earth, and the New Jerusalem). The second are symbols of oppression and despair (the beasts, the plagues, Babylon, and Satan). The Apocalypse makes a contrast between these two groups of symbols, and its message is a form of therapy – by giving people an experience of a blissful future, it fortifies them to endure persecution in the present.
This diversity of interpretations is even more remarkable than the diversity of its interpreters. For twenty centuries, men and women have attempted to probe the book’s mystery. They have emerged with a bewildering assortment of answers. So numerous and conflicting are its interpretations that many people despair of making sense of it. A tempting solution to the problem would be to seize on one particular account and dismiss all others as worthless. Such a procedure fails to do justice to the seriousness of interpreters. It also neglects the essential character of the book, which is written in such a way as to be capable of a variety of meanings. Their disagreement does not mean that they have squandered their energies and labour. No, their very failure to achieve unanimity is instructive. The divided voice of scholarship testifies to the book’s ambiguity, and is evidence that the Apocalypse resists attempts to find agreed answers to the questions that are asked.

Contents
Chapter 1 Choosing the Apocalypse of John
1.1 A personal confession
1.2 All the Apocalypse: A stage
2 The aim of this research on Revelation
3 What this study is not
4 The goals of this study
Chapter 2
1 Perspectives on The Apocalypse of John
1.1 A book with seven seals
1.2 A short history of interpretation
1.3 The modern scholarly opinion
2 Revelation: working with the text
2.1 Apocalypticism
2.2 Understanding context
2.3 Effective reading
2.4 Accurate understanding
3 Summarising representative studies on the Book of Revelation
3.1 Form and message – the traditional school
3.2 The critical method – a hermeneutic of suspicion and remembrance
3.3 A new paradigm – merging historical exegesis and the social sciences
3.4 Structure as visual guide
4 Into the breach
4.1 Looking back
4.2 Moving forward
Chapter 3
1 Revelation and ritual
1.1 Imaginative participation results in transforming actuality
1.2 Defining the process of a liturgical reading
2 The wager of transcendence
2.1 The resurrection as paradigm
2.2 Resurrection, ritual, and Revelation
3 Studying Revelation
3.1 The modern scholarly opinion
3.2 Revelation as apocalypse
3.3 Revelation and liturgy/worship
3.4 The Apocalypse: an “open book”
3.5 Returning to the first century
4 A liturgical functional reading of the Book of Revelation
4.1 Revelation 1
4.2 Revelation 5
4.3 Revelation 7
4.4 Revelation 11
4.5 Revelation 14
4.6 Revelation 15
4.7 Revelation 19
4.8 Revelation 21-22
5 Identifying further ritual possibilities within Revelation
5.1 The messages to the seven churches
5.2 Prayers, supplications and songs
5.3 Ritual actions/gestures
6 Concluding remarks
Chapter 4
1 How we have ended up here
1.1 Existence and awareness
1.2 Experiencing tension
1.3 Ritual (and liturgy) – deceitful or constructive?
2 Liturgy – an introduction
2.1 The problem with ritual and liturgy today
2.2 Feeling and action – an essential relation
2.3 Liturgy’s language, creatively speaking
3 Liturgical study
3.1 The object of liturgical study
3.2 Questions when discussing liturgy
3.3 Problems in the domain of liturgical studies
4 Liturgical studies as framework for a liturgical-performative reading
4.1 Defining the liturgical domain
4.2 The people’s work: collective intentions
4.3 Liturgy as collective expression
4.4 Liturgy as communicative action
5 A psychological perspective on ritual and liturgy
5.1 The function of repetition
5.2 Ritual’s mnemonic impact and significance
5.3 The ritual form hypothesis
5.4 Initial concluding thoughts
6 The anthropology of experience
6.1 Achieving authenticity
6.2 The promotion of the individual
6.3 Discovering meaning
6.4 Access to the whole
6.5 The argument of images
7 Creating experience and meaning
7.1 Lived experience
7.2 Indigenous expression
7.3 The death of ritual?
8 A functional model for understanding ritual
8.1 Ritual: constitutive performance
8.2 The state “between”: ritual’s function
8.3 Seeking ritual, interrupting life
8.4 Ritual, the answer to myth’s question
9 Combining conclusions
Chapter 5
1 The Apocalypse’s first century cultural archaeology
1.1 The Book of Revelation and the Roman Empire
1.2 Revelation: enabling faithfulness
1.3 Putting pain and martyrdom in perspective
1.4 Possible meaning for today’s context
2 Determining today’s cultural archaeology
2.1 Where are we now?
2.2 Postmodernity as label
2.3 Two cultural changes
3 The implosion of secularism
3.1 Responses to the social implosion
3.2 Fetishism
4 Postmodernity and postmodernism
4.1 Re-evaluating technology
4.2 Redefining responsibility
4.3 Understanding human life teleologically
5 Encircled by catastrophe
5.1 Exorcising horror and terror from history
5.2 An evaluation of the success of this exorcism
5.3 Moral regress
6 Contemplating science and theology
6.1 Challenge and revelation
6.2 Eschatology: the divider
6.3 Our present dilemma
7 Facing the inquisition
7.1 Ultimate questions
7.2 Space and meaning
8 A multi-disciplinary approach
8.1 Complementary parts
8.2 Systematic thinking and the theory of relativity
8.3 Continuity/Discontinuity
8.4 Matter, space and time: a single package
8.5 The Book of Revelation: An unfolding process
9 The way forward
9.1 What remains?
9.2 Rediscovering hope as metanarrative
9.3 Delineating the work to be done
Chapter 6
1 Moving beyond convention: a re-enchantment of hope
1.1 The validity of hope
1.2 Hope: a short history
1.3 Hope versus optimism
1.4 Why hope?
2 Hope: distinctively human
2.1 The relationship between hope and fear
2.2 A lack of hope
2.3 Healthy hopelessness
3 Emphasising (and controlling) the immediate
3.1 The threat of a present without future
3.2 The end of history and the metanarrative
3.3 Meaningful hope = moving to an ending
3.4 The function and significance of symbolic universe
4 Can hope be shaped by violence?
5 An ecology of hope
5.1 Life as a stage
5.2 God’s second death
5.3 A wager on transcendence
6 The divine comedy
Chapter 7
1 Reflections on concluding
2 In summation
2.1 Studies of Revelation
2.2 A liturgical functional reading of the Apocalypse
2.3 Perspectives on ritual and liturgy
2.4 The reality within which we exist
2.5 Discussing « hope »
3 Potential contribution moving forward
Works consulted
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