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The Elusive Macrostructure of the Apocalypse of John

The Complex Literary Arrangement of an Open Text


Roman Mach

The author applies Umberto Eco’s literary theory of the open work to the perennial problem of the literary macrostructure of the Apocalypse. Revisiting the complexities of its genre, intertextuality, language and communication, he cumulatively traces all indications of literary openness in Revelation. Then the book discusses the extraordinarily diverse scholarly approaches and analyses from this viewpoint. As a result, John’s multiple and varied structural signals are recognised as demonstrably clustered within specific subsections – complex transitions creating a specifically open literary arrangement. More generally, the wider concept of literary openness is offered as a theoretical framework applicable to the specific complexities of some apocalyptic writings.
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2.10 The major implications of the genre analysis


2.10   The major implications of the genre analysis

2.10.1 The complexity of genre in general: A mixtum compositum?

Interestingly, some scholars have argued for a mixed genre in this case.482 Such views clearly reflect the book’s unusual generic complexity. While Aune has rightly expressed a need for caution in this respect,483 the author himself, nevertheless, admits elsewhere that the fact that “there are compositions that include apocalyptic sections but cannot themselves be categorised as apocalypses (e.g., Dan 7–12; Jub. 23; T. Levi 2–5; Abr. 10–15) suggests that it is not unreasonable to regard Revelation as a similar mixtum compositum.”484 ← 147 | 148 →

Linton in his response to Aune claims that “I would say instead that every text is a mixtum compositum to a greater or lesser extent, but in order to make sense of it, the reader has to place restrictions on it. This is done by focusing on one set of generic conventions, but in the case of highly intertextual works, this often involves a greater ‘struggle.’” As for Revelation, “Considering the numerous options that had been given for the generic identification of the Apocalypse of John, it does not seem hasty at all to suggest that it is a hybrid text.”485 Michaels has interestingly summarised in this regard that “To speak of mixed genres is to admit the limitations—even, perhaps, the futility—of genre classification.”486 Humphrey balances similar views referring to the basic consensus as...

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