The Topography of utopia : Revelation 21-22 in light of ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman utopianism.
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Gilchrest, Eric J.
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In this dissertation, I set out to achieve two primary goals: first, to construct a detailed description of ancient utopian expectations according to Greco-Roman and Jewish literature, and second, to read Revelation 21–22 in light of these utopian expectations. In order to construct a description of ancient utopianism, I survey a large swath of ancient literature and categorize the various forms of utopian expression. For Greco-Roman utopianism, I suggest three categories: political utopianism, primitivistic utopianism, and afterlife utopianism. For Jewish utopianism, I suggest Edenic utopianism, nationalistic utopianism, and eschatological utopianism. After distinguishing the forms of expression and locating texts within which utopian descriptions are found, I then move to elaborating the various motifs, or topoi, that one finds in this literature. It is through the elaboration of the topoi that the specificity of a given utopia, whether Greco-Roman or Jewish, is given substance. Turning to the task of reading Revelation 21–22, I interpret the text in the context of ancient utopianism, particularly as explicated in its Greco-Roman and Jewish forms. I am interested in the variety of ways this text might have been heard by an original audience composed of both Jews and Gentiles with a range of conceptual backgrounds. I, therefore, read the Apocalypse from two vantage points: the point of view of a Jewish-minded auditor whose primary point of reference is Jewish traditions and the Hebrew Scriptures, and the point of view of a Greco-Roman-minded auditor whose point of reference is Greco-Roman traditions. In this way, I wish to account for some of the diversity that would have existed in the first audience that received the Apocalypse.