The Topography of utopia : Revelation 21-22 in light of ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman utopianism.




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.



Revelation., New Testament., Ancient utopianism., Afterlife., Eschatology., Eden., Paradise., New Jerusalem.