Worthy to Open the Scroll Part 1

1. A biblical theology of revelation begins with the lamb who was slain who was found worthy to open the scroll. The whole of NT apocalyptic is shaped in and through the event of the lamb of God and his power to unveil God to us.

Revelation 5:6-10

Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They sing a new song:

‘You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God
saints from every tribe and language and people and nation;
you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God,
and they will reign on earth.

God’s self-sacrificial act is the beginning of Revelation. We do not begin with intuition, feelings, subjectivity as such, or any other apriori than the fact of this event, which is the fullness of God’s speech to us about the nature of God’s self. We begin with the Word of God Himself, This Jesus, who is the fullness of what has been spoken to us.

It is this Lamb having been slain that is the foundation of everything we shall say about God because it is He Who has opened the scroll precisely through His having been slain. His blood, his love has made him the chief cornerstone. Revelation has no other locus, no other starting point than this whole life and career of Jesus, and the height of it’s beauty is the glory revealed to us in the kenotic self-effacement of Jesus.

I believe that the center of theology is this act. We need to think wht to say, to be saying this event and everything it means, that’s what theology is. This event reveals to us the apocalyptic nature of the gospel, the continual unveiling and opening of our eyes to see the world rightly, it shows us another world that is more true than the power abuses so familiar to our own.I believe the gospel is still rightly political, but the only way to go about being and living this ecclesiam politicam is to remember the heart of apocalyptic in the whole tradition. Political theology, or public theology as it has also been termed is original to the heart of the gospel via apocalyptic literature.

Marks of Apocalyptic literature:

Scholarly Definition of “Apocalypse”(from the SBL’s “Apocalypse Group”; published in J. J. Collins, Semeia 14 [1979] 9):

” ‘Apocalypse’ is a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework,
in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a human recipient,
disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial insofar as it involves another, supernatural world.”

Addition to the Definition, incorporating the purpose of the genre, from the suggestions of Hellholm (1982) & Aune (1986):

“.intended to interpret the present, earthly circumstances in light of the supernatural world and of the future, and to influence both the understanding and the behavior of the audience by means of divine authority.”

Given this context, what we know about God’s self-revelation in the cross is that it can shape a proper political theology and should, but this political theology is inherently tied to the self-sacrificing lamb who opens our eyes to see. The Lamb Himself has the eyes of the Spirits of God. He sees in and with the Spirit of God, and the spirits are enumerated in Isaiah (11:2-3) as follows: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety (godliness), and fear of the Lord.

The number 7, most likely means He has complete knowledge and wisdom. And the 7 horns are likely allusions to his having complete power, because as we all well know real lambs do not have horns. Yet St. John is trying to show us that precisely because the lamb is slain he has full authority, full power to unveil God. What John is doing is connecting the crucifixion of this Jesus with the fullness of the power to unveil God, and the fullness of God’s power is this lamb who has “all authority” as the gospel of John teaches.

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