Date of Award
Doctor of Theology
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Religion, Old Testament Studies PhD
Richard M. Davidson
Studies on the biblical apocalyptic visions of Daniel 7 and Revelation 12–14 have generally focused on potential extra-biblical sources. Little attention has been given to their canonical background and even less is available when it refers to their relationship to the creation accounts in Genesis. I document this problem in the "Background to the Study" in chapter one of this dissertation. This study aims at filling such gap in the literature by providing literary exploration of these relationships and seeking to understand the contribution of these passages (Gen 1–3; Dan 7; Rev 12–14) to the canonical metanarrative, especially insofar as they articulate the issues of dominion shifts (changes in rulership/administration) and divine legislation.
This dissertation focuses on three crucial texts of the biblical metanarrative (Gen 1–3; Dan 7; Rev 12–14) in order to better understand their narrative function or contribution to the development of the biblical plotline. The biblical apocalyptic passages—Daniel 7 and Revelation 12–14—were chosen because they articulate dominion shifts reusing words, concepts, imagery, characters, and plot much similar to those found in Genesis 1–3. Thus, I pursue the assessment of these three passages by using four integrative methodologies in chapters two, three, and four: 1. narrative analysis (focusing especially on characterization and plot development), 2. a canonical approach, 3. intertextuality, and 4. biblical theology through the entry point of narrative theology.
The first dominion shift in the canonical metanarrative occurs in Genesis 3:6 as humans disobey the LORD God's command/law to not eat from the forbidden tree. As a result of their action, the Genesis narrative describes humans as having forfeited their role as local rulers on behalf of the LORD God—their heavenly Father and cosmic Ruler. The divine legal stipulation in 2:16–17 plays a crucial role in the narrative. The assessment of Genesis 1–3 within a canonical frame suggests that human disobedience to the divine legal stipulation in Genesis 3:6 not only causes humanity to partially lose their delegated dominion, but it also transfers, to a certain extent, the administration of their former dominion to their antagonist. From a literary perspective, this is a major turning point in the biblical metanarrative that only finds partial resolution in Genesis 3 and redefines the perspective of the rest of the biblical story, namely, the world becomes morally and biologically broken. Daniel 7 reuses and reworks words, concepts, imagery, characters, and the story line of Genesis 1–3 to develop its parodic plot. It contains a dominion shift as well. However, in reverse order from Genesis. Instead of depicting human rule being replaced by beastly rule (that of a serpent) as in Genesis 3, Daniel 7 describes the transfer of power (dominion shift) from ferocious beasts to a benevolent human rule led by the Son of Man (Dan 7:13–14, 18, 22, 26–27). From a literary standpoint, the dominion shift in Daniel 7 is a major turning point in the canonical metanarrative. Since it presents a permanent change in administration on earth, it represents a reversal of the fall described in Genesis 3. The text also suggests that legislation is an important part of the conflict described in Daniel 7 as the foremost antagonist (represented by the fourth beast) attacks God and his people by meddling with divine law (Dan 7:25). Revelation 12–14 relates intertextually both to Genesis 1–3 and Daniel 7 (parodically to the former). The segment also articulates a dominion shift from beastly to human rule. Throughout the passage, the issue of legislation comes to the fore as the unholy trinity (the dragon and the beasts) attack the first four commandments of the Decalogue. The related issues of the mark of the beast and the seal of God seem to function as tokens of allegiance to ultimate sovereigns. Resolution to the storyline in Revelation 12–14 occurs as a result of cosmic judgment whose outcome is introduced by the coming of the Son of Man to earth as heavenly savior/judge and the distribution of covenantal blessings and curses described by means of agricultural metaphors (two harvests). All the three passages (Gen 1–3, Dan 7, and Rev 12–14) contain similar words, concepts, imagery, and plot and describe major (global) dominion shifts in the canonical metanarrative. In Genesis, the shift is from human to beastly rule—a perversion of the creational intent. In Daniel and Revelation, the shifts are reversals from beastly to human rule—restorations of the creational intent. In all these passages divine legislation seems to be a part of or even play the central role in the contention. Divine legislation in these passages seems to signify divine sovereignty. Thus, narrative participants determine their fates as a direct result of their position in regards to divine legislation. While rejection of the divine legislation suggests allegiance to God's antagonist, adherence to the divine legislation suggests allegiance to the divine Sovereign. From a literary perspective, the dominion shift in Genesis 3 represents a major complication in the canonical metanarrative while those in Daniel 7 and Revelation 14 represent major shifts toward the final canonical denouement. These finding are presented in chapter five along with a suggestion for further research.
Bible. Daniel 7--Criticism, interpretation, etc.; Bible. Revelation 12-14--Criticism, interpretation, etc.; Bible. Genesis 1-3--Criticism, interpretation, etc.; Apocalyptic literature
Prestes, Flavio III, "Dominion Shifts in Biblical Apocalyptic Literature: a Narrative Reading of Daniel 7 and Revelation 12-14 Vis-À-Vis Genesis 1-3" (2023). Dissertations. 1801.
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