assemblies were held, over which a provincial "high priest" presided. On inscriptions the
high priest is frequently mentioned--e.g., "the High Priest of the temple of Asia which
is at Pergamum." These regular ceremonies were an effective means of maintaining gov-
ernment in the provinces. Under Tiberius' rule, the provincial assembly of Asia adopted
a resolution to build a temple dedicated to the emperor, though Tiberius balked at the
proposal. Tacitus reports that Smyrna (cf. Rev 2:8-11) was chosen as the site, with four
other cities (including Laodicea) excluded by the Roman senate.
51 E. Riesner, Das Buch mil den sieben Siegeln (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ru-
precht, 1949) 55.
52 K. Staritz, “Zu Offenbarung Johannis 5.1,” ZNW 30 (1931) 157-70; also C. Roller,
"Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln,” ZNW 36 (1937) 98-113.
53 E. Lohse, Die Offenbarung des Johannes (NTD 11; Gottingen: Vandenhoeck &
Ruprecht, 1966) 40.
54 W. Sattler "Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln. II,” ZNW 21 (1922) 51.
55 L. Mowry, "Revelation 4-5 and Early Christian Liturgical Usage,” JBL 71 (1952)
56 J. M. Ford, 'The Divorce Bill of the Lamb and the Scroll of the Suspected Adul-
teress: A Note on Apoc. 5,1 and 10,8-11,” JSJ 2(1971) 136-43.
94 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW
More important than form,57 however, is content. From the divine
standpoint, history has already been "recorded" by the Sovereign One,
before whom all principates--past, present or future-must bow. The
burning issue for John in 5:1-5 is who can mediate history. John's in-
tense "wailing" (eklaion poly, v 4) reflects the critical impasse: human
inaccessibility to an understanding of the divine purpose in history.
It was commonplace for the poets to wish the emperor a long life,
often using excessively flattering language. At issue was the emperor's
worthship, his "worthiness" as the absolute sovereign who sat on the
Chapters 4-5 reflect an eastern notion that had penetrated the
Empire, and 5:7 with its focus on the activity around the throne is
highly illustrative. Nero had built for himself a rotunda that repre-
sented the cosmos. This structure rotated day and night.59 The middle
region of the rotunda was the region of the sun.60 Roman poets
appealed for Nero to take his seat exactly in the middle of the universe,
otherwise the cosmos would lose its equilibrium.61 From this position
the emperor judged, determining the fate of humans. He thus fulfilled
the role of fatorum arbiter, ho pantokrator, ie., the cosmic god of fate.
In contrast to the lifegiving bull imagery typical of pagan my-
thology and distinctive of the Imperial sacrificial cult, John sees a lamb.
In keeping with the Jewish notion of redemption by means of blood,
sacrifice in the Apocalypse is viewed as the curious mode of conquest.
Further, the Lamb has died a violent death (sphazo, 5:6, 9, 12; 13:8),
thereby establishing total identification with all the saints who are
suffering. The impact of the Lamb both intensifies the contrast to the
pagan sacrificial system as well as the persecution motif so character-
istic of the Jewish apocalyptic genre.
Revelation 5, however, is not foremost a description of the Lamb's
nature; rather, it defines his role. He in fact conquers in line with the
lion's character, a point that is not lost on John's audience, which is en-
during the trials of living under Imperial dominion. The homed Lamb62 57 On the very Jewish notion of “heavenly books,” see the section “Divine Fore-
knowledge and Keeping,” in J. D. Charles, Literary Strategy in the Epistle of Jude (Lon-
don/Toronto: Associated University Presses, 1993) 99-101.
58 On the emperor's “worthiness,” see the discussion of 5:8-10 and 11-14.
59 Note the ministry of the living creatures (4:8) and of those coming out of the
tribulation (7:15)-continuing “day and night”--and, in contrast, the torment of those
worshipping the beast (14:11) as well as the devil himself (20:10)--"day and night."
60 Cf. 21:23 and 22:5.
61 H. P. L 'Orange, “Cosmic Kingship in the Ancient World,” The Sacral Kingship
(Leiden: Brill, 1959) 487.
62 The Lamb's wrath, contra R H. Charles (A Critical and Exegetical Commentary
on the Revelation of St. John [ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1926] 1.142-43), is not out
J. Daryl Charles: THE THRONE-VISION OF THE LAMB 95
seen by John possesses lion-like power--indeed, perfected power (5:6,
"having seven horns"') with which to wage war, which is essential to the
establishing of his kingdom.63 The dragon and the beast (12:3 and 13:1)