Seven ways in which Revelation is different from a typical apocalypse

  1. Apocalypses tended to be written in the name of some famous figure from the distant past. The author of Revelation gives his own name and assumes the readers will know who he is.
  2. The author specifically says that his work is a prophecy.
  3. Revelation is not as pessimistic about the possibility for change in the present as are many apocalypses. For John, present history remains under the sovereign rule of God and the Lamb.
  4. Revelation contains calls to repentance, whereas many apocalypses saw God’s enemies as a hopeless cause, beyond the point of repentance.
  5. Revelation leaves most of the task of interpretation to the reader, whereas in a typical apocalypse, angels explain pretty much everything.
  6. Revelation focuses on eschatological truth rather than esoterical knowledge.
  7. Revelation contains letters to seven contemporary churches, something not found in other apocalypses.

Source: Robert H. Mounce, NICNT: The Book of Revelation, revised. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1998)

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