Three conclusions about the genre of Revelation

  1. First and foremost, Revelation is what it repeatedly claims to be: a prophecy in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets.
  2. Within the OT prophetic books there are any number of subgenres and literary conventions (narrative, poetry, vision reports, etc). Revelation uses primarily the literary conventions of apocalyptic literature. So we could say Revelation is an apocalyptic prophecy (or a prophetic apocalypse, if you choose).
  3. Finally, Revelation is wrapped in an ‘epistolary framework’ – that is, it begins and ends like a letter (see Rev. 1.1-8 and ch. 22). This does not mean that the genre of Revelation is letter or epistle. The vast majority of Revelation looks nothing like a letter. The letter framework just means that Revelation was personal mail sent by a courier. And of course, not only letters but many different kinds of documents are sent as mail. Also, the letter framework may have been to encourage the churches to read the book in the context of their worship services, since letters from the apostles were read in this way. So we can say that Revelation is an apocalyptic prophecy with an epistolary framework.

Source: author’s personal conclusions

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