51 literary features found in Revelation

  1. Abrupt introductions of new characters (John introduces several characters for the first time as if we already know them)
  2. Alternation between hearing and seeing (John hears, then he sees, then he hears…)
  3. Alternation between heaven and earth (the vantage point from which John writes alternates between heaven and earth)
  4. Appeals to hearing (Revelation is a noisy book filled with trumpets, loud voices, roaring lions, weeping, singing, rushing waters, etc)
  5. Appeals to sight (Revelation is a visual book, using many colors and blinding lights)
  6. Appeals to taste and smell (Revelation mentions incense, sulphur, bitter scrolls, etc)
  7. Beatitudes (Blessed is the person who…) (see here for the list)
  8. Benedictions (blessings)
  9. Chiasms (ABA, ABCBA and similar patterns)
  10. Sharp contrasts (see here for the list)
  11. Divine passives (the use of the passive voice, e.g. “he received”, to indicate God acting without using the name of God)
  12. Doublets
  13. Embedded textual units
  14. Euphemisms
  15. Exhortations (there are not as many commands as one might expect in Revelation – but see especially chs. 2-3, 22)
  16. Extremes and epic scale (from heaven to the abyss, from joy to mourning, from good to evil, etc)
  17. Folklore motifs (damsels in distress, dragons, heroes on white horses, weddings in a beautiful palace, etc)
  18. Hapax legomena (there are 128 words found in Revelation that are not found in the rest of the NT)
  19. Hybrid creatures
  20. Hymns, songs, laments
  21. Hyperbole (exaggeration)
  22. Imagery, symbolism (the book is filled with animals, weather patterns, minerals, jewels, military imagery, architectural imagery, sexual imagery, stars and other items that stand for something else, etc)
  23. Inclusio (“bookend” elements that frame a section of the book)
  24. Intensification (judgments and cosmic phenomenon escalate or intensify as the narrative moves along)
  25. Inversion (Many things are viewed with an inverted or upside down perspective, like the ‘rich’ Laodiceans who are viewed as poor)
  26. Irregular Greek (John’s Greek is not very good. Was Greek his second language? Was he writing choppily to force the reader to slow down and notice the ├é┬ádetails?)
  27. Lengthy, even compound titles for God
  28. Letters
  29. Mentions of the act of writing
  30. Merisms (mentioning the first and the last items of a list in order to represent the whole list – Alpha and Omega)
  31. Narration
  32. Numbers, symbolic, and gematria (3, 7, 12, 666, 1000 and many other symbolic numbers)
  33. Paired angelic revelations
  34. Paired characters
  35. Parataxis (imitating Old Testament Hebrew narrative, the author places the word “and” between clauses and sentences)
  36. Parody
  37. Personification
  38. Places, symbolic
  39. Promises and fulfillments
  40. Props, symbolic
  41. Rapid shifting of setting and imagery
  42. Reaction shots of the author (see the list here)
  43. Recapitulation (where the same chronological period or actions are repeated in the book and viewed from a different perspective)
  44. Repeated phrases
  45. Reversal of causes and effects (sometimes John mentions an effect before mentioning its cause)
  46. Semitisms (in many places the Greek of Revelation uses grammatical constructions that are found in Hebrew and Aramaic, but not in normal Greek)
  47. Two-step progressions
  48. Verbal threads
  49. Vice lists (lists of sins and/or sinners)
  50. Victor sayings (“To the one who conquers…”)
  51. Visions


  1. Adekanbi adetayo Said,

    May 19, 2016 @ 5:40 pm

    Dear sir
    It is my privilege to come across your
    Web site which. it has given me enlightenment on the book of revelation. As a religious student at Babcock university in Nigeria, l couldn”t got much mark on the book of revelation due to lack of material for my studies. l would be very grateful if possible you can assist me in terms of e-books.
    Thanks to hear from you.

  2. Dave Gifford Said,

    May 19, 2016 @ 6:14 pm

    Thanks Adekanbi. I don’t have any ebooks to give you. Most of what I produced on Revelation is in Spanish. But I can recommend the following books on Amazon: my favorite was by Bauckham https://www.amazon.com/Theology-Book-Revelation-New-Testament-ebook/dp/B00E3UR1QY?ie=UTF8&me=&ref_=mt_kindle. Also helpful was https://www.amazon.com/Revelation-John-Narrative-Commentary-ebook/dp/B00B85AC9K/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1463699590&sr=1-1&keywords=resseguie+revelation. I hope you find these links helpful.

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