Early Xtian Apocalypsis – by ArchBishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz
Early Christian Apocalypticism:
Genre Social Setting
ArchBishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz
Adela Yarbro Collins, ed.
Copyright © 1986 by Society of Biblical Literature.
Published in Decatur, GA.
Contributors to This Issue
Adela Yarbro Collins
PART ONE: STUDIES IN GENRE
The Problem of Apocalyptic Genre and the Apocalypse of John
The Apocalypse of John and the Problem of Genre
David E. Aune
The Experience of the Visionary and Genre in the Ascension of Isaiah 6–11 and the Apocalypse of Paul
PART TWO: STUDIES IN SOCIAL SETTING AND FUNCTION
The Genre and Function of the Shepherd of Hermas
The Followers of the Lamb: Visionary Rhetoric and Social-Political Situation
Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza
A Sociological Analysis of Tribulation in the Apocalypse of John
Contributors to This Issue
David E. Aune
St. Xavier College
3700 West 103rd Street
Chicago, IL 60655
Adela Yarbro Collins
Department of Theology
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza
Episcopal Divinity School
Cambridge, MA 02138
Department of Religion
University of Bergen
Department of Religion
613 Seventy-Nine Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544
Catholic Theological Union
5401 South Cornell Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
Department of Religion
P.O. Box 599
Appleton, WI 54912
Adela Yarbro Collins
University of Notre Dame
This volume of essays is intended to continue the work begun by the Apocalypse Group of the Society of Biblical Literature’s Genres Project. That group consisted of Harold W. Attridge, Francis T. Fallon, Anthony J. Saldarini, Adela Yarbro Collins, and John J. Collins (Chair). It was active from about 1975 to 1978. The results of its collaborative work were published in volume 14 of Semeia (1979). These results included a definition of the genre “apocalypse,” a master paradigm of the significant features of representatives of the genre from the points of view of form and content, and a typology of the genre (delineation of types and subtypes).
Shortly after Semeia14 appeared, an International Colloquium on Apocalypticism was held at Uppsala, sponsored by the Royal Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities and the Faculty of Theology at the University of Uppsala (August, 1979). Professor Geo Widengren chaired the Organizing Committee. Dr. David Hellholm served as Secretary to the Committee and edited the volume in which the papers were later published, Apocalypticism in the Mediterranean World and the Near East (1983). The Colloquium provided an opportunity for an initial assessment of the proposals made by the Apocalypse Group.
One strength of the definition proposed in Semeia14 is that it distinguishes the apocalypses from the prophetic texts of the Hebrew Bible on the one hand and from other types of revelatory literature in the Greco-Roman world on the other. At the Colloquium in Uppsala and in various publications from about that time, a number of scholars have proposed alternative definitions. E. P. Sanders has attempted to define the essence of Jewish apocalypses as variations on the themes of revelation and reversal of fortunes. A major problem with this definition is that it does not distinguish the apocalypses in any clear and precise way from the prophetic literature. At the other extreme, J. Carmignac, H. Stegemann, and C. Rowland have proposed definitions in which eschatology is not included as an essential element. The problem here is that the distinctiveness of the apocalypses vis-à-vis other forms of revelatory literature in the Greco-Roman world is not taken into account.
In 1981 a Consultation on Early Christian Apocalypticism was held at the Annual Meeting of the SBL in San Francisco. The Steering Committee for the Consultation consisted of David Aune, Carolyn Osiek, Leonard Thompson, and Adela Yarbro Collins (Chair). David Hellholm has been an active member since the beginning. The purpose of the Consultation was to confer about ways to pursue the study of the genre apocalypse with special reference to early Christianity. After a second session as a Consultation (1982), the program unit was designated a Seminar, with the same Steering Committee, to hold sessions at the Annual Meetings from 1983–87. The major foci of the seminar have been the pursuit of the question of genre and the study of the social settings and functions of particular apocalypses. This volume represents some results of the seminar’s work.
The Question of Genre
There has been virtually no criticism of the attempt to define the genre apocalypse as such. Most scholars have recognized the need for greater conceptual clarity in this regard. W. Vorster has argued that the term genre should be reserved for a higher level of abstraction from that proposed in Semeia14. David Hellholm, however, has confirmed the appropriateness of using the concept “genre” for a middle level of abstraction (1982: 169; in this volume: 28–30).
The definition proposed by the Apocalypse Group is the following: “Apocalypse” is a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial insofar as it involves another, supernatural world (Collins, 1979: 9). As noted above, this definition deliberately focuses on matters of form and content. Although these aspects are intimately related, they may be distinguished for purposes of discussion.
1. Matters of Form
David Hellholm is willing to accept the definition of an apocalypse quoted above, as far as it goes (1982: 168; in this volume: 27). David Aune, in his reformulation of the definition (below: 86–87), omits one formal element and adds two. He omits the mediation of the revelation by an otherworldly, usually heavenly, being. The omission of this element would broaden the range of texts which could be considered apocalypses. For example, accounts of the consultation of a human representative of a divine being at an oracle could qualify as apocalypses; similarly, almost any vision account could also be so defined, especially if eschatology is taken to be a frequent, but not essential characteristic, as Aune suggests (87). It would seem that the mediated quality of the revelation in apocalypses is one of the essential characteristics which distinguishes them as a group from other genres of revelatory literature.
Aune’s positive proposals with regard to form are worthy of serious consideration. He adds the characteristic “in autobiographical form” (86); in other words, the report of the revelatory experience is in the first person. Among the Jewish works classified as apocalypses in Semeia14, most are largely first person accounts. Two early Jewish apocalypses, however, are associated with narratives of considerable length in the third person. The apocalypse proper of the book of Daniel (chaps. 7–12) is prefaced by tales about Daniel (chaps. 1–6). A prope narrative in the third person based on Gen 6:1–4 has been incorporated into the Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 6–11). Jubilees 23 and Test. Abraham 10–15 are entirely in the third person. Among the Christian works classified as apocalypses in Semeia14, the apocalyptic portions in the Test. Isaac and Test. Jacob (except for a small portion in the Bohairic version) are in the third person. The narrative frameworks of the Questions of Bartholomew and of the Book of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by Bartholomew the Apostle are also in the third person. The Apocalypse of Esdras (= Greek Apocalypse of Ezra) begins in the first but shifts to the third person. Most strikingly, the Apocalypse of Sedrach, a heavenly journey, is entirely in the third person. Some Gnostic works classified as apocalypses in Semeia14 are in the third person: Sophia of Jesus Christ, the first Apocalypse of James, and the Letter of Peter to Philip. Among the Greco-Roman examples, the account of Er’s heavenly journey is related in the third person by Socrates (Plato, Republic 614B–621B). A Persian apocalypse, the Zand-i Vohuman Yasn, is also in the third person. Since these works are so similar in other formal aspects and in content to the first person accounts, it seems that the characteristic “in autobiographical form” should be regarded as a frequent, but not essential characteristic. It is thus analogous to the formal characteristic of pseudonymity.
Aune’s inclusion of the characteristic “in autobiographical form” in the definition seems to be related to his emphasis on the authorization of the message as an aspect of the function of apocalypses (87). This point will be taken up below.
The other proposed addition to the definition with regard to form is “revelatory visions…so structured that the central revelatory message constitutes a literary climax…” (86–87). The inclusion of this element reflects Aune’s positive assessment of Hellholm’s text-linguistic analysis of The Shepherd of Hermas and the book of Revelation (Aune: 70–74). He is impressed by Hellholm’s argument that the most profoundly embedded texts in these two apocalypses (i.e., the texts on the highest communication level) coincide with the texts which are at the highest grade of the textsequential structure (71). There are several reasons for concluding that the inclusion of this element in the definition is premature. First of all, Hellholm’s text-linguistic analyses of Hermas and Revelation have not yet received the close scrutiny which they deserve. His analysis of the book of Revelation especially is abbreviated and preliminary. Before it can be taken as definitive, he must show that it is actually based on scientific linguistic criteria and not, at crucial points, on intuitive criteria similar to those used in previous analyses of the composition and structure of Revelation. A number of questions must be answered in the process; for example, are there text-linguistic grounds for including Rev 12:1–22:5 as part of the revelation of the “Heavenly Scroll” of chap. 5? Or is the judgment that it is based on the more traditional (and questionable) literary arguments of G. Bornkamm whom he cites on this point (1982: 189, n. 154; in this volume: 53)? If these chapters are not part of the revelation of the “Heavenly Scroll,” then the speech of God in Rev 21:5–8 may not be both on the highest communication level and on the highest text-sequential grade. Similar questions can be raised about the conclusion that Rev 12:1–14:20 constitutes an intercalation (1982: 186; in this volume: 50). It seems prudent to wait for detailed assessment of Hellholm’s work before incorporating the results in a definition of “apocalypse.”
Another reason for caution in this regard is the pitfalls involved in isolating “the central revelatory message” of an apocalypse. Such language calls to mind A. Juelicher’s procedure in interpreting the parables. He argued that each parable has a single point which can be expressed as a general moral principle (Perrin: 93–97). Similarly, J. Jeremias contended that each parable can be fitted under one of nine rubrics which together make up “the message of the parables” (Perrin: 105). C. H. Dodd before Jeremias and the most influential interpreters of the parables after him have argued persuasively that the parables, individually or as a group, cannot be reduced to a principle or a message. As metaphorical narrative, they make their impact on the audience through the concreteness of the story itself and by evoking participation (Perrin: 98–100, 106). In his discussion of the function of apocalypses, Aune makes the helpful suggestion that they have a literary function similar to that of parables. Like parables, apocalypses both reveal and conceal divine truth. Like parables, apocalypses maximize participation of the audience in the revelatory experience (84–86). If this insight is valid, it is hard to understand how the speech of God in Rev 21:5–8 or the quotations from the little book and the Book of Eldad and Modat in Herm. Vis. 2.2.5 and 2.3.4 can be said to express the central revelatory messages of these two apocalypses. The quotation from the little book in Herm. Vis. 2.2.5 concerns a second repentance. That this text expresses the central message of the book is called into question also by Carolyn Osiek’s contention that the promulgation of a second repentance is not the comprehensive or even primary function of Hermas as a whole (117).
2. Matters of Content
As indicated above, David Hellholm does not propose any modifications of the definition of the genre apocalypse proposed in Semeia14 with regard to content. David Aune agrees with the emphasis in that definition on transcendence. He demotes, however, the characteristic “eschatological” from an essential to a frequent element (87). This modification seems to be due to an appreciation of the arguments of those who have faulted much scholarship on apocalypticism for its overemphasis on history, politics and cosmic eschatology. Similarly, Martha Himmelfarb claims that Semeia14 reacts against such an overemphasis, but is not entirely free of its influence (106).
As implied near the beginning of this introduction, one of the challenges in defining the genre apocalypses is to recognize the continuity of these texts with prophetic literature in the Hebrew Bible, while showing how they are distinguished from it. Likewise, the phenomenological similarities between apocalypses and other genres of revelatory literature must be taken into account, but the distinctive characteristics of each revelatory genre should also be delineated. It seems that eschatological content is the primary distinguishing mark of apocalypses over against other revelatory texts which are very similar in form, such as ritual prescriptions for creating revelatory experience and texts dealing with revelatory magic. Such texts are important for the study of apocalypses, but should probably be distinguished from them generically.
As Aune notes, eschatology was defined broadly in Semeia14, to include personal afterlife. A significant number of the texts designated apocalypses have no cosmic eschatology, but look only to individual rewards and punishments after death. The major typological distinction among the apocalypses is formal: those in which otherworldly revelation is received in a thisworldly context, and those in which it is received through an otherworldly journey. These two main types were then divided into subtypes on the basis of content: (a) those with a review of history, an eschatological crisis, and cosmic or political eschatology; (b) those with public (cosmic or political) eschatology; and (c) those with only personal eschatology (types a and b have personal eschatology as well of course). It is difficult to see how “the centrality of cosmic and/or political eschatology for the Semeia volume shows the continued influence of the traditional scholarly view of such eschatology as the most important aspect of apocalyptic literature” (Himmelfarb, 97). Such eschatology is certainly a major element in some apocalypses. Perhaps the problem lies with those works in which such eschatology is present, but not emphasized, such as the Apocalypse of Paul. The question arises whether they should be classified under subtype (b) or (c), but it is not clear how such works show the weakness of the typology itself. The reasons for choosing eschatology as a significant criterion of content are both its prominence in apocalypses and its absence in other genres. Himmelfarb is correct that relatively little attention was paid to “otherworldly elements” (109). Her book Tours of Hell and her essay in this volume contribute to the supplying of that lack.
3. Matters of Function
David Hellholm has proposed that the definition in Semeia14 be expanded to include function: “intended for a group in crisis with the purpose of exhortation and/or consolation by means of divine authority” (1982: 168; in this volume: 27). His intention is to provide a definition of function which is on the same level of abstraction as the definition of form and content. He is quite right that the definition of genre should include the aspect of function. This generalized function need not be based on a study of the actual functions of all apocalypses in their original and subsequent social settings, but may be based on the implied function (in the text itself), i.e., on the illocutionary/perlocutionary aspect of the text (1982: 160; in this volume: 18).
Some questions arise, however, about Hellholm’s proposed addition. First of all, his language seems to take the perspective of the implied author as an accurate representation of reality. What is a crisis from the perspective of the implied author may not be a crisis from the perspective of every hearer or reader of the text. In other words, the proposed definition does not take seriously enough the degree to which an apocalypse may interpret reality, even to the point of creating a “world” or symbolic system. The terms “console” and “exhort” fit some apocalypses, but they are perhaps too strong for the indirect way in which most apocalypses work. The use of the word “group” seems rooted in the older scholarly notion that apocalypses were produced by and for conventicles, small sect-like groups. It is now recognized that such a notion needs to be tested rather than assumed.
David Aune agrees that matters of function ought to be included in the definition and offers an alternative formulation: “(a) to legitimate the transcendent authorization of the message, (b) by mediating a new actualization of the original revelatory experience through literary devices, structures and imagery, which function to ‘conceal’ the message which the text ‘reveals,’ so that (c) the recipients of the message will be encouraged to modify their cognitive and behavioral stance in conformity with transcendent perspectives” (87). Important strengths of Aune’s proposal are its appropriate level of abstraction and its attempt to infer function from the text rather than from hypothetical notions about the setting. Weaknesses include its wordiness, its implication that authorization is an end in itself, and the wide scope of “transcendent perspectives.”
Aune’s emphasis on authorization of “the message” (the question of reduction arises again) seems to be related to his emphasis on the autobiographical form of (some) apocalypses. It would seem that the supernatural origin of the revelation communicated authorizes it whether the account is in the first or the third person. The first person is crucial only when the implied author and the actual author are the same and when the authorization of the actual author’s person is an important factor (such is probably the case with the book of Revelation; see also Alexander: 239).
In light of the suggestions made by Hellholm and Aune, the following addition to the definition of “apocalypse” in Semeia14 may be made: intended to interpret present, earthly circumstances in light of the supernatural world and of the future, and to influence both the understanding and the behavior of the audience by means of divine authority.
4. The Extension of the Genre
In his article in this volume, David Aune raises the question whether the Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas is an apocalypse (74 and n. 4). This question is related to his discussion of the whole and the part in ancient Mediterranean literature, in which he speaks of host genres which can include a variety of literary forms. He concludes that apocalypses can exist as independent texts or as a constituent part of a host genre (80). This conclusion is compatible with the results of the work of the Apocalypse Group which classified some independent texts and some texts within larger units as apocalypses.
In the case of the Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas, it would seem that the work as a whole is a martyrdom, since in its present form it is primarily an account of the behavior of a group of martyrs during their imprisonment, interrogation and execution. This martyrdom, however, functions as a host genre for five vision accounts. These visions are emphasized in the introduction to the work (chap. 1) as signs of the activity of the Spirit in the last days. One of these visions (11:1–13:8) can be classified as an apocalypse and should be added to the list of early Christian apocalypses. It is a vision which Saturus experienced in prison in the form of a heavenly journey. Four angels conducted Saturus and Perpetua to paradise and to the heavenly throne room. In Paradise they saw four who had been martyred before them. If only this portion of the Martyrdom is an apocalypse, the question of communication levels (embedment) and textual grades needs to be reexamined.
The essays in Part One of this volume make important contributions to the discussion about the genre apocalypse. A major contribution of David Hellholm’s essay is its demonstration of the validity and usefulness of both paradigmatic and syntagmatic studies of the genre and its initial attempt to relate the two. David Aune offers thoughtful observations on a number of points, perhaps most helpfully on the literary function of apocalypses and its hermeneutical implications. He rightly calls attention to an important essay by ( H. D. Betz 1983), who has been a consistent participant in the seminar. Betz argued that certain apocalyptic texts in Greco-Roman literature, such as the Myth of Er, generated an experience of fear by depicting the punishment of the wicked and motivated the readers to live good lives. This function is surely implicitly present also in the early Christian apocalypses which contain visions or tours of places of punishment.
Martha Himmelfarb’s essay is a study of the experience of the visionary with reference to two early Christian apocalypses, the Ascension of Isaiah and the Apocalypse of Paul. She is interested in the nature of such experience, e.g., whether the visionary is transformed or not, and what implications such factors may have for creating a typology of early Christian apocalypses. Carolyn Osiek’s essay has been included in Part Two, because it treats the social setting of the Shepherd of Hermas. She also discusses the question of its genre and concludes that it is an apocalypse.
Social Settings and Function
The question of social function was deliberately left aside in the survey of apocalypses in Semeia14. At the Colloquium in Uppsala, a segment of the program was devoted to “The Sociology of Apocalypticism and the ‘Sitz-im-Leben’ of Apocalypses”. Papers in this section were given by George Nickelsburg on Palestinian Jewish Apocalypticism, Martin Hengel on the Jewish revolt in the Diaspora under Trajan, Wayne Meeks on Pauline Christianity, Luise Schottroff on the “Synoptic Apocalypse,” Adela Yarbro Collins on the book of Revelation, and Hans Kippenberg on a comparison of Jewish, Christian and Gnostic Apocalypticism.
In this volume Carolyn Osiek analyzes the paraenesis in Hermas and draws inferences from it about the author’s perception of a crisis within the Christian congregations of Rome (and perhaps Campania) with regard to the disposition of individual Christians and the quality of their relationships with one another. Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza argues that Revelation must be understood as a poetic-rhetorical construction of an alternative symbolic universe that “fits” its historical rhetorical situation. She illustrates this understanding by means of an exegesis of Rev 14:1–5, the vision of the Lamb and the 144,000 on Mount Zion, which she understands as an “anti-image” to the vision of the beast and its followers (chap. 13) as well as to the glory of Babylon (chap. 17). The juxtaposition of image and anti-image underlines the fundamental decision that the audience faces: to worship the anti-divine powers embodied by Rome or to worship God.
Fiorenza then raises the question whether the rhetorical response of Revelation to the social-political and religious situation of the congregations in western Asia Minor was a “fitting” response. She replies in the affirmative, since she assumes that Pliny’s letter to Trajan about the Christians of Bithynia (X.96) written in the early second century represents the same circumstances as those to which Revelation is responding (135). The delineation of the social setting of Revelation which follows her quotation of Pliny seems to exaggerate the hardships faced by the audience (see Yarbro Collins, 1984 and L. Thompson in this volume). In any case, Fiorenza has illustrated a useful theoretical framework for the analysis of an apocalyptic text in terms of its social setting.
In his article Leonard Thompson articulates an interpretation of Revelation which seeks to relate text and social setting in a more complex and adequate way than has been done heretofore. In the process he offers critical assessments of theories of crisis, deprivation and compensation. He criticizes them for granting a higher degree of reality to social, institutional entities than to literary symbolic ones and for seeing the flow of causality primarily from institution to symbol. As alternatives, he points to theories of replication or reiteration, of homologues and proportions. Such theories seem very promising for the task of articulating the meaning of Revelation in its present form as text and inferring the social function of its symbolic universe. It is not clear, however, that they have much potential for explaining the genesis of Revelation and its symbolic universe. The crucial question is whether the apparent explanatory power of crisis and related theories is illusory and therefore to be abandoned, or whether such theories need to be reformulated in order to meet the criticisms which have been made.
This volume is being published in the hope that it will stimulate further discussion and research on early Christian apocalypticism and related matters.
1983 “3 (Hebrew Apocalypse of) Enoch. Pp. 223–315 in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1. Ed. James H. Charlesworth. Garden City: Doubleday.
Betz, H. D.
1983 “The Problem of Apocalyptic Genre in Greek and Hellenistic Literature: The Case of the Oracle of Trophonius.” Pp. 577–97 in Hellholm (ed.), 1983.
1979 “Qu’est-ce que l’Apocalyptique? Son emploi à Qumran,” RQ 10: 3–33.
Collins, A. Y.
1979 “The Early Christian Apocalypses.” Semeia14: 61–121.
Collins, A. Y.
1983 “Persecution and Vengeance in the Book of Revelation.” Pp. 729–49 in Hellholm, ed.
Collins, A. Y.
1984 Crisis and Catharsis: The Power of the Apocalypse. Philadelphia: Westminster.
Collins, J. J.
1979 “Introduction: Towards the Morphology of a Genre.” Semeia14: 1–20.
de Villiers, P. G. R.
1983 “Solving the Riddle? Recent Trends in Apocalyptic Research.” Pp. 39–58 in Die Ou-testamentiese Werkgemeenskap in Suid-Afrika 25 and 26. Ed. W. C. van Wyk. Pretoria, 1982–83.
1982 “The Problem of Apocalyptic Genre and the Apocalypse of John” in Society of Biblical Literature Seminar Papers. Ed. Kent H. Richards. Chico, CA: Scholars Press.
Hellholm, D., ed.
1983 Apocalypticism in the Mediterranean World and the Near East. Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Apocalypticism. Uppsala, August 12–17, 1979. Tuebingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck).
1983 “Messianische Hoffnung und politischen ‘Radikalismus’ in der ‘juedish-hellenistischen Diaspora.’” Pp. 655–86 in Hellholm, ed.
1983 Tours of Hell: An Apocalyptic Form in Jewish and Christian Literature. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Kippenberg, H. G.
1983 “Ein Vergleich juedischer, christlicher und gnostiker Apokalyptik.” Pp. 751–68 in Hellholm, ed.
Meeks, W. A.
1983 “Social Functions of Apocalyptic Language in Pauline Christianity.” Pp. 687–705 in Hellholm, ed.
1972 The Acts of the Christian Martyrs. Oxford Early Christian Texts. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Nickelsburg, G. W. E.
1983 “Social Aspects of Palestinian Jewish Apocalypticism.” Pp. 641–54 in Hellholm, ed.
1976 Jesus and the Language of the Kingdom: Symbol and Metaphor in New Testament Interpretation. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
1982 The Open Heaven: A Study of Apocalyptic in Judaism and Early Christianity. New York: Crossroad.
Sanders, E. P.
1983 “The Genre of Palestinian Jewish Apocalypses.” Pp. 447–59 in Hellholm, ed.
1983 “Die Gegenwart in der Apokalyptik der synoptischen Evangelien.” Pp. 707–728 in Hellholm, ed.
1983 “Die Bedeutung der Qumranfunde für die Erforschung der Apokalyptik.” Pp. 495–530 in Hellholm, ed.
Vorster, W. S.
1983 “1 Enoch and the Jewish Literary Setting of the New Testament: A Study in Text Types.” Neotestamentica 17: 1–14.
The Problem of Apocalyptic Genre and the Apocalypse of John *
University of Bergen, Norway
In analyzing generic concepts from a paradigmatic point of view, Hellholm notes that genres participate in three separate, though related, aspects: form, content, and function. This is true for all levels of abstraction, called (in linguistic analysis) subsememe, sememe, archisememe, superarchisememe, etc. Applying this to apocalypses, the author suggests 31 semes-noemes; no apocalypse has all characteristics but all have some from each aspect. In spite of the necessary hierarchization of these characteristics, Hellholm maintains that even this is unsatisfactory. We need to complement it with text-linguistic analysis. This approach can take into account not only content, form, and function, but also the syntagmatic aspects (micro- as well as macro-syntagmatic structures). This latter analysis requires hierarchically-arranged communication levels of different ranks. The final result is a three-dimensional analysis of texts. Using a previous text analysis he did with The Shepherd of Hermas as a model, the author concludes by performing this procedure on the Apocalypse of John, noting both significant similarities and differences.
For Geo Widengren on his 75th birthday
1. Models and Reality1
1.1 “Texts are abbreviations; they abridge, they simplify what is to be designated—and they do so by omitting” (Raible, 1979a: 2; Husserl: 354–55; Gulich/Raible, 1977: 14ff). This statement by Wolfgang Raible with reference to Edmund Husserl regarding such complex signs as texts can be illustrated by using a simple sign like “chair.” The word or to be more exact: the concept “chair” contains only a small number of semantically distinctive characteristics (linguistically stated: semes) in comparison to what is common for existing chairs. Thus the concept “chair” is more abstract than the original! This is true as can be seen when we with Kurt Baldinger list the characteristics of the concept (linguistically speaking: sememe) “chair”: 1) with solid material; 2) raised above the ground; 3) with a back; 4) for one person; 5) to sit on (62ff, esp. 67 with table 4). This is to say that we usually work with models and not with reality. A number of characteristics of an original chair are left out when in language we use the concept “chair”: whether it is small or large, blue or red, of metal or wood is of no concern to the concept “chair.” If specified, we, in fact, introduce a concept on a lower level of abstraction. This becomes immediately evident, if we add two further characteristics of “chair” to those pointed out earlier: 6) with arms and 7) with upholstery, thus producing the concept of “armchair.” This is of great importance for the problem of genres, not least that of genres and subgenres, as I will try to show later (see 184.108.40.206., 220.127.116.11., and 3.3.4.). The use of concepts is the very reason why language can function at all, that is, why we can communicate with one another and with generations past.
1.2 As I just tried to show, models or signs can be more or less abstract and consequently we erect a hierarchy of models. If the concept “chair” is constituted of the five mentioned characteristics, we find that by selecting three of these—let us say #1 (with solid material)2 , #2 (raised above the ground), and #5 (to sit on)—we arrive at the even more abstract concept “seat.” In linguistic terminology the concept at this abstraction level would be called “archisememe.” We could easily generalize even further and say that “seats” themselves can be classified under still more comprehensive archisememes such as “furniture,” thus constituting a “superarchisememe” and so on.3
Thus with regard to single signs it is possible to establish a hierarchy: “armchair,” “chair,” “seat,” “furniture”; a hierarchy which is characterized by the rules: the larger the intension, the smaller the extension and vice versa (Menne: 23, 75; Allwood et al.: 125ff; Wunderlich: 205ff; Heger, 1979a: 59; Raible, 1979a: 22; esp. Kubczak, 1975). In the words of Wolfgang Raible: “Signs with few characteristics have the character of ‘supreme-concepts,’ they can designate a number of things in an unspecified manner, while signs with many characteristics are typical subconcepts, i.e., specified designations” (1979a: 23; cf. Baldinger: 72; Coseriu, 1964: 139–86).
1.3 If, instead of subordinating the subsememe “armchair” under the sememe “chair” and thus erecting a hierarchy of concepts, we take these two concepts as a true “sememe-opposition,” we encounter another problem, viz. that of mixed concepts, which is also highly significant for genre analysis. Klaus Heger has pointed to this problem in connection with the above mentioned sememe #6 (with arms) and #7 (with upholstery). He writes:
As long as the person using the two signemes,4 “chair” and “armchair,” from among the seating furniture for the use of one person, encounters only furniture without upholstery and without arms or only furniture with upholstery and with arms, the multifarious definition in these two alternatives makes no difference to him. However, as soon as there appears in his perspective corresponding seating furniture without upholstery but with arms and/or with upholstery and without arms, he is no better off than the analytical linguist and he finds himself encountering an insoluble task, that of having to decide in favor of one or other of the alternative seme-pairs (1979a: 34).5
Heger continues by giving two possible solutions: a) by postulating a double polysemy or b) by stressing a primary conceptual point (begriffliche Schwerpunktsetzung) (34–35). Another possibility, which in my opinion is preferable, is the above suggested conceptual hierarchization, in which an “armchair” is reckoned as a subsememe of the sememe “chair,” and the acknowledgement of “empty positions,” i.e., concepts without lexicalization, for the two “mixed sememes.” This solution is of theoretical significance for the question of mixed literary genres in two ways: a) with regard to conceptual hierarchization and b) with regard to historical development of genres and subgenres, both of these having to do with the relationship between synchrony and diachrony in genre analysis (see 3.3.4.).
1.4 Before turning to the next section, I need to make two more—as I see it—important observations with regard to the distinctive characteristics of a concept.
1.4.1. First, then, it is easy to see that the five characteristics constituting the concept “chair” are to be found in other concepts as well, e.g., #1 (with solid material) is also a constitutive element of, e.g., a “car” and a “house”; #2 (raised above the ground) is also characteristic of a “table” or a “desk”; #3 (with a back) is characteristic of a “sofa” and a “book” as well; #4 (for one person): taken in itself this characteristic is also a constitutive element of a “watch,” a “ring,” “glasses,” etc.; #5 (to sit on) is certainly characteristic also of a “sofa,” a “seat,” a “bench,” a “pew,” and so forth. This observation makes it clear that it is by no means enough just to list a number of characteristics in order to arrive at a concept, but that we rather have to ask for the type, the sequence, and above all the interdependence and relationship of these semes to each other in constituting a sememe or on one abstraction level higher the grouping of the intersection of several sememes in constituting an archisememe and so on (see notes 2 and 7). The concept then can be defined as an “abstraction from many realities which are related to each other” (Baldinger: 62; see also 3.3.2 [b]).
1.4.2 The second observation is perhaps not so evident but none the less of equal importance. When making use of Baldinger’s characteristics of the concept “chair,” I rearranged the sequential order of them to arrive at a grouping to which he has paid no attention.6 By so doing, I am able to show that these characteristics can be divided into three groups:
a). the first group is constituted by seme #1 (with solid material) and refers to content;
b). the second group is made of semes #2 (raised above the ground) and #3 (with a back) and refers to form;
c). the third group is made up by semes #4 (for one person) and #5 (to sit on) and refers to function in a twofold way: aa) for whom it functions and bb) in what way or how it functions.
The importance of this threefold grouping becomes apparent, when we consider the archisememe “seat”: Also on this level of abstraction we find the same grouping as on the lower abstraction level, viz., content, form, and function. This means that the grouping itself is not accidental or variable but rather constitutive and invariable: a) the first group: content is constituted by seme #1 (with solid material); b) the second group: form is in this case made up by only one seme on this level, viz., #2 (raised above the ground); here seme #3 is left out; c) the third group: function is made up partly by a more general seme #4 (for persons) and seme #5 (to sit on).7
That the grouping of the semes, not the semes themselves, is indeed invariable becomes evident when we move to yet a higher level of abstraction, the superarchisememe as I called it:
a). the first group is also here made up of the same seme #1 (with solid material) (see notes 2 and 7);
b). the second is also made up of the same seme on the previous level, viz., #2 (raised above the ground);
c). the third group, however, is in this case constituted by a seemingly8 new and more general seme, viz, to furnish. Here we also observe how on this abstraction level the concept has obtained its lexeme from its function.
This observation points to the obvious fact that the constituents of a sememe (i.e., concept), and archisememe or even a superarchisememe are made up of semes belonging to the three groups: content, form and function, and that none of these groups is variable but indeed constitutive and will all have to be taken into account when establishing or analyzing concepts. This circumstance is of far-reaching consequences, in particular, when we leave the single concept and move up to more complex signs or models such as texts and even genres.
2. Genres and Reality
2.1 As the initial quotation from Raible/Husserl indicated, the simplification of reality is not restricted to simple signs but applies also to more complex signs as sentences and texts. This has been elaborated in great detail by Klaus Heger in his work Monem, Wort, Satz und Text, published in the 2nd edition in 1976. Time and space does not permit a development from the single sign “monem” all the way up to the complex sign “text” (= signeme9 ) on this occasion. Let me only briefly indicate how I see the relationship between the groupings established earlier with regard to the single concept “chair” and the more complex sign of a “sentence” (Hellholm, 1980:52ff, esp. 56 with fig. 8; also Beck and Sökeland):
a). the propositional aspect corresponds to content;
b). the utterance aspect—oral or written—corresponds to form;
c). the illocutionary/perlocutionary aspect corresponds to the function aspect as I have called it.
Thus, even with regard to “sentences” the grouping remains intact and enables communication and understanding, since also here all three groups function in an interrelationship with one another (Hellholm, 1980: 57–58).
2.2 The even more complex sign “text” can have three different meanings that, from a methodological point of view, have to be kept apart (Heger, 1976: 26–28; Raible, 1979b: 63; Bach/Harnisch).
2.2.1. First, in ordinary language “text” usually refers to the realization of a certain entity hic et nunc or with regard to ancient texts illic et tunc. Used in this way text is understood as an individual work by itself, e.g., The Red Room by August Strindberg or Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy or, linguistically stated, as a manifestation on the level of parole; and yet we must not forget that such texts in comparison with reality itself are abbreviated models, since, as has been pointed out so neatly by Prof.
Raible, “total information is almost equivalent to no information at all; only by means of reduction of the complexity, only by erecting simplified models will sense and coherence along with structure be recognizable” (Raible, 1979a: 4).
2.2.2. Second, in ordinary language text can be used as referring to a group or class of texts being held together by one specific invariant (Hempfer, 1973: 27–28; 106–7, 224; Raible, 1979a: 20 Monem, Wort, Satz und Text Heger, 1976: 24–30, Monem, Wort, Satz und Text 60).10 This is the case when we, e.g., ask the question in which way a certain text is similar to other texts. The possibility of grouping is abundant: we can talk about biblical texts or on a lower level of abstraction about New Testament texts or on a still lower level of abstraction about Pauline or Johannine texts. In doing so, however, we do not really enter the question of generic structures, since in all these instances we are concerned with only one specific invariant or isolated similarity in each case, viz., that it is a part of the Bible, or the New Testament, or the Pauline, or the Johannine corpus. I will illustrate this by going back to where I began, viz., with simple signs. If we take into account only one or if we expand it to even two semes #1 (of solid material) and #2 (raised above the ground), we could come up with such a bundle of things as “house,” “table,” “rock,” “chair,” “car,” etc. These two semes were taken, one from the group of contents, the other from the group of forms. If we, however, add one seme more from the group of function —#4(for one person)—we reduce the possibilities considerably and by adding #5 (to sit on) we arrive at the concept “chair.”
From these examples we can draw three conclusions:
a). this type of taxonomical grouping or classification has little or no bearing at all on the question of generic structures;
b). there is a need to go beyond taxonomic-classifying procedures in order to arrive at a process of relating elements or characteristics to each other by investigating their interrelationship and function (Ullmann: vii; Seiler: 46; cf. note 20).11
c). there is a necessity for all three groups of characteristics to be represented; the question of function cannot be left out!
2.2.3. Third, by “text” we can refer to a whole hierarchy of concepts of generic nature. In this connection we have to ask the question in which ways certain texts are structurally similar to each other and characteristically different from others. In dealing with simple signs such as predicates, I tried to show the importance of establishing a hierarchy of abstraction levels such as “armchair,” “chair,” “seat,” “furniture.” In dealing with such complex signs as “genres,” we have to proceed analogously, if genre-analysis is to be successful at all. To my satisfaction there seems to be an increasing agreement among linguists, literary critics, and even form-critics that such a hierarchization is an absolute necessity. This is true, even if the terminology may differ and the theoretical reflection may have reached various levels of awareness.
18.104.22.168. In linguistics, ever since de Saussure, one distinguishes between parole as the level of actualization in speech and writing; langue as the level of a single-language structure and language as the level of language competence in general, i.e., language as system (Baldinger: 150–51; Heger, 1976: 15–19).
22.214.171.124. In literary criticism a similar although more detailed abstraction hierarchy is being used in comparing the following genre concepts (see Hempfer, 1973: 26–29; Hellholm, 1980: 62–64; Raible, 1979a: 28).12
a). The “communication situation”; i.e., the factors characterizing the relationship between a sender and a receiver in which a speech-act is carried out;
b). The “mode of writing” and “type of writing”; i.e., ahistoric generic invariants such as the narrative, the epic, the dramatic, or the satiric modes of writing.13 That the generic concept on this abstraction level is of an ahistoric nature and none the less fully legitimate becomes obvious, when we turn to such a sign-model as “mammal.” Nobody using the concept “mammal” is actually looking for the incarnation or the pure form of the mammal,—at least I hope so!
c). The “genre” is the historic and concrete realizations of the potential generic invariant structures of the “modes” and/or “types of writing” on the ahistoric level of abstraction. Historic realizations of the ahistoric concept narrative, for instance, are a novel, a biography, a tale, etc, just as historic realizations of the ahistoric concept “mammal” can be a “dog” or a “human being.”
d). The “subgenres”: on an even lower abstraction level we find such realization of the genre “novel” as “love-story,” “detective-story,” and so on. With regard to the concept “human being” it can be subdivided into the obvious subconcepts “female” and “male” by adding one seme more.
126.96.36.199. In form-criticism we also encounter a similar hierarchy of abstraction levels, a fact which I can only briefly hint at on this occasion:
a). “Sitz im Leben” is by and large the equivalence in biblical scholarship to the “communication situation” in linguistics and literary criticism, although with considerably more attention paid to the situation of the sender than that of the receiver, to the origin rather than to the use.
b). “Mode of writing” as a “name” for ahistoric generic structures is to my knowledge in biblical scholarship left with an “empty position,” i.e., a concept without lexicalization, in spite of the fact that the concept itself is there; after all we do talk about “Narrative Texts” or “Argumentative Texts” in connection with genres and about “Narrative Forms,” “Sayings of Jesus,” and “Middle Forms” in connection with forms.14
c). “Genres” as a designation for historic generic structure has been employed since the formation of the form-critical school (“Gattung”/“Form”) and has like “Sitz im Leben” become to such a degree a part of biblical scholarship that even those scholars opposing new linguistic methods or theories today make use of them as an inherent part of their vocabulary and their conceptual understanding. We analyze the genre of “Gospels,” “Letters” (although problematic; cf. Ermert), and “Apocalypses” in connection with genres, and “Miracle stories,” “Similitudes,” or “Prophetic and Apocalyptic Sayings” in connection with forms (see note 14).
d). This also applies to “subgenres” as can easily be demonstrated by pointing to the concept of “Synoptic Gospels.”
2.3 The hierarchic structures of the complex models of “single texts, subgenres, genres, modes of writing and communication situations” adhere to the same rule as the hierarchy of simple signs, viz. that the larger the intension the smaller the extension and vice versa. In variation of my quotation from Raible above, we can say that generic structures with few characteristics have the character of “supreme-concepts,” while generic structures with many characteristics are typical “sub-concepts.” Applied to my topic today, this means that there are fewer common characteristics of a “Narrative” than of an “Apocalypse,” thus allowing more texts to be classified as “Narratives” than as “Apocalypses.”
3. Genres and Paradigms
3.1 So far I have deliberated on the hierarchical structures to be applied in genre analysis.
When I now turn to the problem of genres and paradigms, I will inevitably have to restrict myself to one generic concept, viz., that of an “Apocalypse.” When entering upon a specific concept like “Apocalypse,” we must not forget that genre designations function as names for texts (Raible, 1972: 204ff; 1979a: 21ff; Heger, 1979: 49–50). This means first of all that genre designations are simple signs for more complex signs that are themselves complex signs for a far more complex reality. However, this also means that, when analyzing texts as generic concepts, we have constantly to be conscious of the level on which we are posing our analyses. This does not per se favor any particular level of investigation; on the contrary, it should explicitly be stated that text-linguistic and form-critical studies can legitimately be carried out on any of these levels, “subgenre,” “genre,” “mode of writing,” etc., but that we can only move from one to any other if we are aware of what we are doing.
3.2. What are the characteristics, the semes/noemes,15 of the macrosign “Apocalypse”? That the answer to this question is by no means an easy one ought to be self-evident from our discussion so far and is indeed confirmed by the various suggestions put forward by such scholars as Philipp Vielhauer (1965: 583–94; 1975:487–92), Klaus Koch (1970: 24–33), and John J. Collins (1979b: 28). In order to avoid doing too much injustice to any one of these scholars I will list the following semes/noemes which include most characteristics mentioned in connection with attempts at defining the literary group “Apocalypse.”
A. Content—Propositions and Themes (text-semantic aspect)
s1. Eschatology as history in future form
s2. Cosmic history divided into periods (“Weltalterlehre”)
s3. Description of the other-world
s4. Combat between dualistic macro-cosmic powers
s5. Combat between dualistic micro-cosmic powers and/or groups
s6. Other worldly mediators or revealers
s7. This-worldly recipients
s8. Addressees of recipient’s revelation
s10. Command to recipient to reveal and/or to write by other-worldly mediator
s11. Systematization of numbers, etc.
B. Form—Style (text-syntactic aspect)
s12. Narrative framework
s13. Epistolary prescript and/or postscript
s14. Removal to a this-worldly place of revelation
s15. Heavenly journey to an other-worldly place of revelation
s16. Account of vision(s)
s17. Account of audition(s)
s18. Interpretation of vision(s)
s19. Interpretation of audition(s)
s20. Discourse of mediators
s21. Dialogues between mediator(s) and receiver
s22. Heavenly writings (letters and/or books from Heaven)
s23. Quotations of the Supreme Divinity
s24. Communication embedment
s25. Pictorial language
s27. Combination of smaller forms
C. Function—Communication function (text-pragmatic aspect)
s28. Intended for a group in crisis
s29. Exhortation to steadfastness and/or repentance
s30. Promise of vindication and redemption or more generally stated: consolation
s31. Authorization of message
3.3. Is this listing of a substantial number of characteristics of Apocalypses pointed out by biblical scholars sufficient to enable us to arrive at the concept “Apocalypse” in a semasiological approach16 or are they all contained in the concept “Apocalypse” in an onomasiological approach?17
3.3.1. The first observation to be made is that practically no semes/noemes can be tied exclusively to the concept of Apocalypse, as is the case with semes/noemes of simple concepts (cf. 1.4.1; Hanson: 33; Carmignac, 1979: 17; 1982: par. 1; Stone: 440; Sanders: 449–50). Time and space do not allow for a scrutiny of all 31 semes/noemes, but let me only point to a few constituents that normally are regarded as typical apocalyptic characteristics:
a). Eschatology: not even this seme/noeme can be claimed to be an exclusive characteristic of an Apocalypse as its appearance in Pauline letters or in the Gospels demonstrates;
b). Visions: neither are these nor are heavenly journeys reserved for Apocalypses as their appearance in Pauline, Hermetic, and Gnostic literature indicates;
c). Consolation and authorization: even these two functional semes/noemes are typical not only for apocalypses, e.g., authorization can be achieved by pseudepigraphal letters also.
3.3.2. The second observation tells us that all these 31 semes/noemes in fact are not present in any single writing designated as an Apocalypse. Where does this take us? What conclusions need to be drawn from this obvious state of affairs? In my opinion two, to begin with:
First, we must recall that the designation “Apocalypse” is a model abridging the model “text,” which means that per definitionem we cannot expect all characteristics pertaining to single texts on the parole level to be included in a generic concept on various levels of abstraction.18
This takes us one step further: depending on where we locate the generic concept “Apocalypse,” we can expect fewer or more characteristics to make up the concept; as a supreme-concept on the ahistoric level of “mode of writing,” the semes/noemes will inevitably have to be fewer; as a sub-concept on the historic levels of genre or subgenre, the semes/noemes will have to be many more. And as stated twice already: the more semes/noemes the fewer Apocalypses, the fewer semes/noemes the more Apocalypses!19
b). Second, in my opinion this state of affairs leads to the same conclusion I drew earlier with regard to the simple predicate “chair” (1.4.1): it is by no means enough just to list a number of 31 characteristic semes or noemes in order to arrive at the generic concept “Apocalypse,” but rather we have to ask for the type, the sequential order and the interrelationship of these characteristics to each other in constituting a possible genre “Apocalypse”; or on one abstraction level higher, the grouping of the intersection of several types of texts on the same level in constituting a narrative (Hempfer, 1973: 138ff, 190; Hellholm, 1980: 67; Hartman, 1983: 333–34; see also note 11).20
3.3.3. The third observation I have already revealed by grouping the above listed 31 elements in order to avoid repetition (cf. similar grouping in Hartman, 1983: 332–36). The problem of such groupings becomes apparent as soon as one discovers that not a small number of characteristics could show up in one or even two more groups as well, depending on the perspective; e.g., from one point of view the account of a vision is a stylistic or formal characteristic, while from another perspective it certainly belongs to the group of contents. This was particularly striking in the classification of the seme/noeme 15, “Heavenly writing”: from a literary or text-syntactical point of view it is a specific form of revelation; from a text-semantic point of view it is filled with content; and from the perspective of text-pragmatics it has a specific function in the macro-structure of the apocalyptic writing as such and, what is much more important for our argument, of the generic structure of Apocalypses.21
From a semiotically and linguistically defined “communication-specific model of definition,” this circumstance is in no way surprising, since pragmatics includes semantics and syntactics, and semantics includes syntactics as well:22
Pragmatics: Relation between Signs, Designata, and Users = R(S,D,U,);
Semantics: Relation between Signs and Designata = R(S,D);
Syntactics: Relation between Signs and other Signs = R(S,S’).
When grouping the semes of the sememe “chair,” I came to the conclusion that semes had to be derived from all of the three groups (content, form, and function), in order to establish the concept “chair.” In apocalyptic research, up until the project of the SBL-group directed by Collins, that has been the starting point also in analyzing such complex models as generic concepts.23 Now, Collins and the SBL-group give the following definition of the genre “Apocalypse”:
“Apocalypse” is a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldy being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation and spatial insofar as it involves another, supernatural world. (Collins, 1979a: 9; in this definition the groups “form” and “content” are represented).
This definition, operating on a fairly high abstraction level, brings to one’s mind the question: why were Apocalypses ever written? From what Collins has noted elsewhere, I believe he would answer something like this: each Apocalypse has its specific function but one cannot arrive at an invariant function.24 This, however, does not resolve the problem at stake, since such an answer would only transfer the question from the level of langue, on which generic investigations operate, to the level of parole, dealing with single texts.25 I believe that one reason for the reluctance toward functional aspects as generic semes/noemes must be seen in connection with the lack of hierarchization of semes/noemes in the discussion of function, a problem I will return to in the next section. Another reason probably is the concentration on the “Sitz im Leben” aspect for genre definitions among form-critics instead of the integration of the three dimensions.26 Personally I am inclined to think that such characteristics as s28 (intended for a group in crisis); s29 (exhortation to steadfastness or repentance); s30 (promise of vindication and redemption); or s31 (authorization of the message) are general enough to serve on the level of langue or even language. This implies the conviction that these are indeed appropriate semes/noemes derived from the texts themselves. Thus, the grouping and hierarchization are derived deductively from the methodology applied, while the specific semes/noemes within the group are derived inductively from the texts themselves (see 188.8.131.52.4.#[b]).
For a paradigmatically established definition of the genre “Apocalypse” I would be willing to accept the definition quoted above, provided the following addition on the same level of abstraction: “intended for a group in crisis with the purpose of exhortation and/or consolation by means of divine authority.”27
3.3.4. The fourth observation has to do with the hierarchization of the semes/noemes themselves. In John Collins’ master-paradigm in Semeia 14 (1979): 6–8, he has paid due attention to this very important methodological approach. I can only emphasize my agreement at this point. When one turns, however, to the chart on p. 28 it becomes obvious that he has not carried his methodological insight over into practical use so that the characteristics listed there vary in abstraction, a feature which also returns in all the other contributions to that Semeia volume (A. Collins, 1979: 104–5; Fallon: 148; Attridge: 161–74). Now, we should be grateful to Collins for the hierarchization of the semes/noemes in his master-paradigm, especially since I have found no attempts at such a ranking in any other paradigm of apocalyptic semes/noemes available;28 and yet I have to point to the fact that there remain serious problems with that master-paradigm as one striking inaccuracy demonstrates. In dividing existent Apocalypses into types Collins states that “the most obvious and fundamental distinction is between apocalypses which do not have an otherworldly journey (Type I) and those that do (Type II)” (13).
If we take a closer look at the paradigm, however, this “fundamental distinction” is not accounted for in the paradigm itself, since the seme/noeme #1.3 (“other-worldly journey”) has no equivalence in, e.g., a seme/noeme #1.2 (“other-worldly revelation in this world”) on the same level. On the contrary, semes/noemes #1.1 (“visual revelation”) and #1.2 (“auditory revelation”) are said to be the corresponding semes/noemes to #1.3 (“other-worldly journey”). This is obviously incorrect, since both Apocalypses with or without other-worldly journeys have visual and auditory revelations. In the case of the Revelation of John we have both types represented in one and the same Apocalypse. Thus the hierarchical arrangement, which is so commendable, must still be judged as imperfect and in need of improvement.
The need for a hierarchization of semes/noemes constituting generic concepts has to do with the hierarchic levels of abstraction made manifest in the super-archisememe like “mode of writing,” and archisememe like “type of text,”29 a sememe like “genre,” a subsememe like “sub-genre” or the text itself like “The Apocalypse of John.” This means: the more abstract the generic structure, the more abstract, and the fewer, the semes (cf. notes 2 and 7; sec. 3.3.3.).
The simplified diagram on the following page may serve as an example of such a hierarchy of generic concepts (sememes) for which a hierarchy of semes/noemes is required.30
One advantageous result of such a generic stemma of hierarchically arranged abstraction levels is the obvious fact that it provides the theoretical possibility for an author to generate and for recipients to recognize new and/or mixed genres and subgenres (cf. sec. 1.3). This is a possibility in those cases when semes/noemes from various superarchi- or archisememes in the process of ahistoric transformations are combined in historic sememes or subsememes or when semes/noemes from various sememes by means of historic transformation are combined in subsememes of various kinds (Hempfer, 1973: 27, 139–50; and cf. sec. 3.3.5.). Thus, the historic development of new and/or mixed genres/subgenres can be accounted for and instead of a merely synchronic-static analysis we can also allow a diachronic-dynamic investigation of genres (Hempfer, 1973: 122ff, 131–32, 140, 192–220; Coseriu, 1974; 1980: 134, 137–38, 143; Raible, 1979a, 8–9, 23; Baldinger: 277–309; Hellholm, 1980: 64; Kubczak, 1978: 124ff).
3.3.5. The fifth observation has to do with “language in its fundamental function, in its communicative function” between sender and receiver (Baldinger: 132; cf. Hellholm, 1980: 14–22; Hartman, 1983: 334–35). This observation may simultaneously serve as a transition to the next section dealing with “Genres and Structures.”
When designing the diagram above, I did not indicate by means of arrows in which direction it should be read. The reason for this is that it ought to function both ways as the following deliberations will try to show. The bipolarity between sender and receiver
correspond(s) exactly to the opposition between semasiology and onomasiology (italics mine). The hearer receives from his interlocutor forms, the meaning of which he must determine in order to understand them. Thus, the hearer’s task is semasiological. The speaker, on the other hand, has to communicate mental objects
(concepts). He must select designations34 from the vocabulary placed at his disposal by his memory; he must link concepts to acoustic images, so converging them into significants; that is, his task is onomasiological. (Baldinger: 132; cf. 110, 157–59, 211, and 306–8)
Now this differentiation between semasiology and onomasiology with regard to simple signs or concepts applies also to more complex signs and concepts, e.g., genres.
184.108.40.206. When writing an Apocalypse, the author has at his disposal the structure of such a genre, i.e., the sememe or concept of Apocalypse, and has to find the appropriate way of expressing his conceptual structure of this particular genre. This process of encoding, at least partly internalized (Hempfer, 1973: 126), occurs as transformation from various levels of abstractions or, in different terminology, from various deep structure levels35 all the way to the single Apocalypse, or in other words, to the surface structure of an Apocalypse. This theory of transformation36 provides a concept of structure that is dynamic in so far as it allows diachrony in the development of generic structures, as well as superimposition of more than one generic structure at one level of abstraction upon a lower level in the hierarchy of conceptual abstraction as stated above (sec. 3.3.4.; Hempfer, 1973: 140–42).
220.127.116.11. When reading or listening to a text the receiver, who perceives forms already selected by the author, has to determine the structure of that text—in our case, not primarily of that particular text but rather its generic structure.37 As will be shown in the next section, a paradigmatic approach is hereby not sufficient; instead, a syntagmatic approach or a combination of both is necessary.
The process of decoding occurs through observations of the text as it stands, i.e., the generic surface structure, which is determined by a macro-structure of functional textsequences of various ranks (see note 39; Gülich/Raible, 1977: 56–57). This macro-structure must be recognizable on the surface level, since the receiver “obtains from the author neither a macro-structure nor a text deep structure but a text tel quel. Conse quently there must exist signals—called delimitation markers—by means of which the reader or listener can arrive at such a macro-structure” (Gülich/Raible, 1977a: 163; 1977: 54; van Dijk, 1977: 149ff and 1979: 519).38 This is the semasiological approach, since it poses the problem from the viewpoint of the receiver and his decoding of a given macro-sign.
18.104.22.168. When analyzing or interpreting a text, the scholar has to do justice to both aspects, the onomasiological as well as the semasiological. The role of the scholarly interpreter is thus different from that of the ordinary receiver (see Hempfer’s critique of Hirsch in 1973: 251, n. 387; also Schenk: 27–28).
As indicated above, “macro-structures always display an abstraction of the concrete text-form and are in all generative models established in the deep structure” (Kallmeyer/Meyer-Hermann, 1980: 254). This is how a text is being analyzed from the point of view of the sender and the message he wants to communicate. “Notwithstanding, the existence of macro-structure must be recognizable on the text surface level” (254), as we indicated above. This is how a text is being analyzed from the point of view of the receiver in order for him to disclose the message communicated by the sender. Recognizing the appropriateness of these two approaches on the part of the interpreter, we must, however, not forget that in his analytical work the scholar is at first always put in the same position as the receiver: he has to work with the form that was given the text by the sender; he does not have immediate access to the deep structure of either a single text or a text representing a generic structure.
Therefore, the central phenomenon in recognizing the macro-structure is the delimitation of texts into functional text-sequences of different ranks.39 The delimitation is pursued by means of hierarchically ranked delimitation markers on the surface level (see sec. 22.214.171.124.).
126.96.36.199. In conclusion it should be stated that there is a close connection between textual macro-structure and text-delimitation (see sec. 4.2.). This connection reflects the two aspects of semasiology and onomasiology as described above:
Text-delimitation as a phenomenon on the surface level is on the one hand an important way to recognize macro-structures in the process of reception and analysis; on the other hand it is a necessary result in realizing macro-structures as well as in using principles of textuality in the process of production. (Kallmeyer/Meyer-Hermann, 1980: 251 (italics mine))
In this statement the three aspects or approaches of functional communication dealt with above have been taken into due consideration and it must be the starting point for an adequate approach to the whole question of genres and structures.
4. Genres and Structures
4.1. So far I have mainly discussed the problem of generic concepts from a paradigmatic point of view. In this lecture I have concentrated on paradigms,40 since in genre analysis up until now this has been the prevailing method. It was my intent to present the paradigmatic approach, which works so well on simple models, to complex models in order to help us recognize its advantages, but at the same time reveal its weaknesses. Its obvious strength is its simplicity, even if developed so as to try to take the relationship between the characteristic features and the grouping of these features and even the hierarchization of these characteristic semes/noemes into account. Its disadvantages are equally obvious: a paradigm has the tendency to remain taxonomic and static in spite of hierarchization, grouping into dimensions, and establishment of relationships between elements. In other words, it has a tendency to be static instead of dynamic. I do not believe that we can do without paradigmatic analyses in genre investigations, but I also believe that a text-linguistic approach in its true meaning, i.e., as a syntagmatic ap proach on the level of macro-structures, is, if not an alternative, at least a necessary complement.41
4.1.1. When switching from the paradigmatic to the syntagmatic analysis, I will begin by listing six dimensions, noted by Raible and further developed by me, from which genre designations ought to derive their characteristics (Raible: 1979a: 23–28; also Hellholm, 1980; Hartman, 1980; Lambrecht, 1980; Harnisch, 1983; Koch, 1982, for syntagmatic investigation of apocalyptic texts).
1) The communication situation between sender and receiver (text-pragmatic aspect)
Here we have to distinguish between two levels of communication (see Hellholm, 1980: 43–44, 77–78, 83–84; also Ermert: 25, 27–28, 32–41):
first,the textexternal level between sender and receiver, between author and readers.
Within this level of communication we encounter
aa). the purpose of the author in writing his work, e.g., to persuade, to inform, to admonish, etc. (Hellholm, 1980: 52–61; Raible, 1979a: 24; see note 39);
bb). the description of the sender and his situation;
cc). the description of the intended audience and its situation;
second, the textinternal level between dramatis personae within the text itself.
Within this level of communication we encounter
aa). further textinternal levels of communication and their internal functions;
bb). all levels which have as their purpose to serve the course of the author in his communication with the readers on the external level (Hellholm, 1980: 191).
2) The scope of objects (text-semantic aspect)
Under this dimension we can subsume (see Lewis; Hellholm, 1980: 88, note 67)
a). subject matters such as propositions, themes, motifs, etc.;
b). persons: individuals as well as types, e.g., this-worldly and otherworldly;
c). temporal and local constituents.
3) The relationship to reality, i.e., various possible worlds (text-semantic aspect)
Distinctions have to be made (see van Dijk, 1977: 29–30; Hellholm, 1980: 87–91; Olsson, 30)
a). between this world and a fictive world of a novel, for instance, and
b). between this-world and the other-world in religious literature
aa). with regard to the present as well as
bb). with regard to the future situation (cf. Collins temporal and spatial axis; 1979a: 62–63);
c). between various this-worldly relations as under b) above.
4) Macro-syntagmatic structures of order (text-grammatical aspect encompassing text-pragmatics, -semantics, and -syntactics) Together with #1, #5, and #6 this is the eminently text-linguistic dimension,42 since it encompasses
a). the macro-structures of the text, usually in combination with characteristics from other dimensions;
b). the relationship between macro-structures and micro-structures (Raible, 1979b: 69, 72; Hellholm, 1980: 60–61, 76 and 3.3.5. above; Gülich/Raible, 1977: 53–54; van Dijk, 1979: 519–20 and 4.1.2. below);
c). the combination and/or overlapping of structures from other abstraction levels in the process of transformation (see 3.3.4. and 3.3.5.).
5) The medium (text-grammatical aspect encompassing text-pragmatics, -semantics, -syntactics)
Here we can distinguish between
a). the medium language in combination with other media, e.g., music, meter, rhythm, etc.,
b). the carrier media allowing the direct act of communication to be transferred into an indirect act, e.g., heavenly letters! (Hellholm, 1980: 43–44, 77–78, 83–84; Ermert, 25, 27–28, 32–41)
c). the form media allowing an act of communication to be transmitted in “forms,” e.g., dialogues!
6) The literary modes of presentation (text-grammatical aspect encompassing text-pragmatics, -semantics, -syntactics)
In this dimension we have to distinguish between
a). various literary modes of representation such as narrative, dramatic, descriptive, instructive, and argumentative modes of presentation (Raible, 1979a: 27; Hempfer, 1973: 128–36; Hellholm, 1980: 64–66);
b). the opposition between long and short ways of presentation, e.g., between “Gattung” and “Form” (see note 14).
4.1.2. The advantage of this paradigm of syntagmatic dimensions, in spite of its more complex differentiation, is that it takes into account 1) the three major paradigmatic groups I mentioned earlier (see 3.3.3.), viz., content, form, and function and 2) the syntagmatic aspects, in forms of micro- as well as macro-syntagmatic structures.
Literally, textus/textura means web and as such is two-dimensional. The first dimension of the web is made up by the warp; the second dimension is constituted by the woof (Harweg, 1979: 21, 148; 1973: 69–70; Gülich/Raible, 1977: 51–55; Hellholm, 1980: 75–76). Transferred into textus/textura in the meaning of text, this also provides us at first with a two-dimensional aspect of texts:
a). the first dimension, the warp, constitutes the “chain-work” or linguistically stated, the micro-syntagmatic structure by means of syntagmataic substitution (Harweg, 1979: 21, 148; 1978; Hellholm, 1980: 30 and note 68). As in the woof this dimension is a necessary although not a sufficient condition for establishing texts;
b). the second dimension, the woof, is a necessary and in combination with the former, a sufficient condition for establishing texts. This second dimension in its two different aspects allows specific patterns to stand out. This is the macro-syntagmatic structure of texts and genres, operating not on the level of sentences but on the level of texts and textsequences.
The two aspects of the second dimension are (see Gülich/Raible: 1975 and 1977a; Hellholm, 1980: 77–78 and 78–149; also see below, 188.8.131.52. on Hermas and 184.108.40.206., 220.127.116.11. on Apocalypse of John):
1). hierarchically arranged communication levels;
2). hierarchically arranged textsequences of different ranks.
Thus, we arrive in fact at a three-dimensional analysis of texts. These three dimensions will have to be used in a macro-syntagmatic approach to the analysis of generic structures:
The first step in the text analysis will be to divide the text into various functional communication levels, a possibility which is restricted to certain generic structures, primarily, but not exclusively, to narrative texts.
The second step will be to delimit the text into hierarchical and functional textsequences constituting—together with step one—the generic structures (Gülich/Raible, 1977: 53; Hellholm, 1980: 75–76; see footnote 39 above). Underlying these two macro-structural syntagmatic dimensions is the micro-structural syntagmatic dimension in the form of syntagamatic substitution.43
As emphasized above more than once regarding paradigmatic analyses, now, regarding syntagmatic analysis, we likewise have to emphasize the importance of determining “interdependences and relationships between constituents of different dimensions,” as the ones discussed above in paragraph 3.3.5. (Raible, 1979a: 27). This becomes particularly important when we enter the field of macro-syntagmatic analyses, since neither sentences nor textsequences of various degrees “have per se any function but only obtain their function from a superior totality, e.g., (with regard to tones) within a melody or, as far as texts are concerned, within a superior unity of meaning” (Raible, 1979b: 69; von Humboldt: 205; Baldinger, 1980: XVII; Grosse, 1976: 26; Gülich/Raible, 1977: 53; Raible, 1979a: 12–13; Hempfer, 1973: 140; von Kutschera: 130; Kallmeyer/Meyer-Hermann, 1980: 242ff; Stegemann: 498–500); also Heger, 1976: 1; Rosengren: 1980; K. Zimmermann: 1978).
4.2. The syntagmatic analysis of the functional macro-structures of genres (see note 39) has to be carried out by means of textdelimitations of generic texts as they are available to the scholarly interpreter.44 Thus, as indicated above, the analyst has to take the surface structure of the text as his starting point in pursuing syntagmatic analyses in order to arrive at the deep structure as conceived by the author (see 18.104.22.168.).
4.2.1. In my work on the Shepherd of Hermas, I have utilized the syntagmatic method in extenso, with special attention paid to the surface structure.
22.214.171.124. With regard to communication levels I arrived at a hierarachy of six levels of communication (Hellholm, 1980: 98):
1). Level one: between author and addressees;
2). Level two: between other-worldly mediators and the author as the human recipient;
2a). Level two-a: between other-worldly mediators and the addressees;
3). Level three: between a “Heavenly book” quoted in the text itself and the author;
3a). Level three-a: between the “Heavenly book” and the addressees;
4). Level four: between a quotation of an oath of the Supreme Divinity within the “Heavenly book” and the addressees.
This deep text-pragmatic embedment of the message from the other world to this-world recipients is the first most striking set of syntagmatic semes/noemes of the generic concept “Apocalypse.” All (sets of) syntagmatic semes/noemes constituting an Apocalypse are ranked in an abstraction hierarachy.
126.96.36.199. Regarding the macro-structure of the text as it emerges from the text-pragmatic-semantic-syntactic delimitation of textsequences of different ranks, two methodologically important observations are appropriate:
a). the ranking of textsequences per definitionem leads not only to a sequential order but also, and more importantly, to the establishment of hierarchically and functionally well-defined interrelationships between various textsequences, that is to say, how textsequences on higher levels function within the next lower level in rank all the way down to level 0 (see note 39);
b). there is a necessity for establishing hierarachically defined delimitation markers of a pragmatic, semantic, and syntactic nature, since in order to arrive at a delimitation of texts into hierarchichal textsequences there is a need for hierarchically defined delimitation markers (Gülich/Raible, 1977: 54). This task was undertaken in linguistics by Elisabeth Gülich and Wolfgang Raible (1975; 1977a) as to descending analyses, by Klaus Heger (1976; 1977) as to ascending analyses and their efforts have been adapted and further developed by myself in my book on the Shepherd of Hermas for narrative texts, and in my essay on Romans 6 for argumentative texts (1980; 1983; see note 38).
188.8.131.52. Here I can only give a brief summary of the most essential markers applying to narrative texts (see Hellholm, 1980: 80–95).
184.108.40.206.1. Delimitation markers on a meta-level (pragmatic-semantic types).
1) Meta-communicative clauses.
These clauses function as signals for the beginning and ending of an act of communication, i.e., they make the linguistic communication situation the subject of a theme. These markers can be divided into two main groups: one with an encoding (to say, to write), the other with a decoding (to hear, to read) function. Each of these can thematicize either oral or written acts of communication. The importance of these meta-communicative clauses lies mainly in the fact that they serve as signals for changes between various levels of communication and consequently among other things also signal out different dialogue phases and dialogue structures.
2) Substitution on the meta level.
Contrary to the syntagmatic substitutions on the text-level which link sentences on the micro-syntagmatic field together, the syntagmatic substitutions on the meta-level are manifestations a) of various generic concepts such as “Narrative” (on the abstraction-level of “mode of writing”), “Revelatory writing” (“type of text”), “Apocalypse” (“genre”), “Apocalypse with other-worldly journey” (“subgenre”), etc. (see 3.3.4.), and b) of various textsequences of different ranks such as “vision,” “letter,” “scroll,” etc.45
The substitution on meta-level functions in a two-fold but yet related way:
a) Precisely this type of substitution, through which a text or a textsequence is replaced by a meta-communicative part of a sentence, noun or verb, often plays a significant role on the surface level in delimiting the text into hierarchically arranged textsequences (Gülich/Raible, 1977: 44).
b) In connection with the first function this type of substitution also “informs the receiver of the function of the text” (Grosse, 1976: 21; Hellholm, 1980: 60, 86; see also note 39, van Dijk, 1977: 245; Austin: 75). This function is particularly important when the substitution is a manifestation of a generic concept such as “Gospel” or “Apocalypse,” since a genre designation “rules the—nevertheless very many—possibilities of interpretation and curtails them: one laughs…at the death of an innocent man in a burlesque but one grieves therefore in a tragedy” (Raible, 1979a: 15–16; Stempel: 568). From a form-critical perspective the same function of literary genre designations has been acknowledged, e.g., by Hans Conzelmann and Andreas Lindemann: “If one reads a miracle-story as a statement of facts, one inevitably fails to recognize its own intention, since a miracle-story is not drawn up as a statement of facts but constitutes a literary product sui generis” (Conzelmann/Lindemann: 1980: cf. Bultmann, 1963: 57 and 1964: 41; Hartman, 1983: 331; Kubczak, 1978: 48 and 79–80; Lausberg: 224; Albrektson: 145; and 142, 144). “This is the reason,” says Wolfgang Raible, “why the genre as information about the essential gestalt characteristics of a text is eminently important for its interpretation” (Raible, 1979a: 15).
3) Substitution on abstraction-level.
A middle position between substitutions on text-level and on meta- leval is the substitution on abstraction-level. This type of substituens has a wider range of reference than the substituendum and frequently occurs in combination with verbs and prepositions indicating the end of a passage. The substitution on abstraction-level is often found in narrative writings as reductions of text, textsequences, or even sentences in form of “abstract nouns,” “pronouns and pronominal forms,” certain “adverbs and conjunctions,” and “verbs on abstraction-level” (Raible, 1972: 150–51, 194–203; Hellholm, 1980: 86–87).46 This type of substitution also serves the delimitation of texts into textsequences of different ranks, although on a lower rank than the previous markers on the meta-level.
220.127.116.11.2. Delimitation-markers with direct textexternal analogon outside the meta-level (pragmatic-semantic types).
1). Change in set of worlds.
As C. J. Fillmore has pointed out,
the discourse grammarian’s most important task is that of characterizing, on the basis of the linguistic material contained in the discourse under examination, the set of worlds in which the discourse could play a role, together with the set of possible worlds compatible with the message content of the discourse. (Fillmore: 88; cf. Lewis: 175, 213ff)
Adhering to the principle of ontological neutrality (see note 1), one can, by means of reduction, arrive at the following typologization in the classification of possible worlds:
van Dijk (1977: 29–30)
J. Collins (1979a: 6–7)
(cf. Olsson: 30 and Carmignac, 1979:20)
1) [this world];
1) this-world of human recipients
a) actual world:
a) “our actual world”;
b) fictive world;
b) “a situation where the facts are different from the real or actual facts, but compatible with the postulates (laws, principles, etc.) of the actual world”;
2) other-world 2)
“worlds with partly or fully different laws of nature, i.e., worlds which are increasingly dissimilar to our ‘own’ world.”
2) other-world of a transcendent reality and supernatural mediators.
Among the delimitation-markers of a primarily—although not exclusively (Schmidt: 238; Schnelle: 237)—semantic nature, the “change in set of worlds” is the most important one, as can be seen from the important role it plays not only in text linguistic but also in form-critical apocalyptic research as the definition by Collins and the SBL-group reveals. The main difference, however, between this seme/noeme as used by Collins et alii on the one hand and the same seme/noeme used by Hellholm, Heger, and van Dijk on the other, is that the former only used it paradigmatically while the latter used it syntagmatically as well, which according to our deliberations above is a distinct advantage.
2) Episode-markers, etc.
These demarcations are signals introducing a) time and change of time and b) localization and relocalization. Both of these can be divided into aa) absolute episode-markers delimiting textsequences already established by preceding markers and bb) relative episode-markers delimiting textsequences already established by the absolute episode-markers.
3) Changes in the grouping of agents.
This marker introduces changes in the main actors regardless of whether they are active (agens) or passive (patiens) agents. More important than changes of individual actors is the switch in groups of actors, which is in line with the above-mentioned “change in set of possible worlds.” Thus, the change in groups is a primary, while the change in individuals is a secondary, delimitating signal.
18.104.22.168.3. Delimitation-markers without direct textexternal analogon (semantic-syntactic types).
This marker reintroduces an agent who has been referred to by a pronoun, with a noun or his proper name. There seems to be a direct relationship between the change in the arrangement of actors and the renominalization; this is the reason why this marker often goes together with the previous one. This marker has only an indirect textexternal analogon as the “theory of mediated reference” discloses (cf. Bühler: 385ff, esp. 390; Kallmeyer et al.: 213–29; Hellholm, 1980: 41, 94), and is consequently of a semantic-syntactic character.
2). Sentence- and text-connectors: adverbs and conjunctions
These markers with no analogain the textexternal field function per se only on higher grades, thus delimiting sentences and textsequences on the micro-syntagmatic level (Dressler: 71). However, together with markers on lower levels, these signals strengthen the delimiting function of the former.
22.214.171.124.4. From the deliberations above on delimitation-markers, three general conclusions can be drawn:
a). There is a direct proportionate correspondence between the inclusiveness (see 3.3.3. and 126.96.36.199, #b]) of the markers and their delimiting function: the more inclusive (pragmatic-semantic) markers distinguish communication levels and delimit macro-syntagmatic structures, while the less inclusive (syntactic) markers primarily delimit the micro-syntagmatic structures (see 4.1.2.).
b). As was the case with the grouping and hierarchizations of the paradigmatic semes/noemes (see 3.3.3.), so it is also with the syntagmatic delimitation markers: the grouping and hierarchization into pragmatic, semantic, and syntactic groups are derived deductively from the meta-theory applied (Hellholm, 1980: 78–79), while the specific markers (syntagmatic semes/noemes) within the groups are derived inductively from the texts themselves, thus providing a mediation between deductive and inductive methods.47
c). in order to delimit not only texts but also text-sequences in a hierarchical way, these markers are to be applied recursively on the various communication levels.
188.8.131.52. The delimitation of the Book of Visions in the Shepherd of Hermas on the macro-structural level resulted in the following textsequential structure (Hellholm, 1980: 136–39; 190–96):
The first grade of textsequences consists of two parts:
a) the brief romance story followed by b) the main visionary part;
2). The visionary part of the second grade of text-sequences is delimited into four visionary reports;
3). On the third grade each visionary report begins by a removal to a this-worldly place of revelation and is followed by the visionary account itself;
4). The visionary account on the fourth grade consists of a preparation to the vision in the form of a prayer followed by the vision itself;
5). On the fifth grade each vision begins with an introduction followed by a dialogue between the other-worldly revealer or messenger and the human recipient or by listening to or by copying a “Heavenly book/letter.”
This hierarachical ranking of different textsequences in order to arrive at the macro-structure as conceived by the author is the second striking set of syntagmatic semes/noemes (see 184.108.40.206. for the first set) of the generic sememe (concept) “Apocalypse.” I break off here since my aim was only to show how the hierarchization of textsequences on the level of macro-structures works when applied to a text belonging to the genre “Apocalypse.”
4.2.2. Let me finally turn to the Apocalypse of John and see how the embedment in communication levels and the hierarchical ranking of textsequences can be established also in this text.
220.127.116.11. I will begin by discussing the syntagmatic seme/noeme that, along with the change in worlds (from this-worldly to other-worldly), is the most striking macro-syntagmatic feature of the generic concept “Apocalypse,” viz., the pragmatic embedment of communication levels. According to the hierarchy of delimitation markers this characteristic syntagmatic feature must be elaborated upon first. It is also appropriate to begin our analysis with this seme/noeme, since it has to do in particular with the problem of function and the relationship between function and content, i.e., between pragmatics and semantics.
18.104.22.168.1. In analyzing the whole of the Apocalypse of John, I have discovered many more and even much more complex levels of communication than I was able to establish for Hermas.
On this occasion, I will merely list the most important ones and only those levels that serve as meta-levels for others:
a). level one: between the author and the general Christian audience (1:1–3 and 22:18–19) (Bousset: 183 and 459);
b). level two: between the author and the more specified group of seven churches (1:4);
c). level three: between other-worldly mediators and the author (Jesus himself in chaps. 1–3; angelic revealers/or Jesus Christ in the rest of the book);
d). level four: between the “Heavenly scroll” and the author (6:1–22: 5);
e). level five: between the other-worldly mediators and the author within the “Heavenly scroll”;
f). level six: between God himself on the throne and the author within the “Heavenly scroll” with the command to the author to write down the words of the Supreme Divinity (21:5–8); (cf. in 1:19, Jesus’ command to John: grapson oun ha eides kai ha eisin kai ha mellei genesthai meta tauta and on the same level of communication Hermas 6:3: alla gnōrison tauta ta rhēmata, ktl.).
22.214.171.124.2. Let us now take a closer look at the most embedded text, viz., the one in 21:5–8:
And he who sat upon the throne said: “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said: “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me: “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water without price from the fountain of the water of life. He who conquers shall have this heritage and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Translation from A. Collins, 1979a: 144)
From the point of view of pragmatics this is the text in the Apocalypse of John with the most profound embedment:
a). the words quoted in writing are God’s own words;
b). this statement of God is written down by the human recipient at the command of the Supreme Divinity himself;
c). this textsequence is a part of the larger sequence called the “heavenly scroll”;
d). this scroll could only be opened by the lamb, Jesus Christ;
e). this scroll and the breaking of its seals were shown to the author in a vision;
f). the vision took place after a heavenly journey: vision within a journey;47
g). this is written down in a text of a particular generic structure: an “Apocalypse”;
h). the concrete text is to be read to the congregation.
Even this simplified description of the embedment hierarchy is in my opinion very striking and from it three conclusions can be drawn:
1). the first conclusion has to do with virtuality. The parallel phenomena in the Shepherd of Hermas and in the Apocalypse of John indicate that we have to do with a characteristic feature that is not accidental and variant but, on the contrary, is constitutive and invariant; it is a seme/noeme. This, however, does not mean that we should expect equally deep embedments of all texts of the generic concept “Apocalypse” (see 3.2.2., #[a], with note 18), but it does mean that some kind of hierarchic communication levels must be present.
2). the second conclusion has to do with with function. In my book on Hermas I stated that there can be no doubt regarding the reason for the hierarchic embedment: it has to do with authorization of the message (Hellholm, 1980: 191 with note 3). I am prepared to make the same claim now with regard to the Apocalypse of John. This claim can furthermore be substantiated by three other circumstances:
a). The self-definition of the Supreme Divinity on the throne: ego eimi to alpha kai to ō, hē archē kai to telos at the end of the heavenly scroll, functioning as an introduction to the quotation of his divine words (21:6). These words correspond to a similar self-designation at the beginning of the Apocalypse of John, viz., at the end of the epistolary prescript: ego eimi to alpha kai to ō, legei kyrios ho theos, ho ōn kai ho ēn kai ho erchomenos, ho pantokratōr (1:8);
b). the assurance by God himself that his words, which John is commanded to write down are pistoi kai alēthinoi (21:5);
c). the direct and programmatic statement of a hierarchic revelation embedment in the title 1:1–3: from God, to Jesus Christ, to an angelic mediator, to John, to the readers.48
d). the letter-form as utilized by the author in 1:4 and 22:21 (see Kraft: 28; Vielhauer, 1975: 500; Müller: 600–608). Here I am in agreement with Prof. Stegemann, when he claims that the authorization is the characteristic functional feature of the Apocalypse (504–7).
3). The third conclusion: there is a direct correspondence between the communication embedment on the pragmatic level and the content on the semantic level.
a). In Hermas the message is on the one hand the promise (illocution) of the possibility of a second repentance for those who repent (proposition), and on the other a threat (illocution) of exclusion for those who abide in their sins (proposition). This is in fact the summary of the lengthy book by Hermas and it is a summary by God himself in an oath of his quoted in the “Heavenly scroll.”
b). In the Apocalypse of John the message is on the one hand the promise (illocution) of those who conquer that they shall live in unity with God in the new world of his (proposition), and on the other hand the threat (illocution) that the lot of the cowardly and unfaithful is ultimately separation from God described by the singular concept of a “second death” (proposition). This constitutes the summary of the Apocalypse of John from the lips of the Supreme Divinity on the throne.
Thus, if one function in connection with summaries of the Supreme Divinity is authorization of the message, the other function can be defined as the promise of vindication and redemption for the faithful and the threat of exclusion and death to the unfaithful.49 Both functions are furthermore in each instance directly related to a positive and a negative proposition. We have to keep in mind, however, that these functions as well as propositions work on the level of langue or even langage and consequently must be fairly general and abstract, while the concrete exhortations and descriptions are given in extenso in the separate Apocalypses as single texts on the level of parole. This conclusion is in total harmony with my observation at the beginning of this lecture that texts are abbreviations omitting unnecessary detail.
Thus, pragmatics (i.e., communication embedment and illocutions) and semantics (i.e., positive and negative propositions) meet in both writings at the very center of the communication hierarchy (see note 39). This is obviously a virtual and invariant syntagmatic seme/noeme which together with other syntagmatic semes/noemes has to be taken seriously when syntagmatically defining the generic concept of Apocalypses and when interpreting single texts belonging to that genre.
126.96.36.199. I will conclude by outlining in a preliminary way50 the second set of syntagmatic semes/noemes of the generic concept “”Apocalypse,” viz., the delimitation of its macrostructure into hierarchically ranked textsequences.
188.8.131.52.1. When delimiting the text of the Apocalypse of John, the markers described above in 184.108.40.206. will be utilized. The following abbreviations are being used in this analysis:
1-nTS = textsequences of different grades;
1-nTS1-n = several textsequences of different grades;
MS = meta communicative sentences
SM = substitution on meta-level;
SM(sur) = substitution on meta-level: surrogate;
SA = substitution on abstraction level;
CSW = change in set of worlds;
EM(a/r) loc./temp. – episodemarker (absolute/relative) local and temporal
DP = dramatis personae: changes in (grouping of) agents;
RN = renominalization.
00TS [APOKALYPSIS IŌANNOU]
0TS Prologue in form of a title: Apocalypse (1:1–3)
0TS1 Titulus proprius (1:1–2)
0TS2 Macarism (1:3)
1TS1Epistolary prescript (1:4–8) [Form: epistolary address; DP: John-Seven Churches]
2TS11 Address (1:4–5b)
2TS12 Doxology (1:5c–6)
2TS13 Motto in form of a prophetic saying (1:7)
2TS14 God’s self-predication (1:8)
1TS2Visionary part: “inner story” (1:9–22:5) [CSW: this-worldly to other-worldly; SM(sur): egenomēn en pneumati…ēkousa…eidon; EM(a) loc: en tēş nēsōş…Patmōş temp.: en tēş kyriakēş hēmera̧; RN: egō Iōannēs]
2TS21Revelation without other-worldly journey (1:9–3:22)
3TS211 Pneumatic enrapture at the place of revelation (1:9–10a)
4TS2111 Situation report (1:9) [DP: John alone]
5TS21111 Self-presentation (1:9a)
5TS21112 Report regarding place of revelation (1:9b)
4TS2112Report on Pneumatic enrapture (1:10a) [DP: John-Pneuma]
3TS212 Revelation of the message to the Seven Churches in Asia Minor (1:10b–3:20) [SM(sur): ēkousa…eidon; EM(a) temp.: en tēş kyriakēş hēmera̧; DP: John-other-worldly revealers]
4TS2121 Commissionary revelation of “one like a Son of Man” as introduction to the copying of the seven-fold messages (1:10b–20) [DP: John-Son of Man]
5TS21211 Auditory revelation (1:10b–11)
5TS21212 Visionary revelation (1:12–20)
4TS2122 The messages to the Seven Churches (2:1–3:22) [DP: Christ-John-Angels of the Churches-the Churches themselves]
5TS21221 To Ephesus (2:1–7)
5TS21222 To Smyrna (2:8–11)
5TS21223 To Pergamon (2:12–17)
5TS21224 To Thyatira (2:18–29)
5TS21225 To Sardis (3:1–6)
5TS21226 To Philadelphia (3:7–13)
5TS21227 To Laodicea (3:14–22)
2TS22Revelation with other-worldly journey (4:1–22:5) [SM(sur): egenomēn en pneumati…eidon…idou…ēkousa; SA: meta tauta; EM(r) temp. meta tauta; RN: hē phōnē hē prōtē hēn ēkousa hōs salpingos lalousēs met‘ emou;]
3TS221 Pneumatic enrapture to a place of revelation (4:1–2a)
4TS2211 Situation report in form of a vision with the purpose of producing change of revelatory location (4:1) [DP: John-hē phōnē hē prōtē]
5TS22111 Vision of the open door in heaven (4:1a)
5TS22112 Audition of the command to a heavenly journey (4:1b)
4TS2212 Report on Pneumatic enrapture (4:2a) [DP: John-Pneuma]
3TS222 Revelation of “that which is to come” (4:2b–22:5) [SM(sur): Idou…eidon; EM(r) loc.: en tōş ouranōş; DP: John-Christ]
4TS2221 Throne-room revelation as an introduction to the revelation of the “Heavenly Scroll” (4:2b–5:14) [DP: John-Christ]
5TS22211 Vision of Supreme Divinity (4:2b–11)
5TS22212 Vision of “Heavenly Scroll”; written within and on the back, and sealed (5:1)
5TS22213Vision of angel in search of someone worthy of opening the scroll (5:2–5)
5TS2214 Vision of the Lamb as the one worthy of opening the scroll (5:6–14)
4TS2222 The revelation of the “Heavenly Scroll” (6:1–22:5) [DP: John-“Heavenly Scroll”]
5TS22221 The summary revelation as the scriptura exterior (exōthen:5:1) (6:1–7:17) [SM: numbering of the successive seals; SM(sur): kai eidon; EM(r) temp.: hote; DP: Christ-revealer; RN: to arnion]
6TS222221 Vision of the first six seals pertaining to the macro-cosmic events (6:1–17)
7TS2222111 First seal (6:1–2)
7TS2222112 Second seal (6:3–4)
7TS2222113 Third seal (6:5–6)
7TS2222114 Fourth seal (6:7–8)
7TS2222115 Fifth seal (6:9–11)
7TS2222116 Sixth seal (6:12–17)
6TS222212 Supplementary vision in form of an intercalation pertaining to the micro-cosmic situation of the church (7:1–14) [SA: meta tauta; EM(r) loc.: meta tauta; DP: tessares angeloi]
7TS2222121 Sealing of the saints on earth (7:1–8)
7TX2222122 Multitude worshipping God in heaven (7:9–14)
5TS22222 The revelation as the scriptura interior (esōthen:5:1) (8:1–22:5) [SM: numbering of the last seal; EM(r) loc. + temp.: egeneto sigē en tōş ouranōş hōs hēmiōrion; DP: John—hepta angeloi…n.b. not the Lamb!]
6TS222221 Vision of the first six trumpets (8:1–11:14)
7TS2222211 Introduction (8:1–5)
8TS22222111 Opening of seventh seal (8:1) [DP: John-the Lamb]
8TS22222112 Seven angels with seven trumpets (8:2) [DP: John – allos angelos]
8TS22222113 Preparation in throne room for trumpet sounding (8:3–5) [DP: John-allos angelos]
7TS2222212 Sounding of first six trumpets with woe pertaining to macro-cosmic events (8:6–9:2) [EM(r) temp: hētoimasen; DP: see RN; RN: hoi hepta angeloi…]
8TS22222121Preparation to sounding the trumpets (8:6)
8TS22222122 First trumpet (8:7)
8TS22222123 Second trumpet (8:8)
8TS22222124 Third trumpet (8:10)
8TS22222125 Fourth Trumpet (8:12)
8TS22222126Eagle’s Woe-cry (8:13)
8TS22222127 Fifth trumpet (9:1–11)
8TS22222128 Passing of first woe (9:12)
8TS22222129 Sixth trumpet (9:13–21)
6TS222222 Supplementary vision in form of an intercalation: the “Little Scroll” pertaining to the micro-cosmic situation (10:1–11:14) [SM(sur): Kai eidon; DP: allos angelos ischyros]
7TS2222221 Introductory preparation for the revelation of the “Little Scroll”. (10:1–11)
7TS2222222 Content of the “Little Scroll” pertaining to the micro-cosmic situation (11:1–13) [MS:dei se palin prophēteusai…(10:11)]
7TS2222223 The passing of the second woe and the prediction of third woe (11:16)
6TS222223 Vision of the seven bowls: first part: (11:15 to 22:6) [SM: numbering of last trumpet; DP:phōnai megalai en tōş ouranōş; angeloi hepta echontes plēgas hepta tas eschatas]
7TS2222231 Introduction: first part (11:15–19)
8TS22222311 Sounding of seventh trumpet (11:15a) [DP: John-seventh angel]
8TS22222312 Preparation in the throne room for the emptying of the seven bowls (11:15b–19) [DP: John-Phōnai megalai]
6TS222224 Supplementary vision in form of an intercalation pertaining to the micro-cosmic situation of the church (12:1–14:20) [SM: sēmeion mega; EM(r) loc: en tōş ouranōş; DP: John-gynē]
7TS2222241 Vision of the woman and the Dragon (12:1–18) [DP: John-drakōn]
7TS2222242 Vision of the beasts from the sea and from the earth (13:1–18) [DP: John-thēria]
7TS2222243 Vision of the Lamb on Mount Zion (14:1–5) [DP: John-to arnion]
7TS2222244 Vision of the three angels (14:6–13) [DP: John-three angels]
7TS2222245 Vision of the one like a Son of Man seated on a cloud (14:14–20) [DP: John-Son of Man]
6TS222225 Vision of the seven bowls: second part pertaining to macro-cosmic events (15:1–16:21) [SM: eidon allo sēmeion; EM(r) loc.: en tōş ouranōş DP: John-angeloi hepta echontes plēgas hepta tas eschatas…]
7TS2222251 Introduction: second part (15:1–8)
7TS2222252 Emptying of the seven bowls of wrath (16:1–16) [DP: John-phōnē megalē ek tou naou—hepta angeloi]
8TS22222521 Command to pour out the bowls on the earth (16:1)
8TS22222522 First bowl (16:2)
8TS22222523 Second bowl (16:3)
8TS22222524 Third bowl (16:4–7)
8TS22222525 Fourth bowl (16:8–9)
8TS22222526 Fifth bowl (16:10–11)
8TS22222527 Sixth bowl (16:12–16)
8TS22222528 Seventh bowl (16:17–21)
6TS222226 Supplementary visions in form of addendum pertaining both to micro-cosmic situation and to macro-cosmic events (17:1–22:5) [SM: deixō soi…kai eidon…; EM(r) loc. + temp.: kai ēlthen…; DP: heis ek tōn hepta angelōn…]
7TS2222261 Visions pertaining to the micro-cosmic situation of the church (17:1–19:10) [DP: John-this-worldly churches]
8TS22222611 The judgment over Babylon by an angelus interpres (17:1–18)
9TS222226111 The vision (17:1–6)
9TS222226112 The interpretation (17:7–18)
8TS22222612 The Fall of Babylon (18:1–24)
8TS2222213 Celebration in Heaven (19:1–10)
7TS2222262 Visions pertaining to the macro-cosmic events (19:11–22:5) [DP: John-godly + anti-godly powers]
8TS22222621 The final judgment (19:11–20:15) [DP: John-Christ-Satan]
9TS222226211 The victory of the equestrian on the white horse (19:11–21)
9TS222226212 The final victory over the Dragon-Satan (20:1–10)
9TS222226213The Book of Life and the final judgment (20:11–15)
8TS22222622 The new creation (21:1–22:5) [DP: John-New Heaven and Earth]
9TS222226221 New Heaven and New Earth (21:1–8)
9TS222226222 New Jerusalem revealed by an angeles interpres (21:9–22:5)
1TS3 Epilogue in form of a visionary authentication (22:6–20) [SA: houtoi hoi logoi…hoi logoi tēs prophēteias tou bibliou toutou etc. throughout the epilogue; EM(r): temp: kai hote ēkousa kai eblepsa; DP: John-Christ]
2TS31 Attestation of the book and its motto on Christ’s part (22:6)
2TS32 Verification of the seer in an epiphany (22:8–9) [RN: kagō Iōannēs]
2TS33 Paraenesis with citation of the motto on Christ’s part (22:10–15) [DP: Christ]
2TS34 Christ’s statement of the revelatory transmission (22:16) [RN: egō Iēsous.]
2TS35 Prophetic pneumatic saying with reference to the audience (22:17) [DP: to pneuma kai hē nymphē, etc.]
2TS36 Canonization formula on Christ’s part (22:18–19) [DP: Christ-the audience]
2TS37 Christ’s final citation of the motto with a prophetic cultic response (22:20) [DP: Christ-Church]
1TS4 Epistolary postscript (22:21) [DP: John-The Churches]
220.127.116.11.3. This attempt at a delimitation of the Apocalypse of John on the macro-structural level resulted in the following textsequential structure:
1). The textsequence on the nil grade consists of the prologue functioning as a title (see 18.104.22.168.1.; #[b]) and is consequently meta-narrative in character (cf. Hartman, 1980: 132–34).
2). The first grade of textsequences consists of four text parts: a) the epistolary prescript (Kraft: 28; Vielhauer, 1975: 500); b) the main revelatory part (Hartman, 1980: 140–41; Hahn: 147–48; Lambrecht: 78); c) the epilogue in form of a visionary authentication by Christ (see on 21:6: Bousset: 455; Bornkamm: 220; Lohmeyer: 177; Strobel: 179; Kraft: 277; Hartman, 1980: 145; Prigent: 351; on 21:18–19 see Strobel: 179; Moe: ad loc; Hartman, 1980: 148; Bousset: 459; Lohmeyer: 181; Kraft: 281; Prigent: 360; Müller: 616–18); d) the brief epistolary postscript (cf. Kraft: 282).
3). The visionary part is on the second grade, divided into two major revelatory events (cf. Hahn: 148–49; Lambrecht: 79–80): a) the revelation without an other-worldly journey and b) with an other-worldly journey.51
4). On the third grade each visionary report a) begins by a pneumatic enrapture on or to the place of revelation and b) is followed by the visionary account itself.
5). The visionary accounts on the fourth grade consist of a) introductory revelation reports (cf. Vielhauer, 1975: 497–98) (“Commissionary revelation” and “Throne-room revelation”) followed by b) the messages in written form (command to write to the seven churches; the visions contained in the Heavenly Scroll [Bornkamm; Strobel: 178]).
6). On the fifth grade we encounter a) the separate messages to the seven churches on the one hand and b) the summary revelation as the scriptura exterior and the main revelation as the scriptura interior on the other (Bornkamm; Strobel: 178; Yadin: 222–34; Koffmahn: 10–30).
7). The most striking feature on the sixth grade is the appearance of “Supplementary visions” in form of either intercalations within or an addendum to the seven-visions of seals, trumpets and bowls (Lambrecht: 95–99)). This leads to the openendedness of the first two seven-rows (Lambrecht: 87). This compositional feature becomes all the more interesting when one recognizes that while the seven-visions are pertaining to macro-cosmic events, the supplementary visions that are intercalations pertain to the micro-cosmic situation primarily of the Church, while the supplementary vision that is an addendum combines macro-cosmic events with micro-cosmic situations (Vielhauer, 1975: 505; (Lambrecht: 99). The micro-cosmic situation is evidently the major concern of the author and the verification of these supplementary visions lies in the macro-cosmic events. The interrelationship between macro-cosmic and micro-cosmic events is, furthermore, typical of apocalypticism in general and goes as far back as to the main features of Iranian apocalypticism (Widengren: passim, esp. 154–56; Olsson: 33ff; Cancik: 552–53).
22.214.171.124.4. The preliminary analysis of the Apocalypse of John given above allows us to draw three conclusions:
1). The first conclusion has again to do with virtuality. The macro-syntagmatic structure of the Apocalypse of John is indeed very similar to the macro-structure of Hermas. This leads me to believe that we have to do with a characteristic feature that is invariant and thus possesses the status of a seme/noeme. This, of course, does not mean that the macro-structure needs to be identical in all texts belonging to the generic concept (sememe) “Apocalypse,” but it does mean that the macro-structure of “Apocalypses” has to be similar in all texts defined as “Apocalypses” (see 3.2.2. #[a], esp. note 18).
2). The second conclusion has to do with the interrelationship of textsequences on different levels:
a). When delimiting texts into textsequences, one looks for markers that separate one section or unit from another (a necessary and legitimate task);
b). By delimiting texts into textsequences of different ranks, however, the various text-units do not stand apart from, and are not unrelated to, each other, but they are in fact linked to each other; only so is it possible to discover their interrelationship and to recognize their syntagmatic function in the overall structure of the text being analyzed.
3). The third conclusion has to do with coherence and in particular with the relationship between syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic types of coherence (Hellholm, 1980: 29–31, 37–42, 46–52). A text lacking syntactic and even semantic coherence can, from a pragmatic perspective, possess a high density of coherence (see Meeks: 701). The syntactic and semantic coherence of the Apocalypse of John seems in many cases to be lacking and can probably only be fully explained by means of diachronic analyses. Yet one has to admit that precisely where the semantic coherence seems to be missing, i.e., where we encounter the intercalations within and the addition to different rows of seven visions, there is a high degree of pragmatic coherence (see 126.96.36.199.3.).
This phenomenon is also typical of the Shepherd of Hermas. This indicates that we are dealing with an invariant and virtual syntagmatic seme/noeme, which (together with other semes/noemes) ought to be subject to serious investigation when trying to define the generic concept of an “Apocalypse” syntagmatically as well as when interpreting single texts belonging to that genre.
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Kamlah, W., and P. Lorenzen
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1973 “Old Testament Form Criticism Reconsidered.” Int 27: 435–67.
1972 The Rediscovery of Apocalyptic. SBT 22. Naperville, IL: Allenson.
1983 “Vom profetischen zum apokalyptischen Visionsbericht.” Pp. 413–46 in Hellholm, ed.
1971 “One Jesus and Four Primitive Gospels.” Pp. 158–204 in Trajectories Through Early Christianity. Eds. J. M. Robinson and H. Koester. Philadelphia: Fortress.
1968 Die Doppelurkunde aus der Wüste Juda. STDJ 5. Leiden: Brill.
1974 Die Offenbarung Johannes. HNT 16a. Tübingen: Mohr.
1975 Das Verhältnis von Intension und Extension als sprachwissenschaftliches Problem. FbIdS 23. Tubingen: Narr.
1978 Die Metapher: Beiträge zur Interpretation und semantischen Struktur der Metapher auf der Basis einer referentialen Bedeutungsdefinition. Heidelberg: Winter.
1984 “Bühlers ‘Symptomfunktion.’” ZRPh 100: 1–25.
von Kutschera, F.
1975 Philosophy of Language. Synthese Library 71. Dordrecht/Boston: D. Reidel.
Lambrecht, J., ed.
1980 L’Apocalypse johannique et l’Apocalyptique dans le Nouveau Testament. BETL 53. Louvain: University Press.
1980 “A Structuration of Revelation 4:1–22:5”. Pp. 77–104 in Lambrecht, ed.
1973 Handbuch der literarischen Rhetorik: Ein Grundlegung der Literaturwissenschaft. 2nd enlarged ed. Munich: Hueber.
1972 “General Semantics”. Pp. 169–218 in Davidson/Harman, eds.
1953 Die Offenbarung des Johannes. HNT 16. 2nd enlarged ed. Tübingen: Mohr.
MacRae, G. W.
1983 “Apocalyptic Eschatology in Gnosticism”. Pp. 317–325 in Hellholm, ed.
Meeks, W. A.
1983 Social Functions of Apocalyptic Language in Pauline Christianity. Pp. 687–705 in Hellholm, ed.
1973 Einführung in die Logik. Uni-Taschenbücher 34. 2nd ed. Munich: Francke.
1963 Johannes Uppenbarelse: Bibelns sista bok. Tolkning av Nya Testamentet 11. Stockholm: Diakomstyrelsens.
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1975 Linguistische Probleme der Textanalyse. Jahrbuch des Instituts für deutsche Sprache 35. Dusseldorf: Pädagogischer Verlag Schwamm.
Müller, U. B.
1983 “Literarische und formgeschichtliche Bestimmung der Apokalypse des Johannes als einem Zeugnis früchristlicher Apokalyptik”. Pp. 599–619 in Hellholm, ed.
1983 “The Apocalyptic Activity: The Case of Jaµmaµsp Naµmag”. Pp. 21–49 in Hellholm, ed.
Petöfi, J. S., ed.
1979 a Text vs Sentence: Basic Questions of Textlinguistics, First Part. Papiere zur Textlinguistik/Papers in Textlinguistics, 20,1. Hamburg: Buske.
Petöfi, J. S., ed.
1979 b Text vs Sentence: Basic Questions of Textlinguistics, Second Part. Papiere zur Textlinguistik/Papers in Textlinguistics, 20,2. Hamburg: Buske.
1970 Structuralism. New York: Harper and Row.
1975 Einführung in die rhetorische Textanalyse. 2nd ed. Hamburg: Buske.
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1977 Rhetorik: Kritische Positionen zum Stand der Forschung. Kritische Information 50. Munich: Fink.
1977a “Die Rhetorik der Figuren: Zur Systematik, Pragmatik und Asthetik der ‘Elocutio.’” Pp. 125–65 in Plett, ed.
1981 L’Apocalypse de Saint Jean. CNT 14. Lausanne/Paris: Delachaux & Niestle.
1980 Erzählen in Gesprachen. Kommunikation und Institution 1. Tübingen: Narr.
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1979a Gattungen als Textorten. Unpublished paper. The author kindly provided the present writer with a copy. For this favor I hereby express my sincere gratitude.
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1981 “Von der Allgegenwart des Gegensinns (und einiger anderer Relationen): Strategien zur Einordnung semantischer Information.” ZRPh 97: 1–40.
Robinson, J. M.
1971 “LOGOI SOPHON: On the Gattung of Q.” Pp. 71–113 in Trajectories Through Early Christianity. Ed. J. M. Robinson and H. Koester. Philadelphia: Fortress.
1981 “Zwei Briefe Hermann Gunkels an Adolf Jühlicher zur religionsgeschichtlichen und formgeschichtlichen Methode.” ZTK 78:276–88.
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1983 “The Genre of Palestinian Jewish Apocalypses”. Pp. 447–59 in Hellholm, ed.
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Smith, J. Z.
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1980 Indirektheit von Sprechhandlung: Eine linguistische Untersuchung. Reihe Germanistische Linguistik 26. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
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1962 Semantics: An Introduction to the Science of Meaning. Oxford: Blackwell.
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The Apocalypse of John and the Problem of Genre1
David E. Aune
Saint Xavier College, Chicago
During the last few years several important contributions have been made to the problem of defining the apocalyptic genre. These
* Public lecture delivered on February 18, 1982, at the Divinity School, The University of Chicago.
1. Regarding concepts defined by extension I am—as far as textlinguistic analyses are concerned—in total agreement with Kurt Baldinger (269), when he writes that these “have no ontological implications concerning, for instance, the distinction between ‘real’ and ‘fictitious’ referents” (cf. 25-61; also Hellholm, 1980: 34, 88; Heger, 1976: 35). This statement is correct, but none the less somewhat too rigid and has to be qualified by means of differentiations: a) the statement is true insofar as it is not the linguist’s or the exegete’s primary task to ask ontological questions per se; b) however, in cases of specifications in the texts themselves pertaining to “possible worlds” (cf. 188.8.131.52.2. and Kubczak, 1978:47, 79), the question of function of this specification has to be taken into consideration. This is of great importance in connection with the role of “Substitution on the meta-level” and its function discussed in sec. 184.108.40.206.1. (esp. # b] and note 46).
Concerning the differences between logical semantics and linguistic semantics, see Hellholm, 1980: 37, fig. 7, and Kamlah/Lorenzen, 91–92. Heger’s suggestion to translate the truth-values in logical semantics into positive and negative notations in linguistic semantics is a good example of the affinity of the two types of semantics and yet their differences (1976: 192–94; Kubczak, 1975: 124).
2 2. Baldinger (62ff) includes only semes #2 and #5 in the archisememe “seat” (see note 3) which thus are said to be the intersection of the sememes “armchair,” “chair,” “stool,” and “sofa.” This is a fallacy in Baldinger’s theory, since it is hardly conceivable to have a seme of function without a seme of content. The reasons for this fallacy are, first, Baldinger’s neglect of grouping the semes, and second, his neglect of a hierarchical ranking of the semes themselves, in spite of his statement that “a seme can be very specific or very general” (81). Seme #1 (with solid material) can mean different things, depending on the abstraction level; it can mean “solid” in opposition to “liquid” or “gas,” but it can also mean “solid” in opposition to the less abstract concept “soft”; this is in fact the meaning presupposed by Baldinger, since he excludes the sememe “pouffe” when establishing the semes of the intersection. See note 7 and 3.3.4.
3 3. Baldinger distinguishes between sememe and archisememe and still further concepts of abstraction without, however, introducing proper terminology, thus either using an “empty position” (104ff) or using the same lexeme on different conceptual levels. In order to avoid confusion, I introduce the term “superarchisememe” for the next higher rank of conceptual abstraction.
4 4. Italics mine. See note 9. The term sign in this paper is used for the most part in the sense signeme.
5 5. Italics mine. See also Baldinger’s reference to a “border zone or zone of transition” (27).
7 7. This is precisely the intersection of the sememes “chair,” “armchair,” “stool,” “sofa,” and “pouffe.” The last can be included or excluded, depending upon the abstraction level of seme #1 (with solid material; see note 2 and 3.3.4.). Unfortunately, Baldinger has paid no attention to the necessity of abstract ranking of the semes as can be seen on p. 62 and in table 4 of p. 67.
6 6. Raible is the only one to my knowledge who, in structural semantics, has paid special attention to at least the third group (function) (1981: 33–34).
8 8. Here the need for a ranking of semes in abstraction levels becomes particularly apparent; see notes 2, 7 and 3.3.4.
9 9. In his system Heger has replaced “moneme” with “signeme,” since “it is obvious that the model should be usable not only for the analysis of minimal meaningful units (monemes) but also for the analysis of meaningful units of higher hierarchical ranks” (1976: 40, with note 47; cf. Baldinger: 262). This fact means, as Heger states, that the extended trapezium model referring to the level of langue “allows for being used there for paradigmatic as well as for syntagmatic analyses of signemes” (Monem, Wort, Satz und Text 1976: 59; Baldinger: 271; italics mine). For the sake of clarification, I give the present form of the trapezium as found in Monem, Wort, Satz und Text Heger: 58 and Baldinger: 260:
10 10. The relevance of this type of groupings (S—Parole) for genre analysis is furthermore distinctly limited due to the fact that frequency classes cannot stand in syntagmatic contexts as pointed out by Heger, 1976: 29–30, 60; see sec. 4 below.
11 11. That interrelationship between the elements is important in the analysis of apocalyptic texts has been recognized by Biblical scholars as well; cf. Smith: 132 and MacRae: 317.
12 12. Heger emphasizes rightly, however, that it is true also of System-Linguistics: “dass der Uebergang von der Parole zur Langue nicht aus einem einzigen, sondern aus mehreren Abstraktionsschritten besteht” (1976: 16; also see Hellholm, 1984).
13 13. Concerning the question for a theoretical necessity of introducing the “type of writing” as a level between “mode of writing” and “genre,” see Hempfer, 1973: 233–34, note 102. Cf. in connection with the problem of genre “Apocalypse,” 3.3.4. and note 31.
14 14. Concerning the differentiation between “form” and “genre” (= Gattung), see my reference to Rudolf Bultmann’s programmatic statement in RGG2II (1928), 418, and the discussion in Hellholm, 1980: 68. The distinction between “form” and “Gattung” on the one hand and “genre” on the other by E. P. Sanders (449 and 453) is not very illuminating in view of the quotation from Gunkel (see note 23) and the fact that form-critics like Hans Conzelmann and Günther Bornkamm make a distinction precisely between “Gattung (= genre)” and “Form.” Cf. also Robinson (72, note 3).
15 15. While “seme is defined as the minimal distinctive unit (of the content substance) with reference to the sememe, which is bound to the structure of a given language, noeme” is “a concept intensionally defined, which does not depend on the structure of a given language” (Heger, 1976: 338–39; Baldinger: 267). In order not to predetermine at this point the status of the genre concept “Apocalypse,” I give seme/noeme alternatively.
16 16. That is, starting from the sign (signeme) “Apocalypse” in order to arrive at a monosemized concept (sememe); see Baldinger: 110–57; Heger, 1979: 59–61. For the distinction between semasiology and onomasiology, see 3.3.5.
17 17. That is, starting from the concept (sememe) “Apocalypse” in order to arrive at a proper lexicalization (signeme); see Baldinger: 110–57; Heger, 1979: 59–; note 15 above.
18 18. As Heger, 1979: 52 and 60 points out, only the determinative characteristics on the levels of langue or langage constitute semes/noemes, not, however, the specific characteristics of single texts. Cf. with regard to simple signs, 1.1.
19 19. These deliberations show how essential it is to approach the question of genre not by utilizing merely inductive but rather by combining inductive and deductive methods. See Hellholm, 1980: 64–67; Gülich/Raible, 1977: 18ff; Ermert: 29–30; also 1.4.2.; 3.3.3 and 220.127.116.11.4. #(b).
20 20. Such an arrangement of semes/noemes can preclude the “naturalistic fallacy” described by Olsson: 22.
21 21. The same is true also of s9 (Paraenesis); an indication of this particular problem in the grouping of the semes is the fact that Collins and the SBL-group include paraenesis neither in the “Manner of Revelation” nor in the “Content: Temporal or Spatial Axis” but set it apart as an entity by itself. The question of the grouping of the semes/noemes as well as the whole question of definition becomes exceptionally problematic, when Hartnut Stegemann writes (527, note 107): “In any event one can speak of a literary ‘genre’ if one does not understand this concept in the sense of a ‘Gattung’ but orientates oneself exclusively to the criteria of content (so e.g., J. J. Collins 1979).” The reference to Collins here is in my opinion misleading, since Collins’ “masterparadigm” contains both criteria of form and of content. Furthermore, Stegemann himself has convincingly pointed to the seme “authorization,” a criterion of function, as a determinative characateristic of the genre “Apocalypse” (504–45; Raible, 1979a: 27).
22 22. For further details and references to relevant literature, see Hellholm (1980, 22ff). For the importance of distinguishing between pragmatics (function of symptom and function of signal) and semantics (function of symbol) with regard to synonymy, see Baldinger: 212–253, especially 230–40. For the function of symbol, sympton, and signal in the trapezium, see Baldinger: 254–59; Heger, 1976: 45–46; Karl Bühler: 28ff.
23 23. That all three dimensions have to be taken into account was stressed by Hermann Gunkel (1924: 182–83; Eng. trans. in Hayes: 127–28; also 1925: 283–84) when in a letter to Adolf Jülicher he writes: “Particularly displeasing to me is the word ‘formgeschichtlich’ or even ‘stilkritisch’; I rather talk of ‘Literaturgeschichte’ that organizes the material according to ‘genres.’ Genres I establish a) according to the common store of thoughts and moods, b) according to the similar Sitz im Leben, c) according to the constant forms of expression” (see also Rollmann: 283, note 16; Sanders: 448–49). The acknowledgment of the necessity of an interrelationship of all three dimensions in establishing genres is explicitly stressed in Gunkel (1924: 183): “Only where we have all three criteria preserved together…have we the right to speak of a genre.” What Gunkel, however, does not discuss is the nature of the interrelationship or the possibility of a hierarchization of the criteria.
24 24. J. Collins (1982: 94): “Rather than assuming that there is a common setting and function…we need to examine the individual texts bearing in mind the differentiation of levels demanded by Knierim (1973).” Cf., however, note 18 and Hellholm, 1980: 13, 61, 64).
25 25. For this distinction that plays such an eminent role in linguistics today and has done so since de Saussure (1916), see the decisive remarks for form criticism by Bultmann from 1913: “Aber die methodisch zuerst zu beantwortende Frage ist die nach der literarischen Art des Streitgesprächs und seinem Ursprung als literarischer Grösse. Das is die Frage nach dem ‘Sitz im Leben’: denn diese fragt nicht nach dem Ursprung eines einzelnen Berichtes in einer einzelnen geschichtlichen Begebenheit, sondern nach dem Ursprung und Zugehörigkeit einer bestimmten Gattung in und zu typischen Situationem und Verhaltungen einer Gemeinschaft. Natürlich hat in solchen Gattungen und in ihrem einzelnen Exemplaren das wirkliche Leben seinen Niederschlag gefunden; aber das einzelne uns vorliegende literarische Produkt kan von uns zunächst nur auf dem Wege über die Gattung verstanden werden (1964: 40–41, italics mine; see also Hellholm, 1984).
26 26. As Gunkel was right in rejecting genre definitions using only formal criteria (see note 23), so are Collins and the SBL-group right in rejecting function as the decisive criterion. There is no equality between form, content, and function:“….as with all linguistic signs form has to be distinguished from function” (Raible: 1979b: 68). Cf. also Kubczak: 1984: 16–17; Brinker: 128.
27 27. Here I am in agreement with such scholars as Hartman (1983: 334–35, 337–39), Sanders (455–59) and Olsson (30–31). See, however, already Gunkel (1928: 62): “Who is speaking? Who are the listeners? What is the mise en scène at the time? What effect is aimed at?” Cf. also the elementa narrationis (Lausberg: 182–83): quis, quid, ubi, quibus auxillis, cur, quomodo, quando (or in the words of the English rhetorician Thomas Wilson [16th century]: “Who, what, and where, by what help, and by whose: Why, how, and when, do many things disclose” quoted in Plett: 12). Cf. also John Collins, 1982: 110. Further Adela Yarbro Collins (1983: 729), who, however, limits her functional analysis to a single text, the Book of Revelation, when she states: “Since consensus has not yet been reached on the definition of the literary genre apocalypse or the function of apocalypticism, generalizations about the function of apocalypticism would be premature at this stage of the discussion. The most appropriate approach for the present seems to be the investigation of the function of particular apocalyptic writings in their historical settings.” Nonetheless she goes on to an abstraction beyond the historical phenemenon when she writes: “In the course of this study, a common generalization about apocalypticism will be tested, namely, that it arises in social settings of crisis and alienation.” This test holds for Revelation even though it does so on the level of imagination. Thus A. Collins can conclude by stating: “a major function of apocalyptic language is to resolve a social crisis on the level of imagination.” Cf. now, A. Collins, 1984. Similar results came from Tord Olsson in his opening address in Uppsala: “We can observe that revelatory world-views are regularly actualized in situations of conflict or crisis, real or imagined, or in the context of fear of such situations” (30–31). Contrary to A. Collins, Olsson in his analysis generalizes the crisis situation to be a typical phenomenon for apocalyptic movements in various settings in the ancient as well as in the modern world (45–46).
28 28. Theoretically, however, demands for such rankings have been advocated by others, e.g., Knierim (465), Hellholm (1980: 43–44, 52, 70–71), Hempfer (1977: 14–21); Plett (1977a: 142–43): “In order to realize these [sc. rhetorical situations], a cultural typology of the rhetorical situations is needed.” Raible (1979a: 29): “In the range of the communication situation an establishment of types pertaining to the intentions of authors is important.” See further Hartman (335–36) and now J. Collins (1982: 92–94).
29 29. “Type” here is understood as an ahistoric constancy and not as a subgrouping of a genre; cf. Hempfer (1973: 23–24).
30 30. In the diagram below the following abbreviations are being used: Discourses = Discourses between the Risen Lord and His disciples; o.w. = other-worldly; Icar. = Icaromenippus.
31 31. See Olsson (30): “I would prefer then to speak of a revelatory world-view which is embraced by apocalyptists but also by others.” See also Berger: 207.
32 32. Concerning this genre, see Vielhauer, 1975: 680–92, esp. 690ff; Koester (1971: 210ff).
33 33. If in inductive investigations more texts of the mixed genre type group appear, these would form another subgenre: “Apocalypses with and without other-worldly journey.”
34 34. “Signification proceeds from a significant (form) to a concept (mental object), and designation proceeds from a concept towards a signifiant” (Baldinger: 110).
35 35. Cf. Hempfer (1973: 141): “relative or absolue constancy of deep structures”; Grosse (1979: 595): “On closer examination, text as a totality almost always displays several macro-structural dimensions superimposing upon each other….” Güilich/Raible, ed. (1977: 56ff).
36 36. Cf. Jean Piaget, and Noam Chomsky: “Notice that in this view one major function of the transformational rules is to convert an abstract deep structure that expresses the content of a sentence into a fairly concrete surface structure that indicates the form” (136).
37 37. This is the reason why we here must talk of determining the structure of texts.
note 39. “Functional textsequences” denote a) text delimitation into textsequences of different ranks (syntactical macro-structure); b) semantic macro-structures disclosing thematic text-sequences; c) pragmatic macro-structures, i.e., macro-speech acts accomplishing a certain sequence of speech acts; (cf. Hellholm, 1980: 36, 60–61; van Dijk, 1979: 518ff; Rosengren: 278 and 280; Brinker: 145; also notes 22 and 49 in this article).
38 38. See also W. Hendricks: “Present day analysts…have not advanced beyond the work of Propp in that they continue to bypass what may be termed the ‘textual surface’ of narratives, i.e., the constituent sentences of the narratives as it is presented to the reader (hearer)” (175).
40 40. So far this paper is a complement to my doctoral dissertation, in which I concentrated on syntagmatic aspects. When J. Collins (1981: 96, note 11) maintains that the approach in Hellholm 1980 “suffers from his failure to analyze the pattern of contents,” he has not observed a) that my approach was essentially syntagmatic and not paradigmatic, and b) that in the analysis of the text of Hermas on pp. 140–89, the designation of content is in fact dealt with quite extensively and also utilized in the chart on pp. 136–39. The “content pattern” can, of course, only be dealt with after other Apocalypses have been analyzed syntagmatically too. This is the goal set for the first part of my second volume. My reasons for concentrating on a syntagmatic analysis was not—as Collins seems to believe—due to a dismissal of “any genre analysis which does not employ an explicit linguistic model,” but to the very fact a) that no syntagmatic analyses existed at the time (cf. now, however, even if only for a section of Daniel: Koch, 1983; for 4 Ezra: Harnisch; and for sections of the Apocalypse of John, Hartman, 1980), and b) that such analyses are necessary complements to the predominantly paradigmatic approaches in the field of scholarly research. The linguistic justification for syntagmatic analyses of various ranks is given in note 9. Indirectly Tord Olsson also justifies the syntagmatic approach by demonstrating the “naturalistic fallacy” in the “theoretical discussion on Apocalypticism” (21–22), which is mainly paradigmatic.
41 41. Cf. Lausberg (244): “Die dispositio ist die notwendige Ergänzung zur inventio, die ohne dispositio ein beziehungsloser Vorgang wäre,” where the dispositio corresponds to the syntagma and the inventio to the paradigma.
42 42. It should explicitly be noted that textlinguistics has been defined as a “transphrastic approach” on the one hand and as a “communication oriented approach” on the other (so Kallmeyer/Meyer-Hermann, 1973: 221ff.), thus taking syntagmatic and functional aspects into account (see Hellholm, 1980: 46ff; Hartman, 1980: 132; Coseriu, 1981: 51ff and 154ff).
43 43. Cf. Hempfer’s distinction between micro-structures on the sentence level and macro-structures on the textlevel (1973: 144 and 179–80; also Gülich/Raible, 1977: 126–27; van Dijk, 1977: 143; von Kutschera: 140; Hellholm, 1980: 60–61; 84–85; Grosse, 1979: 609).
44 44. See above 18.104.22.168.; Gülich/Raible, 1977: 54: “one can furthermore assume that these textsequences which designate the macro-structure of a text, must be recognizable directly on the surface of the text.”
45 45. The importance of redundance in the usage of “substitution on meta-level” is stressed by Grosse (1976: 143 with note 4). On the importance of “Titles” see now also Hellwig.
46 46. See my forthcoming article with the preliminary title, “Problems and Importance of Substitutional Delimitationsmarkers for the Interpretation of the Gospel of Matthew.”
47 47. This phenomenon is to be compared to a “vision within a vision” (cf. Brashler, passim, esp. 135).
48 48. Cf. already Bousset (1906: 181): “The prophetic character of the book is emphasized with great energy (observe the gradation of authorities: God, Christ, the Angel, John) and it is commanded to the (ecclesiastical) lectors and to the audience: (italics mine). This passage has been analyzed along similar lines as I have pursued in this paper in Hartman, 1980. See also Apocalypse 22:18–19, and for this passage cf. Bousset, 1906: 459–60; Hartman, 1980: 148.
49 49. On the relationship between content and function, semantics and pragmatics, cf. Ermert (121, with note 22): “The theme of a text must not be confused with its function or with the intention of its producer, although there are connections between the two. The latter designates the intended impact on account of the producer, the former the subject matter of the text.” Further, see Kallmeyer et al.: 99: “Referential text-analysis—text-semantic—must not be confused with text-interpretation…[which] also among other things implies a pragmatic analysis.” Cf. also van Dijk, 1979: 578ff; Kubczak, 1978: 111 (who also distinguishes between the semantic structure of metaphors and the interpretation of the same); Quasthoff: 40.
50 50. For a more definite textlinguistic analysis of the Apocalypse of John and other apocalyptic texts, see the second volume of my studies in the Shepherd of Hermas (in preparation).
51 51. Only at the beginning of each major section do we find the SM(sur): “I was in the Spirit,” which is a clear indication of the two-fold structure of the visionary part. Cf. Müller: 603.
1 1. The original version of this paper was presented to the SBL Seminar on Early Christian apocalypticism on December 19, 1983 in Dallas, Texas. A number of suggestions made by Hans Dieter Betz, the main respondent, and Adela Yarbro Collins (the chair of the Seminar) as well as other members of the Seminar have been incorporated into this version of the paper.