Coming out of Babylon: The Eschatological Migration of God's People in the Book of Revelation

“John uses Exodus rhetoric to persuade believers to become border crossers who exit Roman imperial structures, traverse a political wilderness and face deceitful prophets, and ultimately enter the promised land. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Roberto Mata Santa Clara University Contact Me

About this first book grant for scholars of color

This project is a contextual reading of the Book of Revelation and its use of Exodus narratives. Whereas contemporary discussions on John’s use of Exodus material view it as allusions, references, or typologies, I will explore such usage as a form of Exodus rhetoric and its concomitant topoi of oppression, wilderness, sustenance, pilgrimage and promised land. Second, I will use Fernando Segovia’s Diaspora Hermeneutics to bring to the forefront the human experiences of suffering, border crossing, negotiation, and hope embedded in Exodus rhetoric. Third, I also draw from Elisabeth Schüssler-Fiorenza analysis of Revelation’s imperial rhetoric and her emancipatory-rhetorical approach to interrogate John’s use of Exodus rhetoric and to reconstruct the silenced voices, while also interrogating how Western biblical scholars have used the Exodus as a blanket term. From this initial exploration, I posit that John uses Exodus rhetoric to persuade his audience to undertake an eschatological migration journey that includes (1) an exiting from an oppressive empire (Babylon); (2) traversing a wilderness (the Roman colonial situation); (3) dealing with “deceptive” prophets (Balaam and Jezebel); and “conquering” the Promised Land (New Jerusalem). In doing so, John establishes a strategic continuity between the seven assemblies and the ancient Israelites; one that invites believers to become border crossers who reject the Roman imperial situation of Asia Minor and, in doing so, “Come out of Babylon.”