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Verbal Aspect in the Apocalypse of John: An Analysis of Revelation 5

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image of Novum Testamentum

There has been much discussion and confusion regarding the verb tenses in Revelation's visions, where the author shifts tenses while apparently retaining the same temporal frame of reference. This phenomenon of shifting tenses in the Apocalypse has usually been understood to reflect temporal references in relation to the visionary experience of the author, or more commonly to reflect underlying Semitic influence. However, recent work on verbal aspect and also the notion of prominence from discourse analysis calls these previous approaches into question and provides fresh avenues for exploring the author's varied use of tenses throughout his visions. The array of tense forms utilized throughout the vision in Revelation 5 can profitably be understood in light of recent work on verbal aspect and discourse prominence, where the author's shift in tenses function to signal the author's perspective on the action and the level of importance that the author attaches to various elements in the vision.

Affiliations: 1: Wenham, Massachusetts


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