Literary Genre and Hermeneutics of the Apocalypse

Robert L. Thomas | August 25, 2009

A relatively new field of specialized NT study is a careful examination of the literary genre or style of different books. Revelation has often been classified as a kind of literature called “apocalyptic,” but the category of “prophetic” is probably a better classification for the book. The book calls itself a prophecy. If the genre were primarily apocalyptic, this might constitute a basis for interpreting the book in a non-literal way. The preterist, tradition-historical, continuous-historical, and idealist approaches to the book have at times spiritualized the book in accord with the assumption that its apocalyptic style makes it different from other books. If the book is basically prophetic, however, only a literal interpretation will suffice. The symbols of the book lend themselves to literal interpretation, with allowances for normal figures of speech.

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