Thursday, November 12, 2015

Revelation 14:10 and Heavenly Torture

I have been working on one of the SBL presentations on spatiotemporality in Hebrews, Revelation, and 4 Ezra.  I ran into a passage, which probably won't make the talk, but which I found odd.

Revelation 14:10 reads (NRSV): "and they will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb."

I found the torture of sinners in the Lamb's and angels' presence a bit strange, even disturbing.  Of course, the Lamb dispenses divine justice in Revelation; nonetheless, punishment itself is usually "off-stage," in the Pit.  My quick glances at commentaries (so far) discuss the motifs of fire and sulfur, but largely skirt the issue of presence.

It did remind me of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke, however, where, while there is a gulf between a good and bad afterlife, they seem to be visible to one another.

Is there a bit of Schadenfreude in these accounts: getting to watch your enemies suffer for eternity? (Something which, by the way, Tertullian indicates at the end of "On Spectacles.")

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