In die Skriflig
On-line version ISSN 1018-6441
DU RAND, J.A.. A cry of distress for justice or a vindictive call for vengeance? The martyrs under the altar (Rev. 6:9-11). In Skriflig (Online) [online]. 2011, vol.45, n.1, pp. 39-55. ISSN 1018-6441.
The essential question to be answered in this article arises from the martyrs' cry in Revelation 6:9-11. Is the cry to be interpreted as a justification of God's judgement or as a cry for vengeance by the suffering martyrs? In other words, is it about God's disposition in the history of Christianity or about the revengeful self-satisfaction of the martyrs? Both these views have been proposed by exegetes and this has led to confusing theological viewpoints. These exegetical preferences determine further dogmatic and ethical implications. The question may also be asked whether it is at all fitting for Christians to urge God to take revenge on their fellows. In almost all the commentaries on Revelation 6:9-11 the exegetes have neglected the theological implications of their exegetical choices concerning these texts. Newer research on the psychological and socio-cultural situation of the first historical receivers of Revelation, as well as the issue of martyrdom in the early church, help an exegete to gain new insights into an old exegetical problem. Decisive exegetical results also serve as key motifs in the unfolding of the dramatic narrative and theological message in the further chapters of Revelation.