Revelation is resistance literature, written to instruct early Christians on how to live as followers of Jesus in the Roman Empire. The Nonviolent Apocalypse uses modern examples and scholarship on nonviolence to help illuminate Revelation’s resistance, arguing that Revelation’s famously violent visions are actually acts of nonviolent resistance to the Empire. The visions form part of Revelation’s proclamation of God’s way as a just and life-giving alternative to the system constructed by Rome. Revelation urges its readers to pursue this radical form of living, engaging in nonviolent resistance to all that stands in the way of God’s vision for the world.
Jeffrey D. Meyers (Ph.D., The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago) teaches Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies at DePaul University and Religious Studies at Gonzaga University.
Introduction: The Nonviolent Apocalypse
Part One: Revelation’s Use of Nonviolence
1. Revelation as Resistance Literature
2. Jesus and the Cross: Promoting a New Kind of Power
3. Worship and Song: Preparing for Resistance
4. Visions of Destruction: Imagining the End of Empire
5. The New Jerusalem: Envisioning Another Way
Part Two: Revelation’s Call for Nonviolent Resistance
6. How to Resist an Empire
7. Enduring Resistance: Living Faithfully
8. Noncooperation: Refusing to Conform
9. Witness: Proclaiming Opposition
Part Three: When Revelation Isn’t Nonviolent
10. Dreams of Death and Destruction: Violent Language
11. From Balaam to the Beast: Dehumanizing Opponents
Conclusion: Revelation and Resistance
Meyers argues persuasively that Revelation is an example of, and a call for, Christian nonviolent resistance to imperial power that is grounded in Jesus’ own nonviolent resistance and cross-shaped power. At the same time, Meyers does not ignore the difficulties and dangers—both real and potential—of Revelation’s violent language and imagery. Deftly blending scholarship on the Apocalypse with studies of nonviolence and stories of nonviolent resistance, Meyers makes a significant contribution to the interpretation of Revelation and to the shape of Christian existence today.
Meyers elegantly upends the false reading of apocalypse as “the End.” The Nonviolent Apocalypse will strengthen the crucial struggle both to counter the western history of sanctified violence and, in John's name and spirit, to nourish militant nonviolence against current imperialisms political and economic.
In this engaging journey through Revelation, Meyers makes a compelling case that the Apocalypse uses and promotes strategies of nonviolent resistance. The Nonviolent Apocalypse is an essential corrective to interpretations that derive from Revelation a violent Jesus or a militaristic Christianity. This is a wonderful hope-filled vision for our world.