A narratological approach to the structure of the apocalypse of John

Jang, Young (2001-12)

Thesis (DTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2001

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study aims to investigate the structure of the Apocalypse from the narratological viewpoint, to further the adequate interpretation of the book. Throughout this work. three things are presupposed: (1) the Apocalypse follows an episodic, non-chronological pattern; (2) the Apocalypse is a coherent unit: (3) the Apocalypse. as a genre. should be defined by means of form. content. and function. To start with. earlier attempts to reveal the structure of the Apocalypse are briefly dealt with in chapter 2. in order to establish both their weak and strong points. With these in mind. this study attempts a three-dimensional approach consisting of syntactic structure (form). semantic structure (content). and pragmatic structure (function). In chapter 3. this approach is supported by Chatman's narrative paradigm (1980) as a model for narrative analysis. In chapter 4, to establish the syntactic structure. we started by delimiting the whole text into many small parts - "partial narrative units" - by using various narrative elements. and then assembled the small sections into "basic (or complete) narrative units (BNU or ULl )" by using several identifying criteria for them. and continued to identify the "bigger narrative units" (UL2.3.4) by using various integrating strategies until the biggest narrative. which comprises the whole text as a coherent unit ( L.5). emerged. As a result. the narrative-svntactic structure (viz. the surface-level svntactic structure) , ' and the fundamental-syntucnc structure (viz. the deep-level syntactic structure) of the book are disclosed at the end of chapter 4. In chapter 5, then. the content (the narrative theology) of the book i hown throuzh b both the narrative-semantic structure (viz. the theme-oriented concentric pattern) and {he [undamental-semantic structure (viz. the macrostructure). both of which are based on the syntactic structure (esp .. plot). Finally, in chapter 6, to show how the book functions to persuade the hearerslreaders in both the literary context and the external (socio-historical) context, the transforming power to reverse the old worldview of the hearerslreaders is sought through the narrative strategies of the book in both contexts. Briefly speaking, while chapter four is related to the syntactic structure (form) of the Apocalypse and chapter five is related to its semantic structure (content), chapter six can be said to correspond to the pragmatic aspect (function). To conclude, this study could modestly be said to articulate the following results: (1) The syntactic structure of the Apocalypse, as an integral unit. shows movement from an unstable state to a stable condition, which means that God's sovereignty will be established on earth -r'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (2) The semantic structure shows that the Apocalypse revolves around the activity of Jesus Christ. who is the cohering theological-clement of the structure of the book. (3) The functional structure shows that the Apocalypse rhetorically requests the faithful to witness to God's word until the end of the world and the wayward to repent because the time is near.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie beoog die ondersoek van die struktuur van die Apokalips/Openbaring vanuit "n narratiewe oogpunt om voldoende interpretasie van die boek te bevorder. Dwarsdeur die werk word drie dinge voorveronderstel: (1) die Apokalips volg "n episodiese. nie-chronologiese patroon: (2) die Apokalips is "n samehangende eenheid: (3) die Apokalips. as 'n genre. behoort deur middel van vorrn. inhoud. en funksie gedefinieer te word. Aanvanklik word daar in hoofstuk 2 kortliks gekyk na vroeer pogings om die struktuur van die Apokalips te openbaar ten einde hul sterk en swak punte vas te ste!. Met dit in gedagte, beoog bierdie studie 'n drie-dimensionele benadering bestaande uit sintaktiese struktuur (vorrn). semantiese struktuur (inhoud). en pragmatiese struktuur (funksie). In hoofstuk " word die benadering ondersteun deur Chatman se paradigma (1980) as n model vir narratiewe ontleding. In hoofstuk -L om die sintaktiese struktuur vas te stel, is begin om die hele tek in baie klein deeltjies af te baken - "gedeeltelike narratiewe eenhede - deur verskeie narratiewe elemente te gebruik. Daarna is die klein deeltjies in "basiese (of komplete) narratiewe eenhede (BNU or ULl r saamgestel deur verskeie identifi erende kriteria daarvoor te gebruik. en daar is voortgegaan met die identifisering van "groter narratiewe eenhede' (UL2.3.-+) deur verskeie integrerende strategiee te gebruik totdat die groot te narratief. wat die hele teks as "n samehangende eenheid (lJL5) insluit. te voorskyn gekom het. Gevolglik word die narratief-sintaktiese struktuur (n1. die oppervlakkigc simaktiese struktuur) en die [undamenteel-sintakuese struktuur (nl. die diepperliggende sintaktiese siruktuur) van die boek aan die einde \ an hoofstuk -+ geioon. In hoofstuk 5 word die inhoud (die narratiewe teologie) van die boek deur beide die narratief-semantiese struktuur (nl. die tema-georienteerde konsentriese patroon) en die fundamenteel-semantiese struktuur (nl. die makrostruktuur) getoon, albei gebaseer op die sintaktiese struktuur (veral plot). Ten slotte, in hoofstuk 6, om aan te dui hoe die boek funksioneer om hoorders/lesers in beide die literere en eksterne (sosio-historiese) konteks te oorreed, word die transformerende mag om die ou wereldsiening van die hoorders/lesers om te keer, gesoek deur die narratiewe strategiee van die boek in beide kontekste. Kortliks gestel: waar hoofstuk 4 verband hou met die sintaktiese struktuur (vorm) van die Apokalips, handel hoofstuk 5 met sy semantiese struktuur (inhoud) en hoofstuk 6 met sy progmatiese aspek (funksie). Hierdie studie lei dan tot konklusies: (I) Die sintaktiese struktuur van die Apokalips, as 'n integrale eenheid, toon beweging van 'n onstabiele staat tot 'n stabiele staat wat beteken dat God se oppermag op aarde gevestig sal word- "U wil geskied op aarde soos in die hemel." (2) Die semantiese struktuur toon dat die Apokalips om die aktiwiteit van Jesus Christus handel - wat die samehangende teologiese element van die struktuur van die boek is. (3) Die funksionele struktuur toon dat die Apokalips die getroues retories versoek om as getuienis vir God se woord te dien tot die einde van die wereld en die afvalliges om berou te t0011aangesien die eindtyd naby is.

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