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City of Shame

by Joseph Catalfamo

 

As is well-known, the last book in the Bible – Revelation – was far from written in a vacuum. Not only the Jewish background of the author, but also the concrete, day-to-day realities of first-century CE Asia Minor saturate the work. (1) From parodies of cult theatrics to the niceties of the dress of prostitutes, John is notorious for his cultural and political allusions. (2) Yet, despite an effusion of historically sensitive literature within scholarly circles, little to none has been published regarding the function of honor and shame in the work. (3) The present study seeks to rectify the dearth of intention in this area. In order to accomplish this task, the role of honor and shame in the Apocalypse will be investigated by means of their interplay with imperial motifs.

In his article on eucharistica (εὐχαριστία) in Luke (and the culture at large), Jerome Neyrey argues that the use of the word precludes any sense of private ‘giving-thanks,’ but is a public affair, extending glory, honor, and praise, as a culturally appropriate response to benefaction. (4) And this logic applies equally to the act of honoring as well. The milieu of Ancient Rome was one of publicity, where the interiority of a Montaigne and a Descartes was many years off from penetrating into the minds of the masses. (5) To honor (τιμή) someone was not a private act, done in the realm of the spirit, but, rather, an act that had concrete, historical consequences, just like εὐχαριστία.

This ‘public-ness’ of honor was to such an extent that it ended up being, at least rhetorically, hypostatized into the physical realm. When the illustrious general Gaius Marius was at the height of his glory, a slave was sent to put an end to him by sword. Yet upon seeing Gaius, he dropped his weapon and ran, for the simple reason that he was “blinded by the prestige of the man.” (6) This practice of associating honor and prestige with a blinding light is continued in Cicero, who chastised Vatinius for having attempted to ruin Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, “whose dignity and splendor, I think, blinded your eyes.” (7)

For the nobiles, at least during the republican age, this glorious honor would accrue to them by dint of their heritage. To paraphrase Cicero, honor was not so much an object for them to gain, but rather something to be defended. (8) Yet following the Battle of Actium (31 BCE) and the consequent concentration of the principes into the sole princeps, things were destined to change. Honor began to be viewed as being the primary possession of the emperor, and the Julio-Claudian dynasty now became the centre of ‘ancestral’ privileges traditionally enjoyed by the nobiles. (9) Whatever authority, glory, or honor they had, it was – in some sense – seen as deriving from the emperor. A proconsul consequently is described as holding such a position “for the second time… by the authority of Augustus Caesar,” and a person holding “the highest municipal posts” is said to have done so “through the favours of Augustus Caesar.” (10) This delegatory form of thinking was even taken so far as to preclude the legitimacy of the judicial acts of a governor if a portrait of the emperor was not present in the court. “Consider,” says Severian, “how many governors there are in all the world. Since the emperor is not present at the side of all them, it is necessary for the image of the emperor to stand in courts of justice… The emperor’s image must consequently be present in every place where the governor acts, in order that his acts have authority.” (11)

It is thus not surprising that it was around this time that the cults of Roman officials in the provinces began to fade away. (12) This is especially so considering the acts of Senate which, first in 27 BCE and then in 23 BCE, bestowed quasi-absolutist powers unto Augustus and his successors. (13) Nor did the imperial policy help these magistrates gain back these time-honored privileges, as Augustus used his new-found potestas to restrict the travel of senators, and to place a ban on the honors traditionally given to governors (while they were in office and for sixty days thereafter) in 11 CE. (14) In addition, Augustus had boldly vested Agrippa with the custodia urbus despite his lacking the title of ‘magistrate,’ silently profaning the traditional institutions of the res publica. (15) Yet this demotion of the status of magistrates was not something totally out-of-line with the mindset of the provinces. As Price puts it, “such [imperial] pressures presumably coincided with a recognition by the Greeks of the changed circumstances of the empire. Roman officials were no longer the autonomous figures they had been in the Republic. The emperor alone was supreme.” (16)

Imperial cults soon began to crop up across the vast expanses of the Empire. Asia Minor, with its Greek heritage of dynastic cults, was particularly fertile soil for this, and by 27 BCE a temple for Augustus and the goddess Roma was being installed in Pergamum. (17) This established the city as a neokoroi, an honorific title, and a status highly sought after – so much so that eleven cities of Asia Minor had spent over three years furiously squabbling over where the temple of Augustus, referred to previously, was to be built, and the matter was to be settled only upon the eventual intervention of the Senate. (18)

By the turn of the century, at least thirteen imperial temples and shrines had been constructed, and the cult began to seep into the everyday life of Roman citizens. (19) This fact can be seen in simple domestic artefacts unearthed in the Mediterranean from that time, such as oil lamps, roof tiles, personal medallions, signet rings, and the Roman equivalent of piggy banks, which are all impressed with images of the emperor. (20) Annual festivals furthered this trend of increasing devotion.

Poets also helped give voice to the movement. During the time of Augustus, Ovid spoke of the emperor as the “imperishable glory of our age,” and was referred to as deus by Virgil. (21) Later poets, such as Martial and Statius, would echo these thoughts. Surely, insincere sycophants they might have been, but the fact still remains that their poetry was “a veritable repertoire of the forms and characteristic ideas of the Roman imperial cult.” (22)

After Augustus passed and Tiberius rose to the throne, the cult remained the same. The authoritative charisma of Augustus was objectified and institutionalised through the cult and was able to be passed on to his successors without a second thought. (23) The emperor was thus honorable, not for anything he may have done or accomplished, but simply by dint of his title – and the provinces were equally prepared to worship Tiberius as they had been to worship Augustus because of this. In other words, honor was the domain of whoever happened to be on the throne. And although they could lose it (as Nero and Domitian had certainly done), it wasn’t something for them to worry about having to gain.

Yet not only was the emperor honorable, but he could also bestow honor unto others as well. As mentioned earlier in the essay, ‘honor’ was seen as a quasi-physical thing, a commodity, to be given and taken away – and the biggest shareholder in this commodity was the emperor. For him to honor someone was thus a big deal, conferring much glory on the recipient. And it is this conferral of honor which will now be investigated within the Apocalypse. Before this can be done though, the ‘honor’ of Christ must first be established. Without this, it is impossible to understand the conferral of this ‘honor.’

As has been pointed out, the throne-room scene of Rev. 4-5 is replete with imperial allusions. (24) Christ, full of honor and glory, has elders throw their crowns before his throne (Rev. 4:10), just as oriental princes and dignitaries would throw down their symbols of office before the newly crowned monarch. (25) The new song of the elders in Rev. 5:9, with the opening words of “Worthy are you,” sounds suspiciously similar to the proclamation of vere dignus, which was a common tribute paid to the emperor on account of his arrival – and so on and so on. (26) Yet as for the latter parallel with the vere dignus, the similarities in language conceal a deeper antagonism between the two acclamations. The worthiness – in which is implicit honor and glory – of Christ (Rev 5:9,12) is, in fact, at complete odds with that of the emperor. (27) It is these two acclamations (Rev. 5:9,12) of worthiness that will be focused on for the purposes of this essay.

In the world of ancient Rome, crucifixion was known as the summa supplicam, the highest form of punishment. Yet it was not primarily the pain – horrendous though it was – that made it such a terrifying form of death, but the aspect of shame that came with it. To die on a cross “was not an honorable death like death on a battlefield,” but a ritual of shaming. (28) The one crucified would be publicly stripped of their garments, unable to cover their genitalia, sexually taunted in the most obscene manner, and made to die under the force of their own weight. (29) And since Christ was circumcised, matters would only be worse, being that he was surrounded by a largely uncircumcised, Gentile audience. (30) Furthermore, their body would be rendered ugly through repeated beatings, scourging, and mutilations, wiping away any last remnant of honor. In fact, the floggings were especially honor-sensitive due to their association with slavery. This association, in the words of J.E. Lendon, “guaranteed it a top place in the list of humiliations to which a free man could be subjected.” (31) Taking all of these factors into account, it is thus not without reason that the author of Hebrews refers to the shame (αἰσχύνης) of the cross. (32) The writings of non-Christians further bear witness to this view, as Celsus speaks of how Christ was “bound in the most ignominious fashion” and “executed in a shameful way,” and Cicero goes as far as to say that “the very word ‘cross’ should be far removed not only from the person of a Roman citizen but from his thoughts, his eyes and his ears. For it is not only the actual occurrence of these things or the endurance of them, but liability to them, the expectation, indeed the very mention of them, that is unworthy of a Roman citizen and a free man.” (33) Building off these words of Cicero, one must take note of the fact that crucifixion would almost always be inflicted on the lower classes (humiliores, those with little to no honor), yet virtually never on the upper classes (honestiores, those with honor). In fact, as J.A. Crook points out, this practice became “the sphere par excellence of the distinction between honestiores and humiliores. (34) It was too shameful to inflict on one with so much honor. And “even for worthless men,” in the words of a Christian apologist during the reign of Diocletian, it was a “disgraceful punishment.” (35) With this said, it is now time to take a look at the actual text of the Apocalypse of John.     

In Rev. 5:9, the elders acclaim Christ as “Worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,” and in Rev. 5:12, the whole heavenly host of angels and the “living creatures” join in with the elders, crying out in a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb.” As the word “worthy” (ἄξιος) is based on the verb aksō (ἄξω), meaning to weigh, it is intimately connected with honor and glory, wherein the ‘weight’ of honor and glory is congruous to the benefits received. Thus, as mentioned earlier in the essay (cf. endnote 27), it is perfectly legitimate to use ‘honor’ in the place of worthiness. But why is Christ honorable? John is emphatic: because he was crucified. In Rev. 5:9, the acclamation of Christ as “Worthy to take the scroll and open its seals” is followed immediately by the ὅτι clause, establishing the reason for Christ’s worthiness with the aorist verb ἐσφάγης (you were slaughtered/slain). This is a clear reference to the death of Christ on the cross. Thus, the worthiness, the honor, of Christ is to be found in this particular, shameful death of his, the crucifixion. The emperor, draped in the glorious trappings of royalty, shone with honor; Christ, naked and bloody, hung limp, exposed – shamed. His honor was his shame. And it is this which must be kept in mind when making use of the imperial parallels and which will shape the rest of this paper. At this point, the previously mentioned ‘conferral of honor’ can now be investigated.

For a great man, foremost of whom would be the emperor, bestowing honor upon others was a part of life. Moreover, it cost them nothing, yet reaped many fruits. By honoring someone, it was essentially putting them in debt to you and thus could be used to exploit them down the line. Either that, or it could be used to cloak unsavory activity. As J.E. Lendon puts it: “Need to get rid of some overweening aristocrats? Send them out as governors to nasty, unhealthy provinces, ‘as if honouring them greatly’. Need money? Then extend citizenship (and thus the associated taxes) to all free inhabitants of the empire and call it an honour to them.” (36) Honoring someone was thus not necessarily the most, so to say, ‘honorable’ business.

Yet, minus the options just mentioned, how would the emperor bestow honor upon others? Among the options would include greetings on the street, prompt admission to his levee, his kisses, invitation to his dinner table, and laudatory letters. (37) Such bestowals of honors would obviously be highly sought after. A bribe of 200,000 sesterces, an immense sum of money, was offered in an attempt to secure a seat at Caligula’s table, while Dio Chrysostom made explicit this discursive framework in writing, exclaiming: “Whose table is more honorific than the emperor’s?” (38) Yet it is not this particular form of bestowing honor, but that honor of granting Roman citizenship (to a person or a whole city) which will now be put into conversation with the text of the Apocalypse. (39)

As shown earlier in the essay, the ‘honor’ of Christ is his shame. Yet how he bestows his shame upon others, and to whom he gives this shame to, has yet to be addressed. The obvious answer to the latter question is the Christians. But to leave it at that would be to miss much. In the Apocalypse, a common thread that runs throughout is the prominent space given to martyrs. (40) Mentioned at least a dozen times in the course of the work, they form no small part of John’s picture of things. (41) And this is not surprising, since John is writing in the context of persecution. Rome, in his words, was “drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the witnesses to Jesus,” and – in whom – “was found the blood of the prophets and of saints.” (42) It is these for whom God “avenged on” Rome, since they “shed the blood of the saints and prophets.” (43) Moreover, it is the martyrs and the martyrs only who are raised from the dead for a thousand-year reign on earth, while the rest have to wait until the end of the period in order to be brought to life. (44) Taking this all into account, it is clear that the martyrs hold a special place in the congregatio fidelium. As to why this is the case, it remains to be seen. But the answer, which will be addressed below, will reveal the particular way in which Christ bestows his shame upon others. In order to do this, it will be necessary to discuss the commonly-made distinction between sacramental baptism and baptism of blood.

In his section on baptism in the Summa Theologiae, Aquinas unhesitatingly affirms that baptism of blood is superior to the baptism of water. For, while in the baptism of water “Christ’s Passion acts… by way of a figurative representation (per quandam figuralem repraesentationem),” it is in the baptism of blood – the death of a martyr – wherein Christ’s Passion acts “by way of imitating the [divine] act (per imitationem operis).” (45) It would thus be false to see baptism of blood as a simple substitute for sacramental baptism. (46) Surely, all Christians are “baptized into the death of Christ” – yet martyrdom actualizes the habit bestowed by the Spirit, and is thus more perfect. (47) Martyrdom, the baptism by blood, is (so to speak) a model for sacramental baptism – not the other way around. Consequently, martyrs are in a special sense the recipients of the shame of Christ.

This conjunction of martyrdom with shame is amply shown in the various accounts of it given throughout the centuries. In the earliest extant account, the Martyrdom of Polycarp (c. 155-156), the bishop of Smyrna, while being reviled by Herod and Niceties for stubbornly refusing to say that Caesar is Lord and to offer incense, clumsily injures his shin while trying to dismount off a carriage. (48) Yet it is not only his shameful clumsiness, but his refusal to submit to their wishes is made in full knowledge of the shame which is about to descend upon him – that he will consequently be rendered a spectacle in the theater – which is the crux of the matter. As Virginia Burrus puts it: “To be made a spectacle, to be subjected to the gaze of so many eyes, to be publicly marked as a criminal… was to be made vulnerable to shame in a most extreme and visceral manner.” (49) The theme continues a century later in the Acts of Perpetua and Felicitas. Perpetua, stripped of her garments, miraculously metamorphoses into a male, with her (his?) “supporters” coming to rub her down with oil, “as one does for combat.” (50) Her body – naked, exposed, shamed – thus becomes glorious. Shame is her glory. This concern with shame persists later on in the text. After evidently transforming back into a female, Perpetua is once again rendered exposed, this time in the midst of battle. Having been tossed to the ground, she realizes the tunic has been torn from her side and “more mindful of her shame than of her pain,” she “drew it over her as a veil for her thighs.” (51)

Apart from the acta of martyrdoms – written in faith and for the faithful – traces of ‘shame’ are to be found in pagan accounts as well. In his province of Bithynia, the second-century proconsul Pliny the Younger wrote the Emperor Trajan expressing his uncertainties regarding how to handle the trials of Christians. (52) He stated that he had never “participated in the trials of Christians” before, and did “not know what offenses it is the practice to punish or to investigate, and to what extent” due to the lack of imperial constitutiones on the matter. (53) Yet he still had to deal with Christians. Thinking on his feet, Pliny exercised his cognitio extraordinaria in the following manner: “Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your [Trajan’s] image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ – none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do.” (54) Although nothing in this account mentions shame, the procedure itself implicitly reveals it. For a Christian to refuse to invoke the gods and offer prayer with incense and wine to the emperor, would – in the eyes of the Romans – simply be ridiculous. They worshiped many gods, and there seemed to be no rational reason why one must worship just one. Christians were idiots. The ‘reasonable’ Herod and Niceties tried to stop Polycarp from his ‘madness,’ exclaiming: “Why what harm is there in saying, Caesar is Lord, and offering incense… and saving thyself?” (55) Yet Polycarp remained steadfast, despite the shame of looking like a fool, and replied with conviction: “I am not going to do what ye counsel me.” (56) So, martyrdom was a shameful affair. But there is more to it than that – namely, its relation to identity. It is this other aspect of martyrdom which will be now be discussed in order to bring this essay to a close.

In the words of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, shame is the place where “the question of identity arises most originally and most relationally” –  in the “double movement… toward painful individuation, toward uncontrollable relationality,” identity is forged. (57) This fact of human existence is inscribed in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch, who in his letter to the Romans, speaks of his impending shame as a place for establishing identity, where it will be proven if he – Ignatius – is a Christian or not. (58) Perpetua, in order to show of her father why she must accept martyrdom, follows the same reasoning: “‘Father’, said I, ‘Do you see this vessel lying, a pitcher or whatsoever it may be?’ And he said, ‘I see it.’ And I said to him, ‘Can it be called by any other name than that which it is?’ And he answered, ‘No.’ ‘So can I call myself nought other than that which I am, a Christian.’” (59) To put it another way: martyrdom, stirring up the identity-laden feelings of shame, allows the subject to hypostatize this perception of selfhood in the public forum. Christians, plunging to their deaths, die for the ‘Name.’ As Virginia Burrus notes, this emphasis on the ‘Name’ shows that they accepted death “not for the sake of someone or something else – not even for the sake of justice – but for the sake of their own identity with Christ and as Christians.” (60)

Moreover, this concern of identity reaches into the text of the Apocalypse itself. The first reference occurs in the third chapter, where “one like a son of man” (Rev. 1:13) promises to the church of Philadelphia that he will make the “victor” – evidently referring to a martyr – “into a pillar in the temple of my God” and on “him will I inscribe the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem… as well as my new name.” (61) Although multiple other passages referencing the branding of identity on the martyrs are to be found in the text, this passage in particular is especially apropos. (62) For while the others merely refer to the inscription of the name of the Lamb and “his Father,” this passage explicitly refers to the inscription of the name of the city, the new Jerusalem. The identity of the martyrs is thus not merely caught up with the name of Christian (symbolized by the writing of the name of the Lamb and the Father) but also the political citizenship in the city of heaven which is consequent upon it. The martyrs, coeval with their witness, are made citizens of the New Jerusalem – and Christ performs this bestowal. (63) From that point on, they belong to the City of Shame. (64)

So while the emperor grants citizenship to Rome upon others and confers honor in so doing, the Lamb, shamefully slain, bestows citizenship to the city above, with all the shame that comes with it. Yet, while the glory of the former hid the exploitative nature of the whole affair (as John is at pains to explicate), the shame of the latter hides nothing – everything is stripped away to be seen – and, in this very shame, true glory – not the false veneer of it promised by Rome – is to be found. (65)

 

 

References:

1 For historically-sensitive introductions, see Yarbro Collins, Crisis and Catharsis (The Westminster Press: 1984), Leonard Thompson, Apocalypse and Empire (Oxford University Press: 1990).

2 Regarding the role of cult theatrics, see Steven Scherrer, “Signs and Wonders of the Imperial Cult,” Journal of Biblical Literature 103 (1984); as for the prostitutes, see Richard Bauckham, Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation (T&T Clark: 1993), p. 344, who notes that, just as the whore of Babylon had her name written on her forehead (Rev. 17:5), so did prostitutes in the streets of Rome wear their name on a headband on their forehead.

3 There are two works I could find directly related to my thesis. The first is David deSilva, “The Strategic Arousal of Emotion in John’s Visions of Roman Imperialism,” Neotestamentica 42 (2008), who – among other things – argues for the relevance of the category of ‘awe’ (which is tangled up with honor) for John’s intentions regarding his critique/parody of the imperial cult. What deSilva account lacks is that, since he fails to consciously take into account the connection between awe and honor, he is thus unable to see how honor (and shame) is relevant to John. The other is James Harrison, “The Brothers as the “Glory of Christ” (2 Cor 8:23),” Novum Testamentum 52 (2010), who argues for the benefactorial context of δόξα in 2 Corinthians 8:23. It is my intention to bring a similar contextualizing to the Apocalypse of John.

Cf. Jerome Neyrey, “Lost in Translation: Did It Matter if Christians ‘Thanked’ God or ‘Gave God Glory,’” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 71 (2009), 13.

5 As Carlin Barton, Roman Honor: The Fire in the Bones (University of California Press: 2001), p. 58 has remarked, “For the Romans, being was being seen.” Regarding the historical side of things, a change can be detected at least as early as Calvin, who saw the idea that honor relied on the opinions of men as usurping the authority of God, and thus viewed honor more as a matter between God and the individual – a private matter, so to say; cf. Mark Breitenberg, Anxious Masculinity in Early Modern England (Cambridge University Press: 1996), p. 102.

6 Valerius Maximus 2.10.6, quoted in J.E. Lendon, Empire of Honour: The Art of Government in the Roman World (Clarendon Press: 1997), p. 47.

7 Cicero, Vat. 25, quoted in J.E. Lendon, Empire of Honour: The Art of Government in the Roman World (Clarendon Press: 1997), p. 47; cf. Cicero, Tusc. 2.24.58, where he states that “By nature we yearn and hunger for honor, and once we have glimpsed, as it were, some part of its radiance…”

8 Cf. Cicero, Quint. fratr. 1.1.43, quoted in James Harrison, “The Brothers as the “Glory of Christ” (2 Cor 8:23),” Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 175.

9 This was helped along by Augustus’ move of founding a hereditary monarchy, when – in 17 BCE – he appointed Gaius and Lucius as his successors.

10 Quoted in James Harrison, “The Brothers as the “Glory of Christ” (2 Cor 8:23),” Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 168; also, in 27 BCE, Octavian (Augustus) appeared before the Senate, offering to give back power and thus to restore the Republic – in response, the Senate refused such an honor – eventually compromise was reached, and an agreement was made that, from now on, there were to be two types of provinces: those senatorial, governed by men with the title proconsul, and those imperial (Gaul, Spain, Syria, Cilicia, Cyprus and Egypt), governed by Augustus – the whole affair was most likely contrived to make Augustus look good, and helped Augustus get rid of the proconsular senatorial governors from his provinces, enabling him to install men who would owe their position to him alone, not the Senate; cf. Patricia Southern, Augustus (Routledge: 2001), p. 190-193.

11 Severian, de. Mud. Creat. Or. 6.5, quoted in J.E. Lendon, Empire of Honour: The Art of Government in the Roman World (Clarendon Press: 1997), p. 19.

12 The last new cult of a Roman governor was established in the first decade CE; cf. S.R.F. Price, Rituals and Power: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor (Cambridge University Press: 1984), p. 51.

13 It was in 27 BCE that the cognomen of ‘Augustus,’ indicated a sort of religious authority, was bestowed on Octavian; cf. Werner Eck, The Age of Augustus (Wiley-Blackwell: 2003), p. 49. Regarding the events of 23 BCE, Dio 53.32.5-6 records that “…the senate voted that Augustus should be tribune for life and gave him the privilege of bringing before the senate at each meeting any one matter at whatever time he liked, even if he were not consul at the time; they also permitted him to hold once and for all and for life the office of proconsul, so that he had neither to lay it down upon entering the pomerium nor to have it renewed again, and they gave him in the subject territory authority superior to that of the governor in each instance. As a result both he and the emperors after him gained a certain legal right to use the tribunician power as well as their other powers…” – essentially, the powers previously held by the tribunicia potestas were now in the hands of the emperor; cf. Jean-Louis Ferrary, “The Novus Status” in Augustus, ed. Jonathan Edmondson (Edinburgh University Press: 2009), p. 106, 110.

14 Augustus’ restriction of the travel of senators, which occurred in 27 BCE, reinforced the idea that the control of the ordo senatorius was a permanent aspect of imperial rule; cf. Andrea Scheithauer, “Maria H. Dettenhofer, Herrschaft und Widerstand im augusteischen Prinzipat,” Bryn Mawr Classical Review 4 (2001).

15 Cf. Andrea Scheithauer, “Maria H. Dettenhofer, Herrschaft und Widerstand im augusteischen Prinzipat,” Bryn Mawr Classical Review 4 (2001).

16 S.R.F. Price, Rituals and Power: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor (Cambridge University Press: 1984), p. 51.

17 Cf. Barbara Burrell, Neokoroi: Greek Cities and Roman Emperors (Brill Academic Pub: 2004) p. 19.

18 Cf. S.R.F. Price, Rituals and Power: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor (Cambridge University Press: 1984), p. 51.

19 Cf. Ibid., p. 59.

20 Cf. Justin Meggitt, “Taking the Emperor’s Clothes Seriously,” in The Quest for Wisdom: Essays in Honour of Philip Budd (Orchard Academic: 2002), ed. Christine Joynes, p. 150.

21 Ovid, Ex Ponto 2.8.26, quoted in James Harrison, “The Brothers as the “Glory of Christ” (2 Cor 8:23),” Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) p. 177; cf. Kenneth Scott, “The Elder and Younger Pliny on Emperor Worship,” Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 63 (1932), p. 156.

22 Kenneth Scott, “Statius’ Adulation of Domitian,” The American Journal of Philology 54 (1993) 259; cf. Duncan Fishwick, “Ovid and Divus Augustus,” Classical Philology 86 (1991) 36, who states that, “The evidence of poets is of particular interest to the social historian in that poetry seems often to provide the clearest reflection of popular attitudes and practices.”

23 Cf. S.R.F. Price, Rituals and Power: The Roman Imperial Cult in Asia Minor (Cambridge University Press: 1984), p. 58.

24 Scholarly articles dealing with this include J. Daryl Charles, “Imperial Pretensions and the Throne-Vision of the Lamb,” Criswell Theological Review 7 (1993) 85-97, David E. Aune, “The Influence of Roman Imperial Court Ceremony on the Apocalypse of John,” Papers of the Chicago Society of Biblical Research 28 (1983) 5-26; for the imperial allusions in Rev. 1, which set up the scene for Rev. 4-5, see Erik Peterson, Theological Tractates, trans. Michael J. Hollerich (Stanford University Press: 2011), p. 145.

25 Cf. Richard Wilkinson, “The ΣTYΛOΣ of Revelation 3:12 and Ancient Coronation Rites,” Journal of Biblical Literature 107 (1988) 499.

26 Cf. J. Daryl Charles, “Imperial Pretensions and the Throne-Vision of the Lamb,” Criswell Theological Review 7 (1993) 95.

27 As Jerome Neyrey, Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew (Westminster John Knox Press: 1998), p. 1, says: “‘Worthiness’ is an adequate synonym for ‘praise,’ ‘honor,’ and ‘glory.’”

28 Mark Goodacre, “Scripturalization in Mark‘s Crucifixion Narrative,” in The Trial and Death of Jesus: Essays on the Passion Narrative in Mark (Peeters: 2006), eds. Geert van Oyen and Tom Shepherd, p. 37.

29 Cf. Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ (Eerdmans: 2015) p. 96.

30 Cf. Thomas Cahill, Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus (Anchor: 1999), p. 107-108.

31 J.E. Lendon, Empire of Honour: The Art of Government in the Roman World (Clarendon Press: 1997), p. 220.

32 Hebrews 12:2; cf. Gregory of Nyssa, Catechetical Oration 14.32, where he has his imaginary pagan intoluculator ask: “What death… could be more shameful than that on a cross?”, quoted in Virginia Burrus, Saving Shame: Martyrs, Saints, and Other Abject Subjects (University of Pennsylvania Press: 2007) p. 44.

33 Origen, Contra Celsum 6.10, quoted in Martin Hengel, Crucifixion: In the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross (Fortress Press: 1977), p. 7; Cicero, Pro Rabirio 16, quoted in Martin Hengel, Crucifixion: In the Ancient World and the Folly of the Message of the Cross (Fortress Press: 1977) p. 42.

34 John Anthony Crook, Law and Life in Rome, 90 B.C. – A.D. 212 (Cornell University Press: 1967), p. 273.

35 Arnobius, Against the Nations 1.36.

36 J.E. Lendon, Empire of Honour: The Art of Government in the Roman World (Clarendon Press: 1997), p. 154.

37 Cf. Ibid, p. 49.

38 Dio Chrysostom 3.132, quoted in Ibid, p. 153.

39 For a discussion of this grant of Roman citizenship by the emperor as a bestowing of honor, cf. Ibid, p. 149-150.

40 Virginia Burrus, Saving Shame: Martyrs, Saints, and Other Abject Subjects (University of Pennsylvania Press: 2007) p. 18, states that the text of the Apocalypse is “at least proto- if not even hyper-martyrological.” For the meaning of the word ‘martyr’ (μάρτυς) in Revelation, cf. Allison Trites, “μάρτυς and Martyrdom in the Apocalypse: A Semantic Study,” Novum Testamentum 15 (1973) 72-80.

41 Concrete references to martyrdom that I found in the text are Revelation 2:13, 6:9-11, 13:15, 14:13, 16:6, 17:6, 20:4-6. Some allusions to martyrdom are to be found in the ‘seven letters’ – Revelation 1:9, 2:3,10,13,19,25; 3:8,10-11; cf. Adela Yarbro Collins, “The Political Perspective of the Revelation to John,” Journal of Biblical Literature 96 (1977) 249. See also Revelation 13:10, 14:12; cf. Michelle Lee, “A Call to Martyrdom: Function as Method and Message in Revelation,” Novum Testamentum 40 (1998) 191.

42 Revelation 17:6; 18:24.

43 Revelation 19:2; 16:6; this punishment is, interestingly, described as being what “they deserve (ἄξιος)” (Rev. 16:7) – thus, in a more literal translation, which helps to bring out the irony, it is what they are worthy of (cf. the Berean Literal Bible and the King James Bible). While they were ἄξιος in the eyes of the world to receive glory and honor, now they are ἄξιος in the judgment of God to receive shameful punishments.

44 Cf. Revelation 20:4-5.

45 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae III 66, 12 co 1.

46 Cf. Erik Peterson, Theological Tractates, trans. Michael J. Hollerich (Stanford University Press: 2011), p. 254.

47 Romans 6:3; cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae III 66, 12 ad 2.

48 Cf. Martyrdom of Polycarp, 8.2-3.

49 Virginia Burrus, Saving Shame: Martyrs, Saints, and Other Abject Subjects (University of Pennsylvania Press: 2007) p. 11-12.

50 Acts of Perpetua and Felicitas, 10; on the connection of honor with ‘male’ and shame with ‘female,’ cf. Peter French, “Honor, Shame, and Identity,” Public Affairs Quarterly (2002), 6-7.

51 Acts of Perpetua and Felicitas, 10, quoted in Virginia Burrus, Saving Shame: Martyrs, Saints, and Other Abject Subjects (University of Pennsylvania Press: 2007) p. 30-31.

52 This letter was written c. 112 CE.

53 Pliny, Letters 10.96; on the binding force of imperial constitutiones on the cognitio extraordinaria of provincial governors during this time-period and the particular situation of Pliny the Younger regarding this, cf. G.E.M. de Ste. Croix, “Why Were the Early Christians Persecuted?,” Past & Present 26 (1963) 13.

54 Ibid.

55 Martyrdom of Polycarp, 8.2.

56 Ibid.

57 Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity (Duke University Press Books: 2003) p. 37, quoted in Virginia Burrus, Saving Shame: Martyrs, Saints, and Other Abject Subjects (University of Pennsylvania Press: 2007) p. 11.

58 Cf. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Romans 3.2, quoted in Virginia Burrus, Saving Shame: Martyrs, Saints, and Other Abject Subjects (University of Pennsylvania Press: 2007) p. 11.

59 Acts of Perpetua and Felicitas, 3.

60 Virginia Burrus, Saving Shame: Martyrs, Saints, and Other Abject Subjects (University of Pennsylvania Press: 2007) p. 13.

61  Revelation 3:12; for the parallels of this passage with the ancient coronation rites of the Israelites and the Egyptians, cf. Richard Wilkinson, “The ΣTYΛOΣ of Revelation 3:12 and Ancient Coronation Rites,” Journal of Biblical Literature 107 (1988) 499-500.

62 For further references to this inscription of the martyrs, cf. Revelation 7:3, 14:1; for the parallel branding of on the evil ones, cf. Revelation 13:1, 14:9, 17:5.

63 In Revelation 7:3 an angel of the Lord is said to have bestowed the mark, yet this doesn’t undermine the fact that Christ is the one ultimately bestowing it – the angel is merely a satrap of the Lord.

64 Notice the focus on a city coming down from heaven in Revelation 21.

65 For the exploitative nature of Rome, as viewed by John, cf. Richard Bauckham, Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation (T&T Clark: 1993), p. 338-384.

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