Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Update: More on Satan's Throne

There is an excellent discussion of the main options for "Satan's throne" in Steven J. Friesen, "Satan’s Throne, Imperial Cults and the Social Settings of Revelation," Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 27.3 (2005): 351-373.

Friesen rejects the idea that "Satan's Throne" refers to the Great Altar to Zeus, the Asclepion, the Roman Imperial cult or even the city of Pergamum itself, which I suppose is close enough to my suggestion that "Satan's throne" was suggested by the shape of the Acropolis. Friesen argues instead that the phrase is a symbolic reference to opposition to the church:
"...the problem is external hostility from mainstreatn society. The second
reference to Satan connects Satan's presence to the death of Antipas,
which suggests that hostility from outsiders is the issue here. The material
in between the two references to Satan confirms this implication. Here the
assembly is commended for its faithfulness.... Their faithfulness became
most evident in the most trying of times: the death of Antipas. Thus, the
death is an exaggerated example of the external hostilities that the Pergamene
saints endured, and the throne of Satan reference simply means that
Pergamum is a place where opposition to the church had become lethal in
at least one instance. The problem was harassment from outsiders that
had been relatively more severe in Pergamum than in the other cities." (p. 365)

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