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Of Cherubim and the Divine Throne: Rev 5.6 in Context

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 November 2003

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This article seeks to establish that Rev 5.6, despite its imprecise language, situates Christ on the divine throne and not merely next to it or alongside it. That Christ shares the divine throne is clearly asserted elsewhere in the book of Revelation (3.21; 7.17; 22.1, 3). Since this is the case, and as the other ways in which John's language at 5.6 can be understood introduces a number of difficulties, it is probable that John also intended 5.6 to be another affirmation of Christ's enthronement on the one divine throne. This conclusion is confirmed when it is noticed that John envisioned the living creatures which surround the throne to be living, constituent parts of the divine throne itself. Christ is thus in the midst of the throne and in the midst of the living creatures because they, as components of the throne, are both a part of it and surround it. This has been argued by at least one earlier interpreter. It has not, however, been noted just how widespread or how early is the evidence for the living creatures or cherubim as both living and constituent parts of the heavenly divine throne. Archaeological evidence, as well as passages from 1 Enoch, the Song of the Three Young Men, the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, Josephus, 2 Enoch, the Apocalypse of Abraham and On the Origin of the World are examined and shown to support such a conception of the divine throne and of the cherubim.

Research Article
© 2003 Cambridge University Press

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