Weddings and the Return to Life in the Book of Revelation
The wedding celebration that concludes the book of Revelation alludes to the previous death not only of the bridegroom (“the Lamb that was slain) but also of the martyrs, who appear both as wedding guests and, collectively, the bride. The familiar event of a wedding serves as a foundation for articulating a vision of the future that is posited as both previously promised and sharply different from the present. The book’s nuptial finale draws on the conventional associations of weddings with regeneration and happy endings, but by linking it with the deaths of the martyrs and juxtaposing it against the destruction of “Babylon,” it also evokes tropes of weddings gone tragically awry. These valences, which resonate throughout the book’s web of images, allow the vision to unify themes of witness and endurance of suffering with those of life of the righteous in the eschaton. Reading Revelation’s language of destruction and its language of marriage in light of one another highlights its presentation of the contrasting fates of the wicked and the fateful, both of them meeting fates that the text envisions as just.
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