The Catholic University of America

Dissertation Defense: Rev. Matthew J. Streett

Final Examination of

Rev. Matthew J. Streett

for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2:10 p.m., Caldwell Room 125-15

Committee in Charge

Chair: Joseph M. Sendry, Ph.D.

Secretary: William Dinges, Ph.D.

Director: Francis T. Gignac, D.Phil.

Reader: Frank J. Matera, Ph.D.

Reader: John Paul Heil, S.S.D.

Summary of Coursework

Advanced Biblical Greek I

Problems in Greek Old Testament Versions

Introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls

Book of Daniel

Deuteronomistic History

The Parables of Jesus

New Testament Theology

Gospel According to Matthew

Gospel of Luke

Colossians and Ephesians

Epistle to the Hebrews

Apocalyptic Book of Revelation

French Reading for Comprehension

German Reading for Comprehension

Introduction to Biblical Hebrew I & II

Biblical Hebrew Prose I and Prose II

Biblical Hebrew Poetry I

Intertestamental Hebrew/Qumran

Readings in Biblical Hebrew

Introduction to Syriac I & II

Biblical Aramaic

Introduction to Coptic Studies


Violence and Nonviolence in the Book of Revelation

Matthew J. Streett, Ph.D.

Director: Francis T. Gignac, D. Phil.

Although the Book of Revelation demands that Christians resist their enemies passively, it also features some of the most fearsome and violent imagery in the New Testament. God or Christ, sometimes through divine agents, often performs this terrible violence. Complicating the picture, even though humans may not act violently, Revelation praises those who wish a violent end for their enemies as long as God initiates the violence. Even though John advocates nonviolence, he does not seem to value nonviolence for its own sake.

All instances of violence are broken down into three categories: (1) violence performed by heavenly figures such as God, Christ, or their appointed agents, (2) violence suffered by human beings or commands of nonviolence given to them, and (3) bridge figures who have both human and divine attributes and also demonstrate human and divine prerogatives of violence and nonviolence. These passages are examined with special attention given to the relationship between authority and violence.

Only God and Christ are depicted as possessing judicial authority, so only those acts of violence initiated by them are described by the text as just. Human beings are not given license to perform any violent acts, and violence committed against Christians by other human beings is everywhere condemned. Bridge figures such as Jesus Christ have demonstrated their authority by transitioning from the human realm of the judged to the divine realm of the judge, and have earned the right to judge. Initially, only Christ has this right, but as the narrative progresses, figures such as martyrs are shown to have active, judging authority as well.

John sees violence as perfectly legitimate as long as it is initiated by the appropriate authority: namely, God. John does not believe that violence in any form is wrong. Rather, he believes that it is wrong for anyone other than God or his appointed agents to do violence, and it is possible for humans to condemn the wicked to death if they prove themselves by dying in imitation of Christ.