Rhetoric of Digressions
Revelation 7:1-17 occurs between the opening of the sixth and seventh seal and Rev 10:1-11:13 between the sixth and seventh trumpet blasts. Interpreters often explain these passages as "interludes," "parentheses," or "expansions," but not in terms of ancient communication. Peter S. Perry analyzes these interruptions in the seals and trumpets in light of digressions in ancient rhetorical theory and practice. Digressions are described by Hermagoras, Cicero, and Quintilian and widely used, including in Josephus' works, Jubilees, Sibylline Oracles I/II, Zechariah, and Exodus. As with other ancient digressions, Rev 7:1-17 and 10:1-11:13 are unessential to the logical flow but essential to the book's impact. These passages excite the emotions, shape character, and give insight into John's rhetorical strategy and goals.
Peter S. Perry