WORSHIP AND AUTHORITY
This chapter is devoted to the distinctions in John's text between “good” and “bad” authority. It is not a chapter on the politics of Revelation; it goes deeper than politics. I have sought throughout this study to avoid applying modern notions of “political” and “religious” to the ancient data, because this pair of categories is poorly equipped to define Roman imperial societies. Our “politics and religion” suggests styles of community life that characterize modernities to various degrees, but have little to do with the Roman Empire.
So I have framed this study in terms of mythic worldviews, also a modern western category. This approach is more disciplined in its attempt to understand and represent the variety of ways in which humans know and shape the world. Furthermore, I have paid particular attention to theorists who study the nature of worldviews and experiences in areas like native South America (Sullivan), African America (Long), India (Eliade and, to an extent, Wilfred Cantwell Smith), and other decolonizing regions (Said). This method hardly guarantees objectivity. It simply expresses my bias in favor of analysis that recognizes relationships of domination and resistance in societies.
In this chapter I consider what is meant by “worship, ” compare the authority of the deified Jesus with the authority of the Roman emperors, and examine the roles assigned to the rulers of this world by Revelation.