1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” 2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.
Although John’s Revelation falls into a category that can be called Jewish apocalyptic literature, there are number of distinctive features here. In this case, John gets immediate and unmediated access to the throne room of God, something that is not usually the case in other prominent Jewish apocalyptic works such as for example, The Testament of Levi and 1 Enoch.
It has been a matter of consensus that John’s Revelation displays significant literary dependence on another Jewish apocalyptic text – the Book of Ezekiel. As an interesting side note, in my earlier book “The Jewish Gospel of John” I argue (and some say convincingly) that whoever wrote John’s Gospel was very interested in the Book of Ezekiel. The amount of literary and thematic parallels is too great to deny such a connection. (But what am I doing you should buy and read the book!!!!)
The book of Revelation, authored by a person named John (a common Jewish name – Yohanan in Hebrew), also has obvious interest in the Book of Ezekiel. It was a very common thing to name an apocalyptic Jewish work by the name of some great Biblical character (for example, Apocalypse of Elijah, Apocalypse of Daniel, Apocalypse of Moses and the list can go on and on). What is unusual here is that this apocalypse is attributed to someone named Yohanan (John) seemingly without any prior notoriety, except if indeed John, the Apostle, is in fact in view.
Although evidence is certainly inconclusive (and John’s Gospel does a very good job of remaining an anonymous document although with occasional hints as to its author) it may have been John, the Son of Zebedee, who authored it. There are some very good arguments that show he belonged to a priestly lineage. If this is correct, his preoccupation with the Book of Ezekiel makes a lot of sense. One of the major arguments, however, against the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation being written by the same person (no such problem exists between Gospel of John and John’s letters) is that the Greek of John’s Gospel and that of Revelation is dramatically different. To put it another way the Greek of John’s Gospel is clearly better than the Greek of Revelation. But given that most literature was not written, but dictated to a scribe, the difference in the level of linguistic sophistication could be accounted for by different scribes doing the work, not to mention the genre adaptation from historic narrative (Gospel of John) to apocalyptic literature (Book of Revelation). In other words, if John wrote his Gospel from Ephesus (as some early traditions specify) it would make sense that he would have had access to some of the best scribes, while when he was on the Island of Patmos, even though it was not technically a prison, it is reasonable to assume that his choice of scribes was severely limited, if available at all.