The New Jerusalem: Wealth, Ancient Building Projects and Revelation 21-22

Candida R. Moss, Liane M. Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Scholarly interpretations of the descent and description of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21-22 have tended to evaluate the city against biblical and extra-canonical descriptions of the Jerusalem Temple, apocalyptic accounts of heaven and ancient utopian literature in general. While some have noted the ways in which the New Jerusalem parallels the description of Babylon elsewhere in the Apocalypse, no one has yet considered the ways in which the New Jerusalem mimics, mirrors and adapts the excesses of elite Roman architecture and decor. The argument of this article is that when viewed against the backdrop of literary and archaeological evidence for upper-class living space, the luxury of the New Jerusalem is domesticated and functions to democratise access to wealth in the coming epoch. The ways in which Revelation's New Jerusalem rehearses the conventions of morally problematic displays of luxury can partially explain later patristic discomfort with literalist readings of this passage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-366
Number of pages16
JournalNew Testament Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Religious studies


  • New Jerusalem
  • Revelation
  • Rome
  • imperial architecture
  • luxury


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