Logos Free Book of the Month for June 2020 – Ancient Christian Commentary on Mark (Second Edition)

ACCS MarkThe theme of the Logos Free Book of the Month promotion is reading Scripture with the church fathers. Logos is offering two volumes of The Ancient Christian Commentary series from IVP Academic. There are now 29 volumes in the series. From IVP Academic’s website,

The ACCS is a postcritical revival of the early commentary tradition known as the glossa ordinaria, a text artfully elaborated with ancient and authoritative reflections and insights. The vast array of writings from the church fathers—including much that is available only in the ancient languages—have been combed for their comment on Scripture. From these results, scholars with a deep knowledge of the fathers and a heart for the church have hand selected material for each volume, shaping, annotating, and introducing it to today’s readers. Each portion of commentary has been chosen for its salient insight, its rhetorical power, and its faithful representation of the consensual exegesis of the early church.

During the month of June you can add the second edition of Mark for free and the volume on James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude for $4.99.

IVP Academic as a second series of historical commentaries, the Reformation Commentary on Scripture Collection. Through the end of the month you can add the Galatians, Ephesians volume for $1.99 and the Acts volume for $9.99. I reviewed the Acts Reformation Commentary when it came out in 2014. From that review:

Timothy George’s General Introduction to the RCS is a good 23 page refresher on what constitutes the literature of the Reformation in terms of chronology and confession. There is far more to read from this period than just Luther and Calvin. This commentary therefore includes Erasmus as a biblical humanist as well as obvious examples from (Wittenberg, Luther; Strasbourg, Bucer; Zurich, Zwingli; Geneva, Calvin). There are also examples from the British reformation (including John Donne and William Perkins) and a few from the Anabaptist tradition.

Edit: Someone pointed out the link at the bottom of the page will get you a free copy of Commentaries in the Ancient Christian Texts series: Severian of Gabala and a fresh translation of a portion of Bede the Venerable on Genesis 1–3: Homilies on Creation and Fall and Commentary on Genesis: Book I for free and Commentaries on Ambrosiaster’s commentary on Galatians–Philemon for $3.99, Jerome on Jeremiah for $6.99 and Ambrosiaster’s  commentaries on Romans and 1-2 Corinthians for $9.99.

Logos is also sponsoring a giveaway of a 14-volume collection of resources from IVP Academic valued at $679.99. As usually there are multiple ways to win, so enter as often as you can.

You need to have Logos Bible Software to use these resources.  As always, there are less expensive paths to upgrading that will keep you from mortgaging your home. At the very least, download the free Logos Basic or any Logos 8 base package. Try using the coupon code PARTNEROFFER8.

Any books you purchase from Logos can  read these books via the free iOS app.

These valuable resources are only free (or almost free) through June 30, 2020.

Biblical Studies Carnival 171 for May 2020

March and April 2020 were bad months for most people as COVID-19 changed the way we lived. Just as many people were preparing to return to work for the first time in three months, May ended with another murder of a black man in police custody followed by riots throughout the country. Given the loss of life from the pandemic and the deep divisions in America playing out nightly in the streets of many cities, commenting on an academic issues in biblical and theological studies seems less important. I really do not think shouting at each other on Twitter helps, and I am confident passing along conspiracy theories on FaceBook makes things worse.

Despite all the weirdness and evil in the news over the last month, there were some quality academic posts in the world of biblical and theological studies this month. This month’s Biblical Studies Carnival host Bobby Howell posted the Biblical Studies Carnival 171 for May 2020 at The Library Musings. Head over to his blog and check out his collection of postings during the month of May. He focuses on Old and New Testament, Biblical Greek, Biblical Hebrew and  a helpful set of links to articles at Torah.com. Click all the links!

In other blogging news, Aaron White has returned to blogging as he begins his Brill LXX Commentary on Judges, Pastor-Scholar Meets Commentary: A Log on Writing a Commentary. Bookmark it, but also read his comments on The Mysterious Mu.

Brian Small had some links to reviews on Hebrews resources posted in May, I miss the old Hebrews mini-carnivals he used to post.

James McGrath posted several excellent posts on making the transition to online teaching and the future of education in the post-COVID-19 world.

 

For future Biblical Studies Carnivals…I have a couple of veteran bloggers lined up for the next two months. The godfather of blibioblogs Jim West (@EmilBrunner1) will host the June Carnival and Bob MacDonald (@drmacdonald) has the July carnival. I am looking for volunteers through the rest of the year starting with August 2020 (Due September 1). Even if you hosted in 2019 feel free to volunteer again. I am always interested in getting new bloggers and podcasters involved.

Are you new to blogging? Are you a lapsed biblioblogger? James McGrath has some encouraging words for you.

Would you like to see your posts included in a future carnival? Start by writing a quality academic post, perhaps a book review. Then send the link to the upcoming host. It is entirely their decision to include your post in their carnival, but you can at least nominate yourself for inclusion. Sometimes you have to toot your own horn.

If you have questions about what writing a carnival involves, contact me via email, plong42@gmail.com or twitter DM @plong42. I would be happy to answer any questions.

Book Review: Bruce Longenecker, In Stone and Story

Longenecker, Bruce W. In Stone and Story: Early Christianity in the Roman World. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2020. 292 pp. Hb. $34.99.   Link to Baker Academic

Longenecker has already written on the importance of Pompeii for understanding early Christianity in his The Crosses of Pompeii: Jesus-Devotion in a Vesuvian Town (Fortress, 2016, follow this link for an interview with Nijay Gupta on the topic of this book). Like his popular The Lost Letters of Pergamum (Second edition; Baker Academic 2016), this new volume presents historical data for the non-specialist. The book is richly illustrated with Longenecker’s own photographs from Pompeii, although photographs of realia is prohibited in the book. Unfortunately, the Superintendency of the Vesuvian towns prohibit reproduction of these photographs.

Longenecker, In Stone and StoryAs he states in his introductory unit, this book is not a complete introduction to the archaeology of Pompeii, nor is it an introduction to early Christianity in the Roman world. Longenecker intends to provide a series of snapshots, or “up-close vignettes” to illustrate first century context and bring that context to bear on New Testament texts (p. 24).

Although the book is written for non-specialists, Longenecker is thoroughly aware of current scholarship on the Vesuvian towns and early Jesus devotion and cites this literature in an appendix. His goal is not to write an academic book on Pompeii or the development of early Christianity.

The book is divided into four parts: Protocols of engagement, popular devotion, social prominence, and household effectiveness. Each chapter introduces the reader to some aspect of Pompeiian culture followed by how it relates to the New Testament. Every chapter is richly illustrated with both photographs and citations of primary sources.

Protocols of Engagement serves as an introduction to the book. Longenecker begins with the observation historians access the Roman world through the study of classical literature and the study of archaeology. Although he occasionally refers to ancient literature, Longenecker’s focuses is on the archaeology of Pompeii and Herculaneum as a window into the actual life of the first century Roman world. Because Mount Vesuvius destroyed both in 79 CE, they are frozen in time. Both cities have been excavated and there is an extensive collection of graffiti, frescoes, and other real-world artifacts to illustrate life in a Roman city.

With a population of ten to twelve thousand, Pompeii is comparable to the city of Philippi. Herculaneum much smaller with no more that five thousand inhabitants. Although Christianity developed in much larger cities (Ephesus, Pergamum, for example), the unique archaeological situation at Pompeii and Herculaneum can illustrate other Greco-Roman urban centers. Peter Oakes has a similar method in his Reading Romans in Pompeii (Fortress 2013). After describing the archaeology of a set of houses with various social statuses in Pompeii, Oakes suggests how the residents of each home may have heard Romans differently because of their social status.

In part 2, Protocols of Popular Devotion Longenecker begins with two chapters on religion in the Roman world. For most people in the Roman world, there is never a sense that having a favorite deity required them to be exclusively devoted to that God. Pompeii was dedicated to Venus, but also had temples to Jupiter, Mercury, Apollo, Juno, Minerva, and many more. The Christian gospel demanded exclusive devotion to Jesus, which challenged the Roman religious system. Similarly, sacrifices were made in all of these temples frequently. Yet the Christian gospel recite sacrificial practices. Longenecker introduces the reader to the early controversy of eating meat sacrificed to idols (1 Cor 8-10).

Chapters 6-7 concern devotion to the empire. The Roman empire claimed they ushered in the present era of abundant peace and security, and they promoted this ideology in every Roman city through inscriptions and imperial statues. After several pages explaining the concept of genius and juno (the spirit of a man and woman), Longenecker observes the people of Pompeii were eager to worship the emperor’s genius since this worship would contribute to the heath of the empire. After the devastating earthquake of AD 62, temples for the imperial cult were the first to be rebuilt (p. 87). He then shows how dangerous a book like Revelation might have been since it declares the source of Rome’s power to be satanic (Rev 12:9).

Chapter 8 describes mysteries cults in Pompeii, primarily the worship of Dionysus at the Villa of the Mysteries. Isis cult is the main topic of chapter 9, “death and life.” In his Crosses of Pompeii, Longenecker describes Pompeii as suffering from “Egyptomania” (p. 108-15). He suggests the idea of resurrection central to the Isis cult may have led some Jesus-followers to think of Christian as a kind of mystery cult (p. 115). This may shed light on Paul’s discussion of resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15.

Part 3 deals with Protocols of Social Prominence: Prominence and Character, Money and Influence, Literacies and Status, Combat and Courts, and Business and Success. Pursuit of honor was a primary cultural value for a Roman, as evidences by graffiti from Pompeii (p. 124). Romans demonstrated their wealth and political power through benefaction. Although there are examples of wealthy benefactors in the New Testament (Philemon, for example), Jesus-followers challenged these values. For example, James 2:1-6 turns the Roman social expectation of honoring the wealthy upside down. Jesus himself taught his disciples to not be like the Gentiles; leaders ought to be like one who serves (Luke 22:25-26). In addition, Longenecker points to Revelation 18 and John’s condemnation of economic greed of Roman merchants.

Part 4 deals with issues of real life, “Protocols of Household Effectiveness.” In each case, Early Jesus-followers were often at odds with the Roman ideal in each of these cultural areas. For example, the relationships within a Roman household differed greatly from the New Testament household codes (Eph 4-6; Col 3-4). Chapters 15 and 16 survey the relationships within the family, including the relationship of masters and slaves, including sex slavery. Longenecker shows how radical Paul’s teaching on masters and slaves would have been in Roman Pompeii.

Chapter 17 (Piety and Pragmatism) and 18 (Powers and Protection). These chapters discuss how a Roman family may have worshiped household gods to ensure safety and prosperity. Residents of Pompeii feared curses and took measures to ward off evil and the powerful influence of the dead (p. 231). Longenecker refers to the use of curse language and the evil eye in Galatians 3-5. I expected material on the apotropaic cross markings Longenecker described in Crosses of Pompeii as a likely use of Christian imagery for warding off evil.

Finally, this section concludes with a chapter on “Banqueting and the Dead,” a survey of burial practices in Pompeii, including memorial meals celebrated at family tombs. The chapter draws analogies to Paul’s view of death 1 Corinthians and the practice of the Lord’s Supper as a memorial of Jesus’s death. Longenecker suggests Paul’s perception of the Lord’s Supper as “a spiritual meal involving spiritual power was completely at home in the first-century” (249).

As an appendix to the book, Longenecker gives several “questions to consider” for chapters 4-19. These questions ask students to consider some portion of the New Testament in the light of the world described in the chapter. For example, after reading the chapter on money and influence, Longenecker asks what the Corinthian church may have thought about Paul’s request they support his collection for the poor (1 Cor 16:1-4). The final verse of 1 John is “keep yourself from idols.” In what ways might an enslaved Jesus-follower in a pagan household have wanted to know more about the practicalities of that instruction? Or consider a woman who became a Jesus follower after marrying into a pagan household reading “keep yourself from idols.”

There is actually very little on sexuality in Pompeii in the book which is surprising given the number of phalluses carved around the city (although there are a few examples on p. 232; see also Crosses of Pompeii, 132-33). In addition, there is an abundance of filthy graffiti from Pompeii cataloged. Perhaps the intended audience restricted this content.

Following short glossary of key terms is a section for “further reading.” Longenecker provides additional scholarly material on the city of Pompeii and its relevance for understanding early Christianity. He has an excellent bibliography of general studies of early Christianity in the Roman world. Following these general bibliographies are important studies on the topic of each chapter. Much of the material in these bibliographies will be difficult for the average reader to find, since most of these titles will require a visit to a university research library.

Conclusion. Anyone with an interest in how the Greco-Roman world illustrates the world of the New Testament will thoroughly enjoy reading this book. Despite targeting a popular audience, In Stone and Story would be an excellent choice for a New Testament backgrounds course at the undergraduate or graduate level. Longenecker summarizes the scholarship in the chapter’s topic and provides a wealth of supplemental reading for further research at the academic level.

NB: Thanks to Baker Academic for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

War in Heaven – Revelation 12:7-9

These three verses describe a conflict in heaven:  the dragon, identified as Satan in 12:9, attacks Michael and his angels. The battle goes against Satan and he is thrown down to the earth along with his angels.

Archangel Michael battles Satan, Luca GiordanoAs with Revelation 12:4, the problem of “when” comes up again. Does this refer to the fall of Satan?  Does John have some event in his own lifetime in mind? Or is this a future event in the last says before the return of Christ? Similar to the problem with verse 4, this war in heaven is sometimes is thought to refer to the fall of Satan, but there is no other reference to Satan making war against Michael in the distant past.

Between the cross and the second coming Satan is active in the world (1 Peter 5:8, for example). But Revelation has already described an increase in demonic activity in the fifth and sixth trumpets.

Who is Michael? Michael is mentioned by name in Daniel (10:13, 21; 12:1) and twice in the New Testament (Jude 9 and Revelation 12:7). The name means ‘who is like God?’ and is synonymous with Micaiah and Micah in the Old Testament. In Daniel Michael is “one of the chief princes” (10:13) who assists the great angel who delivers Daniel’s final vision to overcome the prince of Greece and the prince of Persia. In Daniel 10:21 he is called “your prince” and in 12:1 he is “the great prince.”

Second Temple Literature develops the idea of Michael as a mighty angel who protects Israel. He is mentioned often in 1 Enoch. Although he is one of the chief angels, he is not called an archangel in the book. 2 Enoch 22 calls him “the archangel Michael” although the title “archistratig” (“top general? Cf. Gk. Apoc. Ezra 4.24) is used more often, highlighted Michael’s military role. By 3 Enoch, he is “Michael, the Great Prince, is in charge of the seventh heaven, the highest.” IN 3 Enoch Michael begins to blend with Metatron, a semi-divine angelic being. “At some point, however, the connection between Meṭaṭron and Michael was obscured, and a new, independent archangel with many of Michael’s powers came into being (P. Alexander, OTP 1:244).

In the Book of the Watchers, Michael interceded on behalf of humanity when they were oppressed by the giants (1 Enoch 10:11). In 1 Enoch 20:5 he is one of the “holy angels who watch.”

1 Enoch 20:1-8 And these are names of the holy angels who watch: 2 Suruʾel, one of the holy angels—for (he is) of eternity and of trembling. 3 Raphael, one of the holy angels, for (he is) of the spirits of man. 4 Raguel, one of the holy angels who take vengeance for the world and for the luminaries. 5 Michael, one of the holy angels, for (he is) obedient in his benevolence over the people and the nations. 6 Saraqaʾel, one of the holy angels who are (set) over the spirits of mankind who sin in the spirit. 7 Gabriel, one of the holy angels who oversee the garden of Eden, and the serpents, and the cherubim.

In 1 Enoch 40:9 Michael is one of the four “faces” who never slumber but always watch God and praise him. He is called “the merciful and forbearing Michael.” Along with Raphael, Gabriel, and Phanuel, Michael seize the armies of Azazʾel, on the great day of judgment and casts them “into the furnace (of fire) that is burning” (1 Enoch 54:5). In 1 Enoch 60 Michael explains Enoch’s disturbing vision (similar to the mighty angel in Daniel 10, cf., 1 Enoch 71:3).

In the War Scroll (1QM), Michael leads an army into battle:

1Q33 Col. xvii:7-8 (God) sends everlasting aid to the lot of his [co]venant by the power of the majestic angel for the sway of Michael in everlasting light,7 to illuminate with joy the covenant of Israel, peace and blessing to God’s lot, to exalt the sway of Michael above all the gods, and the dominion of 8 Israel over all flesh.

If Melchizedek is Michael in 11QMelch (Vermes, Dead Sea Scrolls, 300), then this angelic figure will “carry out the vengeance of Go[d’s] judgments, [and on that day he will fr]e[e them from the hand of] Belial and from the hand of all the sp[irits of his lot]” (11Q13 Col. ii:13). The text is fragmentary, but there is certainly a war between the angelic Melchizedek and the demonic Belial prior to the day of peace predicted by Isaiah 52:7 (line 15) and a coming anointed prince anticipated in Daniel 9:25 (line 18). In fact, line 25 says “Melchizedek, who will fr]e[e them from the ha]nd of Belial.”

The war in heaven results in the dragon being thrown down to the earth (Rev 12:7-9) and immediately John hears a loud voice in heaven announcing, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come” (12:10). Like the seventh trumpet, Revelation 12:10 announces the arrival of God’s kingdom.

Escape to the Wilderness – Revelation 12: 5-6

After the woman clothed in the sun gives birth to the male child, she escapes into the wilderness where she is protected for a period of 1260 days. The interpretation of the escape into the wilderness depends on the identity of the woman.

The child is obviously the messiah. Several messianic texts converge here. First, the child is the “seed of the woman” from Genesis 3:15. Second, Isaiah 66:7 has similar language, “Before she was in labor, she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son.” Third, that the child is destined to rule the nations with a rod of iron alludes to Psalm 2:9. John already quoted this messianic Psalm in 2:27 and will again in 19:15 with reference to the coming of the messiah ruling over the nations.

Following the Septuagint of Psalm 2:9, all three occurrences in Revelation use the verb shepherd, ποιμαίνω, rather than rule. A rod (ῥάβδος) refers to a staff or scepter, but here it is likely a shepherd’s staff. Micah 7:14, for example, refers to the Lord shepherding his people with his staff. This passage looks forward to the eschatological age when the Lord would rule over his people as a shepherd cares for is flock. Ezekiel 37:24 looks forward to a tome of peace and prosperity when a future David will shepherd God’s people.

Greg Beale draws attention to a “conceptual parallel” in 1QH 3.7-12. The author of 1QHodayot describes his distress as “like a woman giving birth the first time when her labor-pains come on her.” She “gives birth to a male,” a child who is free from the breakers of death. Then the author alludes to Isaiah 9:5-6, describing the child as “a wonderful counsellor with his strength.” This is in contrast to “she who is pregnant with a serpent.” It is possible this contrast alludes to Genesis 3:15, the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Beale suggests the text referred to the origin of the Community or (less likely) the birth of the Teacher of Righteousness. By line 22 the psalm seems to refer to entrance into the Community, “the host of the holy ones, and can enter in communion with the congregation of the sons of heaven.” (Text from Martı́nez and Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition (translations) (Leiden: Brill, 1997–1998).

The child is caught up to “God and his throne.” The sequence of sentences does not make it clear this catching up into heaven represents rescue from the dragon. If the child represents Jesus, it is very strange his death on the cross and resurrection is omitted from the imagery. In Revelation 5 John described Jesus as a lamb that had been slain. But here the vision jumps from the birth to the ascension.

After the child has been snatched away from the dragon, the woman flees into the wilderness. If the woman is Israel, then there is an allusion here to Israel’s experience in the wilderness. In the Old Testament, the wilderness is sometimes a positive experience and at other times the result of judgment. Mauser points out that it is in the wilderness that God reveals his name and his law, beginning the religions life of Israel (Christ in the Wilderness, 29). He finds the three major elements of Israel’s theology initiated in the wilderness: covenant and law, election, and rebellion. The Covenant is established at Sinai, confirming Israel’s election. Immediately, however, there is rebellion against God in the golden calf incident. But the focus here is on the wilderness as protection, just as Elijah was protected and nourished in the wilderness for three years, so too will God’s people be protected and nourished for a similar period of time.

Adele Yarbro Collins argues Revelation 12 was originally composed in a Jewish context rather than Christian. She points writer emphasizes the birth of the male child rather than the death (as expected in a Christian apocalypse). God rescues the child from the dragon after he is born (Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation, 105-6). Reading Revelation 12 in a Jewish context would take the woman as Israel (mother Zion of Isaiah 54) and avoids the problematic interpretation of the woman as the church (since the church did not “give birth” to Jesus).

If this is a Jewish apocalyptic fragment, where did it come from? Massyngberde-Ford suggested disciples of John the Baptist reworked and interpreted his apocalypse (Rev 4-11). She argues the flight into the wilderness occurred in the forties A.D. when the “mad Emperor” Gaius demanded his statue be placed in the Temple. This would have been interpreted as the “abomination that causes desolation” and prompted faithful Jewish-Christians to flee Jerusalem.

Although Massyngberde-Ford’s suggestion is intriguing, it has not convinced many. But could Revelation 12:5-6 be a highly creative re-working of Jesus’s warning in Mark 13:14-20? In his apocalyptic discourse, Jesus warned his followers to flee Jerusalem when they see an abomination which causes desolation. There are differences. Jesus tells “those who are in Judea” to flee to the mountains immediately. Revelation 12 indicates only the woman fled into the wilderness. If the woman represents Israel, then (perhaps) the flight to the wilderness is similar to the Judeans fleeing the Romans beginning in AD 66.

40 Questions Series for Logos Bible Software

Logos often runs pre-publication sales on books. This helps them gauge interest and offers the user a bit of a discount.When they gather enough interest, they put the books into production and the user is charged when the resources ship. They give you a heads-up email before you are charged, and the day they are released they are added to your library.

In this case, they are offering four recent additions to Kregel’s 40 Questions series for 25% off. Click the title to read my review of three of the four volumes in this pre-pub collection.

So that $60 for just under 1500 pages of Q&A on these important topics. The price goes up when the books are released, so act soon if you want these resources for your Logos library.

Here are a few more deals from Logos Bible Software and Eerdmans books that expire at the end of May:

You need to have Logos Bible Software to use these resources.  As always, there are less expensive paths to upgrading that will keep you from mortgaging your home. At the very least, download the free Logos Basic or the $79 Logos 8 Fundamentals. Use the coupon code PARTNEROFFER8 to save on base packages. You can also read these books via the free iOS app. The free (or almost free) from Eerdmans end on May 31, 2020.

The Dragon and the Stars – Revelation 12:3-4

In Revelation 12:3-4 a “great red dragon” sweeps a third of the stars of heaven down to earth with his tail. Since Revelation 12:9 identifies the red dragon as Satan and the male child is Jesus, is there a real, historical event John has in mind when he says the dragon swept a third of the stars from heaven?

Seven Headed Dragon Joachim of Fiore

For some writers, Revelation 12:3-4 is a reference to the fall of Satan. At some point before the fall of humans in the Garden of Eden, Satan himself rebelled against God and deceived one third of the angels to join him in this rebellion. In order to support this origin of Satan, Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:11-19 are read as allusions to the fall of Satan. Michael Heiser argues there are clear parallels between Genesis 3 and these two passages (Demons, 68-70. Heiser does not think Revelation 12:3-4 refers to the primordial fall of Satan, p. 245).

For some (usually conservative) commentators, Revelation 12 looks back at this satanic rebellion. For example, Robert Thomas said this “must refer to angels who fell with Satan in past history” (Revelation 8-22, 124). Lenski observed the clear allusion to Daniel 8:10 and drew an analogy to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who threw down some of the stars from heaven and trampled them on the ground, and Satan, who threw down a third of God’s stars” (Lenski, Revelation, 366; cf., Patterson Revelation NAC, 263). Most who see Revelation 12:3-4 as a reference to the fall of Satan cite Jude 6 as a parallel text, “the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling.”

If the sweeping away of a third of the stars is the fall of Satan and the stars are the angels deceived by Satan, then perhaps there is a parallel to the Book of the Watchers, 1 Enoch 6-11. In this detailed expansion of the biblical story of the flood, two hundred angels take an oath to descend to Mt Hermon, find women to marry and have children with them. Michael and the other archangels hear the cries of the humans and respond in a prayer to God himself. The archangels point out to God the activities of Azazel and they blame him for teaching humans the “eternal secrets.” However, there is nothing in 1 Enoch which describes the leader of the rebellion as a dragon and there is nothing to indicate the wicked angels are “one third” of the angels.

There are problems with the interpretation of Revelation 12:3-4 as referring to the fall of Satan. The woman was pregnant and about to give birth to the male child (presumably Jesus, v. 2, 5) prior to the second sign, the great rea dragon who seeps away a third of the stars from heaven and flings them to the earth (v. 3-4). War does not break out in heaven until after the child is born and is snatched up to heaven (presumably the ascension). The chronology is confused, although that may not be convincing since Revelation 12 is a highly symbolic description of history.

More troubling for those who want this text to refer to a pre-Edenic fall of Satan is the lack of evidence for the kind of rebellion against God assumed in most descriptions of the fall of Satan. Even if Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 are admitted as evidence for an angelic rebellion against God, there is nothing in either passage to support one-third of the angels falling along with the rebel, nor do either of those passages make a clear connection to Satan as the leader of an demonic horde. In fact, the idea that demons are the angels who fell with Satan is built on a number of assumptions built up over centuries of myth-building rather than solid textual / biblical evidence.

If the sweeping of one third of the stars from heaven to earth does not refer to the original fall of Satan, then it may allude to the activity of the little horn in Daniel 8:10. This little horn grew great, “even to the host of heaven” and “even as great as the Prince of the host” (v. 11). When it became great, it threw down some of the stars to the ground and trampled on them.

In the context of Daniel 8, the starry host refers to Antiochus’s attacks on the Jewish people,  beginning with the assassination of Onias III in 170, the sacking of the temple in 169, and the general persecution of Jews in the period which follows (see also 1 Maccabees 1:41-64; 2 Maccabees 6:1-5). “Antiochus’ hurling them down to earth and trampling them is symbolic of what he did to the Jewish people” (J. Paul Tanner, Daniel, EEC, 491). Tanner also points out Alexander brutally trampled the Persians in 8:7, using the same word as verse 10. Alexander certainly did not trample angels, so in the context of Daniel 8 this host refers to those slaughtered by Antiochus.

There are other Second temple texts which use stars to represent righteous people. 1 Enoch 43.4 identifies stars in heaven as “the holy ones who dwell upon the earth and believe in the name of the Lord of the Spirits forever and ever.” 2 Maccabees 9:10 describes Antiochus as thinking “thought that he could touch the stars of heaven,” which could be hyperbole but likely refers to the righteous in the context of 2 Maccabees.

If John alludes to Daniel 8 here, then sweeping of the stars from heaven to earth is another reference to the war of the beast against God’s people (11:7; 13:7). This war against God’s people is a main theme of the second half of Revelation, culminating in the ultimate battle at Armageddon (16:16, 19:11-21). As Beale concludes, “Though Dan. 8:10 first had application to Antiochus, John now applies it in an escalated way to the devilish power behind Antiochus” (Revelation, 636). Just as Satan was the power behind the Seleucids in the past and the power behind Rome in the present, he will be the power behind the ultimate enemy of God in the future.