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In Revelation, the book can be divided into two or three parts with different genres:

  • Chapter 1 - Prologue
  • Chapter 2 to 3 - Epistles
  • Remainder - Apocalyptic Prophecy

Do any scholars posit that the letters to the 7 churches are from a different source (or sources) than the following prophecy? If so, how widespread is this view, what are the arguments and evidence offered for or against this theory, what date(s) are offered for redaction of the final text, and to whom is the authorship of the prologue attributed (the author of the epistles, the author of the prophecy, or the redactor)?

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  • I've seen a handful of redactive models proposed. The mildest one suggested 1.4-3.22 was an interpolation in order to make the book into an encyclical. The next step up was a suggestion that all 'Christian' things were interpolations (e.g. references to Jesus or the Lamb). The most radical suggestion I've seen was that the original book consisted of 1.1-3 and 4-11, with most or all of 12-22 being a later addition. In my readings, I've not seen any of these receive serious academic attention, just that the book may have been a multi-decade 'process' by a single author.
    – user2910
    Jun 12 '17 at 16:17
  • This doesn't directly answer your question, but there is a treasure trove of information on the manuscript history of Revelation in this Ph.D. thesis by Orthodox Bible scholar Eugenia Constantinou. I looked through the text and can't find anything that addresses your question, but perhaps you will find some of her work and/or her bibliography interesting.
    – user33515
    Jun 15 '17 at 18:31
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I am not aware of any scholar who sees the seven churches are a separate document that was integrated into the book of Revelation. Furthermore, the letters to the seven churches are not a separate genre in the book of Revelation but is integral to the book of Revelation. For example the first three churches form an inverted parallel with Rev 13:1-18.

The 5th, 6th, and 7th church has their own integrated story line when read side by side with their respective judgments (eg. 5th church, 5th seal, 5th trumpet, and 5th bowl). The seven churches are also connected to the seven seals via an offset parallel.

From a source-critical perspective most of the letters can be shown to be derived from a Hebrew Scripture source. The most obvious comparisons are:

  • Church of Philadelphia (Rev 3:7-13) is derived from Isa 22:20-25.
  • Church of Laodicea (Rev 3:17-20) is derived from Isa 23:18.

Unfortunately, the other 5 churches are a bit more complex to show their Hebrew Scripture sources.

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  • Welcome to the Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange. We are glad you are here! Please take a moment to take the site tour and review some of our guidelines for participants and our FAQs. These are good insights, but i'm afraid it's clear that the letters to the churches are Epistles while the remaining is Apocalyptic lit. That doesn't necessarily mean different authorship. Lots of books contain more than one genre or style of writing. Jul 29 '17 at 15:25
  • These insights are good and the parallelisms are solid evidence in favor of shared authorship, but on the other hand, it's not for an author to integrate another's work and then parallel that work - even making it central to that work. But a very helpful post nonetheless. Jul 29 '17 at 15:29

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