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Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
Emory Women Writers Resource Project

The Revelation of Jesus Christ by Anne Wentworth, an electronic edition. Edited with an introduction by Vickie Taft

by Anne Wentworth [Wentworth, Anne]

date: 1679
source publisher:
collection: Early Modern through the 18th Century

Table of Contents

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Wentworth's Goal in The Revelation

By employing validatory discourses like "holy violence" and "personal weakness,"Wentworth hoped to convince her audience of the validity of her apocalyptic prophesying. However, the question remains as to why she wanted her audience to believe that the Second Coming was imminent. Did she hope to save "Babylon" from God's destructive wrath by convincing its sinners to repent? Did she hope to hasten Christ's Second Coming by encouraging His followers to engage in some sort of militant action, as Fifth Monarchist prophets did? Or, did she write The Revelation simply to vindicate her prophetic activities and to vilify her persecutors? Clearly, The Revelation is vindicatory and vilificatory rather than militant or reformative. Wentworth never calls for any specific social action therein or suggests that the Apocalypse can either be halted or hastened.
Unlike Wentworth, seventeenth-century male prophets usually called for some sort of specific action in their writings (Matchinske 357-58). According to Megan Matchinske in "Holy Hatred: Formations of the Gendered Subject in English Apocalyptic Writing, 1625-51," this action was often targeted against "highly visible opponents" such as the Pope, King, or Anglican Church (Matchinske 363). Using the example of Lady Eleanor Davies, Matchinske suggests that there may have been gender-specific reasons why a seventeenth-century woman prophet would have inundated her text with vindicatory statements about herself and vilificatory statements about her personal enemies to the exclusion of any specific social calls for action:

Her [Davies'] texts demand justification at a personal level, in the righteousness of her own highly visible assumption of authority, and they disallow concerted action, this time at a social level. As a woman traditionally denied an active role in politics, religion, and economy, Davies writes prophecies that offer her readers two choices--belief or disbelief in her texts--and no legitimate forum for acting upon either. In affirming her status as an individual, she simultaneously undercuts the likelihood of a unified social response from her audience (Matchinske 361-brackets added).

In other words, according to Matchinske, Lady Eleanor Davies felt that she had to spend so much time justifying herself personally as a prophet that she never formulated any specific social program in her prophetic texts as did many of her male counterparts. Like Davies, Wentworth never moves beyond the language of personal vindication to engage in social discourse in The Revelation. In fact, Wentworth suggests that all that true Christians can do is await the Apocalypse when she narrates Christ saying, "And all those, that long to see this thing done, / Must patiently wait till I the Lord do come" (The Revelation 10, B3 verso).