The Revelation of Jesus Christ by Anne Wentworth, an electronic edition. Edited with an introduction by Vickie Taft
- critical introduction
collection: Early Modern through the 18th Century
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Structurally, Wentworth's "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" consists of seventeen separate "revelations," which are diary-like entries in which she narrates Christ's different appearances and the prophetic, usually versified words He speaks to her about the imminent arrival of the Apocalypse. "The Revelation" lacks a plot structure in any traditional sense because no particular events, in fact, occur. Nor is there any sense of emotional or attitudinal progression to replace plot progression; both Christ and Wentworth appear equally denunciatory of sinners and admonitory about the coming of the Apocalypse in every revelation.
Though "The Revelation" may lack plot in a traditional sense, the dates of the entries indicate that the revelations may, in fact, have some correspondence with events in Wentworth's personal life. The dates of the entries, spanning September 6, 1677, to August 18, 1679, superficially appear to be erratic, with twelve out of the seventeen falling in the small time frame between March and August 1679. However, the anonymous author of the concluding material to "The Revelation" supplies information as to a rationale for the dates and their relationship to the events of Wentworth's life when he/she concludes the text by relating Wentworth's eviction from her house in Midsummer 1677, God's prophecy to Wentworth that she would be readmitted to it by Midsummer 1679, and her actual readmission to the house by the time of "The Revelation"'s publication after August 1679 ("The Revelation" 22, D1 verso). Though the anonymous author does not causally link the appearance of the revelations with Wentworth's period of eviction, he does implicitly say as much by concluding the text in this vein. The dates of the revelations do indeed correspond with Wentworth's period of eviction, as well as with her period of hiding from her husband after he threatened her and seized her writings. Moreover, the majority of these "revelations" occur during the climactic Summer of 1679 when she was expecting a vindicatory readmission to her home as Christ foretold. Though the anonymous author may want the reader to recognize the relationship between Wentworth's personal trauma and the appearance of the revelations as the consequent expression of Christ's anger over the abuse of His messenger, the more skeptical reader may simply read it as the consequent expression of Wentworth's personal distress. Whichever way one interprets this correspondence, it is clear that, though" The Revelation may lack plot in any traditional sense, its structure certainly bears some relationship to the events of Wentworth's life.