Revelation resources -- Revelation and its history of interpretation

Most recent revision May 26th, 2002

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Description: This page presents works which treat the history of interpretation and points to some of the major commentaries which do have sections on this topic. To qualify for appearance here, the work must be either a detailed and scholarly discussion of one or more Revelation interpreters, or a (perhaps less) detailed and scholarly discussion of a number of Revelation interpreters and the relationships and developments between them, or a dicussion of other scholars' works on the history of interpretation. (27. december 1996 14:09:50)


Charles, R.H.: Studies in the Apocalypse. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1913 and 1915 (2. ed.)

Charles has abbreviated his presentation of the history of interpretation in his commentary and the full presentation is given here. (21. december 1996 13:59:29)

Hofmann, H.-U.: Luther und die Johannes-Apokalypse. Dargestellt im Rahmen der Auslegungsgeschichte des letzten Buches der Bibel und im Zusammenhang der theologischen Entwicklung des Reformators. (BGBE 24). Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1982.

This book is a rather extensive and detailed dissertational study (Habilitationsschrift) of Luther's use of the Book of Revelation. Although Luther's view on Revelation is often mentioned, few have read more than Luther's words on Revelation in his preface to his bible translation. Hofmann has investigated the actual uses of Revelation and located them into the history of interpretation and into the development of Luther's theology. This book should certainly be consulted with regard to Luther's understanding (or use) of Revelation. (10 Mar 1997)

Kretschmar, Georg: Die Offenbarung des Johannes. Die Geschichte ihrer Auslegung im 1. Jahrtausend. (Calwer Theologische Mongraphien, B9). Stuttgart: Calwer, 1985.

Kretschmar's book is not only a presentation of its history of interpretation throughout the first millennium, but also presents the author's view on introductory matters and its overall interpretation. This book is recommended. (21. december 1996 13:59:44)

Maier, G.: Die Johannesoffenbarung und die Kirche. (WUNT, 25). Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1981.

This book with more than 600 pages is one of the most profound studies of the history of interpretation of Revelation. It thesis is that the chiliastic interpretation is the correct one, and it follows the debate between chiliasts and anti-chiliasts throughout the history. The author is principal at Albrecht Bengel Haus in Tübingen and admires Bengel. As a book with a very broad presentation, you might disagree with a lot in this book (as I do personally), but there is no way to ignore it. (21. december 1996 13:59:52)

Mosbech, Holger: Fortolkningen af Johannes’ Aabenbaring i Fortid og Nutid. Gyldendalske Boghandel/Nordisk Forlag: København 1934.

Mosbech, professor in NT at the University of Copenhagen, wrote this masterpiece of learned presentation of the history of interpretation of Revelation. Although only 106 pages, Mosbech has managed to describe and explain the developments in the history of interpretation until 1934. Mosbech was a hitorical-critical scholar, and does not hide his views. Although he views the developments in clear evolutionary terms from worse to better ending with his own zeitgeschichtliche approach, few have managed to show how all interpreters are dependent on each others work, regardless of how much they claim otherwise. Unfortunately, this book has never been translated, so only the lucky people from Scandinavia (and other people capable of reading Scandinavian languages) can benefit from it. (21 Dec 1996)

Wainwright, Arthur W.: Mysterious Apocalypse: Interpreting the Book of Revelation

This very well-written and well researched book contains three parts, the first of which treats "The Millennium and History". It depends on first hand source studies and is easy to read in spite of the difficult subjects treated. Professor Wainwright treats the interpretations of Revelation throughout history in its relationship to general church history thereby facilitating understanding of the history of interpretation of Revelation. The two other parts of the book deal with Critical Approaches, and Revelation and Human Experience. There are six colour and two black and white illustrations supporting Wainwright's analysis of the use of Revelation in art. It is without doubt an excellent introduction, but I am quite sure that scholars famliar with the literature on Revelation will find much useful information in Wainwright's book. 293 pages, bibliography, indices and 35 pages with notes. (9 Nov 1997)

Commentaries etc.

Look at the commentaries by Bousset (1906); Loisy (1923); Swete (1906); Beckwith (1922); Charles; Zahn; Allo (1933, 4. ed.); Krodel (1989), and probably Thomas (1992 and 1995).

See also

Rose, Fr. Seraphim (trans.), and Averky Taushev: The Apocalypse: In the Teachings of Ancient Christianity. Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood: ???, 1996. ISBN 0938635670. Apparently available via

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© 1996-2001 Georg S. Adamsen Opdateret d. 26.5.2002