Revelation resources -- introductory matters

Most recent revision May 26th, 2002

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Description: This page treats the introdoctory matters of Revelation. To qualify for inclusion on this page, the work must be a scholarly treatment of introduction to Revelation in NT Introductions or elsewhere, perhaps as an article, or of the various topics normally treated in introductions. Included are also certain guides and general introductions to Revelation (20 Jan 1997)

General introductions

Brown, R. E. An Introduction to the New Testament. The Anchor Bible Reference Literature. New York: Doubleday, 1997.

The late Professor Brown's introduction is a well-written introduction (28 Dec 1998).

Court, John M.: Revelation. (New Testament Guides). Sheffield: JSOT (imprint of Sheffield Academic Press), 1994.

Court's 133 page guide contains five chapters containing an outline and five themes (Chapter 2), discussion of the genre (Chapter 3), discussion of the historical and social context (Chapter 4) and a treatment of its abiding theological Values and Doctrines (Chapter 5). Court is very familiar with Revelation scholarship (his own dissertation published 1979 (reference forthcoming) treating Myth and History in Revelation) and gives a excellent short bibliography including recommendations for further reading. Two indices of References and Authors end this book. This book is indeed a good guide to not only Revelation, but also Revelation scholarship. Needless to say, however, it cannot introduce all the areas of research. The guide is still in print. (20 Jan 1997 00:45).

Garrow, Alan J.P.: Revelation. (New Testament Readings). London & New York: Routledge, 1997.

Garrow's book is a refreshing reading of Revelation which was originally submitted as a M Phil thesis at Coventry University. His aim is to locate the "story" (the content of the scroll in Rev 5) in Revelation, i.e. to answer where and what the story is, using insights from film analysis (Chatman). Garrow especially draws attention to John's use of "foreshadodwing" and "suspense". Garrow is to be credited for this part of his book. His overall conclusions are that Revelation's story deals with a short reign for Domitian after Titus and Domitians defeat as well at the return of Christ with all the associated events, and that the reason why John told this story was to overturn some opponents who had competings views of the future. His means was to provide the true interpretation of the present state which decides the future. Thereby John made it clear that his opponents' arguments concerning the future were faulty. Some of these insights may be accepted, but too many unsubstantiated assumptions and claims invalidate his overall thesis. Firstly, Garrow argues that Revelation was designed to be read in six installments. The reason Garrow gives as to why it is necessary to propose this theory seems to be that Revelation is simply too long to be read during service because it takes about two hours to read aloud. This "problem" is not obvious, however. It remains an open question whether there is need for this solution at all. Secondly, his identification of the cliffhangers needed to identify the divisions between the various instalments is problematic and does not easily conform to any recognised analysis of Revelation's structure. This means that his structure and function analysis of the whole text of Revelation is based on problematic assumptions. I cannot accept, e.g., that 17:1-18 should be labelled "commentary on bowl judgments". Fourthly, I doubt that his dating of Revelation and its story (based on his previous conclusions) will find much support among Revelation scholars. However, although these critical remarks are serious with regard to Garrow's overall thesis, the book should be read because of its introduction of narratological analysis. Story analysis (or: narratological analysis or narrative poetics) may very well be very helpful. (4 Jan 1998)

See also my forthcoming review in Revelation Reviews

Guthrie, Donald: New Testament Introduction. Leicester, UK: Apollos; Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 1990 4. ed.

Guthrie's introduction which came in its fourth edition in 1990 discusses all issues of introductory questions and argues for the apostolic authorship of Revelation and a Domitianic date. Although updated a few years ago, this edition seems to be less informed by newer studies of Revelation, e.g., concerning structure and genre, than expected (by me, at least). Nevertheless, this is a readable and well-argued treatment. (30. december 1996 20:18:55)

Michaels, J. Ramsey: Interpreting the Book of Revelation. (Guides to New Testament Exegesis). Grand Rapids, MI, Baker, 1992.

This 150 page guide to (the interpretation of) Revelation has two parts: General Considerations (on genre, authorship, historical and social setting, and structure) and Specific Examples of Exegesis (Textual Criticism, Grammar and Style, Narrative Criticism, Tradition History (transformation of images) and theological interpretation). Footnotes give references to many useful books and articles on the topics discussed. The size of the book does not allow for extensive discussion and argumentation which perhaps is the most important weakness in this book. On the other hand, Michaels does discuss the problems and so introduces students to the debate and lets them continue on their own. This is perhaps the most important advantage in this book. I miss references to some important studies (among which may be mentioned the study of Mazzaferri, Genre, concerning the topic of genre (although it is mentioned later at p. 120 note 22) and to the many studies of the use of the Old Testament, although Michaels treats the topic in his 107-126 quite dependent on Caird). Finally, Michael's claim that "there is no particular awareness in Revelation of the church in the universal sense of Ephesians or Colossians" (p. 133) seems to me to be unfounded and in fact contrary to his own discussion of the theology of Revelation. A select bibliography (too short, unfortunately) concludes the book. Michaels writes in a easy to read and clear manner, making this book a suitable starting point for students. This guide is highly recommended not for what it does not say, but for what it does say.

Vielhauer, Philipp: Geschichte der urchristlichen Literatur. Einleitung in das Neue Testament, die Apokryphen und die Apostolischen Všter. Berlin; New York: de Gruyter, 1975 (1st ed.) and 1978 (2nd revised ed).

Vielhauers fourth chapter on "Apokalypsen", pp. 485 - 528 and concerning Revelation, pp. 494 - 507 is still a classical treatment.


The date of Revelation

Gentry, Kenneth L., Jr.: Before Jerusalem Fell. Dating the Book of Revelation. Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989. Repr. 1997.

Dr. Gentry's dissertation (now available in the second printing is a very detailed study of the problem of dating Revelation. Dr. Gentry argues that the late, Domitianic dating is wrong and that an early dating should be preferred. He then proposes that the coming of Christ described in Revelation did in fact take place, viz. when Jerusalem fell. (5 Oct 1997).

For a detailed review, see R.L. Thomas: "Theonomy and the Dating of Revelation" in: TMSJ 5/2 (Fall 1994) 185-202. (5 Oct 1997).

© Dr. Georg S. Adamsen, The Lutheran School of Theology in Aarhus 1996-2002

Opdateret d. 16.2.2003