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Pastor’s Bookshelf: Revelation of John

JohnApostle.jpgYou can get folks to roll their eyes just mentioning the Book of Revelation, and mostly they do this because of the utter silliness of so much that is said and believed about the book these days — and, yes, that is a comment about the left behind series and similar observations. The Book of Revelation has been subjected to the highest level of serious scholarship, and I mention five really good commentaries, but before I mention that, here’s a good book on how the Revelation works:

David DeSilva, Seeing Things John’s Way: The Rhetoric of the Book of Revelation
Now commentaries:
The most extensive, historically-oriented, but theologically disinterested commentary on Revelation is the three-volume set by D. Aune, Revelation 1-5 (Word Biblical Commentary 52a)
At the other end of the spectrum because it always has its eye on the church and on the preacher and on theology, see G. Osborne, Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)
A readable commentary by a life-time scholar on John’s writing is S. Smalley, The Revelation to John: A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Apocalypse
This commentary took evangelicals away from silly speculation to a more serious interaction with the text of Revelation is R. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament)
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posted October 28, 2009 at 2:52 pm

I would wholeheartedly agree with your list and comments, and would then add . . .
1. Mitchell Reddish, ‘Revelation’ (Smyth & Helwys). I teach an undergrad on Revelation and am trying out this book for the first time. It is quite a good textbook for such a purpose (well-written and engaging; sidebars filled with background, culture, maps, and pithy quotes; application sections for each chapter; and a solid evangelical approach to Revelation). Also, it comes with the entire text (and a few extras) in pdf format with a CDROM included in the book.
2. Craig Koester, ‘Revelation and the End of All Things’ (Eerdmans). A great introduction to Revelation which has some unique approaches to some of the theology. One of the strengths of the book is its sensitivities to the impact of the hermeneutical task and the role of the church.
3. Richard Bauckham, ‘The Theology of the Book of Revelation’ (Cambridge). While technically not a commentary, it is simply brilliant and should be required reading.

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posted October 28, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Thank you so much for putting together this list. It has been extremely helpful to gain perspective on good commentaries from outside my immediate circle of friends and co-workers.

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Tim Hallman

posted October 28, 2009 at 3:24 pm

G.B. Caird and The Revelation of St. John the Divine was really insightful and helpful.

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Derek Leman

posted October 28, 2009 at 3:32 pm

I have read several of these commentaries and have put a lot of time in on Revelation. Osborne’s is pretty solid. But it suffers from a problem that most others suffer from as well: not seeing Israel in Revelation.
I have written some articles about the theme of Israel in Revelation and how the promises to Israel are understood to be in the background as Revelation largely expands the OT promises to include the nations (the church). Interpreting Revelation in context means seeing that the kingdom promises to Israel are understood to be in the background. Osborne doesn’t do this well. The commentaries that take Israel’s place in Rev seriously tend to be dispensationalist and that brings its own problems.
The subject of Israel in Revelation is, I think, fascinating and would really open a lot of people’s minds if they considered the issue. I believe the whole turning point occurs in 11:13 when Jerusalem turns to God in crisis. There is a lot more I could say. But to not see the 144,000 as being about Israel and not to see the multitude with palm branches as Gentiles keeping Tabernacles a la Zech 14:16-17 is tragic.
Derek Leman

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Winn Collier

posted October 28, 2009 at 3:43 pm

I actually just purchased Bauckham’s, “The Theology of the Book of Revelation” (Cambridge) this morning. It looks great.

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Erika Haub

posted October 28, 2009 at 4:23 pm

I definitely echo the Bauckham recommendation. I love that book!

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Andy Croel

posted October 28, 2009 at 4:36 pm

I’ve been doing a lot of work out of Revelation this fall for my church and I have several commentaries I’ve worked from. I have been very pleasantly surprised by the number of helpful commentaries available.
The Bauckham book (Theology) is great. I also really have appreciated the Beale commentary, it has tremendous insights and the Old Testament background for it is very helpful. Another commentary that hasn’t been mentioned yet is Craig Koester’s “Revelation and the End of All Things.” It’s very insightful and accessible.

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Andy Croel

posted October 28, 2009 at 4:40 pm

I didn’t see that the first comment mentioned Koester – making my list completely unoriginal. They’re great books though.

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posted October 28, 2009 at 4:58 pm

For those who might be a little timid in trying to step into the world Revelation study I recommend Discipleship On the Edge by Darrell Johnson out of Regent (Vancouver).
It’s a great walk through a potentially daunting piece of scripture.

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posted October 28, 2009 at 5:30 pm

REVERSED THUNDER by Eugene Peterson . . . one of the best things I’ve ever read on Revelations (though not a formal commentary)

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Ed Gentry

posted October 28, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Probably my favorite is Darrell Johnson’s Discipleship on the Edge

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posted October 28, 2009 at 8:55 pm

Gearing up right now to do a Sunday School class on the Revelation.
I’m a big fan of Craig Keener’s commentary… and even though I’m not a reformed guy, I thought Riddlebarger’s A Case for Amillenealism was really good. Marva Dawn also has a wonderful book that examines some of the themes in the Revelation from the standpoint of those who suffer.

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posted October 28, 2009 at 9:42 pm

As a related work, perhaps it would be best for this generation of interpreters to read Barbara Rossing’s ‘The Rapture Exposed’ (Basic Books) when dealing in this area.

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Bob Smallman

posted October 28, 2009 at 9:56 pm

William Hendriksen’s “More Than Conquerors” is quite dated, quirky, and opinionated; but if you can manage to overlook those qualities (!), it provides a nice introduction to an amillennial interpretation of Revelation. I also appreciated Rossing’s correction to some of the weird stuff one comes across, and especially liked her comments on “Lamb power.”

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Ethan Magness

posted October 28, 2009 at 10:54 pm

Hey Derek,
I think you are right about finding Israel in Revelation.
Maybe you can call your work the New Perspective on Revelation.

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posted October 29, 2009 at 10:16 am

Barbara Rossing- Raptured Exposed: The Message of Hope in the book of Revelation
Craig Koester- Revelation and the End of All Things
Both of these are out…stand…ing!

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Matt Dabbs

posted October 29, 2009 at 11:12 am

How about Mitchell Reddish’s commentary? It is quite good and comes with a CD with the text in pdf you can search. It is in the Smith and Helwys series.

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posted October 30, 2009 at 10:37 pm

Aaaaaaaand . . . one that hit my desk a couple of weeks ago but which I just read today (10/30):
James L. Resseguie, ‘The Revelation of John: A Narrative Commentary’ (Baker, 2009) was quite outstanding in reading through the book. He has good insights and interacts with a good amount of scholarship on Revelation but doesn’t get distracted by the details. (In other words, helps reveal the forest from among the trees.)

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