Archive for April 22nd, 2009

Commentaries on Revelation

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

I guess I lied; I’m back posting on Revelation. Having just finished a course on the book, I have a few recommendations for commentary reading:

1. For excellent historical and literary analysis mixed with equally excellent theological reflection, the winner by far is Mitchell Reddish’s commentary in the Smyth and Helwys series. Reddish is especially good at showing parallels in biblical and other ancient texts. A real bonus (and for me, a necessity in the study of Revelation) is his collection of sidebars and graphics (including art images) that highlight both historical and contemporary approaches to the interpretation of Revelation. A goldmine; I told Reddish it was a near-perfect commentary.

2. Also quite excellent–though more concise and without the graphics–is the new commentary by Ian Boxall in the Black’s series. Boxall has previously written on Revelation, and the commentary continues his very good work in combining historical, literary, and theological analysis. Very highly recommended.

3. David Aune’s three-volume, ultra-detailed, historical-critical commentary in the Word series (volume one here) has proven to be a very worthwhile read this term, though it takes patience to work through all the detail without much theological payoff.

4. Eugene Peterson’s theopoetic interpretation, Reversed Thunder, has been worth reading again (for about the tenth time) because he really allows Revelation to do what it’s intended to do: provoke the imagination and inspire worship.

5. Ben Witherington’s commentary in the New Cambridge series has some of the strengths of Reddish’s work but without the graphics and with less material on reception history. At times this commentary is hard to read because it does not deal with everything in the text sequentially, but his treatment of the social context (imperial cult, etc.) is very strong.

6. There are lots of other good commentaries (not to mention more general introductions), but these are currently my favorite. Finally, however, I note the commentary by Tim LaHaye, Revelation Unveiled, the commentary version of the “Left Behind” series. It’s worth reading just for that reason.

7. One last resource to mention: a very helpful set of tables on dozens of facets of Revelation can be found in Mark Wilson’s Charts on the Book of Revelation.

What volumes would you add to my list?


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