Archive for the ‘Revelation’ Category

Upcoming Lectures on Revelation in North Carolina

Friday, February 21st, 2014

My former colleague Chris Skinner, now at the University of Mount Olive in Mount Olive, North Carolina, has arranged an invitation for me to deliver the Harrison Lectures there on Monday and Tuesday, March 10-11, The topic will be “Reading Revelation Responsibly.” There will be one illustrated lecture at 7 pm Monday and another at 9 am Tuesday, followed by a homily in chapel at 11 am. The talks are based on my book of the same name. More information is here.

I always look forward to these kinds of events with students, faculty, and local clergy, and I’m grateful to Chris.

A New Essay in a New Book on Revelation

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

In September 2010 I was part of an international symposium on the book of Revelation held at Duke University. The papers from that very stimulating event are about to be published (July 15) in a volume from Baylor University Press entitled Revelation and the Politics of Apocalyptic Interpretation, edited by Richard B. Hays and Stefan Alkier.

The table of contents follows:

1 What Has the Spirit Been Saying? Theological and Hermeneutical Reflections on the Reception/Impact History of the Book of Revelation (me)

2 Models for Intertextual Interpretation of Revelation (Steve Moyise)

3 The Reception of Daniel 7 in the Revelation of John (Thomas Hieke)

4 Faithful Witness, Alpha and Omega: The Identity of Jesus in the Apocalypse of John (Richard Hays)

5 God, Israel, and Ecclesia in the Apocalypse (Joseph Mangina)

6 Revelation and Christian Hope: Political Implications of the Revelation to John (N. T. Wright)

7 Witness or Warrior? How the Book of Revelation Can Help Christians Live Their Political Lives (Stefan Alkier)

8 The Apocalypse in the Framework of the Canon (Tobias Nicklas)

9 Reading What Is Written in the Book of Life: Theological Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Today (Marianne Meye Thompson)

The book blurbs follow:

“For many Revelation has effectively been decanonized—mostly little read and even less understood. This fine collection ventures into intertextual, canonical, theological, and political readings of the book that advance theological reflection on the significance of Revelation for today.”

—Joel B. Green, Professor of New Testament Interpretation & Associate Dean for the Center for Advanced Theological Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary

“A splendid collection. This volume will help both the seasoned and the skittish interpret Revelation within its canonical context, and thereby move the academy and the church within hearing distance of apocalyptic texts in the gospels and epistles.”

—Eugene Boring, I. Wylie Briscoe Professor of New Testament, Emeritus, Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University

If you are interested in Revelation, you will want to get this book, along (I would suggest) with Reading Revelation Responsibly (a bit lighter reading!).

Revelation, Civil Religion, and Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

I am assisting my pastor in a series of sermons on the messages to the churches in Revelation in connection with the lectionary reading from Mark for the day. So far it’s been a fascinating intertextual experience!

Last Sunday I preached on the message to the church in Smyrna:

8“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the first and the last, who was dead and came to life: 9“I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich. I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Whoever conquers will not be harmed by the second death.


My main point was that in order to be ready to suffer faithfully, this church had escaped the temptations of the two cousins Moralistic Therapeutic Deism and Civil Religion. The former was documented as the religion of most American teens (and, I would suggest, adults) by Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton in their 2005 book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. Of course I had to show how a form of this disease already existed in the first century in the sacrificial systems meant to keep the gods blessing us with fertility, prosperity etc. As for civil religion, that was the imperial cult.

In any event, the sermon was a sermon, not a lecture. But I think I was successful in helping people see the the gods and narratives that these ultimately non-Christian “spiritualities” depend on and embody:

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism
There is a god who created the world, looks down on us from heaven with a smile, wants to bless us, wants us to be good to ourselves and kind to others, is there for us when we are in a jam, and promises us a place in heaven if we are good.

Civil Religion
There is a god who created the world, looks down on our country (fill in the blank) with a big smile, has blessed us more than any other nation, thinks our values are his values, wants to expand our influence around the world, wants us to be good to our friends but helps us defeat our enemies, and expects us to love our country as a way of loving God.

Revelation is a manifesto against TMD and Civil Religion.

Upcoming at the 2011 SBL

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Well, the annual SBL (Society of Biblical Literature) meeting is just around the corner, together with AAR and preceded by ETS and IBR. Inquiring minds may (or may not) want to know what I’ll be up to, so here are a few things, with boldfaced type indicating sessions in which I have an official role:

1. I will be present at the first session of the GOCN Missional Hermeneutics Forum (of which I am on the steering committee), with a great program on reading the parables missionally, including a response to the papers from my friend and parables-expert Klyne Snodgrass. This will take place on Saturday, Nov. 19 from 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM in Golden Gate 6 – Hilton Union Square.

2. I will also attend the first session of the Theological Hermeneutics of Christian Scripture group (which I chair), which will have a great session on Reading [the book of] Revelation as Christian Scripture on Sunday, Nov. 20, from 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM in room 3004 of the Convention Center.

3. Sunday, Nov. 20, 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM in Golden Gate 8 – Hilton Union Square: A book review session on my book Reading Revelation Responsibly, sponsored by the GOCN Missional Hermeneutics Forum. This should be very fun and interesting, with responses from missiologist Darrell Guder of Princeton Theological Seminary, theologian John R. Franke, and NT scholars Jim Brownson of Western Theological Seminary and Sylvia Keesmaat of Trinity College in Toronto.

4. Monday, Nov. 21, 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM in Golden Gate A – Marriott Marquis: Theological Hermeneutics of Christian Scripture Group session on “Theological Interpretation and Jesus-Studies.” This session will explore the significance of two recent attempts at identifying Jesus: Beverly Roberts Gaventa and Richard B. Hays, eds., Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage (Eerdmans, 2008); and Darrell L. Bock and Robert L. Webb, eds., Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence (Eerdmans, 2010).

I will be presiding, with reviews from Michael Bird of Crossway College, Amy Plantinga Pauw of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Murray Rae of the University of Otago, Panelist, and Rob Wall of Seattle Pacific University. Respondents will be the editors of the two volumes.

In addition to these sessions, I hope to hear my former Duke doctoral student Presian Burroughs give a paper on Romans 8 on Saturday morning at the Ecological Hermeneutics session, and I hope to attend the various sessions of the 2 Corinthians unit, in part because they look great and in part because I am now preparing to write my Two Horizons commentary on that letter.

Most importantly, I look forward to meeting up with old friends and with publishers. Oh–and it won’t be bad to be in San Francisco!

See some of you there!

Take me Out to the (Civil-Religion Affair) at the Ballgame

Monday, October 24th, 2011

I grew up playing baseball and watching the Orioles, both on TV and at the ballpark. I used to be an avid fan, though recently I only go to games on special occasions, and I almost never watch baseball on TV. For years I have avoided the national anthem by making a pre-game trek to the men’s room or concession stand.

Last night I watched a few minutes of the World Series game as the top of the 7th became the seventh-inning stretch. The announcer invited everyone to stand for the singing of “God Bless America” in honor of “our men and women in the armed forces at home and around the world.” A female master sergeant proceeded to offer a heartfelt rendition of the song.

Which “god” is this song about? In this context at least, it is a fictitious deity made in the image of American power and prowess. I understand why the average American wants a god made in the image of the United States and dedicated to its protection and blessing. But why are Christians also so enamored with this fictitious deity?

The God revealed in Jesus Christ is not interested in blessing America or Americans any more than any other nation or individuals. Even more importantly, the God revealed in Jesus Christ has absolutely no interest in blessing the American military machine or furthering American military interests around the world. Quite the contrary, in fact.

Sports have their place in any culture. But they can become, and in the U.S. have become, another arm of nationalistic and even militaristic propaganda. The book of Revelation might counsel us to be wary, and even to “come out.”

Recent Publications

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

For those who might be interested:

  • The kindle version of Reading Revelation Responsibly is now available.
  • My article “Romans: The First Christian Treatise on Theosis” is out in the Spring 2011 issue of Journal of Theological Interpretation.
  • Another article, “Effecting the New Covenant: A (Not so) New, New Testament Model for the Atonement,” has just appeared in the 2011 issue of Ex Auditu. (For earlier discussion of it, see here and here.)

Good-bye, Away in a Manger and the Hallelujah Chorus (the latter at least at Christmas)

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Brian Gorman (yes, he’s related) has a fine post about some of the church’s theologically poor and misleading Christmas music, above all “Away in a Manger” (sorry, kids) here.

I will add my two-cents about the Hallelujah Chorus, which seems to be gaining in popularity, at least in shopping malls. While there’s lots to sing about and shout Hallelujah about at Christmas, Handel’s “Christmas Part” (part I) of his oratorio Messiah does not end with the Hallelujah Chorus. Handel and his collaborator Charles Jennens knew better. The Hallelujah Chorus, derived from Revelation 19:6,16 and 11:15, concludes part 2 of Messiah‘s three parts. It celebrates the victory and reign of God/the Lamb, the defeat of evil and emperor, the reality that God alone is and always will be Lord, and the fact that we know this God in the self-revelation of the Lamb who was slain and who triumphs, by his word, over all God’s enemies.

Can we sing that in Advent and at Christmas? Of course. Jesus’ birth demonstrates and foreshadows some of those Revelation themes. But I doubt most people sing it for that reason (actually, I’m not sure why hey sing it, apart from the one word “Hallelujah”), and I doubt, liturgically, narratively, and theologically that now is the best time to sing it. The end of part two of Messiah celebrates the Lordship of God, over against all false claimants to the throne of the universe, that is manifested in the victory of cross, resurrection, and ascension.

Let’s wait a few months to sing Hallelujah.

The Date of the Second Coming, Etc.

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

In case you were wondering, here it supposedly is (actually more than one date), courtesy of Harold Camping’s ministry. HT Trey for the link.

The Cover Image

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

And the link to the book once again.

“Reading Revelation Responsibly” is Out

Monday, November 8th, 2010

The good folks at Wipf and Stock/Cascade have miraculously turned my book around in record time. I got copies today for a talk and book signing this Friday. Here is the link to look at and order it. It is available now at 20% off, though Wipf and Stock may soon do a 40%-off email coupon to its regular subscribers. The official publication date is 2011, so don’t expect to see it on Amazon, etc. until some time in December.

The key to this book is the subtitle: Uncivil Worship and Witness: Following the Lamb into the New Creation.

I would post a photo of the beautiful cover here, but, alas, I can’t get images to work in WordPress, so you will have to go to the site.

If you are in the Baltimore-DC area, come out to St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore Friday evening at 7 p.m. More information is here.

BTW, the info about me on the Wipf and Stock web site is 9 years old, so it is about to be updated.


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