Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Book Notice: Baker Books on Revelation and Apocalyptic Thought

Baker has a couple of cool books out on Revelation and Apocalyptic thought:

James L Resseguie
The Revelation of John: A Narrative Commentary
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2009.
Available at Amazon.com.

Resseguie opens with a primer on narrative analysis and examines John's usage of metaphors [my NT101 students might find that useful for their essay], verbal threads, chiasms, inclusios, two-step progressions, and other rhetorical devices like use of numbers, geography, etc. The book proceeds chapter by chapter on Revelation providing a narrative over view and description rather than a verse by verse commentary. He treats John as an organic and unified narrative (e.g., the issues facing the churches in Revelation 2-3 are developed and elaborated in Revelation 13 and 17). Resseguie also focuses on the literary and theological complexities of the text. He comments on Rev 20:4-6, "Throughout the Apocalypse the call to endure, persevere, and hold fast to the faith of Jesus is embedded with narratives of distress (e.g., 13:10; 14:12). Christians have lost their lives because they have held fast to the faith of Jesus (6:10), and from a below point of view the beast appears to be victorious. But from an above point of view God's are vindicated adn the martyrs are victorious. This is the meaning of the millennium" (pp. 245-46). This is a good book and would a good counter-point to a source critical book on Revelation like David Aune's.

Robert J. Daley, SJ (editor)
Apocalyptic Thought in Early Christianity
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2009.
Available via Amazon.com.

This volume in the Holy Cross Studies in Patristic Theology and History Series, explores how early Christian understandings of apocalyptic writings and teachings are reflected in the theology, social practices and institutions of the early church. The highlight for me wasBernard McGinn's piece on "Turning Points in Early Christian Apocalypse Exegesis" where he notes ambivalence towards the Book of Revelation by many groups (eastern churches thought it flirted with Montanism and Marcionites considered it a Jewish book). A critical turn comes with Hippolytus as his christological and ecclesiological reading of Revelation 12, i.e. he read it about the present and not about the future, became the baseline of "orthodox" readings of the Apocalypse. Brian Daley also thinks that the Apocalypse ceased to be read as "a revelation of unknown things to come [and more as] an affirmation of the victory of Christ and a representation of the life of the church, his body, in its present time of struggle".

1 comment:

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