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Revelation (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries) Paperback – March 1, 1995

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

J. Massyngberde Ford is Professor of New Testament Studies at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries (Book 38)
  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (March 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300139934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300139938
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,020,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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I'd been looking for a good "skeleton key" commentary on this final book in the Christian Bible. The Anchor Bible edition is helpful, but the search will continue. The scholarship behind the high-strangeness imagery is certainly most impressive, and far more detailed than I'd seen before. Unfortunately, the commentator lost me early in the pages of the (well written) Introduction, in which she ascribes the work to -- of all people -- John the Baptist. Under this view, the Christian John, he of the Patmos exile, is merely the redactor, who appends a Christian opening and closing and injects some scattered references to Christ in the main text. I'm with her that the book is oddly non-Christian in many ways, and not merely in what can only be described as the nastiness of the punishments (deserved or not) at the hands of the Prince of Peace, so seemingly out of character for the Great Teacher, Forgiver, and Healer Whom all of the other books of the New Testament so convincingly and movingly portray. Jesus is unexpectedly absent from much of the core of the work, at least after the letters to the Churches. The central vision could indeed be a product of a mystic branch of Judaism rather than of Christianity, as she argues. But to conclude from this that John the Baptist wrote the vision -- as opposed to any one of a hundred other Jewish mystics of the First Century -- is a rather courageous leap, let us say. I wish she'd kept the Baptist -- that great one -- out of the commentary and devoted an Appendix to what is essentially a pet theory (or attention-getter?) The book and particularly the scholarship is excellent and valuable, and this will be obvious to anyone who reads past the first few pages. Still, the meaning and significance of the vision remain obscure and the book keeps its secrets. An important volume in the wonderful Anchor Bible series.
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Format: Paperback
At the time this commentary and translation was published in 1975, J. Massyngberde Ford was Professor of New Testament Studies at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He has also written Redeemer Friend and Mother: Salvation in Antiquity and in the Gospel of John, Which way for Catholic pentecostals?, Wellsprings of Scripture, etc.

He explains in the Introduction, “In Revelation the Jews do not appear to be opponents as they are in such Christian works as the Gospel of John or Acts. The only references to ‘Jews’ are 2:9 and 3:9, where the people in the community are criticized for not being true Jews. Such criticism might come from either a Jew or a Jewish Christian, but here it is probably from a Jewish Christian who believed that the only true Jews are those who receive Christ. There is no harsh polemic against Jews as there is, for example, in VI Ezra… or in the Epistle of Barnabus…” (Pg. 21-22)

Concerning the authorship of the book, he says, “The writer gives his name as John in four places: Rev 1:1, 4, 9, 22:8. Nowhere does he claim to be one of the twelve apostles. The fact that he refers to himself as ‘John’ in contrast to the description ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ in John 19:26 arouses doubt that he was the evangelist, although early Church tradition supported this.
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I agree with a nuanced version of Ford's thesis, having read this volume years ago when it first came out.

I would disagree with Ford, that John the Baptist himself wrote the core of Revelation, chapters 4-11, himself. I think that more "conventional" scholarship that dates this core to the late 60s CE is firm, and, we have no reason to believe that Josephus as well as the New Testament is wrong about the Baptist's death.

That said, I would accept that a disciple of his, based on oral tradition from the Baptist, did write these chapters. It's a shame the basic idea hasn't been developed more since Ford's time. Since other New Testament books record disputes and sharp elbows between the disciples of Jesus and those of John, especially in Anatolia, as Acts 19 shows, but as usual, tries to gloss over, the "Mandean" authorship of the core of this book is quite plausible.

Ideally, I'd give this four stars for Ford not "nuancing" her original idea along my lines, but, for the attention it needs, it gets a fifth star.
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J. MASSYNGBERDE FORD writes on Page 7 "All the main apocalyptic passages in the NT except for Revelation are patently Christian. Revelation is the only one in which Jesus is not the central figure."

It is bad enough that Yale uses non-Christian sources, but worse, they cannot even *see* what the book is about! The book of Revelation is a revelation OF Jesus and the world being conformed unto His likeness where every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. I guess neither Yale nor J. MASSYNGBERDE FORD can figure this out.
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