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Revelation (New Cambridge Bible Commentary) Paperback – September 15, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0521000680 ISBN-10: 0521000688

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Product Details

  • Series: New Cambridge Bible Commentary
  • Paperback: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (September 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521000688
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521000680
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Witherington has such felicitious turns of phrase and a manner of writing that makes reading such dense material delightful. I would especially recommend this book for faculty in the humanities who wish to learn about the Book of Revelation without getting bogged down in the usual inside exchange among biblical scholars; that sort of exclusive conversation does not happen in the text for its notes. I would also recommend this book to the biblical scholar who still thinks that the historical critical method is the only real tool at our disposal; W. has convincingly demonstrated that socio-rhetorical criticism can meaningfully enhance the findings of historical criticism (and, so, yes, Witherington has also shown that historical criticism is still the most fundamental tool in the box)." --Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"Written by a prolific evangelical scholar, this is a solid commentary on the New Testament's most enigmatic book. Witherington brings to this work his characteristic emphasis on the social context and literary stucture of the book in question. His extensive introduction is particularly helpful because it traces the history of interpretation of Revelation and charts where recent writings on the book stand. Along the way, the commentary is enhanced with explanations in bold print that take up particular historical issues or problems of interpretation." The Bible Today

"this commentary would serve as a useful introduction to one of the most complex books of the Bible. It is especially helpful for dealing with the practical value of the Apocalypse for the modern day. However, its brevity would demand that the preacher/teacher consult more extensive commentaries such as those of Osborne or Beale." - Mark D. Owens, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

"Witherington offers a 'socio-rhetorical' approach, but does this by rooting Revelation in the first century. The commentary offers suggested reading early on, and this gives a good overview of scholarship on Revelation. Witherington appears to be in touch with the major streams of thinking in the areas noted above, and his commentary is impressively concise." --Ian Paul, The Expository Times

"...introduces the reader to recent mainstream, sound research on Revelation, it fruitfully engages in debate with questionable literalist readings, it opens the eyes for Revelation as a book of the first century, it applies responsible hermeneutical strategies, and, finally, it also assists readers who are interested in more contemporary application of its material." --Pieter G.R. de Villiers, University of the Free State: Neotestamentica

"Ben Witherington has written a well-informed commentary on John's Apocalypse that will aid undergraduates and other adult learners in exploring the texts in its ancient context...this commentary does a fine job of explicating a difficult biblical book in a way that is accessible to the intended audience." --Vincent Skemp, The College of St Catherine: The Catholic Bible Quarterly

Book Description

This book is the first of its kind: an innovative socio-rhetorical commentary on the Book of Revelation. Without sacrificing scholarly perspective or academic rigor, it is written to be accessible for a wide audience--including pastors, scholars, teachers, seminarians, and interested lay people. A "Suggested Reading List"serves as point of entry for the new serious scholar of Revelation and as a helpful annotated bibliography for all readers. Certain "closer-look" sections and the entire NRSV translation are provided throughout the text as a convenience to the reader.

More About the Author

Bible scholar Ben Witherington is Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and on the doctoral faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. A graduate of UNC, Chapel Hill, he went on to receive the M.Div. degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Durham in England. He is now considered one of the top evangelical scholars in the world, and is an elected member of the prestigious SNTS, a society dedicated to New Testament studies.

Witherington has also taught at Ashland Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, Duke Divinity School and Gordon-Conwell. A popular lecturer, Witherington has presented seminars for churches, colleges and biblical meetings not only in the United States but also in England, Estonia, Russia, Europe, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Australia. He has also led tours to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.

Witherington has written over thirty books, including The Jesus Quest and The Paul Quest, both of which were selected as top biblical studies works by Christianity Today. He also writes for many church and scholarly publications, and is a frequent contributor to the Beliefnet website.

Along with many interviews on radio networks across the country, Witherington has been seen on the History Channel, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, The Discovery Channel, A&E, and the PAX Network.

Customer Reviews

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He provides good insight for any serious student of this book.
Michael Glidden
Readers will be disappointed if they expect to find here sensationalistic interpretations of links between The Revelation to contemporary events.
I like how he is able to apply the text to our lives in the bridging the horizon sections.
Dr. Marc Axelrod

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Marc Axelrod VINE VOICE on May 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
Ben does a great job on this exposition of Revelation. He sees the book as a call through His servant job for the church to persevere in its worship of the one true Emperor, the one true God.Dr. Witherington contends that the books was written near the close of the first century in the days of the emperor Domitian. He acknowledges that the imagery of Revelation is symbolic and is applicable to a wide variety of situations.

But he also stresses that John sees the events of Revelation as working toward the end of human history as we know it. Ben notes that the seventh seal, the seventh trumpet, and the pouring out of the seventh bowl all climax with the close of the age. Yet he also notes that each series of seven judgments are increasingly intense and affect a larger proportion of the population.

Ben observes that John is thoroughly familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures and with the noncanonical writings, and that he uses and reworks these images freely.

Ben sees the mighty angel of Revelation 10 as a powerful representative of the Messiah. The two lampstands of Revelation 11 represent either the evangelistic witness of the churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia, or the collective church's prophetic witness.

Dr. Witherington sees the woman of Revelation 12 as a portrait of the people of God (I think of this woman as Israel - see Joseph's dream details in Genesis 37). he is undecided about whether the defeat of Satan in Revelation 12 happens at the time of the crucifixion and resurrection or at a later time.

Ben does a good job of contrasting the godly woman of Revelation 12 with the wicked whore of Revelation 17-18.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By PhilThreeten on January 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
Though I have thoroughly enjoyed the other books that I've read by Witherington, I had real trouble getting through this one.

His other books provided great insight into contemporary writing styles and, thus, insight into what the original text would have meant to the original hearers. Obviously, this is critical to an understanding of what Scripture means to us.

However, in Revelation, Witherington has not done a good job of connecting us with what the hearers of Revelation would have understood. Part of this is the difficulty of Revelation itself. With all its symbolic language, visions of the future, and pictographic explanations of the past, there is much to stumble over. Determining how the original hearers would have understood all this can be an intimidating venture.

Unfortunately, Witherington stumbles in a number of areas. Because of the generality of some of the images, Witherington suggests several meanings but then leaves us hanging as to what he thinks could be the accurate depiction. Though this is not problematic if done occasionally, there are so many pictures that Witherington is unwilling to definitively state his ideas on that we are left wondering what he believes. Though an interesting read to find out the `what could it mean' perspective, Witherington gives no consistent explanation of his take on the whole book.

Overall, although not a bad commentary, I did not find that it sparked my interest enough to be expectantly turning each page to see what other truths he could illuminate for me. Though I'm not unconvinced by his propositions, I'm not sure he's made the best case for those propositions.

For the full review, go to the blog listed in my nickname and click on the Readings category.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Glidden on September 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author brings the environment Revelation was written in alive. He provides good insight for any serious student of this book. He validates ancient texts that are not canonized but were highly valued by early Christianity and were quoted in scripture such as the Books of Enoch.

He approaches the subject with single mindedness set in his determination to explain how the book of Revelation was received by those who were contemporary with its composition.

However I find that the author fails to explore some of the more subtle symbolisms that make the book relevant for all generations. Some of his conclusions are typical main stream Christian interpretation such as a majority would agree on even today. However in my studies I have come to agree with the old saying that "truth is often a very lonely thing." There is a deeper meaning to all the scriptures of the Bible. There is a surface, relevant to its day, reality and there is a sublime message that tells a great, more epic story than the surface reveals. I was disappointed that the author stood on this cusp and did not indulge as if perhaps he understood such but was reluctant to investigate to the common reader such that would have surely brought controversy to his authorship.

But as it is the book is a sound, sturdy authority on a book that is highly misunderstood by Christianity today even as Christianity leans on its teaching for its hope.

I would recommend this work to anyone who indulges in the study of the Bible.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By EEG on September 25, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Professor Ben Witherington III has produced a thoroughly researched commentary on the Apocalypse (or Revelation) of John. It is well annotated with textual footnotes, which I prefer to having to flip back and forth to notes at the back of the book. The author uses sources creatively. Some reviewers have suggested that the book is suitable for use by scholars, pastors, students and laypeople. This is generally true, although the level of difficulty of vocabulary and concepts will be exceptionally challenging for some. The book contains an exceptional wealth of background information about the conditions that existed in Rome and the Roman province of Asia in the period preceding and that which was contempory with that of the people who were the original hearers of the Apocalypse. Witherington further documents the hundreds of direct and blended allusions that John made to the Jewish writings of the Old Testament and the inter-testamental period, to the New Testament, and to a wide range of classical literature, rhetoric, and mythology. Interpretation is responsibly handled with sensitivity to the organizational properties manifested in John's structure of the text. Readers will be disappointed if they expect to find here sensationalistic interpretations of links between The Revelation to contemporary events. Instead, it offers a nuanced treatment of future events, identifying what has already taken place, what is yet to come and of instances when John intentionally presents some events more than once in order to elaborate on them from another angle. Thus the presentation of events by John is not invariably sequential. Those will be blessed who read and understand the book's message.
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