Revelation: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries) Hardcover – September 30, 2014
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"This is the most important commentary on Revelation published in English in more than a decade." Themelios
From the Author
- Item Weight : 3.13 pounds
- Hardcover : 928 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0300144881
- ISBN-13 : 978-0300144888
- Dimensions : 9.59 x 6.38 x 2.17 inches
- Publisher : Yale University Press (September 30, 2014)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,822,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Koester's aim is not so much to build a detailed eschatological scheme as to understand the Book of Revelation as its original readers might have understood it.
Koester's structural analysis of the book as consistng of six "cycles" accords almost exactly with a linguistics-based, discourse analysis. (The same criteria could make out Revelation chapter 18 to be a separate cycle.) I was especially pleased that Koester identified the one "like a human being (Son of Man)" in Rev. 14.14 as taken from Daniel and applied by Jesus to himself.
However, if you are looking for proofs of a dispensational or pre-seven-year rapture doctrine, you may be disappointed, although you will find references to the usual American authors such as Scofield, Walvoord, Lindsey and others, but no defense of them.
Happily, the Koester affirms that there will be an eschaton that includes the events described by Jesus and his apostles, such as his visible return, the resurrection of the righteous dead, the taking of the church into heaven, a visible, physical return Jesus in judgement against a coming Man of Sin, a fall of the world system, a reign of Christ, and a final judgement, followed by a new heaven and a new earth. (Really, what more do you want?)
Readers will find here a commentary that is thoroughly informed by the archaeological and epigraphic evidence from the cities of western Asia Minor, close study of intertexture between Revelation and the various resources which have gone in some way into its formation (Hebrew Bible, Second Temple Jewish literature, particularly apocalyptic literature, emerging Christian traditions, and Roman imperial ideology), thoughtful consideration of how Greco-Roman texts inform our understanding of Revelation, and the application of the well-honed exegetical skills and instincts manifested in Koester's earlier commentaries (I think especially of his excellent contribution on Hebrews to this same series). Perhaps needless to say, this is a commentary written from the point of view that John's seven churches really mattered to him from start to finish -- not a treatment of Revelation that assumes that Rev 4:1ff. was written for an audience two millennia removed. While I continue to appreciate the commentaries by Aune, Beale, and Osborne, especially, THIS is the commentary I have been waiting for both for my own consumption and my class on Revelation.
I am delighted to find Koester's magisterial commentary now available in paperback! This was released in hardcover in 2014, but the price tag made it prohibitive to use as a required textbook for my course on Exegesis of Revelation. At the paperback price, it's still a bit steep, but well worth it for the quality of coverage that Koester brings to the text.
If the size is too intimidating, Koester's 220 page book on the topic is also well worth it. see: http://www.amazon.com/Revelation-End-Things-Craig-Koester/dp/0802846602/ref=pd_cp_b_0
Top reviews from other countries
I was disappointed by it. Why? This book by Koester needs radical editing, since it routinely makes most statements three times and some statements four or more times. The book contains the expected and necessary apparatus, such as preface, lists of abbreviations, sources consulted, indices, etc. The translation of Revelation by Koester is printed before the commentary itself (pp. 3-25). This is followed by an introduction to the text, a little over 130 pages long (pp. 29-150). This is on the whole good. Next is a comprehensive and interesting bibliography 54 pages long (pp. 153-206).
Thus, the main section, entitled “Notes and Comments”, starts on page 207. It finishes on page 859. This is where things go seriously wrong. One soon hits repeats of statements made in the introduction. But it does not stop here. Each section of Revelation has its own introduction, which repeats information from the main introduction. Then Koester’s translation of the relevant passage is re-printed, so his translation of the whole of Revelation is in fact printed twice in this book. Then come Notes, which go through the section verse by verse or phrase by phrase, exactly as required for any Bible commentary. Unfortunately, the Notes generally repeat information from the main introduction and from the introduction to the section (so that makes it a third time). After the Notes comes a section entitled “COMMENT”. This mostly repeats information from the general introduction, the introduction to the section and the Notes (so that makes it a fourth time). Of course, there is detailed information in the Notes that is not in any of the introductions that precede it, but most of that, new, information is repeated in the “COMMENT” section. And some information is repeated constantly from section to section. Merely by way of example, the reporting of the stories of Nero’s supposed anticipated return from the dead is mentioned more than twenty times (the subject index lists, by my count, 21 references to this, some of them multiple pages in length).
It seems to me that it would be possible to edit the book down from 859 pages to 250 pages without any loss of information.
I have read the entire book from cover to cover (including careful perusal of the Bibliography) before writing this review, but I imagine that most people with less leisure time than me will give up after about 240 pages or dip in for specific passages or verses, which is a good use of a commentary but not at all the way to study the book of Revelation.
The target audience envisioned by the author and publishers is not at all clear to me. A total absence of a “devotional” focus means that it is not ideally suited to the individual Christian believer. If the target audience is other scholars or church ministers, I wonder why the Greek is only presented transliterated into Roman script. In fact, the references to Greek are odd, with Greek words (transliterated) sometimes printed after a given English word, for no obvious reason. That is to say, seeing the Greek word there does not aid comprehension or reveal any sort of pattern or other information. Nor is the choice of the Greek word discussed (with only a couple of exceptions throughout the whole of the book).
The historical context of interpretations through the centuries is interesting. The author generally presents the different interpretations given both in the past and at the present time, with little indication of his preference, although he does sometimes say that one interpretation is less likely or less convincing than another, for reasons that he gives.
Evangelicals are unlikely to appreciate his attitude to the text. For instance, “According to Revelation, access to God’s city is not reserved for those who have never sinned, but for those who are cleansed by the blood of Christ” (p. 810), “Revelation ascribes to Christ a role at the beginning and end of all things” (p. 841), “The assumption is that the book’s message originates with God and the exalted Jesus” (p. 849). Statements made in the book of Revelation are often claimed to contradict statements elsewhere in the Bible (although Koester carefully avoids such confrontational terminology). The book also constantly quotes from Apocryphal books, although this may be justifiable because of the light that it might throw on the perceptions of either the first readers or other readers in subsequent centuries.
Many readers may find Tom Wright’s “Revelation for Everyone” (which I have partially skimmed but not fully read) more helpful. The pages that I read seemed to include the same major facts but without all the repetition.
Also, Richard Bauckham's "The Theology of the Book of Revelation" (which I have read in full) is an excellent, short (164-page) introduction to the main themes of Revelation, without being a verse-by-verse commentary. Recommended.
In conclusion, there is some good information in this book. If all the repetition were eliminated, it could easily merit three stars and might struggle to attain four.