- Series: New Testament Theology
- Paperback: 184 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; unknown edition (March 26, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521356911
- ISBN-13: 978-0521356916
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 68 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Theology of the Book of Revelation (New Testament Theology) unknown Edition
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"A thorough reading--and rereading--of this slim volume suggests that Bauckman's hope that it may contribute to the renewal of the doctrine of God in our time may not be in vain, and that the series to which it belongs may likewise contribute to the renewal of biblical theology." M. Eugene Boring, Journal of Religion
"This volume will take its place alongside the many other outstanding works in this series." Review & Expositor
Close attention is paid to the literary form in which the theology is expressed as well as the original context to which the book was addressed. Contrary to many misunderstandings, it is revealed as one of the masterpieces of early Christian literature, with much to say to the contemporary Church.
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Bauckham demonstrates how it is a mistake to interpret Revelation from a purely historicial perspective (ie Preterist) which makes it relevant only to first century Christians. It is also a mistake to read it from a purely futuristic perspective (ie Dispensationalism) which doesn't make it relevant for the people to whom it was originally addressed. This also leads to false assumptions, some of which turn out to be false, and makes it even more confusing.
Bauckham believes that the symbolic creatures in Revelation can only be identified with specific first century entities which the original readers had to cope with. He is consistent with most scholars in identifying the Dragon with Satan, the Seprpent, which was the primordial source of chaos and evil in the universe. The Beast from the sea is the first century Roman Empire, and the beast from the land is the Roman imperial cult which propped up the deity of the emperor. These three represent an anti-trinity. The harlot is identified as the city of Rome and the 144,000 represent an army of faithful Israelites who act in the role of holy warriors in participating in the sacrificial martyrdom of the Lamb.
Revelation as a prophetic book canonized as scripture has a timeless relevance just as Jesus and the apostles used earlier prophetic books to explain the times they were living in. It's underlying message is just as relevant for Christians living today as it was at the time it was written.
Bauckham demonstrates how Revelation is thoroughly Jewish-Christian. It borrows heavily from the Hebrew scriptures and makes parallel reference to Ezekiel, Daniel, and the Exodus story. The use of Temple symbols also makes it highly unlikely that it was written by a gentile for a gentile audience.
Revelation shows a very high Christology, similar to Paul's letters, and is strongly trinitarian. Jesus is clearly the risen Lord enthroned in Heaven who will return in triumph. This blows apart the theories of modern liberal scholars who want to portray Jesus as a wandering itinerant revolutionary sage who was exalted by gentile churches centuries later. Revelation makes it very clear that the exaltation of Jesus began at a very early date within the Jewish Christian community.
Bauckham points out that Revelation is not for modern feel-good charismatic Christians. John calls the churches to be faithful witnesses to God's Kingdom even to the point of participating in Christ's sacrificial death through martyrdom. In the first century Roman Empire, declaring Jesus as your Lord had dire consequences.
Bauckham makes it clear that people who try to interpret Revelation from a purely futuristic perspective by trying to identify its symbols with present or future entities miss the whole point. Revelation's timeless message is that God's Kingdom, although hidden, remains in opposition to the idolatry of man-made kingdoms which are based upon power and exploitation. It challenges the status quo.
The hope which Revelation offers is that no matter how bad or corrupt the world becomes, God is still on the throne and will prevail in the end.
As other have already noted, the real strength of this book is that it is an attempt to do justice to the actual historical context within which Revelation was composed. It does the reader the favor of making explicit what it means to read Revelation, not as a book written for a 21st century audience obsessed with various forms of evacuation theology and biblical literalism, but rather as a book written for a few groups of Christians living in a first century Roman-empire-dominated setting. The result is not an exegesis in line with all that pre-millennial, post-millennial jabbering, but a new kind of clarity that takes the genre and scriptural context of this apocalyptic letter seriously, on its own terms. It beautifully argues that Revelation revolves around the tension between what seems to be going on and what is really going on.
For anyone who has every felt utterly baffled by Revelation, this is the book for you. It is an invitation to get behind the strange appearances of the book (its imagery, its narrative), into the reality of what the book is proclaiming.