The Social-Science Commentary series presents a pioneering alternative commentary genre that offers a contextual approach to the study of the New Testament, thoroughly grounded in the original audience’s first-century cultural setting. The author of Revelation presents himself as John, the astral seer, who professes faith in the resurrected Jesus and who belonged to the house of Israel. John writes of traveling into the sky; but this perspective of “sky-visions” is completely neglected in the traditional commentaries and studies on Revelation. Malina and Pilch demonstrate the necessity of taking ancient sky-interpretation seriously for reading the book of Revelation in its first-century context. Building on their earlier works on Revelation, and using the highly successful socio-cultural commentary model, Malina and Pilch have charted a new direction for Revelation studies. In addition to their focused commentary, Malina and Pilch include illustrative drawings, photographs, charts, and diagrams on ancient Mediterranean astrology.
“The Morning Star ushers in the Light; Messiah Jesus ushers in the Lord God. Similarly, in 2 Pet 1:19, the context of mentioning the Morning Star has to do with looking to prophecies about the arrival of Jesus, the Morning Star, as one uses a lamp for illumination in darkness.” (Page 260)
“In other words, in antiquity, no one was expected to understand John’s Book of Revelation except the limited audience to which it was directed.” (Page 12)
“The sound John again hears is ‘a voice like a trumpet.’ The trumpet, whether of metal or of animal horn, was the loudest controlled sound humans could produce at the time. Hence to hear any loud and controlled sound was to hear something ‘like a trumpet.’ Trumpets were not musical instruments, but rather instruments to signal power, whether in temples (where they could summon God and people) or in battle and court (where they could summon king, soldiery, and people).” (Pages 70–71)
“As noted above, stars are called ‘eyes.’ Because of this, the four living creatures ‘full of eyes’ would be constellations, ‘full of stars,’ both here as well as in Ezekiel 1 and 10. In this scenario, it seems they bear the throne on their cosmic backs, while the front of their bodies faces outward. The four constellations both here as well as in Ezekiel are the four Babylonian seasonal constellations: Scorpioman, Leo, Taurus, and Pegasus (see Boll 1967 :35).” (Page 85)
“Since apokalyptō was already the common word for revealing secrets, it is used at the opening of this book for revealing the celestial secrets learned by John the prophet and set down in this book. Celestial secrets were privileged information, however, meant for kings, priests, or prophets—not for any reader or hearer.” (Page 3)