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Reading Revelation in Context: John’s Apocalypse and Second Temple Judaism

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Reading Revelation in Context brings together short, accessible essays by a team of over 20 top scholars that compare and contrast the visions and apocalyptic imagery of the book of Revelation with various texts from Second Temple Jewish literature.

Going beyond an introduction that merely surveys historical events and theological themes, Reading Revelation in Context examines individual passages in Second Temple Jewish literature in order to illuminate the context of Revelations’ theology and the meaning and potency of John’s visions. Following the narrative progression of Revelation, each chapter (1) pairs a major unit of the Apocalypse with one or more sections of a thematically related Jewish text, (2) introduces and explores the historical and theological nuances of the comparator text, and (3) shows how the ideas in the comparator text illuminate those expressed in Revelation.

In addition to the focused comparison provided in the essays, the book contains other student-friendly features that will help them engage broader discussions, including an introductory chapter that familiarizes students with the world and texts of Second Temple Judaism, a glossary of important terms, and a brief appendix suggesting what tools students might use to undertake their own comparative studies. At the end of each chapter there a list of other thematically relevant Second Temple Jewish texts recommended for additional study and a focused bibliography pointing students to critical editions and higher-level discussions in scholarly literature.

Reading Revelation in Context brings together an international team of over 20 New Testament experts including Jamie Davies, David A. deSilva, Michael J. Gorman, Dana M. Harris, Ronald Herms, Edith M. Humphrey, Jonathan A. Moo, Elizabeth E. Shively, Cynthia Long Westfall, Archie T. Wright, and more.

Resource Experts
  • Explores Revelation’s connection to Judaism
  • Examines individual passages in Second Temple Jewish literature
  • Offers a series of accessible studies that illustrate the importance and the possibility of throwing light on the book of Revelation
  • The Parables of Enoch and Revelation 1:1–20: Daniel’s Son of Man
  • The Epistle of Enoch and Revelation 2:1–3:22: Poverty and Riches in the Present Age
  • The Testament of Levi and Revelation 4:1–11: Ascent to the Heavenly Throne
  • 4 Ezra and Revelation 5:1–14: Creaturely Images of the Messiah
  • 2 Maccabees and Revelation 6:1–17: Martyrdom and Resurrection
  • Psalms of Solomon and Revelation 7:1–17: The Sealing of the Servants of God
  • The Testament of Adam and Revelation 8:1–13: Heavenly Silence
  • The Animal Apocalypse and Revelation 9:1–21: Creaturely Images during the Great Tribulation
  • Jubilees and Revelation 10:1–11: Heavenly Beings Bearing Heavenly Books
  • 4 Ezra and Revelation 11:1–19: A Man from the Sea and the Two Witnesses
  • The Life of Adam and Eve and Revelation 12:1–17: The Rebellion of the Satan Figure
  • 4 Ezra and Revelation 13:1–18: Blasphemous Beasts
  • The Damascus Document and Revelation 14:1–20: Angels Marking Out the Two Ways
  • Words of the Luminaries and Revelation 15:1–16:21: Plague Septets and Deliverance from Exile
  • Joseph and Aseneth and Revelation 17:1–18: Women as Archetypes of Rebellion and Repentance
  • The Epistle of Enoch and Revelation 18:1–24: Economic Critique of Rome
  • Psalms of Solomon and Revelation 19:1–21: Messianic Conquest of God’s Enemies
  • The Book of the Watchers and Revelation 20:1–15: Redemptive Judgment on Fallen Angels
  • 4 Ezra and Revelation 21:1–22:5: Paradise City
  • The Apocalypse of Zephaniah and Revelation 22:6–21: Angel Worship and Monotheistic Devotion

Top Highlights

“Apocalypse,’ as Collins famously defined it, ‘is a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial insofar as it involves another, supernatural world.’9 Within this literary type, there exist two main subtypes: historical apocalypses (which review sacred history) and otherworldly journeys (which tour the cosmos).” (Page 22)

“To interpret Revelation responsibly, then, students must not ignore Second Temple Jewish literature, but engage it with frequency, precision, and a willingness to acknowledge theological continuity and discontinuity.” (Page 27)

“‘No other book in the New Testament has such clear and well-established precedents in Jewish literature” (Page 25)

“The Life of Adam and Eve is primarily a midrashic interpretation of Genesis 3–5” (Page 109)

“Although it is true that some contextual awareness is better than none, it is also true that failure to immerse oneself within the literary and religious environment of the New Testament world will likely result in not only unconscious imposition of alien meaning onto the biblical text but also a poorer understanding of the otherworldly creatures and apocalyptic symbolism revealed in John’s visions.” (Page 21)


  • Garrick V. Allen
  • Ben C. Blackwell
  • Ian Boxall
  • Jamie Davies
  • David A. deSilva
  • Sarah Underwood Dixon
  • John K. Goodrich
  • Michael J. Gorman
  • Dana M. Harris
  • Ronald Herms
  • Edith M. Humphrey
  • Jason Maston
  • Mark D. Mathews
  • Jonathan A. Moo
  • Ian Paul
  • Benjamin E. Reynolds
  • Elizabeth E. Shively
  • Cynthia Long Westfall
  • Benjamin Wold
  • Archie T. Wright
  • Title: Reading Revelation in Context: John’s Apocalypse and Second Temple Judaism
  • Authors: Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, Jason Maston
  • Series: Reading in Context
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Print Publication Date: 2019
  • Logos Release Date: 2019
  • Era: era:contemporary
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Bible. N.T. Revelation › Criticism, interpretation, etc; Jewish religious literature; Christianity and other religions › Judaism--Biblical teaching; Judaism › Relations--Christianity--Biblical teaching; Bible. N.T. Revelation › Commentaries
  • ISBNs: 9780310566267, 9780310566243, 9780310566236, 0310566266, 031056624X, 0310566231
  • Resource Type: Bible Commentary
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-09-30T02:36:56Z

Ben C. Blackwell (PhD, University of Durham) is associate professor of early Christianity at Houston Baptist University. He has authored a number of essays and articles related to Historical Theology and the New Testament, including Christosis: Engaging Pauline Soteriology with His Patristic Interpreters. He is currently working on new monograph: Participating in the Righteousness of God: Justification in Pauline Theology. He also served as a co-editor for several volumes: Paul and the Apocalyptic Imagination; Reading Romans in Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism; and Reading Mark in Context: Jesus and Second Temple Judaism.

John K. Goodrich is assistant professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute and the author of Paul as an Administrator of God in 1 Corinthians (2012).

Jason Maston (PhD, University of Durham) is Lecturer in New Testament at Highland Theological College UHI (UK). He is the author of Divine and Human Agency in Second Temple Judaism and Paul: A Comparative Approach and contributor to and co-editor (with Michael F. Bird) of Earliest Christian History: History, Literature and Theology. Essays from the Tyndale Fellowship in Honor of Martin Hengel.

Loren T. Stuckenbruck is an historian of early Christianity and Second Temple Judaism, currently professor of New Testament at the University of Munich


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  1. Robert J Richardson