“What the Book of Revelation requires is not that we know in advance what is coming, but that we know how to meet it when it comes,” asserts J. Ramsey Michaels. This addition to Guides to New Testament Exegesis series will help students do that.
Interpreting the Book of Revelation provides a concise introduction to the careful interpretive study of Revelation. Its meticulous, scholarly approach to studying linguistic structure, vocabulary, and variant readings provides and exegetical model even for those who disagree with some of the author's conclusions.
Throughout, Michaels stands behind the unity of this challenging New Testament book as prophecy influenced by current events—predictive, yet calling readers to events now.
This resource is also included in the Guides to the New Testament Exegesis Collection (7 Vols.).
“The first, naive, answer is that the Book of Revelation concerns the actual future of the world in which we live, and that alone.” (Page 13)
“A second, more scholarly, answer is that the Book of Revelation describes the past, not the future, specifically a conflict taking place in the author’s own time between Christians in Asia Minor and the imperial power of ancient Rome. A third answer, one favored by many evangelical students and their teachers, is that the Book of Revelation refers both to a late-first-century crisis between Christians and the Roman Empire and to a last or ‘eschatological’ crisis just before the end of the present world order and the second coming of Jesus Christ. A fourth answer is that the Book of Revelation refers neither to past nor future events, that it is not ‘about’ anything at all, except what was going on in the mind of the author and the apocalyptic community to which the author belonged.” (Pages 13–14)
“This double character of such a document as the Book of Revelation—transcendent and mysterious, yet anchored in history—means serious students of the work must pay attention to the instruction of Jesus to his disciples to become ‘as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves’ (Matt. 10:16). Because the Book of Revelation is part of history and culture it must be interpreted ‘from the outside’ in light of what can be known of the times in which it was written and the traditions then alive. Yet because it is a self-contained and presumably coherent literary entity, it also must be interpreted ‘from the inside,’ in the light of its own internal structure and the signals it sends about the author’s purposes. Sometimes both approaches are possible.” (Pages 17–18)
J. Ramsey Michaels is professor emeritus of religious studies at Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri, and adjunct professor of New Testament at Bangor Theological Seminary, Portland, Maine. He also taught at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the author of several commentaries, on Revelation, including The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Gospel of John, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series: Revelation, and Interpreting the Book of Revelation.