In this landmark commentary, Craig R. Koester offers a comprehensive look at a powerful and controversial early Christian text, the book of Revelation. The author provides richly textured descriptions of the book’s setting and language, making extensive use of Greek and Latin inscriptions, classical texts, and ancient Jewish writings, including the Dead Sea Scrolls. Rather than viewing Revelation as world-negating, Koester focuses on its deep engagement with social, religious, and economic issues while addressing the book’s volatile history of interpretation. The result is a groundbreaking study that provides bold new insights and sets new directions for the continued appreciation of this text.
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“But his major contribution was observing that Revelation’s visions did not unfold in a linear way. Instead, they repeated the same message multiple times. The trumpet plagues gave a warning briefly, and the bowl plagues restated that warning more completely. Therefore, people were not to look for a sequential outline of future events in Revelation but were to ask about its underlying meaning (In Apoc. 8.2). The idea that Revelation recapitulates the same message multiple times would inform commentaries on the book until the thirteenth century, and it would influence interpreters again beginning in the mid-twentieth century.” (Page 33)
“The older pattern of reading Revelation as an outline of history was generally abandoned, and the main options were to read it either as a prediction of the cataclysmic end of the present age or as a book that encouraged first-century Christians living under Roman rule.” (Page 58)
“From a literary perspective, however, the three-and-a-half-year period symbolizes the time from Christ’s exaltation until his second coming.” (Page 547)
“For the interpretation of Revelation, it is enough to associate the views of the Nicolaitans with those of the people at Pergamum and Thyatira, who were willing to eat meat from offerings made to Greco-Roman deities in most if not all circumstances.” (Page 264)
“Revelation can best be read as a series of six vision cycles, which are framed by an introduction and conclusion.” (Page 112)