The Book of Revelation

Back in July our house-group completed a seven-week study of the book of Revelation.  It was more of an introduction than an exhaustive study (we always spend some of the time talking, laughing and praying together) and we left plenty of unanswered questions. Even so, I think we all found it enlightening and engaging. It helps when one of the group is a university lecturer in New Testament studies but also when others  have not read Revelation any time recently and at least one expresses dislike for the book to begin with. Over the course of the seven weeks we read the entire book out loud and if we had done nothing else this would have been a worthwhile exercise in itself.

Anyway, someone asked me what I thought were the best, accessible books on Revelation so here is my top five (in no particular order):

Reversed Thunder 02Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination by Eugene H. Peterson (Harper Collins, 1988). This is not a commentary but a beautifully written meditation on the book of Revelation. This is Peterson at his best. Through the lense of Revelation, he reflects on scripture, Christ, church, worship, evil, prayer, witness, politics, judgement, salvation and heaven.

The book of  Revelation is complex and draws heavily on the rest of scripture, especially the Old Testament.  If we don’t know the Old Testament we will have difficulty in even beginning to understand the book of Revelation. Peterson reintroduce us to the Old Testament in the light of Christian spirituality. He sparks a desire in our souls to read scripture, to pray and to deepen our lives. He has this to say about Revelation’s view of heaven and our response to it:

To the person who simply wants more, who is impatient of limits, who is bored with what he or she has and wants diversion from it, St John’s vision of heaven will not serve well. This is not a paradise for consumers. St John’s heaven is not an extension of cupidity upwards but an invasion of God’s rule and presence downwards. Heaven in the vision, remember, descends . . . If we don’t want God, or don’t want him very near, we can hardly be expected to be very interested in heaven (184–5).

I don’t go along with everything Peterson says but if I could keep only one book on Revelation this would be it.

The rest of my top five will continue tomorrow.

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