Books on Revelation (5)

My fifth and final recommendation for reader-friendly books on Revelation is Michael Wilcock’s The Message of Revelation (IVP, 1991) originally published under the title I Saw Heaven Opened, 1975. wilcockI have the ’75 edition and do not know whether the ’91 edition is revised in any way. My comments here relate to the ’75 edition.

This book is now dated. It is written so obviously for  Evangelical Anglicans that if you are not one you feel a bit like you are eavesdropping. Its gender specific language is annoying. (“Nor does the scheme of divine truth, embracing time and eternity and announcing itself to men, fail of its effect . . .” [218]). Nevertheless, this is probably the most accessible commentary on the book of Revelation. It clearly influenced Peterson’s book (recommended below). It was the first, sensible, non-technical book on Revelation I ever read and it remains unsurpassed for clarity and simplicity. If you are lost with Revelation but would like to give it a chance, try reading through Revelation with Wilcock as your guide. I certainly would not have described Revelation as a “gorgeous picture book” and I don’t like the suggestion that it is the one biblical book we could do without. Yet, Wilcock’s exposition of Revelation as a drama in eight scenes is full of insight and good sense. This is still a great place to begin a study of the Bible’s final book.

Books on the Book of Revelation (part 4)

Towering behind the work of both Woodman and McKelvey is the influence of Richard Bauckham. Written for an academic audience, his books may be less accessible to the general reader. bauckamtheologyEven so, his The Theology of the Book of Revelation (Cambridge University Press, 1993, 169 pages) is a brilliant introduction to the themes and issues and to the overall theology of the book of Revelation. Bauckham sees Revelation as a Christian prophecy, an apocalypse and a circular letter. It “does not predict a sequence of events, as though it were history written in advance” (150). Rather it is interested in the nature and meaning of history in the time before the end. It is a call to the church to live a counter-cultural life in imitation of Christ.

Worship, which is so prominent in the theocentric vision of Revelation, has nothing to do with pietistic retreat from the public world. It is the source of resistance to the idolatries of the public world. It points representatively to the acknowledgement of the true God by all the nations, in the universal worship for which the whole creation is destined (161).

The only problem with this book is that it is almost better than the real thing. If it is difficult to understand, it reads more easily than the book of Revelation itself! It transformed my understanding of the millennium and restored my appreciation of Revelation as not only palatable but vital for the church’s witness in the world today. This book is brimming with insight and understanding.

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