Monday, November 17, 2008

Getting to grips with the Apocalypse

As part of our series on Christian hope I am doing two mid-week Bible study sessions on issues popularly connected with the so-called 'end times'.

In ten days time I'm tackling the tribulation, rapture, the anti-Christ, the future of geographical Israel and the like, all beliefs that I associate with dispensational premillennialism but continue to exercise quite an influence over people's thinking.

Last week I tackled 'reading Revelation without going nuts', offering some reading strategies and a little New Testament social history to help folk get a handle on this difficult, demanding but fabulous book.

I've had one or two people saying how helpful it was, that for the first time they didn't feel afraid of the Apocalypse. We'll see if the positive response continues through the next session!

In preparing for the evening on Revelation, I found Simon Woodman's new volume The Book of Revelation (in the SCM core texts series) quite helpful - I've only been able to dip into it and haven't read it from cover-to-cover, but I shall keep it close to hand. Simon Ponsonby's And the Lamb wins is also helpful, well written and comprehensive - though I don't agree with all his conclusions. And Stephen Sizer's two books on Christian zionism are utterly indispensable for the historical context within people read Revelation these days.

But I found myself coming back to and recommending people get hold of and use Michael Wilcock's Bible Speaks Today volume and Paul Barnett's Revelation: Apocalypse Now and Then which is equally excellent. If Christians immersed themselves in the text of Revelation and these two reliable guides, they wouldn't go far wrong in understanding what John was and is saying.

I look forward to our next session.


Simon Woodman said...

Hi Simon. I'm glad you're finding my new book helpful! To your list of 'useful books', I'd add three more:
Richard Bauckham's short paperback 'The Theology of the Book of Revelation' is a superb and accessible book. Ian Boxall's new Black's commentary (2006) is a brilliant piece of scholarship wrapped up in a reasonable-length paperback. And Wes Howard-Brook and Anthony Gwyther's 'Unveiling Empire' does for Revelation what 'Colossians Remixed' did for Colossians. Great stuff.

Glen Marshall said...

Simon - two words, "Boring" and "Bauckham". Might be wise to add another word too "Eugene" - Boring that is.

Jonathan said...

Another book recommendation from me. I found "Reversed Thunder" by Eugene Peterson to be really helpful when preaching through Revelation. His main assertion is that Revelation is primarily a pastoral assurance to a persecuted church, and that we need to first understand its power to the original readers. I found especially enlightening his commentary of the images of the lion/lamb and it's expanding vision and understanding of the Lordship of Christ over creation and the nations - inspiring and brilliant stuff.

Glen's own teaching series from Assembly a few years ago would be worth a listen again too, Revelation as Pink Floyd!

Stephen Sizer said...

Hi Simon,

Thanks for the plug for my two books. Zion's Christian Soldiers is more about handling the Bible and the relationship between Israel and the Church. You'll find some audio material as well as additional resources on my website

Andrew said...

Hi Simon, I'm a Baptist minister in NZ and we are working our way through Revelation as a church (Napier Baptist). We're up to Rev 17 and 18 and Bauckham's article on "The Economic Critique of Rome in Revelation 18" is excellent (out of the book "Images of Empire").

In terms of helpful books, I've found Barbara Rossing's book "The Rapture Exposed" outstanding for a critique of the "end times" view. David Barr's narrative commentary is also excellent. At the scholarly end, anything by Steven Friesen on Imperial Cults is excellent (Imperial Cults and the Apcalypse of John: Reading Revelation in the Ruins: OUP). I'd also recommend Harry O Maier's "Apocalypse Recalled" and any articles by David A DeSilva. For entry level books, I suggested Paul Spilsbury's "The Throne, the Lamb and the Dragon" for our church (and we had 50 orders!) also Craig Koester's "Revelation and the End of All Things" would be good. I don't know if you're interested at all, but my sermons are online via our blog (follow my link). They might or might not be what you're after. I really appreciated what you said about the gulf between scholarship and church being at its widest with Revelation.

Andrew said...

P.s. the sermon series on Rev started on 6th July 2008 if you are interested in my sermons. The link is:

simon said...

Hey guys,
thanks for all these really helpful comments. Good book suggestions - it's particularly great to see a working minister recommending Steven Friesen (who I think is always worth reading) as well as Backham.
Thanks, Andrew, for the link to your website. I'll check your sermons out.
All this is giving me a growing sense of excitement about tackling Reveleation with my church - all i have to do is complete my book on the social history of the New Testament and prepare two courses for Lanka Bible College next summer!

Chrissy2sheds said...

We were forunate to be invited to the IBTS Jubilee in Prague's the Golden One next year! Anyway Gerry Borchet unpacked his series on Revelation up to chapter 7 in 2 hours Barbara still has some notes it was gripping

He is now at
Chris & Barbara Young